Craft regulations

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Basic data
Title: Law on the Order of Crafts
Short title: Craft regulations
Abbreviation: [HwO]
Type: Federal law
Scope: Federal Republic of Germany
Legal matter: Trade law
References : 7110-1
Original version from: September 17, 1953
( BGBl. I p. 1411 )
Entry into force on: September 24, 1953
New announcement from: September 24, 1998
( Federal Law Gazette I p. 3074 ,
ber. 2006 I p. 2095 )
Last change by: Art. 6 G of June 19, 2020
( BGBl. I pp. 1403, 1406 )
Effective date of the
last change:
July 30, 2020
(Art. 7 G of June 19, 2020)
GESTA : E033
Please note the note on the applicable legal version.

The Crafts Code governs in the Federal Republic of Germany, the craft exercise in standing commercial , vocational education and training in crafts as well as the self-management of the sector. The Crafts Code, which is part of the economic administration law, is a special law on the trade regulations and, with regard to the provisions on vocational training in the craft, a special law on the Vocational Training Act .

Regulatory content

Part 1: Exercising a craft or a craft-like trade

The craft regulations differentiate between handicrafts requiring authorization, non-authorization handicrafts and craft-like trades.

Crafts that require approval

The trades that require approval are listed in Appendix A of the Crafts Code. The independent operation of a craft subject to authorization in a craft-like mode of operation as a standing trade is only permitted for natural and legal persons and partnerships registered in the craft register ( Section 1, Paragraph 1 of the Crafts Code ). The handicrafts register is kept by the respective chamber of handicrafts ( Section 6 (1) of the Handicrafts Code ). The Chamber of Crafts issues a craft card for the entry in the craft register ( Section 10 (2) of the Crafts Code ).

Proof of qualification is required for entry in the trade register. The master craftsman's certificate for the corresponding craft is valid as proof of qualification . Graduates from universities and technical colleges can also be entered in the craft register under certain conditions ( Section 7 of the Crafts Code ). Furthermore, operators of a craft that requires approval can be entered in the craft register for other trades if they can prove the necessary knowledge and skills ( Section 7a of the Crafts Code ).

In addition, entries can be made in the trade register via exception regulations. On the basis of a right to exercise ( Section 7b of the Crafts and Trades Code ), a journeyman can be entered in the trade register if he has worked for a total of six years in the craft that is subject to authorization, including four years in a managerial position (this option does not exist for chimney sweeps , opticians , Hearing aid acousticians , orthopedic technicians , orthopedic shoemakers and dental technicians ). Exemptions ( Section 8 of the Crafts and Trades Code ) can be granted if the applicant has a reason for exemption and he can prove the necessary knowledge and skills. Applicants from other EU / EEA countries can also receive special permits under certain conditions ( Section 9 of the Crafts Code ). The Federal Constitutional Court demands a generous (not narrow-minded) application of these exceptions.

The justification and proportionality of the requirements for independence in the licensed trades is under the terms champion duty master constraint or Big qualification discussed.

Without an entry in the handicrafts register, essential activities of a handicraft subject to authorization may be carried out in an insignificant auxiliary handicraft business , and these activities may be carried out in the auxiliary business as long as these services are not provided for third parties ( §§ 2-3 of the Crafts Code ). Handicraft services can also be provided without being entered in the handicrafts register in the travel trade (as there is no standing trade). Enterprises registered in the handicrafts register may also carry out essential activities of another handicraft if these activities complement their own business activity economically. Non-essential activities (within the meaning of Section 1 (2) of the Crafts Code) may also be carried out without being entered in the craft register.

If essential activities of a craft subject to licensing are carried out in the standing trade without being entered in the craft register, the competent authority can prohibit the continuation of operations in accordance with Section 16 of the Crafts Code if the competent Chamber of Crafts and the competent Chamber of Industry and Commerce have previously communicated in a joint declaration, that they consider the preconditions for a prohibition to be given.

Section 17 of the Crafts Code grants the Chamber of Crafts extensive inspection and access rights to the companies registered or to be registered in the craft register. At least the right of entry was largely curtailed by the Federal Constitutional Court.

