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The association ( etymologically from unite , 'become one' and 'bring something together') describes a voluntary and permanent association of natural and / or legal persons for the pursuit of a specific purpose, which is independent of the change of its members in its existence.

Types of clubs from different points of view

In contrast to law, in the social sciences a distinction is made between association and association , although both have the same legal status. While the association is more focused on local ties and sociable purposes, the (interest) association serves to represent interests across the region and to influence the public . In the context of association responsibility , the term association is sometimes seen more comprehensively in the legal system than just associations (and more generally includes legal persons including their employees or decision-makers).

From the point of view of organizational sociology, Walther Müller-Jentsch has divided clubs into three classes: clubs for their own purposes, non-profit clubs and self-help and external help groups. End-in-itself associations maintain and promote the (leisure) activities of their members in a variety of areas; Ideal associations pursue external (e.g. non-profit , philanthropic and ideological ) goals; Self-help and external help associations make it their task to support those in need. If an association is recognized as non-profit by the tax office , it is exempt from income tax and wealth tax for its non-profit area of ​​activity.

In a further differentiation, Müller-Jentsch lists ten different types of clubs:

Several objectives can also be pursued and realized in a club .

An association is called "international" if its members belong to different countries and states, such as the International Association of Writers . But one understands by international associations also associations ( conventions , association under international law ) of the states themselves, such as the Universal Postal Union .

Economic associations (e.g. consumer associations , savings banks, stock corporations) and technical associations (e.g. technical monitoring association ) are now only associations in name; they almost always have a different legal status today. Even interest groups (such as ADAC , trade unions ) and parties can occur formally as unincorporated associations, but are organization sociology as voluntary associations (voluntary associations) and not to be regarded as associations in the strict sense.

Association law is regulated similarly in the other German-speaking countries. In individual countries, the development of associations in the 19th century led to differentiations between association, party, cooperative and trade union . Political parties in Germany are defined in party law, while parties in Switzerland are simple associations.

History and Development

The oldest known club is mentioned in 1413 and was founded in London for the common tasks of "charitable purposes" by devout temples . The name of this brotherhood was La Court de Bonne Compagnie . The craft guilds and merchants' guilds of the Middle Ages and early modern times represented professional interests and also took into account the need for community and sociability (guild houses, music guilds of the Mastersingers ). Already closer to today's importance were the language societies founded since the 17th century , the associations of the English upper class in the 18th century ( gentlemen's clubs ), the Masonic lodges , the literary societies of the Enlightenment or the political clubs during the French Revolution , the forerunners of the political Parties were.

The first cross-class associations were founded in German-speaking during the 18th century. At first it was enlightenment-minded associations that felt obliged to maintain education and culture. One of the best-known social clubs of this early phase was the Berlin Monday Club, founded in 1749 . The bourgeois reading societies emerged later .

The blossoming of the modern club being is closely linked to the industrialization linked, as people stare sized corporations tasks that had shaped the economic and social life so far. At the beginning of the 19th century , numerous associations, " societies ", associations and leagues came into being.

As a voluntary sector is called the right of citizens to a common purpose to unite and to strive for common goals together ( freedom of association , right of association ), and also the right to freedom of assembly ( right of assembly ) are among those rights which derive directly from the personal freedom are.

Mobility , flexibility and individuality found in the structure of the association a new basis for the development of communal life and for asserting common interests. These interests spanned the full spectrum of life. Initially, the demands of many clubs were general, general. For example, a gymnastics club was also a sports club , a religious club and a patriotic club (see Friedrich Ludwig Jahn : “fresh, pious, happy, free”) and thus united individual and collective interests. In this way, clubs increasingly gained social influence and power.

If one tries to get a disparaging approach to the club system with the term club dairy, the power of club-like organizations is currently evident in the role of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in the current global political disputes.

History of the association in Germany

In a few German local parishes (here: Frankfurt-Schwanheim ) there is a club tree at central parish squares and shows the symbols of the local clubs.

The General Prussian Land Law of 1794 granted the subjects freedom of association and assembly, while at the same time prohibiting “any consultation of political matters in associations”. At the time of Napoleonic rule and the wars of freedom, numerous patriotic associations were formed that chose the politically less suspect term association (instead of club or society). Until 1848, the legislature in the individual German states aimed at banning associations with a political tendency and making the holding of popular assemblies simply dependent on the approval of the authorities.

