TV Licensing: Has your town embraced tech or clung on to the cheque?

Some towns and cities across the UK are forging ahead by leading the adoption of online payment channels while others prefer lower tech methods, according to figures released today by TV Licensing.

With over 25 million licences in force across the UK, TV Licensing has witnessed an increase in customers who have embraced paying for their TV Licence online whilst others are doggedly refusing to give up on the humble cheque, a method of payment which has been around for hundreds of years.

Last year over 5.6m customers, up from 4.2m the previous year, received their TV Licence by email (elicence) – a paperless way of paying for and updating their TV Licence account online.  However, TV Licensing also received nearly half a million cheques from customers across the UK who preferred paying using the more traditional method.

It is London which tops both the elicence and cheque charts. With over 10 per cent of elicences held and seven per cent of the total number of cheque payments, the capital is a clear leader in the adoption of elicences but is also content to keep using the cheque book.

Whilst the top 10 cities are similar across both payment methods, Norwich and Belfast are both dragging their feet when it comes to ecommerce.  Norwich is 14th for elicences, but 7th for cheques while Belfast is 27th for elicences and 11th for cheques. 

When we take in to account the size of the local population*, the standout elicence performer is Bristol.  It may be the fifth largest city in the UK by population, but it is second only to London in the number of elicences held. Liverpool however, the UK’s fourth biggest city, just makes the top 10 table for elicences and is placed 12th for cheques.

    Top 10 e-licence cities
  • 1. London
  • 2. Bristol
  • 3. Glasgow
  • 4. Manchester
  • 5. Birmingham
  • 6. Nottingham
  • 7. Leeds
  • 8. Edinburgh
  • 9. Sheffield
  • 10. Liverpool
    Top 10 cheque cities
  • 1. London
  • 2. Birmingham
  • 3. Bristol
  • 4. Manchester
  • 5. Nottingham
  • 6. Glasgow
  • 7. Norwich
  • 8. Leeds
  • 9. Sheffield
  • 10. Leicester


Stephen Farmer, spokesperson for TV Licensing, said:

We would encourage our existing customers, as well as those buying their first TV Licence, to manage their licensing account and payments online.  If you’re renewing your licence, it’s worth checking that you’re using the payment method that's best for you.
You can spread the cost of your licence using monthly Direct Debit, which can be set up in minutes online at and you will then have the peace of mind of knowing that your licence is renewed automatically.

What is quite remarkable is that some customers are still sending in TV Licensing stamps to either pay or part-pay for their licence, or for refunding, despite stamps being unavailable to buy since 2008.  Over the past 12 months TV Licensing has received, on average, the equivalent of £300 a month in TV Licensing stamps.

Maurice Flack, a Fellow of the Royal Philatelic Society, said:

TV Licensing stamps were once a popular way of paying for a TV Licence in a time before widespread use of Direct Debits and credit cards.
I remember buying the stamps with my father who would let me stick them in a special card which he then posted to TV Licensing in return for the next year’s licence.  However, I’m surprised to learn stamps are still being returned to TV Licensing six years since they ceased to be available.

TV Licensing has recently launched a mobile optimised website which makes it even easier for customers to pay, update or check their details online.  Customers can choose to receive their licence or TV Licensing correspondence by email, and those using a Payment or Savings Card can now log in to see their details online.

A colour TV Licence currently costs £145.50 and is needed for watching or recording TV programmes as they are shown on TV, whether they are using a TV set, computer, or any other equipment. Anyone watching TV illegally risks prosecution and a fine of up to £1,000.

To buy a TV Licence, or find our more information about licensing requirements, visit



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