Have you noticed more postal mail recently? Your insurance company, your private retirement fund and heaven knows whoever else you are connected to via banking, is obligated to inform you of the coming changes. The changes are about SEPA (Single European Payments Area) as well as the GEZ (Gebühreneinzugszentrale Köln).
SEPA, the new unified European bank coding, requires your changeover to a unified bank account and bank number.
Starting February 2014, all companies have to switch from the current account + bank number system to the new unified number system with IBAN (International Bank Account Number) and BIC (Bank Identifier Code).
If you have a standing bank order, you will receive a letter to confirm your new IBAN + BIC for this order. If you don’t do anything, the company withdrawing money from your bank account will assume the information is correct, and change to these new numbers by February 2014.
As a private person, you may opt to continue using the current number system before you have to switch – no later than February 2016.
GEZ (Gebühreneinzugszentrale Köln) charges you a monthly fee for receiving German television and radio programs.
The payment conditions have changed.
In the past, you had to register with GEZ if you had a television or radio at home. Only when you registered, you received an invoice of 17,98 Euro per month.
Since 2013, the fee is a lump sum fee per household. So whether you are registered with GEZ or not, you have to pay the monthly fee.
Those of you who have received a notification and were not registered before, are now being asked to register. If you do not react, you get a reminder and finally will be registered automatically.
No way around this fee… even if you only watch/listen programs from abroad.