German Freelancer Taxes – VAT, Steuer-ID, Freelance Tax ID Explained
Last updated on January 6th, 2023 at 11:34 am
Figuring out your German freelance tax ID is the first step for starting your self-employment in Germany. Let’s learn about all about tax IDs for freelancers in Germany.
If you are thinking about setting up a freelance business in Germany, then you will eventually have to deal with German freelancer taxes at some point. In this post you will learn about the most important German tax IDs that every freelancer in Germany should be aware of:
- German national tax ID
- German freelance tax number
- German VAT ID
If you are short on time, watch a quick video recap of this post here.
German Tax ID (Steueridentifikationsnummer/ Steuer-ID)
German tax ID is a form of a social security number or a personal tax id.
Every legal resident in Germany has a Steueridentifikationsnummer (aka Steuer-ID in short). Sometimes it is also called Identifikationsnummer (Identification Number)
According to Federal Central Tax Office or Bundeszentralamt für Steuern,
All individuals receive an 11-digit identification number to ensure their unique identification within the German tax system. The number will not change if you move home or marry. It will be attached to you for your whole life. It does not contain any information about you or the tax office responsible for your tax affairs.
German tax ID number comes in a XX XXX XXX XXX format.
How to get your German tax ID?
Once you register your address at your local town hall (Rathaus), you automatically receive a Steuer-ID in snail mail. This can take about 3-4 weeks from the day of your registration.
If you misplace this number, you can request your German tax ID very conveniently through this straightforward online form.
Bear in mind that it can take authorities a few weeks to process your new German tax ID. You can expect about four weeks or more to obtain the Steuer-ID by post mail.
If you want to get your German freelance tax number then you will need your German Steueridentifikationsnummer.
German Freelance Tax Number (Steuernummer)
A German freelance tax number is called a Steuernummer (tax number). Anyone who wants to become a sole trader or a freelancer in Germany needs this tax id to report their freelance taxes to German tax authorities.
German freelance tax number comes in a XX/XXX/XXXXX format.
How to get your German freelancer tax number?
You can get the freelance tax number in Germany by filing up a form called “Fragebogen zur steuerlichen Erfassung”, which is submitted to your responsible Finanzamt through ELSTER.
Once you submit the form, Finanzamt will send your German freelance tax ID via snail mail in 2-4 weeks.
Newcomers in Germany may find this form very overwhelming because of technical and tax-related German terminologies. This post has a line by line explanation of this form in English.
You can also use a simple English tool such as Accountable to register yourself as a freelancer in Germany.
German VAT ID (Umsatzsteuer-ID)
A VAT ID is called Umsatzsteuer-Identifikationsnummer, Umsatzsteuer-ID or USt-Identifikationsnummer or USt-IdNr. in German.
VAT is called Umsatzsteuer or Mehrwertsteuer in German.
A German (or European) VAT ID comes in a 9 digit number with the format DEXXXXXXXXX.
Before applying for a German VAT ID, make sure whether you need it in the first place.
If your annual income is lower than 22.000 Euros in the past financial year (and lower than 50.000 in the current financial year), you are classified as a small business owner and therefore will be exempt from VAT. This is called Kleinunternehmerregelung (small business regulation).
You will not get a VAT number if you declare yourself as a small business owner (Kleintunternehmer) since small businesses do not need to charge VAT.
Read more about Kleinunternehmerregelung (small business regulation).
How to get your German VAT ID?
You can apply for a German VAT number by filling out the Fragebogen zur steuerlichen Erfassung (the above-mentioned form).
As of 2021, you can fill up and send this form online via ELSTER. This tool is only available in German and many non-German speakers find it tedious to use.
You can easily fill your German tax registration form on an English tax filing tool such as Accountable.
Differences between German Tax ID, German Freelance Tax Number, and VAT ID
|German Tax ID||German Freelance Tax Number||VAT ID|
|Commonly known as a Steuer-ID||Commonly known as a Steuernummer||Commonly known as a Umsatzsteuer-ID|
|Every legal resident in Germany has this number as their personal tax ID.||This is required for self-employed people in Germany (freelancers and sole traders) to report income tax||Only self-employed people who charge VAT need this number to report VAT to German tax authorities.|
|This ID is attached to you throughout your stay in Germany||You need a new German freelance tax number when you move to a different city in Germany||You may not need a VAT ID if you are registered as a small business in Germany|
If you want to register yourself as a freelancer in Germany, then read this step by step guide.
Did I miss any important detail about German tax ID, VAT number or freelance tax number in Germany? Please feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments below!
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Is it possible to register as a freelancer if you already have a full time regular worker job? And will you need to apply for the VAT number also.
The freelance work would be on the side.
Hey Cam, yes you can register as a freelancer even when you are employed. Although you most likely require your employer’s written consent. This is due to labour protection laws in Germany. Side jobs (part time freelancing) is called Nebentätigkeit in German.
I would like to work in Germany as a freelancer.Is it important to take vat id or is it ok to work with my Tax number?
Hello Fijo, this question has been answered in this post and several others on this website.
I have just applied for a freelancer (artist and writer) in Germany as a small business owner, but why I have gotten a VAT number, please? Does this mean I must make a declaration about VAT In advance?
How should I cancel my VAT number, please? Thank you very much.
Hi, if you registered as a small business owner aka Kleinunternehmer then you’ll be exempted from VAT.
Thanks for the information it’s very useful but i have some questions about tax id and opening a bank account. I’ve been working in Germany since 2 years and i have my tax id from the beginning that is assigned by Finanzamt. Do i need to apply for new tax id? Secondly, i currently have only personal bank account. Do i need to create a new business account or is it fine to use my personal account for everything? Thanks.
Hey Emir, not sure I fully understand the question. Did you recently change your employment status or move to a new city or got married recently? Outside of a few circumstances, I’m not sure why you’d need a new tax id from Finanzamt. 🙂
As for the business bank account, it depends on the volume of transactions and personal preference really. If you’re not generating a very high volume of monthly transactions, then a personal bank account is also fine.
I am already employed by big german company and would like to offer my consulting services on and off. The net abount probably will not exceed 10k, do I need a seperate tax ID in parallel to what I have now? Please let me know. Thanks.
Yes, you will have to register your self-employment with Finanzamt, get relevant tax IDs, declare your income, and pay taxes on that income (if applicable of course!).
I would like to terminate my freelance tax number. How do I do it?
You can do this by starting the Abmeldung process at your Finanzamt.
Can I begin work while I am waiting for a Steuernummer?
It shouldn’t be a problem with Finanzamt. However, you have to add your freelancer tax number in invoices, so it could be an issue with some clients.
Thank you for this useful information.
Please I am digital marketing specialist
Do I qualify for Freelance or trade company?
I just got married to a German citizen. I had to quit my job in Africa. And I want to become a freelance for the first time.
Kind of advise and thank you
Hi, this might answer your questions – https://mademoisellein.de/are-you-a-freiberufler-freelancer-or-gewerbe
Hi Yamini, thanks for your post. I have been in the same situation as Michael and wrote to my local finanzamt for a VAT number to use with German clients (so not other EU countries ). They sent me a letter saying “..your steuernummer that you have been informed of is now also valid for VAT.”
Does that mean I don’t need another specific VAT number now? Is my steuernummer somehow updated to allow me to charge VAT off German clients only (not other EU country clients) now?
Thanks for any advice.
Hey Arpita, No, you need a separate VAT ID. Steuernummer is not a replacement for the VAT ID. They are two completely different tax numbers.
Hi, great article, very insightful. I just have one question:
What happens in the case that you got your freelance tax ID without a VAT ID (because of the Kleinunternehmerregelung that you mentioned here), but then decided to do more freelance work that pushes you over the threshold and therefore need a VAT ID. How do you get the VAT ID without having to fill in the Fragebogen zur steuerlichen Erfassung again?
Hello Michael, thank you!
Yes, in this case, you will have to reach out to your responsible Finanzamt and request a VAT ID.
That’s a good explanation! Thank you!
I am American citizen, staying in Germany with 90 days tourist visa. Next week, I will be registering my address in KVR in Munich. I wonder what do I need to have VAT number to sell products in Amazon? Do I need to get a residency permit first?