NHK Fees: Avoid the Collector & Cancel Your Contract!

How to avoid NHK Payment 4-coma manga

You’d be hard pressed to find a single person who enjoys a visit from the NHK fee collector. If you’ve experienced this yourself or read horror stories on the internet, know that there are easy ways to avoid paying and even cancel your current contract! If you want to know how to duck and dodge NHK like a pro, keep reading.

Updated: September 10th, 2020

Why does Japan say I have to pay for NHK?

broadcast subscription fee system explainedNHK (Nihon Housou Kyoukai), Japan Broadcasting Association, is Japan’s national public broadcasting organization that covers TV and radio. For a lot of people, NHK is a popular source for entertainment and news; if you’re reading this article, there’s a good chance you’re not one of those people.

Many of Japan’s oldest and most famous television traditions are created and broadcast by NHK. These programs (excluding international broadcasts) are funded by mandatory TV licensing fees that each household in Japan must pay. To collect these fees, NHK agents go door to door to make sure that everyone is contributing. If you’ve never paid NHK, a collector will graciously help you set up payment, even if your TV can’t receive NHK broadcasts.

Disclaimer: It’s important to mention that if you do actually watch or listen to NHK and benefit from their programming, we recommend doing the right thing and paying the fees.


How much are NHK subscription fees?

man wondering about moneyThere are three levels of fees depending on your television’s ability to receive broadcasts. (Prices are correct at time of publication and apply to all residents of Japan except Okinawa, who have to pay about double the amounts listed below.)

Basic Broadcast Fee (“Chijou Keiyaku”)

Televisions that can receive only basic ground cable broadcasting are charged the “basic broadcast” fee. This fee is ¥1,260 / month (credit card) or ¥1,310 / month (bank transfer). A fee reduction is applied for paying 6 months / one year up front.

Satellite Broadcast Fee (“Eisei Keiyaku”)

Televisions that can receive satellite services as well as regular broadcasts are charged the satellite broadcast fee. This fee is ¥2,230 / month (credit card) or ¥2,280 / month (bank transfer). A fee reduction is applied for paying 6 months / one year up front.

Special Contact Fee (“Tokubetsu Keiyaku”)

If Mt. Fuji is standing between your TV and NHK’s signal, there is also a “special contact” fee. For anyone who lives in an area where receiving capabilities are limited by “natural terrain,” the discounted fee is ¥985 / month (credit card) or ¥1,035 (bank transfer) / month.


Is it illegal to refuse to pay NHK? Will I get in trouble?

TV = contractYou can save over ¥25,000 each year by not paying NHK fees! But how do you keep that money in your pocket?

Recently, refusing to pay NHK fees has gotten a good deal of press (Japanese link) as several Japanese citizens were charged huge fines for ducking and dodging the NHK collector. This has made many people, especially foreigners, cautious about not paying their NHK subscription fees. However, there are several reasons why these types of penalties shouldn’t be a concern if you have the proper knowledge.

NHK Fee Laws

The Broadcast Act states that households with TVs must sign up for NHK services. However, there is a gray area in the language where they make special exceptions for “monitors with built-in speakers,” like those used primarily for gaming or as extra computer screens. This distinguishes TV monitors from active TVs. While the law does state that people with TVs have to pay, by distinguishing your device as only a “monitor,” the NHK collector can’t make you pay the fee*.

Also, while there is a penalty or possible fine for refusing to pay after a contract is signed, you must be the one to sign the contract. If you do not sign the contract, there is no legal ground for fines or imprisonment as you’re not technically delinquent on any payments.

* Important: There are likely going to be upcoming changes to the law that may put smartphones and other devices under the umbrella of TVs. Currently, only “1seg”-capable phones are included under this fee requirement. (If you have a flip-phone or an Android model that can receive TV signals, NHK says you need to pay. If you have an iPhone, you don’t need to pay.)

NHK Fee Collector Tricks

Oftentimes, NHK collectors will try to convince you that there is a law legally binding you to sign the contract. Do not be fooled! If you don’t sign a contract, there is no way they can force you to pay the fee. Once you sign the contract though, you must pay or you could be subject to punishment under the law.


