Who needs a TV licence?

With households shifting towards streaming services as their primary source of entertainment, more and more people are wondering whether they need a TV licence anymore. We’ve assembled all the must-know information on TV licences in this article, helping you understand whether you do or don’t need a licence.

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What is a TV licence?

Anyone who has received a warning regarding a TV licence when tuning in to iPlayer may be unsure exactly what it means. Put simply, a TV licence is a tax issued to fund the BBC.

Originally, the tax only applied to people who watched live TV, but now viewers of BBC iPlayer are also required to pay. If not, you may receive a fine of up to £1,000.

Am I required to pay?

Depending on most people’s TV-watching habits, you’re probably required to pay. If you watch live TV on any device, if you record live TV on any device and if you watch BBC iPlayer on any device, you need a licence.

However, if you only watch online services (Netflix, Prime Video, Disney+, etc.), and if you don’t watch iPlayer or live TV, you do not have to pay for a TV licence. To look into getting a TV licence, see tvlicensing.

With an aerial TV, chances are you’ll have to pay, except for a few caveats we’ll go over. Anyone seeking TV aerial installation Gloucester can find local services online, such as https://steveunettaerials.co.uk/.


There is some important fine print to be aware of. Live TV doesn’t just mean live on the BBC, but live on any channel, even if you record and watch it later.

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It also applies no matter where the broadcast originates. Therefore, viewing any live broadcast in the UK from the US, for example, will require you to pay.

Surprisingly, catch-up apps and websites (ITVX and Channel4.com, for example) are fine, despite iPlayer requiring you to pay.

You also don’t have to pay simply because your TV has BBC. If you never tune in to the channel, you never have to pay, but if you watch BBC programmes on other services, you do.

Thomas Taylor

Thomas Taylor

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