Changes to the Swiss TV licence fee: what you need to know

Changes to the Swiss TV licence fee: what you need to know
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As of January 1st 2019, a new regime for Switzerland’s compulsory TV and radio licence fee will come into force. Here are the key points.

1) A compulsory, universal fee

As of 2019, all households in Switzerland will have to pay a TV and radio licence fee. This money is used to subsidise the Swiss Broadcasting Corporation and a range of private regional radio and TV channels.

Previously, only households with traditional devices like televisions and radios had to pay this fee. From next year, however, payment of the new 'device-independent' fee will be universal and compulsory. This is based on the idea that new technologies including smartphones, computers and tablets can also be used to watch television and listen to radio alongside traditional technologies.

2) A cheaper fee

In 2018, households had to pay a licence fee of 451 Swiss francs (€400) regardless of how many residents they have. From 2019, the new fee is 365 francs.

Read also: Swiss vote against plan to scrap compulsory TV licence fee

Companies with a turnover of over 500,000 Swiss francs a year also have to pay the television and radio fee even if they use no televisions or radios. See here for more information on company charges.

3) A name change

Collection of household licence fees will now be carried out by Swiss company SERAFE, and not Billag as was previously the case.

For companies, the Swiss Federal Tax Administration will be collecting fees.

4) Very few exemptions

Currently, around 10 percent of Swiss households do not pay a licence fee. But that number is set to become a lot smaller in future as only households that can demonstrate they don’t have a television, radio, smartphone or other electronic device with internet access will be exempt.

Other exemptions cover households where at least one person is receiving extra pension (AHV/AVS) or disability insurance (IV/AI) support from their local commune. Diplomats are also exempt.

5) Two bills in 2019

To ensure a constant flow of money to broadcasters, the collection company SERAFE will divide Swiss households into 12 billing groups, with one group for each of the month of the year. For administrative reasons, most households will actually receive two bills in 2019 while the new system is being rolled out.

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