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This blog is to highlight the unjust persecution of legitimate non-TV users at the hands of TV Licensing. These people do not require a licence and are entitled to live without the unnecessary stress and inconvenience caused by TV Licensing's correspondence and employees.

If you use equipment to receive live broadcast TV programmes, or to watch or download BBC on-demand programmes via the iPlayer, then the law requires you to have a TV licence and we encourage you to buy one.

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Thursday 7 August 2008

No TV Licence Required

This is where things begin to get interesting.

A television licence is only required when equipment is used to receive or record television signals as they are broadcast to the wider public. (Edit: From 1st September 2016, a TV licence will also be required if a person uses equipment to receive on-demand programmes on the BBC iPlayer. Please see here for more information).

If you don't use equipment as described above then you don't require a television licence.

You would think, understandably, that if you don't need a licence then you simply don't bother to buy one. That should be the end of the matter but it isn't. It won't take TV Licensing long to realise that your address is unlicensed and, given their misguided impression that no-one in the world can live without television, they'll want to know why.

Bear in mind too that they'll have a record of any television receiving equipment you have purchased or hired from one of their registered dealers in the past.

If your address is flagged on their database as being unlicensed then you can expect them to write to you asking for an explanation. They have received a lot of negative publicity about the tone and manner of their letters.

A lot of what is written is intended to scare licence evaders into buying a new licence, but this also has the consequence of appearing rude and accusatory to the innocent. They also like to bend the truth with regard to what your obligations are as the legal occupier of an unlicensed property.

I shall write a future post dedicated entirely to TV Licensing correspondence.

If you receive one of these letters you have two options - either respond saying you do not require a licence or ignore it.

Let me be 100% clear that you are not legally obliged to respond to any of their licence reminder letters. A lot of people choose to respond anyway because they think, mistakenly, that it will stop TV Licensing from bothering them again in future. It won't. If you tell them that you do not require a licence they will expect to make a confirmatory visit to verify that you're telling the truth.

That last sentence sums up nicely why TV Licensing is despised by non-TV viewers. You make the effort to reply - even though you aren't required to - and they basically accuse you of being a liar by insisting that they come and inspect your property anyway.

Suffice to say that they have no legal right, unless they have a search warrant (which they won't), to come and inspect your property and you should refuse to let them do so. I shall talk more about TV Licensing's rights of access in a future post.

Unfortunately, if you refuse to allow them access they will probably continue to harangue you with their irritating and accusatory reminder letters.

Even if you do roll over and let them inspect your property you can expect them to write again within about 6-months to check that your circumstances haven't changed.

Another thing I should mention is that if you do respond you are inevitably providing TV Licensing with extra information, which they could potentially use against you in future.

This is an increasingly popular course of action as more people recognise and wish to make a stand against the underhand tactics employed by TV Licensing.

As I said previously, you are under no legal obligation to respond to these letters. If you don't use television receiving equipment then you are not committing an offence and you should be able to live without fear or intimidation from TV Licensing.

You can expect their letters to increasing in frequency and become more accusatory in tone. Eventually, probably after several months of ignored letters, they will send one of their Enforcement Officers to pay you a visit.

As mentioned before they have no legal right, unless they have a search warrant (which they won't), to come and inspect your property and you should refuse to let them do so. They won't necessarily be candid about their lack of access rights, so don't be fooled into letting them in.

The best advice is to ignore the Enforcement Officer completely and avoid disclosing any personal information. Simply refuse to answer the door to anyone who identifies they're from TV Licensing. If you answer the door and discover it's an Enforcement Officer just keep quiet and close the door.

You can avoid these non-search warrant visits altogether by withdrawing TV Licensing's implied right of access to your property. More information about TV Licensing's rights of access in a future post.

If an Enforcement Officer visits and manages to see or hear a television in your property (even if it's only hooked up to a DVD player) then that is reasonable grounds for them to obtain a search warrant. It's a good idea to keep television sets away from windows and out of sight and earshot of the letter box.