The fundamental rights declared to be applicable with the Reich Law on the Fundamental Rights of the German People of December 27, 1848 also guaranteed the free right of association and assembly ( freedom of association and assembly) . However, the fundamental rights had hardly any practical significance, as the counter-revolution had re-emerged at this point and several member states of the German Confederation refused to publish the fundamental rights in their legal gazettes, which would have been necessary under federal law at the time for their entry into force. As early as August 1851, the Federal Assembly formally repealed the catalog of fundamental rights . A federal decree of July 13, 1854 intensified the repression of such activities.

At the same time, however, it is stated in the latter that this right requires regulation by special laws (association and assembly law in the objective sense) to be exercised. B. the right of association and assembly in Prussia by ordinance of March 11, 1850, in Bavaria by law of February 26, 1850, in Saxony by law of November 22, 1850, in Württemberg by law of April 2, 1848, in Baden Law of November 21, 1867 and in Hesse by ordinance of October 2, 1850.

After that, the following principles essentially applied:

  • Association law is under government control (association police).
  • Political associations must have statutes and heads, which, like the members, must be reported to the authority.
  • Minors are excluded from participation.
  • The same applied to women in political associations in Prussia.
  • Furthermore, according to the Prussian Association Act, a political association should only be tolerated as a local association, and for this very reason it was not allowed to enter into contact with other political associations.
  • Meetings and association assemblies had to be reported to the authorities; the police were allowed to delegate officials or other authorized agents to each meeting. In the event of a pronounced dissolution by the police, all those present had to leave immediately.
  • Public gatherings of the people must be reported to the authority 24 hours before they begin, and the authority is justified as obliged to prohibit the gathering if there is a danger to the public good or public safety.
  • Police clearance is required for outdoor gatherings and public elevators.
  • If associations are to become legal persons ( corporations ) from mere societies , a special governmental act was necessary in order to obtain corporate rights.

Article 4 No. 16 of the German Reich constitution of 1871 brought the association system into the sphere of competence of the Reich legislation . A Reich Association Act , however, was not passed until 1908. The Reich Election Act permitted the formation of associations for the operation of electoral affairs relating to the Reichstag, but under the Reich Military Act, military personnel belonging to the active army were prohibited from participating in political associations and meetings.

Furthermore, according to the German trade regulations (§ 152 f.) The prohibition of the association for the achievement of more favorable wage conditions for all industrial workers was lifted ( coalition ), but the accession could not be brought about by coercion or threat.

Associations whose existence, constitution or purpose are to be kept secret from the state government, or in which obedience to unknown superiors or unconditional obedience to known superiors was promised, were forbidden according to the German Criminal Code (§ 128).

The same applied to unauthorized associations (Section 129). Special restrictions on the freedom of association and assembly were brought about by the Socialist Act . Foreigners, women and minors could not be members of political associations.

In 1964 the Association Act was passed in the Federal Republic of Germany .

In the GDR, with the introduction of the civil code of the GDR on January 1, 1976, the ordinance on the establishment and activities of associations came into force, which regulated the association system. This ordinance was replaced with effect from February 21, 1990 by the law on associations , which enabled a transition to the federal German association law .

The association system in Germany today

In 2014 there are around 600,000 clubs in Germany. Since the 1970s, their number has increased fivefold. The number of members shows a contrary trend. In 1990 around 62 percent of German citizens said they were members of at least one association, in 2000 it was only 53 percent. In 2014, only 44 percent of Germans were club members. Political associations in particular have problems with membership numbers. But also charitable, humanitarian, environmental or animal welfare associations face similar challenges. Three out of four Germans who are involved in an association are active members .

Sports clubs are particularly popular among Germans. Every fifth German citizen spends his free time here . In addition, there are hobby and interest groups, music and singing clubs or allotment garden and animal breeder clubs and bowling clubs.