5 Strategies for avoiding the NHK fee collector

What are some ways to avoid paying the NHK fee? After combing through Japanese forums, we’ve compiled five strategies that have worked for residents of Japan.

Strategy #1: Tell the NHK collector you can’t even watch NHK

Tell them you can't even watch NHKExplain that you don’t own a TV, 1seg-capable smartphone, or a car navigation system that can broadcast TV programming.

What to say: テレビみれません (terebi miremasen) = I can’t watch TV.


Strategy #2: Don’t let the NHK collector in

Do not let them inAgents are on a mission and can be aggressive. They will try to look inside your house to see if you have a TV in plain site. They also come with many strategies up their sleeves, like knocking at inopportune times, especially right after you’ve moved or late at night. This is so they can catch you when you’re not expecting them, or possibly feeling a bit scatterbrained or nervous.

Remember, they do not have the right to enter your property or search your home. Whatever you do, DON’T let them inside the house!


Strategy #3: Tell the NHK collector you’re a “friend” of the resident

Tell them you're a "friend" of the resident.If you happen to open your door to an NHK agent, pretend you’re a “visiting friend,” and can, therefore, make no financial decisions for the household.

What to say: わたしはともだちです (watashi-wa tomodachi desu) = I am a friend.


Strategy #4: Pretend you’re not home

If you happen to live in a building with a front entrance buzzer or you can see the NHK collector through your front door peephole, it’s best to simply not answer.

Pretend you're not home. Talk in language they wouldn't understand.

Strategy #5: Play the “Dumb Foreigner” card

If you speak a foreign language other than English, try using it to convince the NHK collector that you don’t understand what they’re asking about. This can be an effective way of avoiding a conversation and make them leave quickly.

While talking to collectors in English used to be enough to scare them off, the influx of expats into metropolitan areas has caused NHK to hire English-speaking staff — even if the collector leaves the first time, they’re likely to come back with an English-speaking agent.


When none of these strategies work

If all else fails, continue to tell the collector that you have no legal obligation to pay, because you don’t have a TV. They may say that it doesn’t matter, but it does.

Bonus Tip: If you own a television, it’s best to keep it in a place where it can’t be seen from the front door.


How to get out of your NHK subscription contract

Want to cancel your subscription?

Finally, of course, if you’ve already signed up you can always cancel, though it may be difficult. You can cancel by calling or mailing in a cancellation form to NHK headquarters. 

Step #1: Call NHK

Tell NHK that you no longer have any equipment to watch the broadcast, and ask them to send you a cancellation form called a kaiyaku tsūchi naiyō shōmei (放送受信契約解約届). You may be asked to submit proof that you no longer have a TV or any other equipment that can receive NHK broadcasting.

NHK Customer Service: 0120-151515 (9:00 – 20:00)

Step #2: Fill in the paper

If you have cleared the first step, NHK will send you a cancellation form. Fill it in with your information, and mail it back to them. 

Step #3: Done!

If successful, NHK should:

  • Stop deducting money from your account
  • Stop sending you a monthly invoice for payment

Alternative: Mail-in Your Cancellation Form

You can also try canceling your NHK subscription by sending a cancellation notice called a kaiyaku tsūchi (解約通知) through the mail, along with a certification of contents. Try to look up Google for a template with the keyword “解約通知 内容証明 NHK,” Kaiyaku tsūchi naiyō shōmei NHK. 

Note: Although stopping the payment or blocking the transaction may be one way to stop NHK from getting your money, it’s best to go through the official cancellation procedure to ensure there are no unexpected issues later on. 

If you’ve already signed up, you can always cancel, though it may be difficult. To cancel, you need to call and mail in a form to NHK headquarters.

Step #1: Call NHK

Tell them that you no longer have any equipment to watch NHK broadcasting, and ask them to send you a cancellation paper. You may be asked to submit proof that you no longer have a TV or any other equipment. How can you prove this? Based on our research, a receipt showing that you sold the TV, donated it, or hauled it to the dump is likely the only documents NHK will accept.

NHK Customer service: 0120-151515 (hours 9:00 – 20:00)

Step #2: Fill out the paperwork

If you have cleared the first step, NHK will send you a cancellation form. Fill out your information, and mail it back to them. Once you’ve dropped the envelope in the red postal box, you’re off the hook!