If you've found this article useful please consider liking us on Facebook, following us on Twitter or downloading our free ebook.

Related posts:
TV Licensing Correspondence
TV Licensing Rights of Access

Edit (15/8/16): Added note about changes to legislation from 1st September 2016. For more information see here.

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Accountant Now said...

I too have had similar experiences as a non TV viewer consumer at the hands of TV Licensing.

HOBNOB said...

IN THE HOUSE WHERE I LIVE 274 BOWES ROAD N11 1 AT, THERE ISN'T A ELLETTRICITY SUPPLY FROM THE 18/21 March 2010...so how is possible use or watch illegaly tv or any other stuff,consolle,dvd reader,computer,if there is no supply of elettricity????PLEASE,PLEASE,PLEASE,STOP BOTHER ME!!REALLY PLEASE STOP BOTHER ME!!!If you don't believe me check from the elettriocity company!do wath you want,but please stop bother me!!thank a lot

HOBNOB said...


Anonymous said...

wHAT I CANNOT UNDERSTAND IS THAT EVEN IF YOU DONT HAVE A TV THEY STILL THINK THEY CAN CHARGE YOU FOR USING A MOBILE PHONE IN YOUR GAFF. IF YOU BUY A MOBILE THEY WONT TELL YOU IN THE SHOP THAT YOU NEED A TV LICENCE. i would not let there officers in, in fact i would wait for them to turn up & have my mates dress up trigger happy tv style & make a fool of them then post it on U TUBE for a laff!!!

Anonymous said...

How legit is it that they can obtain a warrant simply because someone was watching a dvd? I have no obligation to hide what I am doing, hide my tv or keep the curtains closed, even if I watch i-player frequently.
How does this perfectly legal practice 'warrant' further investigation and if it leads to a search warrant being issued what recourse do I have in law in regards to their invasion and false accusations?
I always choose to ignore their letters because they imply that by informing them of not requiring a tv license you are agreeing to a confirmation visit. Well no thanks, I don't ned a license, I don't need to tell anyone and I don't need a visit to confirm either.
What I need, is to be able to go about my business without having to hide (making myself look suspicious?) doing something perfectly legal to avoid having my home and my privacy invaded via a dubiously issued search warrant.

John said...

I have been reading the information on this website with interest. However it has left me a little confused.

When searching for information on the web in answer to the question “Under which circumstances do I need a TV Licence” I find many varied (usually well meaning) answers.

People often give their own interpretation of the law. These interpretations can sometimes be misleading.

This information is quoted on this website:-

3. When do I need a TV licence?

Ans: The law requires that a licence is obtained for any device that is "installed or used" for "receiving or recording a television programme at the same time (or virtually the same time) as it is received by members of the public".

The following is the “Exact” wording taken from the Communications Act 2003 PDF document on the Government Legislation web site.

363 Licence required for use of TV receiver
(1) A television receiver must not be installed or used unless the installation and
use of the receiver is authorised by a licence under this Part.
(2) A person who installs or uses a television receiver in contravention of
subsection (1) is guilty of an offence.

This clearly states that the receiver must not be installed OR used unless it is authorised by a licence.
It makes no mention of the purpose for which the receiver is being used…ie. Watching live broadcasts or a film on a DVD, video etc.
It implies that a licence is simply required to “Install” a receiver……being used or not, or “Use” a receiver regardless of what it is being used for.

Often people believe someone’s interpretation of a law because that particular interpretation suits their requirements at the time. But the actual wording of the law itself seems quite clear to me even though it doesn’t suit my requirements.

I have also read various quotes on the TV Licencing website that state you do not need a licence to watch pre recorded content etc. But again, that is not supported by the actual wording of the law as quoted above.

I am hoping that I am missing something here and that I have misunderstood a particular aspect of this law. I’m sure someone on this forum will put me right.

richard thomson said...

i have changed my address over but i still live at my old address my children have moved to the new one that is why i am paying it fore them i dont have a telly at my old address.
thank you.richard thomson

richard thomson said...

i no longer have a tv at my old address

Anonymous said...