Sports clubs , especially soccer clubs, play a role in the integration of migrants . But other associations have also expressed an interest in accepting migrants in order to secure their future in the face of demographic change . It is unclear whether self-ethnic associations contribute to integration in the long term or, conversely, to segregation or ghetto formation. According to Article 9 of the Basic Law, Paragraph 1, freedom of association is a basic German right ; However, in case law and administrative practice, association membership and voluntary work by foreigners are considered "compatible with almost all phases of the asylum law". According to § 19 VereinsGDV, however , a foreigners association must be registered with the competent authority within two weeks of its establishment .

In Germany there are various funding programs and competitions to support associations with charitable goals. Notable competitions are Startsocial , the German Citizens Award and you and your association.

Funding from the judiciary

In total, the courts in Germany distribute around 100 million euros per year from suspended proceedings to non-profit organizations. Judges and prosecutors are free to decide which clubs the money goes to. The award is not controlled.

National legal situation


The general provisions of the German Civil Code (BGB) differentiate between the non-economic association ( Section 21 BGB) and the economic one ( Section 22 BGB) as well as between the legally competent association and the non-legal association ( Section 54 BGB) on the basis of the association's purpose . For the non-economic association, the case law also uses the term ideal association . This acquires its legal capacity by being entered in the register of associations of the competent local court and is then a registered association, usually for short e. V., designated. There are also associations under old law.

Old legal association

Associations under old law existed before the BGB came into force and are not entered in the association register of a local court. The legal capacity is based on the state law provisions in force before 1900; it was often conferred by sovereigns .

Registered association

A registered association is a non-commercial association that is entered in the register of associations of the relevant local court. The seat of the association is decisive for the jurisdiction of the local court , in Berlin this is the local court of Charlottenburg .

The registered association is usually e. V. abbreviated, but the BGB does not provide an official abbreviation. Thus the calls Öömrang Ferian on the island Amrum on Amrumer Frisian Öömrang Ferian if , for iindraanj Ferian .

Registered associations are legal persons . They have full legal capacity , that is, as legal subjects they can themselves be bearers of rights and obligations. You can sue and be sued in court. The board represents the association externally.

The e. V. the legal capacity can be withdrawn on application or ex officio if

  • the common good is endangered by an illegal board or general meeting resolution,
  • the association pursues economic purposes contrary to the statutes,
  • the number of association members falls below three ( Section 73 BGB) or
  • the association no longer has a board according to § 26 BGB owns. Here the competent local court must appoint an emergency board .

The legislature requires seven members as the minimum number for registration ( Section 56 BGB). This is a generally recognized target specification. Falling below this number of members does not lead to the dissolution of the association - only falling below the minimum number of three leads to this ( Section 73 BGB).

According to § 55a BGB, a state government can determine that the state courts keep the register of associations electronically.

Non-incorporated association

An unincorporated association is acc. Section 54 of the German Civil Code is treated like a company under civil law . An association is not legally competent if it has not acquired legal capacity through entry in the register of associations, § 21 BGB or through state award, § 22 BGB. Although it is a corporation, it is not a legal person. Since, in contrast to the civil law society (this is a partnership ), it is organized as a corporate body ( board of directors instead of management and representation authority of all members, existence of the association regardless of the entry or exit of members), many regulations on civil law society fit not on the unincorporated association.

For the non-incorporated association, based on the registered association, the designation non-registered association (common abbreviation n. EV ) is used. The case law applies to him the rules for the legally competent association (§§ 21-79 BGB), as far as they fit him. Since a landmark ruling by the Federal Court of Justice on the Civil Code Society in 2001, there is no longer any doubt that an association that is not legally capable can also be party to , i.e. (partially) legally capable.

Unregistered association

The unregistered association is the original form of the association as it does not have to be entered in the association register. It can be attractive for short-term goals such as citizens' groups , as it saves the legal costs of registration.

Although an unregistered association is easier to found and is traditionally more remote from the state, because the control is more difficult due to the lack of entry in the register of associations, the full liability of the members with their private assets usually speaks against this variant. However, a - even tacit - limitation of contractual liability to the share of the association's assets can often be assumed.

In the legal form of a non-registered association, the following are in particular: trade unions , in some cases employers' associations, political parties , student associations , the German Association of Cities and the German Medical Association .

Legally competent economic associations

Economic associations, i.e. those whose purpose is aimed at economic business operations, acquire legal capacity in accordance with Section 22 of the German Civil Code (BGB) either on the basis of special federal statutory provisions or through state award. Such special regulations are the regulations on corporations ( AG , GmbH or KGaA ) and the registered cooperative : All of these corporate forms are based on association law (see only applicability of Section 31 BGB ) and are thus associations in the broader sense. In principle, a legal person has to choose these specially created company forms for reasons of minority and creditor protection .

Only if this is not possible or unreasonable can the association be given legal capacity. In this exceptional case, the association receives legal capacity through the state award, a state authority is responsible for this. If the economic association is approved by federal law (such as producer groups under the Market Structure Act ), the legal capacity must be conferred. After being awarded, the association is not entered in the register of associations, but in section A of the commercial register . Collecting societies are often organized as economic associations with legal capacity.


The individual members of the association with their respective private assets are not liable for liabilities that the registered association establishes through its board of directors, but only the association with the association's assets. In exceptional cases, board members may be held liable .

Something different applies to unauthorized acts that a member of the association commits in his capacity as an organ of the association. Here the liability of the association does not exclude the personal liability of the acting association member. If the conditions for personal liability of the association member are met, both the association and the acting member are personally liable as joint and several debtors according to § 840 BGB.

In unincorporated (unregistered) associations, on the other hand, the board members and representatives are personally liable. Section 54 of the German Civil Code stipulates:

“The agent is personally liable for a legal transaction that is carried out on behalf of such an association towards a third party; if several act, they are jointly and severally liable. "

At its meeting on September 18, 2009, the Federal Council allowed two draft laws to reform the law on associations to pass without objection. The law to limit the liability of voluntary association boards limits the liability of association or foundation board members who work free of charge or with remuneration of up to 500 euros (today: 720 euros) per year to intent and gross negligence. The law was promulgated on October 2, 2009 in the Federal Law Gazette (BGBl.), Thus came into force on October 3, 2009 and introduced § 31a , which limits the liability of board members, into the BGB. The law to facilitate electronic registrations to the register of associations and other changes in association law creates the legal prerequisites for associations to be registered electronically, but registration in paper form remains possible. In addition, changes, entries and deletions should be made easier by changes in the register law and the information value of the association register increased. The law was promulgated on September 29, 2009 in the Federal Law Gazette and therefore came into force on September 30, 2009.


Two organs are required for registered associations, the board of directors and the general assembly. The relationship between these organs can be regulated differently by the association's statutes. Some statutes also provide for additional organs such as an advisory board, supervisory board or board of trustees, although these optional organs do not necessarily have the same meaning as in other legal forms. Some associations selectively designate the general assembly or the board of trustees. In non-registered associations, all members have equal competencies, unless organs are formed as in the registered association.


The establishment of a board of directors is required by law ( Section 26 BGB ). The board represents the association in and out of court. The power of representation of the board can, however, be limited in the association's statutes with effect against third parties. The statutes can, for example, stipulate that legal transactions above a certain business value can only be carried out with the prior consent of the general meeting. This is only effective for third parties if the articles of association are entered in the register of associations. If the members of the board are absent, the competent local court can appoint an emergency board on request. The board of directors is usually elected by the general assembly, but deviating regulations are possible. For example, some association boards have the right to co-opt additional board members without consulting the general assembly.

Membership or general assembly

Depending on the type and size of an association, according to its statutes, the highest body is the general assembly . In the case of clubs with a large number of members and associations (merger of clubs), this is also called the assembly of delegates or general assembly. It decides on all association matters that are not to be dealt with by the board or another body specified in the statutes. The board of directors has to convene to a members or general assembly in the cases determined by the statutes and if the interests of the association so dictate. In practice, it is customary for the statutes to provide for a regular annual general meeting.

The general assembly decides with the majority determined by the respective statutes.

An extraordinary general meeting must be called in cases stipulated in the statutes, often if 10% of the members of an association request it ( minority vote ).


