Starting a market stall in Germany
- Marcel Hoebink
- How to
- 24 May 2023
- Edited 29 Dec 2022
- 3 min
- Managing and growing
If you want to peddle your wares on a market in Germany, local rules for itinerant trade apply. In Germany, itinerant traders need a pedlars licence, or Reisegewerbekarte (RGK). In this article, we will go over all the rules you will have to keep in mind, how German taxes work, and where you can find more information or apply for permits.
Itinerant trade involves selling products to consumers at markets, along public roads, in city parks, in other public places, or on private property. Itinerant traders usually sell their products from a stall or van, rather than a building.
Before taking your market stall on the road, contact an Einheitlicher Ansprechpartner (EA) (in German). EAs are digital German government offices that inform you of the requirements and steps itinerant traders have to take to sell their products in Germany.
In Germany, itinerant traders need a pedlars license, the so-called Reisegewerbekarte (RGK) (in German). You can apply for a license by contacting the trade office (Gewerbeamt, in German) or the Public Order Office (Ordnungsamt) of the German municipality in which you want to run your market stall. If you regularly sell your goods at a weekly or monthly market, ask the local council whether it is a fixed market or so-called ‘festgesetzter Markt’. You do not need an RGK to run a stall at a festgezetzter Markt or if you sell homegrown fruit or vegetables from your own land.
The Gewerbeamt or Ordnungsamt will also tell you which documents to submit to support your RGK application. You may have to wait up to six weeks before receiving your licence. RGK licences cost anywhere between €150 and €500, with costs varying from one municipality to the next. You can use your RGK in all of Germany and must carry it with you while you are at work. Your employees need not have a separate card, but they will need a certified copy of the RGK if they have direct customer contact. You can request a copy of your RGK from the Safety and Order Department (Fachbereich Öffentliche Sicherheit und Ordnung) of the German municipality in which you sell your wares.
If you want to sell your goods on a market organised by a municipality, the market master (Marktleiter) will assign you a pitch. To set up a stall along a public road, for instance to sell fish, fries, or other food, you will need a Sondernutzungserlaubnis (a special user permit) or a Standschein (pitch permit), as well as an Ausnahmegenehmiging (exemption permit).
Visible company name
Make sure to display your company name clearly in or on your market stall, so that customers know exactly who they are doing business with.
Additional food rules
If you prepare food or transport unpackaged food, you are required to be familiar with hygiene and food safety rules, which you can prove with a health certificate (Gesundheitszeugnis) from the local Public Health Office (Gesundheitsamt, in German). If you sell food from a vehicle, such as a food truck, the local food inspection office (Lebensmittelüberwachungsamt) will check whether your establishment meets all legal health requirements. To serve alcoholic beverages for immediate consumption, you need a restaurant licence (Gaststättenerlaubnis).
Itinerant traders without a business address in Germany have to register with the Tax Office (Finanzamt, in German and Dutch) in Kleve. You pay German VAT (Mehrwertsteuer) on your sales in Germany through your German VAT return. For this, you need a German tax number (Steuernummer). To apply for a tax number, contact the Finanzamt.
VAT booklet: Umsatzsteuerheft
You are required to carry a VAT booklet (Umsatzsteuerheft) with you when selling goods on a market in Germany to keep track of your sales. To request a VAT booklet, contact the Finanzamt in Kleve. The Finanzamt determines when you must show your Umsatzsteuerheft for inspection.
Anyone who earns an income in Germany may face tax consequences, including you and your employees. For information, call the Cross-border Working and Business Department (in Dutch) of the Dutch tax authorities. Alternatively, you can seek advice from a consultant specialising in Dutch and German tax law.
If you are only planning to work in Germany temporarily, you can hold on to your social security coverage in the Netherlands. The same goes for your Dutch employees. An A1 certificate of coverage (in Dutch) from the Social Insurance Bank (SVB) shows that you have social insurance coverage in the Netherlands. The Bureau of German Affairs (BBZ), part of the SVB, can answer any questions you may have about social security.
If you hire German employees (in Dutch), you will have to pay social insurance contributions in Germany. The SVB has several brochures on social security in Germany for self-employed workers and employees. You will also have to deal with payroll taxes in Germany. Bring in an accountant to help you with your tax and employment obligations for German employees.
Germany is the Netherlands' main trading partner. Want to do business in Germany? You’ll find everything you need to know in this article (in Dutch).