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VAT in Germany

Changes to Value Added Tax regulations in Germany

Attention, please!

It may concern you. Important information on VAT in Germany. Check whether you need to issue a VAT certificate to continue trading on eBay in the German market.

Changes to Value Added Tax regulations in Germany

What happened?

On January 1, 2019, the German “Act on the Avoidance of VAT Losses in Trade with Goods on the Internet and on the Amendment of Further Tax Regulations” (§§ 22f and 25e UStG) came into force.

If the seller’s business on eBay sells goods in any EU country, the seller may be required to register for and collect Value Added Tax (VAT). Please note that a tax clearance certificate from the tax office is not sufficient. Required is a "certificate according to §22f UStG".

eBay will have to collect a certificate (“Bescheinigung nach §22f UStG”) from each business seller, which confirms the tax registration of the seller.

Sellers who failed to provide valid DE VAT number or/and company information, or use other’s DE VAT information may be subject to a range of actions taken against the seller’s account, including but not limited to: listing removal, selling restriction, or suspension.

Who is liable for VAT in Germany?

According to the new legislation, VAT must be paid by all sellers, regardless of the type of account (individual or company), as well as the local eBay website on which the listings are posted (for example, ebay.de, ebay.fr, etc.) if they meet one of the following criteria:

  • you are a seller established in Germany;
  • you are selling goods that are warehoused in Germany;
  • you ship goods to private individuals in Germany from a foreign EU country where the goods are stored or delivered in advance. This applies for a total German turnover of 100,000 euros per year across all sales channels.

In cases of doubt, we recommend that you contact a tax adviser (to do this, you can consult the official tax adviser directory [amtliches Steuerberaterverzeichnis] or the nationwide tax adviser search engine, which are both available on the website of the federal association of tax advisers in Germany [Bundesteuerberaterkammer], www.bstbk.de).

When?

If you are outside the European Economic Area (EEA), please provide us with the registration number and VAT certificate ("certificate according to §22f UStG") by March 1, 2019.

If you are located in the European Economic Area (EEA), please provide us with the registration number and VAT certificate ("certificate according to §22f UStG") by October 1, 2019.

Next steps

If you fulfill any of the 3 criteria, you should check whether you are complying with your value added tax (VAT) obligations as soon as possible.

If you already have VAT identification number but you haven’t uploaded the VAT certificate ("certificate according to §22f UStG"), please:

  1. Check that your business name and VAT identification number in your eBay account matches those on your VAT certificate (Bescheinigung nach §22f UStG). Also, please make sure that your certificate carries an official stamp by your tax office.

To change your business name:

  • Go to Account in My eBay.
  • Edit registration information.
  • Review your changes and select submit.
  1. Upload your certificate (Bescheinigung nach §22f UStG).

You have to upload your certificate to eBay on time in order to continue selling on eBay.

Upload your certificate to eBay by March 1, 2019, if you are a business seller outside the European Economic Area (EEA).

Upload your certificate to eBay by October 1, 2019, if you are a business seller within the European Economic Area (EEA).

If you do not have a VAT ID, but you liable for VAT in Germany (see above criteria):

  1. Register with the German tax authorities and apply for a VAT identification number. In addition, apply for a VAT certificate (Bescheinigung nach §22f UStG).

If you are affected, you should request the certificate (“Bescheinigung nach §22f UStG”) as soon as possible, as the tax offices can quickly reach their capacity.

You have to upload your certificate to eBay on time in order to continue selling on eBay.

Vendors who are required to register for tax purposes must contact the relevant tax office (an e-mail is sufficient, no specific form is necessary). That tax office will then send the applicant/vendor a questionnaire asking for the information that is required to register for VAT purposes.

After the applicant/vendor completes and submits this registration, a tax number will be sent to them in written form.

The list of German tax offices that have jurisdiction for foreign traders you will find below.

  1. Check that your business name and VAT identification number in your eBay account matches those on your VAT certificate (Bescheinigung nach §22f UStG). Also, please make sure that your certificate carries an official stamp by your tax office.

To change your business name:

  • Go to Account in My eBay.
  • Edit registration information.
  • Review your changes and select submit.
  1. Enter your VAT identification number on eBay, so we can display it on your eBay.de listings (as required by the law) here.
  2. Upload your certificate (Bescheinigung nach §22f UStG).

You have to upload your certificate to eBay on time in order to continue selling on eBay.

