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Is it still necessary to get a TV licence?

Watching TV

It costs £169.50 a year, and could have you liable to pay a £1,000 fine if you’re found to be watching telly without one – the TV licence is no laughing matter.

Key points

  • In the UK, a TV licence is mandatory for watching or recording live TV, including streaming live content online
  • A TV licence is not required for watching on-demand services like Netflix, Prime Video, Disney+, or Britbox, which do not feature live broadcasts
  • Specific scenarios like subscribing to Sky or Virgin TV, watching live sports on Sky Sports, or being a student, also necessitate having a valid TV licence

Do I need a TV licence?

In the UK, securing a TV licence is essential for watching or recording live TV. This rule applies not only to traditional TV viewers but also to those streaming live content online.

Whether you're catching up on a soap opera via live stream or watching live sports on your computer, a TV licence is necessary to stay legal.

Do I need a TV licence if I don’t watch live TV?

It can be confusing to determine if a TV licence is necessary when you do not watch live TV.

If you only watch on-demand shows and catch-up TV, you're in luck. You do not need a TV licence for these programmes.

This includes using services like BBC iPlayer for non-live content. However, watching any live TV requires a TV licence.

This rule applies regardless of the device used, be it a smartphone, tablet, or traditional TV.

Do I need a TV licence if I have Sky or Virgin TV?

Should you subscribe to Sky or Virgin TV and watch or record live television, a TV licence is mandatory.

This rule applies regardless of the service provider. Watching live TV without a valid licence is illegal and you could face a hefty fine.

So it's important to ensure you're covered to enjoy your favourite programmes worry-free.

Do I need a TV licence to watch Netflix, Prime Video, Disney+, or Britbox?

When using on-demand services like Netflix, Prime Video, Disney+, or Britbox, a TV licence is not required.

These platforms offer films, series, and documentaries and you can watch them anytime without a licence.

They do not feature live broadcasts. So you can enjoy binge-watching your favourite shows or exploring new films without worrying about the TV licence.

Do I need a TV licence for NOW TV?

When watching live broadcasts on NOW TV, a TV licence is required. This includes any programme shown live, mirroring traditional television schedules.

However, if your viewing is solely on-demand films and shows, a TV licence isn't necessary. Enjoy your favourite series and films on-demand without the need for a licence.

Do I need a TV licence to watch Sky Sports?

Should you plan to watch or record live sports on Sky Sports, a valid TV licence is essential. This requirement applies regardless of the device used.

It could be a traditional TV, a laptop, or a mobile phone. Engaging with live sports through any device requires a TV licence.

This ensures you comply with legal guidelines while enjoying your favourite games.

Do I need a TV licence if I’m a student?

If you're a student living away from home, understanding your TV licence obligations is crucial. Here are the key points to consider:

  • Watching or recording live TV requires a TV licence. This includes streaming live content on any device, such as laptops, smartphones, or tablets
  • A single TV licence may suffice for everyone in a shared student house. However, this depends on the specific terms of your tenancy agreement. It's important to check whether your licence covers just your room or the entire household

Do I need a TV licence if I’m a student?

If you're a student living away from home, understanding your TV licence obligations is crucial. Here are the key points to consider:

  • Watching or recording live TV requires a TV licence. This includes streaming live content on any device, such as laptops, smartphones, or tablets
  • A single TV licence may suffice for everyone in a shared student house. However, this depends on the specific terms of your tenancy agreement. It's important to check whether your licence covers just your room or the entire household

What if I don’t want to pay for a TV licence?

If you decide not to purchase a TV licence, ensure you comply with the legal requirements.

You must not watch live television across any device. This includes avoiding live broadcasts on computers, smartphones, tablets, and other streaming devices. Nor should you use BBC iPlayer. Instead, you might consider using on-demand services.

Services like Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, or other platforms do not require a TV licence.

These services offer a wide array of shows and films. You can enjoy these at your convenience without the need for a licence.

What to do if you’re struggling to pay your TV licence

If you find the cost of a TV licence steep, there are several avenues to explore. Firstly, consider contacting TV Licensing to discuss payment plans.

These plans could spread the cost into more manageable chunks. They offer monthly, quarterly, or annual payment options to fit your budget.

Additionally, inquire about any assistance programmes available. TV Licensing can guide you on support options.

These might reduce your payments or offer temporary relief during financial hardship.

Remember, open communication with TV Licensing can help. It ensures you comply with the law while managing your finances effectively.

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