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.


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.


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.


  • Reply Muhes 04/10/2017 at 00:12

    Hi there! I already signed a contract as research assistant, now I got a mail from unicastel to fill out some forms when there is required steuer nummer. I dont have this number so i requested it on finanzamt website. My question is : does university transfer my salary in my account before i send this forms to this uni cassel (with steuer nummer ). Thanks a lot

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 04/10/2017 at 16:41

      Hi Muhes. I don’t think so, but ask the University to check.

  • Reply Sarah 15/09/2017 at 14:55

    Hi there!

    I previously lived in Germany as part of a yearlong fellowship in two different states (Köln and Hamburg) and then in Berlin as an au pair. The fellowship and au pair program where both tax-free. I recently started a paid internship in Berlin and need a steuer ID. Is it possible that I already have a steuer ID even though I haven’t been taxed in Germany before?

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 15/09/2017 at 16:05

      Hi Sarah. If you have never received any mails from the Finanzamt, i doubt that you have one.

  • Reply Andi 25/07/2017 at 10:56


    so first of all: I really love the way your blog is structured – I introduce your blog to the Expats joining our company and its super helpful- So thanks a lot for the effort!! It’s amazing

    There ist just one thing that is quite confusing: “What is the Steuernummer : your German tax ID” If you could just change it that the German tax ID ist not the “Steuernummer” but Steueridentifikationsnummer – that’d be super great and would avoid a lot of back and forth explaining that these are two different numbers.

    Thanks a lot in advance.

  • Reply Niamh 17/06/2017 at 16:15

    I preciously worked in Kindergarten as part of praktium during university . I’m sure I had steuernummer on my pay slips .unfortunately can’t find payslips as it was two years ago . I’m moving back to Germany in few months is there any way I can find my old stuernummer ?

    Thanks very much

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 19/06/2017 at 09:23

      Hi Niamh, just contact your Finanzamt where you registered.

  • Reply Karim 05/04/2017 at 20:27

    I went to the Finanzamt and they told me that the letter paper which contains an 11 digit number called “Personliche Identifikationsnummer” is the Tax Number that i should give to the company, this was also confirmed by the company later.

    I got that letter 1 week after receiving the registration mail (which took 2 weeks to arrive)


  • Reply JS 05/04/2017 at 14:37


    I have received Anmeldung and Personliche Identifikationsnummer. Please can you explain if Personliche Identifikationsnummer is different to Steuernummer? Do I need both of these numbers or are they the same thing?

    Thanks very much!

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 06/04/2017 at 12:09

      Hi Jarred. Those are not the same things and you will receive both yes. Think of your Personliche Identifikationsnummer as your unique ID that will identify you. It never changes. Your Steuernummer can change during your life depending on your type of employment or if you move cities for example. I’ve read somewhere that the first will soon replace the second.

    • Reply Anthony 10/05/2017 at 13:56

      Hey just went to the Finanzamt in Neukölln and Informed me that i couldn’t get my Steuernummer There and that I had to wait for it in the post or go to the federal tax office. Just thought I’d let ya know. Guess I’ll go line up at the Bürger Amt

  • Reply Ryan Gloor 17/02/2017 at 00:46


    I completed my Amneldung three weeks ago but still haven’t received my tax code in the post. Should I continue waiting or would it be best to visit the Finanzamt?



    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 20/02/2017 at 09:50

      Hi Ryan. Yes, you should probably go now.

  • Reply Arun 28/01/2017 at 21:27

    Hi guys

    I’m a bit confused. I’ve received a Tax ID in the post and have registered with the Buergeramt. Do I still need to get a Lohnsteuerkarte/ nummer from the Finanzamt? I’m not a freelancer, and will be starting a full time role with a local company.


    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 29/01/2017 at 10:36

      Hi Arun. As mentioned in the post, this is actually the normal process. You only need to go to the Finanzamt when you don’t receive it by post in the firstplace. All good.

      • Reply Arun 04/02/2017 at 17:23

        Thanks for your reply Basti. I went to the Finanzamt anyway, and they confirmed that the employer should get the ElTSAM information from the letter containing the tax reference number 🙂

    • Reply Ana 02/02/2017 at 15:51

      Hi there,
      I just did my Anmeldung and they told me that the ID number is just for Germans.
      Also, I will like to do the Tax Card tomorrow in a Finanzamt. Does anyone knows if I need an appointment or I just show up?
      I need fresh information, because things have changed since this post was written.

      Thank you!

      • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 02/02/2017 at 17:54

        Hello Ana. There must have been some kind of misunderstanding since everyone working in Germany, German or not, receives a unique Steuernummer. As mentioned in the post, it is preferable to wait 1 or 2 weeks after your Anmeldung before showing up at the Finanzamt. You can go there without an appointment.

    • Reply Ana 02/02/2017 at 15:53

      Hi there! How long did it take for you to receive your Tax ID?

  • Reply RP 25/11/2016 at 10:02

    Hi, I received my freelance tax number in the mail but I lost the document. I how do I quickly get this info again or who can I contact?

