In order to make the handling of the broadcasting contribution a little easier, we answer the most frequently asked questions below (please note that some of the links can only be provided in German):
How is the fee regulated?
With the entry into force of the amended broadcasting law from 1 January 2013, the previous broadcasting fees were replaced by a broadcasting contribution. Therefore, the fee collection centre (GEZ) was also renamed into the "ARD ZDF Deutschlandradio Beitragservice" (AZDBS).
Since January 2013, a basic flat rate for each housing unit has been calculated. This is € 17.50 per month, regardless of whether receivers are available in the apartment and are used. This amount corresponds to the previous maximum fee. I.e., for those who had already registered a TV, basically nothing changed. The contribution payment covers all possible types of use (e.g., use of radio in motor vehicles). The contribution is payable for three months each.
Who has to pay the contribution?
The contributor is the occupant of the apartment, i.e., every person of full legal age who actually lives in the flat, regardless of nationality. As delimitation problems are "preprogramed", basically every tenant and everyone who is registered in the apartment is the occupant of the apartment.
If there are several occupants, as in a shared flat/housing group, they are jointly and severally liable. This means that each of the tenants may be asked to pay the contribution and may have to pay the amount in full and for everyone; there is a liability to compensate each other. Conversely, this means that the more contributors (= not liberated) are in a shared flat, the lower the sum that each individual has to pay pro rata. It does not matter that every (co-) resident has their own rental agreement.
What is a „flat/apartment"?
Basically, each structurally completed residential unit counts as an apartment that is suitable for living or sleeping or used and can be accessed through its own entrance directly from a stairwell, an anteroom or from the outside, so not by another living space.
Which dorms count as an “apartment” in dormitories?
- Single apartments are single flats: Here the tenant must pay € 17.50 per month (exception: BAföG recipients).
- Double apartments and residential groups / shared apartments are each recognised as one apartment, meaning that only one occupant must pay € 17.50.
- In "corridor communities" (i.e., single rooms with floor kitchens and/or shared bathrooms and a floor access door) the situation is unfortunately not clear: Presumably, the "ARD ZDF Deutschlandradio Beitragservice (broadcasting contribution)" will try to rate each room as a paid apartment. In the light of the facts, in case of doubt, it is necessary to wait for individual case-decisions from the case-law in order to clarify the obligation to pay contributions.
How can I get exempted from the contribution obligation?
Those who receive social benefits can, on request, usually continue to be exempted from the obligation to pay. This applies in particular to BAföG recipients who no longer live with their parents.
The application for exemption must be submitted in writing to the competent Landesrundfunkanstalt (state broadcaster); You can also submit an application online.
The application must be accompanied by the original BAföG notification in original form or in certified copy. Anyone who lives in a shared apartment must also provide the names of his/her roommates.
By the way: Whoever receives no BAföG benefits only because his income exceeds the respective demand limit by less than € 17.50, can apply for an exemption from the contribution obligation as a special case of hardship; In this case, the rejection notice must be submitted.
For married and officially registered partnerships living in an apartment, e.g., living together in a double apartment, the BAföG exemption also applies to the other.
However, for unmarried couples living together in an apartment, the partner can be asked to pay by the "ARD ZDF Deutschlandradio Beitragservice".
All exemptions and reductions are listed in § 4 of the Rundfunkbeitragsstaatsvertrages (RBStV) (Broadcasting State Treaty).
Can I be exempted if my dorm is only my secondary residence?
No, the contribution is paid per apartment and not per person.
Are foreign students exempt from broadcasting fees?
No, there are no special regulations for foreign students, not even for scholarship holders/ students in exchange programs (e.g., Erasmus).
Are fixed-term lease agreements with a residence period of less than three months subject to contribution?
The contribution obligation begins on the first day of the tenancy and ends in accordance with the agreement in the lease. The obligation to pay contributions does not depend on whether the student complies with his registration requirement at the registration office. This also applies to foreign students who only live in a flat for a short time.
