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 Sam 26/03/2019 at 14:43

    This is a very informative post. Thank you. I have a question though. I was living with my husband for two years after which I moved to another city for work. The house I am currently living in is registered as a nebenwohnung. Will I need to pay this fee seperately for the nebenwohnung?

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 27/03/2019 at 20:39

      Hey Sam. You can apply for an exemption under certain conditions. More info on that here.

  • Reply Amit 22/03/2019 at 10:37

    I have been registered in Germany for around 9 months now. Till date have not received any letter from ARD.
    What can we do to start receiving letters? Also, if we are not paying ARD due to any reasons, will it affect our SCHUFA score?

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 24/03/2019 at 20:08

      Hey Amit. You can go on this page and use the form ” mich erstmalig für den Rundfunkbeitrag anmelden” to let them know.

  • Reply Mihail 19/03/2019 at 20:26

    I recently moved to Germany but I still have to go to register at the Town Hall. I also got a TV, I plugged it in, but it doesn’t find any channels. I was wondering if I have to pay the monthly fee first and then I will be able to watch TV, or is there always TV service?
    Thank you

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 21/03/2019 at 09:48

      Hey Mihail. No, both of them are not linked.

  • Reply Jojo 14/03/2019 at 00:14

    I started living in a small apartment in Germany and recently got the bill from Ard ZDF.
    My apartmend is a community flat share, so it’s a 3 store building with the same number, so the same adress (ex. WINDMUHLEN WEG 10 for each of the 5 apartments here)
    I wanted to know if I should still pay, even if someone is paying from the other people in the building?
    Also I am an azubi, are you aware if there is any reduction of the fee for me?

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 14/03/2019 at 09:08

      Hey Jojo. If you receive Ausbildungsgeld, then yes, you can apply for a reduction. Otherwise, the fee is to be paid per household, and not per building.

    • Reply Ezhil 25/03/2019 at 20:26

      I am staying in an share appartment.
      My friend is paying radiotax and he is about to leave this month and he deregistered it. I joined with him and shared the amount till now.
      But for the first quarter period we didn’t got any letters and we didn’t paid yet.
      1.will they send letter for Jan,Feb,march month due to him, even after deregister? Is it possible to pay after deregister.?
      2. If I want to register again, should I give the move in date as January or April? to pay for the first quarter month due.?
      4.will they send letter to me.? If the letter arrives after 4weeks, should I pay fine for the first quarter.?
      We Don’t know what to do in our case.
      Pls help in clearing​ our doubts.

      • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 27/03/2019 at 20:31

        Hey there. 1-No idea. 2-April 3-They will let you know how to pay if it is due 4-In their eyes, they only look at household level. If it has been paid for Q1, then all good. They don’t care who pays.

  • Reply Rachel 13/03/2019 at 10:33

    My landlord says he is already paying this but can not find his contribution number. Are there ways to get out of this without their number?

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 14/03/2019 at 08:53

      Hey Rachel. Well, i’m not sure it’s going to be easy. The best is to get in touch with them and ask them directly what to do in that case.

  • Reply Tommi 10/03/2019 at 17:08

    Hi everyone, hi Bastien!
    I have the following questions:
    If one has been living in Germany for a while and has never registered to the ARD ZDF and never paid anything despite the letters received, goes away (Abmeldung at the Rathaus) and wants to go back to Germany after years for e.g. working:
    -Is it possible to demonstrate that one hasn’ t been living in Germany for those years and does not have to pay for the time he wasn’t living in the country?
    -Is there a way to ‘reset’ the debt when going back to Germany, registering to the ARD ZDF and start paying from zero (having never registered to ARD ZDF before)? Isn’ t there a time after which the debt is cancelled?
    -How do I existimate how much the amount owed has grown up to now (considering also the fines due to the delay)?
    -Can one be forced to pay even if living in another country other than Germany (eg Austria or the Netherlands).
    Thank you!

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 12/03/2019 at 09:59

      Hey Tommi. All very good questions. Not sure i can answer all of them. 1- Yes i suppose. But you won’t get away from the debt you collected before, while living in Germany. 2- Can’t answer this one. That’s inner workings at the Rundfunkbeitrag collection service. 3- Refer to the monthly fee and multiply by time. Anything related to payment and fines is explained on this page.. 4- I don’t know.

