A University Student’s Guide to TV Licences

Are students required to buy a TV licence when at university? The answer is usually yes, but as with many things, there are exceptions.

A common discussion between students is whether they need a TV licence or not. If you have found yourself pondering this question, then don’t worry – we’ve got you covered in this guide. Whether you are living in university halls or in a student house, this guide should hopefully be able to provide you with answers to any questions you have regarding TV licences.

Do students need a TV licence at University?

The law states that you are required to have a TV licence if you do any of the following:

  • Watch / record as they’re being shown on TV on any channel
  • Watch or stream programmes live on an online TV service (such as ITV Hub, All 4, YouTube, Amazon Prime Video, Now TV, Sky Go, etc.)
  • Download or watch any BBC programmes on iPlayer.

This applies to anyone who owns a property or is a tenant, so students are not exempt from a TV licence. There are certain circumstances which means you may already be covered by a TV licence. For example, your landlord may have already paid the licence fee, or you could potentially be covered by your parents’ licence.

You need a TV licence if you are watching live TV from any source including laptops, tablets and mobile. However, if you are only watching tv on demand from other streaming services, then it is possible that you don’t need a TV licence.

Flatscreen TV displaying Netflix

If you only use services such as Netflix, Amazon prime or Disney Plus to watch TV and movies on demand, then you don’t need a TV licence providing that you don’t watch live TV or BBC programmes on iPlayer.

If you know that you don’t require a TV licence, you can inform the TV licensing company. However, it’s best to be sure that you definitely don’t need one as they can fine you up to £1000 if you are caught watching without a licence.

How to buy a TV Licence

Buying a TV licence has never been easier, as you can just go straight to the tv licensing website and pay through that. You can decide to either pay the fee all in one go or choose to pay monthly, quarterly or yearly through a direct debit. Alternative ways of buying a TV licence are either paying over the phone or through the post.

A standard TV licence currently costs £157.50 per year. However, this cost can be split between the people you are living with providing the licence will cover your entire household.

Are students living in halls covered by a TV Licence?

It is highly unlikely that your halls of residence accommodation will be automatically covered. Each flat within halls will usually need its own tv licence which will cover any communal areas, however each individual room is not always covered by that licence, so students may need to buy the licence for their own room.

It is worth checking with your halls of residence to see if your flat/room is already covered, but if it isn’t you will need to purchase the licence depending on which room you want to watch TV in.

TV licences in shared houses

If you live in a shared house and you are part of a joint tenancy agreement, then it is likely that you will only need one TV licence. If you have a separate tenancy agreement for each individual room, then you will need a licence for each tenant per room.

Will a parent’s TV licence cover the student?

Although a parent’s TV licence doesn’t technically cover the student whilst they are living away from home, there is are interesting circumstance where a student may actually be covered by their parents’ licence.

If your out of term address (most likely your parents) is covered by a TV licence and you are using TV receiving equipment that is powered solely by its own internal batteries and isn’t plugged into the mains, then you are already covered! For example, if your parents address is covered by a TV licence, and you are watching TV from a laptop that isn’t plugged into the mains – then you are covered and don’t require your own TV licence.

TV Licence Refunds

If you pay for a TV licence for a year but you are not living in the property for that duration, you may be able to apply for a partial refund. If your licence is still valid for at least 3 months, then you are able to apply for a refund.

It’s also possible to transfer your licence from one property to another. So if you are moving into a new property, you can bring your old TV licence with you by changing your address online.

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