Frequently Asked Questions

Q. How do I cancel my NHK subscription if I’m no longer living in Japan?

A. Since NHK doesn’t provide an easy way to cancel your subscription online, it’s best to try the following:

  • Ask a friend who lives in Japan to call on your behalf
  • Buy a temporary Japanese phone number through Skype and contact NHK to cancel the contract

Be aware that NHK may ask you to provide documents proving that you no longer live in Japan.

Q. Is NHK’s customer service available in English?

A. Yes. You may call up NHK customer service and ask for English-speaking staff.

Q. Will an NHK agent come knocking on my door again after I cancel my subscription?

A. We haven’t heard of cases where an NHK agent starts knocking on doors of people who canceled their subscriptions. However, there may be a chance that it could happen.

Q. Will an NHK agent come knocking on my door again after I change my address in Japan?

A. Unfortunately, yes. But you can use the tactics explained above. They will usually stop coming after a few tries. 

Q. What should I do if I accidentally sign an NHK contract?

A. If you don’t own a TV, you can call NHK and tell them it was a mistake and that you would like to cancel your contract.

Q. What should I do if I get rid of my TV?

A. You can call NHK and let them know. It’s best to prepare some proof in case they ask.

Q. What can I do if I haven’t been paying the NHK fee and I would like to cancel my contract?

A. Having an outstanding bill on your account doesn’t affect the cancellation of the NHK contract. However, you still need to settle the unpaid bill, which you agreed upon when signing the contract.

The worst thing that can happen if you fail to settle an outstanding bill is NHK filing a lawsuit against you, which in most cases, you will likely lose. NHK keeps plenty of records to help them win lawsuits for unpaid bills.

That’s why the safest choice is to pay the bills to avoid unnecessary trouble if you plan to live in Japan for the foreseeable future. 

Q. I’ve already signed a contract, but I didn’t give NHK my bank account details. I usually pay from the convenience store. What would happen if I stop paying?

A. Legally, if you have signed a contract (whether it’s NHK or not), you need to pay. The difference in payment method does not change this requirement. It’s safest to go through the proper cancellation process explained above to end the contract.

Q. After sending the cancellation form to NHK, do I get confirmation that my request was successfully processed? Will NHK send me a cancellation notice?

A. NHK will not send you any notification, even if they proceed with your cancellation application. The only way to confirm cancellation is by checking your monthly bank statement or noticing that you no longer receive bills in the mail.

Don’t be threatened by NHK fees

Living in Tokyo can be expensive, but using these strategies can help lower your living costs. When the NHK collector comes knocking on your door, stay calm, stay collected, and don’t get talked into something you’re not required by law to do. If you’ve ever tried any of the strategies above or tried to cancel your contract, let us know how it went in the comments below. We’re all in this together!

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ruth monica ishida

I just wanted to ask if it is really true that if you have a television you are required by the japanese law to pay NHK fees, we live in seikatsu hogo for a while during that time NHK men keep coming to our apartment asking me to sign a contract and pay the NHK fee,I refused to sign but they keep coming back,after we found work and left seikatsu hogo they still keep coming back and forcing me to sign a contract and pay the NHK fee even if we do not watch NHK ,is there a way that… Read more »

James Reyroso

I just recently bought a new house and I do not have an antenna (no local TV channels) but I own a TV only for internet (netflix, youtube, etc.). I know I can avoid paying NHK fees as mentioned in this article. But what I do want to know is if they have the legal right to charge me NHK fees even if I do not have an antenna?


I already left my old apartment but I forget to cancellation contract till now. And that time the person who came to my door he told me if you not watch the tv you don’t need to pay. But they send me bill .Can I need to pay all payment till now or only that much when i’m in that apartment because that time there was tv in my apartment when i moved there and that time i don’t know the Japanese also .


I left Japan and returned to Switzerland a while ago but forgot to cancel my NHK subscription. It was basically forced upon me by a friendly man showing up at my door one day and I made the mistake of giving them my credit card information.

