Your position in the website
- Who has to pay licence fees?
- How high are the licence fees for radio and television?
- Why are radio and television licence fees in Switzerland higher than in other European countries?
- Who is responsible for collecting licence fees?
- Can I stop paying licence fees if I don't like the services any more?
- Do I still have to pay licence fees even if I only watch foreign programmes via satellite?
- Do I have to pay licence fees if I only receive radio and television services via computer (live streaming)?
- Do I have to register my car radio?
- Do I have to pay additional licence fees for radio and television at my holiday home?
- Do I have to pay licence fees in addition to paying for my cable TV connection?
- I get supplementary benefits. What do I have to do to be exempted from paying licence fees?
1. Who has to pay licence fees?
People who live in Switzerland and receive radio or television services are required by the Federal Radio and Television Act (RTVA) to pay licence fees, regardless of which programmes they watch or listen to, and no matter how they watch or listen (terrestrial, cable, satellite, via the phone line, on their mobile phone or via the Internet). Think of it this way: you may only drive a car if you have passed your driving test, and you may only listen to the radio or watch TV if you have paid your licence fee. And just as we are all free to decide which car to buy, we are all free to decide whether we watch or listen to programmes via cable, satellite, terrestrial, by phone or on the Internet. The only people who may be exempted are those who are eligible for AHV (state pension) and IV (disability) payments and receive benefits under the Federal law on supplementary benefits to old age, survivors' and disability insurance.
2. How high are the licence fees for radio and television?
Private individuals pay a licence fee of CHF 165.00 a year for radio listening, plus CHF 286.10 a year for television reception.
Fees for business and commercial reception are given in the table on the Billag AG website (www.billag.com)
3. Why are radio and television licence fees in Switzerland higher than in other European countries?
SRG SSR produces radio and TV services of equal quality in all four of the country's language regions. This reflects the political will to guarantee public service broadcasting for all. The SRG SSR offering currently comprises 7 television channels and 17 radio stations. This is a relatively high number for a small country like Switzerland, but it is absolutely necessary if we consider domestic competition among radio broadcasters and foreign competition where television services are concerned. In other European countries – many of which have only one national language – licence fees are spread across a much higher number of households, meaning that the fees paid by the individual are lower. Another factor is that some countries divert a share of tax revenues into supporting state broadcasters.
4. Who is responsible for collecting licence fees?
Billag AG is responsible for collecting licence fees. Registration and de-registration forms, as well as change of address notifications, can be found on the Billag website at www.billag.com.
5. Can I stop paying licence fees if I don't like the services any more?
You are obliged to register and to pay licence fees as long as you own a functioning radio and/or television set. If you do not pay licence fees, you will be watching and listening to programmes illegally; you will receive a reminder from Billag AG and may even be taken to court. If you de-register yourself yet continue to own functioning radio or television sets, you are committing a punishable offence under Article 68 of the current Radio and Television Act (RTVA).
6. Do I still have to pay licence fees even if I only watch foreign programmes via satellite?
Licence fees are paid to the federal government in order that radio and television services can be received. Which services you receive – and how – is irrelevant.
7. Do I have to pay licence fees if I only receive radio and television services via computer (live streaming)?
In principle, you must also register and pay licence fees if you receive radio and television services in this way. However, if you have already registered your conventional radio and/or television set, you do not have to register again to receive services via your computer, because licence fees are paid on a per-household basis. Anyone who has registered neither a radio nor a television set must take action under the following circumstances:
- Radio reception: internet access via ISDN or broadband connection (e.g. DSL, cable television network, etc.), reception using the relevant software (such as Mediaplayer, RealOne Player).
- Television reception: internet access via broadband connection (e.g. DSL, cable television network), reception using the relevant software (such as Mediaplayer, RealOne Player); fee-based subscription to receive television services, or registration with a provider that offers free access to TV channels.
You must register and pay licence fees to listen to radio stations, even if you use only your car radio to do so. However, if your household is already registered, your car radio is also covered.
9. Do I have to pay additional licence fees for radio and television at my holiday home?
If your holiday home is not rented out to anyone else, radio and television sets are covered by your registration as a private individual for your usual place of residence. However, if you rent out your holiday property, you must pay the licence fees that apply to commercial reception. Please refer to the table of licence fees on the Billag AG website: www.billag.com.
10. Do I have to pay licence fees in addition to paying for my cable TV connection?
The charges that you pay for cable TV have nothing to do with the licence fee. The services proved by the cable network are based on a contract, governed by private law, that you enter into with the cable network operator. Under this contract, you receive services of a certain quality, delivered to your home. Licence fees, on the other hand, are owed to the federal government if you own a functioning radio and/or television set.
11. I get supplementary benefits. What do I have to do to be exempted from paying licence fees?
Persons receiving supplementary benefits from the federal government in addition to their AHV (state) or IV (disability) pension are exempted from the obligation to pay licence fees. To claim this exemption, you must submit a written application to Billag AG, enclosing confirmation from the Ausgleichskasse equalization fund that you receive supplementary benefits.