German TV tax – What to do about the Rundfunkbeitrag letter?

When you thought just had it all under control, the German administration has a way to remind you who is the boss. This reminder might take the form of an innocent ARD ZDF letter letting you know about the TV & radio broadcasting fees in Germany, otherwise known at the Rundfunkbeitrag.

This is no less than a German TV tax that each household ought to pay in order to finance the production and the broadcasting of content by public channels.

Rundfunkbeitrag letter german TV tax

Put your anti-bore suit on and learn here why it’s important to take care of this and fast.

Why and how did you receive this Rundfunkbeitrag letter at home?

This German TV tax has been issued by the government in 2013 to replace an older rule that stated that only owners of radio and TV sets should pay any kind of fees. This older rule was hard to apply since it was practically very difficult to check whether or not it was the case for any given individual. Many people lied and got away with it since agents were not legally allowed to come into your home.

Arguably, consumption of public content can now happen with tablets, computers and phones, which everybody has nowdays. As a result, this flat fee was decided and each household in Germany has to pay 17,50€ monthly (since 2015). The institution in charge of collecting TV & radio broadcasting fees in Germany is called “Beitragsservice von ARD, ZDF und Deutschlandradio”, or simply “Beitragsservice”. It replaces the older institution called GEZ (Gebühreneinzugszentrale), which is why you might see this name in forums sometimes.

The reason why you received this Rundfunkbeitrag letter is simple:

The Beitragsservice is a public institution with access to public resources. When registering yourself at the Bürgeramt with the Anmeldung, it was able to access your data and send you a letter.

Which courses of action can you take?

Pay up

The most obvious decision is submit to what is after all an institutionalized TV tax in Germany. A law has been passed and it applies to all citizens. You can register or submit your account details online on the official website.

Apply for exemptions or reductions

Of course, if your vision or your hearing is impaired, you can let the Beitraggservice know about it to reduce or avoid altogether the fee. Recipient of social welfare benefits (Arbeitslosengeld II, Sozialgeld or Grundsicherung im Alter) or grants (BAföG, Berufsausbildungsbeihilfe or Ausbildungsgeld) are also exempted. It makes sense: no need to pass public money around. If you are not German-speaking, i’m afraid this doesn’t count. You still have to pay.

If you are not German-speaking, i’m afraid this doesn’t count. You still have to pay.

Prove someone already pays it for you

This case is particularly relevant for people living in shared flats or other communities. The flat fee of 17,50€ apply to one household and not to each person living within it. This means that if your flat mate already pays for it, simply let them know about it and they will leave you alone.

Ignore the letters

Now there are very well documented cases of people simply staying put and hoping the Beitragsservice letters will go away after a while. After initial reminders, their response will gradually increase in severity. Although this can earn you some time to think about it, the Beitragsservice can use legal actions to obtain their money. Eventually, you will receive a letter from your Finanzamt asking you to pay this on their behalf. Even if this happens only after a year or two, you will have to pay hundreds of euros for all the time you didn’t reply. (17,50€ per month remember?). Additional fees will also occur for sending reminders and being late. More info about this in German here.

Take part to a boycott

There are a certain number of people who think it’s quite unfair to pay a TV tax in Germany when they are never watching any of the programs on public channels. This might seem even more absurd when they can’t speak the language. If you agree, you can take part to boycott movements at your own risks. It is by nature illegal. This website is a good place to start.

Beware, it is by nature illegal.

How to notify you are leaving the country and stop paying the German TV tax?

This is an issue that is all too often forgotten by foreigners moving back to their country. It won’t be enough to notify the Bürgeramt you are leaving the country. An additional notification to the Beitragsservice will be necessary so they remove you from their databases. It is recommended to do it a bit in advance via their website. If you don’t do that and come back to Germany; they will look for you, they will find you, they will make you pay.

Thankfully, Liam Neeson is not in charge of collection

Although it is quite frustrating to be obligated to pay this Rundfunkbeitrag, you might as well give public programs a shot. It’s good for your German skills after all. ARTE is my personal favorite.

Sources: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6



  • Reply Molham 26/02/2018 at 16:18

    Hi Bastien, if an exempt person living in a house, does it exempt all the people with the same address? or the exemption only covers a person not the whole house.

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 27/02/2018 at 09:24

      Hi Molham. This is a good question and i can’t find info about this case specifically. In my opinion, that would be probably too good to be true but if your roomates don’t receive any letters, maybe that works??

      • Reply Molham 27/02/2018 at 11:46

        Thanks for the answer. So basically both my roommate and I received Rundfunkbeitrag letters, he applied for exemption and did not receive letters anymore and I am still receiving them.
        I am confused right now, should I pay or just try to send the exemption of my roommate with the register certificate and they can understand the situation.

        • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 28/02/2018 at 20:01

          Hi Molham. I cannot tell you what to do but why not trying?

  • Reply Sushmita 26/02/2018 at 14:35

    Hello Bastien, firstly thank you for clearing all our doubts, it has been really useful.

    I received a letter from Deutschland Radio requesting a payment of the broadcasting fee for 105 Euros for the duration 01.09.2017 to 28.02.2018 from Deutschland Radio.However, when I moved to my Student Apartment on 16th November, I found out that none of my apartment friends paid any fee and my housemaster says he doesn’t know about it.

    My details:
    Entered Germany- 19th September 2017
    Moved into Apartment 1 – 29th September 2017
    Moved out of Apartment 1- 31st October 2017
    Moved into Apartment 2 – 16th November 2017

    I was living in hotels in periods between this and when I was living in Apartment 1, I paid the broadcasting fee with my roommates.

    Please let me know the next steps because:
    a) Why am I being asked to pay for the month of September when I didn’t reach Germany till 19th September and only moved into an apartment on 29th September 2017
    b)And for the month of October, when I did pay the fee with my roommates.

    I tried calling them, but couldn’t connect with any English speaking customer service member. But, I have written an email to them regarding this.

    Would love your insights.

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 27/02/2018 at 09:22

      Hi Sushmita. Thanks for this overview. I’m afraid i can’t help; i don’t know why they made those mistakes. You will need to sort this out yourself. Good luck !

  • Reply Khoa 22/02/2018 at 23:05

    Dear Bastien, thank you for the information you put in this post. I will only stay in Germany for 6 months and particularly I am in the guest house of the university but still need to pay such a thing? It’s better applied to people with permanent citizen, not the whole people like this!

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 26/02/2018 at 08:37

      Hi Khoa. You should talk to your university how to resolve this.

  • Reply Priority Notifier 22/02/2018 at 18:56

    Government is Germany is a mafia who suck their people blood by force. Such things do not exist in other civilized countries because people not only refuse to pay this forced imposed tax but also won’t participate in any elections. People can force mafia government and to put them in their proper place. I am not here to feed arte zdf in the same manner they are not feeding my family. I refuse to be part of force payment when I have not undersigned myself them according to my will or opt myself their service. In the past governments were nailed down and Germany needs major reforms in the sector of such forced taxes and insurance. insurance mafia also take huge chunk of money from private workers without even realizing even if they earn that much or not? If insurance is 10 to 20 euro than it is ok but forcing people to pay 300 euro is not done. I do not make that much money at all. This entire mafia needs to be wiped out from Germany. They are not curing but they are making people sick. We talk about ethics. No one should have a right to take a cent from my pocket by force. 1 euro for me means bread for my family. There are cheap mafia who force you to pay them monthly (with no concerns whether or not you make money) just because you have opened a shop which they think is their area and they somehow think that they have right to harass and it is somehow legal. I think German government is exactly the same.

  • Reply Nadya 21/02/2018 at 11:36

    Hello, Bastien,
    Thank you for an article about the system, really nice to read on the thopic in english. My question is, I am a student and live in a dorm. When I signed a contract there was no statement of obligation to pay ARD, ZDF. So ive been ignoring those letters. Today I received an angry letter that I have to pay. They say they will take “administrative actions” if I dont. What does it mean? They will send more angry letters? Can I claim the card “I dont know you guys, never signed anything with you”. Also, I really dont have money to pay, so there is nothing to take from me. So what would they do in a situation like this? I plan to leave the country in half a year or so anyway, not planning to return so would it hurt me to ignore them for another 6 months?

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 21/02/2018 at 16:56

      Hi Nadya. You are collectively responsible for paying this, all of the students in the dorm, so there must be somebody paying it already. Or maybe it’s managed by the dorm “managers” already. Ask around before deciding anything.

  • Reply Parth Bhagat 20/02/2018 at 15:14

    Hi Bastian,

    Thank you very much for the information.

    I have recently received a letter from finanzamt regarding the payment, so I have to pay some hundreds of euro. I was a student in Germany for 2.5 years, could that be a valid excuse to reduce the amount of money? Also, it would be highly appreciable if you suggest some idea to reduce the tax and also any suggestions of not paying the entire amount at once.

    Waiting for your feedback!!


    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 21/02/2018 at 16:54

      Hi Parth. The different methods or reasons for an exemption are already listed in the post. I don’t think simply being a student is one of them.

  • Reply Innats 20/02/2018 at 13:07

    Hi, I hope you can answer my question, it’s been bugging me for a while. I lived in Germany for a year. In the last week when I was leaving Germany to go back to the Netherlands I received a Rundfunkbeitrag bill for 30 euros. Because I was leaving and I didn’t even use the german television channels I ignored the letter. I never heard from them again. Can this still be a problem for me now 4 years later? They haven’t contacted me in the Netherlands. If I’ll fly using a German airport, am I in trouble then?

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 21/02/2018 at 16:53

      Hi there. In my opinion, you won’t be in trouble or arrested by the authorities or anything. However, if you haven’t propery deregistered after leaving Germany the first time and they find you again, you might get a hefty fine.

  • Reply Hammad Khalid 18/02/2018 at 15:06

    I live in a WG . One of my roommate is paying the fee. I have to link it with his account but the problem is that I lost my Aktenzeichen no. from where can i get my Aktenzeichen number. Please help.

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 19/02/2018 at 18:07

      Hi Hammad. The Aktenzeichen is the “case” reference number that is related to the business at hand. It should be mentioned in the correspondance you had with them somewhere.

  • Reply Olivia 12/02/2018 at 20:37

    Hello, could you please reccomend what i could do if my roommate does not want to pay for tv tax even though he is also registered in the same flat but claims that has never received a letter from them?
    It is really overwhelming to pay everything by myself and trying to explain him that it is obligatory for everybody registered in bürgeramt. Thanks in advance

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 12/02/2018 at 21:24

      Hi Olivia. One of you needs to pay for the flat, it’s the law. Split the fee between all occupants. Tell them that if you don’t do it now, you will all need to pay a fine in the future, it’s more expensive.

    • Reply Gabriela 13/02/2018 at 09:15

      Hi! I have some doubts, and if you could help me that would be like awesome. When I got the letter I registered on the website and commited to pay (which I have done) but then my landolord told me that he is already paying for it (and it is inlcuded on the contract, tini thing I missed it seems). Is there a way to comunicate them that another person is already paying for this tax (in this case my landlord)? I tried to look for it on the website but my German is not that Advanced yet. Thank you!

  • Reply Ayesha 12/02/2018 at 11:16

    I moved to Germany in Sep 2017. I received the first letter 4-5 months later. Back then I was living in a Student WG. My flatmates refused to pay up and advised me to do the same. I moved out of the Apartment in Nov 2016 and sub-let my room since I couldn’t end the contract. But I registered in the new city I am currently staying in only in April 2017 and have been paying the fee for my current apartment since Nov 2016.
    I received a letter from them in Nov 2017 asking me to pay up 440 Euros (including fine) for a period between Sep 2015 – April 2017. Is there a possibility of waiving off the fine since I never received any letters after moving out and paying up only for the time period I lived there ( Sep 2015 – Oct 2016) since 440 Euros seems riduculously high for me.

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 12/02/2018 at 21:20

      Hi Ayesha. If you were living somewhere else for that period, i guess you need to prove that you (or somebody else there) were paying during that time after you moved out. I don’t see any other way now. 440 € is not high. It’s a year’s worth of fees.

  • Reply Dashin 10/02/2018 at 17:53

    They used to send letters to pay for every three months and I payed them regularly using the form they sent me through bank..

    But for the last 15 months I haven’t received any letters from them and since then I have no chance to pay .Also I don’t have the letters which they sent me initially to note down the AFD registration number and contact them.The customer service representative speaks no English and its hard to know what I am supposed to do.I had checked with my German friends and they have no clue what is happening in my case?

    Why had they stopped sending letters and what might happen in my case at a later point of time while leaving this country or so?

  • Reply John 30/01/2018 at 15:41

    Hello Bastian! Thanks for the article and the information you provided. Here is my problem though. I moved in to Germany to live with my girlfriend who is a native german. She recieves money from the state because she studies and was free from paying this. Today both of us recieved a letter that states that her account has been deleted, and that now they want money from me instead. We live together and i have already filled in that she is the one that pays for this. Any advice on what to do?

    • Reply John 30/01/2018 at 15:42

      Batien* i am sorry i wrote your name wrong in the hurry!!!

      • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 01/02/2018 at 19:32

        Missed again! 😉

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 01/02/2018 at 19:31

      Hi John. Interesting case. In my opinion, you should stick to the current story as long as your gf receives supports from the state.

