New Certificate for Online Traders and Receiving Agent Required in Germany
Aktualisiert: 5. Okt 2019
Platforms (operators of an electronic marketplace / market place operator) such as Amazon or Ebay will be liable for the German VAT of online shops on the platform.
This does not apply, if a certificate from the tax office of the online shop, that the business is registered for VAT in Germany is provided to the platform (§§ 22f and 25e UStG) . The regulation is valid from 01.01.2019 and will be enforced for non EU non EFTA countries from 15 April on (for all others from 1 October 2019 on).
The certificate must be requested by the online shop from its tax office. With the application for a certificate, the entrepreneur agrees that his data stored for this purpose are passed on to the operator of an electronic marketplace.
The platforms will therefore only accept traders who provide such a certificate.
Please find the link to the official application form here: Link
Entrepreneurs without domicile or habitual residence, registered office or place of management in Germany / the EU or the EEA must, at the latest with the application, designate a receiving agent in Germany ( (§ 123 of the General Tax Code “Abgabenordnung”).
We prepared an example of a form to appoint a German recipient here and an English translation (for reference only - please use the German version for the tax office) here. The recipient can be any person / company in Germany (not necessarily a tax advisor ("Steuerberater").
According to one tax office, processing time might be considerable faster if the applications are filed by post and not by email (tax offices usually print out all emails and attachments before they are forwarded to the officials in charge).
The federal ministry of finance issue guidelines for the new certificates. Link In addition to a lot to information that mainly concerns the market place itself. The guidelines also include some information for the shop owners.
The certificate only certifies that the taxpayer is registered for VAT in Germany. It does not give an indication whether the taxpayer fulfills its VAT obligations (like filing VAT returns and paying VAT on time). Therefore, e.g. the tax office might still ask the marketplace provider (like Amazon or Ebay) to take down the shop, even if the shop operator provided a certificate.
The certificate is not necessary for online shops with no German VAT obligations, e.g.
- direct sales from non EU countries (deliveries from the home country directly to the German customer)
- B2C sales from other EU member states under the distance sales threshold (EUR 100,000) and without having waived the application of the threshold for Germany.
- B2B sales from other EU member states to Germany
The certificate will only be issued, if the trader appoints a German recipient for the correspondence of by the tax office. It is pointed out that the recipient has not to be a person entitled to perform tax advisory services under the German legislation (e.g. a tax advisor, "Steuerberater").