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Gesellschaft mit beschränkter Haftung [ɡəˈzɛlʃaft mɪt bəˌʃʁɛŋktɐ ˈhaftʊŋ], abbreviated GmbH [ɡeːʔɛmbeːˈhaː] in Germany and as Ges.m.b.H. in Austria, means "company with limited liability". This is a common type of legal entity in both countries as well as in Switzerland, where it is equivalent to a société à responsabilité limitée, and Liechtenstein.
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It is an entity broadly equivalent to the private limited company in the United Kingdom and many Commonwealth countries, and the limited liability company (LLC) in the United States. The name of the GmbH form emphasizes the fact that the owners (Gesellschafter, also known as members) of the entity are not personally liable or credible for the company's debts. GmbHs are considered legal persons under German, Swiss, and Austrian law. Other variations include mbH (used when the term Gesellschaft is part of the company name itself), and gGmbH (gemeinnützige GmbH) for non-profit companies.
The GmbH has become the most common corporation form in Germany because the AG (Aktiengesellschaft), the other major company form corresponding to a stock corporation, was much more complicated to form and operate until recently.[when?]