Düsseldorf – The desk of the Ruhr area
Düsseldorf is the capital city of the state of North Rhine-Westphalia in Germany. Located in the middle of the lower Rhine Basin on the delta of the Düssel River, the city covers an area of 217.41 km2 (83.94 sq mi). In 2020 official government statistics estimated the population at 620,523 with a density of 2,900/km2 (7,400/sq mi). The urban area population is estimated at 1,220,000 people. The metro area (Rhine-Ruhr) population is estimated at 11,300,000.
The city is situated at the heart of Germany’s most highly populated state, with over 150 million people living within a 500-kilometer radius, equating to around 35% of the total EU population.
The official spoken language is German, although the city is home to a large population of foreigners (17% of the total). Minorities also speak English, Turkish, Italian, Greek, and Japanese.
The city is an important global business and financial center comparable to major world cities like London or Paris. As a thriving metropolis with a solid economic base, vibrant cultural life, low crime rate, and excellent health and education facilities. Düsseldorf earned the sixth ranking in terms of Quality of Life by the Mercer Survey in 2019.
The city is divided into ten administrative districts, with each district having its own elected district council and mayor. The district councils are advisory only and are managed by the city council led by the city mayor. Düsseldorf is currently governed by a coalition of the Christian-Democratic Union of Germany (CDU) and Alliance 90/The Greens. Düsseldorf’s current mayor is Stephan Keller (CDU) who was elected in 2020.
Düsseldorf, with its strategic geographic location and strong industry and business sectors, has become Germany’s most important economic center. In 2022 government statistics estimated Düsseldorf’s GDP at €50.429 billion, with the wider North Rhine-Westphalia region generating as much as 22% of national GDP, making it one of the top 20 largest economies in the world.
Alongside London and Paris, Düsseldorf is one of Europe’s three central metropolitan regions with the most significant market volume and purchasing power. The city also produces the second-highest gross domestic product in the country at €81,563 per capita.
Düsseldorf’s tertiary sector is its most prominent, followed by industry and agriculture. The city’s primary industries are diverse and include telecommunications, fashion, retail, financial services, automotive, media, real estate, and life sciences.
In terms of telecommunications, the city is home to more than 1,500 companies specializing in IT and communication technology. Media also flourishes, establishing Düsseldorf as a vital creative hub boasting over 400 advertising agencies and 200 publishing houses.
Alongside the state of Bavaria, the region is one of Germany’s most important automotive locations, with Daimler AG producing several commercial vehicles at locally based factories.
Its dynamic economic landscape has also led Düsseldorf to host the headquarters of several leading international businesses, including L’Oreal, Metro, ThyssenKrupp, Ergo, and Henkel AG & Co.
Düsseldorf’s location makes it a central transportation hub for goods across Germany and beyond. The city is linked to other major cities and neighboring countries by a network of well-maintained Autobahns and railways.
The city center operates a modern and efficient public transport system that consists of a U-Bahn, S-Bahn, trams, and buses. Düsseldorf’s U-Bahn and S-Bahn systems form the backbone of public transport moving passengers throughout the metropolitan area and beyond.
Düsseldorf’s central railway station, or Hauptbahnhof, moves over 250,000 passengers per day, making it the fourth largest station in the country. The station operates frequent Eurocity and Intercity trains to Hamburg, Frankfurt, Berlin, and numerous other European cities, alongside extensive regional services.
There are six airports in the region, the busiest of which is Düsseldorf International Airport, situated 9 kilometers from the city center. The airport is the third-largest in Germany, moving in 2021 an estimated 7.9 million passengers (and 25.5 million in 2019) and more than 200,000 metric tonnes per year of freight to destinations throughout the world. Flight schedules serve over 175 destinations in numerous countries across the globe.
In 2019, the Rhine Ruhr region had a total estimated workforce of over 7 million people, while the city itself employed around 438,209 people. The majority of the workforce is German, with around 17% comprised of Turks, Italians, Greeks, Americans, and Japanese.
According to the Chamber of Commerce, over 5,000 foreign companies operate in the Rhine Ruhr area, mainly from the Netherlands, Japan, the USA, and the UK.
Düsseldorf’s highly skilled workforce results from the city’s unique public education system, widely regarded as one of the best in Germany. As Germany’s most prominent university center, the city and its surrounding areas are home to 22 universities, technical colleges, and other academies. In total, it is estimated that the region hosts more than 150,000 students.
In 2021, the official government statistics estimated Düsseldorf’s unemployment rate at 8.2%.
Business Costs in Düsseldorf
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 2021 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.
Düsseldorf offered competitive office rental costs of €264/sq.m per year, significantly lower than other German business locations such as Munich CBD and Frankfurt CBD, where average costs are €409 and €408/sq.m per year respectively.