Back to business: Guidelines for starting private businesses

A German Legal Assistance sign is displayed at the 86th Airlift Wing Ramstein Law Center on Ramstein Air Base, Germany, Feb. 10, 2017. Aspiring entrepreneurs that wish to run a private business on base may consult the Vogelweh Housing Office or the base legal office to ensure they are in compliance with Air Force Instruction and regulations. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Savannah L. Waters)

A German Legal Assistance sign is displayed at the 86th Airlift Wing Ramstein Law Center on Ramstein Air Base, Germany, Feb. 10, 2017. Aspiring entrepreneurs that wish to run a private business on base may consult the Vogelweh Housing Office or the base legal office to ensure they are in compliance with Air Force Instruction and regulations. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Savannah L. Waters)

RAMSTEIN AIR BASE, Germany --

Starting a business and maintaining rules and regulations that come with a home-based business is hard work. For those looking to start a home-based business in base housing on Ramstein Air Base, Germany, there are guidelines to keep in mind.

Regardless of where a business is located, on or off a U.S. military installation, the German law still applies. The German law must still be abided by, even if the business services exclusively U.S. residents or base ID card holders.

“There are quite a few rules as we fall under German law,” said Greg Fobell, 86th Mission Support Group plans and programs director. “You can’t just start a home-based business without filing proper documents with the German government, as well as requesting permission from base housing and your commander.”

Moving to a new country involves respecting its basic customs and courtesies. It is illegal to use any military privileges for a private business. Privileges include using an Army Post Office address to ship merchandise or a United States Army Europe plated car to transport or pick-up sales.

Aspiring entrepreneurs must register their business with the local German trade office, pay a registration fee, and receive permission from the installation commander. After registering, a German tax identification number is given. Recipients must file German taxes whether the business is active or not. Additionally, businesses are not to be in violation with the Air Force Instruction or conflict with what the Army & Air Force Exchange Service is selling.

Depending on the nature of the business, it may require regular inspections to stay in compliance with health standards. The local German trade office will inform members of any necessary permits needed.

“I recommend that the business is set up properly and carefully,” Fobell said. “Failure to comply could result in loss of privileges.”

Furthermore, any active-duty military personnel wishing to engage in off-duty employment must receive approval from their commander first. For more information on limitations, solicitation, and liability for commercial activities from family housing, please reference Chapter 16 of Air Force Instruction 32-6001.

“Whatever your business may be, it’s important that it complies with the procedures and policies here,” said Diana Keener, 86th Civil Engineering Squadron Kaiserslautern Military Community housing deputy director. “Members should be aware that there are special considerations and requirements prior to applying for registration.”

For more information, contact the Vogelweh Housing Office at DSN 314-489-6643/6671 or commercial 011-49-631-536-6643/6671, or the 86th Airlift Wing Ramstein Law Center at DSN 480-1040 and German Legal Assistance at DSN 480-2552.