Company name in Germany
About 9 out of 10 our clients struggle with selecting a company name in Germany that would be accepted by the German authorities when registering a company. There are many reasons for that. Let’s see the main requirements to company names in Germany and the main mistakes that people might make.
Selecting a company name in Germany
Here are the main rules that you need to regard when picking a name for your German company:
1. The name needs to be unique and have distinctiveness
This means that the company name in Germany can’t consist of only general words and concepts. For example, such a name as “Trade Company GmbH” most probably won’t be accepted. It needs an individualizing addition.
Usually, it is suggested that you use as such an individualizing addition either a letter combination (best if consisting of at least 3 letters), the name of the founder or the managing director, or a so-called “fantasy term”. A letter combination may consist of random letters such as ABC or XYZ or, for example, of the first letters of the founder’s name.
Here are some examples of an individualizing addition added to the name of the company mentioned earlier:
ABC Trade Company GmbH
DRS Trade Company GmbH
Smith Trade Company GmbH
Topcom Trade Company GmbH (where “Topcom” can be considered a “fantasy term” since the word doesn’t actually exist)
Please note that these are just examples and their uniqueness has not been checked with any authority.
2. The name needs to be different and distinguishable from any other company name in Germany in the same area
It might occur that your name seems to be unique, however it turns out that there is another company with a similar looking or similar sounding name in the same region. If there is a risk that your future company can be confused with another company, your desired company name in Germany might not be accepted. That is why it’s so important to check that before registering a company.
3. The name can’t be misleading in any way
There are several situations when the company name in Germany might be considered misleading. Here are some examples:
- The name “ABC Trade Company GmbH” would be considered misleading if the activity of the company has nothing to do with trading.
- The name “ABC Trade Company Berlin GmbH” would also be considered misleading if the company will actually be based, for example, in Hamburg or another city.
- If the name has an abbreviation in it that has a specific known meaning in Germany, it also won’t be accepted because of being misleading. For example, choosing the addition “RA”, even if these are the first letters of the founder’s name, is not acceptable since “RA” stands for “Rechtsanwalt” in German which means lawyer.
4. The name of the company has to correspond with its business activity
It was briefly mentioned earlier but it is really important that the company name in Germany is in line with the chosen business activity. If your company name has the word “trade” in it but provides absolutely other services, your application for registration will probably be rejected. Another example: if you choose to include a geographical indication into the name, it needs to be clear from the activity what it has to do with your business (for example, that you produce your goods there).
5. The company name in Germany has to always include the legal form
There is not much that can be added here. Just remember that in all official documents etc. you should always write the full company name with its legal form, for example, GmbH or UG.
As you can see, it is really important to think the matter of company name in Germany through and check the name before registering a company or even starting the preparation of the documents. Otherwise your application may be rejected and the process will have to be started from the very beginning.
Watch our video on the topic of company name in Germany:
Checking the chosen company name in Germany
So, how do you find out if your chosen company name in Germany is unique enough and will be accepted at registration? Here are the main steps:
1. First of all, you should search online if you can find the same name.
2. Then, you should check the online portal of the Commercial Register for the same or similar sounding names. It can also be suggested to check the website of the German Patent and Trade Mark Office to see if the desired company name in Germany hasn’t already been protected by trademark law by somebody else.
3. Last but absolutely not least when checking the desired company name in Germany is sending a request to the Chamber of Commerce to get their statement on whether they find the offered name acceptable and distinguishable enough. The request is to be sent to the specific Chamber of Commerce of the city or region where your company is going to be registered. Communication with the Chamber of Commerce will be in German language. Please note that some Chambers of Commerce provide a statement only against a fee.
When you hire Nexus-Europe GmbH to assist you with company formation in Germany, we take care of checking the name with the respective Chamber of Commerce and all the communication that comes with it. If the name isn’t accepted on the first try, we’ll let you know what seems to be the problem and suggest possible solutions.
Our company, Nexus-Europe GmbH, assists foreign entrepreneurs with establishing their own successful business in Germany, from small trade companies to global manufactures. If your project is beneficial for Germany, we can assist you with participation in government programs, incentives, financing, technology transfer. We also help you get the German residence permit through business and the EU Blue Card. Please contact us for an individual solution.
This document (and any information accessed through links in this document) is intended for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional advice. Each situation is unique and professional advice should always be obtained before taking or refraining from any action.