Bundeszentralamt für Steuern

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Construction services

Tax withholding for construction work – Retrieval of certificates of exemption


For domestic construction work, certain purchasers or customers (principals) have to withhold taxes equal to 15% of the consideration. The withheld amount is transferred to the tax office responsible for the taxation of the income of the paying party. The consideration is the price for the construction work plus turnover tax.

Potential purchasers or customers are

  • Any business defined in Section 2 of the German Turnover Tax Act (Umsatzsteuergesetz – UStG),
  • All legal persons under public law defined in Section 48 Paragraph 1 Sentence 1 and 3 German Income Tax Act,
  • Small undertakings defined in Section 19 German Turnover Tax Act,
  • Farmers and foresters who pay flat-rate taxes pursuant to Section 24 German Turnover Tax Act and
  • Taxable persons with only tax-exempt proceeds (this includes the leasing or letting of immovable property, buildings and parts of buildings).

Exemption from the withholding obligation and responsibility of the BZSt for the electronic retrieval of certificates of exemption

Tax withholding may be waived if the payer provides a certificate of exemption pursuant to Section 48b German Income Tax Act. This certificate of exemption is provided by the tax office and stored electronically in a database at the BZSt.

The data from the certificates of exemption issued by the tax offices are transmitted to the BZSt electronically. The BZSt makes these available online so that their validity can be reviewed.

Please note that only the responsible tax office, not the German Federal Central Tax Office, issues certificates of exemptions.


The query service is available to you free of charge. For reasons of data protection and the protection of tax secrecy, you will be asked to enroll in or register for the system prior to your search.

Are you already registered? You can log in here:

Are you not registered yet? You can register here:

BMF (German Federal Ministry of Finance) Letter, Requirements, Information Sheets

Note: The German Federal Central Tax Office accepts no liability for the completeness and accuracy of the information provided here. The editors endeavor to incorporate current changes in a timely manner. However, as updates can take some time, especially if there are major changes, there can be no assurance that the provided status of the legislation will always be up to date. The same applies to the content of pages that have not been created by the German Federal Central Tax Office but that are referenced (links).

Only publications in official journals (usually the Bundesgesetzblatt (Federal Official Journal) or Bundesanzeiger (Federal Gazette) have official status.

Question and Answer

Please note that the BZSt is responsible solely for answering electronic queries concerning the database and related questions and assistance (especially regarding enrollment and registration). For technical questions about tax withholding for construction work, please contact the responsible tax office.

How and where do I apply for or extend a certificate of exemption for the refund of construction work?

  • Domestically established taxable persons (Section 2 German Turnover Tax Act) and legal persons under public law: The application process is conducted without forms. The tax office in whose district the permanent establishment of the company is located or the tax office in whose district the place of management is located is responsible. For natural persons, the tax office in whose district their domestic domicile is located is responsible.
  • Taxable persons established and domiciled abroad, corporations or groups of persons domiciled and with management abroad: The application process is conducted without forms. There are central responsibilities of the tax offices depending on the country of residence. You can find an overview of the central responsibilities on page 3 of information sheet for tax withholding for construction work, which can be found at the following link:

In some cases, the tax offices provide on their websites printed forms in various languages. The tax office responsible for any given country and its website can be found using the tax office search.

Please note that only the responsible tax office, not the German Federal Central Tax Office, issues certificates of exemptions.

Should the validity of a certificate of exemption be reviewed before payment to the payer?

Yes. Especially for reasons of liability (Section 48a Paragraph 3 German Income Tax Act). The liability of the purchaser or customer is excluded if, at the time of the consideration, the purchaser or customer was provided with a certificate of exemption whose legality he was able to trust. This includes the duty to check the certificate of exemption and to verify that the certificate of exemption is stamped with a seal and contains a security number. If provided with a copy, all information must be clearly legible.

For documentation purposes, you can print out the result of the online confirmation and attach it to your accounting documents.

How can the purchaser or customer verify the validity of a certificate of exemption?

As a registered user, you can check the validity of a certificate of exemption under the link eibe.bff-online.de/eibe/ (login).
After logging in, you need the following information in order to carry out the verification under "Einzelabfrage FSB":

  1. Select federal state (please select the state in which the payer is located),
  2. The payer’s tax number and
  3. The security number found on the certificate of exemption.

If you do not know the federal state or the responsible tax office, you can find the appropriate tax office with the help of the tax office search. The respective federal state is listed in the search result as well.

How do I register?

Go to the website eibe.bff-online.de/eibe/. Click on “Registrierung” in the left column.

There you can freely choose your username – in compliance with the requirements. Once you have sent your registration, an account for the retrieval of certificates of exemption will be set up for you. After you access the email with the confirmation link, your account will be activated.

Finally, you will receive another email with the necessary access data that you can later use to log in.

Is it possible to conduct an online verification using the tax number or name?

No. This is not possible for reasons of data protection and protecting tax secrecy.

Who can help me if I cannot retrieve the certificate of exemption online or the result does not agree with the certificate in my possession?

Please contact the tax office that issued the certificate of exemption.

The BZSt can only assist with technical problems (registration, login, etc.) and does not have the authority or the knowledge of the responsible/issuing tax office.

How do I, as a corporation under public law who does not have tax number, receive access to the EIBE Portal?

Please use our contact form to request additional information.

Where can I apply for a refund of the tax withholding for construction work?

The application must be submitted to the tax office responsible for the payer (pursuant to Section 48c Paragraph 2 German Income Tax Act), not to the BZSt.

As a payer, how do I respond if a client informs me that the validity of my certificate of exemption cannot be verified online?

Inform your responsible tax office about this situation and arrange for a new certificate of exemption to be issued on short notice and for the data to be transmitted to the BZSt. Immediate transfer of the data to the BZSt is not possible.

As a purchaser or customer, how do I respond if a payer does not provide me with a certificate of exemption?

The payer is obliged to give you a legible copy of the certificate of exemption. If he does not comply with this obligation, it can be assumed that he is not in possession of a valid certificate of exemption.

Consequently, as the recipient of the service, you are obligated to withhold the taxes for construction work and pay it to the tax office responsible for the payer.

As a payer, how do I react if I lose my certificate of exemption?

If you lose your certificate of exemption, please contact your responsible tax office. They will provide you a replacement certificate with the same contents and security number.

Please note that only the responsible tax office, not the German Federal Central Tax Office, issues certificates of exemptions or replacement certificates.

How long must the certificate of exemption be retained by the purchaser or customer?

Generally, certificates of exemption must be retained by the purchaser or customer for six years (cf. Section 147 Paragraph 3 German Fiscal Code).

Certificates of exemption fall under the obligation to keep accounts and records of Sections 140 et seq. German Fiscal Code; therefore, the purchaser or customer must retain the documents given to him by the payer.


Bundeszentralamt für Steuern

Service seat Berlin
St II 4

DGZ-Ring 12
13086 Berlin

Phone: +49 228 406-2670
Fax: +49 288 406-4021

Mo-Fr von 09:00-12:00 Uhr


Tax deduction for construction services

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