Bremen is a city in Northwestern Germany located some 60 kilometers from the coast of the North Sea. The city is the capital of the state of Bremen, the smallest of Germany’s 16 states. The State of Bremen is one of three city-states or Stadtstaaten in Germany and is divided into two enclaves, Bremen and Bremerhaven, both located on the river Weser.
Bremen’s urban area covers around 326.73 km2 (126.15 sq mi), and in 2020 official statistics estimated the population at 566,573 with a density of 1,700/km2 (4,500/sq mi), making it the second-largest city in North Germany. The majority of the population is German, with smaller proportions of Turks, Russians, Poles, Albanians, Serbs, and Portuguese. The official language of Bremen is German, while English is also widely spoken.
Initially gaining fame for being an important maritime trade location and its cotton, coffee, and tobacco imports, today, the city’s industries have diversified, and it has become a thriving cosmopolitan, commercial powerhouse.
The city has no administrative divisions, and the legislature or Bürgerschaft are elected by the city’s residents every four years. The administration of Bremen is headed by two mayors and controlled by the Bürgerschaft. One of the mayors is elected president of the Senate and serves as the head of state. The current president is Andreas Bovenschulte.
In 2016 official statistics estimated that the City of Bremen generated a regional GDP of €32,376 million euro and had a GDP per Capita of €$53,379 (est. 2013).
Bremen’s urban and economic development is closely related to its historic function as a major seaport and center of Germany’s shipping industry. Today the modern port is concentrated into Bremerhaven, and Bremen has established a thriving industrial base.
The city enjoys a flourishing automotive industry and is home to hundreds of suppliers and, most famously, the DaimlerChrysler plant. The plant is the state’s primary employer and manufacturers several vehicle models, including the Mercedes Benz CLK, SL, and GLL series.
Aviation and Aerospace is also vital economic driver, with the world’s most enormous airliner, Airbus developing and manufacturing many parts needed for the aircraft. High tech expertise can also be found at Bremen’s Technology Park, which houses over 320 enterprises and several research institutes.
The Food and beverage industry is another strong player in the market and is home to big names such as Kellogg’s, Kraft, Anheuser-Busch (Beck’s beer brewers), and Hachez (Chocoladen & Confiserie Pralinés).
Bremen’s location makes it a central transportation hub for goods traveling north to south and into Germany via the international port. The city is linked to other major cities and neighboring countries by a well-maintained Autobahns and Railways network.
The city center operates a modern and efficient public transport system that consists of trams and buses. An S-Bahn system is currently in development when complete stretches as far as Bremerhaven and Oldenburg. Bremen’s central railway station or Hauptbahnhof moves over 100,000 passengers, operating frequent Eurocity and Intercity trains to Hamburg, Frankfurt, Berlin, and numerous other European cities. The station also runs extensive regional services to surrounding areas.
Bremen’s International Airport is the city’s largest airport and lies 3.5 kilometers south of the city center. The airport is estimated to have moved over 2.66 million passengers in 2015 and 2,800 tonnes of freight to destinations worldwide. Flight schedules serve the majority of major cities in European countries.
Bremen’s port is one of the largest industrial ports in Germany. It was established in the late 19th century as an international trade and world shipping leader exporting many goods, including vehicles, steel products, ores, cement, machinery, and wood.
Official government statistics estimated that the city employs a workforce of more than 325,000; the majority are employed in the services, commerce, and transportation sectors. The labor force is primarily Germans, with fewer foreign nationals.
The largest employers in the region include Daimler AG (12,500 workers), BLG Logistics Group (11.609 workers), Nordsee GmbH (6000 workers), and Kraft Foods (over 1000 workers). Bremen’s Technology Park also contains over 320 businesses that employ around 13,500 workers.
The city has a well-established education that comprises private and state-run facilities. As a leading higher education hub, Bremen has many university-level institutions turning out a motivated, IT literate, Multi-lingual, skilled workforce each year. Leading universities include the University of Bremen, Bremen University of Applied Sciences, and Jacobs University.
The University of Bremen hosts around 18.669 students (est. 2019) and is most renowned for turning out highly skilled industrial engineering, digital media, physics, mathematics microbiology, and geoscience graduates.
According to Germany’s statistical office, Bremen’s unemployment rate in 2022 stood at around 5.2%.
Business Costs in Bremen
Germany’s individual income tax rates work on a 0% – 45% progressive scale.
Corporate tax is charged on corporate enterprises, particularly public and private limited companies and other corporations, e.g., cooperatives and foundations. In addition, businesses are expected to pay a solidarity tax of 5.5% and a trade tax. The standard corporate rate in 2022 was set at 15% but combined with the additional taxes. The effective corporate tax rate is about 30%-33%.
The standard VAT rate in Germany is 19%, while a reduced VAT of 16% can be applied to food and agriculture products.
From January 1st, 2021, the minimum wage is 9.50 euros per hour worked and from July 1st, 2021, the minimum wage is 9.60 euros per hour worked. Since 2020, the minimum wage rate in Germany is around 1.584,00 EUR net.
Bremen offered competitive location costs versus other major German cities, with an average office rental cost of premium space is €12.75 per square meter per month.