What should I do if I am contacted in writing?
The letter of the contribution service contains the request to fill in the attached answer sheet within two weeks and to send it back signed or to answer the questionnaire online.
If the person who has been contacted informs that a roommate already pays the broadcasting fee for the apartment and gives the corresponding contribution number, all details of this person will be deleted immediately. If the apartment is not yet registered to the person receiving the letter or to a roommate, you can register in this way.
How are the contributors in shared apartments selected?
The contributing residents of shared apartments are so-called joint and several debtors. This means that the broadcasting contribution may be required only once, but indiscriminately and completely by each resident. This resident then has the right to receive from the other roommates their share. It becomes more complicated when individual roommates, for example as recipients of BAföG benefits, are exempt from the obligation to pay contributions; These can then not be asked to pay.
Example: A residential community consists of four adult students, one of them being a BAföG beneficiary. One of the residential community members is named by the "ARD ZDF Deutschlandradio Beitragservice" as contributor and pays the contribution in the amount of 17,50 Euro/month. He/she can then demand from the two other contributory residential community members each 5.83 Euros (17.50 Euros/3) pro rata. The BAföG beneficiary remains exempt (see question 5).
Can residential communities determine the contribution payer?
How many people live in a household does not matter. Both singles and other living and residential communities pay only once the broadcasting contribution. Also, sub-tenants are included. Who registers the apartment, you decide yourself.
Can the landlord pay the broadcasting contribution and allocate it to the rent or running costs to the tenants proportionately?
No! This is by tenancy law not possible for the landlord. Incidentally, this would also have no effect, because the total debt ratio still exists, and the broadcasters can choose a tenant, whom they ask for payment.
How do the broadcasters get to the tenant data?
The broadcasting authorities receive the data from the registration authorities, as they transmit the data of all persons of legal age to the responsible state broadcasting company for the purpose of storing and initial data collection. These dates include, but are not limited to, name, date of birth, marital status, current and last address, and the date of moving into the apartment.
You can find out more about the reconciliation here.
In addition, the tenants themselves have information and notification obligations towards the responsible Landesrundfunkanstalten (state broadcasters -see question 11). Although a broadcaster may require information from the landlord about the tenant, but this only applies if the institution proves that she has no other way to determine the occupant of a flat.
What happens if I have already been paying the contribution?
It is assumed that all those who have paid the contribution will continue to contribute in the future. The conversion to the broadcasting contribution was therefore automatic, if no other information was provided.
In cases where there are several contributors within a housing group (= 1 x compulsory contribution), you should not rely on the "ARD ZDF Deutschlandradio Beitragservice" to get in touch and correct that. You should be active yourself.
Which information obligation do I have as a tenant?
Each tenant must register with the responsible state broadcaster and notify changes to his data. In shared apartments, this does not apply if another roommate is already registered and is a contributor. In addition, the respective Landesrundfunkanstalt may demand extensive information from each of the contributors on their data.
Can I just not pay and what happens if I do not pay?
With the household levy (obligation to contribute per apartment) now even "pessimists" can hardly avoid paying. If until now it was relatively easy to avoid paying, because the GEZ had to prove that radio receivers were available in the flat, you now have to prove yourself that it is not even the possibility to receive radio. If this is not possible, the contribution must be paid if you are not released. NOTE! Intentional or negligent failure to pay is considered a misdemeanour and can be punished with a fine.
If there is no reply from the person who has been contacted, the contribution service will send a reminder. If the person written to does not react to this, he/she will automatically become a contributor to the broadcasting fee. This means that the person gets a contribution account and is asked for payment. Even if he/she does not pay or respond, this will trigger a notification, possibly reminders, perhaps even a request for enforcement.
Can the employees of the broadcaster demand access to apartments?
No, they were never allowed and may not be allowed in the future! It is no longer necessary to enter apartments, as the contribution is levied irrespective of the number of devices or whether they actually exist.