2024 Guide – VAT in Germany

Appoint a fiscal representative in Germanyand make sure to be 100% VAT compliant

VAT in Germany

Whether you’re a European or non-European company, establishing certain activities in Germany may mean you need to register for VAT. You can use a fiscal representative or tax advisor to draw up your VAT, Intrastat and ESL returns with total peace of mind in Germany.

If you deal with companies in Germany, you may be able to claim a German VAT refund.

In this VAT guide, we have brought together the specific features of the German regulations, which interact with the harmonized framework within the European Union.presented in our guide to intra-Community VAT obligations.

With EASYTAX, be 100% VAT compliant, always.

Basic information

EU membership 1957
ISO code DE
VAT introduced in Germany 1968
VAT name in Germany Umsatzsteuer / Mehrwertsteuer
VAT ID format in Germany DE999999999
Territories with special status in Germany Island of Helgoland, Busingen

VAT rates in Germany

Standard VAT rate 19 %
Reduced VAT rate (1) n/a
Reduced VAT rate (2) 7 %
Super reduced VAT rate n/a
VAT parking rate n/a
Zero VAT rate no

Thresholds triggering VAT reporting obligations in Germany

Intrastat threshold at introduction 800 000 EUR
Intrastat threshold on dispatch 500 000 EUR
Distance selling threshold As of 1st July 2021, the threshold is EUR 10,000 for all intra-Community distance sales.

Reporting frequency in Germany

Intrastat return monthly depending on threshold
EC Sales List (ESL) return monthly, quarterly
VAT returns monthly, annually
Reporting currency EUR

VAT-related penalties in Germany

Failure to file a VAT return Penalty of 10% of the VAT due up to a limit of EUR 25,000 per return.
Late payment of VAT A fine of 1% of the VAT due per month of delay.
Failure to report ESL/DEB A fine of 1% of the amount to declare in the ESL with a maximum of 2500 euros.

Useful links on VAT in Germany

Tax Administration in Germany Tax authorities
Ministry of Finance in Germany Ministry of Finance
Check a VAT number in Germany Check a VAT number
EU VAT Guide EU VAT Guide
Need VAT assistance in Germany? Contact us now.

Appointing a tax representative or agent is sometimes an obligation, always a convenience.

A foreign company carrying out transactions in Germany subject to German VAT, may be required to appoint a tax representative. Established in Germany, the fiscal representative will fulfill the company’s VAT obligations to the German tax authorities on its behalf: filing VAT returns, paying VAT, claiming VAT refunds and carrying out tax audits.

Even when the appointment of a tax representative is not mandatory, a company may entrust the management of its VAT obligations to a tax agent. The difference between an agent and a tax representative essentially concerns the operator’s degree of responsibility. At EASYTAX, we will in any case use the term “tax representation”.

Why entrust your VAT obligations in Germany to a tax representative?

To secure your operations, lighten your company’s administrative burden, and control tax risks in Germany.
Intra-Community and German VAT regulations are complex and subject to frequent changes. Declaratory obligations are recurrent and vary in frequency. Penalties for default or delay, as well as errors in flow assessment, can quickly prove financially onerous.

Don’t take risks, don’t pull your hair out: leave the management of your VAT obligations to specialists.

For VAT compliance in Germany, choose EASYTAX

Discover a simple, reliable and efficient tax representation service. EASYTAX handles all your VAT obligations, Intrastat, ESL, and your VAT recovery claims in Germany, in all European Union countries and certain non-EU countries. You have access to a dedicated consultant, who monitors your file and answers any questions you may have.

Need a tax representative in Germany? Contact us now.

Germany, a founding member of the European Union, is the leading European market, which is naturally of interest to e-sellers.
The strength of its industry (automotive, chemicals, pharmaceuticals, capital goods, biotechnologies and new technologies, etc.) gives it a dominant position: 5th largest economy in the world, 2nd largest importer and 3rd largest exporter.
All this, plus its central position in Europe, make it a country of choice for trading and storage platforms.
It’s easy to see why operators develop activities that may require registering for VAT registration and incur various other obligations. This is why companies might find it worthwhile appointing a tax representative in Germany.

The VAT regulations in Germany are based on its national laws as well as on the Intra-Community VAT directives issued by the European Union.
The German regulations are set out in the law on turnover tax (Umsatzsteuergesetz, hereinafter ‘UStG’), the provisions for implementing the law on turnover tax(Umsatzsteuer-Durchführungsverordnung, hereinafter ‘UStDV’) and the guidelines for turnover tax (Umsatzsteuer-Richtlinien, hereinafter ‘UStR’).

