Skilled Trades and Crafts (Handwerke)
Skilled trades and crafts (Handwerke) are generally those occupations that either produce individually manufactured products or provide customized services. These include over 100 different occupations in such areas as building and interior decoration, electrical and metalworking, woodworking and plastic trades, clothing, textile and leather crafts, food industry, health and body care, chemical and cleaning sector, and graphic design. For more information, please refer to the complete list of trades and crafts.
The skilled trades and crafts qualifications are acquired through vocational training. The German vocational training system is a unique dual system combining theoretical training at vocational schools with practical, on-the-job training under the supervision of master craftsmen. The traditional titles of ''apprentice'', ''journeyman'', and ''master craftsman'' are granted by and registered with the Chambers of Skilled Trades and Crafts (Handwerkskammern) and their local trade guilds (Innungen). The examinations for obtaining such titles are also administered by these associations.
The requirements that must be met in order to carry out some of the various crafts and trades in Germany were liberalized in 2003. Therefore different recognition requirements apply:
- For 41 regulated skilled trades/crafts, the German title ''master craftsman'' is still required to carry out these occupations. This is because they involve areas that are sensitive to people's health and safety. In these cases, you will have to provide proof of your professional qualifications in order to be registered in the Register of Craftsmen (Handwerksrolle), which is necessary before starting up and carrying out business activities in Germany. More information on the recognition of vocational qualifications obtained in other EU Member States is available for download on this webpage. Partnerships und incorporated companies that provide such skilled trades/crafts must employ at least one master craftsman.
- The other skilled trades/crafts are not regulated. Although you do not have to have a master craftsman's or any other title to carry out such work, you are entitled to acquire the master craftsman title if you wish to do so. Because the master craftsman's title is still widely regarded in Germany as certification of high quality, having it may play an important role in your business's success.
- Some other isolated activities that are typically part of a regulated skilled trade/craft may be carried out without the necessary master craftsman degree, provided that they are easy to learn and are only secondary to the skilled trade/craft itself. In order to find out whether this rule applies to your business activity, you can contact the local Chamber of Skilled Trades and Crafts. Service providers from other EU Member States can also seek assistance from their points of single contact.
- If your company is based in the EU, the EEA, or in Switzerland and you plan on providing skilled trades services only on a temporary and occasional basis in Germany, the procedure is much simpler. All you have to do is inform the local Chamber of Skilled Trades and Crafts beforehand of where you plan to work. Such businesses will need to prove that they are either legally registered or employed in their home country.
All members of the local Chamber of Skilled Trades and Crafts are registered in the Register of Craftsmen (Handwerksrolle) and are issued a craftman's certificate (Handwerkskarte) as proof of their membership.
For European service providers, the German network of points of single contact provides individual assistance with the relevant administrative regulations and procedures. They guide you through all of the relevant application procedures.