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This is another "Do I need an Impressum" question in a special case.

I understand under German law, an impressum is required for all websites except strictly non-profit-oriented websites for private purposes.

Assuming I'm a small musician of some kind from inside Europe but outside Germany. I've got a website in English and my native language where I offer bookings (for paid services). Would I need an impressum? (They don't pay on the website but there's a form to get in contact with me)

Another assumption; I know Germany is pretty strict and they even go after bloggers who post personal content but use Google Ads (or similar ad services). They would require an impressum if they're based in Germany. Would this also apply for bloggers outside Germany if they're using Google Ads (to finance their website)?

Are there known cases where German executive go after private individuals (such as bloggers that are placing ads on their site) in another country? Wouldn't this be an enormous effort?

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If you operate from outside Germany but within the EU, it is generally sufficient to satisfy your own country's regulations. This is a foundational principle of the EU single market, though it's not quite realized yet and has exemptions for consumer protection purposes. However, the German TMG law which includes the Impressumspflicht explicitly enshrines this principle. So from the German Impressumspflicht perspective, you're good to go.

However, you will not be able to operate anonymously, because of your country's laws.

  • GDPR requires you to clearly state your identity and contact details in your privacy notice.
  • If you engage in internet-based commerce, the EU eCommerce Directive will have caused your EU member state to pass legislation that requires you to disclose:
    • your name
    • the geographic address where you are established
    • contact details incl an email address
    • if applicable, registration numbers from trade registers or similar
    • if applicable, your VAT ID

Note that you must have a VAT ID for cross-border B2B sales within the EU.

You state that you are not selling anything via your website, and are instead collecting payments via another website. What the consequences of this are would depend on the laws and caselaw in your jurisdiction, but you will have to make these disclosures on at least one of the two websites.

About Germany going after bloggers who show ads: income from ads is taxable income, and operating a business requires registration. However, the German Impressumspflicht is rarely enforced by the state. Instead, other market participants (competitors) trawl the internet for potential violations and then send a cease-and-desist letter. They can do this because skirting legal obligations distorts the level playing field, which harms those competitors. There is a thriving cease-and-desist industry built around this, but it only affects businesses that operate within Germany.

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Adding to the other comment: Under German law, you have to provide an Impressum, if your site caters to Germans, i.e. if German citizens are explicitly addressed. That can be the case if you provide a German language version of the site or offer shipping of goods or services to Germany.

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