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German Law/Client wants fixed address

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Dear Andreas,

again, many thanks for your last reply! I really appreciate your help.

I have a new client from Germany who has just written that they cannot accept invoices that have a German postal address but no Steuernummer. I normally put my German postal address, which I have kept (my former landlord can collect my mail), on my invoices, although I no longer have residency in Germany. I do this with all my clients and have never had any complications until now. I told the client that I do not put a Steuernummer on my invoices because I am not living in Germany and do not pay taxes there, and they gave me this reply:

"nach Rücksprache mit unserem Steuerberater hat sich bezüglich Ihrer Rechnungsstellung folgendes ergeben:

Die Rechnungsstellung mit Postanschrift in Deutschland, ohne deutsche Steuernummer dürfen wir nicht akzeptieren.

Unser Vorschlag: Sie stellen uns Ihre beiden Rechnungen mit Ihrer ausländischen Meldeadresse ggf .mit Steuernummer aus.
Mit dem Hinweis „Leistung wurde am XX.XX.XXXX in Deutschland erbracht“. Somit müssen wir als Unternehmen für Sie versteuern."

I would prefer not to tell them that I am travelling from country to country with no fixed residency, as I feel this might make an unfavorable impression on my new client.

I have a friend in Korea, and I am sometimes at that address. Could I put this Korean address (for example) on my invoice? Would there be any chance of this causing any problems? What would you recommend in this case?

(I do have a Steuernummer, of course (which I used for my 2014 tax return), but am not sure it would be wise to put my German postal address together with my Steuernummer, as it might look like I would be a resident paying taxes in Germany).

With many thanks in advance for your help!

Answer
My advice - and the way I do it - is to use your current foreign address.

Why would you want to use the address of a country where you don't want to be taxed? You are just creating problems for yourself.

Why would you use a friend's address? Of course you can do so, but I don't see the benefit.

I think the best policy is to be open about this. I tell all my clients, old and new, that I am traveling, and they will get invoices with addresses in Lithuania, Romania, Italy, Brazil, Israel, depending on the time I raise the invoice. This way, all my invoices also reflect that I am exporting my services, relieving me of the obligation to pay VAT under most countries' tax code.
Obviously, you shouldn't charge any VAT either.

Anything else leads to potential problems with clients and potential problems with tax authorities. If a German client files your invoices with the tax authority, they might want to check up on you. If he files your invoices with an address in Thailand or Vietnam or Australia, nobody at the German tax authority will care.

I have sometimes been asked for tax or other numbers and have explained to all clients that I don't have any and that I don't charge VAT because I am not in the same country as them. This has never been a problem and has never led to losing a client.
Some of my clients actually like that I am always traveling. It makes it more interesting to them because they hear from me from a different country each time I speak with them. Also, more and more freelancers are working like this, so I think most clients have heard of "digital nomads" before.

Andreas Moser
www.andreasmoser.wordpress.com

German Law

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Andreas Moser

Expertise

Extensive experience in international family law, especially international child abductions and child custody cases. All other areas of German law as well: constitutional law, criminal law, business and contract law, immigration law, inheritance law, and so on.

Experience

Lawyer in Germany from 2002 to 2009. Lawyer for US Army JAG Corps before. Bar-certified specialisation in family law and in administrative law. Articles and lectures about international and domestic family law.

Publications
www.andreasmoser.wordpress.com

Education/Credentials
2000 Law Degree from University of Regensburg, Germany 2002 admitted to the bar (until 2009) 2013 MA Philosophy at the Open University, UK

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