Membership in the association is acquired either through participation as a founder or through joining. Joining is a contract between the association and the new member, so it requires his application and acceptance by the association, represented by the board. Membership rights are non-transferable (voting rights may be transferable if the association's articles of association expressly provide for this) and are not inheritable. The exercise of membership rights cannot be left to anyone else. Membership ends with death, exclusion, resignation or dissolution of the association. The declaration of resignation is a declaration of intent that requires receipt . The articles of association can - as is customary in practice - stipulate that the resignation only takes effect at the end of the financial year.

Genuine membership fees are exempt from sales tax in Germany , whereby genuine membership fees must be distinguished from non-genuine membership fees, such as contributions for the use of the association's activities (Section 1.4. UStAE ). Cultural and sporting events organized by non-profit associations are also exempt from sales tax, provided that the fee consists of participation fees ( Section 4 No. 22 letter b UStG ).


Association names registered in the association register are usually proper names, the following e. V. is not part of this proper name. The abbreviation e. V. serves only as an indication of the legal status of the association (for example in letterhead or in official documents) and can usually be omitted.

Association dissolution

The association is dissolved by resolution of the general meeting or by opening insolvency proceedings . His assets then go to the persons specified in the statutes. If the articles of association do not contain any provisions on this, the assets of non-profit associations fall to the tax authorities of the country in which the association is based . In the case of self-interested associations, the assets fall to the members in this case ( § 45 BGB).

An association can also be dissolved through a merger or an official ban ( § 3 VereinsG ) or if the number of members falls below the legal minimum of three members ( § 73 BGB).

If the association is dissolved by a resolution of the general meeting and the association's assets do not fall into the hands of the tax authorities, the liquidators have to terminate the current business, collect the claims, convert the remaining assets into money, satisfy the creditors and after the end of the blocking year ( § 51 BGB ) to answer the surplus to those entitled to accrue ( Section 49 (1) sentence 1 BGB).

The resolution of a registered association in the association register write ( § 74 BGB).


The association is a form of volunteer organization. It still has an important meaning today and is widespread. For example, associations can often be found in the legal form of an association. Its importance in connection with civil society is examined intensively in the volunteer survey.


As in other countries, the term “association” applies here to an association of people with common, ideal goals. There were some restrictions at first. Political associations were not allowed to found branch associations and to wear association badges. According to the Austrian Association Act of November 15, 1867, every association meeting had to be reported to the authorities by the board at least 24 hours in advance. If the meeting was to be public, this was also to be announced to the authorities.

According to Article 12 of the Basic State Law of 1867 , everyone has the right to form associations. The Association Act of 1951 was considered to be very simple in comparison with the regulations in other countries. The minimum number is two people and the association must not be geared towards profit . A general meeting must take place at least once within five years. The amended Association Act of 2002 created a central register of associations (ZVR) at the Federal Ministry of the Interior and numerous restrictions. Financially strong clubs (with annual sales of more than 1 million euros) are subject to accounting . Each association must indicate the central association register number in correspondence and publications. The association has to appoint an arbitration board for disputes . Since January 1, 2006, anyone can search the Central Register of Associations free of charge for associations with a specific name or the number of associations register.

The German form of the registered association does not exist as a legal term in Austria and therefore the name suffix e. V. not permitted. There is always an entry and, in this respect, a registration in the register of associations, but it has no legal effect; this only results from the positive conclusion of the association's official procedure.

According to the federal tax code, the tax authorities grant charity, charity or church purposes under strict conditions, which leads to certain benefits, such as the tax-reducing effect of donations. For the tax office, there are also groups of people and unincorporated associations that are not entered in the register of associations but are organized and continue to exist. They come into consideration as corporation tax subjects whose assessment cannot be assigned to a person.


The association gains legal capacity with the establishment . For this purpose, at least two people must draw up statutes and appoint the bodies . This turns the association into a legal person . Although an association may only be of a non-profit and non-profit nature, it may, however, operate a trade in order to achieve the association's objective . The statutes must provide information about the purpose, fundraising and organization of the association.

