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Source: Fotolia / Ingo Bartussek

In order to maintain the high quality of the German transport infrastructure, and to be able to manage the forecast growth in passenger and freight traffic, a significantly larger amount must be invested in structural maintenance and in upgrading existing and constructing new infrastructure. The extension of the user pays principle will lead to greater independence from the budgetary situation of the Federal Government and create greater planning certainty for the financing of urgently needed transport infrastructure investment.

In order to implement this project, an infrastructure charge is to be introduced for keepers of passenger cars and motor homes registered in and outside Germany alike for the use of German federal motorways and federal highways. Keepers of passenger cars and motor homes registered outside Germany will only have to pay to use federal motorways. The revenue generated by the infrastructure charge, reduced by the costs for the system, will be ring-fenced for investment in transport infrastructure. 

The infrastructure charge will have to be paid for one year by all keepers of motor vehicles registered in Germany. The price of the annual vignette for passenger cars will be calculated based on their engine capacity and environmental performance. For every 100 ccm increment of cylinder capacity up to a defined cap of 130 euros, the following rates will apply: 

  • vehicles in pollutant emission category Euro 3 or more polluting: €6.50 (petrol engine) or €9.50 (diesel engine);
  • vehicles in pollutant emission categories Euro 4 and 5: €2 (petrol engine) or €5 (diesel engine);
  • vehicles in pollutant emission category Euro 6: €1.80 (petrol engine) or €4.80 (diesel engine).

The rate for motor homes will be calculated based on weight and will be €16 for every 200 kilogram increment of total weight up to a cap of €130.

Keepers of vehicles not registered in Germany will have the choice between a vignette valid for 10 days, 2 months or one year. All three can be purchased on the Internet. In addition, it will be possible to register at sales outlets, for instance filling stations. Annual vignettes can be purchased at any time in the year and will then be valid for 12 months from that date.

The price to be paid for any given short-term vignette will be determined by the price that would have to be paid for an annual vignette for the vehicle in question.

LevelPrice of annual vignette

Price

10 days

Price

2 months

FromTo
1-39€5€16
24069€10€22
370130€15€30

The infrastructure charge will be levied in the form of an electronic vignette (e-vignette). The vignette will be linked to the vehicle registration number. Full compliance with all data protection requirements will be ensured. All data collected may be used solely for the purposes of the Infrastructure Charging Act. It is not permitted to transmit, use or seize these data under other rules and regulations.

Should, in the course of enforcement measures, data be collected relating to vehicles not subject to the infrastructure charge, these images and enforcement data will immediately be deleted. Data required for recovering unpaid charges or punishing administrative offences will only be stored for as long as they are needed for performing these tasks. 

In order to avoid imposing a dual burden on keepers of passenger cars or motor homes subject to motor vehicle tax in Germany during the transition to infrastructure funding based on the user pays principle, tax relief will be included in the Motor Vehicle Tax Act. 

The infrastructure charge is compatible with EU legislation.

  • The EU Member States are allowed to foster the user pays principle by introducing user charges. Against this background, all revenue generated by the infrastructure charge is to be ring-fenced for investment in transport infrastructure.
  • The obligation to pay infrastructure charges will not be dependent on the nationality or place of residence of the user or on their vehicle's place of registration. By paying the infrastructure charge, all users of the German federal trunk road network will contribute to its financing. Consequently, the introduction of an infrastructure charge for the use of the German federal trunk road network does not constitute indirect discrimination based on nationality, even in combination with the corresponding tax relief for keepers of vehicles registered in Germany.
  • The infrastructure charge and motor vehicle tax are designed in such a way that they are independent of each other. This is apparent, inter alia, from the especially favourable infrastructure charge for ultra low-emission Euro 6 vehicles, which means that, in the future, keepers of Euro 6 vehicles registered in Germany will, all in all, be better off than today.
  • Keepers of passenger cars or motor homes registered outside Germany can purchase their vignettes for the use of the chargeable route network quickly and unbureaucratically online or at log-on terminals, e.g. at filling stations.

A legal opinion drawn up by Professor Dr Hillgruber (Bonn University) confirms that the infrastructure charge is compatible with EU legislation. According to this document, the planned introduction of an infrastructure charge for the use of the German federal trunk road network does not constitute either direct or indirect discrimination against EU citizens based on nationality, even in combination with the corresponding motor vehicle tax relief.

Total annual (gross) revenue is forecast to be around €3.9 billion, with vehicles registered in Germany accounting for around €3.2 billion and vehicles not registered in Germany accounting for around €700 million of this total. System costs are estimated at around 200 million euros per annum (recurring operational and personnel costs).

The revenue generated by the infrastructure charge, reduced by the costs for the system, is to be invested in the federal transport infrastructure.

The Act on the Introduction of Infrastructure Charging entered into force on 12 June 2015. Due to the initiation of an infringement procedure by the European Commission, the implementation of the infrastructure charges is delayed. The tendering and award of contracts for the infrastructure charging system will only be effected after the resolution of the legal dispute with the EU Commission. Both the tendering and the award are currently being prepared to be able to swiftly start the implementation afterwards.

Calculation examples for infrastructure charge and motor vehicle tax

Arrow down
 VW Polo TrendlineVW Polo 1.2 TSIVW Golf 5BMW 730dFiat 500 1.2 8V Sport
First registered20142013200320142014
FuelPetrolPetrolDieselDieselPetrol
Cylinder capacity in ccm11981197189629931242
EURO64366
CO2 g/km114124 148121
CO2-based tax€38.00€28.00 €106.00€52.00
Tax based on cubic capacity€24.00€24.00€293.36€285.00€26.00
Motor vehicle tax (today) not rounded up or down€62.00€52.00€293.36€391.00€78.00

Motor vehicle tax

(in the future)

not rounded up or down

€38.00€28.00

€163.36

 

€261.00€52.00

Infrastructure charge

(not rounded)

€21.60

(12 x €1.80)

€24.00

(12 x €2.00)

€130.00

(19 x €9.5=€180.50; cap €130.00)

€130.00

(30 x €4.80=€144.00; cap €130.00)

€23.40
(13x€1.80)
Burden today/in the future- €2.40+/- €0+/- €0

+/- €0

 

- €2.60