Sicherheitsfirma: How to start a security company in Germany

Want to set up a security company in Germany? Good preparation is crucial! This is your guide to a successful start in the German security sector, from the legal structure to the business plan and selecting the right staff.



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What are the requirements to set up a security company in Germany?

To register or operate a security company, you must meet certain criteria. Security services are part of the Bewachungsgewerbe (security industry) and require a Gewerbeerlaubnis (business licence) before setting up your own company.

Section 34 of the GewO (trade regulation act) outlines these requirements:

  • Führungszeugnis
    Certificate of good conduct
  • Auskunft aus Gewerbezentralregister
    Report (information) from the central trade register
  • Nachweis über finanzielle Mittel
    Proof of financial resources
  • Bestehen der Sachprüfung bei der IHK
    Passing the technical examination at the Chamber of Commerce (IHK)


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Andreas Munck

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Got questions about setting up a business in Germany?

  • Startup expert
  • 10+ years experience

Hi, I’m Andreas and I’ve been advising businesses in Germany for over a decade. I’d be happy to call you and answer any questions you have in a one-on-one consultation.


Gewerbeerlaubnis: How to get a business license for the security industry

According to commercial regulations, the security industry requires a special Gewerbeerlaubnis (business licence). This means you must prove your suitability, reliability and, if necessary, your expertise to the competent authority to set up your business via the following documents:

  • Nachweis der Volljährigkeit (Personalausweises)
    Proof of age (copy of identity card)
  • Führungszeugnis
    Certificate of good conduct
  • Haftpflichtversicherung
    Proof of public liability insurance
  • Nachweis über die erforderlichen Mittel und Sicherheiten des Gewerbebetriebs
    Proof of the necessary funds and securities to operate the business
  • Auskunft aus dem Gewerbezentralregister
    Information (report) from the central trade register
  • Unbedenklichkeitsbescheinigung, ausgestellt vom Finanzamt und der Krankenkasse
    Tax and health insurance clearance certificates
  • Sachkundenachweis der IHK
    Certificate of competence from the IHK


Proof of competence for security personnel

If you cannot prove your expertise through professional experience or specialised training, you’ll need to pass an expertise examination at the IHK (chamber of commerce and industry). The examination covers the following topics:

  • Recht der öffentlichen Sicherheit
    Public safety law
  • Gewerberecht
    Commercial law
  • Datenschutzrecht
    Data protection law
  • Straf- und Strafverfahrensrecht
    Criminal law and criminal procedure
  • Umgang mit Menschen
    Dealing with people
  • Unfallverhütungsvorschriften
    Accident prevention regulations
  • Deeskalationstechniken
    De-escalation techniques
  • Sicherheitstechniken
    Security techniques
  • Umgang mit Waffen
    Dealing with weapons

Once you have passed the exam, the IHK will issue you a Sachkundenachweis (certificate of competence) for the Gewerbeerlaubnis (business licence). Only the official business licence entitles you to a Gewerbeschein (trade licence).

Tip: The IHK course to obtain the relevant qualification includes at least 80 hours of lessons. If you already have professional experience in security services, you don’t necessarily need the IHK certificate. Information can be obtained from the IHK or the Gewerbeamt (trade licensing office).


Creating a business plan for your security business

Before launching your business, it’s important to put together a comprehensive business plan. Such a plan considers both fixed and variable costs and compares them with projected profits. For startups, a business plan is often a prerequisite for securing funding.


What skills and know-how are essential?

In the security industry, having a specific professional qualification is only sometimes necessary. Instead, essential skills can be acquired in a variety of ways.

First and foremost, security work requires a wide range of physical and mental abilities that can be used effectively, particularly in challenging or high-pressure situations. While formal qualifications can be helpful, dealing with difficult security situations often relies more on a solid understanding of human behaviour and the ability to assess situations realistically. These crucial skills often develop over years of experience in the industry, whereas technical knowledge of alarm systems or CCTV cameras can be acquired relatively quickly.


Starting a security company as a GmbH, UG or GbR: How to choose the right legal form

The first step in setting up a security company is to decide which legal form is right for your business. The most common legal forms are GmbH, UG or GbR. When choosing, remember that the different legal forms also have different tax implications and that each legal form is best suited to a different start-up situation.

You can find more information on the available legal forms here:


You can use other legal forms but the above ones are the most common.

Which company suits me and my business idea?


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How to start a security company in Germany: Where must I register?

Handelsregister: Enter your security company into the commercial register

If you’ve opted for the UG or GmbH legal structures, it’s essential to enter your company in the Handelsregister (commercial register). Your notary will handle this process when you form (incorporate) your company.

Gewerbeamt: Register your security company with the trade office

Gewerbeanmeldung (trade registration) is one of the basic requirements for anyone wishing to start a business in the security industry. This registration is with the Gewerbeamt (trade office) responsible for your company’s Firmensitz (registered office).

IHK: Become a member of the chamber of commerce and industry

When starting a business, people often wonder whether they should go to the HWK (chamber of crafts) or the IHK (chamber of industry and commerce). A security service isn’t exactly like a traditional trade such as baking or hairdressing, so the IHK is the right place to go for all matters relating to setting up and running a security company.

Berufsgenossenschaft: Register with an employer liability insurance association

Security businesses need to join an employer liability insurance association called Berufsgenossenschaft (BG) in Germany. These associations handle legal accident insurance and are crucial for a professional security service. Even if don’t plan to hire staff, you still need the protection of BG. Usually, the Verwaltungs-Berufsgenossenschaft (VBG) handles security businesses.

Berufsverbände: Professional organisations for the security industry

There are also several professional organisations for security companies. Joining one of these is also a prerequisite for a professionally organised security service. After all, a trade association is in a much better position to represent the specific interests of a security company in the political and economic arena. For example, the Bundesverband der Sicherheitswirtschaft (BDSW) is a good fit for a security company.

Security company: choosing the right location

When you set up a security service, choosing a suitable location for your head office is very important. Of course, employees with the relevant technical equipment can be sent from the company headquarters to any location worldwide. It is easier in terms of logistics and of course, also a noticeable cost advantage if the security services are associated with travelling short distances.

To ensure a successful start, be strategic when choosing your location. Allow yourself time for thorough research.

Fundamental questions are, for example:

  • How large is your catchment area of potential customers?
  • How many other security services already exist in your catchment area?
  • Where have your direct competitors set up shop?
  • What services and additional benefits do your competitors offer?
  • How many staff do your competitors employ?
  • What are your company’s target groups?
  • Where can you address your target group?

In general, a company in the security industry should be located directly in a larger city or at least in the surrounding area. The reason for this is simple: in a large city, there is a higher percentage of crime and major events to be protected than in rural areas, so a location close to the city is associated with more orders.

Important: The choice of the future location of the security company is also linked to which IHK and which Gewerbeamt (trade office) is responsible for entry into the Handelsregister (commercial register)!


Security company: What is your target group?

If you want to set up a security company, you should also adapt the concept for this company to the respective target group. Is it the security of an establishment that combines an upmarket ambience with an exclusive clientele? Should the future security company concentrate on major events such as festivals, concerts, football matches and other major sporting events? Is it about monitoring company premises at night or during company holidays? All these examples clearly show that each specialisation requires specific personnel and expertise.


What services can your security company offer?

A security service protects material assets (such as buildings or land as well as movable property) and people. It also advises on professional security and what the customer can do for it. A thorough analysis of the competition and your target group planning will also help you here.


How to staff for your security company: Competence is key

In the security industry, in particular, founders must ensure that future staff are carefully selected. Reliability and trustworthiness are paramount here. Anyone putting together a team of employees for a company in the security sector must always be aware that future customers trust in the impeccable reputation and absolute reliability of the people who are to protect their belongings and often also themselves.

Recruitment criteria for security staff

It therefore makes a lot of sense for a security service to request a current certificate of good conduct before hiring. If you are looking for security staff for your company, also pay attention to two other criteria:

  1. A command of German and, if possible, other foreign languages is important so that instructions can be understood correctly and communication can be done without problems in the event of escalation.
  2. Applicants need a range of skills and abilities such as resilience, physical stamina, a trustworthy appearance, possibly a licence to carry a firearm and relevant experience in the security industry or related professions.

What exactly is required for each security service depends on the specific tasks of the security company.

Important: A criminal background should be an absolute no-go when selecting your employees.

[BEGIN: Insert an Image between this tag]

Andreas Munck

[END insert Image]

Got questions about setting up a business in Germany?

  • Startup expert
  • 10+ years experience

Hi, I’m Andreas and I’ve been advising businesses in Germany for over a decade. I’d be happy to call you and answer any questions you have in a one-on-one consultation.


Targeted marketing for security companies

The security industry also faces a highly competitive market and numerous competitors. Safety and security are services that are becoming increasingly important and demand absolute professionalism.

Positioning your security services as reliable

If you advertise your security service, you need to work out the unique selling points for your company just as carefully as the competencies that can appear as references on the website, for example. The starting point for any business start-up is a reputable website that is easy to find. Use professional search engine optimisation to increase your visibility. Enter your company headquarters in Google Maps. This allows customers to rate your security service. This creates additional trustworthiness.

Take a customised approach

The choice of advertising material should also be tailored to your target group. While the best way to reach a serious clientele is with a formal cover letter and a brief presentation of the security company’s qualifications, modern companies can also be reached via social media such as Facebook.

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