In Germany, the Chambers of Indsutry and Commerce (IHKs) and the Chambers of Crafts (Handwerkskammern) function as the local interest groups of business operators in a specific region. At the same time the chambers realize more than just the general functions of professional associations for their members. They also:
- Carry out active lobbying work by representing the interests of the company towards municipalities, state, and federal government;
- Organize vocational training by defining the framework requirements and approving interim and final examinations;
- Draw up certificates concerning, for example, admissible company names.
In addition to this, the IHKs also provide information about the local economic framework conditions in a region and provide foreign companies with business contacts to possible regional partners. All IHK members are also able to draw on the comprehensive advice and services of the responsible chamber. The chambers are generally the first point of contact in the event of day-to-day business problems.
Membership of the IHK or Chamber of Crafts is obligatory and occurs automatically on registration in the trade office without requiring special registration. The costs of membership of the chamber depend on turnover of the respective company.
The umbrella association of the German Chamber of Industry and Commerce, the DIHK (Deutscher Industrie- und Handelskammertag), offers an overview of all of the regionally responsible chambers on its website.