The VAT rates currently in force in Germany are as follows:

  • Standard VAT rate: 19 %
  • Reduced VAT rate (1): n/a
  • Reduced VAT rate (2): 7 %
  • Super reduced VAT rate: n/a
  • VAT parking rate: n/a
  • Zero VAT rate no

Need a tax representative in Germany? Contact us now.

Do you need a VAT fiscal representative in Germany? Certain operations may require VAT registration and the filing of VAT returns in Germany:

To check whether your activities give rise to VAT obligations in Germany, use our VAT simulator .

Need a VAT tax representative in Germany? Contact us now.

When do e-sellers need to register for a VAT number in Germany?

In Germany , as in other European Union countries, e-sellers must register for VAT:

  • when the overall threshold for intra-Community distance selling of 10,000 euros is exceeded, and they have not opted to pay VAT in Germany via the One Stop Shop.
  • or when they hold a stock of goods in Germany and must report the stock supply transactions.

What are the VAT obligations for e-traders in Germany ?

In addition to VAT registration, e-traders must:

  • Apply the defined VAT rates in Germany: standard rate (19 %), reduced rates 1 and 2 (n/a and 7 %).
  • Declare stock transfers between marketplaces‘ storage platforms, as well as the supply translactions for these stocks.
  • File periodic returns (VAT returns, intrastat, ESL), to ensure their VAT compliance in Germany.

Find out more:

Need a VAT tax representative in Germany? Contact us now.

Why identify yourself to VAT in Germany?

You may need a VAT number in Germany to fulfil your tax obligations in this country. Indeed, certain activities such as sales, purchases and subcontracting operations may require VAT identification.

German VAT is named Umsatzsteuer / Mehrwertsteuerand the VAT numbers in Germany have the following structure: DE999999999.

How do I get a VAT number in Germany?

The administrations in charge of VAT in Germany are the following: Tax authorities, Ministry of Finance.

VAT identification is a relatively simpler formality than setting up a company, but beyond obtaining a VAT number in Germany, you’ll need to complete and submit periodic declarations to ensure your VAT compliance. Which is why we recommend foreign companies use a fiscal representative or tax advisor.

To check if your activities require VAT identification in Germany, use our VAT simulator or contact us.

Companies with a VAT number in Germanymust complete and file dVAT decl arations in Germany detailing all taxable income (sales) and expenses (costs), at regular intervals:monthly, annually.

Failure to comply with the deadlines imposed by the German authorities for the deposit and payment of VAT will result in the payment of penalties . For this reason, it is recommended that foreign companies use the services of an agent or a tax representative.

These penalties are defined as follows in Germany:

  • Penalties for failure to file a VAT return in Germany: Penalty of 10% of the VAT due up to a limit of EUR 25,000 per return.
  • Penalties for late payment of VAT in Germany: A fine of 1% of the VAT due per month of delay.

Need VAT assistance in Germany? Contact us now.

In addition to VAT returns, companies may be required to provide the German authorities with Intrastat & EC Sales List returns:

  • Intrastat returns enable the German authorities to compile foreign trade statistics.
    Companies must file these Intrastat returns as soon their turnover reaches the threshold.
    Intrastat threshold at introduction in Germany (800 000 EUR excl.VAT per annum)
    – Intrastat threshold on dispatch in Germany (500 000 EUR excl.VAT per annum).
    Failure to comply with the deadlines imposed by the German authorities for the filing of these Intrastat returns wil incur a penalty payment for the company.
  • The sales summary returns (EC Sales List or ESL) or purchases (EC Purchases List or EPL) in Germany are for tax purposes.
    Failure to comply with the deadlines imposed by the German authorities for the filing of these ESL returns wil incur a penalty payment for the company.

Our tax representation services enable you to fulfill all your VAT obligations in all countries of the European Union and beyond. Contact us today.

In principle, a non-resident company in Germany can recover all or part of the VAT incurred on its expenses.

There are three possible scenarios:

  • The company is established within the European Union or not, is already registered for VAT in Germany, or is obliged to register for VAT in Germany. In this case, it must apply for a VAT refund via the periodic VAT return filed in Germany, according to a periodicity: monthly, annually.
  • The company is established within the European Union, is not registered for VAT in Germany and is not required to do so. In this case, a VAT refund should be requested via the electronic portal of the tax authorities in the country where the company is established.
  • The company is not established within the European Union and is not required to register for VAT in Germany. In this case, they must use the services of a fiscal representative to carry out what is required by the German authorities on their behalf.
    > Learn more about our VAT recovery services.

Rely on our VAT recovery services in Europe. Contact us today.


*This information is subject to change without notice.

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