Earning income from teleworking, a small business or a multi-level marketing venture in Germany is accompanied by the requirement to register with the host nation and as a home-based business with U.S. Army Garrison Wiesbaden.
The HBB process for USAG Wiesbaden has three primary requirements: obtain a German tax identification number, register the business with the local German government and complete the garrison HBB application. Each of these steps has a series of requirements.
“Businesses that do 100% online business and have no clients in person only need to register with the host nation,” said Rick Iglesias, home based business and private organizations liaison. This applies to teleworkers, even if the employer has no physical presence in Germany.
“If you sell products or offer services in person, you have to register with the host nation and the garrison,” Iglesias added. This requirement even applies to multi-level marketing companies where individuals host parties for the sale of products.
For the German government, the tax identification and registration addresses tax liability and potential regulatory requirements. “Depending on the type of business, there might be a license or certification requirement,” Iglesias said. For example, food businesses must be inspected and doulas need German certification. SOFA status does not exempt an individual from host nation rules according to Iglesias. Owners are also required to file and pay German taxes.
Once a business owner has established the German credentials, the garrison approval process allows the individual to solicit sales to the garrison community and ensures compliance to garrison regulations and Living Quarters Allowance rules.
The garrison application requires business owners to submit a business plan, agree to restrictions on the use of the Army Post Office, Commissary and Exchange services within business operations and to carry liability insurance.
Teenagers who babysit, tutor, walk dogs or cut lawns to earn a few extra dollars are the only exemption to the HBB requirement, according to Iglesias. Adults who perform the same services must register.
New transfer policies ensure that when a military family PCS moves, their HBB information can be sent to the new garrison to make the transition easier, Iglesias said.
Earl McFarland, the employment readiness program manager at Army Community Service, views home-based businesses as a viable employment option, especially to spouses. Within the military, spouses experience up to a 24% unemployment rate and are often underemployed. “Getting started can be challenging,” McFarland said.
McFarland and Iglesias encourage potential HBB operators to take their time, review the application packet and seek assistance in the process. “There is a lot of additional information and samples included in it to help you get started,” Iglesias said. “If you are unsure where to start or what to do next, you can contact either Earl McFarland at ACS or myself. Additionally, there are HBB groups online that also provide advice and help.”
While it is tempting for newcomers to skip the process and operate quietly without approvals, there are consequences to conducting income-generating work without proper authorizations. “For not registering on the host nation side, you can be faced with severe fines and penalties from the German government along with having to pay back taxes,” Iglesias said. “For the garrison, you and your business could be barred from post, affect your LQA for civilians, and the unauthorized HBB would be turned in to the customs office for investigation.”
For more information regarding HBB rules, Army Regulation 210-70 and Army in Europe Regulation 210-70 address regulations. Iglesias and McFarland can be reached for the application packet and assistance via email at email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org.
A list of currently approved home-based businesses is available on the garrison website at https://homeadmin.army.mil/wiesbaden/index.php/about/Garrison/HBB.