Numbers in Taxation Matters for Individuals in Business and Companies

It goes without saying that when you are dealing with taxation, you are dealing with numbers. The tax office wants a certain amount of your money. This article, however, focuses on your personal numbers when you are in business. In this case, you have some more numbers to deal with than private persons. There are also generic company numbers, which will be introduced further below.

Name of Number German Wording Issuing Office Format
tax identification number Steueridentifikationsnummer Bundeszentrale für Steuern (Federal Center for Taxes) 12 123 123 123
tax number Steuernummer your local tax office 123/1234/123
VAT-ID USt-ID, Umsatzsteuer-ID, Umsatzsteueridentifikationsnummer Bundeszentrale Für Steuern (Federal Center for Taxes) DE123456789
company number Betriebsnummer Federal Labor Agency 12345678
company registration number Handelsregisternummer Amtsgericht or AG, Handelsregister HRB [serveral numbers] B
association registration number Vereinsregisternummer Amtsgericht or AG, Vereinsregister  VR [serveral numbers] B


issued tax numbers and their meaning

Company Numbers

Companies, like GmbH or UG, have almost all the numbers like the business individual. However, companies do not have a tax identification number. On the other hand, a company will have its registration number with the Commercial Registry.

Tax Identification Number

This number has been introduced so that the fiscal authorities can easily track you all over the country. Seriously. You will need this number not only for your returns but also when applying for public funds or grants or subsidies. All individuals receive an 11-digit identification number to ensure their unique identification within the tax system. The number will not change if you change homes or marry. It will remain with you for your whole life. It does not contain any direct personal information about you or the tax office responsible for your tax affairs. The system behind creating this code has not been revealed; it may be your number is like the winning number in a lottery. Please be aware that identification numbers are also allocated to children! This is necessary because liability for tax can begin at birth.

Tax Number

Your tax number is for your local tax office the equivalent of a bank account number. You need this number for any and all returns. When you pay your taxes, be sure to add your tax number to the referral line for the bank transfer.


A value-added tax identification number or VAT identification number is assigned for intra-Community trade purposes and for the provision of professional services inside the EU. Only by applying your VAT-ID and the recipient’s VAT-ID does an invoice qualify for exemption of national VAT. This approach is also called the “destination principle” and is a concept of international taxation that allows for value-added taxes to be retained by the country where the taxed product is being sold. In the EU, a VAT identification number can be verified online at the EU's official VIES website. It confirms that the number is currently allocated and can provide the name or other identifying details of the entity to whom the identifier has been allocated. However, many national governments will not give out VAT identification numbers due to data protection laws.

Company Number

This number is granted by Federal Labor Office in Saarbrücken and is needed for settling accounts inside the social security system. It is a mandatory number for payroll as well. Typically your tax lawyer will obtain it for you but if you do not have one, you can get it yourself as well. N.B. Do not expect anybody to be fluent in English. You can get it via phone, website, or email.

Registration Number

The registration number is given by the Commercial Registry which is a functional authority inside a country court or in German "Amtsgericht". This number is the general identification number and is required to be shown on letterheads and similar "documents" like websites, email footers, etc. Not showing this number is subject to a fine of up to 50 k€.


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