Enterprise Ireland’s top tips for entering the German market

Germany is Ireland’s second-largest market for services exports and its fourth-largest market for merchandise exports, offering the twin benefits of zero currency risk and close geographic proximity.

If you are considering doing business in Germany, please be sure to explore our ten tips to enter the market below and also be sure to reach out to our team in Düsseldorf

    • Expect 1-3 years’ timeline for market penetration in Germany
    • The transportation infrastructure in Germany is one of the best in the world and includes international freight arriving in the 3 biggest harbours, namely  Hamburg, Bremerhaven, Wilhelmshaven. Germany also boasts 16 international and 20 national airports, a well-established railway system, and a world-class road network.
    • “Me-too” products are difficult to get established in the German market. Innovative products are more likely to gain a market share
    • Innovative products with a focus on energy-saving and cost-saving for the automotive, life sciences, agri-tech, software and engineering services market will be attractive as Germany leads in these sectors.
    • Buyers in Germany tend to purchase goods and services from all over the world but prefer products offered in Germany; even if they are at a higher price. Customers trust homemade products and services more than those found abroad.
    • Import tax is “0” for goods imported from Ireland to Germany and sales taxes is at 19% on goods and services;  7% for food, hospitality etc.
      • (VAT will be reduced from 19 per cent to 16 per cent for six months starting in July as part of a stimulus package to speed up Germany’s recovery from the coronavirus shock. A lower VAT rate for hospitality would be cut by two points to 5 per cent over the same period.)
    • Germany is currently experiencing a shift in consumer demand for sustainable products, products from the region, health products.
    • Irish firms should invest in marketing, staff, legal and tax consultancy, language localization before entering the market
    • Meeting in person is important in Germany but you must first establish a formal exchange in writing. There are a range of social norms you should know about, always keeping in mind “the client is king”: 1) find out if the client contact is comfortable to hold the meeting in English or prefers  German (if needed have a German translator at side). 2) Use the formal salutation -3) Business first then if time allows and desired by the customer – small talk (but not too intimate).
    • 500 Irish firms are already active in the German market thanks to EI assistance, contact the local Manager Manus Rooney who will lead you to the sectoral market advisors in Germany.

    Enterprise Ireland is committed to helping Irish firms succeed in global markets and have industry experts on hand, ready to help you access the German market.

    Our Market Advisors are always available to support you and provide business expertise and on-the-ground knowledge.

    For more, download our Going Global Guide 


    If you would like to know what to prepare ahead of your first MA call, click the graphic below

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