Germany uses many different tax identification numbers. There is the tax ID (Steuer-ID), the tax number (Steuernummer) and the VAT number (Umsatzsteuer-ID). This guide explains what these numbers are, and how to find them.

The tax ID (Steuer-ID)

The Steueridentifikationsnummer is your unique, permanent tax identification number. The tax office (Finanzamt) uses this number to identify you. It has the format "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.

Your employer needs your tax ID to calculate your income tax. If you don't have a tax ID, your employer will take more income tax from your salary1, 2, 3. You will get that money back when you file a tax return1, 2. You do not need a tax ID to start working, but some employers don't know this.

If you have children, you need their tax ID to apply for child benefits (Kindergeld).

How to get a tax ID

You must register your address (Anmeldung). Around 2 weeks later, you will get a tax ID by post1, 2. It will be a letter from the Bundeszentralamt für Steuern. It looks like this.

If you want your tax ID faster, go to the Finanzamt, and ask for it1, 2. You can do this a few days after you register your address. You don't need an appointment.

If you are homeless, you can get a tax ID at your local Finanzamt.

Where to find your tax ID

If you already have a tax ID, you can find it here:

If you lost your tax ID, there are 2 ways to get it back:

  • Go to the nearest Finanzamt, and ask for it. They will tell you your tax ID1, 2. You don't need an appointment.
  • Fill this form, and the Finanzamt will send you a letter with your tax ID. It takes up to 4 weeks1. They will send it to the address you registered, not anywhere else.

The tax number (Steuernummer)

The Steuernummer is for freelancers and businesses. It's a 10 or 11 digit number, and has the format "12/345/67890". It's sometimes written as "3012034567890" (the first two digits are the number of your Bundesland1, 2). It's also called Steuer-Identnummer or St-Nr.

How to get a Steuernummer

You get a Steuernummer when you register your business with the Finanzamt. You get the tax number by mail, 2 to 4 weeks later1. If it takes longer, ask your local Finanzamt on the phone or in person.

The Steuernummer is unique, but not permanent. If your business moves to a different Finanzamt's area, you will get a new Steuernummer1.

Where to find a business' tax number

You can usually find a business' Steuernummer on their website (in their Impressum), and on their invoices1.

The VAT number (Umsatzsteuer-Id)

The Umsatzsteuer-ID is the German VAT number. It's a 9 digit number with the format "DE123456789". It's also called Umsatzsteuer-Identifikationsnummer, USt-Identifikationsnummer or USt-IdNr.

How to get a German VAT number

You get a VAT number when you register your business with the Finanzamt. You only get a VAT number if your business charges VAT. Usually, small businesses (Kleinunternehmer) don't have a VAT number, because they don't need to charge VAT1.

When you get your VAT number, you must put it in your Impressum. It's the law.

Where to find a business' VAT number

You can usually find a business' VAT number on their website (in their Impressum), and on their invoices1.

Need help?

If you need help with German taxes, talk to a tax advisor (Steuerberater). If you live in Berlin, use my list of English-speaking tax advisors.

Where to find help ➞ Financial questions