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Business Numbers for taxation payroll

Numbers for Businesses around Registration, Payroll, Taxation

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


Company Number, aka "Registernummer"

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

Tax Number, aka "Steuernummer"

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.

VAT-ID, aka "USt-ID" or "Umsatzsteuer-ID"

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, aka "Betriebsnummer"

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 consultant 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.