The German market is alluring to entrepreneurs of all countries. Be it Germany’s neighbours like Netherlands, Denmark, Poland or Belgium. But also for companies that are not directly neighbouring Germany, it is a market that cannot be missed.
If your product or service is already successful in your home country, chances are you want to scale. And what better European country to do this than in Germany? Germany is an affluent country with over 80 million inhabitants and a GDP 3.8 trillion. The raw numbers alone make a convincing case that Germany should be your first pick when expanding internationally. If your product or service succeeds in Germany, it is a small extra step to also take on Austria and German speaking parts of Switzerland adding even more potential !
But how can you do business successfully in the German market? One of the things that appear to be indispensable for this, is a German telephone number.
But how does it work, applying for such a number in Germany? What are the requirements and what do you have to do?
We will explain it to you in this article.
What types of German phone numbers are there?
In Germany telephone numbers are issued by a government agency just like in many European countries. In Germany it is the Bundesnetzagentur (Federal Network Agency).
This body determines which number types and which numbers are available, what they may be used for and what requirements that use must meet. The Bundesnetzagentur is also ultimately the one who assigns telephonenumbers.
Toll-free 0800 numbers
Just like the US and many European countries, Germany also has so-called freephone numbers, i.e. numbers that can be called free of charge (toll-free). The prefix number for this purpose is 0800.
These numbers are registered individually. You can register German 0800 phone numbers through Belfabriek.
Premium rate or 0900 numbers
Apart from the toll-free numbers, Germany also has numbers with an increased rate; the paid or Premium-rate numbers. These numbers can use rates per minute or per call. Per-minute rates can range from €0.039 to €3, per call between €0.06 and €0.20.
Premium rate numbers in Germany use a core number that starts with 0900. The first digit after this key number indicates the type of number you are dialing.
0900-1 are information services. No games and no erotic content are allowed here.
0900-3 is for numbers offering telephone games and other forms of entertainment. Again, erotic content is not allowed.
0900-5 is for other services, including erotica.
Like 0800 numbers, 0900 numbers are also registered individually. As of this moment Belfabriek does not offer 0900 phone numbers. It is our experience that our customers find more use in other phone number types for conducting business in Germany. The problem is that 0900 phone numbers have gotten a bad rap after callers were not aware of the costs involved, and were surprised by a considerable bill after their call. Therefore, 0900 phone numbers are generally seen as customer unfriendly. Not exactly the welcoming image you would want to portray to German customers.
National business 032 numbers
In Germany, 032 numbers are used as non-regional business phone numbers. Calls to these numbers cost as much as calls to a regular regional landline number.
A 032 number is often chosen because these numbers closely resemble local telephone numbers. For example the 032 phone number looks a lot like 030 Berlin prefix phone number.
Apart from service numbers in Germany, you can also register local numbers in the most popular cities in Germany. For example Aachen (0241), Berlin (030), Dortmund (0231), Essen (0201), Frankfurt (069), Hamburg (040), Cologne (0221), Koblenz (0261), Leipzig (0341), Mannheim (0621), Munich (089), Nuremberg (0911) and Stuttgart (0711).
Requirements for German local numbers
Applying for a phone number in Germany is quite easy. All of the number types listed can be requested by both businesses and individuals. For a local number you must have an address in the requested city or region. And with it proof of this business address and an extract ('Auszug' or 'Mitgliederbescheinigung') from the German Chamber of Commerce (Deutscher Industrie- und Handelskammertag).
Because of these requirements, it may be more accessible to choose a national 032 number. Or on the other hand a 0800 freephone number. If - for example - you are a Polish or Danish or Belgian company without fysical address in Germany, we cannot help you obtain a local Berlin 030 phone number. Or if your company headquarter is in Hamburg, but you want to register a 069 Frankfurt phone number in addition, this is also not possible. In this case, we would be able to help you get a 040 number which belongs to the city of Hamburg.
