An imprint is a legal requirement that contains certain information about the operator of a website or online service.
According to § 5 of the German Telemedia Act (Telemediengesetz, TMG) and § 18 of the German Interstate Media Treaty (Medienstaatsvertrag, MStV), every website that is operated commercially requires an imprint.
A missing or inadequate legal notice is, on the one hand, a violation of competition law, which can result in injunctive relief from competitors, which is often enforced with the help of costly warnings.
On the other hand, if, contrary to Section 5 (1) of the German Telemedia Act (TMG), information is not, not correctly or not completely available in this legal notice, you are committing an administrative offense under Section 11 TMG, which can be punished with a fine of up to EUR 50,000.
What must be included in a legally compliant legal notice?
The exact requirements may vary depending on the company, but in general the following information should be included in the legal notice:
- Name and address of the provider: This refers to the company operating the website or online service. The full name, address and, if applicable, other contact details such as telephone number and e-mail address should be provided.
- Legal form of the company: This information is required for legal entities (e.g. GmbH, AG GbR, OHG, KG).
- Persons authorized to represent the company: If the company is a legal entity, the names of the persons who can legally represent the company should be stated.
- Register entry (if applicable): If the company is entered in the commercial register, register of associations, partnership register or register of cooperatives, the register number and the competent register court must be stated.
- VAT identification number (if applicable): For companies that are subject to VAT, the VAT identification number should be stated.
- Information for professional or regulatory licensing requirements: Special registration or licensing may be required for certain professions or services (e.g. for estate agents, property developers, amusement arcade operators, master craftsmen). The responsible chamber must be specified here.
- Information for certain regulated professions: The job title and the responsible chamber must be specified here (applies, for example, to doctors, notaries, pharmacists, but also geriatric nurses, opticians or dental technicians).
- Information on responsibility for content: It should be made clear here that the operator is responsible for its own content. In the case of linked content, it is possible to distance oneself from it.
- Information on online dispute resolution (if applicable): For online services in the B2C sector within the EU, a link to the online dispute resolution platform may be required.
- Media law information, if applicable: For websites with journalistic-editorial content, additional media law information must be provided, such as the name of the person responsible for journalistic-editorial content.
- Accounts in social networks require an imprint if the respective account is also used commercially.
The legal notice must be easy to find and open on the website. In most cases, it is therefore called up on the homepage by clicking on a field labeled "Imprint" in the navigation bar.
It is also advisable to seek advice from the relevant experts to ensure that the legal notice complies with the applicable regulations for your own website.
One final tip
Just as important as the legal notice are the general terms and conditions (GTC), which must be visible on the website. You can find information on this, for example, in our Article vom 13.11.2023.