Thank GOD!! I thought I was alone, but it seems that the authorities are in deeper shit than ever.They just can't find a way to extract money that isn't even due them in the first place. Some of us would like to carry on without the constant rude, harassining letters that are continualy sent. It's as if they're jealous and just can't accept that not EVERYONE are morons.We just don't want to join the club.GET A LIFE!!!

Anonymous said...

Hi John,

Just a rookie guess, but would the "receiver' mentioned in the excerpt refer to an antenna, satellite dish or other appendage to the TV/computer to make it able to receive broadcast signals? Again, a massive grey area when it comes to mobiles and other devices with receivers built in.

I'm also guessing that most TVs have to be hooked up to an internal/external antenna/satellite via a wall socket and this would be the offending item... Great post though; any knowledge of how the law views this matter is knowledge to keep TVL from using it for their own means.

Anonymous said...


Here's the definition of "TV receiver" from Section 9 of The Communications (Television Licensing) Regulations 2004:

Meaning of “television receiver”
9.—(1) In Part 4 of the Act (licensing of TV reception), “television receiver” means any apparatus installed or used for the purpose of receiving (whether by means of wireless telegraphy or otherwise) any television programme service, whether or not it is installed or used for any other purpose.
(2) In this regulation, any reference to receiving a television programme service includes a reference to receiving by any means any programme included in that service, where that programme is received at the same time (or virtually the same time) as it is received by members of the public by virtue of its being broadcast or distributed as part of that service.

So a TV set used for watching "catchup" programmes, games, DVDs etc is NOT a TV receiver and therefore does not need a licence. A "television receiver" is any apparatus used or installed to view "live" TV programmes.

John said...


Thank you very much for clarifying that point. I knew I must be missing something somewhere and your post has cleared up my confusion.
Thanks again.

Anonymous said...

I still am not clear on this. Owning a tv and using it to watch DVDs is straight forward, as long as the TV is not connected to an aerial and to make sure the channels are de-tuned all is O.K., then when a tv inspector turns up with a warrant he will not be able to pick up live broadcast tv. So far so good, if other devices are deemed to be television receiving devices such as a computer with internet connection it becomes less clear. If the TV licensing act covers other devices then is the inspector authorized to switch them on and try to access live tv broadcasts over the internet? If I have no tv license am I safe just avoiding live TV web pages (I can not prove that I have not watched live tv over the internet)? There is nothing to stop the inspector navigating to The BBC website on my computer, accessing live tv and then telling me I will be prosecuted for not having a tv license. It would be useful if you could ask your internet provider to block access to any live tv web pages so that you are safe.

Admin said...

Thanks for your comment.

The best thing I can do is refer you to my "Simple Questions and Answers" post, where TV Licensing confirmed that a licence is not needed simply because someone owns/accesses a web-enabled PC.

It is regrettable that they emailed that response to me, but the reference number is given should you wish to contact them and confirm their answer that no licence is required unless the equipment is used to watch live broadcast TV programmes.

Anonymous said...

Hi, Many thanks for your reply to my question . In case you have not already seen the following.... While searching for more info on tv licensing, I came accross this which makes for intersting reading, it says that paying the Tv license is now voluntary as there are already a large percentage of non payers, too many for the BBC to persue.


Anonymous said...

It seems a lot of people advise the best course of action is non response to TVL. But I do not want this organisation or these people hassling me or my family simply because I don't watch TV.

If you have 30 minutes, then read through the PDFs on this link

This is TVL laying down their procedure for how the react to every scenario. If they follow their own guidelines, you therefore should try the following.

1. Write to them quoting one of their letters.
2. State that under the legislation governing TV Licencing you do not require or need a TV Licence.
3. Declare that you are Withdrawing their implied right of access, and will treat any visits from their employees as unlawful trespass.
4. State that there is no requirement for you to provide your name, and that their own guidelines state that a reply to one of their letters is proof that you are either the Legal Occupier or acting on behalf of the Legal Occupier.
5. Ask them to acknowledge this letter, but that you will consider future mailings other than their acknowledgement as harassment.
6. State that this clarifies your position and that you will not enter into any further correspondance with them and that there is no obligation for you to do so.
7. Sign your letter as the "Legal Occupier" and do not give them your name - they have no right or use for it.

Hope this helps.

pmoores said...

Hi i have just taken a 18 month contract with virgin,i signed and agreed and gave them my dd details,it occurred to me that my tv license has no contract for the twelve month period,can someone tell me why,thanks,phillip.

Anonymous said...

what if I haven't got a TV, I just watch foreign television throught the laptop , do I still have to pay the uk tv licence?

Admin said...

If you watch live streamed foreign channels via the web then your property needs to be correctly licensed.

The law applies regardless of where in the world the live TV channel originates.

Anonymous said...

I understand the reception of live broadcasts to be in the UK and/or Channel Islands. So, for example, if a programme is being broadcast live by ABC in Australia you can watch it over the Web without a licence as long as the programme isn't being relayed into the UK and/or Channel Islands (e.g. by satellite) for public reception at the same time.

This comes from the definition of a "television programme service":

'... where that programme is received at the same time (or virtually the same time) as it is received by members of the public by virtue of its being broadcast or distributed as part of that service'.

"Members of the public" can only refer to the UK and Channel Islands. UK legislation obviously does not extend to members of the public in other countries.

Anonymous said...

none of the programmes or channels which I watch via the web are live streamed to the members of the public
in the UK, so do I or do I not need to have got a TVL?

Admin said...

If they're available live-streamed to you then they're available to other members of the UK public too.

I suspect you do need a licence, however, I am awaiting clarification. Watchkeeper, who commented earlier, is seeking a definitive answer on this from the Department of Culture, Media and Sport.

If you ask the BBC or TV Licensing you'd just get their default answer of "yes, everyone needs TV licence" even if that's untrue.

Anonymous said...

do you need a tv licence to listen to digital radio via a pc dvbtv receiver?

Admin said...

No, radio is radio. Listening to radio is not receiving live TV programme services, so does not require a TV licence. The average TV Licensing goon would have a different opinion, but bear in mind their interpretation is skewed by ££ signs. They get commission for every unneeded licence they dupe someone into buying.

Anonymous said...

Does anyone know if I need a TV license to receive images direct from weather satellites ?

Admin said...

Weather satellite images, despite any fanciful TV Licensing ideas to the contrary, couldn't be considered a live TV programme service, so no licence required.

Best not give any ideas to TV Licensing though!

Anonymous said...

I do not watch TV loads of rubbish on anyway. :) so instead I just watch things off youtube or DVDs.

But the guys from TV team decided to visit, ha! they never got passed the security doors. If they had I would of called the police.

Anonymous said...

As far as I knew, the original reason that the BBC charged a licence fee, was for the operation of a cathode ray device, due to the fact they held possession of the original patent from Logie-Baird... If this is true, and I feel it probably is, then the BBC have fraudulently extended their ability to demand a licence fee as a flat screen is not covered under that patent.. So at some point there must have been government collusion in changing the wording of the laws. It would be interesting to see where the modern wording comes in the sequence of time.. AS far as I can see, if that original basis is true, it had nothing to do with the broadcasts, only the receiver, so unless you still use a CRT screen, no licence should be required except a fraudulent law has been placed.. Maybe it is worth the effort to look at the legality of that law change..

Anonymous said...


We had a visit from a Tv licencing officer today. I didn't think about not letting him in, so I did. He took notes of my name and phone number, but he saw that we only have a tv that we can watch DVD's on. He also asked us about our computers that we use for studying and if we had wireless internet. Do we have to get the tv licence for that? And if not, what should we do when the next letter arrives?

Admin said...

You do not require a TV licence merely for owning any type of equipment, be that TV, DVD player, PC or whatever.

A licence is needed if you use that equipment to receive live broadcast TV programmes.

That being the case, just because you have a PC is irrelevant and you certainly shouldn't be rushing out to buy a TV licence you don't legally need.

