Setting up as a freelancer in Germany: when are you allowed to start working?
Thread poster: Sabela Cal

Sabela Cal  Identity Verified
Local time: 08:43
English to Spanish
Nov 19, 2013

Dear colleagues,

I´ve very recently moved to Germany and I´m in the process of becoming a freelancer here. I haven´t yet submitted my application for a tax number and VAT ID to the Finanzamt because I´m still waiting for my personal identification number to arrive, which I think is a pre-requisite to fill in the registration form (Fragebogen zur steuerlichen Erfassung).

According to the tax advisor I´ve been in touch with, I can start working straightaway and issue "preliminary" invoices (stating "VAT. number requested") as long as my clients agree to this, even if I haven´t officially registered as a freelancer. German is not one of my working languages and I only have a very basic knowledge of it, so I´d like to verify this just in case.

I´ve been self-employed since 2005 (first in the UK and then in Spain) and would like to resume my freelancing as soon as possible, so if any of you have been in this situation, I´d be very grateful if you could share your experiences. When did you start working after you arrived in Germany? From what I´ve heard, my personal identification number will arrive in two or three weeks, and after I register with the Finanzamt, it could take 4-6 weeks to obtain a tax ID and VAT number. Is it safe to work in the meantime and issue these "preliminary" invoices?

Many thanks,



Robert Zöger
Local time: 08:43
English to German
Depends on your clients Nov 19, 2013

Your tax advisor is right - you can start right away. However, there is a certain risk that your clients won't accept your "preliminary invoices". Be sure to check with them in advance.



Patricia Blanco Dominguez  Identity Verified
Local time: 08:43
Member (2013)
German to Spanish
+ ...
Right away Nov 19, 2013

Hi Sabela,

You've been informed correctly. If you have already requested your Steuernummer, you can start working (specifying it on your invoices). But if you still want to wait (as I did), my Steuernummer arrived in 3 weeks.

About the Steuer-Identifikationsnummer, if you are a "Kleinunternehmer" (meaning, you don't charge VAT) you don't need it and the Finanzamt won't give you one.

Hope I helped you and mucha suerte!


Thayenga  Identity Verified
Local time: 08:43
Member (2009)
English to German
+ ...
When you are ready Dec 30, 2013

Hi Sabela,

for the invoice processing it would be best to wait for your tax ID number, since it must be on your invoice.

As soon as you have requested your tax ID number, you can also state on your invoice that your tax ID number will be submitted at a later date. This might complicate things for your clients, though, sincve they would have to handle the same invoice twice.

If you have clients who agree to a monthly invoice, then there shouldn't be any (legal) problems,

Have a successful 2014!icon_smile.gif



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Setting up as a freelancer in Germany: when are you allowed to start working?

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