What is an Umsatzsteuer-Identifikationsnummer?

If you run a business that crosses borders within the European Union (EU), you will undoubtedly come across the term “Umsatzsteuer-Identifikationsnummer” (also known as Ust. Id number). This unique number is your passport to a smoother tax process and allows you to do business within the EU without too much hassle.

We discuss what it Ust. Id number exactly, why it’s so important, how it differs from a German VAT number, how to apply for it and the consequences if you don’t have one.

What is the Umsatzsteuer-Identifikationsnummer?

Simply put, the Umsatzsteuer-Identifikationsnummer or Ust.Id-Nummer is your tax identification number within the EU. It is a unique code that ensures your company is recognized as a legitimate business that exchanges goods and services across borders.

The difference with the German VAT number

Now you may be thinking, “Isn’t that just the same as a VAT number?” Good question! Although they are similar, there are important differences. In Germany, you have both a Steuernummer, which is more of a general tax number for domestic business, and an Umsatzsteuer-Identifikationsnummer for trade within the EU.

You mainly use the German VAT number (Steuernummer) for all tax matters within Germany itself. It is the key to tax administration for local businesses. The Ust. Id Number, on the other hand, was created specifically for transactions between EU member states. Here, responsibility for VAT shifts to the recipient of the goods or services in the other EU country.


An Umsatzsteuer-Identification Number (UID Number) in Germany typically begins with the country code “DE” followed by a string of 9 digits, for example: DE123456789.

A German VAT number, or Steuernummer, looks different and is used for domestic tax purposes. The format may vary by region within Germany, but usually consists of 10 to 11 digits (without the country code), such as: 123/456/78901 or 301/245/67890.

Why is the Umsatzsteuer-Identifikations number so important?

Imagine this: you want to sell your products to customers in other EU countries. Without a Ust. Id Number, this would become an administrative nightmare, full of complicated VAT calculations and returns. With a Ust. Id-Number, however, makes this process a lot more streamlined. It allows you to participate in the European single market with fewer tax obstacles, allowing your business to grow and prosper across borders.


How do you get a Ust.-Id number?

You can submit an application to the Federal Tax Office (BZSt). The process may vary slightly by EU country, but in general you will need some basic information about your company, such as your legal company name, address, and Steuer number. Once your application is approved, you will receive your unique UID Number and you can start simplifying your EU trade.

What if I don’t have Ust. Id number have in Germany?

Not having an Umsatzsteuer-Identifikations number can have significant consequences for companies in Germany, especially if they are involved in trade within the European Union. Without this number, you run into several limitations and financial disadvantages:

  1. Limited trading opportunities: without a USt-IdNr. makes it more difficult for German companies to trade goods and services tax-free with companies in other EU countries. This can lead to fewer trading opportunities and a competitive disadvantage.
  2. VAT complications: companies without USt-IdNr. may be required to levy German VAT on all sales to EU countries, increasing the administrative burden and potentially driving up prices for end customers. This makes their offer less attractive to customers in the EU who are used to tax-free purchases within the community.
  3. Fines and penalties: failure to comply with tax regulations, including failure to obtain a USt-IdNr. when required, may result in fines and penalties from the German tax authorities.
  4. Delays and logistical challenges: without a USt-IdNr. delays may occur at customs because goods cannot move smoothly through EU borders. This can lead to longer delivery times and higher costs.
  5. Loss of trust: Customers and trading partners within the EU may be reluctant to do business with companies that do not have a USt-IdNr. have. The number is often seen as a sign of legitimacy and professionalism.

Need help with German VAT issues?

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