Over 400,000 households have told the BBC they do not need a TV licence because they only watch catch-up TV, they only use it for games or they just don't watch programmes at all on any device.

The figure comes from a Freedom of Information request made by The Times newspaper.

It's important you know when you need a licence or you risk wrongly paying up to £145.50 for having one, or a fine of up to £1,000 for failing to buy one when when you do need it. (To find out more, see our TV Licence guide.)

When do you need a licence?

  • It's all about if you watch 'live TV'. If you watch shows as they're broadcast, whether via the TV, internet, your mobile or an any other device, you MUST have a licence.
  • Only watch catch-up TV? No licence needed. If you ONLY watch via catch-up services such as BBC iPlayer and/or subscription services such as Netflix, if they don't simultaneously appear on a TV channel, you don't need a licence - even if watching on a TV screen. If any programme you watch is simultaneously broadcast live on TV, then you do need a licence.
  • It isn't about whether you watch the BBC or not. While most of the cash goes to the BBC, the licence is for watching any TV channels 'live' - even if you only watch satellite or cable channels.
Martin Lewis
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TV licence laws