Background The HIV surveillance system in Germany is based on mandatory, anonymous notification of newly diagnosed HIV cases by laboratories. Because the time between HIV infection and the diagnosis of HIV varies widely between persons, it is difficult to determine the number of cases of recent HIV infection among newly diagnosed cases of HIV. In Germany, the BED-capture- enzyme immunoassay (BED-CEIA) has been used to distinguish between recent and long-standing HIV infection. The aim of this analysis is to report the proportion of cases of recent HIV infection among newly diagnosed cases in Germany between 2008 and 2014 and to identify factors associated with recent infections. Methods A sample of voluntary laboratories among all HIV diagnostic laboratories was recruited. Residual blood from HIV diagnostic tests was spotted on filter paper as dried serum or dried plasma spots and was sent along with the notification form of the HIV cases. The BED-CEIA test was performed. A case was defined as recent HIV infection with a BED-CEIA test result of less than 0.8 normalized optical density, with the exclusion of CDC stage C. The proportion of recent newly diagnosed HIV infections among different groups (such as transmission groups, gender or age groups) was calculated. We used logistic regression to identify factors associated with recent HIV infection and to identify subpopulations with high proportions of recent HIV infections. Results Approximately 10,257 newly diagnosed cases were tested for recency using the BED-CEIA. In total, 3084 (30.4%) of those were recently infected with HIV. The highest proportion of recent HIV infections was found among men who had sex with men (MSM) (35%) and persons between 18 and 25 years of age (43.0%). Logistic regression revealed that female German intravenous drug users with a recent HIV infection had a higher chance of being detected than German MSM (OR 2.27). Conclusions Surveillance of recent HIV infection is a useful additional tool to monitor the HIV epidemic in Germany. We could observe ongoing HIV transmission in Germany in general and in different subgroups, and we could identify factors associated with recent HIV infection in Germany.