Travelling salesman

The commercial agent, outdated: Agent (Latin agens ), is an independent trader who is tasked to provide for another, or several other business owners ( suppliers ) or in the shops or to sign their name ( Einfirmen or more company representatives ). He works in the name of and on behalf of others, and is both the commission and the traveler to distinguish.


Commercial agent, who is an independent trader ever worked for a contractor and facilitated business in foreign (whose ) name and for the alien (whose ) invoice or closes, § 84 para 1 HGB. In Austria, the definition of a commercial agent is identical, but is regulated in § 1 HVertrG, which was spun out of the former Austrian Commercial Code.

The legal status of the commercial agent is that of a self-employed. He is also an independent contractor as the provider whom he represents. The agent must be a natural person; it can also take the form of a corporation, such as a GmbH, occur. An entry in the Commercial Register of natural persons as a sales representative since 2005 no longer required. An agency is not necessarily a merchant according to the Commercial Code; it satisfies the business license - no matter whether it is a main or secondary occupation.

The commercial agent is essentially free to structure its activities and the determination of his working time. This personal independence distinguishes him from depending busy traveler. Unlike this, the commercial agent may also be employed for more than one provider, provided it is permitted by contract ( so-called "Multi-company agent" ). According to the results of the CDH statistics for 2008 amounts represent the number of trade missions Companies on average to 6.0. A characteristic of the commercial agent as a sales assistant is its motivation, self- build a lasting customer base as possible for the / the represented / n company and maintain. An emancipatory development of increasingly towards greater entrepreneurial autonomy from - In recent decades, distinguished itself - notably by the encroachment of independent marketing concepts ( sales representatives Marketing ). Similar to the trading company, which operates as a multi-company representation Agents can make for their customers a small range, that must be, however, limited in contrast to the typical trading range, because of the competition ban on complementary products from different companies represented.

Among the rights and obligations of the commercial agent see Handelsvertreterrecht.

Insurance Exemption in Germany

The commercial agent may be required under certain conditions despite independence, to make contributions to the statutory pension insurance (no employer contribution ). This is the case when

  • The agent regularly no other employees covered employment is in connection with his activities whose remuneration regularly € 450 a month exceeds from this employment and
  • The agent to be permanent and essentially operates only for an entrepreneur.

A permanent activity for only one employer of the pension providers assumed if five-sixths or more of the total income of the commercial agent of a client come.

If these conditions are met, the self-employed is classified as a " worker self- similar ". A " false self ," separates with commercial agents by law. The terms " employee- related self-employment" and " false self-employment " in 1999 defined by law.

For commercial representations in the form of separate legal entities ( Mietvertrieb in the call center segment, sales companies in the field ), there is a way to circumvent the compulsory pension insurance. Here, however, then the individual employees, mostly in turn freelancers in the status of the commercial agent, responsible for their own insurance. For start-ups that have been classified as self-employed workers like, it is also possible to obtain an exemption for the first three years after start-up of the pension obligation.

Sales representatives who are not classified as self-employed workers like, must be insured in any branch of statutory social security, but they can in all areas (including the statutory accident insurance / professional association and unemployment insurance ) voluntary insurance.


The usual remuneration of the commercial agent 's commission, that is, he receives a certain percentage of transactions performed by him for the represented business sales for its activities. Is a prerequisite for the formation of the commission claim pursuant to § 87 Section 1 of the German Commercial Code, that the activity of the commercial agent has led to a transaction between the principal contractor and the customer. The amount of the commission rate is negotiated individually. The contractually agreed commission the agent is structured very differently. The amount of commission depends primarily on the industry and the value of the goods mediated, possibly also on their position in the product life cycle. The higher the value of goods, the lower will the rate of commission, possibly only 5% or 7 %. Low consumer goods are with higher rates, possibly up to 50% provisioned ( eg cosmetics or food supplements).

For details, please Handelsvertreterrecht.

Powers of representation

The various powers of attorney designed the commercial agent is reflected in a uniform definition of the terms of reference of the sales representative:

In general, if the manufacturer or importer is even present on location, average competence and responsibility agreements. The various possibilities are often not even known to the contractor, so that a resort to so-called " model contracts " is highly negligent.

For details, please Handelsvertreterrecht.

Areas of application

Sales representatives can be switched in the distribution of both consumer and capital goods. The different activities within the trade missions comes in different customer groups expressed. A statistical survey of CDH shows that the main clients of the sales representatives ( 47%, industry and crafts 19% ) also are available as commercially both in the manufacturing sector. About 54 % of commercial agencies call retailers as customers, 52% of the wholesale, 7% attributable to the gastronomy, almost 15 % of public institutions.

The high work motivation associated with their commitment as self-employed and their resulting from the direct contact with customers exact knowledge of the market, they can be valuable as a marketing specialist. However, a natural limit to the use of self- employed commercial agents can also occur at high service intensity is no longer feasible from a single employee (especially in capital goods sales ) because extensive technical, business and may result in legal terms included in the offer, and the sales team requires. These teams are, for obvious reasons, no independent sellers. A commercial agent is not even used, if it is possible, the market via direct sales, for example via the Internet to use.

Thus, the trade representative supplied usually manageable services which he can place on the market independently. Exceptions are large commercial agencies in the form of a corporation with its own salaried or independent sub-agents.