How to find your German tax ID (Steuernummer, Steueridentifikationsnummer and VAT number)

How to find your German tax ID (Steuernummer, Steueridentifikationsnummer and VAT number)

Germany uses different identification numbers for tax purposes. Among them are the tax ID (Steueridentifikationsnummer), the tax number (Steuernummer) and the VAT number (Umsatzsteuer-Identifikationsnummer). This guide explains what these numbers are and how to get yours.

The tax ID (Identifikationsnummer)

The Steueridentifikationsnummer, Steuerliche Identifikationsnummer, Persönliche Identificationsnummer, Identifikationsnummer, Steuer-IdNr., IdNr or SteuerID is your unique, permanent tax identification number. This is the number the tax office (Finanzamt) uses 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 only get that money back when you file a tax declaration1, 2.

You get your tax ID by mail around 2 weeks after registering your address in Germany for the first time1, 2. You can get it faster by visiting the Finanzamt and asking for it1. Your tax ID is at the top right corner of a document from the Bundeszentralamt für Steuern. This is what this document looks like:

1200px-Bundeszentralamt_für_Steuern_-_Zuteilung_Identifikationsnummer_2008.jpg#asset:396:contentFullwidth2x

Lost your tax ID?

If you lost your Steueridentifikationsnummer, fill this form, and the Finanzamt will send it to you. You will receive a letter with your tax ID a month later. You can also visit the nearest Finanzamt to 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", where the first two digits are the number of your Bundesland1, 2.

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

The Steuernummer is unique, but not permanent. If you move your business to an area served by a different Finanzamt, you will get a new Steuernummer1. Do not confuse the Steuernummer with the VAT number (Umsatzsteuer-Identifikationsnummer1).

The VAT number (Umsatzsteuer-Identifikationsnummer)

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 charge VAT1.

Need help?

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