Annual VAT returns in Germany: what do you need to know

Annual VAT return in Germany is a recapitulative statement due by the end of July of the following year.

14 July, 2022


Companies registered for VAT purposes in Germany must submit an Annual VAT return. This is a recapitulative return for informative purposes, so normally there should not be any VAT payment due upon submission. This return is also known as Umsatzsteuererklärung. 

Instructions are published by the tax authorities here and updated every year. 

The Annual VAT return in Germany is considered by German tax authorities as the final VAT return for the year, and it should contain the information reported in the “preliminary” VAT returns throughout the year – eg. in the monthly or quarterly VAT returns.  
The return consists of two forms: the main form “USt 2 A” and the “UN annex” for foreign businesses.

What is the deadline for submission? 

The Annual VAT return in Germany is generally submitted by 31 July of the year following the reporting period. As an exception, the 2021 Annual VAT return can be submitted by 31 October 2022

In case this return is filed by a recognised tax consultant – appointed as such by the German tax authorities, the due date may be shifted to the end of February of the second following year. For the 2021 annual return, this deadline is also exceptionally extended to 31 August 2023 

Also, if the due date falls on a Saturday, Sunday or bank holiday, the date is shifted to the next working day.

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Submission of the Annual VAT returns

The Annual VAT return must be submitted electronically via the Elster portal – according to § 18 Para. 3 sentence 1 UStG i. V. m. § 87a paragraph 6 sentence 1 AO. This is mandatory also for non-established companies registered only for VAT purposes. 

Important notes about German annual VAT returns  

  • Correcting previous reporting periods: annual VAT returns in Germany offer the possibility of correcting figures reported during the year in the preliminary VAT returns.  When this is the case, and the amounts reported via the annual VAT return do not match the preliminary returns submitted, a written explanation shall be included on the return. In case a payment needs to be made following the submission of the annual return (there is additional output VAT reported in the annual return), this payment must be made within one month following the submission of the return. In any case, when possible, it is recommendable to correct directly the preliminary VAT returns of the period concerned as soon as the error is noticed, to avoid or reduce the applicable penalties.
  • Correcting previous reporting periods after the submission of the annual VAT return: once the annual VAT return for a given calendar year was submitted, any future correction of a reporting period must be made by submitting a new annual VAT return for the same year, instead of modifying the preliminary return of the period that needs to be amended. The corrective annual VAT return in Germany replaces the previously submitted return. It is not a supplementary declaration but a completely new return where all data has to be reported again. The return is corrected using the same form and way of filing as the initial annual return. 
  • Nil annual VAT return: in case no activity took place during the calendar year, a nil annual VAT return must be submitted.
  • The UN annex for non-established businesses: this form must be completed for all non-established entities including their bank account details. Also, distance sellers must report their amounts in the following boxes: 
    • Box 108 should be completed with all distance sales made from Germany to other EU countries, when the company does not have a VAT number in the country of destination. 
    • Box 898 should be completed with all distance sales made from other EU countries to Germany. Here, a distinction shall be made between sales previous to July 2021 – only to be included the sales taxable in Germany, and after 1st July 2021. If they are in OSS we do not report them in this box: sales that have been declared in the special taxation procedure according to § 18 j UStG are not to be entered. 

For more information on German VAT returns, you can check our country manual here.


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