Questions & Answers CT 3a

What is Common Tariff 3a (CT3a)?

CT 3a regulates how much you have to pay to play background music on your business premises, for example, or to run films and TV broadcasts on screens there. The fees you pay are distributed to the composers, lyricists or performers of the music, and to the producers, screenplay writers and actors of the films and broadcasts.


In Switzerland, artists, producers and screenplay writers are represented by the five Swiss copyright collecting societies. Since CT 3a is by definition a "common" tariff, you will receive a single invoice, and from SUISA. By paying SUISA's invoice, the claims of all five collecting societies deriving from CT 3a are extinguished.



Due to official orders regarding Covid-19, I have had to close my business temporarily and have not been using any music. Do I still have to pay?

SUISA is adapting its processes to the extraordinary circumstances to benefit its licensees. In these cases, copyright fees will not be charged for usage that is proven not to have taken place.


Please inform us of the dates that your business was closed using the customer portal:


  • Use the customer portal to inform us of the details. 
  • Please create a separate entry on the customer portal for each closure. We therefore require one entry per closure from customers who have closed and reopened multiple times. 
  • Please note that reimbursement is granted only if no employees were on site and there was no use of music for telephone waiting or in company vehicles.


When we have checked your submission, you will receive a credit in line with Common Tariff 3a. The value of this credit may vary according to the goodwill applied during the Covid-19 situation. The credit will be deducted from your annual invoice for 2022. If a customer has already received their new invoice for 2021, we are only able to apply this credit to the subsequent 2022 invoice, even if the customer continues to enter details for 2020 on the portal up until 31 May 2021.



Who has to pay CT 3a fees?

You have to pay fees under CT 3a if at least one of the following circumstances applies:

  • you play background music in your restaurant, shop or in any place on your commercial premises;
  • you run films, radio or TV broadcasts on your premises;
  • you operate a guesthouse, holiday home, patient rooms or the like, and have equipped the rooms with devices to play music or show films and radio and TV broadcasts;
  • you play music on your telephone waiting loop.


In a nutshell, since composers, lyricists, performing artists, screenplay writers and producers are by law entitled to remuneration for the use of their works and performances, whenever you use their works and performances you have to pay licence fees.



From what size floor area do I have to pay? What if I run background music on an area smaller than 1000 m2?

There are no exceptions for small shops. As soon as you play background music or films and TV broadcasts on your commercial premises you are liable for fees under CT 3a. In exchange, you have access to the world repertoire of music for a very low price.



Where do I need to pay CT 3a?

Companies and organisations pay license fees according to CT 3a if they make music and/or videos available to employees, customers, guests, etc. at any of the following locations:


  • Telephone waiting loop
  • Shop
  • Hairdresser’s salon
  • Gastronomy (restaurants, bars, etc.)
  • Lift on company property
  • Office
  • Waiting room in a doctor’s surgery or official office
  • Company car/van
  • Furnished apartments/rooms rented for commercial purposes e.g. holiday homes, patient rooms, Airbnb, student rooms, apartment hotels
  • Foyer of a company building
  • Car park
  • Workshop
  • Exhibition
  • Kiosk
  • Ski lift station
  • Ice rink or sports field
  • Recreation rooms in institutions
  • Youth centre




Do I have to contact SUISA when I use music in public, or will SUISA contact me?

You must contact SUISA of your own initiative; the simplest way to do so is online at If you use music without a licence from SUISA, SUISA can charge double for your unlicensed use. If you have forgotten to declare usage in the past, there will be no consequences as long as you contact us promptly. We will invoice you at the normal CT 3a rate for your prior unlicensed usage.



How much do I have to pay under CT 3a?

The rates vary depending on the surface area where you play background music or show films and broadcasts. The surface areas per location, including any guestrooms, are added together. If a customer operates several locations (business premises, shops, factories, branches, etc.), remuneration is due separately for each location.