Authorized trades and craft-like trades

The competent Chamber of Crafts must be notified of the operation of a trade that does not require a license and a trade similar to a craft. The Chamber of Crafts keeps a register of the companies located in its chamber district.

The trades that are not subject to authorization are listed in Appendix B1 of the Crafts Code. These trades were still in Annex A until the amendment to the trade law in 2004 and thus previously had to be mastered.

The craft-like trades are listed in Appendix B2 of the Crafts Code. These trades were subordinated to the administration of the Chamber of Crafts through the amendment of the Crafts Law of 1965 .

Part 2: Vocational training in the craft

The training is to Craft dual training organized. The Federal Ministry of Economics can issue training regulations. The Chamber of Crafts has the task of keeping a register of the vocational training relationships and of monitoring and promoting the training. The Chamber of Crafts sets up examination committees to take the journeyman's examinations. The Federal Ministry of Economics can also issue legal ordinances for professional training . If this has not happened, the chambers of crafts can issue further training examination regulations.

Part 3: Master's examination, master's title

The Federal Ministry of Economics can issue master craftsman examination ordinances on the basis of Section 45 of the Crafts and Trades Code . A master craftsman's examination regulation determines the master craftsman's professional profile for the craft concerned. The word monster master craftsman profession was in the craft law amendment in 1998 added to the craft regulations to make it the clear that the Masters examination regulations no definition of essential for the craft activities (within the meaning of § 1 para. 2 ) determine the Crafts Code.

When issuing a master's examination ordinance for trades requiring approval, it must be taken into account that the master's examination ordinance interferes with the freedom of occupation . The master's examination must not be unreasonably difficult.

Master craftsman exams are held by state master craftsman examination committees (based at the respective chamber of crafts). Participation is open to persons with a journeyman's examination in the respective (or a related) trade or persons who have a final examination in a recognized training occupation corresponding to the trade that is subject to authorization.

Part 4: Organization of the craft

This part regulates the self-administration of the craft. Craft guilds , District Trade machinations and craft chambers are public corporations . Guild associations - the amalgamation of craft guilds of the same craft or technically or economically related crafts in a larger area - are legal entities under private law.

The statutory tasks of the guilds include, in particular, the regulation and monitoring of apprenticeship training, including the implementation of journeyman's exams in accordance with the regulations of the chambers of crafts. Craft guilds can conclude collective agreements, unless one has been concluded by the guild association. Membership in the guilds is voluntary and is open to the owners of businesses in the respective craft or a craft-like trade for which the craft guild is formed. In the guilds, journeymen's committees are set up to allow employees to participate in self-administration.

The craft guilds, which have their headquarters in a city or county, are the Kreishandwerkerschaft ; it supports the guilds and the Chamber of Crafts.

The chambers of crafts keep the handicrafts register and the lists of the non-licensed trades or craft-like trades. They regulate the vocational training, issue the master craftsman examination regulations and manage the business of the master’s examination committees. In the meantime, the chambers of skilled crafts in all federal states are also responsible for granting exercise authorizations and special permits.

The members of a Chamber of Crafts are the companies registered in the craft register and in the registers for non-licensed crafts and craft-like trades as well as, under certain conditions, persons who independently carry out non-essential activities of a craft within the meaning of Section 1 (2) sentence 2 no.1 of the Crafts Code ( Section 90 of the Crafts Code ). The members of a chamber of crafts control this through the general assembly.

One third of the members must be fellows or other employee with a completed training that in the operation of a sector of the system A of a sector of the operating or system B are employed. In the past, the members of the general assembly were almost always elected in so-called peace elections.

The obligation to membership in the Chamber of Crafts is repeatedly criticized under the term compulsory membership or compulsory chamber membership .

Part 5: Administrative fines, transitional and final provisions

An administrative offense is committed by anyone who engages in a craft that is subject to authorization as a craft in the standing trade without being entered in the craft register (Section 1 in conjunction with Section 117 No. 1 of the Crafts Code ). If the scope is considerable, this can also be pursued as undeclared work. The use of the master's title without a master's examination is also an administrative offense. Violations of training regulations can also be punished as administrative offenses ( Section 1, Paragraph 118 of the Crafts Code ).


