+49 (0) 421 9600-10
14 March 2017 - Merle Burghart

Last orders before closing time: Start your own business now before Brexit kicks in

Investing in Bremen
Business start-ups facing the prospect of a UK outside the EEA

The United Kingdom completely outside the EU? Hard to imagine, but currently a distinct possibility.
On 23 June 2016, 51.9 per cent of the British electorate voted to leave the European Union. As yet, no one knows what exactly this ‘Brexit’ is going to look like. But one thing is certain: any ex-pat Brits who have been thinking about setting up their own business should act now. Because once the UK starts to be treated as a non-EU country, start-ups by British citizens in Germany would face bureaucratic hurdles.

We explain why now is the ideal time for British people to take the leap and become their own boss.

Manuel Kühn from Bremeninvest’s welcome service
Manuel Kühn from Bremeninvest’s welcome service knows the consequences awaiting Brits in Bremen should the UK become a non-EU country © WFB/Merle Burghart

Freedom to trade

Any British citizens contemplating whether to register a business in Bremen or anywhere else in Germany should take heed: Their best option is to register the business now and make best use of their remaining time as EU citizens.

Why? Because EU citizens enjoy certain freedoms. One of them is the freedom to trade. This means that any citizen from any country within the Union is free to register and operate a business in any member country. You can register through Bremen’s Einheitlicher Ansprechpartner (single point of contact) at the Unternehmensservice Bremen business support agency. Then the tax office issues you with a tax reference number, and you’re all set.

But what happens once the United Kingdom is no longer a member of the EU? We don’t yet know what the relationship between the UK and the EU will be once it leaves. One possibility is that the United Kingdom could become a non-EEA country. That is a country which is not part of the European Economic Area, or the European Union itself. People from outside the EEA are also able to run a business in EU countries. But in order to do so they have to overcome considerable bureaucratic obstacles.

Sketchnote: Die Überwindung des Bürokratie-Berges
To set up business in an EU country, people from outside the EEA may need to overcome considerable bureaucratic obstacles © Bremeninvest/Merle Burghart

The United Kingdom outside the EEA

What does someone from outside the EEA have to do to register a business within the European Union, as opposed to an EU citizen? Manuel Kühn from Bremeninvest’s welcome service is the expert. Every day he helps people from around the world to start their own business in Bremen: “To set up and run your own company you need a visa and a residence permit. But getting those can involve quite a bit of work.”

Were the United Kingdom to start being treated as a non-EEA country, British citizens too would require a specific residence permit for the purpose of conducting business.

Finally self-employed

So why not seize the opportunity to make your dream of becoming your own boss come true while it is still simple and straightforward? “Opting for self-employment would offer British citizens the opportunity of remaining in the EU. But of course the first consideration when registering a business should always be whether it would be viable. Setting up a company that doesn’t work is rarely a good idea. The main focus should be on making the enterprise a success,” Kühn emphasises.

Once non-EU citizens have paid pension contributions in Germany for five years they become eligible to apply for a settlement permit, allowing them to stay in the EU indefinitely.
“For the self-employed there is a quicker way. Five years is normally the rule. But for self-employed people this can be reduced to three years, if the economic success of the enterprise can be verified.”

Finally self-employed
Finally self-employed! © Bremeninvest/Merle Burghart

Getting the timing right

But what happens if British citizens register their business in 2017 and then the UK leaves the EU two years later? Does that mean all is lost?

“Anyone who decides to set up a business now can do it without having to face great bureaucratic hurdles. Then you can use the remaining time until Brexit to prove yourself. If you have already been running your business for two years when the United Kingdom leaves the EU that will be a lot more impressive than a start-up that has only been going for a few weeks,” predicts Kühn. “The aim will always be to set up a business with a future. And if you can show two years of sound operation, no one is seriously going to want to come between a thriving business and its proprietor. I cannot image that someone would suddenly be deported after two years of success.”

The business plan - additional effort for non-EEA citizens

If citizens of a non-EEA country decide to register a business in Bremen, they face quite a struggle with bureaucracy. This begins with an application to the relevant embassy or consulate, where they have to submit various documents, including a business plan. Applicants must make a convincing case for the viability of the business they intend to set up.

What does such a business plan consist of? You need to outline your business concept. It also requires projected earnings, an investment plan, a capital requirement plan and a liquidity plan.
“Your business plan must be completely convincing in terms of why you are the person to see it through. Based on your plan, the assessors must be able to satisfy themselves that the proposal makes sense,” explains Kühn.

Once that is done, the foreign representative office sends the documentation to the relevant Municipal Immigration and Registration Authority in Germany. They in turn obtain expert advice, normally from their chamber of commerce. The chamber of commerce produces an expert opinion, which assesses the economic sustainability of the proposed business, among other things.
“The whole process could easily take a few months. That is something that needs to be considered when planning the time required,” says Kühn.

Meeting the needs of the region

One important aspect in favour of launching a start-up before Brexit takes effect is the consideration given to overriding economic interests for applications from non-EEA citizens. The expert opinion also assesses whether the business meets a particular regional need. This means that there is a particular onus on non-EU citizens to find a special niche.

For example: As a non-EU citizen wanting to set up a snack bar on Bremen’s Ostertorsteinweg you can expect to be turned down, because that small area already has a high density of snack bars. However, that does not matter to EU citizens, who do not need to find a special niche where they can add value.

Dear Brits – it’s last orders for start-ups! If you’ve always had an idea for your own business, now is the time to take the plunge. Here in Bremen, we like you and the added value you bring. We’re happy for you to come, and to stay!

For further information contact Manuel Kühn, project manager welcome service,

+49 (0)421 163 399-477, manuel.kuehn@wfb-bremen.de

How to start your own business with our welcome service? Find out!

Click here for more information on our funding and support for businesses in Bremen.

Life quality
25 April 2017
We love Bremen: seven declarations of affection

Bremen: Down-to-earth, yet always ready to surprise you. An attractive place to live, a city through which we can move easily and without stress – on foot along the river Weser, on two wheels through the many parks, or by tram through the city centre. People from different cities and countries tell us why they fell in love with Bremen and have made their lives here.

Investing in Bremen
20 April 2017
This 3D metal printing plant manufactures titanium and aluminium components in Bremen

Lighter, more bespoke and more intricate: for companies open to new ideas in manufacturing and construction, metal parts produced by 3D printers present an economic alternative to conventional die cutting, rolling and milling. Leading the way is Materialise, a company with its own metal printing plant in Bremen.

Investing in Bremen
18 April 2017
Bremen's twin city: from one port to another

Bremen has been twinned with the city of Dalian in north-eastern China since 1985. Find out more about the similarities and connections that the two port cities share.

Quality of life
13 April 2017
German champions from the city on the Weser

Up to now, cricket has been very much a niche sport in Germany. But that is changing. In Bremen, a woman is calling the shots in this male-dominated sport – with great success. Her men’s team are the 2016 German cricket champions.

Investing in Bremen
5 April 2017
Vision of the future – order picking with smart glasses and wearable computing solutions from Ubimax

Wearables and smart glasses provide hands-free digital information. A visit at the headquarter of the global market leader for Industrial Wearable Computing, Ubimax in Bremen.

Investing in Bremen
4 April 2017
At a glance: direct investments in Bremen in 2016

In 2016, companies invested a combined total of €229 million in the federal state of Bremen. Where do these investors hail from, how many jobs have they created, and what is their line of business? Our infographics provide an overview.

Maritime economy and logistics
23 March 2017
Brexit and its consequences for the transport industry

How will the UK’s impending exit from the EU affect the logistics sector? Günther Hörbst, Managing Director of the Via Bremen Foundation, on the economic links between the United Kingdom and the EU

Investing in Bremen
21 March 2017
Forging a link between Bremen and China

The Chinese designer Haoyu Li combines his German design degree with Chinese business acumen. Now he is opening a design office in Bremen, with the aim of making it easier for Chinese products to enter the German market, and to bring German brands to China.

Quality of life
16 March 2017
Bremen – Germany's third-greenest city

The colours of the local football team are not the only thing that's green about Bremen, as you'll see when you take a stroll around its parks and open spaces. A look at the statistics shows that Bremen is not only Germany's tenth-largest city, it is also its third-greenest, offering plenty of space to enjoy nature.

9 March 2017
Successes, comebacks and newcomers: Bremen holds the key to the gates of Europe

The high standard of logistical expertise in the state of Bremen functioned as a key to open doors, making this a successful year for Bremen. 2016’s successes were marked by automobiles and steel, welcoming ambitious international companies.

Investing in Bremen
7 March 2017
"We have the right solution for any enquiry" – why it's so easy for international companies to set up business in Bremen

From initial idea to successful move. Andreas Gerber, who heads up the international relocation team at Bremeninvest, knows what international companies need to do to set up a business in Bremen. Here he tells us about the most important steps on the ...

Quality of life
2 March 2017
7 reasons why business people quickly feel at home in Bremen

Hard facts take top priority when it comes to the choice of location for international or domestic businesses. But the faster we feel comfortable outside the workplace in the everyday routines and culture of a foreign country, the sooner we feel at home. In addition to trade, science – and of course its port, Bremen has plenty to offer when it comes to quality of life.

