Bundeszentralamt für Steuern

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Diplomatic Missions

Diplomatic Missions and Government Consular Agencies

Permanent foreign diplomatic missions and government consular agencies can receive German VAT (value-added tax) refunds under certain conditions.

General information

There is a VAT refund procedure for permanent foreign diplomatic missions and government consular agencies (in short: embassies and consulates) as well as their foreign members not permanently resident in the Federal Republic of Germany.

If embassies/consulates and/or their members purchase goods and services from German companies, the VAT that was paid for the goods and services can be refunded. Direct exemptions from VAT are not possible.

The refund procedure is based on the "Ordinance Concerning the Refund of Value-Added Tax to Permanent Foreign Diplomatic Missions and Government Consular Agencies as well as Their Foreign Members" (Ordinance on the Refund of VAT).

Reciprocity is a requirement. The extent of reciprocity is established by the exchange of verbal notes between the embassy and the Foreign Office.

Eligible applicants

The following entities/persons can submit applications for VAT refunds:

  • Permanent foreign diplomatic missions and government consular agencies of countries with appropriate reciprocity agreements
  • Foreign members of missions and agencies who are not permanently resident in the Federal Republic of Germany (likewise with the requirement of reciprocity).

Family members of delegated member have no direct claim to VAT refunds. Invoices that are issued in their names, however, are taken into consideration to some extent for refund applications of the eligible member.

Submitting an application

Please use the prescribed form for your VAT refund application. The refund period must be at least one quarter of a calendar year. Send your application along with all original invoices to the

Bundeszentralamt für Steuern
Dienstsitz Schwedt
Passower Chaussee 3b
16303 Schwedt/Oder

The BZSt is the competent authority for refund procedures.


Applications are to be submitted by 31.12. of the year following the year of sales.

Example: You received a purchased good or service in August 2018. You must submit the refund application no later than 31 December 2019.

Refund requirements

  • The supplies of goods and services that were made are intended and suitable for official use of the foreign mission and/or for the personal needs of the member.
  • Original invoices from the supplier are to be enclosed with the VAT refund application. The invoices must satisfy the requirements of Sec. 14 Par. 4 VAT Act (UStG).
  • Individual invoices must show a gross amount (including VAT) of more than EUR 100. Applicants must prove that the invoices, and the VAT contained in the invoices, were paid (e.g. bank statement).
  • Preferred members of diplomatic missions or government consular agencies are reimbursed a maximum of EUR 1,200 within one calendar year. Reciprocity agreements with certain countries may provide for a lower maximum amount per calendar year. Motor vehicle purchases are generally not included in the maximum amount.
  • Refunds of value-added tax for purchasing a motor vehicle are made under the condition that the applicant uses the motor vehicle in Germany for at least two years.
  • Refunds of value-added tax for purchasing groceries (including beverages of all kinds) and tobacco products are excluded.


The BZSt verifies whether the refund requirements are met. After processing has been concluded, you will receive a notification about the refund amount. The original invoices are delivered to you along with the refund notification.


"Certificate" procedure (Art. 151 RL 571 / 2006/ EG)

If embassies/consulates and/or their members based in Germany purchase goods and services in another EU Member State, exemption from foreign VAT is possible. The requirements and conditions of the Ordinance on the Refund of Value-Added Tax (UStErstV)apply.

Applications require a specific form. The form is provided upon request by mail or email. The BZSt verifies applications and provides them with an exemption notation. The purchaser gives this certificate to the foreign business which retains the certificate with its tax documents for audit by the competent tax authority.


Bundeszentralamt für Steuern

Dienstsitz Schwedt/Oder
Passower Chaussee 3b
16303 Schwedt/Oder

Phone: +49 228 406-0
Fax: +49 228 406-4722


Value Added Tax