Student Finance

Everything you need to know about your student TV licence

Sarah Jones  · Aug 31st 2023

There isn’t a specific TV licence that students need to purchase as a student. But, do you need one? In reality, there is no such thing as a "student TV licence." There is only one TV licence that can be purchased, and it applies to everyone, regar


What is a TV licence, and why do you need it?

A TV licence is a legal requirement in the UK for anyone who watches live TV or uses the BBC iPlayer. The licence fee funds the BBC's services, including TV programmes, websites, weather forecasts, radio, podcasts, and apps.

If you watch live TV or use the BBC iPlayer, you need to be covered by a TV licence. This applies to 92% of adults in the UK who use at least one BBC service each week. Failure to have a TV licence when required can result in a hefty fine of up to £1,000 plus legal fees and compensation.

How much does a TV licence cost for students?

Contrary to popular belief, there is no separate TV licence price or discount specifically for students. The annual cost of a TV licence is £159 for everyone, including students. However, there are ways to effectively reduce the cost if you only need the licence during term time.

One option is to request a partial refund for the months when you are not at university. If you purchased an annual licence for your student accommodation but did not stay there for a full year, you can cancel your licence and receive a refund for the remaining months.

To qualify for a refund, there must be at least one full month left on your licence. You can initiate the refund process through the TV licensing website by providing supporting information such as confirmation of term dates or a tenancy agreement.

Student TV Licence

TV licence requirements in student halls and shared houses

If you are living in campus-based student accommodation, TV licence rules still apply. This means you need a TV licence if you have a TV in your room or if you use the BBC iPlayer to wat

ch or download shows. However, there are some exceptions and specific rules to consider.

In a shared house or flat, each unit with its own tenancy agreement, front door, or bathroom will require its own TV licence. This means that bedsits, studio flats, and student houses where each room is independently let will need individual TV licence coverage. However, if you and your housemates have a joint tenancy agreement, you can share the cost of a single TV licence.

Not all devices require a TV licence. It's important to note that watching TV on a device powered by its own batteries, such as a laptop, tablet, or mobile phone, is permitted without a TV licence. However, if the device is plugged into the mains, it is considered to be using live TV and requires a licence.

“I’ve heard about a student TV licence loophole”

Now, let's explore a little-known loophole that can save you money on your TV licence if your parents already have a licence for their home. As a student who still lives at home with your parents for part of the year, you may be covered by their TV licence for portable devices.

Here's how it works: if your parents have a TV licence at their family home, you are covered by that licence when using portable devices. Portable devices include laptops, mobile phones, tablets, iPods, and other battery-powered devices. However, it's important to note that you cannot plug these devices into the mains while watching TV, as this would require a separate licence.

To take advantage of this loophole, you can watch live TV or use the BBC iPlayer on your portable devices without needing a separate TV licence. This can save you a significant amount of money, especially if you are already covered by your parents' licence.

How to pay for your TV licence as a student

Paying for your TV licence as a student is straightforward and can be done through various methods. You can choose to make a one-off payment online through the TV licensing website using a debit or credit card. Alternatively, you can set up a direct debit to pay in monthly or quarterly instalments. Another option is to pay with a cheque or through a BACS bank transfer in a single payment. Some selected shops also offer PayPoint facilities where you can pay for your TV licence.

TV licence is now primarily an online entity, and physical licences are no longer required or issued. However, it's important to ensure that you are properly licensed if you watch live TV or use the BBC iPlayer. Just keep a tab on the email you receive with your licence enclosed in case you ever need proof.

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