Student TV Licence Guide 2021

If you are a student, you must still be covered by a TV Licence to watch or record television programmes as they're being shown on TV, or if you download or watch BBC programmes on BBC iPlayer.

This applies whether you live in halls of residence or a private shared house.

It’s important to realise that television licensing law still applies to you no matter what device you use to watch television programmes as they're being shown on TV, or through BBC iPlayer.

Whether it's a laptop, mobile phone or any other device that receives television programmes, you need to be covered by a TV Licence. It's the law, and if you watch TV without a licence you risk prosecution and a fine of up to £1,000, plus any costs or compensation you are asked to pay.

Enforcement officers visit unlicensed rooms on university and college campuses, as well as student accommodation off-campus.

It currently costs £157.50 for colour and £53.00 for a black and white TV Licence.

Do I need a TV licence?

You need a TV licence if...

1. You watch TV on a laptop or PC

If you watch or record television programmes as they're being shown on TV you must, by law, be covered by a TV Licence, no matter what device you are using.

2. You download or watch BBC programmes on BBC iPlayer

Even if you don't watch live TV, if you watch BBC programmes on iPlayer, you still need a licence.

3. You live in halls of residence

Your hall probably has a licence covering communal areas, but this won't cover you for your room. If you watch or record TV in your own room, you will need your own TV licence.

Shared houses

If there is a joint tenancy agreement for the whole house, you may only need one licence.

If you don't have a licence between you, whoever is found watching TV when an Enquiry Officer visits you is the one who risks a prosecution and a fine.

If you have a separate tenancy agreement for your room, you need your own licence.

However, there may be other reasons why you need your own separate licence, such as whether or not your accommodation is self-contained - i.e. you have exclusive access to washing facilities or you have your own entrance to the house.

If you are unsure whether this applies to your particular circumstances, contact tvlicensing to find out more information.

You don't need a TV Licence for your term-time address if...

You only watch downloaded or streamed TV after it has been broadcast.

This includes using websites like YouTube and Bebo, and also 'on demand' internet services, other than BBC iPlayer, that offer TV downloads or streaming.

Make sure you check carefully before telling the BBC you don't require a licence. Remember that visits are made to confirm a licence isn't needed.

You could be prosecuted if it is discovered you have been watching or recording live TV programmes on any channel or device, or downloading or watching BBC programmes on iPlayer, without being covered by a licence.

The maximum penalty is a £1,000 fine plus any legal costs and/or compensation you may be ordered to pay.

Check if you are already covered

A halls communal licence won’t cover your room. But you may be covered by your parents’ licence. If you think you are, then check the following are all true first:

  • Your out-of-term address (parents’ address) is covered by a TV Licence
  • You only use TV receiving equipment that is powered solely by its own internal batteries
  • You have not connected it to an aerial or plugged it into the mains.

What if I live in a house or flat share?

  • If you have a separate tenancy agreement for your room, you’ll need your own TV Licence too.
  • If you have a joint tenancy agreement for an entire house or flat, you’ll probably need one licence to cover the whole property.

If you are still uncertain about the rules for tenancies, please check the TV Licence Guide for Tenants and Lodgers.

How to buy a licence

You can buy or renew a TV licence online with a credit or debit card by visiting the TV Licensing website. It also has information on other ways to pay.

These include:

  • paying by post
  • by direct debit (there are a number of options for this to help spread the cost)
  • via a savings card or
  • over the counter at a PayPoint outlet.

If you move to different accommodation during your time at university (which you probably will), you will have to update your details online so that you remain covered.

Claiming a refund

Wherever you live, you can always apply for a refund if your licence is still valid for at least 3 whole months and you no longer need it.

If you are moving home, you can transfer your licence by changing your address online.

For more information on how to claim, contact TV Licensing on 0300 790 6090 or visit their website.