Detection and penalties

Not covered by a TV Licence? You are breaking the law if you:

  • watch or record programmes as they're being shown on TV or live on an online TV service, or
  • download or watch BBC programmes on BBC iPlayer – live, catch up or on demand.

This applies to any device or provider you use, including a TV, desktop computer, laptop, mobile phone, tablet, games console, digital box or DVD/Blu-Ray/VHS recorder.

You could be prosecuted if we find that you have been watching, recording or downloading programmes illegally. 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.

A standard TV Licence costs £159 and a black and white licence costs £53.50.

How we can detect if you’re covered by a TV Licence

National database

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

Visiting officers

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

If you tell us that you do not need a TV Licence, our officers may still visit you to confirm this.

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.

Find out more about visits, prosecutions and fines.

Find out more about what happens if you don't pay for a TV Licence (or have a free one).

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: