The number of licences in force in the UK over the last nine years is shown below.
UK total number of licences in force*
*For each financial year from 1 April to 31 March. These figures are approximations of the number of licences in force. They do not include concessionary licences held by Accommodation for Residential Care (ARC) premises.
An address may require more than one licence (e.g. student accommodation). Therefore the number of licences is shown here, rather than the number of addresses with a licence. The number of households and business premises with TV Licences cannot be readily extracted from the total number of licences in force, because such information is not specifically recorded for each licence.
Figures on licence fee revenue by area aren’t available, as it isn’t necessary to generate this type of information for the purpose of issuing licences, and licence fee collection and enforcement. Please see the About TV Licensing section for information on licence fee revenue.
The Broadcasters’ Audience Research Board (BARB) estimates 26.8 million private domestic households (approximately 97% of households) in the UK own televisions. BARB provides the official measurement of UK television audiences. This figure is a measure of households only and does not include other premises like businesses. Please check the BARB website (opens in new window).
As of August 2009, 244,649 addresses were recorded on the TV Licensing database as being issued with more than one TV Licence (compared to 213,580 in February 2009). There are instances where it is legitimate to have more than one licence at an address, e.g. for student accommodation. In other cases, an address may temporarily be recorded as having more than one licence due to licence payers moving premises.
In 1967, 16.773 million licences were in force, compared to 24.964 million in 2009/10. Note these are the number of licences issued for all premises (not individuals or households) in the UK.
Information about the number of households in the UK is available from the government’s Communities and Local Government website.
As at 31 March 2009, 28,887 black and white (mono) TV Licences were in force.
In August 2009, 7,416 licences were in force in holiday homes across the UK.
Information is not specifically collected on whether a holiday home issued with a TV Licence is a caravan – they are all classified as holiday homes (not caravans) in the TV Licensing database. While an address may mention a caravan park, this is not always the case.
The licensable status of a caravan depends on the circumstances in each case. If the caravan is a holiday home or temporary residence and the occupier holds a valid TV Licence at their main (home) address, then a separate TV Licence would not normally be required. (Provided that television receiving equipment is not used to show television programmes in both locations at the same time.)
If a caravan doesn’t have television equipment installed or in use for watching television programmes as they are being shown on TV then a TV Licence is not required. The presence of a television does not necessarily mean that a TV Licence is required. TV Licensing recognises that a television may be used solely for viewing pre-recorded DVDs or videos, or for video games.
The BBC doesn’t collate statistics on the number of licences issued to holiday homes in a specified area and this information is not readily retrievable. This is because it isn’t necessary to generate these statistics for the purpose of licence fee collection and enforcement. While it might be possible to manually collate the number of licences issued to addresses that are holiday homes in a specified area, this would require the commissioning of a bespoke report to analyse the TV Licensing database to:
We estimate that it would not usually be possible to compile such a report within the appropriate limit set by Regulations made pursuant to section 12 of the FOI Act. The BBC is not obliged to comply with a request if the cost of doing so would exceed this limit, which is £450 (the equivalent to two and a half days work at an hourly rate of £25).
Information about whether a licence is required for a mobile home or caravan is available here.
We don’t hold the information requested in a form that is readily accessible. TV Licensing (and the BBC) has no reason to collate data to generate the statistical information requested here, so our database is not configured to enable this type of information to be readily retrievable. While it might be possible to manually extract the information requested from the TV Licensing database, we estimate that it would not be possible to do this within the appropriate limit set by Regulations made pursuant to section 12 of the FOI Act. The BBC is not obliged to comply with a request if the cost of doing so would exceed this limit, which is £450 (the equivalent to two and a half days work at an hourly rate of £25).
The BBC is not able to release personal information about other people (including names or addresses) as to do so would breach the Data Protection Act 1998. Information is collected and held for the purpose of administering the TV licensing system, not for other unrelated purposes.
As at March 2010, the BBC was issued with 149 current TV Licences. In accordance with TV Licensing policy for business premises, each Licence covers all television equipment in use for business purposes in each BBC building or site.
The BBC doesn’t hold this information, as it isn’t necessary to do so for the purpose of issuing TV Licences, and licence fee collection and enforcement.
BBC staff are not eligible for a reduced licence fee or a free TV Licence by virtue of the fact they work for the BBC.
BBC staff are eligible for concessions just like anyone else. Blind or severely sight-impaired persons are eligible for a 50% concession on the licence fee, and persons aged 75 years or older are eligible for a free licence. The BBC doesn’t retain a list of staff members who receive concessions on their licence.
The TV Licence fee – including concessions and payment amounts – is prescribed by Parliament under the Communications (Television Licensing) Regulation 2004 (as amended). The BBC is not responsible for these matters. You may wish to contact the government agency responsible for broadcasting in the UK – the Department for Culture, Media and Sport – to raise any issues you may have about the legal framework for the licence fee. The Department’s address is 2-4 Cockspur Street, London, SW1Y 5DH.
