If you’re planning on living and finding a job in Berlin, you will need to obtain a tax ID in Berlin. This guide will give you all of the information you need.
Getting registered for tax in a different country can be a scary experience, especially when you don’t know the language. Firstly, in order to get started, you need to know the specific German terms regarding tax. Steueridentifikationsnummer means Tax ID (which you will need to work in Berlin), steuernummer is the tax number (not your tax ID, more for businesses), and umsatzsteuer-Identifikationsnummer is the VAT number. You may also see your tax ID referred to as any of the following, even though they all mean the same thing:
- Identification Number – Identifikationsnummer
- Tax Identification Number – Steueridentifikationsnummer
- Tax ID – Steuer-ID
What is a Tax ID?
Tax IDs are relatively new and were only introduced in Germany in 2007. Numbers used prior to this are still valid, but the country is gradually phasing them out. Everyone that lives and works in the country will need a tax identification number, whether you are a citizen or an expat. Once you have found employment, your new employer will require your Tax ID. They are issued by the German Federal Tax Office and consist of 11 digits in the format 00-000-000-000. Once you have received your Tax ID, this will remain yours for life, even if you change jobs.
How to Get Your Tax ID in Berlin?
There are two main ways to get your tax ID in Berlin:
When Registering in Germany
The first is to request one when you first registered in Germany (known as Amneldung). Your information will be passed onto the central tax office (known as Bundeszentralamt für Steuern or BZST), and they will send your Tax ID to you in the post. It might take a couple of weeks to arrive, but if you don’t receive it in that time, you can contact the BZST to request a new copy. Just give them the information on your registration certificate (meldebescheinigung). You won’t need to fill in any forms to get your tax ID.
Visiting the Local Tax Office (Finanzamt)
The second way to get your tax ID is to visit your local tax office in person and they will tell you what your tax ID is. This is a great option if you need it urgently, maybe for an employer, and can’t wait a couple of weeks for it, or if you have previously lived in Germany. You will need to wait five working days after registering so that your information can be uploaded onto the system, but after this the local tax office should be able to give you the number. This can only be done in person, and not on the phone, and you will need to take your passport with you. To find the local tax office that is closest to you, simply click on the link below and find all the Tax Offices in Berlin.
Find the closest Local Tax Office in Berlin (Finanzamt).
Tax ID or Tax Number?
The tax ID was designed to replace the previous tax number. If you registered for tax in Germany before 2007, then you may have two numbers. They are slowly replacing the old numbers, but you will sometimes need both if you have them.
The tax ID is not the same as a tax number (Steuernummer). A tax number is used by freelancers in Germany and can sometimes also be called the freelance tax number. It’s used when filling out tax returns and comes in the format 00-000-00000, but can sometimes be 11 digits. This is issued by your local tax office, so if you move around Germany, you might get a different tax number (unlike your tax ID number, which is permanent). You will receive this when you register yourself as a freelancer or register your business (known as Fragebogen zur Steuerlichen Erfassung).
Who Needs a Tax ID in Berlin?
Expats When Filing Taxes
The tax office can use your tax ID to easily find and allocate any income tax declarations. You still need a Tax ID even if you have a tax number (Steuernummer) because they will eventually be phased out.
Employees For New Employers
Any new employer will require your tax ID (Steueridentifikationsnummer) in order to pay your wages. This depends on how much you earn as you might not earn enough to incur any taxes, so you won’t need it.
When Opening a Bank Account
You will be asked for your tax ID number (Steueridentifikationsnummer) when opening a new bank account. If you are opening an account for your business, you will need your tax number (Steuernummer) too.
Pensioners will need to supply their tax ID (Steueridentifikationsnummer) in order to claim any benefits.
Students will need their tax ID number (Steueridentifikationsnummer), especially if they wish to apply for any financial aid (BAföG). If you have a tax number (Steuernummer), then the student union will need this so they can keep the tax office informed about issues like previous financial aid received, what contributions have been made, and any insurance held.
Tips for Getting a Tax ID in Berlin
Is having a Tax ID important?
If you don’t have a tax ID in Germany, then you will pay more tax than needed, you won’t be able to claim any government benefits, you won’t be able to open a bank account, you won’t be able to work as a freelancer, and you won’t receive any tax rebates that are due to you. For all of these reasons, it’s really important to get your tax ID in Berlin as soon as possible.
Is it Possible to Work Without a Tax ID?
The majority of employers will not hire you without a tax ID. It is possible to find some employers who will hire you without one, however you won’t be able to claim any benefits or tax incentives from the government.
How Long Does a Tax ID Last?
Your tax ID (Steueridentifikationsnummer) will last for the rest of your life. You will only be issued with one tax ID number, and even if you change jobs, or leave the country, it will still be valid.
How Long Does it Take to Receive a Tax ID?
To receive your tax ID in the post, you could be waiting around 2-3 weeks after you have registered in Germany. However, remember that you can find out your tax ID number before this, by visiting your local tax office with your passport. Just leave it around five working days before doing so.
What happens if you lose your Tax ID?
If you have lost your tax ID, you can request is again by visiting the Federal Central Tax Office’s website, but this can take around four weeks to arrive via the post. You can always visit your local tax office in person to get this more quickly, as long as you take your passport with you. They won’t tell you your tax ID over the telephone for security reasons.
Visiting Your Local Tax Office (Finanzamt)
If you do find that you need to visit your local tax office to find out your tax ID, then it’s a good opportunity to ask them what tax category you are in. If you are married, and your partner doesn’t earn any money, then you could increase your net income by getting your tax categories changed.