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, Steuerliche Identifikationsnummer, Persönliche Identificationsnummer, Identifikationsnummer, Steuer-IdNr., IdNr or Steuer-ID 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". Your tax ID is permanent, it never changes.

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 do not know this.

You get your tax ID by mail around 2 weeks after you register your address (Anmeldung) for the first time1, 2. You will receive 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. You can get it just a few days after your Anmeldung.

Where to find your tax ID

You can find your tax ID on a few documents:

If you lost your tax ID, fill this form, and the Finanzamt will send it to you. You will receive a letter with your tax ID a month later. If you go to the nearest Finanzamt in person, you can get it on the same day1.

The tax number (Steuernummer)

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

You get a Steuernummer after you fill the Fragebogen zur Steuerlichen Erfassung. You will receive your tax number by mail, 2 to 4 weeks after you submit the form1. If it takes longer, call your local Finanzamt, and ask for the number.

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

Do not confuse the Steuernummer with the VAT number (Umsatzsteuer-Identifikationsnummer1).

Where to a business' tax number

You can usually find a business' Steuernummer on their website, in their Impressum.

The VAT number (Umsatzsteuer-IdNr)

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

You also get a VAT number by filling the Fragebogen zur Steuerlichen Erfassung. You will not get a number if you declare a small business (Kleintunternehmer), because small businesses do not need to charge VAT1.

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

Where to a business' VAT number

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

Need help?

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