German residents have different tax identification numbers. This guide explains what they are, and where to find them.
The tax ID (Steuer-ID)
This is your unique, permanent tax identification number. Every German resident has a tax ID. The Finanzamt uses this number to identify you. It has the format “12 345 678 901”. The tax ID is permanent; it never changes.
The tax ID is also called Steuerliche Identifikationsnummer, Persönliche Identifikationsnummer, Identifikationsnummer, Steuer-IdNr., IdNr or Steuer-ID.
Why you need a tax ID
Your employer needs your tax ID to calculate your salary tax. You do not need a tax ID to start working, but you need one to pay the right amount of salary tax. If you don’t have a tax ID, your employer puts you in tax class 6, and you pay more salary tax.1 You will get that money back later, either on future paycheck, or when you file a tax return.2
You also need a tax ID to start a business.
How to get your tax ID
You get a tax ID when you register your address for the first time. 2 to 6 weeks later, you get a letter from the Bundeszentralamt für Steuern. Your tax ID is in the top right corner.
If you registered your address before, you already have a tax ID. You just need to find it.
If you can’t register your address, fill this form. You will get your tax ID by post 2 to 6 weeks later.
There is no way to get your tax ID faster. You can’t go to the Finanzamt just after your Anmeldung. You must wait for the letter. If you don’t get a letter after 6 weeks, go to your local Finanzamt with your passport, and ask for your tax ID.3 You don’t need an appointment.
Where to find your tax ID
If you already have a tax ID, you can find it here:
- On the document you get from the Bundeszentralamt für Steuern, after you register your address for the first time, as “Persönliche Identificationsnummer” – example
- On your pay slip (Gehaltsabrechnung) as “Steuer ID” – example
- On your salary tax statement (Lohnsteuerbescheinigung) as “Identifikationsnummer” – example
- On your income tax report (Steuerbescheid) as “IdNr” – example
- On your Entgeltabrechnung
- Your employer and your tax advisor know your tax ID. Ask them.
If you lost your tax ID, there are 2 ways to find it:
- Go to your local Finanzamt with your passport, and ask for your tax ID.3 You don’t need an appointment.
- Fill this form, and the Finanzamt will send you a letter with your tax ID. It around 4 weeks, sometimes longer. 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 Bundesland4). It’s also called Steuer-Identnummer or St-Nr.
How to get a Steuernummer
The Steuernummer is unique, but not permanent. If you move your business to another Finanzamt’s area, you will get a new Steuernummer.5
When you get your Steuernummer, you must put it in your Impressum, and on your invoices to German customers.
Where to find your Steuernummer
If you have a Steuernummer, you can find it here:
Where to find a business’ tax number
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.
The tax VAT number is for businesses that charge VAT. You need a VAT number to invoice customers in other EU countries.
How to get a German VAT number
A small business (Kleinunternehmer) that does not charge VAT might not have a VAT number.
When you get your VAT number, you must put it in your Impressum, and on your invoices to EU customers.
Where to find a business’ VAT number
You can check if a VAT number is valid, but it will not give you information about the business.