Association law

The legal basis for the association can be found in the Swiss Civil Code , Art. 60–79. As long as there are no mandatory regulations, everything can be freely regulated in the statutes. If something is not regulated in these, the corresponding passages from the Civil Code apply automatically. The following principles are mandatory by law:

  • The board of directors - which includes at least one member - and the other organs may expressly only do what they are allowed to do according to the statutes. All other resolutions must be made by the general assembly.
  • Each member can challenge a resolution that violates the statutes or applicable laws in court if the member has not previously consented to the resolution.
  • No member may be forced to change the purpose of the association . This means that the purpose can only be changed by a unanimous decision of all members.
  • A fifth of the members can call an extraordinary general meeting at any time, for example to vote out the board. The law does not regulate how often a general meeting must take place. It usually takes place once a year.

Entry in the commercial register

An association of a commercial nature ("a business run in a commercial manner") must be entered in the commercial register. After the registration, the association can be operated for bankruptcy (if the association is not registered, the pursuit is based on attachment , as with natural persons ). Non-commercial associations can also register. Only a few percent of all associations are entered in the commercial register.

The statutes as well as the list of the board members must be communicated with the entry. If the members are personally liable for the association's assets or if there is an obligation to make additional contributions, a list of members must be submitted with the entry. In this case, entries and exits from the association would also have to be reported.

Financial liability of club members

Article 75a of the Civil Code (ZGB) has been in force since June 1, 2005. It reads:

“The association's assets are liable for the association's liabilities. It is exclusively liable unless the statutes stipulate otherwise. "

This clarification was inserted because a paradoxical situation existed before: If membership fees were defined in the statutes - even if only in the form: "The general meeting determines the membership fees every year" - then members are only liable for the annual amount Club fee. If no contributions were anchored in the statutes, the members were liable without restrictions in the event of bankruptcy.

One example of this is the CHF 500,000 deficit at an equestrian event. The association filed for bankruptcy, but the creditors were left empty-handed because the members had already fulfilled their duty by making their contributions.

Before the introduction of Article 75a of the Civil Code, the association members - if no contributions were defined - had to be fully liable for the association's assets, while members of the cooperative were normally not liable .

Number and importance

In addition to the stock corporation, associations are numerically the most important type of company in Switzerland. The exact number of clubs in Switzerland can only be speculated as there is no registration requirement. An estimate of 150,000 to 200,000 clubs is realistic. Only 9465 associations are registered in the commercial register, which corresponds to a share of around 5%. From 2014 to 2019, however, the number of registered clubs increased by around a quarter.

Historically, the association is of great importance in Switzerland. Due to the simple organizational form of the association, communities could be founded quickly and unbureaucratically beyond the cantons and language borders. In the 19th century, this accelerated the process of building a nationwide sense of community and helped to establish the young democracy.

There are organizations and platforms that provide clubs and active club employees with professional support with courses, such as Migros - Culture Percentage .


In Liechtenstein, the associations are of great importance for social, societal and cultural life in the individual villages and in the country. The legal provisions are quite similar to those in Switzerland. In addition, Liechtenstein law also enables an association to operate a commercially run business.

South Tyrol (Italy)

Associations are voluntary organizations. The Italian civil code (Codice civile) divides into "recognized associations" and "non-recognized associations" (Articles 36 to 38 of the Civil Code). Both types of association can be certified (notary) and / or registered (registry office) when they are founded. Based on the civil code and Italian legislation, there are also numerous South Tyrolean provincial laws on non-profit organizations (NPO), in particular provincial law No. 11/1993.

Registration (registry office)

A registered founding act (statute and founding protocol) guarantees the members of the organization and third parties legal security. The fee-based entry must be made with the revenue agency (ital. Ufficio delle Entrate). This entry is comparable in type and effort with the register of associations or the registered association (e.V.) in Germany.

The unrecognized association

The majority of the South Tyrolean associations and NPOs are not recognized associations. In this context, it must be noted that many smaller organizations are too complex to undertake the recognition process and / or the related obligations. In addition, too few association assets are often an obstacle to recognition as a legal person. The organs, the structure as well as the admission and the exclusion of members can, in contrast to the recognized association, be designed at will. In practice, however, similar procedures and regulations are to be found in the agreement of the members, ie in the association statute, as prescribed for the recognized association. The unrecognized associations are represented in court by the person who holds the highest office in the association. The contributions of the members and the acquired assets form the collective assets of the association. Third parties can use the association's assets to repay their claims for liabilities of the association. If this is not sufficient, those persons who have acted in the name and for the account of the association are liable for these obligations.

