Steuerberater Seeleute

Taxation of seamen and crew under German and foreign flags

Many seamen such as captains, ship’s officers, marines, mechanics, crewmembers or other maritime personnel are unaware that it may be worthwhile on the one hand to file a tax return in Germany in order to reclaim taxes paid too much. This applies to both German and foreign seamen. The monthly wage tax is calculated from the expected annual income. However, as most seamen and crew are working less than one year on the ship, the withheld payroll taxes are often very high in relation to the actual salary. Therefore, seamen might receive a reimbursement of wage tax paid.

On the other hand, there may also be the obligation to file an income tax return in Germany, even if you won`t receive a tax refund. Since this depends on many factors, such as the flag, the location of the management of the shipping company, the residence of the taxpayer, etc., each case must be examined separately.

As a tax advisor in Dusseldorf, we support numerous German and foreign seamen under German and foreign flags and can look back on many years of experience in this area. Our extensive knowledge of international tax law and the various double taxation treaties are also indispensable for assessing the respective circumstances.

Our services for seamen

  • General advice
  • Advice regarding limited or unlimited tax liability
  • Examination of tax liability in Germany
  • Preparation of German income tax return
  • Consideration of the relevant double tax treaties

General information regarding tax liability of seamen and crew

For the taxation of seamen on ships you distinguish between

  • unlimited tax liable seamen and
  • limited tax liable seamen

The kind of tax liability depends on the place of residence or habitual abode.

Unlimited tax liable seamen

German or foreign seamen are unlimited tax liable with their worldwide income when they have a residence or habitual abode in Germany. However, the right of taxation may be allocated to another country through a double taxation agreement.

Limited tax liable seamen and crew

If the seaman has neither a residence nor a habitual abode in Germany, he is just limited tax liable. Generally you have an habitual abode when staying more than 183 days in Germany within 12 months. Seamen staying more than 183 days in foreign territorial waters on German-flagged ships and not being employed more than one year on the German-flagged ship, do not have an habitual abode and are just limited tax liable.

Please feel free to contact us – we will be happy to calculate your tax refund in advance and to check whether you are tax liable in Germany.

Also interesting: Tax advice for individuals