Detection and penalties

It’s against the law to watch or record TV programmes as they're being shown on TV without a valid licence. This includes the use of devices such as a TV, computer, mobile phone, games console, digital box or DVD/VHS recorder. 

Watching TV without a valid licence is a criminal offence. This can lead to prosecution, a court appearance and a fine of up to £1,000 (not including legal costs). The exceptions are in Guernsey where the maximum fine is £2,000 and Jersey it is £500.

It costs £145.50 for a colour and £49.00 for a black and white TV Licence.

We have various ways of checking if you’re covered by a valid licence or not.

How we can detect if you’re correctly licensed

How we can detect if you’re correctly licensed

National database We have a database of approximately 31 million licensed and unlicensed addresses. This tells us if your address has a TV Licence.
Enforcement officers

All our enforcement officers have access to this database. This means they can check if you have a valid licence or not.

If you inform us that you do not watch television, enforcement officers may still visit you to confirm this.

Hand-held detection devices Enforcement officers may use a hand-held detection device to measure both the direction and the strength of a TV signal. This makes it easy for us to locate TV receiving equipment in even the hardest-to-reach places.
Detector vans We also have a fleet of detector vans that can detect the use of TV receiving equipment at specifically targeted addresses within minutes.