Steuernummer vs. Identifikationsnummer

Steuernummer vs. Identifikationsnummer

Two little numbers (well, big numbers actually), so much confusion.

Every German resident is assigned an Identifikationsnummer, some of us have a Steuernummer as well. The question is, what’s the difference between these two German tax numbers?

Here, we explain what the two numbers are, and what the difference is between the Steuernummer and the Identifikationsnummer.

Identifikationsnummer (Tax ID)

The identifikationsnummer, or Tax ID, is an 11-digit number assigned to each individual person as soon as they register as a resident in Germany.

Once you register your address in Germany (Anmeldung), you’ll receive a letter from the Bundeszentralamt für Steuern stating your Tax ID number, in about two weeks. Babies born in Germany will get one soon after birth. Once you have it, file it away in a safe place. Chances are, you’ll need to access it on occasion.

Why is the Identifikationsnummer so important? Your Identifkationsnummer is unique to you. No one else in Germany has this number. It’s the number used by the Finanzamt (German tax office) to identify you. It will never change. When you get a job in Germany, your employer will need this number to figure out how much income tax should be deducted from your paycheck.

If you’ve misplaced your original letter with your Tax ID, you can find the number on some of your other documents such as your income tax assessment, your employment tax statement, or even your pay stubs. You can also fill out this form on the Bundeszentralamt für Steuern website to have a new letter sent to you, which will contain your Tax ID.

Important Note: The Tax ID may be referred to as Steueridentifikationsnummer, Steuerliche Identifikationsnummer, Persönliche Identifikationsnummer, Identifikationsnummer, Steuer-IdNr., IdNr or Steuer-ID


Example of a letter stating an Identifikationsnummer. (Bundeszentralamt für Steuern, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons)

Steuernummer (Tax Number)

The Steuernummer, or Tax Number, is assigned to self-employed individuals, freelancers, and business owners. This is a 10- or 11-digit number assigned by the Finanzamt for a specific type of work. This means that if you do more than one type of work, you’ll have more than one Steuernummer.

For example, a freelance copywriter who also works as a child minder will have two different Steuernummers, one for each category of work. When invoicing a client, you include the specific Steuernummer for the type of work you are invoicing for. This helps the Finanzamt know exactly how much taxable income you earned for each of your various jobs.

How do you get a Steuernummer? If you have an accountant doing your taxes for you, he or she will apply to the Finanzamt to get your Steuernummer for you. Otherwise, you can apply for a Steuernummer yourself by filling out the Fragebogen zur steuerlichen Erfassung at your local Finanzamt.

Unlike your Identifikationsnummer, your Steuernummer may change if you move to a different district in your city, which has a different Finanzamt assigned to it.

Married couples who file their tax returns jointly, will also get a join Steuernummer (gemeinsame Steuernummer), which you or your accountant will use when filing your taxes.

Important Note: The Tax Number may be referred to as Steuernummer or St-Nr.



Your Umsatzsteuernummer or VAT ID is another number you’ll get when you register as a freelancer or self-employeed person at the Finanzamt. Individuals who make over 17,500 euros per year must pay a 19 percent VAT (value added tax) to the Finanzamt. If you’re required to charge VAT, your invoice should include your VAT number in addition to your tax number (Steuernummer).

Important Note: The VAT ID may be referred to as Umsatzsteuer-Identifikationsnummer, USt-Identifikationsnummer or USt-IdNr.


We hope we’ve helped clear up any confusion about your German tax numbers, as always, where here to support you as you settle into your new life in Germany.




Archer Relocation has been providing relocation services to families, individuals and companies in Berlin since early 2015.  Managing Director, Emily Archer, founded the company desiring to use her first-hand experience as an expat to make the relocation process as smooth as possible for others moving to Berlin.  Read other useful information about moving to and living in Berlin, such as ‘How to Find a Berlin Apartment’, on our Berlin Blog.  

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