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Legal forms

The main legal forms of enterprises at a glance

What’s the best legal form for your company? The answer depends on a number of factors. The most important include: the capital required, the level of risk anticipated, liabilities, and the tax framework. The intended size of the business, the timeline involved, and the company’s lifecycle are also important.


Legal forms of corporations

Category

Public limited company (AG)

Limited liability company (GmbH)

Purpose

Commercial or non-commercial

Commercial

Founders

At least one shareholder

At least one partner

Capital

At least: USD 100,000

(Minimum deposit:
USD 50,000)

At least: USD 20,000

Capital contributions must be fully paid in.

Name

Technical or imaginative name, legal form must be specified.

Technical or imaginative name, addition of "GmbH" is compulsory.

Liability for the company's debts

Exclusive liability for company assets; the only obligation for shareholders is to pay in full the share capital attributable to their shares (Liberierung).

Exclusive liability for company assets. Optional, limited obligation to make further contributions in accordance with the articles of association.

The amount of the obligation for further contributions associated with a capital contribution must be defined in the articles of association and may not exceed twice the par value of the capital contribution. Liability only for the additional contributions associated with the respective capital contributions.

Obligation to keep accounts

Yes

Yes


The most important legal forms of partnerships

Category

Collective partnerships

Sole proprietorships

Purpose

Commercial or non commercial

Commercial or non commercial

Founders

At least two natural persons

Only one person

Capital

No legal stipulations

No legal stipulations

Name

Family name of at least one of the partners with addition of e.g. "& Co." or "& Cie."

Can be chosen freely; must include the family name

Liability for the company’s debts

Company assets, secondary personal liability of the partners on an unlimited, joint and several basis

Business and personal assets

Obligation to keep accounts

Yes, with revenues above USD 500,000. If revenues are lower, simplified bookkeeping with listing of income, outgoings and assets

Yes, with revenues above USD 500,000. If revenues are lower, simplified bookkeeping with listing of income, outgoings and assets