Startup in Germany: rip-off warning

I just registered an Inc. in Germany and immediately got 6 pieces of mail which look very authoritylike, “offering” me the registration of the company for a fee ranging from € 333.58 to 697.42. The total sum of “offers” was 3,374.53!

This is how the correct official confirmation of incorporation (Handelsregistereintrag) looks like in Berlin. Do not confuse this with registration offers (“Eintragungsoffert”) from various publishers.

All of that mail came after I had paid the official registration fee (€ 150) to the court. But it came exactly at the time when the official confirmation of incorporation arrived, making it difficult to distinguish from the official information and very easy to get tricked into paying for some service you probably do not want. The registrating court actually warns about these rip-off attempts: some publication companies constantly scout the listings of new incorporations to “offer” them this kind of registration. (Read about the duration and cost of incorporating in Berlin here.)

The six letters I got were from various publishers with very official sounding letter heads like “Handels- und Gewerberegister”. Since the company register is the “Handelsregister” in German, you can be easily mislead to pay and expect to have paid to the state authorities.  When you compare the letter head to the beneficiary of your payment slip, you realize that there is a totally different name! One of them even sent me two letters different fees for the same service – I found that very interesting. Why do I not mention the names here, so you can be warned better? Because the way these publishers are working, they would probably flood me with “Abmahnungen” – warning letters costing a legal fee. That’s a German legal issue making the life of bloggers and ecommerce companies difficult. I will come to that in a later post…

The letters look very much like coming from the official authorities. Three of them even bear an eagle as a state symbol, reminding of the official symbol, the Bundesadler.

I found out that many entrepreneurs have already blogged about this rip-off attempt, but one cannot warn enough, especially since international founders will find it hard to distinguish these pieces of mail from the official authorities’ mail.

What would you like to pay for incorporation? –> (Survey) 
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