Several annexes are attached to the craft regulations:

  • Appendix A shows a list of trades that can be operated as trades requiring approval.
  • Appendix B is the list of trades that can be operated as non-licensed trades (B1) and craft-like trades (B2) .
  • Appendix C is the election regulations for the elections of the members of the plenary assembly of the chambers of crafts.
  • Appendix D specifies the type of personal data entered in the trade register as well as the data in the register of owners of the trades that are not subject to authorization and the data in the apprentice roll .

Craft law amendments

Trade law amendment 1965

With the Handicrafts Amendment of September 16, 1965, the handicraft-like trades (at that time Appendix B ) were included in the Handicrafts Code. From this amendment, exemptions could also be granted for essential parts of the activities of a craft. The Ministry of Economic Affairs was authorized to issue the regulations for the issuing of special permits for citizens of other EC countries by means of statutory instruments. A minority in the Bundestag could not prevail with the proposal to fill the plenary assembly of the Chamber of Crafts equally with representatives of employers and employees - so it remained with a third of the members for the journeymen.

Trade law amendment 1994

The aim of the amendment to the Crafts Law of January 1, 1994 was to improve the possibilities for services from a single source. To this end, the "operations manager privilege" has been expanded. Companies registered in the handicrafts register are now also allowed to carry out work by third-party handicrafts if these supplement their own activities economically ( Section 5 of the Handicrafts Code ). If there is evidence of the required skills, an operations manager can be entered in the craft register for additional craft. The definition of “related trades” has also been expanded ( Section 7 of the Crafts Code ) and access for applicants from other EU countries ( Sections 8, 9 of the Crafts Code ) and the EEC / ERW Craftsman Ordinance has been made easier. Furthermore, the rights of employees in the self-administration of the craft have been improved and data protection provisions have been made.

Craft law amendment 1998

The core of the amendment to the Crafts Law of April 1, 1998 was the revision of Annex A of the Crafts Code - the list of professions requiring a master craftsman. As in 1994, the aim was to enable “more services from a single source”. To this end, various trades were merged. The merging of the radio and television technician with the office machine mechanic to become an information technician was intensively discussed in public . It was controversial under what conditions computer shops must have an entry in the trade register. Here the legislature has made it clear that the implementation of a “structured cabling” does not require an entry. The scaffolder was in the Annex A was added. For example, the glove maker or the knitter was transferred from the annex to the list of handicraft-like trades . In addition, relationships between crafts were created. The possibility for industrial foremen to obtain special permits ( Section 8 of the Crafts Code ) has been made easier.

The Monopolies Commission of the Federal Government criticized the craft short stories had in 1994 and 1998 does not cause significant market openings.

Trade law amendment 2004

As part of Agenda 2010 , the craft regulations were reformed "notably" for the first time since it came into force in 1953. The aim was to make business start-ups and job creation easier, as well as to reduce domestic discrimination through compulsory master craftsmen. The Federal Government had doubts as to whether the previous constitutional justification for the subjective occupational access barrier (“maintaining the level of performance and the efficiency of the craft and securing the next generation for the entire commercial economy”) was still valid. Therefore, Appendix A of the Crafts and Trades Code should be limited to those crafts, the practice of which could endanger the health or life of third parties. In this way, the technical qualification should be more constitutionally secured. The change in law came into effect on January 1, 2004.

In order to achieve the legislative goal, the number of master craftsmen was reduced from 94 to 41 crafts. 53 trades were now admission-free; A master craftsman's certificate is still required for training in these trades. In addition to the exemption, the right to exercise has been created for journeymen with six years of professional experience (four of them in management positions). This option does not exist for chimney sweeps , opticians , hearing aid acousticians , orthopedic technicians , orthopedic shoemakers and dental technicians . Access to the trade has been made easier for engineers and university graduates as well as state-certified technicians . The owner principle has been abolished so that trades that require authorization - regardless of the legal form of the business - can be operated with an employed manager who can be entered in the trade register.

Another law (the so-called Small Business Act ) specifies which manual activities do not need to be entered in the trade register, namely activities that can be learned within two to three months or which are or are not relevant to the overall picture of the relevant trade subject to authorization originated from a craft that requires approval. (See Section 1, Paragraph 2 of the Crafts and Trades Code ) This should implement the case law of the Federal Administrative Court on this question in legal form.