Recognition (as a legal person)

The recognized association is a fully capable, autonomous legal entity. An important advantage of recognition is that the association's assets are completely separated from those of its members. If a recognized association is in debt, its creditors can only fall back on the association's assets, but not on those of its functionaries or members. In South Tyrol, the office for cabinet affairs in Bozen, Crispistraße 3 (Landhaus 1, 3rd floor) is responsible. Recognition takes place with a decree of the governor upon presentation of the following documents:

  • Notarized copy of the public deed of incorporation (statute and formation protocol);
  • Extract from the minutes from which the decision of the general assembly regarding the application for recognition emerges;
  • Confirmation and documentation regarding the association's assets (minimum assets are required);
  • Budget estimate and annual accounts;
  • Activity report;
  • Name and tax number of the board members;
  • Substitute declaration of the notoriety act that there are no reasons for incompatibility for the chairperson.

Obligations recognized association

  • The internal organization of the recognized association is bound by the provisions of the Civil Code.
  • Later amendments to the statutes must be notarized and submitted to the competent office for cabinet affairs for approval within 30 days of the decision being made.
  • The office must be informed of the election of the new board or the replacement of an individual board member, including an extract from the minutes of the general meeting.
  • The dissolution of the organization is to be announced to the office with a notarized copy of the general assembly resolution.
  • The general assembly can also name the liquidators in the dissolution resolution, whose names must be communicated to the president of the regional court. In any case, the regional court must be informed of the dissolution decision so that the liquidation can be initiated. The liquidators must also inform the Office for Cabinet Affairs of their naming within 15 days, as these must be entered in the register of legal entities. After the completion of the liquidation, the governor's decree declares the legal entity to expire.
  • The following documents must be submitted to the supervisory authority (Office for Cabinet Affairs) annually by June 30th: Activity report, approved annual accounts, report of the auditors (if provided).




Non-profit association (VoG), in accordance with the law of April 21, 1928 on non-profit associations and foundations .

United Kingdom

See non-profit organization (NPO).

United States of America

Associations in the United States are so-called "non-profit corporations".

Like other legal entities , an association can be recognized as a non-profit organization. A charitable organization is tax exempt, and contributions to charitable organizations are deductible from taxable income.


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  • Klaus Nathaus: Organized sociability. German and British clubs in the 19th and 20th centuries . Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, Göttingen 2009, ISBN 978-3-525-37002-5 .
  • Thomas Nipperdey : Association as a social structure in Germany in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. A case study for the modernization I . In: ders. (Ed.): Society, Culture, Theory. Collected essays on modern history , Göttingen 1976, pp. 174–205, ISBN 3-525-35969-1 (classic on the history of associations in the first half of the 19th century).
  • Eugen Sauter, Gerhard Schweyer, Wolfram Waldner: The registered association . 19th edition, Munich 2010, CH Beck, ISBN 978-3-406-60051-7
  • Hilar Stadler, Gabriela Mattmann: Like- minded. The association - a future model. Zurich 2003, ISBN 3-906729-25-7 .
  • Klaus Tenfelde, The development of associations during the industrial revolution in Germany (1850–1873) , in: ders., Arbeiter, Bürger, Cities. On the social history of the 19th century , Göttingen 2012, pp. 174–229 (one of the most important texts on associations in the 19th century).
  • Daniel Watermann, Civic Networks. Urban associations as a social structure - Halle in the German Empire . Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht 2017, ISBN 978-3-525-36853-4 (contains extensive chapters on the analytical understanding as well as on the conceptual understanding of association in the empire).
  • Annette Zimmer: Associations - basic elements of democracy. An analysis from the third sector perspective . Leske + Budrich, Opladen 1996, ISBN 3-8100-1500-8 .

