City Tax Cologne

Cologne imposed a so called "culture promotion tax" (city tax) on 1 December 2014.

Exemption options

Employees:
TWO separate documents have to be completed for each stay in Cologne that is strictly necessary for business reasons, and for each guest:
  • (Fully) completed self-certification: --> download here

  • You must ALSO submit the following documentation:
    • Informal employer certification:
      • Confirming that the stay “is strictly necessary for business reasons” (the statement should include the exact phrase “strictly necessary for business reasons”!)
    or
    • If the booking is made via a “business portal” then there is no requirement for confirmation from employer, as long as the text of the booking confirms that the booking was made by the employer and that it is strictly necessary for business reasons
    or
    • If the booking is made AND paid for by the employer, AND the booking text confirms that the booking was made by the employer and that it is strictly necessary for business reasons. Please note: If the booking is paid for using a personal credit card and later refunded by the employer, Cologne’s municipal authorities do not consider the booking to be “paid for by the employer”. The employer must pay the hotel directly.
    or
    • For hotels that are generally used by the same companies for accommodation that is strictly necessary for business reasons (for example “tradesman’s” hotels), one quarterly statement from the employer listing the affected employees and periods is sufficient. In such cases, the hotel must reach a prior agreement with Cologne’s municipal tax and revenue office in order to avoid later issues.
    Freelancers, self-employed individuals and contractors:
    • Complete the self-certification for freelancers and the self-employed --> download here 
      • All the details on the form, including tax number, passport number, date of birth etc. must be completed. If you do not want to provide this information to the hotel for data protection reasons, then you must pay the tax.
      • No further documentation is required. Cologne’s municipal authorities reserve the right to check the details provided.

Services subject to the tax

  • Five percent of the gross cost of accommodation
    • Excludes breakfast
    • Excludes other services
  • Day rooms, no-show bookings, children, pets and students are also subject to the tax
  • A separate certification must be provided for each guest; group certifications (including employer certifications) are accepted very rarely
  • The certification must confirm that the stay “is strictly necessary for business reasons” (the statement should include the exact phrase “strictly necessary for business reasons”). The municipal authorities have decided that employer certifications that only include part of the phrase, e.g. “necessary for business reasons”, are not valid.

Contact for further forms and questions