What you can still watch legally WITHOUT a TV licence

You can be fined for not having a TV licence even if you don’t have a TV.

On the other side, you can also own and regularly watch your TV set legally without needing a licence.

It all comes down to what you watch.

The basic rule is if you watch or record any programming as it’s being broadcast or on iPlayer – no matter the device – you need one.

“A licence is needed to watch or record live TV, on any device including a laptop, tablet or mobile phone. You need to be covered by a TV Licence to watch or record live TV programmes on any channel or device, and to download or watch BBC programmes on iPlayer,” TV Licensing explains.

But there are gaps – with several services, including Netflix , exempt.

So here are the rules in full about what you can – and absolutely can not – watch without a TV licence.

If you’re in the UK (England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland), the Channel Islands and Isle of Man it’s almost always against the law to watch live TV – or download or watch shows on iPlayer – at an address that isn’t licensed.

What you watch on, however, is irrelevant.

So it doesn’t matter if you’re using a TV, a laptop, tablet, phone, smartwatch, games console or anything else.

It also doesn’t matter how the content gets to you, so Amazon Fire sticks, Chromecasts, NowTV, Roku, Apple TV, PVR, Freesat or anything else still all counts.

The two key things to remember here are that licences apply per address, and the phrase “live TV”.

That means you don’t need a licence if you only watch on demand or catch up programmes on services that aren’t iPlayer – like Netflix, for example – and you also never watch live TV programmes on any channel, including on iPlayer.

There’s also no need for a licence if you only watch DVDs, Blu-rays or videos.

However, you run into problems watching or recording any live broadcast – and that includes things like sports events on Amazon Prime .

The second point is it’s one licence per address.

So if you’re in a shared house, everyone is covered by a single licence as it’s one address.

But if you’re in student halls, for example, with your own lockable room then you’ll need your own licence.

Now, it’s not always clear what is – and isn’t – counted as a single address.

The easiest way to tell is your tenancy agreement. If you have a joint tenancy agreement then you’re generally all covered by a single licence.

If you each have a separate tenancy agreement, then a single licence would cover the shared areas, but you’d need separate licences to watch or record live TV in your room.

A big positive about the address rule is that if anyone at the address qualifies for a discount – for example is 75 or over or has severe sight impairment – then as long as the licence is in their name you can all get covered at the discount rate.

A colour TV Licence currently costs £154.50 for a year. A black and white TV Licence costs £52.

Here’s how you pay:

Online – people are now able to pay online at www.tvlicensing.co.uk/payinfo by
Direct Debit or with a debit or credit card.
Direct Debit – monthly, quarterly or annual Direct Debit payment schemes are available and can be set up online at www.tvlicensing.co.uk/directdebit
Over-the-counter at any Post Office.
Debit or credit card over the phone.
By post – send a cheque made payable to TV Licensing to: TV Licensing, Darlington, DL98 1TL