At first glance, selecting a name for your company might seem like the simplest part of your plans for expanding into the German market.  Not so fast.  Name regulation in Germany is a surprisingly elaborate process so it’s best to start planning your strategy well in advance. 

As a business owner or high-level manager, you already know the power of a name from a marketing and branding standpoint.  Yet these considerations are just the start when pursuing business incorporation in Germany.  The name you select has to be permissible under 3 different provisions, namely the § 4 German Limited Liability Companies Act (GmbHG), the German Commercial Code (HGB), and §§ 17 ff. of the German Civil Code (BGB). 

Luckily for you, we’ve combed through the plethora of information out there to distill here a basic overview of company name regulation in Germany. 

Here’s a brief taste of what you need to know:

  • Your company name must be sufficiently differentiated: This regulation is a bit vague, just like the words it applies to.  The basic idea is this: when you are selecting a name for your business incorporation in Germany, you must select words that set you apart from other companies.  Generic terms are not allowed. 
  • It must not be misleading: Name regulation in Germany requires, unsurprisingly, that your business name reflect the business itself, and does not suggest that you perform services other than those you actually do.  For example, you can’t call your business Bonn Manufacturing if you are not manufacturing in Bonn. 

Put simply, when naming your business in Germany, be truthful in your word selections.  Do

not try to present your company as anything other than what it is.

  • It can’t be immoral: When choosing a name that complies with the laws for business incorporation in Germany, you must stay away from any words which could be construed as offensive according to contemporary moral standards or which disparage a competing company.

These are just a few of the regulations.  Make sure to consult with a qualified advisor to ensure that your name selection is permitted.

Now that you have a bit more of an idea of what sort of words you might use, you likely are asking yourself how to check if a name is already in use or not. 

How do you check if a company name is available in Germany? 

Thoroughly check trademark registries and the Commercial Register for the same or related names listed for other business in your sector.  If you don’t see your chosen name or if you find it in the Commercial Register but a trademark application for it has not yet been submitted, you will want to apply for a trademark right away.

For something as important and as complicated as complying with the laws on name regulation in Germany, we always suggest hiring an advisor.  At Consultinghouse, our advisors are experts in assisting international companies in matters of business incorporation in Germany.  Contact us today.