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Each instalment of our registry spotlight series provides an overview of one of the national registries accessible in real-time through the Know Your Customer platform and single API.   

This article focuses on the company register in Germany, providing key information on how to access it, the types of details and documents that are available, and the number of businesses that are registered in the country annually.  

If you are looking for corporate information about a business that is registered in Germany, you can purchase a single Business KYC report directly from our website here. To explore the full coverage of our registry connector, please visit here.  

What is the Handelsregister Company Register?

The German Company Register, also known as the Handelsregister, is the official registry for all registered companies in Germany. It is a comprehensive and publicly accessible database that provides information about the ownership, management, and financial performance of companies across various industries. With over 3.3 million registered companies listed (December 2021, Destatis), it is one of the largest public databases in Germany. 

Key Entity Types and Available Documentation

The company registry in Germany lists several types of entities, including private companies limited by shares, public companies limited by shares, partnerships, and sole proprietorships, with each of these entity types having its own legal structure and requirements. Some of the most common types of companies include: 

  • GmbH (Gesellschaft mit beschränkter Haftung) – a private limited liability company 
  • UG (Unternehmergesellschaft) – a small private limited liability company 
  • AG (Aktiengesellschaft) – a public limited company 
  • KG (Kommanditgesellschaft) – a limited partnership 
  • GbR (Gesellschaft bürgerlichen Rechts) – a civil law partnership 
  • OHG (Offene Handelsgesellschaft) – a general partnership 
  • e.V. (eingetragener Verein) – a registered association 
  • GmbH & Co. KG – a limited partnership with a private limited liability company as the general partner 

Among the many documents and data points provided by the registry, the most commonly available ones include registry extracts, articles of association, lists of shareholders, and registration certificates. Additionally, the register provides information on any changes made to the company’s details, such as changes in shareholders, directors, or registered addresses. 

Number of Companies Registered in Germany

From 2017 to 2020, on average over 600,000 new companies were registered yearly in Germany. In 2020, that number grew to 660,000 new companies registered in a single year. As of 2021, the total number of registered companies in Germany has surpassed 3.3 million (December 2021, Destatis).  

This means that roughly 20% of companies registered in Germany were newly incorporated in the course of the last year for which data is available. 

Why Company Registries are Important for KYB Compliance

Official company registries play a vital role in ensuring accurate Know Your Business (KYB) procedures for financial institutions and regulated companies worldwide.

By verifying clients, suppliers, investors and partners through information sourced from official company registries, compliance teams gain peace of mind that the companies they are dealing with are who they say they are and operating legally.  

Most company registries also provide key information on company shareholders, enabling compliance teams to reliably map company structures and identify Ultimate Beneficial Owners (UBOs) across jurisdictions. 

However, accessing multiple company registries manually can be a daunting task for compliance officers, due to language barriers and different systems being used in each country.

This is why, to streamline compliance processes, many compliance teams turn to automated KYB solutions such as Know Your Customer to access company registries, retrieve official documents and data, and simplify the process of verifying their counterparties.

Additionally, compared to traditional databases of corporate information, KYB solutions with real-time access to company registries have the advantage of providing details also on newly incorporated entities. These new entities would usually not be present in a static database updated at intervals. So, the best way for compliance teams to verify these businesses is through official documents and information retrieved directly from the most authoritative source, which is the local registry. 

With Know Your Customer, you can retrieve real-time information from the company registry in Germany and gain standardised access to local registries in 125+ countries worldwide. Through our AI and machine learning capabilities, our platform helps analyse large amounts of company registry data to improve the accuracy and efficiency of data verification. By automating the process of verifying business information, such as identifying ultimate beneficial owners (UBO) and verifying company structures, businesses can save time, safe in the knowledge that they are meeting their compliance obligations.

Experience the benefits of our Live Registry Solution and Automated UBO Engine to drive secure cross-border growth for your business.

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Stephanie Zhu

Stephanie is currently the Senior Marketing Manager, APAC at Know Your Customer. With over a decade of experience in 360-marketing, including marketing strategy, brand development, and digital marketing, Stephanie has worked across various industries and geographies in APAC including AXA, Procter and Gamble, and A seasoned marketer and entrepreneur, Stephanie also founded Cotton Pigs, the first reversible organic baby clothing line in Hong Kong, back in 2019.