Opening home-based business on-post in Germany

The Stuttgart Law Center

Q: I left my previous employer to follow my spouse to Germany. I am licensed for a particular craft. Can I open my own private business at my residence on-post?

A: Yes! However, opening a home-based business (HBB), on-post, here in Germany, is not as easy as one might guess! Individuals properly residing in Government-owned or – leased quarters may request permission from the Garrison Commander (GC) to operate a HBB. First, the request should be initiated by contacting DSN: 421-2622/civ. 497117292622 to begin processing an application. Once the application is complete, it will then be reviewed for legal sufficiency by the garrison legal office. The HBB may involve the sale of goods (such as homemade wreaths), or the provision of services (such as tutoring). Please note, the request must be provided by the individual who will operate the HBB, not the non-owner sponsor. The request must include the proposed name of the business, address, telephone number, service or goods offered for sale, and proposed methods of advertising.

Now, here is the tricky and unfamiliar part of the equation. Garrison property, located in Germany, belongs to Germany! Thus, although the HBB will operate on-post, the owner must comply with host-nation law. As such, your first stop should be the German Rathaus. There, you will obtain instructions for registering your business. The Rathaus will help coordinate with the German Finance Office. You must obtain a German tax identification number and may be asked to also provide a copy of any professional licenses required for operation of your particular business. Other licenses, such as the Reisegewerbekarte and/or Fuhrungszeugnis, may be required to prove good standing with the German authorities. All business-related income must be reported to both the German and American tax authorities.

It is very important to remember, once approved by the GC to conduct business, your business is prohibited from using tax-free gasoline or a USAREUR plated POV. Furthermore, the military postal service may not be used to support your business, you may not use PX or equipment purchased at the commissary or PX, and your business may not use VAT forms.

In sum, I advise all potential owners of HBBs to consult with an attorney. Regrettably, Legal Assistance Office services are not available to commercial businesses or, as a result, HBB owners. For more information, please see AER 210-70 and AR 27-3.

Editors note: Application processing contact information revised, Jan. 29, 2016.