TV Licence Laws

It used to be that you only needed a TV licence if you had a telly, but now some who just watch certain channels on catch-up can get away without paying the £154.50 annual fee, which may be why licence sales are down for the first time in a decade.

According to research published by TV Licensing, over 31% of students don't know watching live TV on a mobile phone requires a licence (though in most cases you don't need two if you already have one).


When do I/don't I need a Licence?

Do - If you watch (or record TV) as it's being broadcast in the UK

Do - If you use BBC iPlayer in any way.

Don't - you are using any other catch up service other than iPlayer i.e. Netflix/Amazon Prime etc

Do - if your watching a tv broadcaster ie ITV, live through the internet.

If you never watch the BBC and only watch all your programmes using the catch-up services of other channels, it may be possible to legally ditch the TV licence and save yourself £154.50 per year.


Trick for students to watch live telly and use iPlayer without a licence

In some circumstances, you won't need to get your own licence, even if you've moved into your term time home

The rules for TV Licencing say:

"Students... won't be covered by their parents' licence, unless they only ever use devices that are powered solely by their own internal batteries, and aren't plugged into an aerial or the mains."

This means students whose parents have a TV licence are fine to use BBC iPlayer and/or watch live television on a tablet, smartphone or laptop that's not charging at the time, without having to pay for their own licence (as long as that's your usual place of residence outside term time).

However, if you're watching live TV or using BBC iPlayer on a desktop computer, games console or television/digital box, you will need a licence. Depending on your accommodation...

  • Halls of residence: you’ll require a licence for your own room.

  • Private accommodation. If you're living out of halls in a shared house and have signed a joint tenancy agreement, you'll usually need only one licence for the household. However, if you have separate agreements you'll need one for your room.

How can I cancel? If you're absolutely sure you no longer need a licence, you can formally let TV licensing know. Although there's no legal obligation to do this, it says doing so will prevent an increasing number of letters coming your way.

  • Cancel payment first. If you pay by direct debit you can cancel it by filling out TV Licensing's contact form. Tell it you no longer watch TV and confirm your current address. You'll also need to cancel your direct debit with your bank. If you pay with a TV Licensing payment card, you'll need to call 0300 555 0286.

  • Then fill out the declaration. Everyone who no longer requires a TV licence – including those who pay in cash at certain stores or Post Offices, who don't need to do the above – can fill out a No Licence Needed declaration form. After this, keep your confirmation email from TV Licensing as proof.

  • TV Licensing may visit. Once you've cancelled, you might find you get a visit from TV Licensing to check whether you actually do need a TV licence – it says these inspections find one in five households do. If you do need a licence, you'll need to pay the full licence fee, and you could risk prosecution plus a fine of up to £1,000(or £500 if you live in Jersey or £2,000 in Guernsey).


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