German Tax Obligations for EU Sellers

Amendments to existing German VAT legislation became effective on January 1, 2019.  On this page you will learn who is impacted by the amendments and what the new German tax legislation requires.

Who is impacted?

All sellers with VAT obligations in Germany must obtain and provide AbeBooks with a copy of their German Tax Certificate. Sellers who ship goods to customers in Germany but are not obligated to be tax registered in Germany need to submit a declaration to AbeBooks.

According to the amendments in the German VAT Code (“UStG”), online marketplace operators can be held liable for unpaid VAT generated by sellers trading on the marketplace and fulfilling orders from or to Germany. In order to avoid such liability, marketplaces must either obtain a Tax Certificate or a declaration from sellers fulfilling orders from or to Germany.

Sellers legally-established inside the European Union who do not provide a certificate, or do not submit a declaration by October 1, 2019, will no longer be able to sell to customers in Germany via AbeBooks. This date is formally set out in the legislation.

How to apply for a German Tax Certificate

You need to be tax registered in Germany with a valid Tax ID (Steuernummer) in order to apply for a Tax Certificate in Germany. If you are not yet tax-registered in Germany, we recommend that you consult with a tax advisor to assess if you should be registered.

To start the process, you need to submit an application to the German tax office that is responsible for you respectively the country where your business is legally established.  Click here to see a list of German tax offices and contact details.

The following non-exhaustive list of facts triggers a tax registration obligation in Germany:

  • You store inventory and fulfill from Germany.
  • You ship goods to customers in Germany from another EU country
  • You ship goods to customers in Germany from another EU country where your inventory is stored and your total sales to customers in Germany exceed €100,000 per calendar year across all sales channels.


Click here to download the official Tax Certificate application form in English

Click here to review information on how to upload your German Tax Certificate


The following information is required to complete your application for the Tax Certificate:

1. Your name (first and last name or trading name).
2. Your address.
3. Phone no., fax and email address.
4. Confirmation whether you are already VAT registered in Germany and if so the name of the relevant tax office.
5. Tax ID in Germany (Steuernummer).
6. Name and address of tax advisor (if applicable)
7. Name and address of a German-based Authorised Agent (required only for sellers not based in Germany or a member state that is part of the Agreement on the European Economic Area).
8. List of marketplaces on which you are trading on or intend to trade on, including the relevant “identification feature” on each marketplace (for example, account trading name).
9. Place, Date, Signature and – if applicable, firm stamp

Click here to download a sample Tax Certificate

How to submit a German Tax Declaration

You need to acknowledge a declaration if you fulfill orders from or to Germany but you are not obligated to be tax registered in Germany. The following non-exhaustive list of facts indicate that you have no tax registration obligation in Germany:

  • You are not generating taxable sales in Germany by delivering goods from a German warehouse or any place in Germany. You exclusively ship goods from places outside of Germany.
  • If you ship goods directly from outside the EU to customers in Germany and for all these shipments the customer (or the carrier as the agent of the customer) will make any import declarations to German customs authorities, and the customer will be the sole debtor of any import VAT in line with Sec. 3 para. 8 of the German VAT Code.
  • If you ship goods stored in other EU countries directly to customers in Germany and all such deliveries are less than €100,000 in the current calendar year and have been less than €100,000 in the previous calendar year (according to Sec. 3c para. 3 of the German VAT Code).

Frequently Asked Questions

What does the declaration say?

It asks you to confirm that you have no tax registration obligation in Germany despite fulfilling orders to customers in Germany.

I don’t have any VAT obligations in Germany – what should I do?

If you are not obliged to be tax registered in Germany and therefore not required to obtain a Tax Certificate, acknowledge the declaration confirming that you are not generating taxable sales in Germany. For any further questions, contact your tax advisor.

Can I have an extension?

Because of the legislative requirements, we are unable to offer extensions.

Will my declaration or certificate be shared with the German tax authorities?
German tax authorities have the right to request copies of seller declarations and tax certificates.

I don’t want to receive orders from Germany – what should I do?
If you do not submit a Tax Certificate or acknowledge the declaration, then you will not receive orders from customers in Germany from October 1, 2019.

Why are you doing this?
According to amendments to the German VAT Code (“UStG”), online marketplace operators can be held liable for unpaid VAT generated by sellers trading on the marketplace and fulfilling orders from or to Germany, if they fail to collect Tax Certificate or declarations from these sellers.

Why doesn’t AbeBooks collect the German VAT?
German legislation does not permit marketplaces, such AbeBooks, to collect and remit VAT from customers.

My tax advisor says I don’t need to register for German VAT.
If you acknowledge the declaration, then you can receive orders from customers in Germany.

Please note that this information does not constitute any legal or tax advice and we recommend to contact your legal counsel or tax advisor in case of questions.