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March 25, 2013

How to get a Tax ID Number in Germany?

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The German Tax ID & German Tax Number Explained

Last update: January 2018
Note: This is not for businesses!

What is a Tax Identification Number or Tax ID?

Tax Number (in German: Steuernummer)

The "Steurnummer" and the "Steuer-Identifikationsnummer" are 2 different numbers for tax purposes. The Steuernummer is currently only being used for tax returns & freelancers!

If you want to work as a freelancer, you need to apply for a German tax number (Steuernummer) at your local Finanzamt (check the procedure in here). 

Tax ID (in German: Steuer-ID or IdNr or Steuer-IdNr or Steueridentifikationsnummer)

An Identification Number, called also National Identification Number, is a unique number issued to you by the German Taxation Office to administer tax and other German Government systems. 

Important: The tax office will send you the tax ID automatically to your registered German address within three weeks after you've done your Bürgeramt registration.

Your employer will always need the Steueridentifikationsnummer (IdNr). This number will never change!!! If you've lost it, you can apply for it here

Employees have their income tax deducted from their salary at source. If you don't receive that tax number, you will be taxed at the maximum rate possible and would have to try & claim a tax back in the future. 

Important: Most companies are doing their best to accommodate the needs of their new employees who start their new life in Germany, so they will usually wait for your tax ID and not tax you at the full rate.

March 11, 2013

The Rummelsburger Bucht - Berlin

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Rummelsburger Bucht

Rummelsburger Bucht

If you saw it today, you really wouldn't believe it, but this now idyllic residential area in the East of Berlin used to be a place of repression and persecution. Like so many places in Germany, it really leaves the spectator unsuspicious to its past. It draws people in, because of its beauty and serenity. Only when you stop and look behind the new façade do you realize its historic enormity. 

Städtisches Arbeitshaus (City Workhouse) 1879 – 1933

Rummelsburger Bucht

This original complex in the Rummelsburger Bucht consisted of 19 plain brick buildings, of which 15 survived. The people interned had generally lived on the margins of society. They were homeless, beggars, tramps, prostitutes, the “work shy”, old and infirm people of disreputable characters, or men and women arrested for minor offenses. They were in the workhouse to be adjusted to societal norms through “work and corrective measures”. Opened in 1879 the institution was designed to hold 1.000 inmates, but was already overcrowded by 1887 with over 1.600 men and women registered there. Only during the Weimar Republic were conditions eased by reforms, that lowered the concentration of inmates. 

Arbeits- und Bewahrungshaus (Workhouse and Protection Hostel) 1933 –1945 

Rummelsburger Bucht
The assumption of power by the Nazis in 1933 brought an abrupt end to the reforms and signalled a turn for the worst for the homeless, and people stigmatized as “asocial” and “psychologically disturbed”. 
The period of stay in the workhouse was extended considerably and inmates able to work were forced into labour. New “Special Departments” were established for homosexual and Jewish inmates and compulsory sterilisation under the “Erbgesundheitsgesetz” (Law for the Prevention of Genetically Diseased Offspring) was regularly performed. Remember, that the whole complex was only designed for 1.000 people? In 1940 it held almost 2.000.
In line with the Euthanasia campaign of the Nazis, documents were drawn up in late 1941 to prepare inmates for extermination. Evidence shows that, in 1942, a “sampling survey” took place that scheduled 314 inmates of the “Workhouse and Protection Hostel” for extermination. 

Arbeits- und Bewahrungshaus (Workhouse and Protection Hostel) 1945 – 1951

The institution continued operating even after the end of WWII with about 280 remaining inmates. Refugees were also accommodated here for a while. Then, from 1949 to early 1951, the Magistrate of (East) Berlin ran approved schools for young people, as well as a youth detention centre. After the German Democratic Republic was founded, the Minister of the Interior took over the site and began transforming it into penal institutions: “Penal Institution Berlin I” and “Pre-trial Detention Centre I”.

Strafvollzugsanstalt Berlin I (Penal Institution Berlin I) 1951 – 1990 

Rummelsburger Bucht
Most of the inmates during this time came from the German Democratic Republic, but some were West Germans or detainees from other states. Political imprisonment did not officially exist, but many fell into the wheels of the law for political reasons and received heavy punishments.
Conditions at the detention centre were worse than ever. The number of inmates had now risen to 2.500, even though the complex only provided 900 jail spaces. “Political” and “criminal” prisoners were mixed indiscriminately. The daily routine was governed by despotism, military drill and a sophisticated penal system. Prisoners had to endure inadequate hygiene and care. All this was designed to suppress any political behaviour that deviated from the norm. Furthermore, prisoners were employed as cheap labour for monotonous, physically hard, or health threatening work. 
At the end of October 1990, Rummelsburg Prison was finally closed and remained unused for years. In 2007, it was converted into a residential complex.

Rummelsburger Bucht Today

Rummelsburger Bucht
How the place has changed. Now parents with their children and pet dogs, people on a leisurely stroll, joggers, bird feeders and anglers set the tone of the area. It has become the perfect place to bring up a family in the middle of the city and to enjoy a bit of the outdoors away from the strain of the big city life. The old red-brick buildings that survived from the first institution have now been turned into flats and are inconspicuously strewn in-between modern new-builds. This makes it even more important to pause and take in the history of the place. It only makes you enjoy the transformation, and what it stands for today, even more.

Rummelsburger Bucht

March 5, 2013

Visa requirements for Germany (forms incl.)

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Need a Visa for Germany?

Last update: August 2015
Visa for Germany

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Read the requirements below & fill in the visa application forms at the end of this article.


  • EU nationals do not require a visa to enter the Federal Republic of Germany. 
  • Non-EU nationals, generally speaking, require a visa for stays in Germany. A visa is not required for semi-annual visits of up to 90 days for nationals of those countries for which the European Community has abolished the visa requirement. 

  • Schengen visa 
    • never issued in Germany
    • valid 3 months 
    • valid for tourism & transit purposes or studies not lasting more than 3 months in a 6 months period. 
  • EU citizens do not require any kind of visa or permits (incl. Romanian, Bulgarian & Croatian citizens).
  • As a citizen from Switzerland, Iceland (EEA) or Liechtenstein (EEA), you can also live, work and study in Germany without any visa. However, once in Germany, you may apply for a residence permit at the Ausländerbehörde in your town of residence.
Note: The residence permit issued to Swiss nationals and their family members merely certifies the right to freedom of movement. If you are a family member of an EU or EEA citizen and therefore covered by the right to freedom of movement, you will be issued with a corresponding residence card.

  • As a citizen from Norway (EEA country), you can live, work and study in Germany without any visa or permit restriction.

  • Entry visa (leading to a National visa) 
    • valid for longer stays and/or stays entitling the holder to take up gainful employment 
    • when applying for a National visa, the German mission abroad would first issue a short visa with a purpose of staying longer 
    • it entitles the holder to enter in Germany before acceptance of the electronic residence permit 
    • it may be converted by the local "Ausländerbehörde" into a longer permit if the student or work permit is accepted 
    • when in Germany: in order to obtain the residence title, the visa holder must register first with the local "Einwohnermeldeamt" or "Bürgeramt"
  • Australian, Israeli, Japanese, Canadian, South Korean, New Zealand and US citizens (exception for the Green card holders) can apply for a residence permit while in Germany (within 3 months) and they do not need an entry visa.