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TV licensing

Watching TVIf you live in student residences and watch TV, you need to purchase a TV licence 

You need a TV licence to use any television receiving equipment such as a TV set, digital box, DVD or video recorder, PC, laptop or mobile phone to watch or record television programmes as they're being shown on TV or to download or watch BBC programmes on demand, including catch up TV, on BBC iPlayer.

Don't get caught out!

It doesn’t matter what channel you choose – it could be terrestrial, cable or satellite. Nor does it matter what equipment you use – traditional TV, games console, laptop or mobile phone, tablets, mobile phones or media streaming devices. You still need to be covered by a licence. If you’re found to be using TV without a licence, you may be prosecuted and fined up to £1,000.

In some cases you and your flatmates will each require your own separate licence for the TVs in your rooms, and in others one licence may be sufficient between all your flatmates, regardless of the number of devices in the property. The tenancy agreement on your property is often a good indication of this. For example:

You need your own separate TV licence if you live in halls of residence and use a TV in your own room, or if you share a house with other students and use a TV in your room, and your room is a separately occupied place (a separate tenancy agreement would normally indicate that this is the case).

If you have a separate tenancy agreement but a television is only being used in a communal area, then only one licence is required.

If you are sharing a house with other students and you use a TV in your own room, but the house can be treated as one place shared by all, then only one TV licence is required (a joint tenancy agreement would usually be evidence that the house is a single licenseable place for this purpose).

Aren’t I covered by my parents’ TV licence?

Your parents' TV licence won't cover your use of any TV receiver in student accommodation, except in the following rare and limited circumstances:

  • You only use TV receiving equipment that is powered by its internal batteries; and
  • You have not installed it (e.g. connected it to an aerial or plugged it into the mains) to receive TV; and
  • Your permanent address (non term-time) is your parents' home; and
  • Your parents have a valid TV licence for their home.

If you do not satisfy all of these requirements, you will need to buy your own TV licence for your student accommodation. To check whether this exception applies to you, please call TV Licensing on 0300 790 6098

What if I am moving out of my student accommodation?

If you are moving out of halls or other student accommodation, remember that your TV licence does not move with you and you will need to notify TV licensing of your new address.

You can update your details by visiting the TV licensing website and following the instructions. It only takes a minute or two. You’ll be asked for your TV licence number and new address. At the same time you can choose to receive your TV licence by email instead of receiving a paper license in the post.

I don’t need my TV licence over the summer. Can I get a refund?

If you are not staying at university over the summer and do not need your TV licence again before it expires, you are entitled to a refund of any unused quarters (three full calendar months). As long as you purchased your TV licence in October and don’t need it for July, August and September, you could be eligible for a refund.

Most students would need to buy a TV licence at the beginning of term in October in order to allow enough time at the end of the year to qualify for a refund. Assuming that a TV licence is purchased in the month it is needed, it will expire 12 months from the first of that month. 

To check whether you are eligible for a refund, visit the TV Licensing website or call 0300 790 6090

How will anyone know if I don’t have a TV licence?

TV Licensing’s database lists addresses that don’t have a TV licence, including university accommodation and enquiry officers do visit unlicensed properties.

If you use television-receiving equipment without a valid TV licence, you risk prosecution and a fine of up to £1,000, plus court costs, on top of that you will also need to buy a TV licence if you still need one. 

A colour licence costs £147.

Students requiring further information should contact TV Licensing on 0300 790 6090. To find out about the many ways you can pay for your TV licence, including Direct Debit, visit the TV Licensing website.   

Page last updated on Thursday 3 August 2017 at 2.20pm.

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