German SteuerID and Steuernummer Explained

Have you looked at the two words Steuernummer (Tax Number) and Steueridentifikationsnummer (Tax ID) and wondered what they are and why they sound so similar? Do you know which number you need to file taxes in Germany? What to do if you lose them – how to find your SteuerID and Steuernummer. This article explores these terms and what they mean.

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Steueridentifikationsnummer (SteuerID)

Every registered resident in Germany is provided with Steueridentifikations-ID  (aka Steuer ID or Tax ID) This is a 11 digit number that is allocated to an individual by the Finanzamt. Even newborn children get a SteuerID. It is a permanent number allocated to a person once you do Anmeldung in Germany. It cannot be changed, as it is a part of your existence in this country. Even change of address does not change your SteuerID.

The Federal Central Tax Office (BZSt, Bundeszentralamt für Steuern) issues this number .German tax ID number comes in a XX XXX XXX XXX format.

Who needs a SteuerID?

The (Steuer-ID) is important for paying taxes and receiving government benefits. 

  • Communication with Tax Office.
  • If you are employed in Germany, you will need to provide your SteuerID to your employer in order to process your tax from your monthly gross income.
  • Applying for Child benefits (Kindergeld).
  • Opening Bank Account, Savings account, Depot Account

Although you can begin to work without this ID, it is possible that your salary will be taxed at a higher rate until this number is available to your employer.

How to get a SteuerID?

Once you register yourself at the Rathaus (Anmeldung) for the first time in the country, you will receive a post with your tax ID. The post will come from “Bundeszentralamt für Steuern” and it will arrive to your registered mail address with Registration in Germany – First StepPersönliche Identifikationsnummer” on the top-right hand side. This is your SteuerID. Keep this letter safe, you need this number for taxation purposes. If you have a kid born in Germany, within a few days of the birth, you will receive a letter with the baby’s SteuerID. So serious are the Germans about their tax regulations!

Benefits of having a SteuerID

Having a Steueridentifikationsnummer offers many benefits to both citizens and expats. You will need this ID foremost when you get a job. Since 2018, it is compulsory to have a SteuerID

  • when opening a bank account. If you are a pensioner, you can avail pension benefits.
  • If you are a student, you can avail financial aid.
  • To avail benefits from the government like Elterngeld, Mutterschaftsgeld, Kindergeld, Arbeitslosengeld etc. you need to provide your Tax ID.

INFO - Lost SteuerID?

If you have lost your tax ID, do not worry. But do not relax, either. If you are employed without a TaxID, it is considered as illegal. Without a SteuerId, you will be taxed high and your salary may not be credited to you on time.

If you never received your SteuerID it in the first place, you can always ask for it. You can request the Tax Office (Bundeszentralamt for Steuern) to resend it, by filling this online form. The form called Steuerliche Identifikationsnummerverlegt, verloren oder vergessen? It asks for basic details of you, like your name, address, birth date. The Tax Office then processes this form and resends the SteuerID to you within 6 Weeks. This ID will arrive by post to your address for security purposes.

Do you need your SteuerID in a hurry, because you are fast approaching the deadline of the tax returns and you need to submit them ASAP? Then head to your Nearest Finanzamt and request them for your tax ID and they will print it out for you.

Steuernummer

Also called as Freelance Tax number, the Steuernummer is for self-employed workers or freelancers. This number is also issued by the local Finanzamt. The Steuernummer is unique to you and your work but does not stay with you permanently. If you move to a different district or circle and your Finanzamt changes, then your Steuernummer also changes. You need to apply for a new Tax number in this case. Before SteuerID existed, everybody was getting a Steuernummer. Now, SteuerID is slowly replacing Steuernummer.

Who needs a Steuernummer?

If you are self employed or work in Germany as a freelancer, then you need to “Register yourself and your Business/work at the Local Finanzamt” to receive the Steuernummer. It is illegal to do freelance work without a Steuernummer. This number should be present on your bills and invoices. Sometimes, clients may not accept if the invoice does not display the Steuernummer on it.

How to get a Steuernummer?

Getting a Steuernummer is slightly more complicated to apply. To apply for one, you should fill a form called Fragebogen zur steuerlichen erfassung”  which is 8 pages long. Once you fill this form, submit it at your local Finanzamt office. Although it is a complicated German form, you can find translations online. Once you submit this form, the Steuernummer will be sent to you within 3-6 weeks. Once this number is available, you can put it on your invoices.

Here’s a table that summarizes the difference between the “SteuerID vs. Steuernummer”:

Steueridentifikationsnummer Steuernummer
11 digit number allocated currently to every resident 13 digit number that used to be allocated to residents
Existed since 2007 Is slowly getting replaced by the SteuerID
Is valid from birth Is valid from 1st Steuererklärung to Finanzamt
Remains permanent Can change if address (Finanzamt circle) changes.

Umsatzsteuernummer

Umsatzsteuernummer is called VAT number, which is used to identify the VAT payments to Finanzamt. It is a 9 digit number that looks like “DExxxxxxx”. You can get the VAT number by submitting the “Fragebogen zur steuerlichen Erfassung”. If you register as a small business “Kleinunternehmer”, then you will not need this number as small businesses do not have to pay tax.

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