Things I have learned/confirmed in the process of legally setting up a business in the Fatherland:
1. Germany has so many rules, even the bureaucrats (rule-imposers) themselves don't know them all. According to one agency, Americans (like me) aren't technically allowed to register a business (regardless of the size) until after three years of marriage (and here I am, only a month and a half in...). I could get all worked up and irate about this particular rule (overlooking the tiny fact that mein Mann, who one might point out, is married to an American, has to register online if he wants to visit my homeland...sigh), but suspecting that the agency charged with registering businesses might let me slide by (because I'm so nice? because if they don't let me do it the(ir) "right" way, I'm just going to find another way - there's always another way here?), I went down to the office of business registration last week, filled out the form, presented my passport complete with shiny new 3-year marriage-related visa and handed over 26 Euros and low and behold, the woman in charge of food-related businesses couldn't have cared less if I was American.
2. Don't believe what they tell you: the insurance system isn't any better here. At least not if takes you (like it does me) an entire day to read the fine print on insurance company publications. You can, however, get liability insurance for your dog. I wonder, does it cost more for terriers? (Is this common in the US?)
I know the photos of my (parents') dogs are not entirely relevant here, but...they are cute, nein?
3. Even though they have a crazy lot of rules regarding safe food handling, they make almost no effort to enforce them. I've never been certified in the US, but I am pretty sure there's a test you have to pass to become certified. In Deutschland, all I had to do was watch a movie (think health class), in which some guy got food poisoning from eating in the restaurant where he worked (!) and then proceeded to wretch and writh around for 20 or so minutes. Then, I had to sign something saying I had watched it and was in good health (apparently if you don't attest to having been healthy during education movie-watching (and also test-taking) scenarios, you can later say: hey! I was sick, that's why I failed, so now they make you attest to it). The best part, though, is that because I don't have a boss to sign my certification form, I'm supposed to sign my own form and review the material with myself every year. I'm not complaining, I didn't want to take a test in German, but it does seem a little lax, no?
4. More lessons to come ... no doubt