German tax

News: German Amazon Marketplace Sellers obligated to Register for VAT

December 20, 2018 in Ecommerce Tips, German VAT, Marketplaces, VAT

Amazon Sellers may Need to Register for German VAT

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Amendments to existing German VAT legislation will become effective on January 1, 2019.

As a result, you may no longer be able to sell on Amazon from March 1, 2019 if you have not obtained and provided a copy of the New German Tax certificate.

It’s a requirement to be VAT-registered with the German tax office in order to receive the New Tax Certificate.

The amendment to the legislation has now made all marketplaces such as Amazon, eBay, etc liable for unpaid VAT. This is the reason why Amazon have put a deadline of 1st March 2019 for all VAT registered businesses in Germany, to provide this new Tax Certificate. 

Failure to provide this certificate to online marketplaces will result in your account being suspending or in the worst case, shut down.

This amendment to the German Tax Law gives the German Tax Authorities the right to total visibility of all accounts held on any online marketplace. They will investigate all activities for each account held with an online marketplace, examining the date these accounts were opened, turnover via the online platform and potential VAT liability from the date onward. Please be aware, if your VAT liability started before your requested VAT registration start date, you may be investigated in detail and be asked to declare any turnover from this date onward and settle your outstanding VAT liability with the German Tax Authorities. As a result of this, there may be serious consequences for failing to notify the German Tax Authorities of any VAT liability before your VAT registration start date, as this may be viewed as tax fraud.

This is part of an overall plan to fight against tax fraud targeting businesses that sell their goods online.

Although the German Tax Authorities have stated that if you do not have any VAT obligations in Germany (you do not hold your stock, or you have not exceeded the distance selling threshold) you do not need to have a VAT registration, and therefore should not need to have this new Tax Certificate. We are unsure how each Marketplace in Germany is going to interpret, this new Law. We do not know if they are going to issue a blanket approach and require all online sellers to become VAT registered and obtain a Tax Certificate in order to remain selling on their online marketplaces.

The best way to prepare and ensure your Amazon account is not suspended now is to verify your VAT status in Germany. If you are not yet VAT-registered in Germany, we recommend that you get in touch and we can help you find out if you are obligated to register.

To learn more about the amended German Legislation or to register for VAT get in touch with us now!

UPDATE: 31/01/19

Amazon has released a notification to all sellers stating the following: 

“Please note that a Tax ID (Steuernummer) is not the same as a German VAT number. In some cases, you might be required to be locally tax registered in Germany (Steuernummer) but not required to be registered for VAT.”

This statement released from Amazon is incorrect. The Steuernummer (local VAT) number is always obtained as part of the VAT registration and it is a valid VAT number in Germany. This number is used to submit German VAT returns, and it is also used to communicate with the German Tax Authorities. In Germany you receive this number along with a DE VAT number. The DE VAT number is the one that people list on their marketplaces, and is valid on VIES. They are both valid VAT numbers, and both are obtained when a company VAT registers.

The Steuernummer (local VAT) number is listed on the new Tax Certificate, which can also be obtained at the VAT registration stage. The German Tax Certificate cannot be obtained without the Steuernummer, as the Steuernummer is listed on the German Tax Certificate. It is not a case of either obtaining one or the other. As soon as the Steuernummer has been received, you have a VAT obligation in Germany and you will be required to file monthly VAT returns.

UPDATE: 07/02/19 has been informed that all sellers selling on are required to provide a Tax Certificate and therefore, be VAT registered in Germany. 

Contact us now to get the registration started! Call us on +44 1273 634 594 and speak to our team directly.

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Further information will be updated accordingly.

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