Do You Need A TV License?

At one time you only needed a TV license if you were watching a physical television set in your home. Now things aren’t that simple. Now that streaming and online catch-up services on phones and computers are such a big part of our watching habits, it can be hard to tell whether you need a TV license or not.

Do You Need A TV License?

Live TV

If you watch TV live, whether it’s on a phone or a TV set, then you need a license.


If you don’t watch TV, but only watch shows through the likes of sites such as Amazon Prime and Netflix then you don’t need a license.


If you want TV on catch-up (on a TV or another device), you don’t need a licence EXCEPT for if you are watching on BBC iPlayer. To watch BBC iPlayer live or as catch-up you will need a license.

Owning a TV

You don’t need to have a license if you have the ability to watch ‘live’ TV, only if you actually do so. Having a TV in your house, or a satellite dish on the roof etc does not mean that you have to pay if you’re not watching live.


The TV licensing website says that you DO NOT NEED a license if your ‘out-of-term address” (your parents’ home) is covered by a TV license, and if you also only watch live television and/or BBC iPlayer on a device that is not connected to an aerial or plugged into mains power.

TV licenses aren’t cheap, but it’s worth being sure if you need one or not as if you don’t pay for your license, you could face a fine of £1,000! In 2017/2018, TV licensing officers caught over 243,000 people watching TV without a license!