Upload your certificate to eBay by March 1, 2019, if you are a business seller outside the European Economic Area (EEA).

Upload your certificate to eBay by October 1, 2019, if you are a business seller within the European Economic Area (EEA).

Upload VAT certificate (Bescheinigung nach §22f UStG) now.

What if the seller is registered on eBay as a C2C seller (private seller)?

Please take note that we are obliged to take measures if the sales activities are expected to be commercial in nature. In case of doubt, a VAT liability should be clarified by a tax advisor.

We recommend that sellers seek the advice of their tax advisor on VAT matters relating to their eBay business.

If you are registered on eBay as a C2C seller (private seller), please:

  1. Contact your tax adviser.

To do this, you can consult the official tax adviser directory [amtliches Steuerberaterverzeichnis] or the nationwide tax adviser search engine, which are both available on the website of the federal association of tax advisers in Germany [Bundesteuerberaterkammer], www.bstbk.de.

  1. Please, be ready that you may have to change the type of account on eBay to "Company".

Where and how does a person register for tax purposes in Germany?

Germany’s tax offices are responsible for assessing and collecting VAT. Certain designated tax offices have central jurisdiction for vendors who are not established in the EU.

The list of German tax offices that have jurisdiction for foreign traders (including the countries for which they have jurisdiction) is provided in section 1 of the “Ordinance on local VAT jurisdiction for traders established abroad” (VAT Jurisdiction Ordinance, or Umsatzsteuerzuständigkeitsverordnung).

The Berlin-Neukölln tax office has central jurisdiction for vendors from countries that are not listed in this ordinance. Vendors who are required to register for tax purposes must contact the relevant tax office (an e-mail is sufficient, no specific form is necessary). That tax office will then send the applicant/vendor a questionnaire asking for the information that is required to register for VAT purposes.

After the applicant/vendor completes and submits this registration, a tax number will be sent to them in written form.

What happens if the seller’s VAT information is invalid or not provided after March 1st or October 1st, 2019?

Sellers who failed to provide valid DE VAT number or/and company information, or use other’s DE VAT information may be subject to a range of actions taken against the seller’s account, including but not limited to:

  • listing removal;
  • selling restriction, or suspension.

We will also take proactive steps to prevent sellers from trading on our site if we believe they are not complying with this legislation.

We may be legally obliged to pass individual seller account details to German tax authorities (in accordance with our privacy policies), if we receive a lawful request from them or if we suspect VAT fraud.

Who can help you?

In cases of doubt, we recommend that you contact:

  • a tax adviser (to do this, you can consult the official tax adviser directory [amtliches Steuerberaterverzeichnis] or the nationwide tax adviser search engine, which are both available on the website of the federal association of tax advisers in Germany [Bundesteuerberaterkammer], www.bstbk.de);
  • agencies that will help you with all the necessary documents. To help us provide you with information about them, please leave your contact information in the form below.

FAQ

What is VAT?

VAT in the EU is a consumption tax assessed on the value added to goods and services. It is collected by VAT-registered merchants on their sales within the EU territory and passed on to the national tax authorities via VAT return filings.

How much VAT is charged in Germany?

The VAT rate in Germany is generally 19%.

Example: A trader sells a portable music player in Germany for €40. This price includes VAT in the amount of €6.38 (that is, 19% of €33.62: €33.62 + €6.38 = €40).

How can I add my VAT identification number to my eBay listings?

If you are liable for VAT in Germany and have a VAT identification number, the law requires that your VAT identification number is displayed on all of your listings (§ 5 TMG). Please enter it beneath and we will display it for you.

Enter VAT identification number now

I have multiple eBay accounts. Do I need a certificate for each account?

For companies with multiple eBay accounts, one certificate will be sufficient. Sellers need to specify all relevant account names in the comments section. Please check whether the data of your company on the certificate ("Bescheinigung nach §22f UStG") matches the data in your eBay account.

Please note that this information is only general information and cannot replace legal or tax advice.

If you have further questions, please contact an attorney or other legal and/or tax advisor.

Please note, that tax evasion is a criminal offense. eBay continues to work with German authorities to prevent it and will take action against those who don’t comply with the law. This includes but is not limited to listing removal and account suspension.

Violations of or non-compliance with the tax obligations are subject to fine or criminal punishment in Germany.

Read more in Fact sheet on VAT obligations for foreign operators not established in the European Union