  • Reply Richard 28/02/2019 at 11:44


    Thank you so much the site, it was very helpfully.
    I am came from Abroad. I live alone in my flat. I have to pay the radio tax fee, but now I got a new job opportunitites and I am move out from my flat into a Hotel room where can I register myself in. In that case, should I have to pay the Rundfunk fee?
    I think the Hotel already paid so I dont know. Should I write a mail to the company? or they will see under my new address this is a hotel?
    Thank you 🙂

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 02/03/2019 at 19:50

      Hey Richard. You have to clear this up with the hotel directly to see what their policy is.

  • Reply Rachel 26/02/2019 at 13:38

    Hi, thanks for the information.
    I have a question. I received a letter last year but my tenant at the time said he was going to take care of it and he wrote them. Apparently he was paying it for a year. Few months ago he moved out and I took over the contract of the apartment with a friend of mine. We haven’t received any letters yet… does that mean that I have to register again? And if not, do I have to contact them and will they charge me for these last months that no one payed?

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 28/02/2019 at 09:11

      Hey Rachel. You don’t have to register again in that sense but you need to get in touch with them yes, and they will probably charged for the past few months too.

  • Reply Varun 03/02/2019 at 19:49

    When is this tax to be paid? I thought that this was needed to be paid as and when they send the bill. However, they just sent me a letter asking me to pay for 3 months 52.50, along with a fine of 8 euro. Do I need to pay this amount in the beginning of the month or quarter or year?

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 08/02/2019 at 11:34

      Hey Varun. You may want to double check that but it is likely that they cant put a fine on your case if they hadn’t sent a notice to you in the first place. Check that. Payment is due as per what is mentioned on the letter you got.

      • Reply Noman Tariq 20/02/2019 at 00:38

        Hi, I lost my webcode and now I want to pay my monthly radio tax. Could you please tell me how to get webcode

        • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 24/02/2019 at 09:25

          Hey Norman. Use one of the contact forms on this page to ask for a new one.

  • Reply RG 30/01/2019 at 14:11

    I have a flat since 2014 in Germany.
    I register myself in Germany but I I wasn’t resident in Germany.
    I was resident and working in France until July 2018, pating my taxes there.
    Since July 2018, I get a job in Germany and I live in my flat in Germany.

    I get a letter few months ago.
    Do I have to pay since 2013 or since July 2018 ?
    Thank you

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 31/01/2019 at 15:27

      Hey RG. Interesting question. It seems that your flat in Germany would be considered a “Nebenwohnung” until July 2018, so you would not need to pay for before that time. Double check that yourself here: Source.

  • Reply Srinivasan Ramamurthy 29/01/2019 at 21:10

    Hi All,

    I have done online registration with bank details, its been more than one week but still i didnt get any notification on it.I am afraid I will get fine amount. If they make it delay in giving me registration number then they shd be responsible right?? Where can i find their office in Berlin??

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 31/01/2019 at 15:17

      Hey Srinivasan. They may take a bit of time to process your file so i would not worry just yet. If they want to fine you because you are late, just show them your registration confirmation.

  • Reply Matjaz 21/01/2019 at 19:39

    Hei I have one question.
    I got the letter last month ago and I filled out SEPA details and send them back the letter. But since then I haven’t got any letters from them and they didn’t even cut my money from my account. Any advice on what I should do, since I don’t have a lot of German knowledge it’s hard to go to the office and talk with them

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 24/01/2019 at 10:42

      Hey Matjaz. It may only be a matter of time until they process your file. What’s important is that you can prove you have sent back something. Did you send the letter to be delivered with signature?

  • Reply Memphis 21/01/2019 at 11:47

    Hi, I moved into a brand new building in Feb 2018 and haven’t heard from the Beitragsservice von ARD, ZDF und Deutschlandradio yet. Is it advisable to go and register on their website then or should I just wait for there eventual letter and pay 100’s of euros then?

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 24/01/2019 at 10:40

      Hey Memphis. Both options are possible. I guess you understand the outcome of both scenarii.

    • Reply Mustafa Kemal 06/04/2019 at 09:27

      Never go by yourself and register.
      Wait for them to contact you, don’t be stupid!

