If you watch or record 'live' TV on any channel – either through your TV or through a website or app – then you need a TV licence.
This applies whether you receive Freesat, Freeview or a pay-TV service in your home.
Since 2016, you also need a TV licence to watch or download on-demand or catch-up programmes on BBC iPlayer.
You don’t need to buy a TV licence if you purely watch other catch-up or on-demand services, or only use your TV to watch DVDs, Blu-rays or video cassettes.
In this context, live TV doesn’t just mean watching sport or or other programmes that are broadcast in real time; it applies to all content at the time it’s broadcast on a TV channel. It also includes all +1 channels, such as ITV+1 and Channel 4+1.
The 'live' rule also applies to any programmes that are live-streamed on video-on-demand platforms at the same time as they are shown on TV. So, if you’re streaming Coronation Street on ITV Hub while it’s also being shown live on ITV, you need a TV licence.
Yes. Previously, you only needed a TV licence to watch live programmes on BBC iPlayer – so at the same time as they were showing on broadcast TV. However, as of 1 September 2016, you need one for any on-demand iPlayer viewing.
This rule applies to all devices, including smart TVs, laptops and desktop computers, tablets, smartphones, set-top boxes (such as Sky, Virgin Media and YouView) and media-streaming devices (Apple TV or Chromecast, for example).
You don't currently need a TV licence to watch the catch-up or on-demand services of other broadcast channels, such as ITV Hub, All 4 or Demand 5.
No. With the exception of BBC iPlayer content, you only need a licence for watching or recording content as it is broadcast on TV.
If you’re streaming on-demand movies or TV shows on Amazon Prime Video, Disney Plus, Netflix or YouTube (or any other online video service) you don't currently need a licence.
The annual licence fee is currently £159 for a colour TV or £53.50 for a black and white TV. You only need one licence per household, no matter how many TVs or other devices you watch TV on.
The fee is reviewed every year, with any price changes taking place on 1 April.
If you can’t pay for your annual TV licence in one lump sum, there are various options available to spread the cost.
If you want to stream live programmes (at the same time as they're shown on TV), then the licence you buy for your property also covers you for watching TV outside of your home on 'any device powered solely by its own internal batteries'. This includes live streaming on smartphones, tablets and laptops.
You can also record live programmes on these devices and watch them outside of your home.
If you fall under one of the following categories, you may qualify for a free or discounted TV licence.
Blind or visually impaired people You may be eligible for a 50% reduction in your TV licence fee if you’re certified as blind (severely sight impaired).
Care home residents Residents may qualify for a discounted TV licence fee of £7.50. Residents, staff and residents’ families all need a separate licence for their own living area.
Over 75 AND in receipt of pension credit Until July 2020, all over-75s were eligible for a free TV licence. This is no longer the case. However, you can still get a free TV licence if you, as the licence holder, are 75 years or older and you, or your partner living at the same address, receive Pension Credit. To find out more about the changes to the rules and apply for a free licence, visit the .
Students You still need a TV licence if you’re a student, as it’s unlikely that the licence held by your hall of residence, or your parents, will cover you.
Tenants and lodgers If you live in self-contained accommodation, such as a flat, then you need your own TV licence. If you rent a room as a lodger, the TV licence for the whole house should cover you, unless you have exclusive access to a toilet or bathroom – in that case you could be classified as living in separate accommodation requiring its own licence.
If you move in with someone who already has a licence, you can cancel your own licence and potentially get a partial refund.
If you want to cancel your TV licence and you've paid in full for a year then you could be entitled to a refund. You need to have at least one month left on your licence and have a good reason for cancelling. These include:
Whether you agree with the TV licence or not, if you’re found to be watching or recording live TV without a valid licence, you’re guilty of a criminal offence that is punishable by a fine of up to £1,000 plus court costs.
TV Licensing claims that it uses a number of methods to detect if you’re covered, including enforcement officers that carry out checks on properties, detector vans and a national database.
If you feel you've been wrongly fined or have any complaints, then you can seek a resolution through BBC. Any escalations would then be passed on to the Ombudsman Services.
According to the TV licensing website, 91% of UK adults use BBC services. That doesn't mean nine out of 10 adults in the UK turn on BBC One every week – the licence fee pays for a range of services, including: