Legislation and policy

TV Licensing and the law

Part 4 of the Communications Act 2003 makes it an offence to use or install TV receiving equipment to:

  • watch or record programmes as they’re being shown on TV or live on an online TV service, including programmes streamed over the internet and satellite programmes from outside the UK, or
  • watch or download BBC programmes on demand, including catch up TV, on BBC iPlayer without being covered by a TV Licence.

The Act empowers the BBC to make and amend the terms and conditions of a licence. It allows the government to make regulations to exempt or reduce the licence fee for certain persons in certain circumstances. It also makes it an offence for anyone to have any TV receiving equipment in their possession or under their control who intends to use or install it in contravention of the main offence (above), or knows, or has reasonable grounds for believing, that another person intends to install or use a TV receiving equipment in contravention of the main offence.

The Communications (Television Licensing) Regulations 2004 define what is a 'television set.' The regulations also set out the various types of TV Licence, the criteria for obtaining them, the fees payable for them (including the frequency and amount of instalments) and the different concessions available, including concessions for people who are blind (severely sight impaired), people who are over 74 years of age, people who live in residential care and people who run hotels, guesthouses or campsites.

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Revoking and cancelling a TV Licence

We have a policy for determining the circumstances in which we will revoke or cancel a TV Licence. A TV Licence lasts for as long as specified on the licence unless it has previously been cancelled or revoked by or on behalf of the licensing authority (the BBC) in accordance with section 364(4) of the Communications Act. We will only revoke or cancel a licence in the following circumstances:

  1. Breach of licence terms
  2. Error or fraud
  3. Change of circumstances
  4. Administrative

1. Breach of licence terms

If there has been a breach of the terms and conditions of the TV Licence, including a failure to pay any money due, with respect to the licence, under the Communications Act and the Communications (Television Licensing) Regulations 2004 within the regulatory time scales, and provided the licence holder has been given a reasonable opportunity to pay and is reasonably aware of the consequences of non-payment.

2. Error or fraud

If an over 75 TV Licence has been issued to a person who is not aged 75 or over, and/or for an address which is not that person's sole or main residence.

3. Change of circumstances

If the licence holder informs us that the licence is not required (whether by way of a justified refund claim or otherwise) or will not be required as from a future date, and we are satisfied that the claim is justified.

N.B. We will not cancel an over 75 TV Licence when we are informed that the licence holder has died. The licence will remain in force until it has expired.

4. Administrative

If the customer wishes to move to a different payment scheme we sometimes need to cancel the current licence and issue a new one.

TV Licences will normally be revoked or cancelled by notice in writing and in accordance with the requirements of the Communications Act 2003, sections 364(5)(8) and (9), clearly stating the date of revocation or cancellation. We will send a letter of impending revocation, which will be followed by a letter of revocation unless the matter has been resolved. We may also revoke licences by publishing a general notice on the BBC's website and, if deemed appropriate by the BBC, in other national communications. We will only revoke a licence from a date which takes account of any money that has been paid in respect of the licence, rounding up to the nearest month of expiry if necessary (and, in the case of a licence for which a blind concession fee has been paid, rounding up pro rata).

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Refunds

Section 365(3) of the Communications Act 2003 gives the BBC a discretionary power to refund payments made in respect of a licence under the Communications (Television Licensing) Regulations 2004. When deciding whether or not to make a refund, we will take into consideration any earlier claim by the claimant in respect of which there is reason to suspect that the refund was obtained as a result of false information, including a signed declaration by the claimant which has proved to be false.

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When can I claim a refund?

Your application must normally be submitted within two years of the expiry date of the licence that you wish to be refunded (or if you are claiming for more than one licence, within two years of the expiry date of the most recent licence). This does not apply to refunds for blind concession or free over 75 licences (see 5 and 6 below).
 

These are the main circumstances in which refunds are considered:

  1. TV receiving equipment is no longer in use
  2. The address is covered by another licence
  3. TV Licence is bought in error
  4. A replacement TV Licence has been bought
  5. Blind concession refunds
  6. Refunds in consequence of an over 75 TV Licence application
  7. Due to the death of the licence holder

Refunds are normally calculated in complete months.

 

1. TV receiving equipment is no longer in use

Refunds can be given where the licence holder ceases to use TV receiving equipment at their address. The licence holder should not watch or record programmes as they’re being shown on TV or live on an online TV service, or download or watch BBC programmes on demand, including catch up TV, on BBC iPlayer at the address. If the licence has not yet expired, it must not be needed again before its expiry date.

2. The address is covered by another licence

Refunds can be given where the licence holder moves to a different address where they will be covered by someone else's licence (e.g. parents' or partner's address).

