What is a Tax Identification Number (Tax ID)?

Your tax identification number (Identifikationsnummer) is a unique 11-digit number provided to you by the German Federal Tax Office.

Who needs it? Everyone who wants to work in Germany. Your employer will ask for this number. You also need this when you communicate with the tax office.

Do not be confused: A tax number (Steuernummer) is something entirely different!! It refers to a freelancer/commercial business tax number. It has this format xx/xxx/xxxxx.

3 Things you must know about Tax ID in Germany

#1 You cannot get this number before you have registered in Germany. Register now. Once you have registered, you will get it automatically.

#2 A tax ID is issued only one time. If you have lost your tax ID, you can ask for it at the tax office. They can tell you in person what your tax ID is. Just bring your passport.

#3 There are three different ways to refer to the tax ID in Germany, they all mean the same thing:

  • Identification Number (Identifikationsnummer)
  • Tax Identification Number (Steueridentifikationsnummer)
  • Tax ID (Steuer-ID)

How to Get Your Tax ID in Germany

Option 1: How to get my German Tax Identification the ‘normal’ way

The Central Tax Office in Germany will send your tax ID automatically to your registered address a few weeks after you’ve registered at the registration office. Please note that as of 2014 there is no need to fill in any forms to get your tax ID. Getting a tax ID in Germany has become very simple: All you need to do is wait for the letter from the Federal Central Tax Office to arrive at your registered address (on average this takes two weeks). Note that you keep the same tax ID your entire life. If you have lived in Germany before and can’t find your tax ID anymore, or you have not received a letter from the Central Tax Office yet, go to option 2.

Option 2: How to get my German Tax Identification the fast way

If you need your tax ID very urgently and you cannot wait until the Federal Central Tax Office sends it to you, or you have lived in Germany before, then this is another option:

About five working days after you have registered your residence, go to your local tax office (Finanzamt). By that time the tax office should be able to look you up in the central tax system and read out your tax ID to you directly. To do this you must bring your passport with you.

Please note that it is not possible to do this by phone, you need to go to your nearest local tax office in person. To find the tax office that is responsible for you, Google ‘Finanzamt’ + ‘your city and district’, e.g. ‘Finanzamt Berlin Mitte’.

What to do if I have lost my German tax identification number?

If you have lost or forgotten your German tax ID (Steuer-ID), you can just go to your local tax office. They will tell you your tax ID. Note that you must go in person with your passport.

For more detailed instructions check out ‘Option 2: Get your German tax ID the fast way’.