  • Reply changamange 28/01/2018 at 23:00

    I would not be against this if the fee wasn’t so damn high and if they were clear and upfront about the payments. For example, if you lived in many different shared apartments when coming to Germany, chances are you will never get the letter and will never know about this tax which happened in my case. Once you move to your own place they will expect from you to pay for all the months you were living in a shared apartment even though that was paid by the landlord. There is no possible way of getting the beitragsnummer if the landlord if you stayed in more thn 4 places. This is forced corruption. If they are so incompetent that they cant account for periods that an apartment was paid for and force people to pay again that makes the whole system very untrustworthy. Additionally, they expect you to pay 17 euros a month. There are 40 million + houses in Germany, approximately. Let’s just assume that people pay 15 euros a month to account for people receiving tax ‘exemption’. That brings a monthly total of 600 MILLION. Let’s just further assume that 10 million houses are exempted, that is still 450 MILLION euros a month of tax that they receive to run 3 channels. In no way is this appropriate or a worthy cause, however you need to follow the law of the country you live in. And hopefully the German citizens will realise that this not for the society but to fill the pockets of certain media outlets.

  • Reply LHN 28/01/2018 at 16:05

    Hi Batien,

    My flatmate has already paid and I have received another letter saying I owe now 87.50 Euro. I know I need to contact them to let them know that we have already paid but I am struggling to find how exactly to do that.
    Could you advise / send a link to where I need to go, please?

    I do not have a Aktenzeichen and so cannot fill out the form when asked..

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 29/01/2018 at 22:44

      Hi Lauren, this would be the place.

  • Reply Hallo 24/01/2018 at 18:33

    Hi Bastian! I’m Erasmus student and I have received three Rundfunkbeitrag letters. I’ve been told to ignore them and thats what I have done so far. Today after receiving third letter I did a little research about it. I receive state financial support from my home country for my studies. Does it mean I can get a hardship exemption or is it possible just for German students who receive financial support from Germany?

    I came here in September and I’m going back home next month, I’m not really sure how to proceed with this. I’m never going to live in Germany again, so should I just continue ignoring the letters or try to apply for hardship exemption?

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 27/01/2018 at 09:51

      Hi there. You can probably try to use your exemption from back-home but you would probably have to translate it. Up to you to make that choice; you know the risks. Good luck ! 🙂

      • Reply Fiona 25/02/2018 at 21:44

        What are the risks cause I have the same problem

  • Reply Lauren 15/01/2018 at 05:27


    I lived in Berlin for a year from 2016-2017 while I was studying and although I got monthly letters about the fee, people told me not to worry about paying it as I didn’t have a tv or radio, so I ignored it. But I’m planning on returning in the middle of this year to live in Berlin again, do you think I will have a lot more extra fees to pay seeing as I never paid it to begin with? Just wondering what to expect

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 16/01/2018 at 14:20

      Hi Lauren. If they find you and are able to match you with that former case, you might have to pay for these months as well.

  • Reply Chiraag Dinesh Kaidabettu 03/01/2018 at 16:30

    Hi bastein,

    I live in a shared flat and my flatmate had initiated the process and also given in my aktenzeichen number and a beitragsnummer was also generated. But, then sometime later , I received another post with a different aktenzeichen number. So, now I have two numbers. Can you please help me out in this regard ? Should I ignore the second one ,or ?

    Thanks you,

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 04/01/2018 at 17:22

      Hi Chiraag. Probably an admin error, it’s best to clear that out with them directly.

      • Reply Chiraag Dinesh 05/01/2018 at 06:46

        Oh cool, I’ll do that.. Thanks a lot

    • Reply Carlotta 11/01/2018 at 17:40

      I have the same problem now, I am trying to call them but there is no one speaking in english. Do you know if there is a number to call for non-german speakers? (I know it sounds stupid… but maybe…).

      Thank you!

  • Reply Camilo 31/12/2017 at 02:10

    Hello Bastien, thanks for the great article. I live in Germany since 2014, I received the initial letter back then but at that time i didn’t understand a word in german and I just ignored it. I never received any more letters from them (I’ve read you receive 2 notifications if you ignore the first one). Now I want to pay but I’m not sure how to proceed. I’ve tried to register in but when I insert my Aktenzeichen and PLZ, it says “Fehler: Bitte prüfen Sie das Aktenzeichen und die Postleitzahl. What do you recommend me to do?
    Also, the amount I have to pay i just the number of months I have been living here times 18€ ? or should I pay more, like for fines o something similar?
    Thanks in advance!

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 02/01/2018 at 18:29

      Hi Camilo. I am surprised there hasn’t been a follow up from them until now. I’d let them get in touch with you again if i were in your position. If there is a collection action intended against to take your money “against your will”, there will be added fees on top of the normal ones yes.

  • Reply AS 18/12/2017 at 08:42

    Hi. I have a problem here. I paid 52.50€ for the last trimester through Überweisung and I totally forgot to write my Beitragsnummer as the Verwendungszweck. What should I do now? Will they still be counted or do I have to pay again? And one more thing, is there any possibility to check the unpaid balance online? Thank you.

