Bundeszentralamt für Steuern

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Domestic traders

Domestic Businesses

The VAT refund procedure allows domestic businesses to be reimbursed for foreign VAT (value-added tax) that they pay.

Domestic businesses apply electronically via the BZSt online portal (BOP) for refunds of VAT paid in other EU Member States.

If VAT was paid in Non-EU Member States, refunds must be applied for directly in those countries.


Status 1 July 2021: Notices on value added tax (VAT) refund procedures after the United Kingdom withdrawal from the EU (Brexit)

The United Kingdom has left the EU at the end of 31 January 2020. You had to submit refund applications for periods regarding calendar year 2020 according to the Council Directive 2008/9/EC of 12 February 2008 until 31 march 2021.

Exception for trade in goods with Northern Ireland:

The agreement on the withdrawal of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland from the European Union and the European Atomic Energy Community and the Northern Ireland Protocol includes special arrangements for trade in goods which remain valid beyond 31 March 2021.

Domestic businesses must submit refund applications concerning VAT on goods paid in Northern Ireland according to Council Directive 2008/9/EC of 12 February 2008.

For reimbursement of VAT on services supplied in Northern Ireland the rules for VAT refund to businesses from third countries shall apply. Please contact the competent authority of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland in this regard.

Refunds from other EU Member States

EU Member States reimburse the VAT (value-added tax) that was paid there to domestic businesses entitled to VAT deductions. Among other things, this is subject to the following formal requirements:

  • VAT refund applications are to be submitted electronically to the Federal Central Tax Office (BZSt) via the BZSt online portal (BOP). Paper applications are not allowed.
  • Refund applications are to be submitted within nine months (by 30 September) after the end of the calendar year in which the refund claim was incurred. You have complied with the deadline if the BZSt receives your refund application in a timely manner.
  • The refund that is applied for must be at least EUR 400 or a comparable value in a foreign currency. The refund that is applied for must be at least EUR 50 for refund periods that are a calendar year or the remainder of a calendar year.

You can find other requirements from individual Member States for VAT refund applications in the preference list.

Before the BZSt forwards applications to Member States of refund, it verifies,

  • whether the applicant is entitled to a VAT deduction in the refund period that was applied for and
  • whether the tax number / value-added tax identification number indicated in the application can be matched with the applicant.

The BZSt makes decisions about forwarding applications to Member States of refund within 15 days. If the BZSt refuses to forward the application after verifying it, you will receive a notice sent to the address indicated on the application.

In addition, your notice is made available to you in your BOP mailbox for data retrieval.

Applications are not forwarded to the Member States for refund if, for example, the applicant in the refund period that was applied for

  • is not regarded as a taxable person for value-added tax purposes,
  • is covered by the exemption for small enterprises (Sec. 19 VAT Act),
  • has been solely subject to agricultural flatrate taxation pursuant to Sec. 24 VAT Act or
  • has solely performed supplies of goods/services that are exempt from VAT.

After an application has been forwarded, the Member State of refund confirms receipt. Please contact the competent authority in the Member State of refund if you have not received a confirmation of receipt after four weeks.

The Member State of refund verifies whether all other requirements have been met to refund the VAT. After processing has been concluded, the applicant or the applicant’s agent will receive a notice from the Member State of refund.

VAT group entities

Please inquire in advance in the Member State of refund if and to what extent VAT group entities are authorized to submit applications.

Submitting applications electronically


A certificate is required to use the BZSt online portal (BOP). Domestic businesses and their agents can use existing electronic tax return certificates and log into the BOP using this access data.

If no certificate exists, domestic businesses and domestic agents are recommended to obtain the certificate by registering in "Mein ELSTER" ("My electronic tax return"). Registration in the BOP is available for agents who are not based in Germany.

Applications are limited to 1,000 positions on the BOP form. For applications that contain more than 1,000 positions, please verify using the preference list whether it is possible to separate the application into several refund applications by dividing up the refund period. If you have more questions, please contact the Member State of refund.

You can also use the batch data interface (ELMA 5) from the BZSt to transmit applications with more than 1,000 positions. You must register in the BOP to use the batch data interface. You can find more information under "VAT refunds – electronic data transmission" in the "Batch data interface (ELMA 5)" section.


Log onto the BOP with your ELSTER certificate or BOP certificate.

In the BOP, select the "Antrag auf Umsatzsteuervergütung inländischer Unternehmer im Ausland" (i.e."Application for VAT Refunds for Domestic businesses in foreign countries"). You can use the help function in the BOP for more information about filling out the application.

After you have successfully transmitted your application, you will receive a confirmation of receipt and an electronic record of transmission in your BOP mailbox. You should also save the confirmation of receipt and the electronic record of transmission since they are automatically deleted from your mailbox after 90 days.

Entering invoice documents as attachments to an application

Find out more:

Create a CSV file for VAT refund applications for domestic businesses in foreign countries

You have two options available to enter the attachments to the application:

  • You enter each invoice/receipt individually in the refund application or
  • You enter the invoices in advance in a CSV file and import the CSV file into the application. You can create the CSV file yourself, or you can use the Excel template provided in the application under Item 3 "Data import."
    Recommendation: Before you convert a completed Excel template into a CSV file, save the Excel template to be able to make any possible corrections easier at a later time.

Uploading supporting documents

Supporting documents can be enclosed with the application as PDF, JPG, or TIF files.

You can only use the document upload if you login to the BOP with a certificate file. To do so, you must select the “Certificate file” login option when you register.

Then, the document upload is automatically available to you.

The file with the enclosed documents may not be larger than 5 MB. It is recommended that you scan the documents that you are enclosing in black and white with a resolution of 200 dpi. If your application cannot be submitted with all of the required documents because the amount of data is too large, please clarify with the Member State of refund the form in which the documents should be submitted.

If possible, save the documents in a separate local directory. Name the documents using the sequence by which they are allocated in the refund application. This makes it easier to allocate the documents later.

Upload the documents using the menu item "Dispatching your data" right before dispatching the application and after you have checked your application.

After you have dispatched your application with documents, you will receive a message in your BOP mailbox. The message contains the names of the documents that were uploaded as well as the name of the zip file.

Detailed instructions are also available to you in the BOP-Help under "Directions for submitting documents electronically."

Refunds from third countries

Applications for refunds of VAT in a third country must be directly submitted to the foreign refund authorities.

Please find out more information from the tax authorities of the country of refund.

Questions & answers

Can I also submit applications/invoices to the BZSt in paper form with a request to forward them to the Member State of refund?

No. Applications for VAT refunds within the EU can only be submitted electronically via the BZSt online portal (BOP). Refund applications in paper form are not permitted and will be rejected.

How can I find out information about the specifics of submitting applications in individual Member States?

Can applications from domestic applicants be withdrawn from the BZSt?

No, that is not possible.

You can only withdraw your application from the Member State of refund.

I participate in the mini one-stop shop (MOSS) procedure. How can I declare myself accurately in section "4 Declarations of the applicant" of the application form?

On the application form under “Declaration of the applicant” mark the first box ("[...] performed no supplies of goods and services that are deemed as accomplished in the Member State of refund (Article 3 Letter b of Directive 2008/9/EC").

When representing a domestic company, is there an option of signing up on the BZSt online portal (BOP) as a foreign representative?

Yes, you have the option of signing up for the BOP as an agent (third party).

To do so, the first required step is to sign up using the BOP registration form. Your access data will then be sent by conventional mail and email. You can find further steps under "Signing up and registering with the BZSt online portal (BOP)."

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Can invoices in refund applications up to a total amount of EUR 250 be summarized and added separately according to tax rate and cost type?

No. Each receipt must be individually listed for the electronic VAT refund procedure. You are not permitted to summarize invoices with small amounts.

What is an ELMA5 communication server?

The ELMA5 communication server is the BZSt interface for electronically transmitting data. Data is transferred to this server when applications with supporting documents are dispatched from the BOP as well as when the batch data interface is used.


Help documents


Bundeszentralamt für Steuern

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

Phone: +49 228 406-1200
Fax: +49 228 406-3200

Service times: Monday - Friday from 9:00 a.m. - 2:00 p.m.


St III 7 VAT refund