  • Reply Alex 18/01/2019 at 12:19

    Disgusting that this is still a thing in 2019. Same garbage in the UK, but at least there it’s still just a BS fake “tax” that you simply can ignore. The worst they can do is send round the heavies that have no right to enter your home. I’m already paying for Netflix and Amazon Prime for my entertainment and I use a small projector that doesn’t have the ability to pick up analogue or digital television broadcasts. I don’t even own a car, so no radio receiver either. €210 a year from everyone in the country? It’s nothing less than extortion perpetrated by criminals.

  • Reply sammy 17/01/2019 at 21:28

    Hello Bastien,
    Thanks for the nice post.
    I want to know two things:
    1) If there is some online portal through which I can check how much Contribution fee is pending with them by entering my beitragsnummer ?
    2) Can I write e-mail regarding that the apartment is shared with another person(giving his beitragsnummer ) and that person is paying the fees ?

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 18/01/2019 at 23:22

      Hey Sammy. 1) Not that i am aware off. Maybe try by phone?. 2) Yes.

    • Reply Anonymous 31/01/2019 at 21:50

      Hey sammy i have the same issue but i could not find any email id.if you know could you let me know too.. secondly, calling is not an option as the option of calling them i think is blocked.

  • Reply Hinna 14/01/2019 at 21:46

    Hi, what if I’m just registered at an address and not living there? Am I still obligated to pay? Secondly, if one is receiving ALG I, is there an exemption? Thanks for your help!

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 18/01/2019 at 23:07

      Hey Hinna. You still need to pay if you are registered there. ALG 1 does not constitute a reason to be exempt i’m afraid.

  • Reply Shiva 11/01/2019 at 16:49


    I got my radio tax letter a month ago and finally wrote back to them today filling all my details but by mistake, I sent the reply with my bank details in a new envelope that I bought from Deutsch Post and not in the envelope they provided. Will it be a problem?

    Thank you in advance.

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 18/01/2019 at 22:40

      Hey Shiva. I don’t know. Hopefully there was a little paper slip that came with it.

  • Reply Reda 09/01/2019 at 19:04

    Hey, I am a student in germany, I received the letter and paid for three months as 52…, and then this month I received another letter asking me to pay for another three months while I am leaving in February, I called them but they only speak German, what can I do to not pay for March!

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 10/01/2019 at 13:38

      Hey there Reda. Go there and look for the contact form “Wohnung Abmelden”, it covers this case. You will be able to let them know that you are leaving Germany then.

  • Reply AM NOEL DELLORO 09/01/2019 at 07:07

    Hi, i have the same case. I moved here in Germany since August of last year. Since then me and my roomates have been sharing the payment for the Rundfunkbeitrag regularly. The bill is registered in my name . However I am moving to a new apartment starting first of february and there i am only living alone and i can’t afford to buy a television yet. Me and my roomates agreed that i will just pay the last bill for my old apartment. So what shoul i do so that i wont be paying 2 bills at the same time after i move to a new apartment.

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 10/01/2019 at 13:28

      Hey there Noel. Go there and look for the form “Wohnung Abmelden”, it covers this case.

  • Reply Athena Ann 07/01/2019 at 23:11

    I am paying Rundfunkbeitrag regularly since six months.
    My next bill is from December 2018- February 2019. But I am changing my apartment from 1st of February .. should I pay the Rundfunkbeitrag for February for my old apartment ? How can I notify the rundfunk about this ? In my new flat ,the flatmates are already paying the rundfunk .. what should I do ?

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 08/01/2019 at 14:09

      Hey Ann. You can use the form “Wohnung Abmelden” which covers that case too. Here. Pick the optionn “Ich möchte eine Wohnung abmelden, weil… -> ich zu einem anderen Beitragszahler ziehe”.

  • Reply miche 28/12/2018 at 16:26

    How can you prove that someone else pays this TV tax for you?
    What is the process in place?

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 29/12/2018 at 20:54

      Hey Miche. You get a hold of their Beitragsnummer and a copy of your Meldebescheinigung so they can see that they live at the same address as you.

      • Reply Rahul 05/01/2019 at 19:35

        After getting these 2 documents, how exactly can I let them know ?
        The website seems to have forms in German and is asking for a 10-digit Aktenzeichen , which is not the same as 9-digit Beitragnummer.

        • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 08/01/2019 at 13:55

          Hey Rahul. The Aktenzeichen probably refers to the latest letter/communication they sent you.

