What is Tax ID and Tax number in Germany? [2022]

by | Last updated Mar 15, 2022 | Tax in Germany

Home 9 Tax in Germany 9 What is Tax ID and Tax number in Germany? [2022]
The tax ID and tax number are two unique numbers for distinct purposes used in Germany. In this article, we will be explaining the need for both numbers and their differences. We will also discuss what freelance tax and VAT numbers in Germany are.

The tax ID (steuerliche Identifikationsnummer – IdNr) is an essential requirement for expats. This includes both the living and working class. The Federal Central Tax Office issues a unique number to all who are registered in Germany so that taxes can be administered.

What is a Tax ID? (Steuer-ID)

In order to streamline and centralize the taxation, Germany introduced the concept of tax ID in 2007. The earlier tax ID numbers were replaced in all aspects of income tax. The tax ID numbers issued before 2007 are considered valid still. On the other hand, they are being phased out gradually.

The Steueridentifikationsnummer is your unique, permanent tax identification number. Every German resident has one. Finanzamt (tax office) will identify you with this number. The format looks like “12 345 678 901”. The tax ID is permanent; it never changes. It’s also called Steuerliche Identifikationsnummer, Persönliche Identificationsnummer, Identifikationsnummer, Steuer-IdNr., IdNr or Steuer-ID.

The tax ID is required by the employer in order to calculate income tax. In case you don’t have a tax ID, more income tax will be charged to your salary from your employer. The excess amount charged can be returned once you file a tax return. The tax ID isn’t an essential requirement when starting to work somewhere. But some of the employers are unaware of that.

How Can You Get a Tax ID?

Upon registering for the first time, tax ID is issued automatically. People, either working or staying for more than 3 months, need to register their address at Bürgeramt. This is a local citizen’s office. The exercise has to be done within 14 days of arrival.

When registering for the tax ID, a legal form of identification is required. An identity card or a passport is included in this. Proof of residence certificate (Wohnungsgeberbestätigung) is also required. Upon registering successfully, you will receive a registration certificate (Anmeldebescheinigung). After that, a tax ID will be sent to you via post. This takes around two to three weeks.

Where To Find Your Tax ID?

Following are the documents where the tax ID can be found easily:

  • On the document you get from the Bundeszentralamt für Steuern, 2 weeks after you register your address (Anmeldung) for the first time
Tax ID and Tax number in Germany
  • On your income tax report (Einkommensteuerbescheid
On your income tax report Einkommensteuerbescheid
On your income tax report Einkommensteuerbescheid

  • On your payslips (Gehaltsabrechnung)
On your payslips Gehaltsabrechnung
On your payslips Gehaltsabrechnung

  • On your Entgeltabrechnung
  • Your employer and your tax advisor know your tax ID.

Lost Tax ID

If the documents mentioned above have been lost or misplaced by you, a new tax ID can be retrieved for free. You will have to request a new letter to Finanzamt for that. An online form needs to be filled out for this purpose.

The duration of arriving at the tax ID takes around six weeks. If you are in a hurry or need the tax ID for something important, you can head over to your Finanzamt for inquiry. If your tax ID is ready, they will print it for you then and there. To know your assigned Finanzamt, you can enter your postal code in the search bar.

What is a Tax Number? (Steuernummer)

In Germany, the tax number (Steuernummer) is assigned to an individual by a local financial authority (Finanzamt). It is a unique but not permanent number. The tax number helps Finanzamt in the rapid identification of records. For instance, when filing for the tax declaration.

In case you never filed a tax declaration, chances are you don’t have a tax number yet. The format of the tax number depends upon which German state you are residing in. The format looks like 133/8150/8159 and it usually has 10 to 11 digits. However, in the unified federal format, there are 13 digits in 5133081508159 formats.

In case you move to a different city in Germany, you will be assigned to a new tax office (Finanzamt). They will then provide you with a new tax number. After getting married, you will have to file a joint tax declaration. At that time, you will get 1 tax number together.

Where To Find Your German Tax Number?

After filing your first tax declaration, you will be issued a German tax number. With the help of tax authorities, you can find that on your tax assessment (Steuerbescheid).

How Can You Get a Tax Number?

When your business is registered with Finanzamt, you get a Steuernummer. Around 2 to 6 weeks later, you receive your tax number by mail. In case it gets later than that, you can simply approach your local Finanzamt, either on phone or in person.

Similarly, the tax number (Steuernummer) is unique but not permanent. In case your business has been moved to a new area according to Finanzamt, a new Steuernummer will be assigned to you.

Tax ID vs Tax Number

It has to be noted that there is a difference between a tax number (Steuernummer) and a tax ID. The tax number is a unique number used by freelancers for tax returns and invoicing. The tax number is also sometimes called freelance tax number. The format is 00/000/00000. As previously mentioned, the tax number relates to your responsible tax office and the area you live in. in case of a change of address, the tax number will change as well.

Moving forward, the tax number is planned to be phased out. It will get replaced entirely by a tax ID. At the moment, the ones who are self-employed do have a need to keep tax numbers too. There is a questionnaire for tax collection (Fragebogen zur steuerlichen Erfassung) which you can submit to get your tax number.

What Is The VAT Number In Germany?

The VAT number in Germany is called Umsatzsteuer-Identifikationsnummer or USt-ID. It is a 9-digit number starting with the country code (DE for Germany): DE123456789.

The VAT number is essential for every business operating outside Germany and within the European Union. On the other hand, you don’t need a VAT number if you have registered a side business (Kleingewerbe) or are only operating in Germany. It is necessary to place the VAT number in each invoice and the Impressum (imprint) of your website.

In order to obtain a VAT number, a questionnaire for tax registration (Fragebogen zur steuerlichen Erfassung) needs to be filed. Make sure you tick the relevant boxes. This form is filled out when registering for business.

In case you have any further questions related to tax concerning your business, it is advised strongly to consult with a certified tax consultant.

What Is The Freelance Tax Number In Germany?

Adding some further information to confuse, there is one more kind of tax number. This one is obtained when you register your self-owned business as a freelancer. This number looks the same as it does with the non-business tax number first received with the tax assessment. The provided freelance tax number has to be mentioned on all invoices.

When registering your business with the Finanzamt, you get to fill out a somewhat complicated seven-page form called the Fragebogen zur Steuerlichen Erfassung (questionnaire for tax registration).


    The tax ID (Steuer-ID), tax number (Steuernummer), Steuernummer for self-employed and VAT number are all different numbers that serve different purposes. We hope that this guide helped you navigate the German tax number jungle.

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