Automotive Industries
28 February 2017
The biggest car park in Europe

BLG LOGISTICS GROUP AG & Co. KG’s AutoTerminal in Bremerhaven is a record-breaking automotive hub. Every year, the terminal handles some 2.3 million vehicles. But that’s not all.

Creative / Media
23 February 2017
Co-working in Bremen - nine places where you can find a new office community

Going it alone is rarely an easy option. Co-working enables entrepreneurs to work in a shared space and experience the benefits and synergies that come with this. There are nine co-working spaces in Bremen – which one is right for you?

Welcome Service
21 February 2017
Cutting through red tape with our welcome service

Permits and authorisations, a mountain of applications and a language barrier too. These are just some of the difficulties you face when starting a business abroad. Luckily, an advice centre opened in Bremen in early 2015 that can help you through the jungle: Bremeninvest’s welcome service.

Investing in Bremen
16 February 2017
World Trade Center Bremen: everything under one roof

Geographical distance and cultural differences make it hard to relocate or start up a company in another country. Luckily, help is at hand from the team at the World Trade Center (WTC) in Bremen. They'll do all they can to make your international business a success.

15 February 2017
"Bremen has everything that a hub for the space industry needs"

In December 2016 ministers from the European Space Agency (ESA) member states met to determine the roadmap for the European space sector for the years ahead. Baden-Württemberg, Bavaria and Bremen submitted joint recommendations. In the following interview Dr Peter Vits, Bremen's State Coordinator for the Space Sector, talks about Bremen's strengths and opportunities.

14 February 2017
Take-off for Bremen: what makes the city a hub for aerospace expertise

The sky is not the limit, at least not in Bremen. All parts of the aerospace sector are represented in the city, from R&D to production. Aeroplane wings, Ariane rockets and Galileo satellites – Bremen is one of the leading locations in the international aerospace industry. Here are five factors behind Bremen’s story of success.

31 January 2017
“50 per cent of the exhibition space has already been reserved”

In 2015 Bremen won the right to host the International Astronautical Congress for the second time, after having successfully held the event in 2003. Its bid was the result of a collaboration between the Bremen regional government and Bremen’s space industry and space research sector. Event partners include the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy and the German Aerospace Centre.

Automotive Industries
27 January 2017
E-mobility: why electric vehicles are on the up in Bremen

The Bremen region has long been a pioneer in electric mobility and is now set to enjoy further success after Mercedes-Benz and Borgward announced that they will be making electric vehicles in the city.

Automotive Industries
24 January 2017
Five reasons why Bremen is a leading automotive hub

Bremen knows how to make cars: the Mercedes-Benz plant by the Weser river has been in operation for almost 40 years, is the focal point of the city’s automotive industry and automotive clusters, and is now the company’s biggest global facility in terms of vehicle production numbers. Reason enough for an ever-growing number of suppliers and logistics firms to base themselves in Bremen.

Investing in Bremen
21 December 2016
Sigma Textil GmbH: how Muhammad-Farhan Aslam turned his father's business around

Sometimes you have to learn from other people's mistakes and trust your instincts. That is what Muhammad-Farhan Aslam believed when he took over his father's business. Not only did he change the business model, but he also shelved his own plans to move to England. Instead he stayed in Bremen. And it turned out to be one of many good decisions that he made.

Maritime economy and logistics
14 December 2016
The Cargo Distribution Centre (GVZ) in Bremen: a logistics hub with a bright future

For 30 years, the Cargo Distribution Centre in Bremen has delivered excellence – as an investment location and a logistics hub. Today more than 150 companies employing approximately 8,000 people are based at the site. It offers direct links to the ports, the autobahn and has a close proximity to Bremen City Airport.

Investing in Bremen
7 December 2016
Bremeninvest guidelines for foreign nationals setting up businesses in Bremen

Language barriers, unfamiliar legal and fiscal systems, qualifications that need to be recognised. There are many additional hurdles that entrepreneurs have to overcome when setting up a new branch or a new company in a different country. Bremeninvest is committed to offering you advice and support from the outset.

Investing in Bremen
1 December 2016
Innovative spinal surgery company NuVasive finds success in Bremen

You might expect a Bremen-based company specialising in innovative instruments and implants for spinal surgery to be located at the Technology Park. But you'd be wrong. NuVasive Germany GmbH has its head office at the heart of the city centre next to Wallanlagen Park. Now employing a team of 44 people, the company generates annual revenue of more than €10 million – a figure that looks set to rise.

Investing in Bremen
30 November 2016
Chinese LED business finds success in Bremen

David Zhou came to Bremen three years ago with the aim of conquering the market – and a new continent – with LEDs. He started his business selling LED lighting and electronics at the World Trade Centre at Bremen Airport and has gradually built it up over the past few years.

more articles