  • Reply Esther Todd 21/12/2018 at 09:12

    If you are in Germany with the status of forces agreement, do you still have to pay this fee/ tax

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 22/12/2018 at 22:18

      Hey Esther. What does this mean? are you stationed in Germany as a foreign military force?

  • Reply Bo 19/12/2018 at 15:26

    My current situation is:
    I used to live in Germany as a student (04.2015-07.2016) and then I moved out. I never payed the tax, which had stacked up to 200-300 euros. Currently I am again here as a student. Before I used to have a different account number and now I have been receiving letters with another one. I have not contacted the GEZ in any way. They started sending me letters with a new number but I am registered with the same name as before. They either are assuming I am a different person with same names or maybe how they registered me in Bürgerbüro is different. Or maybe they couldnt find me when I moved out and forgot about it?
    Can I just not pay that old part from the tax I had? Is there any chance they will find out and start searching for me for the old tax amount?
    To be honest I really dont like this tax for obvious reasons.
    I was really hoping the tax would be brought down but aparently it is legal –

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 22/12/2018 at 22:16

      Hey Bo. Can’t possibly tell what they are able to do with their current info. Sorry.

      • Reply Bo 23/12/2018 at 19:22

        Then can you tell me if the fee stacks up gets bigger and bigger every month based on the amount I owe them?
        Many thanks btw the information and comments here on the site have helped me out.

        • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 26/12/2018 at 20:54

          Hey Bo. If they find you again, that’s very likely yes.

    • Reply Anastasia 26/02/2019 at 02:58

      How is the situation developing for you so far? I am in the same position: i lived in Germany for my Erasmus for half a year and now planning to move back after 3 years.
      Do you have an update on this?

  • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 08/12/2018 at 21:17

    Hey Carrie. You can use their contact form on this page to get in touch with them.

  • Reply prabha 28/11/2018 at 15:27


    I have been in Germany for almost three years and I did not get this bill so far. But about two weeks ago I got this bill and will I have to pay for the whole time that I was here. Plus, I am living in a big building where there are lots of apartments and the owner of all these houses is just one person,

  • Reply Badhri Narayanan 28/11/2018 at 10:56

    Hi, Very informative stuff posted! Love it!
    Just a small question. Me and my friend share an apartment. So that means that the radio tax money is divided between us right? But we have been receiving letters from ZDF on both of our names. The payment backlog for my friend is a huge amount and wouldn’t it be sufficient if only one from the apartment pays the entire radio tax amount? How do I make them understand that we both live in the same apartment?
    Thanks in advance!!

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 30/11/2018 at 09:33

      Hey Badhri. The fee is applied per household. How you divide the fee between everybody is completely up to you. You need to get in touch with them and let them know there was a duplicate. You can refer to the “Beitragsnummer” indicated in the letter you received.

  • Reply Alex 20/11/2018 at 18:31

    Thanks for that article. I’ve moved into my own apartment in Berlin 4 years ago and last week I received a letter from ARD asking me to pay from my entry date. I did my Anmeldung 4 years ago and all my papers are in order. I simply never received that letter until now. I think it’s a bit unfair that I have to pay more than €800 now, while it’s their mistake. I mean, I’m fine paying on a monthly basis but now the amount is a bit excessive!!
    Did anyone have or hear a similar experience?

  • Reply Dijana 16/11/2018 at 13:20

    We are here in Germany for 9 months.
    The first three months of our stay was in a hotel. Since May we live in a small apartment. So, in this letter it is calculated the amount for these three months. From the very beginning we recieved the ZDF letter. Should we pay only for the months we are staying in the apartment or for all.
    P. S we haven’t paid yet.

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 16/11/2018 at 23:15

      Hey there. I’m not sure what rules apply to hotel. You have to talk to the manager i suppose, to check if the pays the tax for his tenants.

  • Reply Dorothy 09/10/2018 at 22:36

    Hi! I have been living in Munich in a shared student dorm for two years and have never received such a letter. Does this mean someone else is paying for me?

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 10/10/2018 at 13:03

      Hey Dorothy. I don’t know. Possibly.

      • Reply shadowcat 27/10/2018 at 15:55

        does the tv charge differ from city to city? I have rented an apartment in hamburg, how much should i pay once a month? it is urgent!

        • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 30/10/2018 at 10:09

          Hey there. It’s the same rate nationwide.