For background music, the fee for a surface area of 1000 m2 or less is CHF 19.20 per month (plus VAT). For the use of audiovisual works and performances (films and TV broadcasts), the fee for a surface area of 1000 m2 or less is CHF 20.80 per month (plus VAT). For larger areas, the fees under point 6 of the Tariff are payable additionally. These flat fees also apply to waiting loops based on the number of telephone lines.


Thus for a very low price, CT 3a gives you access to the world repertoire of music.



How often does SUISA invoice fees under this Tariff?

SUISA invoices CT 3a fees once a year. As a rule, the licence is granted for a full calendar year (1.1. to 31.12) and corresponds to twelve times the monthly fee. For businesses or holiday homes that do not play background music or films all year round, the fee is only charged for the relevant number of months.


Unless you communicate any changes to SUISA, you will be invoiced on the same basis the following year. For one-off uses (e.g. fairground stands or sports events limited in time), individual invoices will be issued for the relevant time frame; fractions of a month count as a full month. In any event, the minimum charge is equal to one month's fee.



I forgot to notify some relevant changes to SUISA and have meanwhile received the invoice. Do I have to pay it? How should I proceed?

Please inform SUISA of the changes via portal. According to the tariff, applications for reimbursement for a given year generally have to be submitted by 15 January of the following year. In light of the difficult situation, the deadline is extended this year to 31 May 2021. If you have not paid your invoice yet, we will cancel it and issue a new one. If you have already paid the invoice, we will refund the difference or carry it forward to the next invoice.



I already pay the general radio and TV reception fee, why must I also pay SUISA?

The fees specified by the Radio and Television Act (RTVA) serve to secure independent radio and TV broadcasting in Switzerland. The Federal Office of Communications (OFCOM) distributes the proceeds to the SRG and to the other radio and TV broadcasters with a performance mandate which use them to finance their broadcasting activities.


The licence fees collected by SUISA are owed to the composers, lyricists and performers of the music and to the producers, screenwriters and actors of the films and broadcasts. All the latter are entitled to remuneration whenever their works and performances are used outside the private sphere, e.g. as background music in stores, restaurants, lounges, working areas or as music for telephone loops. 



I do not have to pay any reception fees. Does that apply by analogy to the fees invoiced by SUISA under CT 3a?

No, CT 3a licence fees are payable irrespective of the radio and TV reception fee. Even if a business does not have to pay the radio and TV reception fee - e.g. because its annual sales are less than CHF 500,000 - licence fees are due under CT 3a for music, films or TV broadcasts played outside the private sphere.



Can I obtain an exemption from CT 3a?

There are no exemptions. Whoever uses music or audiovisual works must pay the fees specified in the tariff because the rightholders are by law entitled to remuneration.



So far I have paid Billag - do I have to pay SUISA now?

Yes. Billag will be collecting the licence fees on behalf of SUISA until the end of 2018. As of 1 January 2019, SUISA will collect the CT 3a licence fees directly.



I have already paid for the CDs that I play in my shop. Why should I pay SUISA on top?

When you buy a CD, you acquire the right to play it in your private sphere, i.e. at home or in your car. Use outside the private sphere is not included in the price of the CD. To play the CD elsewhere, you have to pay a licence fee under CT 3a.



Does usage in holiday homes or guestrooms qualify as private use?

No. If the holiday home or guestroom is rented and equipped with the necessary devices, the lessor/landlord must pay licence fees in accordance with CT 3a.



I do not only play recorded music on my premises, sometimes I offer live music too.  Is the tariff the same?

No. There are different tariffs for live music. Just as there are many possible uses of music, there are several different tariffs for the individual uses. 



Do I have to indicate the music I play? Is a list of tracks necessary?

No. It is not.


If you play background music on your business premises or show broadcasts such as football matches or series, you need a licence under Common Tariff 3a. The same applies to the use of music on hold on your telephone lines.

0844 234 234
(8 cents per minute)

Monday - Friday:
9 a.m. - 12 p.m. / 1:30 p.m. - 5 p.m.

Customer portal

  • registration
  • cancellation
  • questions etc.

Common Tariff 3a: Application




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