A television licence allows the person named on it and any member of their household to use one or more television sets or video or DVD recorders at the address covered by the licence. If you are covered by a licence at your home address you are also covered to use a battery-powered device, such as a laptop or mobile phone, to watch live TV when you are away from home.
Who needs a television licence?
You need a TV Licence to use any television-receiving equipment to watch or record TV programmes as they are being shown on TV. These include programmes on the BBC, ITV, Channel 4, Channel 5, cable and satellite television. Television-receiving equipment includes:
- TV sets
- set-top boxes
- DVD recorders
- video recorders
- computers and laptops
- mobile phones or other battery-operated devices
- games consoles.
You don't need a television licence if a TV set cannot receive TV programmes and is used only:
- for close circuit monitoring
- for watching pre-recorded videos or DVDs
- as a computer monitor
- to play computer games.
You don't need a TV licence if you only ever watch catch-up services, like BBC i-Player, that let you watch programmes after they have been broadcast.
How much is a television licence?
There are set fees for colour and black and white television licences. The current fees are:
You may be entitled to a reduced rate if you are:
- over 75 years old
- partially sighted or blind
- living in a care home or sheltered accommodation.
How to buy a television licence
As soon as you get a television set, DVD or video recorder for which you need a licence, you are responsible for buying the licence. You can do this by phoning or writing to TV Licensing and asking for a form to complete. You will not be covered until the licence is issued, even if you have sent a completed application form and payment to TV Licensing. A licence issued for the first time will last for one year from the first day of the month of issue.
Renewing a licence
You can apply to renew a licence up to a month in advance. It is the policy of TV Licensing to send reminders to renew licences, but they are under no legal obligation to do this and it is your responsibility to renew the licence.
It is also your responsibility to tell TV Licensing if you move.
If you don't have a television licence
If you’re using any television-receiving equipment to watch or record TV programmes as they are being shown on TV and don’t have a licence, you are breaking the law and could be prosecuted.
If TV Licensing suspect you do not have a television licence, a TV Licensing enquiry officer will visit you to check. Ask to see the enquiry officer's identification card. They must also tell you the purpose of the visit. You don't have to let the enquiry officer into your home, especially if you are vulnerable or elderly. But if you do, they will carry out a brief inspection of the main living areas. If you do not let the enquiry officer in, they may apply to a magistrates' court (sheriff court in Scotland) for a search warrant.
If you are taken to court but you have a good reason for not having a licence and plead guilty, this may help to reduce your fine. For example, you simply forgot to get a licence and didn’t realise it had run out, or didn’t understand that it was your responsibility to get the licence within your household. It may also help if you buy a licence as soon as TV licensing contact you or before the court case. A copy of the licence should be sent to the court to help your case.
Customer Enquiries: 0300 790 6130
Direct Debit and credit card payments: 0300 790 6131
Minicom: 0300 790 6050
Cash Payment Plan: 0300 555 0286
Other useful information