GTAI supports British and other international companies seeking to establish business operations in Germany under the post-Brexit framework.
Germany remains the UK's top destination for business in the EU, and the number of British companies setting up in Germany is increasing. Highly innovative, well-funded companies that scale and internationalize in fields like software, fintech and digital health are driving investments to Germany.
Gateway to Europe
Germany is by far Europe's largest economy in terms of both GDP and market size. Germany is also undergoing an incredible transformation driven by climate action, digitization and securing supply chains. Located right in the middle of the continent, Germany provides easy access to European markets in all directions. Incorporating a new business in Germany is easy and follows clearly-defined steps. These factors taken together are attracting an increasing number of British companies.
What you need to know when expanding your business to Germany
Join the Growing Number of British Companies in Germany
The number of British companies setting up in Germany increased by 20 percent to surpass China as a source of investment projects in 2022.
British companies are increasing their investments in the German market. Over the past decade the number of annual projects has more than doubled. In 2022 a total of 170 investment projects worth over EUR 750 million were committed to the German market, marking the second highest level of all time. Only 2019 surpassed this level, which was driven by companies de-risking for the post-Brexit business environment. Now the UK comes in third behind only the USA and Switzerland.
UK FDI Projects in Germany
from UK to Germany in 2022
> EUR 750million
FDI project investments in 2022
British companies are setting up legal entities within the EU to continue seamless operations from inside and outside the EU legal framework. More British small and medium enterprises (SMEs) are setting up in Germany than ever before. Large companies tend to already have multinational structures in place, but GTAI assists companies of all sizes.
The largest investment in 2022 was by retail giant Frasers Group, which is setting up a hub in Bitburg to serve central Europe and investing EUR 300 million and hiring 800 employees at the site. Additionally, Huboo, another company in the e-commerce space, set up in Leipzig. British company Mura Technology is joining forces with US-based Dow in the field of chemicals recycling at their site near Leipzig. Proton Motor Fuel Cell as well as digital printing and branding studio THEMPC both chose the Munich area for their investments.
A subsidiary is a popular option for establishing a business in Germany. UK companies can easily incorporate a GmbH in Germany.
The German limited liability company (GmbH) is the most popular company form for a subsidiary. It requires a minimum share capital of EUR 25,000. The GmbH requires a German address and a local representative on site in Germany. The GmbH offers limited liability and high flexibility.
For more details on how to set up a GmbH in Germany, please refer to the company set up chapter in our Investment Guide to Germany.
British citizens can in general visit Germany for a short-term stay without a visa. Business visitors and company executives may benefit from this exemption alike.
New visa regulations
With the United Kingdom leaving the European Union, UK citizens no longer benefit from free movement to work and stay within the EU. This means that UK citizens moving to Germany will be subject to German national immigration rules. British citizens moving to Germany require a residence permit to live and work in Germany.
Visa exemption rules
British citizens do not require a visa to enter Germany for short-term stays (up to 90 days in any 180-day period), unless an economic ativity is being pursued. Specific professional activities are however exempted from a visa requirement. For example, business travelers and executives may be exempt from the visa requirement under certain conditions.
Germany remains one of the most important business locations for UK companies setting up business operations abroad and the trend continues to be positive. Here we provide answers to the most important questions.
"Our experience setting up in Germany was very positive. We were able to utilise the extensive knowledge of Germany Trade and Invest as well as Berlin Partner to navigate legal, tax and immigration issues, which has been key in our successful launch. We have managed to attract both local and international talent to our office in Berlin, which acts as a Research & Development hub and has given us an advantage over thousands of other employers, as it is such an attractive location for highly sought-after technical talent in software development and machine learning.” (2021)
Dr. Elisabeth Grindel-Denby, Campus Director - Lancaster University Leipzig
"Lancaster University chose Leipzig because the city has everything needed to offer students a fantastic time whilst studying, as well as longer-term settlement opportunities. The support from GTAI was amazing – especially their timely responses, openness, reachability and the high quality of information and output . GTAI enabled us to quickly hit the ground running. Thank you very much!” (2021)
Frank P. Averdung, Chief Executive Officer - Oxford PV
"We have been based in Brandenburg an der Havel since 2016 and we are thrilled with the progress we have made towards developing our perovskite solar cells, which will be critical for delivering affordable, clean energy. We are on track to reach our target of large-scale production in 2022, bringing the world one step closer to finding a much-needed solution to the climate change crisis” (2021)
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