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E-archiving and retention period in Germany

Electronic archiving

Electronic archiving is allowed in Germany. It is in fact mandatory for data received or produced electronically.

Electronic archiving of data must meet the “GoBD”-standard, meaning the VAT-taxable person or entity must be able to provide electronic real-time access to all tax-relevant data with all functions of the system and for unrestricted processing, as well as providing such data on a data medium.

Data must be stored in Germany.

Exceptions are possible but must be granted by the competent tax authorities. Archiving of documents on paper is also allowed but must meet certain requirements. For example, access to the original must be possible without delay.

Record retention period

Taxable persons or entities must retain invoices for 10 years.

Private persons who receive invoices for certain supplies in connection with real estate must retain the invoices for two years. Otherwise, private persons are not required to retain invoices. However, all aforementioned retention periods may be extended under certain conditions.

Source: Worldwide VAT, GST and Sales Tax Guide - EY

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