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Facsimile signatures from the Mayor of Hanover, Franz Henkel, as well as the City Director Bratke under a certificate of “honorary duty fulfilled” for the removal of rubble ,
consecutively numbered form from August 1946, published by Th. Schäfer

The form is in business and management , a document that the printed product or file already essential features of a legal act pretending, but at the Legal force nor by individual marking needs to be completed.


The word form indicates that something has already been pre-printed, i.e. as a printed product or file, but still needs to be filled out. Forms determine the daily life of all economic agents ( households , companies , authorities ) and simplify and speed by standardizing the legal and commercial transactions . Forms are mainly used in standardized bulk transactions , they promote accelerated processing . If there is a compulsory form , this can be ordered by law (for example when applying for a reminder notice in accordance with Section 703c ZPO ) or by contract (especially in the banking or insurance sector ).


Forms are in business (for example, internal cost allocation , leave application ) and government ( reporting ) internally used to treat certain tasks to fulfill standardized. External forms for customers ( order , order ; banking: direct debit , transfer , real-time transfer ; insurance: health certificate , insurance policy ) or applicants to authorities ( reporting obligation , tax return ) are also aimed at receiving certain minimum details and minimum information in individual work areas .

Also, business letters with preprinted letterhead ( company , office , bank , etc.) are forms, because they are still provided with letter text and sign. Stickers , brochures , business cards , etc., on the other hand, are not preprints unless they are additionally labeled (e.g. printed labels for labeling data carriers ).

Legal issues

The legal term form appears in many laws, but is assumed to be known there. Forms and forms part of the general terms and conditions , because they of users contain preformulated general conditions of contract. According to Section 305 (1) of the German Civil Code ( BGB ), general terms and conditions are all pre-formulated contractual conditions that one contracting party (user) provides to the other contracting party when a contract is concluded. Pre-printed or pre-formulated passages have not been negotiated in detail between the contracting parties. This also applies to dependent additions to forms that require completion, if empty spaces have to be filled in using given alternatives or a pre-formulated suggestion is added that is in the foreground due to the design of the form and superimposes the other options. A form clause that contains empty spaces, the completion of which is required and necessary in individual cases, does not usually represent an unreasonable disadvantage for the customer. However, if something is forgotten when completing the form (e.g. missing a tick), the missing tick option does not become part of the contract .

Officially prescribed form

In order to expand and continuously improve the exchange of data between public administration , citizens and companies, the form management system (FMS) of the Federal Finance Administration was created, where online services and interactive forms of the Federal Finance Administration are made available. This includes forms from the Federal Ministry of Finance and its higher federal authorities as well as forms from the Federal Customs Administration . Users include citizens (e.g. income tax return : ELSTER ), companies (e.g. corporation tax return ) and the administration itself (e.g. application for aid ). In addition, the FMS offers an overview of frequently used forms, a separate form catalog with tax forms and a form search.

According to Section 150 (1 ) AO, a tax return must be submitted using the officially prescribed form if no electronic tax return is required, a legally or officially approved electronic tax return is not submitted voluntarily, no verbal or implied tax return is permitted and the tax return is recorded at the official office according to § 151 AO is not possible.

Electronic documents

The electronic form in accordance with Section 126a of the German Civil Code ( BGB) is intended for legal transactions where the written form is no longer necessary.

In civil proceedings , pursuant to Section 130a of the German Code of Civil Procedure (ZPO), preparatory briefs and their annexes, applications and declarations to be submitted in writing by the parties, as well as information, statements, reports, translations and declarations by third parties to be submitted in writing can be submitted to the court as electronic documents.

Individual evidence

  1. BGH, judgment of March 2, 1994, Az .: XII ZR 175/92 = WM 1994, 1136
  2. ^ BGH, judgment of December 3, 1991, Az .: XI ZR 77/91 = NJW 1992, 503
  3. ^ BGH, judgment of February 7, 1996, Az .: IV ZR 16/95 = NJW 1996, 1208
  4. ^ BGH, judgment of December 3, 1991, Az .: XI ZR 77/91 = NJW 1992, 503
  5. BGH, judgment of June 20, 2013, Az .: VII ZR 82/12 = NJW 2013, 2583