VAT refund

How to get a foreign business VAT refund

VAT refund

Businesses can get a refund for paid German VAT if they are based in an EU country or in a country that has a reciprocal agreement with Germany for VAT tax refunds. Here is how to apply for one.

Documents and requirements

You must meet the following conditions if you wish to receive a refund:

  • You are registered as a business for VAT purposes.
  • You have no headquarters in Germany.
  • You are not registered in Germany for VAT purposes. 
  • You make no transactions in Germany apart from: supplies of goods for which customer must pay VAT, transactions related to individual transport assessment and mini one-stop shop provision services.

Before requesting the VAT refund, you must also have the following documents:

  • A detailed account of all the paid tax that you want refunded. 
  • Proof that your business is registered as a trader under a tax number. This must be made through a certificate issued by the government in which the company is registered.
  • Lastly, the applicant’s signature and the original invoices and documents. 

Furthermore, the application must be written in German and received before 30th September of the calendar year following the refund period.

The minimum amount required to submit for refund and the process of application for can vary between EU and non-EU member states. 

Companies based in an EU member state

Generally, a minimum of €400 has to be spent in VAT to request a refund in Germany, or €50 if the refund is requested at the end of the calendar year. However, this information changes from year to year so make sure to check the official website of the German Federal Ministry of Finance  for updated information.

If your company’s main offices are situated in an EU country, you can find the contact details for a VAT refund online here  (PDF).

Companies based in non-EU member states

If your business has its headquarters outside the EU, then the German government will only bestow tax refunds if the country where you are settled offers similar refund arrangements to the companies settled in Germany. 

Contrary to companies based in the EU, non-EU companies are only allowed to request a VAT refund for a minimum of €1000 or €500 if it is the end of the calendar year. For more information on the matter make sure to check the German Federal Ministry of Finance 

To request the tax refund you will have to do so electronically. First, you have to fill out the registration form  to sign up to the online portal of the Ministry of Finance. Once this is done, you will receive an activation ID by e-mail and a code by post. Lastly, you will need to create a certificate file and only after this will you be able to apply for the refund.

Further reading

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