Asylum seekers do not have to pay German broadcasting fees

Stand:
Asylum seekers living in shared accommodation do not have to pay the German television and radio licence fee ("Rundfunkbeitrag"). Those who live in their own apartment and receive certain benefits can be exempted from paying the fee.
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Every owner of an apartment who is at least 18 years old is required by law to register for the television and radio licence fee. It is sufficient for one person living in the apartment to register and pay the licence fee. For example in a flat-sharing community, it is sufficient for one roommate to register for the fee.

Asylum seekers are required to register for the licence fee when they move from shared accommodation to their own home.

As of 1 January 2020, the Contribution Service will again send letters to asylum seekers moving from shared accommodation to an apartment to clarify their obligation to pay the licence fee.

Asylum seekers living in shared accommodation do not have to register. This is because the individual rooms in these facilities are not considered as apartments.

Exemption from broadcasting licence fee possible

Asylum seekers who move into their own accommodation must register with the Broadcasting Contribution Service in any case, but if certain conditions are met, they can be exempted from the obligation to pay the fee. To do so, they must submit a request for exemption to the Broadcasting Contribution Service.

An exemption is possible if you receive:

  • benefits under the Asylum Seekers Benefits Act and/or
  • social benefits such as "Bürgergeld" (formerly known as Arbeitslosengeld II or Hartz IV).

Forms for the required application are available. You can also apply online [in German]. The application must be signed and should be sent with proof (e.g. registered mail, "Einwurfeinschreiben" in German). Copies of the relevant benefit notices must be included with the application.

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