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 18/12/2017 at 21:34

      Hi A. You should get in touch with them to clear that up directly. If you can prove that you own the account which made the transfer, maybe it’s good.

  • Reply Carlos Moreira 14/12/2017 at 10:44

    Hey, i am an Erasmus student and i got two letters from Ard, zdf,… I share a flat with two people and one of them is german, so he called them and he told them that we all live together, and he will pay for it, and he also gave my Beitragsnummer. But, a few days ago, i received another letter with a paper where I could say that someone is already paying in my flat, but it also includes a check to pay 87,50€ until the 15th of December. I sent them the paper with my friends name and his Beitragsnummer, but i don´t know if i should pay the check or just wait. Can you help me? also, i don’t have a German account

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 18/12/2017 at 21:24

      Hi Carlos, something went wrong in the communication probably. You should wait to see if the situation has been updarted.

  • Reply Kaivalya 11/12/2017 at 00:55

    Hello Bastien,
    The article you wrote resolved many of the doubts. I still have a question.
    I received a letter and it asks me the date from which I need to pay the contribution (Ich melde die Wohnung zum Runfunkbeitrag ab dem Zeitpunkt der Anmeldung beim Einwohnermeldeamt fuer die oben gennante Adresse an. MM.YYYY)
    However, when I tried to register the apartment from their website, it asks “Folgende Wohnung/en möchte ich anmelden: Anmeldung zu: MM.YYYY”
    Which date do they want? The date I moved in OR the date I am going to move out from the apartment?
    Thank you so much! 🙂

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 13/12/2017 at 22:45

      Hi Kaivalya. Your move in date.

  • Reply Vladimir Gershanov 08/12/2017 at 17:23

    Hi, Bastien,
    Your articles have been proven very helpful with anything I’ve read regarding Germany. Thanks for that.
    I have received 2 letters for ARD / ZDF, one for me, one for my wife.
    I don’t the Beitragsnummer, in the place where it’s supposed to be I have Aktenzeichen: which has 10 digits in total, (3×3 and then 1 digit). This number is also on the top right of the 2 paper where there’s a lot of space to fill in blockschrift.

    I’m trying to register at their website, to specify somehow that I want to pay for our household, so that: 1. I’ll bee OK with ARD/ZDF, and that my wife doesn’t have to pay for it, as she shouldn’t. I’m stuck at the website registration form where they ask me for the Betragsnummer.
    Should I then answer “Nein” for this question: Sie sind bereits mit einer Wohnung angemeldet? (then it doesn’t ask me for t he Betragsnummer)

    This our first apartment in Germany, and it’s a short term lease.

    Appreciate your help,

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 09/12/2017 at 11:27

      Hi Vladimir, get in touch with them through the website mentioning your Aktenzeichen, they will be able to let you your Beitragsnummer.

  • Reply Luke 07/12/2017 at 21:23

    I’m an Erasmus student and I received a Rundfunkbeitrag letter today, and having done some research it looks like I can receive a hardship exemption on the grounds that I receive UK state financial support for my studies. I’ve read that I have to file a hardship case, but I’ve been on the website and cannot work out how I actually go about doing that… any ideas?

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 09/12/2017 at 11:23

      Hi Luke. you can apply for exemption here.

  • Reply milan 05/12/2017 at 00:23

    i received a letter from ARD ZDF in my wife’s name . my wife no bank account, so i paid. i want to receive letters in my own name, but i don’t have any idea where is my beitragsnummer. what can i do in this situation?

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 05/12/2017 at 21:24

      Hi Milan. The beitragsnummer is on the letters that were sent to you.

  • Reply jigglingpuff 22/11/2017 at 10:52

    Hi Bastien,
    i have been living in germany for 4 years with my sister, and my sister has been paying the licence fee for about 5 years. I have received tons of letters from ZDF but i ignored all of them and threw all of them, and just yesterday i received a letter from “Amt für Rechnungswesen und steuern” regarding my payment from 4 years ago, now i need to prove to ZDF that my sister has been paying for the household, what should i do?

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 23/11/2017 at 18:55

      Hi there. Like mentioned in the post, you need to prove that you are living with her all that time (tenancy contract for example) and that she has been paying for your flat (her Beitragsnummer).

  • Reply Ardhelia 20/11/2017 at 20:13

    Hello Bastien,

    I’m an exchange student who lives in Germany until January 2018 only ( I arrived here around September 2017). I received a letter from the ARD and sent a reply that I wanted to pay by bank transfer. I haven’t received a reply for 3 weeks. Should I still pay or am I free from this thing?

