By the introduction of the tax identification number (IdNo, or TIN) in 2008, Germany wants to modernise its tax system by making it less bureaucratic. It aims to simplify the taxation procedure by making electronically provided and pre-filled tax return forms possible, among others.
The IdNo is replacing the tax number for income tax in the long term and is a unique number permanently valid without change. The Tax Identification Number (TIN) is an 11-digit number issued to you by the Federal Central Tax Office.
What is a Tax Number?
Opposed to the Tax ID (TIN) which is a permanent and personal Tax Identification Number, the Tax Number is for freelancers and businesses. The Tax Number is referred to as Steuernummer, Steuer-Identnummer or St-Nr.
It is issued by your local Finanzamt, and the first two digits of the number represents your local Finanzamt. Therefor, if you or your business changes its registered address to a different locality, you have to request a new Tax Number for your business from the new, local Finanzamt.
The Tax Number is received by post within 4 weeks after you fill out the Fragebogen zur steuerlichen Erfassung form, which is used to register as a freelancer or start a business in Germany.
It is important not to confuse the Tax Number with the VAT Number. The VAT number is required for businesses, unless registered as a small business (Kleintunternehmer), and is requested by filling in the same form as above (Fragebogen zur steuerlichen Erfassung). Small businesses are not required to collect and pay VAT.
Who Can Get a Tax ID?
A unique Tax Identification Number is issued to every person registered whose main registered address is in a civil registry in Germany. Additionally, persons not registered but are required to pay taxes in Germany, are also issued a Tax Identification Number.
Furthermore, natural persons who are being registered domicile or habitual in Germany, such as children, are also issued a unique Tax Identification Number. Although children are not liable to pay taxes, this is necessary in case of receiving child benefits or in cases where children receive investment income from inherited asset capital.
On the other hand, it is import to note that the Tax Identification Number is specific to tax relations only, it is therefor not a Personal Identification Number.
How do I Get a Tax ID?
Your unique Tax ID (TIN) will be issued to you via post after you register you address (Anmeldung) for the first time in Germany. A letter from the Bundeszentralamt für Steuern will be sent to your newly registered address, or you can get it faster by going to your local Finanzamt and ask for it.
You can usually find your Tax ID (TIN or IdNo) on the following documents:
- On your income tax assessment (Einkommensteuerbescheid)
- On your employment tax statement or payslips (Gehaltsabrechnung)
- On the letter you first received your Tax ID after registering you Anmeldung (Mitteilungsschreiben über die Zuordnung einer Identifikationsnummer). Find out how this letter looks.
If you have lost your Tax Identification Number, you can request it again from Bundeszentralamt für Steuern. It will be sent via post/mail and the processing time is up to 4 weeks and in certain cases up to 10 weeks. You can also go in person to your local Finanzamt and they can let you know the number without waiting for it.
TIN National contact point for the Tax ID
For information about the Tax ID, you can contact the Central Tax Office here: