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How to identify your German tax ID – Steuernummer, Steueridentifikationsnummer and VAT number

The tax system in Germany features various identification numbers. These include the tax number (Steuernummer), the tax ID (Steueridentifikationsnummer), and the VAT number (Umsatzsteuer-Identifikationsnummer). This guide will tell you exactly what these numbers mean and how you can get the right German tax ID for you.

The Identifikationsnummer or Tax ID

Also referred to as the Persönliche Identificationsnummer, the Steueridentifikationsnummer, the Steuerliche Identifikationsnummer, Steuer-IdNr., IdNr or the SteuerID, the Identifikationsnummber is a number which is unique to you and permanent. The Finanzat or tax office uses this number to identify you. It always has the format “12 345 678 901 and the number never alters.
Your tax ID is required by your employer to pay you. Without a tax ID, you will be taxed at the highest level of 42%, although you will eventually get a rebate after you have submitted a tax return.

You will receive your tax ID in the post about two weeks after you have registered your German address in Germany. A speedier way of getting it is to visit your local Finanzamat and requesting it in person. Your tax ID can be found in the top right-hand corner of documentation issued by the Bundeszentralamt für Steuern.

What should you do if you have mislaid your tax ID?

If you lost your tax ID, complete this form and the Finanzamt will send you a letter with your tax ID in approximately four weeks. If you need it more urgently, go to your nearest Finanzamt to receive it immediately.

The Steuernummer (tax number)

The Steuernummer is for self-employed individuals and businesses. It is a 10 or 11 digit number, and usually follows the format “12/345/67890”. However, it is occasionally provided in the unified federal format as “3012034567890”, the initial two digits being the same as your Bundesland number.

You can get a Steuernummer by completing the Fragebogen zur Steuerlichen Erfassung and will be sen tit in the post about two weeks later. If you haven’t received it by this time, call your local tax office.

Your Steuernummer is unique, but not permanent. If your business moves to an area administrated by a different Finanzamt, you will receive a new Steuernummer1. The Steuernummer should not be confused with the VAT number (Umsatzsteuer-Identifikationsnummer1).

The VAT number (Umsatzsteuer-Identifikationsnummer)

The Umsatzsteuer-Identifikationsnummer, also known as the USt-Identifikationsnummer or USt-IdNr. is the German name for the VAT number. It features 9 digits with the “DE123456789” format.

You can apply for a VAT number by completing the Fragebogen zur Steuerlichen Erfassung. However, you won’t get a number if you have a small business (Kleintunternehmer), because small businesses do not need to charge VAT.

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