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German VAT Compliance – Rates & Registration

If a company not established in Germany is providing ‘taxable supplies’ of goods or services in Germany, it may have to obtain a non-resident VAT registration. In accordance with the EU VAT Directive, foreign traders are legally obligated to register for VAT in certain circumstances in order to report taxable transactions and declare VAT that must be charged.

It is important that all businesses with any commercial activity in Germany assess their compliance obligations and register prior to commencing taxable transactions if applicable.

What you need to know

There are various scenarios that would trigger an obligation to register for VAT in Germany. Some of the most common examples are:

  • Importing goods into Germany from outside the European Union.
  • Buying and selling goods in Germany.
  • Selling goods from Germany which are delivered to customers outside of Germany (business or private customers).
  • Acquiring goods in Germany from another EU country (Intra-community acquisitions).
  • Holding inventory in Germany for sale, distribution or consignment.
  • E-commerce sales of goods to consumers, subject to Distance Selling VAT registration thresholds.
  • Organising events in Germany where attendees or delegates must pay admission.

If you are currently, or plan to conduct any of the above (or similar) transactions in Germany, you should contact us immediately for a complimentary consultation.

German VAT Rates, Number Formats & Thresholds

*Thresholds apply for sales up to 1st July 2021 only, after which the EU rules were updated: For non-EU sellers, there is no revenue threshold and registration will be required in all member states where sales are made. For EU-based sellers, a threshold of €10,000 per annum applies – but this threshold refers to all EU sales, so if your sales revenue across the whole EU is greater than €10,000 – you will need to register in every EU state where you deliver goods. Read more about registrations options and the OSS here.

VAT Rates VAT Number Format Distance Selling Threshold* Intrastat Threshold
19% (Standard) DE123456789 € 100,000 € 800,000 (Arrivals)
7% (Reduced) € 500,000 (Dispatches)
VAT return periods

Monthly, quarterly or annually

Annual returns

Yes if VAT return period is monthly or quarterly

EC Sales Lists frequency

Monthly or quarterly

EC purchase lists


Other reporting requirements


Extended reverse charge

The extended reverse charge applies to a wide range of services in Germany. Please contact us if you would like details of how the extended reverse charge applies in Germany.

Fiscal Representation

In principle a non-established business may not appoint a tax representative. However, a tax representative may be appointed if the non-established business makes only exempt or exempt with credit supplies.

Contact us for a complimentary consultation.

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