How to obtain your tax ID in Germany

Feeling this excitement in the air ? This electricity gently floating around ? This time you got it : your first job ! Congrats because it was not easy… Now the company is asking you for your German tax number; your Steuernummer. Let’s have a look on what this thing is and how to get it !

german tax card
Keep calm and listen along !

 

What is the Steuernummer : your German tax ID, sort of

Confusingly enough, there are 2 numbers attributed to you when you first arrive in Germany, with different uses and characteristics.

Steuernummer:

The Steuernummer is a document issued by your local tax authority office (Finanzamt) that will accompany you through your every job. On this document will be listed your personal situation and characteristics such as marital status, number of kids or religion. It holds your profile as a tax payer so to speak, that will be linked your tax number. The German tax ID number is a very important document that is confidential and should only be given to your employer.

If you move to a different city or city district, or change from employee to self-employed, this number can change.

Identifikationsnummer:

This is number is issued only once and unique to you only. It will never change and stay with you whatever your situation is, where you move, etc. It will be used to identify you by the Finanzamt as well. This, you don’t need to communicate to your employer or anybody else.

These 2 ways of profiling you as a tax payer are meant to merge to be a single German tax ID in the future. A bright future where German bureaucracy will be simple and friction-free. How beautiful does that future look? 😉

What is it used for?

For employees;

It is given to your employer so taxes can be taken out of your wage every month. With the Steuernummer in hands, the employer can communicate to tax services how much your wage is and thus, what share of income tax should be transferred to them. It is very handy because you don’t have to care how much your taxes are at the end of year. Your tax statement will only be used to get money back, in the case you were taxed too much.You now understand why your company that so badly.  I have written are more detailed post about how to get money back at the end of the year here (Steuererklärung).

For self-employed people:

Your Steuernummer will be used in numerous cases, whenever communicating with the tax authorities (the Finanzamt); paying your VAT for the month, paying your local trade tax, or income tax. It’s mostly about paying unfortunately. You off-course also use it to do a tax return.

Where do I get my German tax ID (Steuernummer)?

When you are first registering in Germany

If you had this information before hand, you probably asked to get one during your Anmeldung process. In this case, the information was shared with the central tax office which will send it to you by post.

In case you didn’t receive your German tax ID, do wait 2 weeks or so before going to the Finanzamt (local tax office). The administration needs that time to update your case/files first. If you still haven’t received your Identifikationsnummer anything, you may request a new copy of from the Federal center for taxes directly on this page. Just enter your personal information that is displayed on your Meldebescheinigung and you are good to go. You can only receive a new copy of this document per post, so wait a few days after this.

If you have any other questions, you can also directly book an appointment at your local Finanzamt (from your Bezirke) or call them. There are 2 offices you can go to for this; your local Bürgeramt, or the Finanzamt. I strongly advise you to choose the second option. There are far less people there, avoiding long waiting times.

You can find here the relevant Finanzamt for you depending where you live in Berlin

Take a number, wait in line, answer a few questions and in 10 minutes, you will hold your own German tax ID (Steuernummer) number in your hands.

German tax number if you are switching to freelance or self-employed

The process is slightly different for freelancers and micro-companies (Freiberuflich / Gewerbe). You might then need a VAT-number if you want to make bills with VAT, additionally to your normal tax number. If you want to become a freelancer and don’t know where to start for bureaucracy, i have made a dedicated post on the matter here.

I lost my tax ID in Germany, how can i find it again?

If you have lost the paper or forgot how your Identifikationsnummer number goes, you can look at any letters you got from your Finanzamt or pay slips from your employers. You will find it there. If that still doesn’t work, you can request a new copy on this page to receive it by post.

Off to work now. Chop Chop !

Tip 1 : You will be asked if you are believer or not. Don’t take it personally  it is simply used to determine if you should pay taxes for the catholic, protestant, church etc. If you aren’t much in all that, don’t forget to state that you are an atheist ! Otherwise, you will pay more taxes! If you already made that mistake, there is also a way out. More information here.

198 Comments

  • Reply Alexandre 14/01/2021 at 08:56

    Hi Bastien,

    First, thanks for the site, it is really helpful.

    My wife is supposed to start working for a company in Germany and she is supposed to be physically in germany by july. Unfortunately due to the covid situation we can’t go to germany right now but the company needs the tax id number in order to start paying her.
    I have three questions related to that :
    – can we use our friend or family address in Germany to do the anmeldung and then get the Tax ID ( send by mail to that address if I read correctly previous posts) ?
    – Does the address have to be in the same lander as the company where she is going to work. In our case, address would be in Berlin but the place of work will be Munich.
    -Does the appmeldung site you are referring allows us to do the process directly online ? If so what is the cost ?

    In advance, thank you for your help :-]

    Alexandre

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 14/01/2021 at 09:28

      Salut Alexandre. If you don’t have an address in Germany, backed by some sort of tenancy/sub-tenancy contract, you won’t be able to do the Anmeldung. You don’t need to register in the same city where you work. Appmeldung does not allow to register online, as this is Germany and the public authorities are not digitalized, no API available. It only helps you to fill in the form. You wife can start to work for this company without a tax ID, as a non-resident I believe (Steuerklasse 0). She will be taxed more however.

      • Reply alexandre 14/01/2021 at 18:54

        Hi Bastien,

        thanks a lot for the answers. I am a bit surprised so. If I understand clearly, I would need a tenancy contract even if staying at my family’place ?

        Thanks you,

        Alexandre

        • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 15/01/2021 at 15:07

          Hey Alexandre, more details about how to proceed in this case in the dedicated post about the Anmeldung. You would still a confirmation from the landlord, if your family or friend doesn’t own their place.

      • Reply alexandre 15/01/2021 at 09:03

        Hi Bastien,

        thank you for the answers. I just want to confirm with you that even if we have family or friends in Germany, we need to have a renting contract with them ( for instance renting a bedroom in their appartement) in order to process the anmeldung ?

        Thanks again

        Alexandre

        • Reply alexnadre 17/01/2021 at 10:52

          Hi Bastien, very clear.

          Sorr6 my post was sent twice.

          Thank you for your time and your site. It is very usefull..

          Alexandre

  • Reply Mich 27/12/2020 at 07:17

    Hello,
    I worked in Berlin for a month last March and never received my Steuernummer. Would it be possible to lodge my tax return without one? I do have a Identifikationsnummer though.
    Thank you very much.

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 27/12/2020 at 09:28

      Hey Mich. Since you have worked, you definitely have been assigned a Steuernummer already, which you need for your tax return. It’s easy to get a new copy.

      • Reply Mich 06/01/2021 at 15:16

        I’m no longer in Germany so no address 🙁 How may I ask for that number? Thank you!

        • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 08/01/2021 at 13:27

          So if you had not been assigned a Steuernummer yet, you can submit a tax return without one. Leaving the Steuernummer field empty.

  • Reply Jaini 06/12/2020 at 16:36

    Hey, this may be a silly question but if I’m registered as a freelancer in Germany and then move out of Germany. Does that invalidate my VAT number?

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 07/12/2020 at 10:39

      Hey Jaini. Well, you can’t use it after you move out of the country, if that is what you mean.

  • Reply Vamsi 11/11/2020 at 16:39

    Really cool to see that you still reply. Thanks! A small feedback – the link “on this page” under the heading “When you are first registering in Germany” is broken.

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 12/11/2020 at 11:09

      Fixed. Cheers.

  • Reply Wendy Mahon 06/11/2020 at 06:09

    Good day, I will like to enquire on this platform how I can get my Tax card and Insurance card too. Am an Irish citizen and I have an employment here but my I want to get my Tax and Insurance process my self. Have already process my Anmeldung. I want you to give me the guidelines on how I can go by the process. Thanks

  • Reply shubh 20/10/2020 at 12:15

    heyy bastien, i reistered myself at the Burgeramt(in Heidelberg) 5-7 months ago and didnt recieve anything apart from the ANMELdDNG. At that time i didnt knew about tax id. Now i moved to Berlin and like to work as a student but i have no tax id.
    Can you suggest me , where can i get one

  • Reply Ignacio 15/10/2020 at 23:50

    Hello!

    One question; is it possible to get the Steueridentifikationsnummer without being in Germany? I start my contract on nov. 1st but I need the number for signing it. I understand that I need the Anmeldung in order to get the Steuer-ID nummer, but I also understand that is is not possible to get either (Anmeldung or Steuer-ID) without being there. Is there any possibility of doing this Online? Ideally I want to have verything ready for when I arrive there.

    Thanks for everything,

    Ignacio

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 16/10/2020 at 14:35

      Hey Ignacio. You first need to have been a German resident. Your company must know that.

  • Reply Ada 02/08/2020 at 10:09

    Hi, thanks so much for your advice!
    I’m EU citizen and lived in Berlin until a year ago when I moved to another EU country but did not do “abmeldung” ’cause I have property in Berlin for which I’m paying taxes. Is that allowed or should I do abmeldung? If I do that, can I still keep my German bank account?
    Ada

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 04/08/2020 at 10:58

      Hey Ada. You may want to double check this with a Steuerberater but since you are not a German resident anymore, you should be not registered as such in Germany. Depending on how your new country system works, you’d need to pay taxes on the income you get from the German flat over there. All other local taxes related to your property in Berlin should be paid as usual.

      • Reply Ada 13/09/2020 at 12:22

        Thank you so much for your reply. My Steuerberater could not give me any reply. I’m regularly paying taxes here in the UK from the income I get from my flat in Germany. Is it possible to unregister from Berlin after more than a year that I left? What could happen if I don’t unregister?

        • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 14/09/2020 at 12:55

          Hey Ada. As i have said, if you are not a German resident anymore, you should not registered as such. You can still own property in Germany and be a UK resident.

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