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VAT in Germany

VAT Guide for EU countries within Europe

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.

Here you can find the specifics of VAT regulations in Germany, which work alongside the harmonised framework of the EU as explained in our guide to intra-Community VAT obligations.

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) 7 %
Reduced VAT rate (2) n/a
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 declaration
EC Sales List (ESL) declaration
VAT returns
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 Penalty of 10% of the VAT due.
Failure to report ESL/DEB Penalty amount not specified.

Useful links on VAT in Germany

Tax Authorities 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
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 current VAT rates in Germany are as follows:

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

Certain transactions in Europe may require registering for VAT and filingVAT returns in Germany:

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

When do e-traders need to register for VAT in Germany?

In Germany just like in other European Union countries, e-traders must register for VAT:

  • when the overall threshold of EUR 10,000 for Intra-Community distance selling is exceeded and they have not opted to pay the 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 ratesin Germany: standard rate (19 %), reduced rates 1 and 2 (7 % and n/a).
  • 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.

> Learn more about the VAT & e-commerce regulations and the VAT regime for logistics platforms in Europe.

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

VAT German 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 in Germany VAT are the following: Tax authorities, Ministry of Finance.

Registering for VATis a relatively simple formality compared to setting up a company, but in addition to obtaining a VAT number in Germanyyou’ll need to file periodic VAT returns to ensure your VAT compliance. Which is why we recommend foreign companies use a fiscal representative or tax advisor.

Companies with a VAT number in Germany must complete and submit VAT returns in Germany detailing all taxable income (sales) and expenses (costs), with the following periodicity: .

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: Penalty of 10% of the VAT due.

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 introductio n in Germany (800 000 EUR HT/an)
    – Intrastat threshold on dispatch in Germany (500 000 EUR HT/an).
    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.

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

There are three different scenarios:

  • The company, whether it 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:.
  • 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 tax authorities’ electronic portal 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.


*This information is subject to change without notice.

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