  • Reply Abigail 21/09/2018 at 12:50


    It seems like GEZ/ARD had improved their chase for “missed” household this August 2018, where I’ve received there first letter after 5 years being registered in this apartment. Is it lawful from consumer/citizen perspective to ask to pay them retroactively 2 years back (almost 600 € ) ? If they detected my household just recently wouldn’t be more appropriate to charge since that date? Why would i pay such amount for the “fault” in their system?

    Many thanks

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 24/09/2018 at 22:15

      Hey Abigail. We are diving into legal territory here. A lawyer would guide you better down that road; i don’t want to give you wrong advice. sorry.

    • Reply Oscar 25/10/2018 at 18:26

      Hi Abigail,

      I have a similar case. They want me to pay two years retroactively… What did you do?

    • Reply MK 26/10/2018 at 14:40

      HI. I had encountered similar scenario. As per new law, they cannot ask you to pay for total 5 yyears. instad, you have to since january 2016.

      • Reply Alex 05/11/2018 at 08:54

        I’ve also received a letter from ARD asking for ~1000 EUR for 4 years.

        Could you please share the name of this new law?

  • Reply kfb 21/09/2018 at 08:44

    What is the case if I did not actually get the letter?

  • Reply MP 19/09/2018 at 10:19

    What if you move away from Germany, but still owe some money for the TV Tax? Are they going to try to find you in another country?

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 21/09/2018 at 09:01

      Hey MP. There is no experience i can think of on the matter. In my opinion, it’s most likely not going to happen, unless it’s a large amount but they will hunt you down if you ever come back to Germany and it will impact your SCHUFA score a lot.

  • Reply Jovanka Drinkovic Zajkov 09/09/2018 at 16:36


    I pay monthly TV tax for German channels.
    I do not have a TV and can not watch channels via antenna or cable.
    I have a laptop.
    Can I watch these channels (which is included with mtllhly TV tax) via laptop without paying extra money?
    Is it that:
    – legal
    – Do I need additional devices or apps for this?
    -What is a channel I can see?

    Thank you,

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 09/09/2018 at 23:14

      Hi Jovanka. Yes, you can any of them online. That’s perfectly legal. No need to install apps, you can just stream it in the browser. You can see the list of public channels on this page.

    • Reply Matthew 17/09/2018 at 22:00

      Anybody have experience with this: I am moving away from Germany, going back to the US. I wasn’t paying the TV tax for the first 9 months I was in Berlin, but in my current apartment, they started to send me the bill. I wrote to them, in English, explaining that I don’t speak German, don’t have a tv or a radio, and that I am moving out of the country. The sent me one big bill for over 100€. As far as I know, they know nothing about me other than this address, and my German bank account. I am closing that German bank account before I move. SO what if I just don’t pay it? Will there be a black spot on my record in Germany? Could it cause any troubles for me if I were to ever move back here again (unlikely, but you never know?) And could they hunt me down, somehow, in the US?

      • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 19/09/2018 at 09:14

        Hey Matthew. If you ever come back to Germany, that might still show in your SCHUFA record. And i guess there is a slim chance that they will chase you.

  • Reply Mohammed Elansary 01/09/2018 at 08:53

    Hello, can somebody tell me how to prove somebody else is already paying the TV fees for our apartment? Thanks in advance.

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 02/09/2018 at 19:05

      Hi Mohammed, just let them know the Beitragsnummer of the person living in the same household who’s paying for it.

    • Reply E. Crawford 05/09/2018 at 15:38

      Bastien is right — I’ve helped a number of people with this. Just call the Beitragsservice at the number on the letter you received, and tell them the Beitragsnummer of the other person — which will be on the letters/ bills that _they_ receive.

      The only problem I’ve ever had is that in a couple of cases, they didn’t seem to get it the first time — they started sending bills again — but another call fixed the problem every time.

  • Reply Jessy James 28/08/2018 at 00:13

    Can foreigners (esp students) claim back the tax money before leaving the country?

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 30/08/2018 at 10:21

      Hi Jessy. No.

  • Reply Madhu Kavali 13/08/2018 at 20:50

    Hello, very useful information indeed.
    Could you please advise me on below scenario: I came to Germany 7 years back. Until last week (12th August 2018), I have NOT received any letter from ARD regarding the fees. But, today i received a letter stating the fees that they would charge on monthly / a quarterly basis, asking me to to prove bank details so that they can debit directly. My question is:
    1. will they debit the money right from from the day i lived in Germany? If such is the case, I cannot afford to pay such a huge bill at once, and it find it completely unethical.
    Any help would be appreciated. I am bit worried in this situation


    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 14/08/2018 at 21:54

      Hey Madhu. Well, in the letter, they usually tell you how much you owe them if you have late fees, so i don’t think it will be the case for you.

