What is the “Rundfunkbeitrag” (formerly known as “GEZ”)?
The Rundfunkbeitrag is a TV and radio license. You can consider it as a broadcast tax or a fee. The intention behind the fee is to offer public broadcasting systems for everyone and let the people benefit from a comprehensive range of different entertainment services like TV, radio and online media libraries. To ensure these services for all German citizens, the “Gebühreneinzugszentrale” or GEZ for short (group of fee collectors), is allowed by the German government to collect 17,50 € per month from each citizen in the country who lives in an apartment, irrespective of nationality.
Do I have to pay the Rundfunktbeitrag?
The German government established a law in 2013 which says that every German household must pay one flat fee of 17,50 €. And as usual with laws and taxes, it is not legally possible to avoid them or bypass them. So if you don’t want to disrupt the German regulations, we highly recommend you to pay the Rundfunkbeitrag regularly.
How does the Rundfunktbeitrag work?
As long as you are registered in Germany you have to pay the fee; however, the German law states an important control on this. It says that every household has to pay the fee, regardless how many people are living there and even if there are no single or multiple existing TVs or radio. If you are living in a shared apartment, by law only one person has to pay the fee and this fee can be shared amongst the tenants of that apartment. In case the Fee Collection Center wants the Rundfunkbeitrag from you, but for instance one of your flat mates is already paying it, you can inform the Fee Collection Center so you will not need to pay separately and/or twice. If you are living in an apartment on your own, you will have to pay the fee on your own.
How do I register for the Rundfunktbeitrag?
The Fee Collection Center is a public institution and linked to public resources respectively. This means when you register yourself at the Bürgeramt (citizen service center) or the Einwohnermeldeamt (local registration office) the Fee Collection Center will take notice of it. So after a certain time they will send you a letter and ask you to register for the Fee Collection Center and to pay the first fee. You can also register yourself on the website of the Fee Collection Center.
Are apartment rooms that are part of student dormitories considered “apartments” when making this payment?
Residential communities, group homes, double apartments or a corridor community (Flurgemeinschaft: Single apartments with a shared kitchen, shared bathroom(s) and a floor access) are usually considered as apartments and are deemed by the Fee Collection Center.
TIP: Rooms of a student dormitory are designed so that when they resemble a private or shared apartment, only one contribution is required to be paid.
What happens when I leave Germany?
When your semester or your internship is over, don’t forget to also unregister from the Fee Collection Center and the Rundfunkbeitrag. If you forget this, the they will send you letters endlessly and will fine you.
Where can I get more information?
More details can be found here in the PDF-file of the Fee Collection Center or directly from the ARD ZDF German Broadcast Contribution Services (ARD ZDF Deutschlandradio Beitragsservice) either via www.rundfunkbeitrag.de or by calling their pay hotline on weekdays from 7:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m. at 01806 99955501.