GEZ in Germany: Your guide on radio tax (Rundfunkbeitrag)


Updated on Nov 12 • 4 minute read

The yellow letter flutters into expats' homes often as a surprise: GEZ in Germany deftly demands a monthly charge of €18.36 from you. You wonder why GEZ in Germany asks you to pay broadcasting fees when in fact you can't really follow German television?

In Germany, every household has to pay quarterly broadcasting licence fees (GEZ Germany), with no ifs or buts. And we promise you: not paying is not really worth the hassle and will end up being more and more expensive for you.

With our guide for GEZ in Germany, you will dive into the broadcasting licence fee and find out why and, above all, how you pay the fees.

What is GEZ in Germany?

Netflix has easily outstripped Sunday nights in front of the TV when people were waiting patiently until 8:15 pm to tune into their favourite show just to not miss an episode. So what's all this fuss that every household in Germany is bound to pay broadcasting licence fees?

But what is GEZ in Germany? The answer lies at hand: the broadcasting licence fee is used to finance the public broadcasting companies. After all, they have a "public mission" and consequently, the public has to pay for it. GEZ Deutschland is, therefore, a state organisation whose broadcasting contribution is then used to pay for the production of public television and radio stations, such as ARD, ZDF or InfoRadio. All the more reason for you to switch on the radio during breakfast and read the online news to refresh your German!

By the way, should your pulse beat a little faster the first time you are asked to pay for a service that you don't even use, you're not alone: in Germany, there's always heated debate about why GEZ is being charged in Germany. Whether you have a television or radio at home or not, you still end up paying a broadcasting licence fee.

How much is the GEZ in Germany?

Every household pays one fee. In other words: €18.36 per month, which adds up to €220.32 per year.

Is GEZ in Germany (Rundfunkbeitrag) mandatory?

Every German household has to make its contribution to broadcast - and it doesn't matter whether you're actually skimming the online news at breakfast or zapping through your favourite ZDF and ARD series.

Therefore, every citizen aged 18 and over has to pay a radio contribution: one flat - one fee. How many people live in the flat is irrelevant.

Can I claim an exemption or reduction on the GEZ in Germany?

Yes, no one has to pay broadcasting licence fees if they really can't afford it. This means that students or pupils can be exempted from the obligation to pay broadcasting licence fees as long as you can prove to receive BaföG or an allowance for vocational training.

However, things look different if you don't receive any state funding as a student. In this case, GEZ Germany expects that you are able to contribute to the broadcasting fees as any other adult citizen - in other words, you are no exception. This is true even for Erasmus students or scholarship holders!

So how does it work if you live in a student residence? At first glance, the boundaries seem a bit blurred, but GEZ Germany has laid down clear guidelines here: Does your room leave from a generally accessible corridor? Then your room is considered a flat, so you know what it means: one flat, one contribution. It doesn't matter whether you share your bathroom and kitchen with others.

The situation looks different if several rooms are separated by a private entrance door. In this case, these rooms count as a shared flat and only one broadcasting fee is charged for all rooms.

How do I pay GEZ in Germany?

Just in time for the respective due date, a yellow invoice with all payment information will pop up on your doorstep. Within four weeks after the due date, you have to settle the invoice.

This is how you pay for GEZ Germany:

  • SEPA direct debit: This is probably the most convenient and secure payment method. All you have to do is fill out an online form, make changes to your contribution account and the contribution will be collected as direct debit.
  • Bank transfer: Select the correct bank details and enter your 9-digit contribution number as a reference for payment. To speed up the process, you can use the QR code on your prepared transfer form via your banking app.

Good to know: Your contribution number can be found on your registration confirmation, on the payment request or on the top right of the letter from the contribution service. With your contribution number, your payment will be linked.

You can pay GEZ Germany at these intervals:

  • legal payment method in the midst of three months (€55.80)
  • quarterly in advance of the first of a quarter for three months (€55.80)
  • half-yearly in advance to the first of a half-year for six months (€110.16)
  • annually in advance to the first of each year for twelve months (€220.32)

What happens if you don't pay broadcasting tax Germany?

There's no fooling around with German punctuality: if you miss your payment - or even refuse to pay it - you' ll face a late payment surcharge, which is equal to 1 per cent of the contribution debt but no less than €8. In other words, just make sure to pay GEZ in Germany within four weeks of the due date.

As a matter of fact, those who refuse to pay fees have indeed been arrested. You see, you simply don't want to mess around with taxes and fees in Germany!

How do I cancel Rundfunkbeitrag?

So, you're moving out of your shared apartment in Hamburg-Altona and settling into your first fancy flat in Hamburg-Eppendorf? Then you will also have to re-register with the GEZ. Or are you moving in with someone who already pays broadcasting fees? Then you can easily cancel your registration using the online form (you can't cancel by phone or e-mail!).

Select a reason for deregistering your flat ("I'm moving abroad permanently", "I'm moving to another contributor") and follow the next steps. Here you can upload proofs such as your registration certificate directly.

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