    Thank you.

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 23/11/2017 at 18:12

      Hi Ardhelia, pribably not. Don’t forget to tell them you quit the country and send them your abmeldung bestatigung to prove it.

  • Reply Morgana 20/11/2017 at 15:19

    Sorry, I have a second question. I have a French bank account, not a German one. Can I pay by check? Thanks!

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 23/11/2017 at 18:59


  • Reply Morgana 20/11/2017 at 15:17

    Hello, I am on an exchange program in Germany for only 4 months. I initially threw away my TV tax letter, because I thought it was optional (I speak zero German and used google translate to read the letter). My friends said they would send me another one, but it’s already almost December and I leave Germany forever at the end of January. Can I just pay them for the 4 months at once and give them my move out date? Or do I need to go through the whole process and then send them a letter saying I’m leaving Germany after I de-register? I’m from the US and I have never been forced to pay for TV before, so it’s a new concept to me. Thanks.

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 23/11/2017 at 19:01

      Yes, that’s possible but you have to give them a proof that you are moving with an Abmeldungbescheinigung from the Bürgeramt.

  • Reply Prashanth 14/11/2017 at 20:19

    Hello Bastien,

    I have been living in Germany for 3 months now. I had done my city registration, during beginning of September but I haven’t recieved any letter from ARD or Staadt Aachen to pay the radio tax, while my roomate has who by the way, had registered after I did (mid September). Should I contact them and ask for it? Or should I wait for the letter for few more days?

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 15/11/2017 at 10:40

      Hi Prashanth, you can wait until it comes. Make sure to sort out with your roomate who is paying the tax.

  • Reply Podrick 10/11/2017 at 13:55

    Hey Bastien

    Just a simple question.
    I don’t have work currently I don’t speak German and haven’t watched tv for 10 years –
    The relevant point being I am currently not working. I have a small income of about 130 euros a month.
    I do not claim German welfare assistance. And I don’t intend to. I have a small amount of savings, 3000 euros approx
    which I expect to run out in 6 months.
    Obviously my intention would be – that when I find work I would notify the radio/ tv authorities and begin paying the requested 17 euros.
    Is this information I’ve set out above a valid reason for seeking an exemption.. I’m guessing the German authorities will allow only a person in receipt
    Of German welfare money to claim financial hardship as. Reason for not paying the tax.
    I see the fee for calling the ARD is 60 cents and for some reason I just couldn’t get through to their reception desk.
    I thought I would ask the question here as it seemed a reasonable question.

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 12/11/2017 at 14:54

      Hi Patrick. You need a good reason to be exempt and you are right, one of them is to be on ALG 2. Being on unemployment benefits is proof for them that you have small means to survive leading to an exemption. Anything else that’s more free form would be sufficient. You can check here for yourself.

  • Reply Vishal 10/11/2017 at 08:25

    Hi Bastien,
    I am in a very weird situation. I live in a student dorm where I share a common entrance with one other person. When I first moved in I received the letter and since my neighbour (a German citizen) was already paying I simply filled up a form online which said that he is paying for the both of us. I did not receive any letter after that. My neighbour disappeared under mysterious circumstances last year and I have no way of contacting him. Another person came in his place and he has not received the letter asking him to pay. Now I am leaving Germany and returning back to my country and I do not want any trouble later on. I do not have the Beitragsnummer anymore. Do you have any idea how I can avoid any trouble?

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 10/11/2017 at 10:18

      Hi Vishal, as far as the Rundfunkbeitrag is concerned, it’s your dorm neighbor that still has to pay the tax, you are cleared off any duties it seems.

    • Reply jigglingpuff 22/11/2017 at 10:46

      hi VISHAL,
      i would like to ask you, from which online link did you fill up your form? Can you simply send me a link here? would be much appreciated!

  • Reply Sienna 26/10/2017 at 18:41

    Hi there! I was just sent this letter, do you know if I will have to pay based on the move-in date I gave the burgeramt, or whether it is just from when I register online?

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 28/10/2017 at 15:46

      Hi Sienna. It’s from registration most likely.

  • Reply abe 02/10/2017 at 18:31

    It is a good idea to actively refuse to pay them for as long as you can. It is totally unfair to people who don’t own a TV don’t watch their channels, or especially don’t even speak German. It is absolute BS that they are independent media because they are backed up by the state enforced by the state. Their employees receive huge salaries and !PENSIONS! you can only dream of, they pay salaries to all their redundant staff in every city including orchestras and thousands upon thousands bureaucrats. The organisation is absolutely corrupt, I have a first hand experience on how they “consume” and manage the money, worked in an ad-agency who was commissioned to make an children’s app from one of their child program character, the app was made by our company absolutely below any acceptable level, unusable with bugs and outright ugly (our boss had limited budget and time for this app) but on the ZDF side nobody even cared they payed hundreds of thousands for developing that app.

