German VAT

Germany introduced Value Added Tax in 1968. The rules on , and are based on European Union which German has transposed into its VAT Act. The tax is administered by the Ministry of Finance.

Foreign companies, or ‘non-resident’ traders, providing goods or services in Germany to local businesses or consumers may have to register their business for German VAT. They will then have to follow the German VAT compliance rules, including invoicing and VAT rates, as well as pay over any German VAT due.


Should you register for German VAT?

There are a number of trading situations which typically require a foreign trader to register with the German tax authorities. These follow the broad EU VAT rules, and  include:

  • Importing goods into Germany from another country, either from within the EU or from outside the EU
  • Moving goods between Germany and other EU member states (intra-community supplies), either as sales (dispatches) or purchases (arrivals)
  • Buying and selling goods in Germany
  • Selling goods over the internet to German consumers, subject to the German distance selling VAT regisration threshold
  • Goods held in consignment stock
  • Holding live exhibitions, events or training in Germany
  • If a company is otherwise a non-VAT trader, but is receiving services in Germany under the reverse charge rule
  • The self supply of goods

Few companies need to VAT register if they are providing services to local German companies, and instead can use the Reverse Charge process. This is based on the 2010 VAT Package changes.

Note that providers of electronic, broadcast or telecoms services to consumers in Germany only have to VAT register in one EU country under the MOSS scheme to file a single return covering all 28 member states.

If you do need to VAT register, read our German VAT registration briefing to understand the requirements, including the VAT registration thresholds. You can read more about German VAT returns too.

There may be further exemptions from the requirement to VAT register in Germany you should consider. Please read our German VAT Reverse Charge briefing.


Need help with your German VAT compliance?



Researching German VAT legislation is the first step to understanding your VAT compliance needs. Avalara has a range of solutions that can help your business depending on where and how you trade. 

Latest German news

EU request ending of German F22 VAT Certificate marketplace obligation

Oct 11, 2019 

The EU Commission (EC) has today sent to Germany a notice of formal notice to withdraw its 2019 requirement for EU and non-EU sellers on marketplaces to obtain an F22 VAT Certificate.

Germany cuts rail VAT

Sep 22, 2019

Germany has announced a reduction in the VAT rate applied on train journeys from the standard rate 19% to the 7% reduced VAT rate. The measure is part of a range of proposals to reduce the environment

Germany VAT certificates for EU sellers Oct 2020

Sep 7, 2019

EU online retailers selling to German consumers must provide any marketplaces they are active on with a VAT Certificate (Bescheinigungen nach § 22f UStG) from the German tax office, Finanzamt.