Do students need a TV Licence?

The law is changing. From 1 September 2016 you'll need a TV Licence to watch or download BBC programmes on demand, including catch up TV, on BBC iPlayer. Find out more

If you’re a student, a parent or you provide student accommodation, you’ll find all the information you need here.

Do students need a TV Licence?

This year, the law is changing. From 1 September 2016, students must be covered by a TV Licence to download or watch any BBC programmes on iPlayer – live, catch up or on demand.

As before, they’ll still need a licence to watch or record any programmes as they’re being shown on TV or live on any online TV service.

This could be on any device, including a TV, desktop computer, laptop, mobile phone, tablet, games console, digital box or Blu-ray/DVD/VHS recorder.

Pay for a licence

How much does it cost?

A TV Licence costs £145.50 a year. You can pay it all in one go, or spread the cost weekly, monthly or quarterly. Once it’s set up, the easiest way to manage your licence is online.

We can’t offer a discount or a shorter length TV Licence to students. But we do offer refunds. Find out if you are eligible for a refund or get more information about students who go home for the summer.

Are students covered by a halls’ or parents’ licence?

A halls’ licence doesn’t cover students in their rooms. They won’t be covered by their parents’ licence either, unless they only ever use devices that are powered solely by their own internal batteries, and aren’t plugged into an aerial or the mains.

Students who plan to go home over the summer should check if they’re eligible for a refund.

Who doesn't need a TV Licence?

Students won’t need a licence if they never watch or record programmes as they're being shown on TV or live on an online TV service, and never download or watch any BBC programmes on iPlayer.

That means the only TV they’d watch would be programmes on demand on services other than iPlayer, such as Sky Go, All 4, ITV Hub and YouTube.

Alternatively, they may be covered by their parents’ licence. If you think this is the case, please check that all the following are true before getting in touch with us:

  1. They never watch or record programmes as they're being shown on TV or live on an online TV service
  2. AND never download or watch BBC programmes on iPlayer – live, catch up or on demand
  3. OR they only do the above using a device that’s never connected to an aerial or plugged into the mains.

We sometimes visit to check if people need a licence. Why do we do this? Well, we've found that when we visit and make contact, almost one in six people who say they don’t need a licence actually do need one. So it’s really important to be certain before you get in touch.

What about shared student housing?

If a student has a separate tenancy agreement for their room, they will need to be covered by a separate licence.

If there's a joint tenancy agreement for the whole house – a common type of shared house arrangement – the occupants will probably only need one licence between them. But, if a student’s accommodation is self-contained, e.g. they pay for their own utilities or have their own entrance to the property, they may need their own licence.

If you're still not sure, check our advice for tenants and lodgers to find out more.

What if a student goes home for the summer?

Students who leave halls or rented accommodation and move home for the summer may not need their TV Licence if there’s one at home. See our policy and apply for a refund online.

Moving to new accommodation?

Students’ TV Licences do not automatically move with them. But it’s easy to update contact details. Tell us the new address and the moving date to make sure they’re covered in their new home.

Do you provide advice to those who manage student accommodation?

Here are some useful downloads as well as information for halls’ managers.

Are you a landlord to a student?

For information and advice, please see Residential Landlords.

If you still have questions take a look at TV Licensing FAQs where you can find all the answers in one place.