Do I Need A TV Licence & How Much Does It Cost?

Managing Your Money

Nowadays there are so many different streaming services and free video websites that it’s possible to watch a huge range of TV without paying for a TV Licence.

It’s important that you know whether you’re legally obliged to pay for a TV Licence, because if you’re watching TV without it and it turns out you do need one, it could mean a £1,000 fine.

Who needs a TV Licence in the UK?

Not everybody needs to pay for a TV Licence. If you don’t watch any live TV or BBC iPlayer then you don’t need to sign up for one. If you or someone you live with is over 74 then you still need to apply for a TV Licence if you want to watch live TV or iPlayer, but you don’t need to pay for it. The free TV Licence scheme for people aged 75 and over ended on the 31st of July 2020, if you claim Pension Credit you are still able to get a free TV Licence.

Do we have to pay TV Licence by law?

It’s illegal to watch BBC iPlayer or watch or record live TV from any channel without a TV Licence. If you are found to be watching TV or using iPlayer without a TV Licence you can be taken to court and given up to a £1,000 fine.

Do I have to pay TV Licence if I have Sky or Netflix?

If you watch all of your TV through free catch up services (not including BBC iPlayer) or subscription streaming sites such as Netflix, Amazon Prime Video or Now TV, then you do not need to have a TV Licence. You can let TV Licensing know that you don’t require a TV Licence. If you have Sky or Freeview you will still need to pay for a TV Licence if you watch any live TV.

Why do I have to pay TV Licence?

In the UK the BBC doesn’t receive income from advertising, so 90% of the money from TV Licence payments is spent on BBC programming for TV and radio, as well as funding their website. It’s also used to fund local broadcasters and S4C. 3% of the money from TV Licence payments is used for enforcement.

What countries pay TV Licence?

Many countries require people to pay for a TV Licence or a tax that funds their public broadcaster. Ireland, France, Italy, Japan and South Africa are just a few examples of countries that have a system similar to the UK’s.

How much is a TV Licence?

TV Licence for colour TV is priced at £159 per household (black and white is £53.50 annually). It doesn’t matter how many people live in a home or how many laptops or televisions you keep there, you’ll need one TV Licence per property. If you live in a shared property on an individual tenancy (like student halls for example) then you can’t share a TV Licence with the other tenants in your flat, you can read more about these rules and costs.

How much is a TV Licence for a student?

TV Licence for a student is charged at the same amount as it would be for any other person unless you’re over 75 years old. Where students can get a small discount is by claiming a refund for any complete months that they spend away from their term time address, at another licenced property. If, for example, a student goes to their parents’ house from May - September every year, they can apply for a refund for a quarter of the year. As of 2021 you can claim back £13.25 for every full month you spend at a different licenced property.

Possible student TV Licence loophole

Legally, if you live in a licensed property for part of the year you can use that Licence to watch iPlayer on a laptop, phone or tablet when you’re not there, but you can’t plug it into the mains while you watch. This could be a money saving option for students who go home over the holidays.

How do I apply for a TV licence?

You can apply for a TV Licence in a few different ways:

  • online on the TV Licensing website
  • by telephone on 0300 555 0286 if you want to use the payment card system (to pay weekly, fortnightly or monthly) 
  • calling 0300 790 0368 if you’d like to pay for the full year upfront or by monthly direct debit
  • you can apply through the post by writing to TV Licensing, Darlington, DL98 1TL
  • A minicom facility for the deaf or hard of hearing is available on 0300 790 6050.

Can you pay a TV Licence monthly, and how much is it?

You can pay for your TV Licence monthly by Direct Debit at no extra cost. Although it does work out to be £13.25 a month, when you get your first TV Licence you’ll pay £26.50 each month for six months. You'll be paid up for the whole year after six months, but you can cancel and get a refund. After the initial six months the instalments will go down to £13.25 a month, and will automatically renew unless cancelled.  

How do I pay my TV Licence online?

If you opt to pay online you can choose between paying £159 in one go via Direct Debit or using your debit or credit card, or setting up a monthly or quarterly Direct Debit on the TV Licensing website

It’s worth bearing in mind that if you choose to pay quarterly it’ll cost you £5 extra per year as each payment has a £1.25 premium.

Can I pay my TV Licence at the Post Office?

No, you can no longer pay for your TV Licence at the Post Office. If you do want to pay for your TV Licence in person you’ll need to apply for a payment card or by calling 0300 555 0286.

The payment card is free, and it won’t cost you any extra to use. You can choose to pay weekly, fortnightly or monthly with it. To use your payment card in store you’ll need to find a shop with a PayPoint machine. Lots of corner shops, supermarkets and petrol stations have them - find your nearest Paypoint store

Take your payment card to a shop with a PayPoint machine, and the cashier will be able to add your weekly, fortnightly or monthly payment to your account.

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