TV Licensing

Who needs a television licence?

You must by law have a TV licence if you watch or record programmes on a TV, computer or other device as they’re broadcast or downloaded or watch BBC programmes on iPlayer, whether it’s live, catch up or on demand.

A television licence covers the person named on it and any member of their household to use:

  • TV sets;
  • computers;
  • laptops;
  • tablets;
  • mobile phones;
  • any other device that can receive a TV signal.

How much does a TV licence cost?

A TV licence costs £147 for a colour TV set and £49.50 for black and white TV set. This price is the same for both homes and businesses.

You can get a free licence if you’re 75 or older and you can get a discounted licence if you have a severe vision impairment. If you live in a residential care home, the person who is in charge of the home can apply for a licence for you.

When you do not need a TV licence

You do not need a TV licence for:

  • non-BBC programmes on online catch-up services;
  • videos or DVDs;
  • clips on websites like YouTube;
  • closed circuit television (CCTV).

How to buy a television licence

When you buy a new television or other relevant device, it is your responsibility to ensure you have a licence. The easiest way to do this is online on the Official TV Licensing website. You can pay by credit or debit card online or over the phone or by using your debit card at a PayPoint which you will find at newsagents, convenience stores, supermarkets and petrol stations. You can also send a cheque to the TV Licensing centre in Darlington.

The first licence you 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.

TV Licensing sends reminders to renew licences but it is your responsibility to get the licence renewed on time. Claiming you were not sent a reminder is not a valid excuse for not having a licence. If you pay via direct debit, the licence will be renewed automatically each year and you won’t need to do anything.

Each time you buy a television or other relevant device, the retailer from where you bought these goods is under a legal obligation to notify TV Licensing of the sale. This also applies if you change a black and white television for a colour one.

What happens if you do not have a television licence?

You can be fined up to £1,000 if you watch or record live TV without a TV licence. TV Licensing may discover that you do not have a licence in one of the following ways:

  • any retailer who sells or rents televisions etc 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’re visited by a TV Licensing enquiry officer, you do not have to let them into your home. If you do so, they will carry out a brief inspection of the main living areas in your home to ascertain if you have a TV or other relevant device. If you don’t let them in, they may apply to court for a search warrant.

When can I get a refund for my TV licence?

You can cancel your licence before it expires and may be eligible for a refund if:

  • you won’t be watching or recording any programmes as they’re being shown on TV or live on an online TV service, or downloading or watching BBC programmes on iPlayer.
  • you move to an address which already has a TV licence;
  • you’re 75 years old or over, or living with someone who is;
  • you have two licences for the same address;
  • you’re moving into a care home;
  • you’re exchanging a black and white television licence for a colour licence.
  • where the licence is no longer needed (eg, because you are moving abroad or after a death).