      • Reply Mani 18/09/2018 at 13:24

        Same case – got the letter now after 5years. Called them and they mentioned i have to pay from 2016 onwards
        Is this true or I can still fight it over the phone to start paying only from now onwards?

        • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 19/09/2018 at 09:18

          Hey Mani. I have no idea. It seems that there is no rule from my small knowledge on the matter. I guess it doesn’t hurt to try.

        • Reply NAVEEN VISHNOI 03/10/2018 at 12:16

          I have also received a letter in Sep18. Letter does not state any amount due, and exactly same content what Madhu has received. SO I am not sure what to do with it.

          • Jack 07/10/2018 at 19:29

            Hi there! Did you figure out what to do? I am in similar shoes:) thanks in advance.

          • Nas 25/10/2018 at 22:22

            Same problem here, any updates guys ?

          • George 02/02/2019 at 14:36

            Any updates?

    • Reply Andre 20/08/2018 at 16:21


      Excellent article.

      One question, can we pay the rundfunkbeitrag with an european bank account? In my case Portuguese?

      Or do we really need to have a german bank account?


  • Reply Mohit Singhal 08/08/2018 at 11:51


    My owner is already paying the RADIO Fees and he told me to merge my beitrag number with his number so that i should not pay the double fees for the apartment. I am not getting the option to merge my number with his. Could you please help me with the merging process where I add my beitrag number with his number.

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 08/08/2018 at 16:32

      Hi Mohit. I don’t think it’s quite merging, but simply let them know that your landlord has paid the fees already, with his Beitragnummer.

  • Reply DS 03/08/2018 at 17:04

    Hi ,

    I am paying ARD in my current house, now I am moving to a new apartment, the ARD comes in my name, what do I need to do to de register ARD from my name in the previous apartmrnt?

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 06/08/2018 at 22:08

      Hi Deborah. Tell them you move places.

  • Reply Sergio 31/07/2018 at 14:45

    Hi, excellent website!

    Me and my partner have both been paying this tax for 4 years, we didn’t know it was only 1 bill per household! (we have shared the flat for 4 years)
    Are there any precedents of people claiming back the money in retrospective for similar cases than mine?

    Thanks for your help!

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 31/07/2018 at 22:41

      Hey Sergio. I haven’t heard of such cases before although they should have told one of you that it’s only one “Beitrag” per household. They don’t have any form for this on their website, so a good ol’ letter will probably be the first step. Good luck. That’s a good pile of cash!

  • Reply Samy 27/07/2018 at 18:28

    Hi, I am in Munich Since 1st of Jan 2018, now i have received the letter from ARD for Jan 1st to May 31st as 157.50Euro. But it suppose to be 17.5 * 5 = 87.5 right? Why 157.50? Thanks in advance for your support.

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 27/07/2018 at 22:36

      Hi Samy. No idea. Best is to ask them directly.

  • Reply Binod Timalsina 23/07/2018 at 08:52

    Before one year i received a letter of 650 euro debts from last 2 years from Tv Radio.I had paid that amount from online. After that i thought that fee is paid by my friend with whom i sam sharing my room. I didnot care about those letters but now again i receive the letter of 291 euro and now i am afraid wether they will take action on me ? They have send me a letter and mentioned that i am abemeldet. What can i do now to solve my problem? Please give me a suggestion. Will they send me back to my country or put me in jail or take something negative action on me??

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 23/07/2018 at 15:01

      Hi Binod. Sorry, i don’t really understand full. You need to let them know that the person you are sharing a household has paid already. What’s the issue there?

  • Reply Dammy 14/07/2018 at 00:47

    Hello, please does ARD send a reply when they receive payments because i made an online transfer to ARD’s account about a month ago with my ARD number as the reference and i have been expecting a confirmation. Thank you

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 14/07/2018 at 10:57

      Hi Dammy. Well, they don’t send you a confirmation but they don’t send you letters to ask you to pay either…

  • Reply Andreia 21/06/2018 at 16:08

    Hi, how can I notify that my flat mate already pay this tax?
    Any specific letter template?

