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I am building a contact page for a website that caters to a German audience and was wondering which word makes more sense for a "contact us" page.

I was browsing various websites in Germany and noticed that they have those two different words for same type of page.

Please note that the website is for a medical manufacturing company.

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2 Answers

up vote 6 down vote accepted

A contact page is a page designed to give your users the opportunity to contact you.

An Impressum is a page that fulfills the legal requirements of Germany and people the opportunity to contact the people responsible for the site. ON big site there might be different addresses for webmaster and so on.

You are required by law to have an "Impressum". It may vary in content depending what kind of site you are having but the lack of an impressum or a page that contains the respecitive information can lead to high fines. You should definitely take care there and maybe consider getting legal advice.

Most if not all bigger businesses have both pages so I'd recommend doing so too.

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@JGallardo: If the site is commercial, having an Impressum is a good idea anyway – be it legally required or not. I only did not want the common misbelief uncorrected that every site must have an Impressum stand uncorrected. –  Wrzlprmft Jan 16 at 22:12
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@Emanuel: as far as I know, you need to have an Impressum in case of commercial or journalistic content - but that's a pretty broad concept and could be triggered by having ads, blogging, a book recommendation, etc; so better err on the side of caution –  Christoph Jan 16 at 22:39
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May I suggest that we remove all legal advice (except for a caveat to legally inform oneself in general)? Due to the changes of question and answer it is not clear anymore, e.g., what refers to commercial and similar use and what doesn’t. –  Wrzlprmft Jan 17 at 8:23
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@Wrzlprmft... I modified my answer a bit. However, I don't see why we should totally avoid saying that there is a legal requirement. I mean so long as we don't give a sample text that could contain compromising mistakes, we're doing nothing wrong, are we –  Emanuel Jan 17 at 11:00
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@Wrzlprmft In Austria it's actually the case. Even for private pages. If you don't have an Impressum you could be sued. Something competitors like to do. It's cheap for them to report you and you have to pay a view thousend euros. –  schlingel Jan 17 at 12:30
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German law regulates that every web site (be it commercial or private) must contain an imprint that can be viewed using a "reasonable number of clicks" (whatever that means...). Only the content (required information) given in the imprint may vary between private and commercial sites. There are "imprint generators" on the web which create an imprint for you based on information you fill in.

I quote the "Bundesministerium der Justiz und für Verbraucherschutz":

Die Anbieterkennzeichnungspflicht muss praktisch von jedem, der ein Online-Angebot bereithält, erfüllt werden. Etwas anderes gilt nur bei Angeboten, die ausschließlich privaten oder familiären Zwecken dienen und die keine Auswirkung auf den Markt haben. Im Zweifel sollten Sie davon ausgehen, dass die Anbieterkennzeichnungspflicht besteht.

This quote sounds like private pages should contain an imprint, but don't have to. However, earlier in the same document it says:

Diensteanbieter sind nach §2 Satz 1 Nummer 1 TMG natürliche oder juristische Personen, die eigene oder fremde Telemedien zur Nutzung bereit halten oder den Zugang zur Nutzung vermitteln [...] So ist praktisch jeder Online-Auftritt ein Telemedium.
* Telemedien sind zum beispiel private Websites und Blogs, Online-Shops, [...]

While an imprint is mandatory, a contact page is not! The imprint must contain information on how to contact the owner of the site, so there's already a way to contact you. Most pages, however, contain more convenient ways like a contact form.

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I'll provide a different quote in addition. –  Thorsten Dittmar Jan 17 at 8:35
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