The German Chamber Network
For companies and individuals planning to do business in Germany, the German Chamber Network abroad (AHK) is the first point of contact. The German Chambers abroad are located at all places of strategic importance to German industry and businesses in 85 countries and have been serving their members for well over 100 years. The AHKs are independent membership institutions which provide a wide range of services promoting trade with Germany. These include, among other things, establishing business contacts, supporting German trade missions, organizing joint stands for international trade fairs in Germany, providing professional training, and organizing a host of business meetings, congresses, and seminars. As a result of its broad international network of affiliated institutions, the AHKs are able to draw upon a broad spectrum of expert advice on both German and global markets when serving their members.
Another excellent source of information for companies planning business activities in Germany are the various mandatory professional organizations. Since German businesses must register with their respective professional organization/s (Berufskammer), their business directories are of particular interest for international companies looking for business contacts in a specific business sector or region. These organizations are semi-autonomous, public organizations authorized to regulate and supervise the professions governed by them. They are also responsible for representing the public interests of their members and offer a variety of specialized consulting services to their members, including start-up support, vocational and professional training and advice on international trade and legal issues.
- The Chambers of Skilled Trades and Crafts (HWKs) are the public organizations responsible for skilled trades businesses which either produce individually manufactured products or provide customized services (i.e. the work of carpenters, hair stylists, electricians, etc.).
- The liberal professions are organized and regulated by branch-specific professional organizations. These occupations include the health professions, legal consulting professions, construction and architectural services, writers, translators, freelance educators and artists. A complete list of the relevant organizations is available in German on the website of the federal association of liberal professions (BFB).
- The Chambers of Agriculture (Landwirtschaftskammern) represent the farming and forestry businesses in the northern and western German states. An index of all the State Chambers of Agriculture in Germany is available in German on their website.
- The Chambers of Industry and Commerce (IHKs) are responsible for all other commercial undertakings.
In addition to these public professional organizations, profession-related interests are also represented by ''free'' (private) associations, which are not authorized to supervise their professions, but do provide a variety of sector-specific support and information. For this purpose, they too can be a very useful resource for international companies and entrepreneurs researching about and looking for contacts in the German market. Browse the ''Distribution Channels'' section of our business sector profiles to find the trade association/s active in your field and contact our information center if you need further assistance.