Web links

Wiktionary: Association  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations



  • Swiss Association Law - Collection of Swiss Civil Code Laws
  • Document templates - example founding minutes and association statutes according to Swiss association law
  • vitamin B - Federation of Migros Cooperatives: Specialist for voluntary board work - Fit for the association


Individual evidence

  1. ↑ e.g. Austrian Association Responsibility Act 2005.
  2. Walther Müller-Jentsch: The association - a blind spot in organizational sociology . In: Berliner Journal für Soziologie, vol. 18, 2008, no. 3, p. 480f.
  3. Wolfgang Hardtwig: Structural features and development tendencies of the association in Germany 1789-1848 . In: Otto Dann (Hrsg.): Associations and civil society in Germany . Historical magazine, supplement 9, pp. 11–50, here p. 11.
  4. Michael Mayer: The club in the late modern era. An evolutionary analysis . Dissertation, University of Konstanz, Konstanz 2005, p. 8.
  5. Ordinance on the prevention of an abuse of the right of assembly and association dated March 11, 1850 (GS. P. 277)
  6. Hans Delius: The Prussian law of associations and assembly with special consideration of the law of March 11, 1850 Berlin, 1891. Digitized
  7. a b Foundation for Future Issues - an initiative by British American Tobacco : More and more associations - fewer and fewer members: The association system in Germany is changing ( Memento from April 29, 2014 in the Internet Archive ), Research News, 254, 35th year, April 16, 2014.
  8. Friedrich Heckmann: Integration of Migrants: Immigration and New Nation-Building . Springer-Verlag, 2014, ISBN 978-3-658-06980-3 . P. 257 .
  9. Wolfgang Seitter: Risky transitions in the modern age: club cultures, educational biographies, migrants . Springer-Verlag, 2013, ISBN 978-3-663-11312-6 . P. 22 .
  10. ^ Excursus: Foreign citizens in German associations. In: Retrieved December 18, 2017 .
  12. ^ Charlottenburg District Court: Responsibilities of the Charlottenburg District Court. Extended jurisdiction. In: online. 2020, accessed February 4, 2020 .
  13. e. V. In: Duden . Retrieved April 28, 2020 .
  14. a b Legal status of unregistered associations and their members (PDF; 85 kB) with further evidence.
  15. BGH, judgment of January 29, 2001 (PDF), Az. II ZR 331/00 = BGHZ 146, 341 = NJW 2001, 1056.
  16. BGH, judgment of July 2, 2007, Az. II ZR 111/05.
  17. ^ Carl Creifelds, Klaus Weber (ed.): Legal dictionary . 15th edition. Beck, Munich 1999 (keywords “party” and “association”).
  18. ^ Carl Creifelds, Klaus Weber (ed.): Legal dictionary . 15th edition. Beck, Munich 1999 (keyword “association”).
  19. German Bundestag Printed Matter 16/10120 (PDF; 212 KB).
  20. Law to limit the liability of voluntary association boards ( BGBl. I p. 3161 ).
  21. German Bundestag: Printed matter 16/12813 (PDF; 424 kB).
  22. Law to facilitate electronic registrations to the register of associations and other changes in association law ( Federal Law Gazette I p. 3145 ).
  23. Entire legal regulation for the Association Act 1951 - Federal law consolidated, version dated November 10, 1951. In: RIS. Federal Chancellery (Austria) , November 10, 1951, accessed April 19, 2017 .
  24. Federal Law Gazette I No. 124/2005
  25. website of the Ministry of the Interior .
  26. FAQ 01: What actually is a "registered" association? ,
  27. Guideline of the BMF, 06 5004/10-IV / 6/01, version of February 27, 2015 - Association guidelines 2001 (PDF).
  28. Guideline of the BMF, GZ. BMF-010216/0038-VI / 6/2007> from May 10, 2007 - KStR 2001; Corporate Income Tax Directives 2001 Examples of non-legal entities.
  29. 5P.292 / 2002 / zga judgment of October 8, 2002 II. Civil department .
  30. ^ Alois Stadlin & al . : Law: Practice-oriented introduction to law , 2013. KLV Verlag, CH-Mörschwil. ISBN 978-3-85612-261-4 .
  31. If the statement of the source Alois Stadlin & al. true, it should be between 149,000 (GmbH) and 202,000 (AG) (as of 2014).
  32. Registered companies per legal form and canton. Federal Office for the Commercial Register.
  33. Federation of Migros Cooperatives: (accessed on: June 13, 2012).