BBC iPlayer and the TV Licence

BBC iPlayer logo
BBC iPlayer logo

The law changed on 1 September 2016.

 

You must be covered by a TV Licence to download or watch BBC programmes on iPlayer – live, catch up or on demand. This applies to any device and provider you use.

Don’t forget, you still need a TV Licence to watch or record programmes on any channel as they are being shown on TV or live on an online TV service.

So, if you already have a TV Licence, you’re already covered.

A standard TV Licence costs £147. Find out about ways to pay.

Find out more about when you need a licence

Answers to your questions.

I already have a licence. What do I need to do?

Nothing. You don’t need a second licence for BBC iPlayer or to pay anything extra. If you already have a licence (including a free over 75 licence), you’re already covered.

You and anyone normally living at your address are already covered to download or watch BBC programmes on iPlayer and to watch or record live TV programmes on any channel. However, there are some exceptions where you may need to be covered by a separate licence:

What if I already have a free over 75 TV Licence or a blind concessionary licence? Then you and anyone living at your address are already covered.

I don’t have a licence. What do I need to do?

You need to be covered by a TV Licence (including a free over 75 licence) if you download or watch BBC programmes on iPlayer – live, catch up or on demand. If you are not licensed, you risk prosecution and a fine of up to £1,000* plus any legal costs and/or compensation you may be ordered to pay.

You need a licence even if you access BBC iPlayer through another provider, such as:

  • Freeview, Freesat or YouView
  • Sky, Virgin Media or BT TV
  • Apple, Roku or Amazon

Don’t forget, you still need a TV Licence to watch or record any live TV programmes on any channel, no matter what device you use.

Still not sure if you need a licence?

A standard TV Licence costs £147. Find out about ways to pay.

What if I’m 74 years old or over or if I’m blind (severely sight impaired)? You may be eligible for a concession. Find out more about applying for a free over 75 licence when you’re over 74 or a blind concessionary licence.

*The maximum fine is £2,000 in Guernsey and £500 in Jersey.

Do I need a licence for everything on BBC iPlayer?

You need to be covered by a licence to watch or download almost all BBC programmes on iPlayer. At the moment, there are just a few exceptions – watching S4C TV on demand, listening to radio, and watching films or TV shows you’ve bought on the BBC Store. There may be other exceptions in the future.

Remember, you still need a TV Licence to watch or record any live TV programmes on any channel, no matter what device you use.

Does the change in law affect my No Licence Needed declaration?

If you have declared to us that you don’t need a TV Licence, but you download or watch BBC programmes on iPlayer, you need to be covered by a licence.

You need a licence even if you access BBC iPlayer through another provider, such as:

  • Freeview, Freesat or YouView
  • Sky, Virgin Media or BT TV
  • Apple, Roku or Amazon

If you never watch or record any live TV programmes on any channel or device, and never download or watch BBC programmes on iPlayer, you don’t need a TV Licence.

What’s the difference between live TV and on demand?

Live TV means any programme you watch or record at the same time as it's being shown on TV or live on an online TV service. Find out more about watching live TV.

On demand means any programme you download or watch that is not being shown as live TV, including catch up TV. These programmes can be accessed on a website or through an app on a smart TV, digital box or any other device. On demand also includes exclusive programmes that are only available online. You don’t need to be covered by a licence to watch any films or TV shows that you buy online.

Do I need a TV Licence for all on demand programmes?

No. You don’t need a licence if you only ever watch on demand or catch up programmes on services other than BBC iPlayer* (and you also never watch live TV programmes on any channel, including on iPlayer).

You don’t need to be covered by a licence to watch any films or TV shows that you buy online.

*You don’t need a licence to watch S4C TV on demand or listen to radio on iPlayer. You also don’t need one to watch films or TV shows on iPlayer that you’ve bought on the BBC Store.

Does the law apply to all devices and providers?

Yes, it applies to any device and provider you use, including:

  • TV sets (including smart TVs)
  • DVD, Blu-ray and VHS recorders
  • Laptops and desktop computers
  • Tablets, mobile phones and other portable devices
  • Digital boxes or PVRs (such as Sky, Virgin Media or BT TV)
  • Games consoles
  • Media streaming devices (such as Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV, Chromecast, Roku and Now TV)
  • Freeview, Freesat or YouView
I’m over 75. Do I need a TV Licence for iPlayer?

If you’re over 75 and you download or watch BBC programmes on iPlayer, you need to be covered by a free over 75 TV Licence. If you already have one you don’t need another one – you’re already covered. Apply for a free over 75 TV Licence.

Does the change in the law apply to students?

Yes. Anyone who downloads or watches BBC programmes on demand, including catch up TV, on iPlayer must be covered by a TV Licence. As before, you still need to be covered by a TV Licence to watch or record live TV programmes on any channel, including on iPlayer. This applies to any device you use.

Find out more about TV Licensing for students

How can I make sure my business is covered?

The best way to make sure everyone on your premises is covered to watch or record live TV programmes on any channel, or to download or watch BBC programmes on iPlayer, is to buy a TV Licence for your business.

Find out more about TV Licensing for businesses and organisations

Am I covered to use BBC iPlayer when I’m on the go or abroad?

If you already have a TV Licence for your address, you are already covered to download or watch BBC programmes on iPlayer when you’re on the go, provided the device you’re using isn’t plugged into the electricity mains at a separate address. If the device is plugged in at a separate address, you need to be covered by a licence at that address.

At the moment, you aren’t able to stream or download programmes on iPlayer while abroad. But you should be able to access programmes that you’ve downloaded before going overseas (usually available for 30 days after they’re shown on live TV).

Can I be prosecuted for watching BBC programmes on iPlayer without a TV Licence?

Yes. The maximum penalty is a £1,000* fine plus any legal costs and/or compensation you may be ordered to pay.

*The maximum fine is £2,000 in Guernsey and £500 in Jersey.

General information about TV Licensing is available in other languages: