Every effort has been made to communicate the information as accurately as possible, and all pertinent subclauses of tax laws are referenced where applicable. However, please make sure to read the date of publication of this blog post in order to ascertain when it is outdated.
What is the tax payable on?
Aviation tax is controlled by a Federal statute and is basically a transactions tax. It is imposed on legal transactions enabling passengers to depart to a destination from an airport in Germany by means of aeroplane or helicopter operated by an airline. Examples of legal transactions entitling an air passenger to departure include transport contracts in the form of the purchase of tickets, the booking of package holidays involving several related contracts, flights earned through reward schemes, and gifts of flights. The tax originates when the passenger departs on a flight from a German airport. No tax is imposed on departures of internal flights connecting from an initial internal flight or connecting departures from Germany in the case of transit flights, provided the prearranged stop-over at the German airport does not surpass a certain time limit.
Who is liable to be taxed?
Liability for the tax attaches to the airline responsible for the departure from a German airport.
Any airline that does not have a registered office in Germany or in another EU member state must nominate a tax representative to assume its rights and obligations as regards taxation under the Aviation Tax Act. Liability for tax also attaches to this tax representative.
Certain legal acts are exempted from tax. These include:
- departures of passengers under two years of age who are not allotted a seat of their own
- departures of passengers by aeroplane or helicopter if the flight serves exclusively military or other sovereign purposes
- renewed departures of air passengers who have returned to the German place of departure due to an aborted flight
- departures of air passengers to and from German islands not connected to the mainland by a road or rail link that is independent of the tide, as long as the air passenger’s main place of residence is on the island or the flight serves the purposes of (i) providing medical care or (ii) exercising public authority
- departures of passengers by aeroplane or helicopter that serve exclusively medical purposes
- departures of passengers for sight-seeing flights in aeroplanes with a maximum take-off weight of 2,000kg (2,500kg for helicopters)
- departures of flight crews
How much is the tax?
The tax payable is based on broadly defined categories of distance to the destination, and amounts to the following per departure from a German airport:
- € 7.50 for destinations in EU member states, EU candidate countries, EFTA countries and third countries within the same distance
- € 23.43 for destinations in countries not covered by the first distance category, up to a distance of 6,000km
- € 42.18 for destinations at a distance of more than 6,000km
Departures from and to German, Danish and Dutch North Sea islands are subject to a reduced tax rate of € 1.50, as long as such islands are not connected to the mainland by a road or rail link that is independent of the tide.
As revenue comes in from the aviation industry’s trading in greenhouse gas emission certificates, the above tax rates will be reduced by a certain percentage each year; details of this are to be set out in an ordinance.
Who collects the tax?
Aviation tax is collected by the Federal Customs Administration, and the revenue accrues to the Federation.