Frequently Asked Questions
The single point of contact (SPOC) is a service set up by the European Union. When Directive 2006/123/EC (“EU Services Directive”) came into effect, single points of contact were set up to ensure that all the information on the procedures and formalities necessary for commencing service activities is available through electronic means (i.e. from any location).
This is intended to make it easier to open branch offices across Europe and to perform services across borders. Since January 2016, the single point of contact for North Rhine-Westphalia has been based at the Detmold district government offices.
The single point of contact provides information and coordinates the procedures necessary for starting service activities or in accordance with the EU Professional Qualifications Directive. This primarily concerns business matters, e.g. founding/managing a business. However, the same applies for the recognition of foreign professional qualifications.
For you, this makes things a lot easier, because all you have to do is get in touch with the single point of contact. They will then handle any further communications with other competent authorities. As an authorities’ finder, the single point of contact will provide you with all the necessary information pertaining to your enquiry and will find out which documents you must submit and to which authorities.
You may on request also have your enquiry coordinated completely by electronic means through the single point of contact’s ticket system (Ticket System). The benefits are evident:
- Everything from a single source – bundled information and coordination of procedures with the authorities
- Can easily be done online
- Online ticket system – current status of the procedure can be viewed at any time
- Portal in several languages (German, English and French)
- The single point of contact is a free service
According to the EU Services Directive, member states are to ensure that all the procedures and formalities necessary for starting your service activities can be performed through the single points of contact. In essence, this applies to all areas concerned with starting and performing entrepreneurial activities and also to the recognition of professional qualifications:
- procedures concerning business
- procedures concerning crafts and skilled trades
- procedures concerning freelance/independent professional activities
- procedures concerning cross-border services
- recognition of professional qualifications
Furthermore, the single point of contact may be used for a number of different individual services derived from the laws for the respective specialist areas. Details of these services can be found on our page “Further Services.”
As a matter of principle, any procedure handled by the single point of contact must be specifically described by the law for the respective specialist area. For example, any service provided in accordance with the German Trade and Crafts Code [Handwerksordnung, HwO] or under the German Code of Trade and Commerce [Gewerbeordnung, GewO] may be handled by the single point of contact. Service activities to which the EU Services Directive or the EU Professional Qualifications Directive do not apply cannot be handled by the single point of contact. These include:
- Traffic services, including public transportation
- health and pharmaceutical services
- audio-visual services
- gambling, including lotteries and betting
- social services for housing, child support and support for families in need
- services of temporary employment agencies
- tax services
If you are unsure as to whether your enquiry is covered by the EU Services Directive, feel free to ask us. If your proposal does not fall within our area of responsibility, but is directly related to the setting up of your business—for example, hiring employees—we can compile the necessary information for you.
You may reach us by telephone from Monday to Thursday from 8 am – 4 pm and Friday from 8 am – 2 pm on the service number +49 (0) 5231 71 3450.
You may submit enquiries by e-mail at any time to info [at] nrw-ea.de. We will get back to you as soon as possible – at the latest by the next working day.
There are two ways to deal with your enquiry online:
1.) Search for the competent authorities using our Responsibility Finder and communicate directly with the competent body through the button “Send enquiry to the competent body through the SPOC”
2.) Register through our Ticket System and communicate directly with the single point of contact for NRW who will then coordinate the procedure with the competent bodies online.
In either case, the single point of contact will be available to answer questions at any time.
No. The services of the single point of contact for NRW have been free in all cases since January 2016. Only the fees and costs of the specialist competent bodies may be charged. The SPOC for NRW does not charge any additional fees for its services.
The single point of contact for NRW does not and may not provide any specialist/professional advice.
The single point of contact is a central contact point and procedure coordinator. However, the single point of contact for NRW will be happy to name competent advisory services and contact persons specific to your particular enquiry.
The online portal of the single point of contact has two main tasks:
- providing information
- coordinating procedures
Our web portal offers general information about starting a business and the recognition of professional qualifications. You may also request additional information about specific services through our Responsibility Finder. Simply enter your desired service and location into the search field and you will be provided with information about the competent body, documents to be submitted, fees, deadlines, etc., all at a glance. For recognition of professional qualifications, you will need to use the Recognition Finder.
If a procedure is to be performed online, applicants may register on the electronic application system and have the convenient option of forwarding documents to the competent body through the single point of contact from the comfort of their own home. There are two ways to coordinate the procedure:
- the direct way to the competent body
- the indirect way through the single point of contact
For more information, please see “How do I engage the services of the single point of contact?”
Your data is protected against loss and against abuse by third parties.
Personal data is only collected for the purposes of registration and dealing with electronic applications and is saved in a specially secured system. Personal data is only forwarded to the authorities for processing through the respective forms as part of the application.
If procedures are handled by the single point of contact, the competent authorities who are involved will be given access to the documents.
For example, when a business is registered in Düsseldorf, the corresponding data will be forwarded to the Düsseldorf Trade Licensing Office. If the procedure is initiated directly through the competent authorities, only they can access the data.
The single point of contact for NRW is only responsible for North Rhine-Westphalia. If you want to work in another German federal state, you may find competent points of contact here.