TV Licensing for students

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, parent of a student or provide student accommodation, you’ll find advice here with answers to the most frequently asked questions.

Do students need a TV Licence?

If students watch or record programmes as they’re being shown on TV or live on an online TV service – on any device – they need to be covered by a TV Licence. That includes a TV, laptop, tablet, mobile phone, games console, digital box, DVD/VHS recorder or anything else.

Pay for a licence

How much does it cost?

A colour TV Licence costs £145.50 a year. You can pay in one go, or spread the cost weekly, monthly, quarterly or yearly – whatever’s best for you.

We are unable to 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 that go home for the summer.

Are students covered by a hall’s or parent’s licence?

A hall's licence doesn’t cover a student in their room. Their parents’ licence also won’t cover them, unless the student only ever uses devices that are powered solely by their own internal batteries, and they don’t plug them into an aerial or the mains.

If a student intends to go home over the summer, they should check if they’re eligible for a refund.

Who doesn't need a TV Licence?

If a student never watches or records programmes as they're being shown on TV or live on an online TV service, they don't need to be covered by a TV Licence.

That means they only ever watch TV programmes before or after they're shown live – either on a TV or online through on-demand services like YouTube, BBC iPlayer and Channel 4 On Demand / All 4.

Alternatively, a student may be covered by their parents’ licence. If you think this is the case, please check that all of the following are true before letting us know that no licence is needed:

  1. The student’s out-of-term address is covered by a TV Licence
  2. AND the student only uses TV receiving equipment that is powered solely by its own internal batteries
  3. AND the student has not connected it to an aerial or plugged it into the mains

If a student claims that they do not require a licence, we may confirm this with a quick visit to their accommodation. We do this because, when we make contact on these visits, we find almost one in five people need a licence.

Please tell us if you think the student doesn't need a TV Licence.

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 not sure whether a licence is needed, please Contact us (in step 2 of the form click the 'Contact us' button at the bottom).

What if a student goes home for the summer?

If a student moves out of their term-time address over the summer, they could be eligible for a refund. This applies as long as there are three months in a row or more left on their licence and they don’t need it again before it expires.

This means that the student should buy their TV Licence as early in the year as possible. In doing so, they are more likely to have three months in a row or more left on their licence at the end of the year. If this is the case, the student is more likely to be eligible for a refund.

Find out how to apply for a refund.

Moving to new accommodation?

A student’s licence will not automatically move with them. But don’t worry – it’s easy to let us know the new address. Just tell us where the student is moving to and the date they are moving, so they can be 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.