The transparency register in the 4th AML directive in Germany

The current legal basis of the German Transparency Register is Part 4 of the German AML Act (Gesetz über das Aufspüren von Gewinnen aus schweren Straftaten (Geldwäschegesetz – GwG)).

The implementation of the Directive is complete.

The German Federal Office of Administration (Bundesverwaltungsamt) regularly publishes FAQs with regard to interpretation of the provisions on the Transparency Register, and as such interpretation changes from time to time, it should be closely observed.


Any shareholder who is a UBO or directly controlled by a UBO as well as any UBO has to provide the required information (unless such information is already available to the legal entity from other sources). This does not only apply to German UBOs but also to UBOs in general.


If the legal entity has not received any information regarding their UBOs, it must request the respective information from its shareholders. The shareholders are obliged to reply to the request for information within a reasonable period of time. The legal entity must document the requests for information and the information obtained.

If the UBOs cannot be determined or if the legal entity does not have any UBO, the legal representatives of the legal entity are to be registered as deemed UBO.

The legal entity.

5. Are there exemptions to the filing obligation?

Yes, but only for certain unincorporated associations (Vereine). Exemptions which previously were available for certain listed companies and their subsidiary have recently been deleted. 

6. What is the due date for the initial filing? Is there an obligation to update the filing?

Initial filings were to be made by 1 Octo-ber 2017. Due to recent changes in the law, legal entities which were allowed to suspend the filing relying on information available from other electronic registers in Germany have to update the filing in the course of 2022 (the applicable deadlines are depending on the legal form of the entity). 

If there are any changes with regard to the UBO, such changes must be filed without undue delay. 

7. What are the sanctions in case of a breach of the transparency obligation?

Administrative fines against shareholders, the UBO and management in breach of their obligations.

8. Is the Transparency Register established as a separate register or part of an existing one?

As a separate register called the Transparenzregister:

9. Notable amendments (including through the Directive)

The information kept in the Transparency Register is now also available to the pub-lic. This is a major change, as the infor-mation in the Transparency Register was previously only accessible to supervisory and law enforcement authorities and cer-tain obligated parties to fulfill their duties of due diligence, while all other interested parties could only inspect it if a legitimate interest existed.

In addition, the German AML Act moved away from the initial concept that the in-formation is deemed to be disclosed if it can be retrieved from certain other elec-tronic registers in Germany. Instead, all legal entities (other than unincorporated associations) must proactively file the relevant information on their UBO(s) or, if there is none, register its managing di-rectors as deemed UBOs.

Finally, due to the recent changes in the law as of 1 August 2021, all nationalities of the UBO(s) have to be filed to the Transparency Register. If only one of sev-eral nationalities of a UBO has been filed so far, the respective entry in the Trans-parency Register should be corrected.