When you start your freelance business you are confronted with many different tax numbers. In this guide we will explain the most common tax numbers and IDs you will need as a freelancer in Germany.
Personal Tax ID (Steueridentifikationsnummer)
When will I get my personal Tax ID?
Once you register your german address with the Bürgeramt for the first time you will receive the personal tax ID (Steueridentifikationsnummer). Every citizen in Germany receives this 11 digit long tax ID (contains only numbers) and you will keep this number for your whole life. The number will not change.
Where can I find this number?
You can find your tax ID on several documents:
The letter from the Bundeszentralamt für Steuern:
On your income tax report (Einkommensteuerbescheid)
On your payslips (Entgeltabrechnung: Gehalt/Lohn)
If you lost your tax ID, you can contact your local tax office.
Tax number (Steuernummer)
To register yourself as a freelancer and apply for a tax number you will need to fill the Fragebogen zur steuerlichen Erfassung.
In contrast to your personal tax ID which was assigned to you by the Bundeszentralamt für Steuern (BZSt), the 12 digit long and unique tax number will be assigned to you by your local tax office. It is used to process all taxes (tax assessment) for which your tax office is responsible.
Besides declaring your freelance taxes, you will also need this tax number to invoice your clients.
When you move within Germany to a different tax office area, you will receive a new tax number from your new tax office. Please make sure to contact your new tax office after you have moved.
VAT number (Umsatzsteuer-Identifikationsnummer)
You will need a VAT number (Umsatzsteuer-Identifikationsnummer) to invoice clients outside of Germany and within the European Union (EU).
The VAT number will be issued by the Bundeszentralamt für Steuern (BZSt) and you can apply for it when filling the Fragebogen zur steuerlichen Erfassung. You will receive your VAT number 3-6 weeks after your tax number (Steuernummer).
If you already have a tax number and want to apply for a VAT number, you can request it directly from the website of Bundeszentralamt für Steuern.
You don’t need a VAT number to submit your monthly,quarterly or yearly VAT declaration. The VAT number is only necessary for invoicing clients based within the EU.
Your personal Tax ID (Steueridentifikationsnummer) will stay with you a lifetime and won’t change. The tax number is related to your business and your business related taxes and the VAT number is only needed to invoice clients based outside of Germany and within the European Union.
Sorted tax guides are provided without liability and do not replace a tax advisor.
To get an accurate answer for your specific case, please consult a tax advisor.
You can always ask one of tax advisors on the Sorted platform.