Student TV Licence – Everything you need to know about UK TV Licence


Student TV Licence

If you’re a student who’s wondering about whether they need a TV Licence, how much it costs and, of course, if it’s possible to  get away without buying one, you’ve come to the right place. Here you will find all the information you need, including the much-coveted Student TV Licence loophole.


The Questions We’ll be Answering:

Let’s get started!

Do Students Have to Buy a TV Licence?

Unfortunately, yes, there are no exemptions for students. There’s no free Student TV Licence, University TV Licence, nor a student discount available on UNiDAYS.

You can enjoy your student bank account, 16-25 Railcard, and your discounts at literally every high street and online store, but annoyingly, The TV Licence is, if you choose to buy one, another cost on your student bills list.

Legally your supposed to have a TV Licence When:

  • Watching or recording programmes shown live on TV on any channel
  • Watching or streaming programmes live on any platform – including but not limited to All 4, ITV Hub, Amazon Prime Video, Now TV, Sky Go and YouTube
  • Using iPlayer at all – all features including live, catch up and on-demand

You may have noticed that you don’t need a licence for any on-demand viewing, on any platform, except BBC iPlayer. So you can binge away on any non-BBC content as long as it’s not live.

How Much Does a TV Licence Cost?

It currently costs £159 per year for a colour TV Licence – or if you’re totally broke, or an insufferable hipster, you can pay £53.50 for a black and white licence. This is seriously an option. Apparently, there are still around 6000 black and white licences active in the UK.

If you suffer from blindness or have severely impaired eyesight, you only have to pay a concession price of £79.50, which makes a lot of sense. Although instead of getting reduced fees, maybe you should be paying more for the pleasure of never having to properly watch an episode of The Only Way is Essex and view a never ending barrage of trout-pouts!

Remember that you have to renew it 12 months from the date you bought it.

I know, student bills suck, but at least this one can be split between all your housemates. You can also pay in quarterly fees to break up the cost. There is, however, a £5 surcharge for doing this.

Do you need a TV Licence if you’re renting a Student Spare Room or sharing a Student Home?

Basically, you need one licence per tenancy agreement.

So, if you live in a shared student home, with each housemates names on one tenancy agreement, you only need one licence to cover the whole property.

If you live in a shared home or rent a spare student room in a property, with your own tenancy agreement, you’ll need your own TV licence. This also applies to lodgers or anyone paying rent separately from others in the property.

Do I need a TV Licence if I’m in Student Halls?

No – if your parents home (or whatever your out-of-term address is) has a TV Licence, then you are covered by them as long as you don’t use devices powered directly from the mains or connected to an aerial. So portable devices and laptops are covered.

Your student halls will likely have a licence that covers common rooms and other communal areas but if
you want to watch The Chase in your room instead of going to lectures, and your out-of-term address
doesn’t have a licence, you’ll need to buy one yourself.

Do I need a TV Licence to watch British on-demand TV like BBC iPlayer and All 4?

When it comes to on-demand content: yes for iPlayer and no for others. Live content needs a licence for all platforms, iPlayer needs a licence for live or on-demand or any other use.

Do I need a TV Licence if I watch Netflix?

No, you do not need a TV Licence for any use of Netflix since none of it is live. You only need a stepbrother
or friend to pay your subscription, a good memory for passwords and a shameless attitude.

Compare the best digital TV and streaming service and find a great deal

Can Students Use a TV Licence Loophole?

Let’s face it, when you clicked on this article you immediately scrolled to this question. I don’t blame you –
Doctor Who has really gone downhill, Eastenders has always been garbage and on top of all that you’re a bit skint.

Most of us don’t want or enjoy paying for a TV licence and at the end of the day it’s a personal decision.

What we would suggest is, if you value listening to tunes on BBC Radio without annoying adverts, watching David Attenborough continue to save the planet well into his 90s, and enjoy watching Match of The Day without the need advert interruptions, then consider contributing.

If you do indeed not care for any BBC Television or Radio shows, you can just stick to on-demand content on other platforms. This way, your not legally required to purchase a licence. Remember though, that even on-demand content on BBC iPlayer requires a licence.

If you need to watch live TV without a licence here’s a nice student TV loophole or two:

  1. Unplug your TV: If your TV isn’t plugged into the mains or an aerial socket, there’s absolutely no way to prove you were using it to watch any programmes. Just make sure you unplug it every time you’re not using it.
  2. If your out-of-term address is covered by a TV license, you can watch TV on any portable device that isn’t powered directly by the mains. So if you only use your laptops and phones in your student house, you’ll be just fine.
  3. Download iPlayer shows in places that are covered by a licence, and then go home and watch them offline. Untraceable.

Once in a while, they may send an inspector round to have a look at your house.

Can They Detect If I have a TV Licence?

Here’s the real TV Licence loophole: they (mostly) can’t. Of course, they have a database of all addresses who haven’t bought a licence, but they have no idea whether or not those addresses are breaking the law or not.

They likely send a letter every so often to all properties on that database and make the letter look scary and foreboding even though they don’t actually know if you watch TV or not.

Can a TV Licence Officer Enter Your Home?

No, they can’t enter without a police-issued warrant. If an officer happens to knock on your door, they have no legal right to enter your home and your not obligated to answer any of their questions. We’ve heard reports of some officers using intimidation and bullying tactics to force there way into peoples homes.

We would suggest simply telling any officer politely who may knock on your door, that you don’t watch any TV, thanks them for their time and close the door. Normally at that point they will leave, although may suggest they will get a warrant which they very rarely do.

If they persist in knocking, simply pop your head out the window and inform them you know your legal rights and responsibilities and will report them if they continue on

Be mindful though, if an inspector came to your door and the sound of canned laughter was blaring in the background and they can see your TV bright as day through the window and you were holding the remote control in your hand and wearing an ‘I Own A TV’ t-shirt and you denied him entry and said you don’t have a TV and then pissed on his shoes… then they’d probably have grounds to get a warrant to search your house. But otherwise, unless they somehow had very good evidence you were watching TV.

What is the Punishment for Getting Caught Without a TV Licence?

If you’re one of the unlucky ones (and didn’t follow our advice above) then you risk prosecution and a fine of up to
£1,000, plus any costs or compensation you are asked to pay and the cost of the licence. You won’t go
to prison, though, unless you persistently refuse to pay the fine, or did actually urinate in the TV Licence guys shoes.

Can Students get a TV Licence Refund?

Yes. You can request a refund if you won’t need your licence before it expires, and you have at least one full month before the expiry date.

You can apply for your refund here.

To receive a refund, you just need to meet the criteria in the checklist and provide the required evidence. You also need to apply two weeks in advance of the date you want it to stop. If you’re applying for a refund for a licence that has already expired, you can apply if it expired less than two years ago.

What Happens To My TV Licence If I’m Moving Properties?

If you’re moving student accommodation or home, you can just update your address online here and that will automatically transfer your licence over to your new student property.

If you’re moving to a student home that already has a TV Licence, you can either leave it or get a refund for the
months you will not be using it. See above for more info on refunds.


So there you have it. Everything a student could wish to know about TV Licencing regulations. Now you
can get back to your binging, safe in the knowledge that you’re not going to prison just yet.

Check out some our other articles on student bills and other ways to save money

Ultimate Guide to Student Bills

Best Student Broadband Deals

Choosing Student Accommodation Checklist

Find & Advertise Student Accommodation

Still looking for a student property? Search through our wide range of student accommodation and find great student diggz in your town or city. Alternatively, if you have a place your looking to rent out, place a free advert and get your student property filled quickly. Both landlords and students can place free adverts!


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