Do You Need a TV Licence? Debunking the Myths

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I was scrolling through Facebook the other day and came across a post in a group where a lady was asking if she needed a TV Licence or not.

Simple enough question, right? But you would not believe the amount of misleading and completely wrong information people were sharing in the comments.

So I thought I would write about it, in case you were wondering the same thing.

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When do You Need a TV Licence

According to the TV Licensing website, the law says you need a TV Licence:

    1. To watch or record programmes as they’re being shown on TV, or live on an online TV service (e.g. YouTube, Amazon Prime Video, Apple TV, Now TV, Sky Go, etc.)
    2. To download or watch BBC programmes on iPlayer.

This applies to any device – TV, laptop/desktop computer, tablet or mobile phone, games console etc.

Therefore, if you are just using a streaming service like Netflix and are NOT watching live TV (either at the time of broadcast, or recorded to watch later) – you do not need a TV Licence.

It sounds pretty clear, but there are so many misconceptions out there.

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TV Licence Myths

“If you have a Television, you need a licence”


Whether you need a licence or not depends on what you actually use the TV for, and is not solely dependent on whether you have a TV or not.

“You don’t need a one if you have Freeview”


If you have any device or service that you are using to watch TV as it’s broadcast, you need a TV Licence. It doesn’t matter whether you have a subscription with Sky, Virgin etc or if you have a Freeview or Freesat box – you still have the ability to watch live TV and therefore a licence is required.

“You don’t need a one if you’re a student”


You still need a licence if you’re watching live TV as explained above. However, I think the misconception comes from identifying whether you’re already covered by a licence or not.

Taken from the TV Licence website:

A university halls communal licence won’t cover your room. But you may be covered by your parents’ licence. If you think you are, please check that all of the following are true before telling us you don’t need one:

“You don’t need a one in a house share”


The property will need a TV Licence if live TV is being broadcast in it. But the number of licences required depends on the tenancy agreement. If you have a separate tenancy agreement for your room – you’ll need your own separate TV Licence.

If it’s a joint agreement for the entire property, then you’ll need one licence to cover the house as a whole.

“You don’t need a one if you don’t watch BBC”


If you are watching ANY live TV, you need a licence.

“If your house has an aerial on it, you need a licence.”


Again, like you can own a TV, your house can have an aerial. It entirely depends on how you use it.

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Still Not Sure?

If you’re still not sure, your best option is just to give TV Licensing a call and ask.

If you meet the requirements for needing a licence, it is the law to have one and not doing so can result in hefty fines, so it’s really not worth the risk!

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Hi! I'm Katie

I started Katie Saves while on Maternity Leave to document our adjustment to living on less. Now back in work - I blog about all things money with a little life organisation thrown in for good measure. Join me!