At the heart of Europe and an intrinsic part of the European Union, Germany is an economic powerhouse. Famed for its industry, manufacturing and engineering, it is Europe’s greatest exporter. Its people are highly educated, skilled and motivated, making it a core market for growing businesses.

Covid-19 latest information

This guide is an accurate reflection of the pre-Covid-19 business environment in Germany. Please note that due to the current situation, some circumstances may have changed in this country. Figures and data in the guide were last updated in May 2021.


Welcome to Germany

Founded in Germany in 1785, HSBC Germany offers in-depth local knowledge and financial expertise from its base in Düsseldorf and 11 other locations across the country. With approximately 2,900 employees in Germany, backed by a global network of around 3,800 offices in 64 countries and territories, HSBC is well positioned to help you take advantage of the many opportunities Germany can offer.

Germany is one of Europe’s leading financial and economic centres with international reach that can support growing businesses. With its "AA- (stable)" rating, the bank has the highest Fitch rating of all private commercial banks in Germany and offers a comprehensive range of financial services for corporates, institutional clients, investors and private wealth clients.

Nicolo Salsano Chief Executive Officer, HSBC Germany

Head office address: HSBC Germany, Königsallee 21/23, 40212 Düsseldorf, Germany


82.4 million1
357,104 sq km
Main languages
Capital city
Other major cities
Dusseldorf, Hamburg, Munich, Cologne, Frankfurt
Dialling code
USD45,669.544 per capita2
Top exports
Machinery, vehicles, electrical machinery and equipment, and pharmaceuticals.4
Top imports
Machinery including computers, electrical machinery and equipment, vehicles, mineral fuels, pharmaceuticals, optical, technical and medical apparatus, plastics and plastic articles, organic chemicals, gems and precious metals, and iron and steel.4
Unemployment rate
4.5% (Feb 2021)3
Corporation tax
15% (standard rate) and 30-33% (trade tax and solidarity surcharge)4
Typical office hours
9.00am – 6.00pm, Monday to Friday
Time zone
UTC +1, but from March to October the country observes UTC +2
Emergency numbers
110 (police), 112 (pan-European emergency services including fire and medical)

1 World Bank Group, 2019
2 CEIC, 2020
3 Trading Economics, 2021
4 World's Top Exports, 2021
5 Deloitte, 2019
*Map shows cities of economic significance according to the CIA, 2018

Germany: The engine of Europe

  • Economic powerhouse

    Europe’s largest economy, Germany is positioned as the fourth biggest in the world. A population of almost 83 million make it Europe’s largest market.

  • Well connected

    Germany’s transport infrastructure connects to every region in the world, with Frankfurt airport alone offering over 300 destinations, making it the fourth busiest for passengers in Europe.

  • Logistics leader

    Germany tops the World Bank’s 2018 Logistics Performance Index comprising 160 countries. The sector is projected to make up 21% of national growth between now and 2025.

  • Innovation hub

    Ranked third for innovation, Germany is recognised for the strength of its research & development (R&D). No other country in Europe invests greater R&D amounts and that figure continues to rise.

  • Global outlook

    Germany is the third largest exporter in the world, after China and the US. Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) continues to grow, as the country proves stable and attractive for foreign investors.


# 22

for ease of doing business (in a survey of 190 measured economies by The World Bank)

Country profile

Germany is a significant economic power right in the heart of Europe. It’s also one of the world’s major industrial nations with dense communications and transport networks.

With the largest population and economy in the European Union, Germany’s strength is built not only on the major corporations that call it home, but on its renowned Mittelstand – a legion of small and medium-sized enterprises that power its economy.

Germany’s workforce is highly skilled, and the country’s culture of innovation and its commitment to R&D are key economic drivers. Low levels of unemployment and an emphasis on work-life balance also make Germany an attractive destination for international businesses.


Germany shares borders with nine other countries – Denmark, Poland, the Czech Republic, Austria, Switzerland, France, Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands.

Rated as the second most popular expat destination in the world by the OECD and Migration Policy Institute, Germany is a cosmopolitan and multicultural country, embracing many ethnicities and religions. 

Read on to discover more about the dos and don’ts of doing business in Germany. Also find out how trading in or with the country could help boost the future growth of your business.


5 reasons to do business in Germany1

  1. An economic force
    With the world’s fourth largest economy, Germany is regarded as Europe’s economic engine.
  2. Sound infrastructure
    Germany is rated Europe’s number one logistics market, supported by a strong infrastructure.
  3. Qualified workforce
    Germany’s world class education system ensures the highest standards, with 81% of the population trained to university entrance level or possessing a recognised vocational qualification.
  4. Global innovation
    A world-leader in innovation, Germany tops Europe’s league for R&D investment.
  5. Competitive tax
    A reduction in the level of corporate tax makes Germany a competitive location for businesses.

5 key challenges2

  1. 1

    Starting a business

    Germany has a bureaucratic approach to starting a business, with a number of procedures that have to be adhered to and several different offices that need to be contacted.

  2. 2

    Registering a property

    Registering a property can take around 40 days, with many processes to adhere to. Companies must obtain an extract from the Land Registry and notarise the transfer agreement.

  3. 3

    Paying taxes

    Paying taxes in Germany can be onerous. Nine tax payments a year and 14 different taxes, which may be payable by businesses operating in Germany, make this quite time-consuming.

  4. 4

    Energy costs

    High energy costs following the introduction of surcharges to encourage the use of renewable energy are a challenge for many businesses, particularly those that are high users.

  5. 5

    Employment laws

    Germany has some of the strictest employment laws in the world, so understanding the regulations and your responsibilities as an employer is essential.

1 Germany Trade & Invest, 2018
2 TMF Group, 2018