Public TV and radio is financed primarily by TV and radio licence fees. The TV and radio licence fee is made up of the basic fee and the TV licence fee.
Whoever is in possession of a radio receiver device (radio, television, new type of radio receiver device) to receive broadcasting signals has to register the device and to pay the fees to the GEZ (Fee collection centre of the public broadcasting institution in the Federal Republic of Germany). The GEZ is also responsible if you have to re-register as a result of a change in address (Adressänderung) or deregistration of devices.
A private person, who keeps radios and/or television sets to receive broadcasting signals, generally only has to pay the TV and radio licence fees for one radio and one television set. Second devices (e.g. second television set, car radio in privately used vehicle) are free of charge. Private persons only have to pay separate charges for so-called new types of radio receiver devices, such as computers or mobile phones with which radio programs can be received without a radio receiver, e.g. through the internet, if they have neither a registered (car) radio nor a registered television set. Until the end of 2012, only the basic fee has to be paid for one or more new types of radio receiver devices.
In a private household, spouses are assessed jointly for devices which are used solely for private use with regard to the TV and radio licence fee, so that only one of the two spouses has to register the radio receiver devices. The same also applies to partners in a non-marital cohabitation and partners of registered civil partnerships according to jurisdiction passed by the Baden-Württemberg Higher Administrative Court (Verwaltungsgerichtshof) pursuant to § 1 Para. 1 of the law on civil partnerships (LPartG). According to this, one generally assumes that radios and TV sets for private purposes are kept by both partners jointly to receive broadcasting signals. It follows therefore that a radio installed in a car registered in the name of the partner of such a civil partnership is also considered as a fee-exempted second device, if the radio receiver devices existing in the joint residence have been registered by the other partner in the civil partnership.
Household members (e.g. children, grandparents) have to register devices themselves if they have their own income which is more than the standard rate of supplementary benefits. Lodgers or members of a shared flat or house have to pay TV and radio licence fees for their own radios and TVs in their own living space or in their vehicles.
Note: Upon application, recipients of social benefits as well as persons with specific disabilities are exempt from the duty to pay TV and radio licence fees. In addition, the relevant responsible Federal State Broadcasting Corporation can exempt individual owners of a TV set or radio from the duty to pay charges (Befreiung von der Rundfunkgebühr) in special cases of hardship.
Radios in secondary and holiday homes or mobile homes are subject to charges, regardless whether devices have been registered at the principle residence.
Companies, businesses or institutions with non-profitable or charitable purposes can apply for exemption from the charges at the responsible Federal State Broadcasting Corporation under certain conditions. You can obtain more information from the GEZ.
All owners of radios and TV sets are obliged in principle to pay TV and radio licence fees. Everyone who keeps a radio receiver to receive broadcasting signals is an owner of a radio/TV set. Even computers or mobile telephones, with which radio programs can be played back without a radio receiver, e.g. solely through the internet, are radio receiver devices (so-called new type of radio receiver devices). However TV and radio licence fees are only incurred fur such new types of radio receiver devices if a radio or television set has not yet been registered.
An informal letter is enough to register your radio and/or television set. You can send this by post (GEZ, 50656 Köln) or by fax (registrations from private households under 018 59995 0105, business registration under 018 59995 0625) to the GEZ.
The registration form can be downloaded from the GEZ website. You can also register electronically through the internet. In addition, the municipal offices, banks and saving banks also have the registration forms of the GEZ on display.
According to the law, the obligation to pay charges is from the first day of the month in which the radio receiver devices was kept for reception. According to this, registration has to be carried out immediately.
The duty to pay charges ends with the expiry of the month in which the radio receiver devices was kept for reception ends and has been informed to the GEZ. Deregistration can be carried out informally in writing. It is not possible to backdate a deregistration.
The TV and radio licence fee is monthly:
- for radio: 5.76 euros (basic fee)
- for television: 17.98 euros (basic fee plus television fee)
- for radio and television: 17.98 euros (basic fee plus television fee)
- for a PC which is able to access the internet (if there is neither a radio nor a television set in the private household): 5.76 euros
The payment of the fee is not monthly but optionally
- in the middle of three months (statutory payment),
- quarterly in advance,
- every six months in advance or
- annually in advance.