I recently noticed that dreaded “NHK fee” is still very much showing up on my credit card bill.

I’m trying to give them a call to cancel the subscription but I can’t seem to reach their number from Europe. Any advice?



Thanks for the reply. I’m happy to report that I managed to cancel my NHK subscription. I ended up buying a (temporary) Japanese phone number through Skype which allowed me to give them a call and complete the cancellation process.


Hi Manuel, could you give more detail on what conversation you have with them for cancellation process?
Do they ask some proof that you are no longer in Japan?

It would be useful as references


It’s very nice to see that there are some Japanese out there looking our for us.
We were already “forced” to sign up to NHK after days/weeks/months of annoying ringing of door bell.
So my question is:
1) After we move to a different location and cancel at the same time. Would they come to our new location and annoy us again?
2) When we try to cancel, would ringing/knocking of door start again?

I lived in 4 different countries in my life.
Not once I had to pay so much for something I don’t even use/watch.

Thank you

Vada Maynard-Rill

I made the mistake of moving back to the states without really thinking about my NHK subscription. I contacted them once online for assistance canceling, and was told it wasn’t possible to cancel from outside of Japan. I cancelled the debit card I provided them with, twice now, yet I’m still being charged by them once every two months. This has been going on since 2016, and I’m still at a loss. Do you know if it’s truly impossible to cancel your NHK contract outside of Japan? It’s a hassle, but maybe I should just close my bank account altogether… Read more »


I have signed up for this when they came and i couldnt understand japanese, I was told I HAD to. And now I moved to another location but my parents are still living there. Can I tell them to cancel the contrat since it was done with my name? What will they do next? Will they send an agent to my parents address before sending me the cancellation papers? Like secure the new contract before cancelling mine.

Grinds Dirt

Hello, thanks for the detailed write-up! I have a question regarding moving to a new place. In my old apartment we managed to cancel our contract by convincing them we don’t have a TV. Yes, it was fucking disgusting to have some strangers come inside and visually rummage through your belongings but I swallowed it. That was 10 years ago. We have recently moved to a new place, and an NHK enforcer just showed up on our doorstep demanding our old address (to check our contract status) my wife (Japanese) told him to come later. What is my recourse. I… Read more »


Hello, thank you very much for your article!
Unfortunately I didn’t read it in time and I signed the contract 2 days ago, but I really don’t like that because I only use my TV as a screen for the Nintendo Switch.
Could I cancel my contract by saying I donated my TV? How could I prove that?


Thank you for your answer, that’s good to hear !


Hi, Melodie. Were you able to cancel your subscription? How was the process? I am planning to cancel mine, too. Thanks.


Hi. The same thing happened to me. I signed the contract. However, I am living in a leopalace, would it be okay if I will tell them I donated my TV knowing that the tv I am using is not mine, but my Leo’s? Aren’t they going to call my leopalace to verify that? Thanks.


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Marvin Suello

Hi! I’ve been reading your article and it helps me get an idea about nhk ! Thank you so much, but I have a question. Is it not too late to call nhk for contract cancellation? I’ve been registered last 3 years and I do have unpaid bills for months, and I’m just being paranoid if they have to investigate my bank accounts even if I pay only in convenience store… Thank you and I’m hoping your kind reply..

Pyae Phyoe

I’ve already signed in contract but I didn’t give my bank account. I have to pay from convenience store.
If I don’t pay, what will happen to me?

Karen Villa

Can I cancel my contract by saying that I am moving back to another country? If I can, do I have to provide proof?


Thank you so much! I will do so immediately!


Were you able to cancel?


I moved in July to a new apartment. Nhk sent a letter on October to the older address and the mail is redirected here. . Right after this, they sent me a bill of ¥2620.
How come this is possible? I didn’t sign any contract, I use the TV only to watch DVDs and use Netflix. What should I do?


Is the costumer service available in english? Or just in japanese?


after cancellation contract is sent, do i get notified? or will they sent me a cancellation notice?


Someone came to my door and he said its neccesary thing to do in japan so

He didnt mentioned it nhk or else
So did give him my bank card ho i am subscribe to nhk but i dont have tv so but bill is coming evry month so what to do

I called them but couldnt conect it