Your Guide to Exhibiting in Germany

Posted 05/06/2018
Your Guide to Exhibiting in Germany

Exhibiting at overseas trade shows has the potential to open up a whole new market for your business. Make the most of the exhibition and your investment will have been worthwhile. Get it wrong and you’ll wish you’d stayed at home and pocketed the fee.

If you’re thinking of exhibiting at a trade show in Germany but aren’t sure what you need to know, this blog is for you.

Europe’s Major Exhibition Centre

Located in the heart of Europe, Germany is easily accessible, has extensive relations with the world market and a rich history of organising successful tradeshows spanning over 800 years.

It also has the world’s largest trade fair space spanning 6 million square metres. All these factors make Germany one of the world’s leading countries for trade expos.

Every year, around 150 international trade shows take place in Germany attended by around 180,000 exhibitors and ten million visitors. More than half of these people come from overseas expanding the potential reach of your product or service far beyond Europe.

Before you book a stand at the next hot event, take a few minutes to read through our guide to exhibiting in Germany.

Exhibiting in Germany

Know Your Bratwurst From Your Schnitzel Wiener

Knowing your market is basic homework for any fair. But with so many international attendees at German expos, you might have to prepare a little more than usual.

One way to do this is to attend the trade expo the year before to learn what you need to know first-hand. Remember to bring a translator with you to ensure you make the most of your trip. Alternatively, you could send a German researcher with a list of questions to seek the answers on your behalf.

High-Quality Communications Are Expected

In Germany, many trade expos take place in all of the major cities including Hanover, Frankfurt, Berlin Cologne, Dusseldorf, Munich, Stuttgart, Essen, Nuremburg and Hamburg and are known as Fachmessen. They attract highly professional visitors who are well-informed and expect information beyond the standard promotional literature.

To make the most of your time at the expo, prepare high-quality marketing collateral well before the event. It should provide meaningful, comprehensive, on-point content.

Your stand staff will need to be equally prepared, so they can go into detail about your offering and talk to your highly-informed prospects on an equal footing.

Pre-Plan for Efficiency

Preparing for a stand in Germany is not so different to preparing for expos in other countries. However, there are a few notable exceptions.

Sign up for all services in advance

When booking your exhibition stand make sure you sign up for all required services. German tradeshows are notorious for saying ‘nein’ if you forget something as simple as booth cleaning and they often won’t let you sign up when you arrive at the show.


You’ll need a firm grasp on the currency when exhibiting in Germany. Fluctuations in the euro can cause cost headaches so we recommend building a five percent exchange rate swing into your budget.

Alternatively, you can pre-pay for services so you don’t get any nasty surprises should there be a sudden dip in the exchange rate. However, this goes both ways so you could lose out on any uplift.

Don’t forget flights and accommodation

If you’re used to attending exhibitions in the UK, remember that you’ll need to book your flights and accommodation well in advance to get the best deals.

Invite prospects to on-stand meetings

Two to four months before the event let German companies know that you’re planning to exhibit at one of their native tradeshows and invite them to your stand. You could even arrange formal meetings to take place at your stand.

Remember to book hold space on your flight for products

If companies are interested in your products they will want to see them, so make sure you arrange hold space or shipping so they’re available on the stand. You may need to organise storage in Germany depending on the gap between your products arriving and the expo.

Prepare to be bilingual

When you arrange your show staff and train them up remember to hire people who speak German.

All your marketing collateral should be prepared in German as well as English to show your courtesy, professionalism and to ensure clarity.

Making the effort to be bilingual will help you stand apart from those who haven’t bothered.

German Rules and Regulations You Need to Know

Withdrawing from exhibitions

In Germany, if you sign up to the terms and agree to take a stand but then want to withdraw from the exhibition, the organiser can claim up to 25% of the agreed participation fee. Even if the organisers redistribute your stand, you are still liable for this cost.


If you’re from the UK and have a British passport you won’t need a visa in pre-Brexit Europe.

If you don’t have a British passport, or you’re from another country, you will need a visa. The good news is that visa fees have been waived for German trade expos. Take a look at the visa regulations section on the German Foreign Office website for more details.

Intellectual Property Rights

With a concentrated glut of a particular product at a trade fair, protecting your IP is critical. In Germany, the law provides a basic right for people to make copies so anyone could copy another product, process or brand.

Only owners of specific intellectual property rights can forbid someone from making money from their brand or product.

 Take steps before the event to protect your offering by:

  • Contacting a lawyer to ensure you own the protective rights
  • Bring your documents proving this to the trade fair
  • Ensure you can contact your lawyer during the event, even if it’s a weekend

In the event of IR infringement, contact the trade fair organisers for their support: they will want to ensure your show is a success so will be willing to help. They cannot enforce the law but they can act as arbitrators in any dispute.


VAT applies in Germany as it does in the UK although it’s at a rate of 19% instead of 20%. Keep hold of your invoices and receipts: claiming a VAT refund in European countries hinges on whether you can provide original invoices and proof of payment like a bank transfer or credit slip.

Establishing your VAT recovery process pre-show will help you get your money back more quickly. Ensure you submit your paperwork before the 30th June tax deadline for the previous year’s expenditure.

Smart exhibitors engage a specialist trade show agency to help them claim back any taxes owed rather than stumbling around in the dark in this tricky area.

 There are plenty of great reasons to attend trade shows in Germany. Prepare to make the most of your investment by following the advice set out in this guide. And, if you need exhibition staff with German language skills, get in touch with us today.

Posted 05/06/2018