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 22/06/2018 at 14:24

      Hi Andreia. This one would work with changing dates and adjusting details to fit your situation. Hope this helps.

  • Reply Bella 10/05/2018 at 10:44

    hallo, I want to ask you if my flatmate has already registered in GEZ, do I need too register myself too?

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 15/05/2018 at 21:40

      Hi Bella. No.

    • Reply Shiva 23/05/2018 at 12:49

      hello! I have been in Germany since september 2016. I never received any letters from them? What should i do now? Please reply! Thanks!

  • Reply Hzé 03/05/2018 at 18:31


    I am a language assistant in Germany since Ocotber 2017 and I will leave this month.
    I received two letters that I have ignored because my roommate told me that was not important ; we do not have a tv, radio…
    I have seen your article last month and since that time, I am afraid to receive a fine. I have asked my tutor, who is German and she told me that I did not have to pay because I am staying a “short-term”. She has affirmed that she did not have pay during years…


  • Reply Sarah Madden 02/05/2018 at 14:36

    Hello, do you know if I change address via the burgeramt if ARD will be notified or I need to contact them? I’m already paying but in my old address

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 03/05/2018 at 22:18

      Hi Sarah. You should notify them that you have changed address to avoid paying double fees.

  • Reply Ahmed Hegazi 28/04/2018 at 00:13


    I am almost a year in Berlin, and I never received a letter from them, what should I do?
    as I don’t want to receive a big amount or face jail for that.

    thank you,

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 30/04/2018 at 09:13

      Hi Ahmed. It’s up to them to notify you about this so i don’t think you should worry for now in my opinion.

  • Reply Valentin Hamzic 08/03/2018 at 20:03

    I come back in Germany 4 months ago and i was in my home country for 1 year ! Before that i was working in Belgium by German company and i had adress signed in Germany also , that so that German tv tax was coming all the time on adress and i didnt know that untill i moved to my country and after few months my college bring me few letters from GERMAN TV TAX that i need to pay from 200 to 390 euros plus when i come back i barrely opened bank account because they said im on SCHUFA negativ ! i paid everything offcourse and SCHUFA said i will be deleted from their database because they ordered ARREST for me because they dont know where am i or do i exist and now i answered them and its different ! But they will have my info for 3 years also ! Now i dont understand them , can i normally take credit and what so ever ? Am i deleted from Schufa and now have positiv entrance ! Please help me i need to get a credit for auto

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 09/03/2018 at 09:43

      Hi Valentin. You can check for yourself how your SCHUFA score looks like. Here is more info.

  • Reply Robert 08/03/2018 at 17:08

    Anyone who willingly pays this now is a fool. If you already are paying you should stop and if you are thinking about starting to pay, don’t.
    The German TV license in its current form is not only a violation of German law but it is also a violation of Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights (look it up), which interestingly enough is only valid in its English and French translations.

    The issue with the German TV licence currently stands before the European Court of Justice (C-492/17) as well as the German Constitutional Court. This tax, which German courts have declared is not a tax but rather a fee, because it would be illegal if it were a tax, is bound to be smacked down by the the European Court of Justice, so anyone who is paying now is just wasting their money.

    • Reply Abbasi 15/03/2018 at 19:42

      can you please give me a reference for what you are saying

    • Reply Eva Jensterle 08/06/2018 at 15:34

      Interesting. I still feel paranoid for not paying. I mean my boyfriend and I just registered in an apartment without TV or Radio and both received 17,50eur bill !! Both! Does that mean we both have to pay?! It’s so ridiculous. I wouldn’t mind if it was 1 or 2eur, but nearly 18eur a month for something you’re not watching or listening since years is a pure rip off. So Robert your comment is interesting, but how legit is it?

      • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 22/06/2018 at 01:04

        Only one of you has to pay for the household. one household = one bill.

  • Reply siebe meeusen 07/03/2018 at 09:50


    First of all, thank you for this website. It has been amazing and helped me through a lot.
    I moved in last month in a WG with some other people, and yesterday I received a lettre to pay for the TV,radio,..
    As you mentioned in your post, you can prove that someone is already paying it. Which is the case.

    How do I prove this? Just a lettre?
    What do I need?

    Thanks in advance


    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 07/03/2018 at 17:31

      Hi Siebe. Just send them the reference number of his/her contract to them.

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