We recognise that some people may have difficulty paying for their TV Licence in one lump sum. A cash payment plan is available to allow for paying the licence fee in manageable instalments. Payments (by cash, debit or credit card) may be for as little as £5.60 a week.
People can also save towards the payment of their next licence by using a TV Licensing savings card.
TV Licensing works closely with money advice groups and other stakeholders to ensure that information about flexible payment methods reaches those who might benefit from it.
Information on the types of concessions and how you can apply for them can be found below:
Yes. The BBC is reimbursed the cost of free over 75 TV Licences by the Department for Work and Pensions. The amount paid for each household is the full cost of the relevant licence (colour or black and white).
At the end of March 2010 approximately 4.1 million free over 75 TV Licences were in issue at a cost of approximately £556.4 million to the Department for Work and Pensions. For the previous financial year (2008/09), approximately 4 million free over 75 TV Licences were in issue, at a cost of approximately £532.9 million to the government.
This information is also available in the BBC Annual Report and Accounts.
The BBC doesn’t hold information on the number of people each year who reach 75 years old and become eligible for a free over 75 TV Licence. These figures may be available from the Department for Work and Pensions.
The BBC doesn’t hold information on the number of pensioners who have not ‘taken up’ the free over 75 TV Licence.
The number of free over 75 TV Licences issued each year for the last five financial years are shown below:
|Financial year||Number of over 75 licences (m)|
TV Licensing verifies the ages of persons who apply for free over 75 TV Licences by matching information provided by applicants with information held by the Department for Work and Pensions. The procedure followed by TV Licensing in doing so is as follows:
(i) TV Licensing checks that the title, name, national insurance number and date of birth supplied by the applicant matches information held by the Department for Work and Pensions.
(ii) Where a match is not found or a national insurance number cannot be supplied, TV Licensing will check any of the following documentation for proof of age:
UK driver's licence
UK birth certificate
EU or EEA National Identity Card
If an applicant's name had changed, he or she will need to provide a copy of a marriage certificate or deed poll document.
(iii) If an applicant does not have any of the above documentation they can be advised to send TV Licensing a copy of any official document which contains their date of birth. TV Licensing will review this document for proof of age.
(iv) If all of the above checks fail, or if the applicant is not able to easily provide a document which contains proof of age, the applicant can request a visit from a TV Licensing enquiry officer. The officer will call at the relevant address and make a decision based on the evidence given to them.
TV Licensing will attempt to confirm whether the property is still occupied by any member of the deceased person's family unit. If it is not, the TV Licence will be cancelled. If it is, the current year's licence will remain in force. TV Licensing will then attempt to seek additional information about the remaining occupant(s) of the property to assess the future licensing requirements of the property.
If a remaining occupant is over 74 (and does not hold an over 75 TV Licence elsewhere) then TV Licensing will either process an application for a short term TV Licence or a free licence for the occupant, with the licence term to start from the expiry date of the current licence.
If no remaining occupant is over 74 then TV Licensing will send a renewal notice to the address before the expiry of the current licence as a new licence should be purchased once that expires, if one is required.
The names of these companies are as follows:
Capita Business Services Ltd
Proximity London Ltd
The BBC also holds this information, and it may be accessed by staff employed in the BBC's TV Licensing Management Team. The addresses of the BBC and these companies are listed below:
The British Broadcasting Corporation
London W1A 1AA
Capita Business Services Ltd
100 Temple Street, Bristol, BS1 6AG
Proximity London Ltd
191 Old Marylebone Road, London, NW1 5DW
The BBC doesn't hold information on the number of over 75 TV Licences issued by local authority or parliamentary constituency.
You can pay for your TV Licence in cash or by debit card at any PayPoint outlet. There are approximately 23,000 PayPoint outlets across the UK. The outlets can be found in newsagents, convenience stores, supermarkets and garages.
For information on the locations and opening hours of PayPoint outlets please check the PayPoint website.
If you have a query about disabled access to PayPoint outlets please phone TV Licensing on 0300 790 6131.
i) A TV Licence is a legal permission to install or use television receiving equipment (TV, computer, laptop, mobile phone or any other) to watch or record television programmes as they are being shown on TV, regardless of how they are received (terrestrial, satellite, cable, via the internet or any other way).
Unlike utility and other consumer bills, which are usually paid for in arrears, the TV Licence fee is a fixed fee to permit installation or use of television receiving equipment to receive television programme services, and is charged annually in advance.
Therefore in most cases the licence fee is paid in advance by Monthly Direct Debit or under a Cash Payment Plan. However, payment in arrears is possible by Quarterly Direct Debit; this incurs a £5 premium as set out in the Communications (Television Licensing) Regulations 2004 (as amended).
