- Why do I need articles of association?
- What do the articles of association contain?
- Gesellschaftsvertrag vs Musterprotokoll
- When do you need articles of association?
For incorporated companies such as the ‘GmbH’ or the ‘UG (haftungsbeschränkt)’, getting its articles of association notarised is mandatory before entry into the Handelsregister (commercial register). The articles of association (also known as the partnership agreement) regulate the rights and responsibilities of the partners. Articles of association should always be tailored to the actual situation of the partners and their goals.
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Together with the articles of association, you have to create a shareholders’ list. According to § 40 Paragraph 1 of the GmbH Act, the list of shareholders must contain the following information for each shareholder:
- Legal name
- Dates of birth
- Places of residence
- The nominal amount and the sequential number of each company share belonging to the shareholder
- Total percentage of the share capital that the shareholder owns
Founders often assume that this list must be drawn up by a notary. However, as this is a straightforward task, you do it yourself and save costs. You can find more info about the shareholders’ list including a sample template here.
Of course, there are endless possibilities as to how you can draft your UG’s articles of association. Bear in mind that all aspects that you do not regulate specifically are by default governed by the provisions of the GmbH Act.
Basic data of the UG
- Company name of the UG
- Registered office of the company
- Business objective and business purpose of the UG
- Shareholders of the UG
- UG share capital total amount
- Shareholdings and capital contributions of each of the UG’s shareholders
Organisation and representation
- Duration of the company, if the company is going to be incorporated for a limited period
- The exact definition of the financial year of the UG
- Governing bodies of the company:
- Gesellschaftsversammlung (shareholders’ meeting/general meeting)
- Management and representation rights and responsibilities of the managing director
Rights and duties
- Conditions of a shareholders’ resolution (Gesellschafterbeschluss)
- Regulations on the shareholders’ meeting: convening, quorum, voting rights, minute taker
- Rules on the annual accounts (Jahresabschluss)
- Profit and loss distribution, dividend payout and creation of reserves
- Sale of shares (in the case of multiple shareholders)
- Termination and notice periods for shareholders
- Severance claims of a shareholder on leaving the company
- Withdrawal of a shareholder due to illness or death
- Regulations on the matrimonial property regime of the partners
For UG founders there is an alternative to the Gesellschaftsvertrag (articles of association): the Musterprotokoll.
The Musterprotokoll simplifies and speeds up the formation of a UG because all the articles of association are ready-made. Plus it combines several documents and therefore saves notary fees.
However, you cannot alter the standardised documents in any way. If you want to change or add provisions, you can only draft individual articles of association. UG founders can only use the Musterprotokoll if the following conditions are met:
- At least one and at most three shareholders
- A maximum of one managing director
- No additional provisions or amendments that differ from the template
- The company’s financial year is the same as the calendar year
As soon as you want anything different from the Musterprotokoll template, you have to draft individual articles of association. Separate regulations can concern all the areas listed above. You can have articles of association drawn up individually to suit your needs with the help of a lawyer.
Also, bear in mind all changes to the founding documents must be notarised. The following events require the drafting or amendment of articles of association for the UG:
- New shareholders (ie, fresh investors or business partners)
- Capital increases
- Change of registered office
- Change in the company objective (Unternehmensgegenstand)
NB. Always get legal help to draw up contracts or articles of association. Having a legally watertight agreement will save you from a world of pain if the unexpected happens.
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.
Want to know more about starting a UG in Germany?
How to start a company in Germany
A roadmap for the formation process of a limited liability company (GmbH or UG).
How to start a UG company
Use our step-by-step guide to incorporating your company as a UG.
Master List: Company Formation
The complete list of all our articles about starting a business in Germany.