  • Reply Emma 16/09/2017 at 19:54


    I ended up reading your article because I left germany in August after spending a year there and paying this TV tax and did the unregiistration from it via their website (during which i also attached my abmeldung paper). I thought it was all ok but today i open my account and see that i am missing 17,5€ from my account. The transfer was made by ARD radio tv tax. I don’t get it, I ended everything and seriously i am going nuts. Is there any other way to end the payments? What can you do against them taking your money even though you ended the contract with a proof via their official process and are now leaving abroad?

    Thank you

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 18/09/2017 at 09:26

      Hi Emma. Sorry to hear about this. There is no magic solution, you need to get in touch with them and tell them what the situation is. Attach the abmeldung paper again if needed. Another way to do that is to block ARD to take money from your account through your bank directly.

  • Reply Pietro 15/09/2017 at 16:14

    Hello, I couldn’t find the info about how to inform them that I’m living in an apartment that the tax was already paid. Is there any mail model we can use do this or we need to create a letter and send to them with the proof that it was already paid?

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 18/09/2017 at 09:21

      Hi Pietro. No template per say. Just send them a letter with your adress, your name and the person paying for the Beitrag at this adress, with some proof like a bank statement or a confirmation letter from them directly.

  • Reply Tathila 07/09/2017 at 22:31

    Hi, I have been in Germany for almost 9 months now and received the letters twice. I didn’t know what they were so I threw them away. However, now that I’m aware of it, I want to pay. But I haven’t received them anymore, so I have no idea how to proceed. I also sent them an e-mail asking about it, but never got a reply. :/ What the hell am I supposed to do?!

    I’m also leaving soon for what my school calls quarter away (Sep.22nd) but I will have to come back next year (around end of June) to finish my classes, so I don’t wanna have issues when crossing the immigration at the airport…

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 08/09/2017 at 10:57

      Hi Tathila, you can also call them directly if you have questions on how to proceed.

  • Reply Mujadid 06/09/2017 at 21:03

    Where i have received my letter and where is Beitragsnummer on it?
    please help,


    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 07/09/2017 at 10:59

      Hi Mujadid, I don’t understand the question. Please rephrase.

      • Reply Mujadid 11/09/2017 at 10:34

        If i go to the online official site to pay TV tax, the form ask me for Beitragsnummer. I don’t know what to enter there. The TV Tax letter does not have this number on it. Can you please specify what to enter there?


        • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 11/09/2017 at 19:23

          It’s on every letter your received from them. Like here.

          • Hafiz Mujadid Khalid 15/09/2017 at 21:28

            I don’t have this entry on the letter but i have aktenzeichen 562 361 217 2. is it the number?

          • Bastien - Settle in Berlin 18/09/2017 at 09:57

            No, that your current file’s reference number for customer service.

  • Reply Yatharth Vora 26/08/2017 at 14:28

    Hi Bestien. As many have said, Thank you very much for the information. I received a letter from the Stadtkasse mentioning that they have been informed by “Westdeutscher Rundfunk Köln” that I have not paid the outstanding amount. They asked me to pay 197 euros in 10 days and I received the letter on 11th of August. The letter was unfortunately lost in the stupid advertisement newspapers and I accidently found it today, 26.08.2017. I immediately paid the amount and sent stadtkasse an email apologizing for the delay. I am worried if there will be any problems because I was late.

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 27/08/2017 at 13:27

      Hi Yatharth. I think you should be fine.

  • Reply Ann 24/08/2017 at 15:36

    I have lived in germany for 5 months (erasmus) and i have been told to ignore the letters for paying the tax, so I did.
    Now I am back home in my country, do you think I will receive a big fee for not paying the tax while I was there? I am not registered in Germany anymore as a resident, but still, can they write to me to pay while I am home?

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 25/08/2017 at 08:02

      Hi Ann. Hard to say but i have not heard of people being tracked-down all the way home that way before. However, this might become a problem if you return to Germany, as it will show up on your SCHUFA score.

    • Reply Silvia 18/10/2017 at 16:49

      Hi Ann, if you did Anmeldung they can find you basically. But students don not pay that amount. Since i am staying 2 students and 1 adult now i am splitting it half-half with that guy. So Students can not be paid. check that official page and you can see different language. They mention Erasmus students.

  • Reply Lassi 23/08/2017 at 13:30


    I have been living in Germany since May. I just received this letter dated when I had just moved out from my old apartment (end of July) with my old apartment information. Should I ask my old roommate about if he paid for it to sort that out of the way or should I wait for the new letter to my new address?

