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Do UK University Students Really Need A TV Licence?

Updated: Feb 16

The need for a TV licence for UK students: A closer look

Students don't just need a TV licence because it's a legal requirement, it's your passport to real-time entertainment and information. Without it, you risk missing out on the latest events, your favourite series and bonding moments with your new friends.

This guide is a student's roadmap to understanding everything there is to know about TV licences for students in the UK - from necessity to nice-to-have to finding a loophole!

Why students need a TV licence at university

Imagine after a full day of lectures and assignments, just curling up with your favourite show. You can catch up with the latest episode of Love Island, watch a football match, follow the news or host a film night with friends.

Do all students need a TV licence?

Yes and No!

Officially, and according to the TV Licencing website; if you are living in student halls of residence, sharing a private house or flat with an individual tenancy agreement, or if you share a house as part of a shared tenancy, you need to have a TV licence if you are watching LIVE TV via any device that is connected to the mains.

The key word here is LIVE.

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

Live TV is 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 is any programme you download or watch that is not being shown as live TV, including catch up TV, as well as 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 pay for online, either through subscription or a one-off purchase.

What can I watch that requires a TV licence?

You can watch live TV on multiple platforms and streaming services such as the following:

  • 400+ TV channels, like ITV, E4, Dave, BBC, BBC iPlayer* and Channel 5.

  • Live TV on services like Sky, Virgin Media and BT services.

  • Live TV programmes on streaming services like Amazon Prime Video, NOW and YouTube.

*Is BBC iPlayer free to use?

The BBC iPlayer fee is covered by your annual TV Licence. This means that you do not need to pay to watch BBC TV programmes on BBC iPlayer if you have a licence.

What can I watch WITHOUT a TV licence?

You do not need a TV Licence to watch:

  • Netflix

  • Disney Plus

  • On-demand TV services like All 4 and Amazon Prime Video

  • YouTube videos (recorded content, not livestream)

  • DVDs

How to get your TV licence

There are several different payment options, from direct debit to PayPoint.

  • Pay annually: £159 (NB: this will be increasing to £169 from April 2024)

  • Pay every three months: Four payments of £41 (including a £1.25 fee)

  • Pay monthly: £26.50 for the first six months, then £13.25 per month

  • Direct debit, credit or debit card

Do you get student discount for a UK TV Licence?

Bizarrely, there are no student discounts for a TV Licence!

However, you can claim a refund on any months you didn't use your TV Licence if you live in your student accommodation for less than 12 months.

For a quick fact check, visit the TV Licensing website.

Two students watching a match on TV
You'll need a TV licence to watch live sports

What if I don't have a TV licence ?

According to, you can be fined up to £1,000 if you watch or record live TV without a TV Licence.

Is TV Licensing Harassing you? How to stop TV Licence Officers visiting your address.

Change or cancel your TV Licence

If you move home, don't forget to update your address on the TV Licence website.


Check out our FAQs for quick-fire questions and answers on TV licence and a whole range of other helpful topics. Or download this infographic for info direct from the horse's mouth.

UK TV Licence for Students - free download
Download PDF • 1.55MB

If you need more help or guidance on how to navigate the transition from high school to university, we are here for you! Check out our website where you will find useful blogs, resources, and tips on how to survive and thrive on campus.


And sign up to receive our weekly newsletter with tips and freebies to help students and parents on their university journey.



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