How to get a Tax ID Number in Germany?

The German Tax ID & German Tax Number Explained

Last update: August 2020
German Tax ID
[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). Check the procedure here.

Highly Recommended: An easy and quick solution to get your Steuernummer and your VAT number to become a freelancer in Germany would be to use the services of this company. If you do not understand German, you can fill in for FREE the freelancer application form (Fragebogen zur steuerlichen Erfassung) online and in English. Once you are ready, they will take care of submitting it directly to the Finanzamt through the official ELSTER interface. You can also file your VAT and tax return with them.

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 or Steuer-ID). This number will never change!!! If you've lost it, you can retrieve 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 not have the possibility to claim a tax back in the future.

Make sure to open a bank account in Germany as most employers do not pay salaries to foreign accounts. The most popular bank accounts in Germany are DKB (in German) and N26 (in English - No Anmeldung required!). They are both 100% free of charge & include a free debit/credit card. 

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.

What is a Tax ID (Steuer-ID)?

If you intend to work in paid employment, you need to have a Tax ID. Your taxes are deducted directly from your income by your employer and paid to the state. The amount of income tax deducted depends on your income, your marital or family status and your tax bracket/class. 

If you do not have a Tax ID, you may: 

  • pay more tax than necessary; 
  • not be able to get government benefits you are entitled to receive;
  • not be able to open a bank account;
  • not be able to register as a freelancer;
  • not be able to claim any tax refund.

A Tax ID will help you: 

  • start or change jobs; 
  • lodge a tax return; 
  • open a bank account;
  • register as a freelancer.

Note: As a student, you will also get a tax ID associated with your Anmeldung.

For further information visit the German tax office website.

Who needs to know my Tax ID?

Your employer needs to know your TIN. As an employee, you will have to provide your employer with your Tax ID at the time you begin new employment or before your first salary payment. 

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

Pension funds, health insurances and employment services can also ask for your ID number. 

Do I need to apply for a Tax ID each year?

No. You just need to apply for it when doing your Anmeldung. 

All individuals receive an 11-digit identification number to ensure their unique identification within the tax system. The number will not change if you move home or marry. It will remain with you for the whole of your life. It does not contain any information about you or the tax office responsible for your tax affairs.

How & Where do I apply for my Tax ID?

You need to apply for a tax ID at your local Bürgeramt/ Bürgerbüro/ Kundenzentrum/ KVR during your Anmeldung process. Here is our article explaining the Anmeldung process.

However, if you've lost it, you can apply for a tax id online. The processing time could be up to 3 weeks! Again, you have only to use this method if the tax office forgot to send you the tax ID.

May I work in paid employment without a Tax ID?

Yes and No... 

Without a Tax ID, the tax will be deducted from your income at the maximum rate and you cannot claim this back later by submitting a tax return; therefore it is convenient to have a Tax ID and have the correct amount deducted from the start. 

It is illegal to work in paid employment without paying income tax. Your employer is legally required to deduct the appropriate amount of tax from your salary and to forward this to the German Taxation Office.

Important: Some employers will not accept you for the job if you do not want to apply for a tax ID. In other words, they will not accept you if you do not want to register an address in Germany!

Be careful: If you have a so-called "mini-job", you do not have to pay taxes. However, your employment status doesn't matter; you will still get a "Steuer-ID" a few weeks after registering your residence in Germany.

If you earn less than 9,168 Euro a year (and are not married or in a civil partnership), you will get back the taxes you have paid at the end of the year when you submit an income tax return to the tax authorities. [data from 2019].

Find here a German Wage Tax Calculator: Gross/Net and Net/Gross calculations.

Help: You can use this service to submit your yearly tax return in English. It's very easy, just follow the online instructions!

When will I receive my Tax ID?

The Tax ID is now an electronic number. The tax office will send you the tax ID automatically to your registered German address within 2-3 weeks after you've done your Bürgeramt registration.

Is any of the money I pay in taxes refundable?

In Germany, you may lodge an annual tax return at the end of each financial year. The financial year runs from 1 January to 31 December and you have until the end of July of the following year to lodge a tax return (In 2021, the deadline was extended to October 31). Your taxation obligation will be calculated by the German Taxation Office. If you have paid less than the appropriate amount, you will receive an invoice for the balance. If you have paid more than the appropriate amount, you will receive a refund.

Important: As an employee, you aren't obliged to file a tax return each year; it's up to you! 
However, if you file a tax return one year, you then have to lodge one every year; it then becomes mandatory!

File your German tax return in English using this service.

What is my Tax class/bracket?

Tax class I 

Single, divorced, widowed or married employees, who do not fall into classes II, III or IV.

Tax class II 

Those employees who would otherwise be in class I, but are entitled to receive a tax reduction as a single parent.

Tax class III 

Married employees, if both partners live in the country, are not permanently separated and only one partner is receiving a wage, or the partner of the employee is by request of both partners entered in tax class V; or widowed employees for the year following the calendar year of the death of the spouse, if both partners lived in Germany on the day of the death and were not permanently separated.

Tax class IV 

Married employees, where both partners are receiving a wage, both live in Germany and are not permanently separated.

Tax class V 

Married employees who request this classification, if the other partner is classified as Tax class III.

Tax class VI 

Employees who receive wages from several employers at the same time.

There is NO tax class for students. This means that your tax class only depends on your marital status (see tax classes above)!

Also, be aware that you are not allowed to live & work in Germany without having a proper German health insurance policy. The international health insurance you used to enter Germany isn't valid anymore in most cases. We advise you to get a free quote from an independent insurance broker if you don't want to get in trouble. We can recommend this popular independent broker who deals with government & private health insurance plans. 

If you have any further questions...

For further information and help with filling out and lodging your income tax return, please visit the Tax Office Website

Please note that we are not tax agents so for the most up to date advice please contact the German Taxation Office.



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