Roqqett Blog

August 4, 2021
Author: Alexandra Hurst

How does UK TV licensing work?

What is a TV licence? What does it pay for? Do I need a TV licence?

Quick Summary

1. What is a TV licence?

2. What does it pay for?

3. Do I need a TV licence?


What is a UK TV licence?

A TV licence gives you permission to watch TV in the UK as it would be broadcasted live, to record TV programmes and to watch any BBC programme live or on iplayer. 

What does the TV licence pay for? 

Nine TV channels, 50+ national and local radio stations, the BBC website, BBC iplayer, BBC sounds radio and podcasts, BBC world service, CBebbies, Sport, BBC three and Food channels. 

Why do I need a TV licence?

  • To watch live television
  • To record live television 
  • To watch BBC iplayer, or any BBC programme

This applies to all devices! (Including your smartphone!) This includes streaming on: DVD players, Laptop/desktop computers, Smartphones, Digital boxes (Sky, Virgin or BT TV), Games console, Media streaming devices (Amazon Fire, Amazon Prime Apple TV, Chromecast, Roku & Now TV) and Freeview. 

When do I NOT need a licence?

When you are watching: Netflix, Youtube, Amazon Prime, DVD’s/Bluerays, Disney plus, Non-BBC catch-up programmes (ITV player) and programmes that are not live, you do not need a licence. 

How much does the TV licence cost?

From the 1st of April 2021, a standard colour TV licence is £159.00 and for a black and white licence is £53.50 for one year. So a year of colour TV will cost £13.25 per month. 

What happens if I don’t pay for my TV licence?

If you watch live, record or watch BBC programmes without a licence you can expect to pay a maximum fine of £1,000 if prosecuted, with the addition of any legal fees incurred. TV licence enquiry officers may also visit your home, and gain entry with a search warrant. 

Away from home? The rules change!

Watching on your phone, tablet or laptop? The rules differ here, it depends if the device has batteries in it, weirdly.  The most likely scenario is you will be plugging in to watch. If the temporary address has a license you are covered by that properties license, e.g your friends house. If you go to an unlicensed property, e.g the dentist you need to buy a licence to watch. If your device doesn’t need plugging in and works via batteries, you are covered by your home licence! 

If you are on a boat, touring caravan or vehicle, these are often covered by your main addresses TV licence. However, if both addresses are: watching live TV, recording or watching BBC programmes you will have to complete a non-simultaneous use declaration form. Find more information out by clicking on this link. 

Discounted/free TV licenses 

  • Over 75’s: Some households which have someone who is over 75 years old, can get a free licence. This also includes if someone in your household is over 75, or you or your partner receives pension credit. If these circumstances apply to you, we suggest finding out more by clicking on this link here. 
  • Visual impairments: If you are visually impaired, or someone you live with is, we suggest finding out more by clicking on this link here. You may be eligible for a 50% discount.
  • Residential care: If you live in an eligible residential care home, are retired over 60 or are disabled your housing manager is able to apply for a £7.50 licence, we suggest finding out more by clicking on this link here. 


Still think you don’t need a TV licence? Contact TV licensing directly here 

Key Takeaways 

  • Don’t watch live TV on your smartphone, unless you know the property you are at has a licence. You will be fined! 
  • A TV licence costs £159.00 for a colour license 
  • Check if you are eligible for a TV licence discount!
  • To purchase your TV licence, use this link. 

Data from: 

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