Watching online and on mobile devices

 
Live TV on any channel and BBC iPlayer

You need to be covered by a TV Licence if you:

  • watch or record any live TV online
  • download or watch BBC programmes on iPlayer - live, catch up or on demand

This applies to any device and provider you use.

A colour TV Licence costs £145.50. Find out about ways to pay.

Other TV Licence types and costs


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

An online TV service is any streaming or smart TV service, website or app that lets you watch live TV over the internet. Popular services include BBC iPlayer, ITV Hub, Channel 4 Watch Live, All 4, Sky Go, Virgin Media, Now TV, BT TV, Apple TV, YouTube, Amazon Instant Video, YouTube and Roku.

Answers to your questions

Do I need a TV Licence if I only ever watch on demand or catch up TV online?

It depends what you watch.

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 also don’t need a licence if you only ever watch S4C TV on demand or listen to radio on iPlayer.

But you will need a licence if you watch or record live TV programmes on any channel, or you download or watch BBC programmes on iPlayer – live, catch up or on demand. This applies to any device and provider you use.

Do I need a TV Licence to watch live TV programmes on an online-only TV channel?

Yes. Online-only TV channels still count as live TV, so you need a TV Licence if you’re watching or recording their programmes.

Do I need a TV Licence if I watch on a mobile device?

If you’re using a mobile device powered solely by its own internal batteries – like a smartphone, tablet or laptop – you will be covered by your home’s TV Licence, wherever you’re using it in the UK and Channel Islands.

However, if you’re away from home and plug one of these devices into the mains and use it to watch or record live TV programmes on any channel or device, or to download or watch BBC programmes on iPlayer, you need to be covered by a separate TV Licence at that address (unless you’re in a vehicle or vessel like a train, car or boat). It’s the law.

Do I need a TV Licence to watch live TV programmes from outside the UK or Channel Islands?

You need a TV Licence to watch or record live TV programmes on any channel or device, no matter where they are broadcast or distributed from. This includes satellite or online streamed programmes from outside the UK or Channel Islands, such as sporting events and foreign shows.

Do I need a TV Licence to watch paid-for subscription channels?

Subscription channels like Netflix, Amazon Prime/Instant Video and Now TV are television services that are normally paid for on a monthly basis via cable, satellite or the internet.

You will need a TV Licence if you watch live TV on a subscription channel. But you don’t need a TV Licence to watch on demand programmes (other than those on BBC iPlayer) on paid-for subscription channels.

Please tell us if you think you don't need a TV Licence.


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

General information about TV Licensing is available in other languages: