Who needs a television licence?
If you own a television and you watch or record television programmes as they are being broadcast then you must by law, be covered by a TV licence. It does not matter which device you are using but this includes the use of devices such as a computer or mobile phone. A television licence allows the person named on it and any member of their household to use one or more TV sets or recorders.
If you are using a black and white TV – the licence you would require is only for a black and white television licence. If you have a colour TV, you require a colour television licence.
Situations where you do not need a TV licence
There are a few instances where you would not need a TV licence, these are if a television set cannot receive TV programmes and is used only:
For close circuit monitoring
For watching pre-recorded DVDs or videos
As a computer monitor
You do not need a TV licence to watch “catch-up” services for instance BBC i-Player because channels like these let you watch programmes after they have already been broadcast.
How to purchase a television licence
When you purchase a DVD recorder or television set and a licence is needed then it is your responsibility to buy a licence. To do this, you can either write to or telephone TV Licensing and ask them for a form to complete. You are not covered even if the completed form has already been sent with payment to TV Licensing until the actual licence has been issued and it is important to remember this.
The first licence you ever receive will be valid for one year from the first day of the month of issue. When the time comes to renew your licence you can apply up to a month in advance. The new licence will then last for one year from the original date of expiry on your first licence – not from the date the licence is renewed.
It is a policy of TV Licensing to make sure reminders are sent to renew licences when needed. TV Licensing are under no legal obligation to send these reminders and it is the licence holders’ responsibility to get the licence renewed on time. Claiming that you were not sent a reminder and therefore this is the reason for why you do not have a current licence is not a valid excusal. This does not excuse you from not having a current licence as it is not the responsibility of TV Licensing – it is your responsibility. Each time you purchase a television set, DVD or video recorder, the retailer or outlet from where you bought these goods is under a legal obligation to notify TV Licensing of the sale. This will also apply if you go and change a black and white television for a colour one.
What happens if you do not have a television licence?
It is highly likely that TV Licensing will discover if you have a television set, DVD or video recorder which is not licensed.
They can find out due to many reasons, such as:
Any retailer or trader who sells or rents televisions or video recorders must give TV Licensing the names and addresses of any customers who buy such items – these details will then be checked against the record of who already has a television licence.
A routine enquiry letter may be sent – these are sent to any address where there is no record of a television licence being held
If you do not renew your television licence – they can find out simply because you have not renewed your licence
A detector van or other detecting equipment may be used – these pick up television signals to an address which by the TV Licensing’s records is not recorded as having a television licence. Detector vans are able to ascertain whether a black and white or a colour television set is being used by somebody.
If you are suspected of not having a television licence by TV Licensing or if you have not responded to a licence reminder or enquiry letter – you may be visited by a TV Licensing enquiry officer.
All enquiry officers will have an identification card which should be shown and the purpose of the visit must be stated.
What happens if I am visited by a TV Licensing enquiry officer?
If you are visited by a TV Licensing enquiry officer it is important to note that you do not have to let the enquiry officer in to your home. If you do allow an enquiry officer to come in to your home, they will carry out a brief inspection of the main living areas in your home. If, after this inspection they are satisfied that there is no television set, they can authorise what is known as a “stop on contract” for four years. This means that nobody will contact you about your television licence for four years.
When can I get a refund for my TV licence?
There are only limited circumstances where it is possible to get a refund for a television licence. These are:
When two licences have been bought by mistake and only one licence is needed. .
When you change a black and white television licence for a colour licence.
Where the licence is no longer needed for example because you are moving abroad or after a death
Any enquiries that you may have can be dealt with by TV Licensing, so do not hesitate in contacting them.