Shelf and shell companies

Lukas Heubeck

Lukas Heubeck

As an entrepreneur, do you want to dedicate yourself to new areas and sell your own company, or do you want to set up a company without bureaucratic hurdles? Then shelf and shell companies are exactly the right thing in this case!

In this article, you will learn what is behind these terms, what you should look out for and what role notaries play in this. We will also show you how notarity can help you, go online to the notary:in and simplify processes in the process.


Generally, the two terms are used to describe companies that are for sale. The specific company status here is the management of its own assets, i.e. the share capital of the respective company. These companies are characterised by the fact that they are already established and directly contractable. Thus, they represent an ideal opportunity to enter into self-employment or start-up simply and inexpensively.

What is a shelf company?

A shelf company is always established with the aim of eventually being sold. The founders of these companies are usually agencies or law firms that form companies and "store" them. Thus, at this point in time, no economic activity can be discernible. In themselves, they can take the form of a GmbH, OG, KG or even international legal forms. Before the purchase, they have no legal basis whatsoever; only afterwards do they receive a tax number and are liable to tax. In the vast majority of cases, the entire initial capital has already been paid in.

What is a shell company?

A shell company is a company that is founded from an existing GmbH or AG and sold. In this case, the company was already economically active before, exists as a legal entity and is still registered in the commercial register.


Despite higher risks, for example due to legacy issues, the shell company offers some advantages. If the company is already older and dormant, this can lead to greater trust towards business partners and suppliers.

In addition, several annual financial statements and tax assessments are available that you can submit for financing. Since the former company already has a certain credit rating, a good rating can be achieved more quickly.

Shelf companies have their advantages in that they have no inherited burdens or debts from the past. In addition, they can be transferred by notarial deed within 48 hours, which saves a time-consuming formation audit. Furthermore, the existing bank account can be taken over. Thus, they are perfect for those who need a company that is immediately ready for business and want to get started right away.

The purchase of shell and shelf companies

The purchase of a shelf or shell company is fundamentally similar, so we summarise the cases here.

The following steps await you during the purchase:

  • For shell companies: You should make an appointment with the seller in advance to clarify the financial situation of the shell company.
  • You, as the buyer, conclude a purchase agreement for the shelf or shell company. The purchase and transfer agreement must be notarised.
  • In the same notarial appointment, the application is certified to the competent register.
    If necessary, the list of shareholders and the object of the company will be updated.

Carry out notarial acts online and digitally

Via notarity you can easily organise the notary appointment with our partner notary's offices digitally. The process can now be carried out flexibly from any location. Make an appointment here an appointment with one of our partner notary's offices. The costs depend on the circumstances of the individual case. You will receive an offer from a partner notary's office after you have booked the appointment and are then free to decide whether or not to accept this offer.

Before anyone acquires or establishes a shelf or shell company, it is advisable to seek advice from lawyers or professionals with knowledge of company law and local legislation in order to avoid potential pitfalls and achieve one's objectives.


Do you still have questions? We will get back to you as soon as possible.

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