Do university students need a TV licence?

  • Find out if you need a TV licence as a uni student
  • Read about the TV licencing loophole for students

Do students living away from home need a TV licence?

When leaving home for university there are a million and one things that need to be arranged and remembered before you go. Something that students often overlook is the need for a TV Licence.

Having lived at home a TV license is typically of no concern because parents will pick up the charges, but when living away from home at university if you intend to watch terrestrial television you need to consider whether you need a TV Licence or not.

In 1st September 2016 a major change was made to the TV licencing laws in the UK. As of that date if you intend to download or watch BBC programs on demand – including BBC iPlayer and catch up TV it is necessary to have a TV Licence.

Is there a TV licencing loophole for students?

Interestingly there is a caveat which may mean in certain circumstances a student may not need a TV Licence if you fulfil the requirements for being covered by your parents’ TV Licence.

According to the TV licencing website the following provisions need to be true for you to be considered exempt (although you still need to tell the TV Licence authorities) –

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

So effectively as long as you don’t watch TV using a television (which needs to be plugged into the mains) you will be able to watch online using a mobile device for instance that isn’t plugged into the mains. It may seem like a slightly strange interpretation of the rules but one which could save many students from having to pay for a TV Licence unnecessarily.

If you believe that you would be able to benefit from the loophole you still need to check with the TV Licencing authorities by contacting them and confirming your circumstances. You can contact them by phone on 0300 790 6113.