3. TV Licence is bought in error

Refunds can be given in respect of licences which are bought as a result of an error by the customer, usually because the licence holder does not require the type of licence they have bought. For example, if they have bought a licence when there is already one in place at the address. In these circumstances, the customer can normally claim up to two years' worth of refund. If the licence was bought in error as a result of advice given by TV Licensing, the customer can claim up to six years' worth of refund.

4. A replacement TV Licence has been bought

Refunds can be given where the licence holder no longer requires a licence because it has been replaced by a different type of TV Licence. For example, the licence holder moves to an address which is covered by an ARC concessionary TV Licence for persons who meet the relevant criteria.

A claim can be made if a licence holder:

  1. Moves from a black and white licence for a colour one, or
  2. Moves from a colour licence for a black and white one, or
  3. Moves to an address which is covered by an ARC concessionary TV Licence (after qualification has been provided), or
  4. Applies for a hotel and mobile units TV Licence to cover the address covered by his/her existing licence, or
  5. Is included on an application for a multiple form TV Licence

In this category, refunds can be given with respect to complete unused months. If there is a delay in establishing eligibility for the replacement licence, the customer can claim up to two years' worth of refund. If the licence was bought in error as a result of advice given by the Licensing Authority or its agent, the customer can claim up to six years' worth of refund.

5. Blind concession refunds

A refund of up to half the licence fee (depending on whether the licence is a full fee or instalment licence) can be given if a licence holder has a blind certificate issued by a local authority or ophthalmologist, but failed to claim the reduction for the blind concession when his/her current licence was bought.

To qualify for the blind concession, the customer must supply a photocopy of one of the following pieces of evidence:

  1. A certificate or other document issued by or on behalf of a local authority in Great Britain showing that the applicant is blind (severely sight impaired) or
  2. A certificate or other document issued by or on behalf of the DHSS in the Isle of Man showing that the applicant is blind (severely sight impaired), or
  3. A certificate issued by a Health and Social Services Trust in Northern Ireland showing that the applicant is blind (severely sight impaired), or
  4. A certificate issued and signed by an ophthalmologist (CVI or BD8) (1990) showing that the applicant is blind (severely sight impaired).

How to claim a blind concession refund

A person who has properly claimed a blind concession may also claim a refund of 50% of the fees paid on an expired TV Licence, backdated to 1 April 2000 or the first of the month in which he or she became blind (severely sight impaired), whichever is the later. The claimant must provide the licence and a photocopy of one piece of evidence (as detailed above). The usual rule that refunds must be paid to the licence holder only does not apply in this case. If the licence covers or covered the place where the blind or severely sight impaired person resides or resided throughout the relevant time, then a refund will be payable to the licence holder even if this is not the blind or severely sight impaired person (subject to satisfactory proof).

6. Refunds in consequence of an over 75 TV Licence application

Refunds of complete months on a current licence will be payable automatically when an over 75 TV Licence is issued, backdated to the beginning of the licence or the first of the month of the 75th birthday, whichever is the later. However, no refund is payable on an over 75 TV Licence.

How to apply for a free over 75 TV Licence

7. Refunds due to the death of the licence holder

If the refund claim is due to the death of the licence holder, a refund may be claimed for any complete months left on the licence (as long as certain conditions are met) and may be paid to the estate of the licence holder.

Further information

TV Licence savings stamps have been removed from circulation and replaced with a TV Licensing savings card. For more information, please call 0300 790 6165*.

For more information about our refund policy in general, please write to:

The Refund Group
PO Box 410
Darlington
DL98 1TL

Poor television reception

Your TV Licence does not guarantee the quality of picture you receive.

If you have problems with your TV reception or interference to your signal, please visit the BBC’s Help Receiving TV and Radio website for advice.

 

*Calls to our 0300 numbers cost no more than a national rate call to an 01 or 02 number, whether from a mobile or landline. If you get inclusive minutes with your mobile, calls to an 0300 number will be included.

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Latest press releases

Students going mobile as they leave TV sets behind
Tue Aug 15 2017
A change to the law last September means students are now more likely to need a TV Licence to watch on mobile devices. A TV Licence is needed for watching and recording live television, and since September, watching or downloading BBC programmes on iPlayer. This applies to laptops, mobiles or any other equipment.
Working beyond 9 to 5: half of all TV Licensing evaders caught out of hours
Tue July 25 2017
Half of all TV Licensing evaders are caught in the early morning, evening and at weekends, according to new figures released today.
Students - claim your TV Licence refund
Fri July 7 2017
As students pack up and move home for the summer, TV Licensing is reminding students they may be entitled to extra holiday spending money in the form of a TV Licence refund.
 
 

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