Registering your own virtual German phone number
Whether you want to register a phone number in Germany or in another country, at Belfabriek you can easily handle the application online. We will take away all the headache obtaining a telephone number from the Bundesnetzagentur.
In our German numbers shop you will find a sample list of available numbers. Do you see a suitable number in the list? Then you can order your own German service number from us today.
If you do not see the number of your choice, or if you have any questions, please contact our customer service by phone, e-mail or contact form. Our English, German, Spanish and Dutch speaking customer service will be happy to answer them.
Bonus: tips on succeeding in the Germany market with a dedicated German phone number
When doing business across the border, keep in mind that doing business in Germany requires the right mindset. You need to focus completely on your German branch in order to achieve maximum results. That includes adapting to German customs. Below we give you some tips from entrepreneurs who are already active in Germany.
Separate work and private life
In Germany, work is taken so seriously that it is strictly separated from private life. Even if you are genuinely interested in a business partner, it is a bad idea to ask about his wife or children.
Never ever address German business prospects with informal ‘Du’
One consequence of the strict separation of business and private is the way people address each other. When doing business in more laid back Netherlands, for example, addressing a business prospect informally is nothing to be frowned upon. In Germany, however, this is not done. You should always address German prospects with ‘Sie’ (formal you). This may be especially difficult to get used to, for example, for native English speakers, as this distinction does not really exist in the English language. However, in other languages, including German, using the right form of addressing can leave a much better impression.
Learn the language
Basic German may work fine on vacation, but it's not enough when doing business. To negotiate and socialize in German requires a good knowledge of the language. Therefore, invest in a language course. German is not the easiest language to learn, but also not rocket science.
Make sure you have a German business appearance
Of course you are proud of your roots, and it's okay to show it. But to do business successfully in Germany, ideally you will need to register a German GmbH. This is a type of incorporation. GmbH stands for Gesellschaft mit beschränkter Haftung (company with limited liability). GmbH is the equivalent of "Ltd." used in the United Kingdom.
Entrepreneurs who want to address the whole of Germany would be well advised to register either a 0800 service number or a 032 national phone number. For example, a Hamburg 040 phone number would appear somewhat foreign to a customer base in Munich and vice versa. However, 0800 and 032 number are not only regionally independent, which makes callers from all over Germany feel addressed, but also inspire confidence and radiates professionalism.
One of the reasons why business owners choose Belfabriek as their service number provider is the fact that they get access to a large number of extra functions. Because the underlying platform, the Interactive Voice Reponse system (IVR), is the same for all foreign numbers, number owners of German numbers can also enjoy features such as:
Leave a great first impression with this feature. Welcome your callers during office hours with a welcome text and after opening hours with a message that informs the caller the business is closed and at which times they can call again.
Are all your employees on a call? This feature places callers in the waiting queue. If too much time passes, you can choose to transfer callers to another number or give them the option of leaving a message.
Digital answering machine
Enable this feature to have callers leave a message when it is very busy or after hours. You will immediately receive the audio recording by e-mail. This allows you to take immediate action as required.
The selection menu makes manual transfer of calls a thing of the past. Ask your callers what they want answered to by means of a recorded message and then give them choices. Callers connect themselves using the phone buttons.
Allows you to record every phone conversation with your German callers, which is ideal for quality control and setting training goals. Realtime statistics
All number owners also get access to extensive call statistics. For example, you can see from which regions your German callers come and how long calls take. Based on these statistics, you can make important decisions regarding the deployment of staff and additional functions. Best of all, these features and many more, view the complete overview, are included for free, for every Belfabriek customer.
Register your German phone number now
As you can see, when seriously attacking such a large market, it is important to have all the details in perfect order. More than a detail, a phone number is a communication channel with which you answer questions, create goodwill, generate leads and score direct or indirect sales. If only the best is enough for you, you've come to the right place.
Register your professional German phone number today and within a few days you will benefit from your international reach and the many extras our cloud based phone system offers.