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 23/08/2017 at 14:51

      Hi Lassi. Both options are possible but in the latter one, you need to make sure they have your updated adress too.

  • Reply mahdi 23/08/2017 at 11:01

    Do you know a contact number where we can speak english with the ZDF (0180699955510, they speak only german with this) . How am I supposed to pay, if when I call them and speak english they hang the phone on me. This is totally unprofessional we live in the 21 century.

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 23/08/2017 at 14:44

      No i’m sorry Mahdi. 🙁

  • Reply Arya Lekshmi 15/08/2017 at 11:39

    I have a query. I was living in an apartment until April, 2017 and I paid 17.50 euros per month until then. They also assigned me a beitrgasnummer. I shifted to a dorm in April and here a person is already paying for all of us and we share the amount. Recently I got a letter asking to pay for 3 months from May-July. Apparently, we need to write the beitragsnummer of the person paying for us in the additional document with the post informing them the same. But, since I am assigned a beitragsnummer already, I don’t see that option in my letter. How can I notify them that I am living in a student dorm and that someone is paying for all of us already. Or should I pay everything all by myself which I don’t really want?

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 15/08/2017 at 18:30

      Hi Arya, you can update your profile and your details on their website directly.

  • Reply Veronika 09/07/2017 at 11:24

    Hi, I’m in Germany for Erasmus and I do not have a german account here because I don’t need it. Can I pay a tax without having it? I got the letters but my german it’s not so good, I’m still confused from how it works.

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 10/07/2017 at 11:10

      Hi Veronika. You only need a German account if you want to authorize them to take money directly from your account. However, you can decide to simply transfer money to them (every trimester for example). In this letter, you should have their banking details. Don’t forget to include your 9 number “Beitragsnummer” as reason for payment.

  • Reply Atnici 29/06/2017 at 14:54

    I had two Rundfunkbeitrag letter, from ARD and from oberbuergermeister. To which one, should I transfer my tv / radio tax bill?
    Vielen dank fuer Ihre Hilfe.

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 30/06/2017 at 09:35

      To the ARD.

  • Reply Colin Costello 05/06/2017 at 17:26

    I am leaving Berlin for a few months. But then I am coming back. To a new address. Whar should I do about the tv tax?

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 05/06/2017 at 22:11

      Hi Colin, you can let them know about that directly on their website or give them a call then.

  • Reply Renee 30/05/2017 at 14:32

    Hello Bastien,
    I filled out the letter to pay the fee and sent it through the post office over a week ago. How long does it take for it to go through. It still has not been withdrawn from my bank account. Also its it allowed to pay for multiple people? I work for a US company and non of the Americans here have german bank accounts. I sent in about 10 letters all with my bank info and it has not gone through.

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 30/05/2017 at 18:18

      Hi Renee, it should only takes a few weeks.

  • Reply Harun 02/04/2017 at 14:26

    Hi Bestien, thank you for the info about rundfunkbeitrag.. I’m not a German citizen… I have a residence permission for a limited time.. does this rundfunkbeitrag still include me even I’m not a citizen…

    Thank you for your interest..

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 03/04/2017 at 15:42

      Hello Harun. The Beitrag has nothing to do with being a German citizen or not. If you are staying temporalily in Germany, you also have to pay it.

  • Reply Tugba 29/03/2017 at 13:31

    Thank you for the text . We have moved recently and we received the famous letter. But we DO NOT have a TV and not intending to get one. What happens in this case?

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 29/03/2017 at 15:19

      Hi Tugba. It doesn’t matter if you have a TV or not. They consider you can consume content with your laptop, phone, radio or tablet as well. You will have to pay that tax either way.

  • Reply Ruben 23/02/2017 at 17:00

    Hello Bastien, first of all thanks so much for all the info provided, its been really useful.

    I just received this letter in my temporary flat and I intend to pay it but Im wondering if later this summer when I move to another apartment if I will have to pay another tax, or it will be enough showing that I will be already paying it or they will know it checking my info.

    Best regards.

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 23/02/2017 at 20:44

      Hello Ruben, when you move flats, simply update your adress directly on their website to let know you are moving. There shouldn’t be any problem then.

  • Reply Sasmita 22/02/2017 at 13:54

    For the point—Prove someone already pays it for you.How can we do that ?I mean to say drop them a email or call them is it?Will it work?

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 22/02/2017 at 14:11

      Hi Sasmita. Yes, just get in touch with them to let them know the name of the person that pays it and his/her Beitragssnummer (contract ID). It’s usually enough.

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