How to change your business address in Germany
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Whether you’re moving house or moving to a new business address, the last thing you want is to miss an invoice or some other important correspondence, particularly from the tax office (“Finanzamt”). You want everything to align and match up. We’ve gathered together the main things you need to consider to determine what you need to do when your business address changes. Follow our advice to ensure your bases are covered.
Hold up! Have you registered as a freelancer in Germany?
Before we go any further, have you already registered as a freelancer or self-employed person in Germany? If not, that should be your first step. Until you do, you don’t actually have a registered business address to change.
To let your local financial department (“Finanzamt”) know that you’re planning to generate income through freelance work or self-employment, you must fill out the tax regulation questionnaire (“Fragebogen zur Steuerlichen Erfassung”). The easiest way to do this is to use our digital form and complete the questionnaire online, but you can also do so in person. Through this process, your nominated business address will be registered. Within a couple of weeks, you’ll also receive a tax number, which you’ll need to show on your invoices. Note: Don’t confuse this number with your Tax-ID number!
If you have indeed already registered as a freelancer and you simply want to change your address, read on, my friend!
Who needs to register a change in business address?
To understand whether you need to register a change in business address, it’s important that you know whether you’re a freelancer (“Freiberufler”) or a sole trader (“Gewerbetreibender”) in the eyes of the tax authorities. Sole traders have more obligations than freelancers, such as registering their business at the relevant local trade office (“Ordnungsamt” or “Gemeindeamt”). This distinction also determines whether you actually need to register a change of address.
When do freelancers need to register a change of business address?
If you’re a freelancer (“Freiberufler”), you’re usually either working from home or from a coworking space. Unless you’re shifting from a home office to a leased office or virtual office address, you shouldn’t need to take any additional steps to change your address.
Working from home
If you’re a freelancer who works from home and you’re changing your residential address, you don’t need to take an extra step to change your business address. Simply giving notice of your change in residential address will suffice. You can send a courtesy letter to your local tax office to let them know of the change, but it’s not necessary.
Working from a coworking space can create a sense of belonging and community that is often hard to foster as a freelancer working from home. But becoming a member of a coworking space doesn’t necessarily mean you transfer your business address to that of your coworking space, in fact, many will not allow you to use their address as your business address.
While coworking spaces allow you to rent physical space to work in, virtual offices typically allow you to receive mail, phone calls, and a range of other business services, without physically working there. In exchange for a fee, you can have the privilege of using a virtual office address as your freelancing business address. In this case you will need to advise the local tax office in writing of the change in address.
There are a number of reasons you may wish to get a virtual office in Germany: perhaps you want to avoid having business mail sent to your home address, or maybe you just want to appear a little more professional with a non-residential address. Whatever it may be, there are plenty of options to choose from in any of the major cities in Germany.
Be aware however, that your local tax office may not accept your virtual business address. This is to avoid the number of shell corporations or “mailbox companies” that are established simply to avoid taxes and compliance issues. However, if you live in Germany and are registered at a virtual office in Germany, you should be okay.
Leased office space
If you decide to lease a studio or office space, you can register this as your freelance business address. Again, as a freelancer, you’ll just need to send a written notification of the change to your local tax office.
When do sole traders need to register a change of business address?
Within the same municipality
Sole traders (“Gewerbetreibender”) or other business owners, such as people who have a registered AG or GmbH, need to change their business address in the following situations:
- When changing the location of your registered business within the same municipality, even if your business is registered at your residential address
- When you’re changing your registered business address from your home to a virtual or physical office address within the same municipality
- When you’re changing or expanding the purpose of your business
For sole traders, the following rules apply when changing business address:
- Change of business address must be registered in person, in writing or electronically, however a simple email will not suffice
- You must use the Change of Business Address form (“Gewerbe-Ummeldung”), which you can either pick up or in some cases, download, from your local municipal office
- Change of address must be reported at the time the business is relocated
- Change of address may attract a fee, depending on the local regulations
To another municipality
In order to change a registered business address to another municipality, sole traders actually need to deregister their business and re-register it in the new location. The re-registration procedure takes care of the change of address. It also usually attracts a fee. In this case, it’s best to speak to your local municipal office for directions on deregistration (“Gewerbe-Abmeldung”).
💡 Tip from Accountable: Whether you are a freelancer or a sole trader, you can claim a wide range of business expenses against your taxable income. Use our handy search tool to see what expenses you can claim.
Now that you’ve determined what you need to do when your business address has changed, make sure to advise any other relevant parties, such as clients or service providers.
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