With this amendment, the Crafts and Crafts Code was passed for the first time with only a narrow majority in the Bundestag and after the mediation committee had been appealed to. At the initiative of Bavaria, the Federal Council introduced a bill that largely contradicted the government bill. During the negotiations in the mediation committee, the training performance of a craft was also accepted as a reason for remaining in Appendix A of the craft regulations. The number of trades requiring authorization was increased from the planned 29 to 41; Bakers, heat, cold and sound insulation insulators, well builders, stonemasons and stone sculptors, plasterers, painters and varnishers, surgical mechanics, information technicians, gunsmiths, pastry chefs, butchers and hairdressers were left in Annex A. The professional experience from which journeymen are entitled to exercise authorization has been shortened from ten years to six years - compared to the draft law.

A study based on the microcensus showed that the amendment almost doubled the likelihood of starting a craft business, while the likelihood of giving up a craft business remained constant. Overall, the amendment has increased the number of self-employed craftsmen. The study also showed that the increases came mainly from male, low-skilled craftsmen.

In the XV. and XVI. In the main expert opinion of the Federal Government's Monopolies Commission , the commission advocated a complete abolition of the compulsory master craftsman as a prerequisite for market access. A special position of the craft is also not to be substantiated by a defense against danger .

Craft law amendment 2020

On December 12, 2019, the Bundestag passed changes to the Crafts Code, which reintroduced the master craftsman's requirement for the following twelve trades and came into force on February 14, 2020:

  1. Tile , slab and mosaic layers
  2. Concrete block and terrazzo manufacturer
  3. Screed layer
  4. Tank and apparatus builder
  5. Parquet layer
  6. Roller shutter and sun protection technician
  7. Woodturners and wooden toy makers
  8. Hooper, Fassbinder or coopers called
  9. Glass refiner
  10. Sign and light advertising manufacturer
  11. Interior decorator
  12. Organ and harmonium builder.

Companies founded in these trades in the period from January 1, 2004 to February 13, 2020 enjoy grandfathering and may continue to operate.


  1. In the announcement of the Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology of the resolutions of the “Bund-Länder Committee for Crafts Law” on the implementation of the Crafts Code of November 21, 2000, there are instructions as to when an exemption should be granted. The announcement was published in the Federal Gazette Volume 52 page 23193 of December 13, 2000.
  2. Federal Constitutional Court decisions BVerfGE 13.97, of July 17, 1961 and also BVerfGE, 1 BvR 1730/02 of December 5, 2005
  3. Federal Constitutional Court decision BvR 2138/05
  4. §§ 18 to 20 Crafts Code
  5. BT-Drs. 13/9388 , page 20f (PDF; 1.0 MB)
  6. Trade Archive 2003, 41; "Recent developments in the statutory regulations for master craftsman examinations" by Ministerialrat Friedrich Fehling
  7. Ordinance on Related Crafts
  8. Bundestag printed paper IV / 3461
  9. BT-Drs. 12/5918 (PDF; 1.1 MB)
  10. EU / EEA craft regulation - EU / EEA HwV
  11. BT-Drs. 13/9388 (PDF; 1.0 MB)
  12. Special report 31 of the Monopolies Commission: Reform of the Crafts Code (2002) (PDF; 106 kB)
  13. BT-Drs. 15/1206 (PDF; 545 kB)
  14. BT-Drs. 15/1089 (PDF; 274 kB)
  15. BT-Drs. 15/2138 (PDF; 426 kB)
  16. Rostam-Afschar, D. (2012): Entry Regulation and Entrepreneurship - A Natural Experiment in German Craftsmanship (PDF; 370 kB)
  17. XV main report of the Monopolies Commission - 2002/2003 - and XVI main report of the Monopolies Commission ( BT-Drs. 16/2460 ; PDF; 7.1 MB)


  • Holger Schwannecke (ed.): The German craft regulations. Comment. (Loose-leaf commentary), Berlin Status: 2014, Publisher: Erich Schmidt, ISBN 978-3-503-00066-1
  • Gerhard Honig / Matthias Knörr: Handwerksordnung (HwO). Comment. 4th edition, CH Beck, Berlin 2008, ISBN 978-3-406-58045-1

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