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Do you need a TV Licence?


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Adulting is hard. It also means getting your own TV Licence.

Between settling into a new living space, learning about your rights as a tenant and getting to know your new mates through Freshers' week, there’s a lot to take in when first arriving to uni. 

Students enjoying a bit of tube in their dorms

Image courtesy of TV Licensing

But with the end of Freshers' Week comes a new set of important things to do. There's another one that you need to keep in mind before sampling all of the pubs in your new neighbourhood, and that would be the TV licence.

While applying for a TV licence isn't something that's likely to have crossed your mind before leaving for university (much like finding the right laundry detergent), you definitely need to think about it.

What's the general rule?

If you want to watch or record live television programming on any device, be it a TV or through BBC iPlayer on a laptop, mobile phone or tablet, you will need to purchase a TV licence.

How much does it cost? 

This carries an annual fee of £150.50, which can be paid in full at the time of purchase, or be broken up into more manageable monthly or even weekly payments.

If you're wondering whether it's worth paying for it, note that the British Broadcasting Corporation does make visits to check on licences, and violating their policy can carry a fine of up to £1,000.

It is worth noting, however, that you may be covered under your parent's TV Licence. If you meet all of the following criteria, then you're in the clear:

  • Your out-of-term address (parents’ address) is covered by a TV Licence.
  • You only use TV receiving equipment that is powered solely by its own internal batteries.
  • You have not connected it to an aerial or plugged it into the mains.

Keep in mind, that even if you do meet these criteria, you must still let TV Licensing know that you do not need to apply for a licence. That can be done here.

How does one actually apply for this TV licence?

It’s quite easy, actually. Head over to and click “Pay for your Licence” on the site’s header.

If you’ve just arrived for your first year of university or simply haven’t used a TV licence in the past, you’ll want to go through the questionnaire that begins with “New Licence”.

From there, it’s about what you’d expect. Add the uni that you’re studying at, put in a bit of identifying and payment information and voila! You're done!

TV Licensing
Image courtesy of TV Licensing

Will you be entitled to a refund? 

The cost of the TV licence covers you for a full calendar year from the time that you pay for it, so if you’re planning to return home for the summer, or better yet, travel for a month or two, it’s worth checking out our article on how to apply for a TV licence refund here.

And once you've got your TV Licence, it may be good to give Mum and Dad a ring - especially if you're from Lincoln. A study by Opinion Matters shows that in Lincoln 86% of parents are fearful that their child will be at risk of prosecution for watching TV without a licence. 

Checkout @TVLicensingNews on Twitter for news on updates and local advice regarding the TV Licence.

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