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 25/11/2016 at 10:19

      Hi RP. Thanks for leaving a message. You need to go to your Finanzamt, pick a number, wait in line and ask for a new copy. Alternatively, you can also find it on your bills, as you must put it there too.

      • Reply RP 25/11/2016 at 10:23

        Ah ok… well it’s not in my bills as I also work full time and have some freelance work coming up on the side.

        • Reply RP 25/11/2016 at 10:28

          HR at my full time job told me I just need my regular steuernummer for freelance work if I already registered at the finanzamt for freelance. That makes no sense to me. I thought the point of the “fragebogen fuer steuerlichen erfassung’ was to get the seperate freelance tax number which is too be used on all freelance work. She claims the one I have works for that same purpose now too since it has to do with my tax id or something. I speak broken german and am very confused right now.

          • Bastien - Settle in Berlin 28/11/2016 at 09:49

            It can happen that you have the same ID number for both your normal job and freelance job yes. The main thing is that it is all declared with your Finanzamt. They decide if you get a separate number for your freelance jobs or not.

  • Reply Luke Kristofski 07/11/2016 at 10:26

    I am a New Zealand citizen currently living in Berlin on a one year working Holliday visa and I am looking to start my own consultancy company and become a self employed free lancer. Ive been informed I need to get a Gewerbeerlaubnis (commercial license) but in order to get this apparently I also need to get a Aufenthaltserlaubnis (resident permit)

    Do you know weather or not I am allegeable for this?

  • Reply SB 22/09/2016 at 09:39


    Thanks for this very useful information. I registered to Burgeramt in Karow/Buch on Sept.15th and today I went to finanzamt in Mehringdam on Sept.22th at 8:00 am. The officer told me that is too early for the Tax ID info to arrive to them. But luckily my info was already there at their system. So I COULD get my steuer-id after 1 week directly from the finanzamt.

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 22/09/2016 at 10:06

      Thanks for the info. I will append the post.

      • Reply SB 22/09/2016 at 14:54

        Also I want to say that the officer spoke English – this was the most scary part for me as I do not speak a single word in German – and everything was very fast. I was early there, but there was only one other guy, and I waited only for a couple of minutes and getting my info took only a few minutes. Everything was so smooth. I wanted to share this experience because there is sooo much bad experience being shared in the forums and I was very very worried about these bureaucracy things after reading all such unpleasant experiences.

  • Reply Manuel 14/09/2016 at 14:24

    Be careful guys, there a trick:

    I did my anmeldung this morning and went straight to the finanzamt to get my tax id and it was impossible as you have to wait one week from the moment you receive the anmeldung. I’m not sure why… But I just wasted two hours!
    Maybe this should be added in the article somewhere.


    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 15/09/2016 at 09:49

      Hey Manuel. Thanks a lot for the input. I didn’t know this limitation. I didn’t mention it because people usually wait a week or two to see if they receive a TAX ID by post, which they do most of the time. I will add it. Thanks again. 🙂

  • Reply Marina Noelia Cabane 18/08/2016 at 12:26

    Hi there,
    Just to let you know, I called and they say that now they changed the procedure, we need to complete this form and they send it to your house

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 18/08/2016 at 16:56

      Thanks for the update Marina. Are you sure this is correct? Because this link makes me land on a form where i can ask to be sent my IdNr when i already have one and i forgot or lost it.

      • Reply Marina Noelia Cabane 19/08/2016 at 18:31

        It is a bit confusing though, because it says „Repeated Inquiry of your tax ID“ but the lady on the phone said, that we should use it also if we want to get a tax ID in the first place. So maybe in six weeks I can tell you if I got the card or not.

        • Reply Marina Noelia Cabane 01/09/2016 at 17:21

          Ok, I received a letter from them requesting a copy of my Anmeldung proof and also copy of passport. I send those two things and now waiting. Will keep you updated

      • Reply Marina Noelia Cabane 14/09/2016 at 10:22

        Hi there! I did receive my Tax Number now! It took less than a month, so keep that in mind.
        I work for a company here, not a freelancer, so I’m not sure if this also applies for freelancers.

  • Reply waqas 12/11/2015 at 00:44

    Thanks A lot for yours kind information , today i have been told by my Admin that i need my Steuer Id Number because i have been working since august and i didnt have my St Nummer,after being told I was affraid what to do and where to find it, as i am not good in Deutsch Language but yours information helped me A lot .
    firstly i will go to Bürgramt after that if it wont work then i will go to financeamt hope it will work. Again God Bless you and many thanks 🙂

  • Reply Jonas 01/06/2015 at 22:57

    Hi there,
    i would like to point out that the physical tax card is not being issued anymore, it’s virtual and online.

    • Reply settle_in_Berlin 02/06/2015 at 12:54

      Thanks for the precision. I indeed forgot to put that in. 🙂

    • Reply Nicö 19/01/2016 at 13:06

      Hi Jonas,
      Where can I find this? I’ve looked everywhere.


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