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VAT registration in Germany

Foreign companies which sell goods and services across EU borders do not normally have to be registered for VAT in Germany. This is to encourage the free internal market as introduced by the European Union.

German VAT registration for foreign companies

However, there are some important exceptions which are complicated by inconsistent interpretation of the rules between member states. If one of these exceptions is applicable, a foreign company must register for VAT in Germany even if the foreign company has no branch or place of business in Germany.

If you know that you need a German VAT registration, you can immediately send an email to and we will contact you without delay.

Examples for when German VAT registration is required

Here are some examples of when foreign companies must register although they have no branch in Germany:

  • Holding stock in a warehouse in Germany and then selling goods to German customers
  • Maintaining a German consignment warehouse and selling products to German customers
  • Using the German Amazon Fulfilment Service (FBA) as a foreign Amazon trader with delivery via the German warehouse
  • Buying and selling products in Germany without the goods leaving the country
  • Importing goods into Germany from a third country or another EU state and selling the goods in Germany
  • Moving goods between Germany and other EU member states (intra-community supplies)
  • Organising live events (conferences, art, education) in Germany
  • If a company is a non-registered VAT trader in Germany, but receives a service in Germany under the rules of the Reverse Charge System
  • The self-supply of goods

Foreign companies must check their need for VAT registration

Foreign companies must determine whether their business in the German market requires a VAT registration in Germany. In the case that German VAT registration has not been completed, or has been completed late, there is a threat of severe punishments, and the German tax authorities are paying more and more attention to this in view of the substantial growth of fraudulent fictitious companies.

In particular, foreign Amazon traders have in recent years been obligated by the German tax authorities to register for VAT. But other foreign companies also receive letters from the German tax authorities with regard to VAT registration in Germany. This it often the case when the tax offices gain information via tax audits of the foreign companies' German customers.

How do you register for VAT in Germany?

Foreign companies must submit an application for German VAT registration at the jurisdictional tax office for the relevant state. The official language is German and the tax forms are generally only available in German. This means that even when registering a foreign company for German VAT, the correspondence with the jurisdictional tax authorities must be in the German language.

Based on our experience, the German tax offices are very critical when it comes to VAT registration of foreign companies and they often have many questions. In view of losses in the billions every year in the European Union by way of fictitious companies and carousel fraud, increased checks are intended to ensure that VAT fraudsters will be registered for tax. These testing processes lead to longer wait times for receiving a VAT registration which generally takes several weeks.

How can WW+KN help with VAT registration?

WW+KN has advised foreign companies and corporations for many years on VAT registration in Germany and fulfilling German VAT obligations. Additionally, WW+KN is the partner of several German Chambers of Commerce in various other states. WW+KN consistently supports more than 300 foreign companies with VAT obligations in Germany.

The team at WW+KN has already carried out several hundred VAT registrations for foreign companies in Germany over the years. This means that WW+KN is familiar with the exact requirements and the procedure with the German authorities for the VAT registration of foreign companies. This ensures that VAT registration for clients of WW+KN will be completed as smoothly as possible.

What documents does WW+KN need for registration?

After mandating WW+KN, we send the foreign client a checklist with all information and documents required for VAT registration in Germany. Generally, this includes the following documents:

  • Founding certificates of the company
  • Company registration of the foreign company
  • Current confirmation from the foreign tax authority about the company's tax registration
  • Presentation of planned business activities in Germany
  • Power of attorney for WW+KN to be the tax representative vis-á-vis the German authorities

VAT registration is complete - What next?

After VAT registration in Germany, for the first two years the foreign company is generally obligated to submit monthly or quaterly preliminary VAT returns as well as an annual VAT return. These are sent electronically to the tax authorities. The language of correspondence is German.

WW+KN will also handle the corresponding with the German tax authorities for the client in the time that follows. VAT-relevant documents will be coordinated with the client. WW+KN will then prepare the preliminary VAT returns and annual returns. In doing this, WW+KN will ensure that the German formal requirements are met and there will be no fines or penalties for the foreign client.

Do you have questions about VAT registration in Germany?

Do you have any questions about the VAT registration of your company in Germany? Are you unsure whether your company must be registered for VAT in Germany? Do you want to know more about your tax obligations after completing VAT registration? Would you like a quote for VAT representation of your company in Germany? Yes? Then please send an email to and we will contact you as quickly as possible. 

As a member of SBC Global Alliance, WW+KN can coordinate international VAT compliance requirements worldwide.