Do I have to pay the licence fee (Rundfunkbeitrag)?

Here you can read this text in German.

Here you can read this text in Polish.

Have you recently moved to Germany and just moved into a new apartment? Then you have to remember that people in Germany are basically obliged to pay a radio/TV licence fee. 

Here is the most important information on the topic of licence fee:

Rundfunkbeitrag für Fernsehen und Radio
On

What is the licence fee (formerly GEZ fees)? 

The licence fee is a monthly fee for each apartment that needs to be paid to the contribution service (ARD ZDF Deutschlandradio Beitragsservice). The number of radio and television sets in an apartment and the number of people living in an apartment do not play any role. The licence fee of 17.50 EUR per month must be paid for the apartment.

This money is distributed by the contribution service to the television and radio stations such as ZDF, ARD or the regional broadcaster rbb in Brandenburg. The licence fee only goes to public broadcasters that offer independent information and programs.

You do not have a television or radio set in your apartment? Unfortunately, this is not a reason for exemption. You still have to pay the licence fee! 

Exemption from paying the licence fee: When do I not have to pay?

If you receive social benefits such as unemployment benefit II, benefits for asylum seekers or social assistance, you can be exempted from paying the licence fee. Students who receive BAföG (German Federal Training Assistance Act) do not have to pay either. For this purpose, you have to apply for exemption and send the necessary proof. Here you can read more.

Do I have to register?

Every adult occupant of an apartment is primarily obliged to register with the contribution service. However, since the "one apartment – one contribution" principle applies, the obligation to register depends on the apartment situation: If you live alone in the apartment, you must register yourself. On the other hand, if you live in the apartment with the whole family or with friends, one family member or one member of a shared apartment must pay the contribution for all. You are free to decide who registers with the contribution service.

For example:
A married couple with two under-age children live in an apartment. Either the wife or the husband must register with the contribution service.

How can I register for the licence fee?

On the website www.rundfunkbeitrag.de, you will find forms that you can fill out online or download as a PDF document. You must send the completed form to the following address:

ARD ZDF Deutschlandradio
Beitragsservice
50656 Köln

If you do not register in time, you will receive a letter from the contribution service and will have to pay the contributions that you didn’t pay earlier.

Do I have to respond to requests from the contribution service?

Has the contribution service written to you and asked whether you are liable to pay contributions? Then you should respond. If the apartment is already registered through another person, you must clarify this. It is important to state the contribution number of the payer. In this manner, you can avoid direct registration and payment demands from the contribution service.

When do I have to unsubscribe? 

Are you moving to another apartment for which a contribution has already been paid? Or are you moving away from Germany to another country? Then you must unsubscribe from the contribution service. 

Important: When you unsubscribe, you have to submit proof, e.g. a registration certificate (“Meldebescheinigung” in German).