What you legally need to add to your email signature (in Germany)
Your email signature might not seem that important when it comes to doing business, but did you know it’s legally required in Germany?
There's a lot of aspects to consider when it comes to your email signature:
✅ What is legally required?
✅ Can you include links?
✅ What about disclaimers?
It can all get pretty confusing, which is why we wanted to make things easier for you by outlining what you actually need to add to your email signature to comply with German laws while avoiding any hefty fines!
In this article we look at:
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What information is required in an email signature in Germany?
Back in 2007, the law on electronic commercial registers and cooperative registers, as well as the company register (EHUG), came into force, meaning:
Any business correspondence sent via email that's addressed to one or more recipients including people in your own company, need to have an email signature.
What your professional email signature should include depends on what type of company you have - a public limited company or a private company limited by shares etc.
But most of the time you need these four components:
- Full company name (as it appears on your companies register)
- Business address
- The registry court
- Your companies registration number
- The names of managing directors, chairman of the supervisory board, chairman of the executive board.
But that’s not all you need to include in your email signature. You’ll also need:
While we mentioned that you are legally required to name the managing directors or the chairman of your board of directors in your email signature, there is one exception:
Registered merchants don’t need to.
For everyone else in Germany, the managing persons must be named and the sole proprietorship and the GbR can dispense with the specification of the place of jurisdiction and the commercial register number. This information is mandatory for all other forms of company.
If your company is not a sole proprietorship, the legal form of your company must appear in the imprint in the email signature.
- GbR must indicate its legal form "GbR" in the signature
- GmbH must specify "GmbH"
- The same applies to the legal forms AG, PartG, eG, SC and SCE - they must all refer to their respective legal form in the imprint in their email signature
The sender's personal information
These details are pretty simple.
All you need is the sender's name and the address of the office they are located at.
This is to show the recipient - who is sending the email, from what company, and how they can get hold of them depending on whether they’d like to call or stop by in person.
Just keep in mind that the address needs to be identical to the details on the commercial register.
What about adding in a link to LinkedIn or another social site?
Go right ahead!
As long as you’re not linking to anything illegal or partaking in a phishing scam, it’s perfectly okay to add social links in your email signature.
You aren't required to have a disclaimer in your email signature by law, but many companies choose to include one as an added layer of protection should their emails find themselves in the wrong inbox.
They usually read something like:
"Note: This email can contain confidential and/or legally protected information. If you are not the intended recipient or received this email in error, please inform the sender immediately by telephone or email and delete this email from your system. The unauthorized copying, as well as the unauthorized forwarding of this mail, is not permitted."
But is a disclaimer legally binding?
According to Christian Solmecke, a partner at WILDE BEUGER SOLMECKE, it won't hold up in court, so it's really not necessary to include one.
What happens if you don't comply with email signature laws?
Let's say you don't have an email signature at all...
Depending on the size of your organisation, you could be fined up to €5000.
If you've forgotten to include some legally required information, you can still face a fine of up to €1000.
Of course, there will be warnings and complaints first, but it's always a good idea to ensure that the email signature is flawless. Not only from a legal standpoint but because an email signature is also a symbol of a serious and professional company.
Add email signature marketing to the mix
Let's face it:
Keeping tabs on whether individual employees comply with German legislation is impossible. And given the size of the fines, breaches should be avoided at all costs.
That's where email signature marketing platforms come in. With one, you can guarantee compliance with central control over every email signature in your organisation. You can also use email signature banners to plug content, special offers, events, and much more.
To get the full lowdown, download our comprehensive guide below 👇