As of 1st September 2016 anyone that watches TV including BBC catchup service iPlayer needs to legally have a TV licence.
HOWEVER, an old rule that still applies today and tomorrow means you don’t need to buy a licence IF you can prove your parents already pay for a licence and you only watch TV/Catchup via a device that is powered by batteries (aka phone/tablet/laptop).
The press release from TV Licensing reads:
In limited circumstances, students can be covered by the licence at their parents’ address. The device must be powered by its own internal batteries – e.g. a tablet or mobile phone – and must not be plugged it into the mains when receiving television. This use is enabled by the Regulations governing TV Licensing.
- Use a laptop / phone / tablet and charge it BEFORE you use iPlayer etc, then unplug from mains power and watch legally!
- Get your parents/guardians etc to confirm they have a TV licence
- Contact TV Licencing to confirm you’re exempt
- OR just don’t watch BBC iPlayer or use an aerial to watch TV, remember other on-demand services, such as ITV Player or Netflix are free (licence wise) to watch!
TV Licensing on Twitter responded to the question “…Would this include a laptop & phone? They can charge then make sure to disconnect from mains to watch without licence?” with:
Yes. As long as their parents have a valid TV Licence. You can call 0300 790 6113 to check if this exemption applies to you.
What is the official rules on TVLicencing website:
Who doesn’t need a TV Licence?
Students won’t need a licence if they never watch or record programmes as they’re being shown on TV or live on an online TV service, and never download or watch any BBC programmes on iPlayer.
That means the only TV they’d watch would be programmes on demand on services other than iPlayer, such as Sky Go, All 4, ITV Hub and YouTube.
Alternatively, they may be covered by their parents’ licence. If you think this is the case, please check that all the following are true before getting in touch with us:
- They never watch or record programmes as they’re being shown on TV or live on an online TV service
- AND never download or watch BBC programmes on iPlayer – live, catch up or on demand
- OR they only do the above using a device that’s never connected to an aerial or plugged into the mains.
We sometimes visit to check if people need a licence. Why do we do this? Well, we’ve found that when we visit and make contact, almost one in six people who say they don’t need a licence actually do need one. So it’s really important to be certain before you get in touch.
How to become a student for £21
It’s useful for the other benefits even if it doesn’t give you free TV licencing!
Will I be OK watching live TV if I do this?
No. You can only do this if you plan on watching TV on demand. If you want to watch live TV then you must have your own licence.
Isn’t this an old rule/loophole?
Yes but it wasn’t expected that this would continue after September 1st 2016.
I’m not a student how can I get around paying?
If you don’t watch or record any live TV – and you don’t watch or download BBC programmes on demand on iPlayer – you don’t need a TV Licence.