German motor vehicle tax & Emissions badges

German motor vehicle tax & Emissions badges

German motor vehicle tax & Emissions badges

Alongside paying for car insurance and biennial safety inspections, there are the costs of two environmental initiatives that drivers in Germany need to be aware of:

  • A compulsory motor vehicle tax (Kraftfahrzeug Steuer or Kfz-Steuer).
  • Emissions badges (Umweltplakette) that are required to enter environmental green zones (Umweltzonen) in certain German cities.

Motor vehicle tax (Kfz-Steuer)

Since July 1, 2009, all vehicles in Germany have been liable to pay a motor vehicle tax, based on engine size and carbon dioxide emissions.

How much is motor vehicle tax in Germany?

The calculation of motor vehicle tax is based on two main components:

  • CO2 emissions (two euros per gram per kilometre)
  • Engine size (two euros per 100cm3 for petrol engines and 9,50 euros per 100cm3 for diesel engines)

To work out your tax liability, you can use this motor vehicle tax calculator (in German) from the Federal Ministry of Finance.

How do I pay German motor vehicle tax?

In order to be able to register a vehicle, you must submit a form known as a “SEPA direct debit mandate” to the registration authority. Once you have registered your car, you will automatically receive a tax liability notification from the main customs office (Hauptzollamt), that outlines your tax number, how much vehicle tax is due and how to pay it.

Usually, your vehicle tax payment is automatically debited from your bank account as a lump sum for the following year. However, you may be able to choose to pay the tax in monthly instalments. Check with your local tax office (Finanzamt) if you are not sure.

Vehicle de-registration and tax rebate

If you sell your vehicle, export it, or de-register it (i.e. declare it off-road), you will be owed a reimbursement for the surplus tax you have paid. To receive this refund, you must make sure that either you or the buyer submits a notice of sale to the vehicle registration authority.

Changing your information

If your bank account information changes, you must inform the customs office as soon as possible by filling out and submitting a new SEPA direct debit mandate.

Emissions badges (Umweltplakette)

In an effort to limit air pollution, several of Germany’s major cities have introduced environmental green zones (Umweltzonen). Every vehicle is assigned a badge (Umweltplakette) denoting how heavily polluting the vehicle is according to European emissions standards.

Only cars with a green sticker (diesel vehicles of Euro 4 or above and petrol vehicle at Euro 1 or above) can enter these protected zones. Most newer cars will qualify for a green sticker, but if your vehicle is more than 12 years old, it may not be allowed to enter emissions zones.

Where are the emissions zones?

The controlled zones are primarily located in major urban areas, including the cities of Berlin, Cologne, Munich and Stuttgart. You can see a full map of the areas here.

How do I get an emissions badge?

When you register your vehicle in Germany, you can also apply for an emissions badge. The cost is normally six euros. There are other authorities who can also issue emissions badges, including the vehicle registration office and safety testing authorities.

If your car is registered outside Germany, you still need an emissions badge to pass through protected zones. The cost of the badge may be slightly higher. There are several places to buy them online, but the cheapest ones can be found on the official state website of the area you are travelling to. You will need to submit a copy of your vehicle’s registration document and sometimes also your driving licence.

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