What You Need to Know
- A TV Licence gives the named holder and other people living in their household to use one or more televisions, video players, and DVD players at the address stated on the licence.
- Everyone who watches or records live TV is required by law to have a TV Licence. If you fail to get one, you will be subject to criminal charges.
- The only people who don’t need a TV Licence are those aged over 75, and those registered as blind or sight impaired or living in a Care Home who are entitled to discounted Licences.
- There are a variety of payment methods available including direct debit, debit or credit card online or over the phone, cheque, BACs transfer, or at your local PayPoint outlet.
- The only loophole is if you stop watching live TV altogether and rely on On-Demand services or streaming sites such as Netflix. These do not require a TV Licence.
- This information is correct as at September 2015, please contact us if you spot anything we need to change - thank you.
What is the TV Licence?
A television licence is a licence which gives permission for the named holder and other people living in their household to use one or more televisions, video players, and DVD players at the address stated on the licence. It is also required for any other equipment which can be used to receive a television signal including computers, laptops, games consoles, and mobile phones.
They also allow the holder to watch live TV on a laptop, tablet computer, or other mobile device both when at the address and away from the address.
The current price for a TV licence is £145.50 a year for a colour TV. It is still possible to get a black and white TV licence for just £49 a year, but this does not allow you to use any equipment capable of downloading or recording colour images, and is therefore now all but obsolete.
The licence will cover all areas of your home, but there are some exceptions. If you have parts of the premises which are separate from the main house and include self-contained accommodation, such as a Granny-Flat or Annex, they will need to be covered by their own licence.
If you own a vehicle with TV equipment on it, such as a caravan or a boat, this is covered by your main TV licence. A static caravan or mobile home is also covered by your main licence, although the rules do state that TVs should not be used in both premises at the same time
Once purchased, a licence will last for one year and you should receive at least one reminder to renew towards the end of that term.
Do I have to get a TV licence?
If you watch any live TV, the short answer to this question is, yes. The TV licence is a legal requirement under the 2003 Communications Act, and although there are indications that the current Government may look again at them, there is no suggestion of any changes being made to this law in the near future.
Many people will have seen TV Licensing Inspectors on their street, or even had them knocking on their door. The effectiveness of these inspectors is debatable as whilst there are entitled to knock on your door and ask to check your records and insect your TV equipment. However you are under no obligation to let them into your home or business, and they have no right to demand or force entry
However, if you are found to be watching TV without a valid licence you will face criminal charges, a court appearance, and a fine of up to £1,000 on the UK mainland, £500 in Jersey, and £2,000 in Guernsey. If you are a persistent offender, you could even face a jail sentence.
Is there anyone who doesn’t need a TV Licence?
There are a few niche groups who are not required to pay for a full TV Licence:
- Over 75’s: If you are aged 75 or over, you are entitled to a free TV Licence.
- Care Home Residents: If you are living in a care home, each individual room will require its own TV Licence. But these are available at a heavily discounted rate of just £7.50.
- Registered Blind: If you are certified as blind, or with a severe sight impairment, you are entitled to a 50% reduction in the price of your TV Licence.
If you run a hotel, bed and breakfast, campsite, or similar business, you are able to get a TV licence for multiple units. For up to 15 individual units, you still only need to pay a single fee of £145.50. For units above that amount, you will need to pay an £145.50 for every additional 5 rooms.
How can I Pay for my TV Licence?
There are a variety of different options available for paying your TV Licence:
- Direct Debit: The easiest and quickest payment method is to set up a direct debit. This method can be used to make payments on a monthly, quarterly, or annual basis as you prefer.
If you choose this option, be sure to remember that the money will automatically come out of your account on the greed date, and will continue indefinitely, unless you advice the TV Licensing company that you wish to make payments another way or if you no longer require a Licence.
- Debit or Credit Card: You can also make payments using a debit or credit card. This can be done online, over the telephone on 0300 790 6165, or at a registered PayPoint Outlet.
- Cheques or Postal Orders: If you still like to make payments the old fashioned way, cheques and postal orders are still accepted for full payments of the TV Licence.
They should be made payable to ‘TV Licensing’ and not be post-dated. On the back, you will need to write your name and address, and your current licence number of you have one.
They can then be sent to Customer Services, TV Licensing, Darlington, DL98 1TL.
- BACS Transfer: You can also make a one-off transfer from your bank or building society account. You will need to use the following details to make the transfer, and should use as a reference your 10 digit TV licence number:
o Sort code: 60-80-09
o Account name: CBS TVL Telebanking
o Account number: 30287561
- PayPoint: You can make payments using debit cards, credit cards, or cash at your local PayPoint outlet. You can find your nearest PayPoint Outlet using this website.
- TV Licensing payment card: If you want to spread your payments even more you can get a TV Licensing payment card which allows you to make weekly payments of £5.60. You can apply for a card by calling 0300 555 0286, and it will sent to you in the post along with details of your payment plan. You can then simply use the card to make payments at any PayPoint outlet, over the phone, or by text message.
- TV Licensing savings card: If you already have a TV Licence, you can use a TV Licence Savings card to save money to pay for your next one. You can save any amount on the card from £2 upwards, and your money is perfectly save even if you lose your card. You will however not earn interest on it as you would in a regular savings accounts.
When your licence is due to be renewed, you will simply have to pay the difference using one of the methods above, or if you have already saved enough, the licence will be automatically renewed.
You can apply for free on the phone by calling 0300 555 0281, and can always check your balance online.
Are there any loopholes?
There is one simple loophole you can use if you don’t want to pay your TV Licence at all. The Licence is only a legal requirement if you are watching live TV. Therefore if you stop watching live TV, you can quite legally inform the TV Licensing Company that you no longer require a licence.
If you are then subsequently caught watching live TV, you will be subject to legal proceedings, but there are plenty of other options available:
- On-Demand Services: All of the main UK TV Channels offer an On-Demand service on their website or through your satellite or cable TV package. These allow you to watch TV programmes for a set period of time after they have been broadcast. No licence is needed to watch these shows, although if you use the service to watch live TV, a licence is required.
- Online Streaming Services: There are also a variety of online streaming services available such as Netflix, Amazon Prime, and NowTV. These services charge you a monthly fee, but then give you access to thousands of hours of TV programmes, series, and even movies. No TV Licence is needed to use these services.
If you are planning to switch to internet streaming services, beware the dangers of broadband service limits. Make sure you have an unlimited download package on your broadband deal, as it can cost a fair bit if you go over your limit, or your service might be cut off altogether.
- For further details about the TV Licence Company, visit www.tvlicensing.co.uk.
- Check out our TV Guide for the most up-to-date and comprehensive TV listings available.
- Read our guide to the top TV-selling websites on the net.