Country Guide: Germany

Looking to expand your e-commerce business to Germany, then look no further, here is AVASK's guide to VAT in Germany:

VAT in the Federal Republic of Germany

Germany is a member of the European Union (EU) and draws up its tax rules according to the laws or directives issued from Brussels by the EU. The current VAT directive applies to all 27 member states of the European Union, and it governs the rules on VAT compliance, and in some part, covers the setting of VAT rates.

As an EU member state, Germany is obliged to implement the VAT directives, which provides guidance on VAT. Where there is a conflict, the European Union’s directive takes precedence. Germany is a member of the European single market economy and uses the Euro (€) as its currency. In Germany VAT is known as: Umsatzsteuergesetz, or UStG.

VAT registration in Germany

Both EU and non-EU businesses may trade in Germany without establishing a local presence. This is known as non-resident VAT trading. There is no VAT threshold in Germany for the registration of non-resident traders, but you will need one to record transactions and your German customers will want proof that you have obtained one.

There are strict rules on the situations where VAT registration is permitted. Common scenarios that require German VAT registration include:

  • Importing goods into Germany;
  • Organising live events, conferences, etc. in Germany;
  • Holding goods in a warehouse in Germany as stock for resale;
  • Buying goods within Germany that are subsequently re-sold in-country;
  • Selling goods from Germany to other EU member states;
  • Distance-selling to private individuals in Germany, e.g. internet retailing or trading through an e-commerce platform.

Registering for German VAT can take up to six weeks once all documentation has been submitted to the tax authority, but this varies from seller to seller and will depend on the specifics of an individual company.

German VAT compliance

There are detailed rules controlling the recording and processing of German transactions for VAT purposes. This includes guidelines on:

  • German invoice requirements;
  • When to issue a German tax invoice;
  • Foreign currency reporting;
  • Credit notes and corrections;
  • Correcting entries from prior returns;
  • Which accounting records must be maintained.

German VAT rates

VAT Rate% Rate
Standard Rate19%
Reduced Rate7%
Zero Rate0%
Country Profile: Germany

German E-commerce facts:

Population85.52 million
(January 2020)
Currency:Euro (€)
Number of e-commerce users:69.1 million
(January 2020)
Revenue in e-commerce market:£63.78 billion
Estimated market growth:7.5% to £85.26 billion by 2024

German thresholds and additional summary:

Distance Selling Threshold (DST)€100,000
Intrastat Thresholds:

Dispatches: €500,000

VAT number format:DE 123456789
VAT return period:
(dependent on turnover)
Monthly, quarterly or annually
VAT return deadline10th of the month following period end
Annual VAT filing deadline:Due by 31st May of the following year
EC sales lists reportingMonthly or quarterly

Need help expanding to Germany?

Contact AVASK's International Business Development Team Today!

James Farah

International Business Development Officer

Location: Southampton, UK
Tel: +44 (0)23 8060 0120

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Frederick Stanley

Customs Sales Executive

Location: Southampton, UK
Tel: +44 (0)23 8060 0120

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