The schemes available for paying the licence fee by instalment are the following:
Monthly Direct Debit
The Monthly Direct Debit Scheme enables individuals to pay by monthly direct debit for their current TV Licence in six monthly instalments, and in the seventh month start to pay in advance towards their next licence in 12 monthly instalments. They then continue paying for future licences in this way.
Cash Payment Plan
This scheme is the same as the Monthly Direct Debit Scheme in that individuals pay for their current TV Licence in payments over six months, and in the seventh month start to pay in advance towards their next licence.
Quarterly Direct Debit
Individuals can pay the licence fee in arrears under the Quarterly Direct Debit Scheme. This payment method comes with a £5 annual premium (or £1.25 per quarter) because the licence fee is paid in arrears. The £5 premium is prescribed by Parliament under the Communications (Television Licensing) Regulations 2004 (as amended). Persons are advised of the premium whenever they choose this payment option, and it is outlined in the payment plan accompanying each new licence.
Individuals can choose to save towards the cost of their next TV Licence using savings cards (previously called saving stamps). The sums accrued here are savings, not payments.
Funds from advance payments made under the Monthly Direct Debit Scheme and Cash Payment Plan are held by TV Licensing in an interest-neutral way. No interest or other type of investment return has been earned by TV Licensing from these advance payments at any time.
Unlike utility and other consumer bills, which are usually paid for in arrears, the TV Licence fee is a fixed fee to permit the installation or use of television receiving equipment to receive television programme services, and is charged annually in advance.
Because the licence fee is paid in arrears under the Quarterly Direct Debit Scheme, this payment method comes with a £5 annual premium (£1.25 per quarter). The £5 premium is prescribed by Parliament under the Communications (Television Licensing) Regulations 2004 (as amended). Persons are advised of the premium whenever they choose this payment option, and it is outlined in the payment plan accompanying each new licence. If people would prefer not to pay this, then there are other payment options, including annual and monthly direct debit.
New licences are dated to expire 12 months from the first day of the month in which they are issued. When renewed, the original expiry date is retained. This can mean that the first licence may run for less than 12 months (for example, a licence purchased on 23 September will expire on 31 August the following year).
This system of dating is used so that licences expire on one of 12 monthly dates rather than on any day of the year. The operation of a system using 365 possible expiry dates would be very costly in terms of administration and enforcement and would therefore not provide good value for money for licence payers. It would increase the costs of collection meaning that less money would go to the BBC’s programmes and services. The practice of dating licences to expire on one of 12 monthly dates back to the 1960s.
When TV Licensing becomes aware that an overcharging error has occurred, they will act to rectify the situation and arrange a refund as soon as possible.
The latest official evasion rate for the United Kingdom is 5.2% of all licensable places (for the 2009/10 financial year). The official evasion rate estimates the percentage (not the number) of all premises (not individuals or households) evading the licence fee in the UK. It is calculated for the Department for Culture, Media and Sport using a model that compares the number of licences in force to external statistics on the number of households and other licensable places in the UK. The official evasion rate:
The UK official evasion rate from 2002/03 to 2009/10 is set out below:
UK official evasion rate
|Financial year||Evasion rate*|
*Historical evasion, as at 31 March each year, restated using latest assumptions. The evasion rate covers all premises (e.g. households and businesses).
The Broadcasters’ Audience Research Board (BARB) (opens in new window) estimates approximately 97% of households in the UK own televisions. BARB provides the official measurement of UK television audiences. This figure is a measure of households only and does not include other premises like businesses.
A TV Licence authorises the installation and use of TV equipment at the licensed place by anyone.
Premises without a valid TV Licence fall into the categories:
Information is not collated in a form that would allow us to calculate the number of households (out of all licensable premises) watching television programmes without a valid licence. While it might be possible to estimate this figure, this will require the commission of a bespoke report analysing the TV Licensing database. It would not be possible to do this work within the appropriate limit set by Regulations made pursuant to section 12 of the FOI Act. The BBC is not obliged to comply with a request if the cost of doing so would exceed this limit, which is £450 (the equivalent to two and a half days work at an hourly rate of £25).
Fee evaders are persons from whom prosecution statements are taken by TV Licensing, rather than persons who receive reminder letters or have been convicted of an offence.
This information is available from the Ministry of Justice and each magistrates’ court in which the proceedings take place. Please contact them for this information.
The BBC estimates that £196 million of revenue was lost in 2009/10, and £195 million in 2008/09 due to licence fee evasion.
We don’t collate information in a form that would readily allow us to breakdown evasion figures into rural/urban areas. While it might be possible to estimate this figure, this will require the commission of a bespoke report analysing the TV Licensing database. We estimate that it would not be possible to do this within the appropriate limit set by Regulations made pursuant to section 12 of the FOI Act. The BBC is not obliged to comply with a request if the cost of doing so would exceed this limit, which is £450 (the equivalent to two and a half days work at an hourly rate of £25).
The information requested here was exempt from disclosure under section 31 of the FOI Act.