We advise against cooperation with TV Licensing, as it is a sad fact that your efforts were probably pointless. They may continue to send you letters. It's also true that some TV Licensing employees, who are rewarded for every collar felt, are sometimes less than honest when they complete visit documentation. Search our blog for "Criminal TV Licensing Employees" for more info on that.

You can safely (and legally) ignore any communications or visits by TV Licensing.

Download our free book for more info.

Anonymous said...

I have recently taken over a property which had been empty for almost two years, during which time it has deteriorated. Due to this, it will remain unfurnished and unoccupied until such time as work to render it fit for purpose is completed; when I shall transfer my existing TV license from my present address to my new one. Now I have found a letter from TV Licensing at the new address, which seems to imply that court action against the Legal Occupier is IMMINENT. How should I react?

Admin said...

Thanks for your comment.

Don't react at all. TV Licensing send out these "scary" letters to everyone without a licence, which includes those with no legal necessity to have one. Their letters are all bluff and have no legal standing.

Do not be coerced into replying to them, as you're under no legal obligation to set the record straight. Indeed doing so is pointless, as they wouldn't believe you anyway.

Just keep ignoring. As the property is unoccupied you have no business with TV Licensing. That's a fact of law. When you move in and start using your TV you can arrange to pay the licence fee.

Custador said...

I argue with TV licensing every time I move house; hopefully the current argument will be the last since I've just bought a house instead of renting. It's the same threatening, accusatory tone every letter you get. It's the same total ignorance of the law, every advisor you speak to. The last place I lived, they had to send me a formal apology after one of their telephone agents told me I needed a TV license just because I own a TV - Pure nonsense. Today, their telephone advisor told me that I need a license because I own a TV, PC, mobile phone and X-Box. All complete garbage, and I corrected her - You only need a TV license if you use those things to watch live TV as it's broadcast. As far as I'm aware, you can't do that on any current generation games console anyway, so I wonder why they include them on their list - I suspect it's so they can try to con those of us who subscribe to Netflix or use BBC iPlayer into thinking we have to get a licence for that. Protip: We don't. The advisor today had a melt-down because I refused to give my name, but as I said to her: I'm calling you out of courtesy, and you don't need my name because I don't need a license. Remember folk, this is not a government agency, this is a private company. They don't have warrants, and their legal rights are almost zero. Never allow one into your property, and in the incredibly unlikely event that they turn up with a search warrant, refuse to let them exercise it unless the police are present to witness it. Do not let them split up (if there is more than one of them), and do not let them search any part of your home without being there to witness the search personally and having a police officer with you. One of the foreign doctors I work with was fined £1000 for having an unplugged TV in a box on the floor of his spare room by one of these unscrupulous, robbing bastards. He's not familiar with UK law on the subject, so paid it because he didn't know better and the "officer" threatened him with court. As I said to him, that officer could never follow through with that threat and hope to win.

Anonymous said...

The sad thing is people not understanding their legal position or sure about f the rules can be duped into buying one on the intimidation and false statements mentioned above. I receive no live TV, just use for games console/ Net flix but my parents were worried and obviously unsure I was safe from a fine.

Custador said...

Please sign this and share it as widely as possible:


Unknown said...

n I borrow this for a boating news site???
avoldat lord

Unknown said...

Can I borrow this atrticle for a boating news site???

Admin said...

Yes Maffi, borrow away. Please mention us when you republish the article.

Admin said...

Pramod said: "hi, am living at [Address Redacted] last 2 week befor one of my neighbour was shift to another house and they gave me one televison so for that resone we need a tv licence because i recevied so many letter about tv licence and they sad this is last stage to remind me and i don't have internet at my home i have laptop but its only for my personal and office work this laptop also i buy last 10-15 day before plz help to tell somthing about that way they send me lots of letter and what i do now i really need a licence in that case, thanks"

Thanks for your comment Pramod. We have removed your full address and we suggest you do not post it to the public web in future.

If you're watching TV programmes on the TV set your neighbour gave you, then you do require a TV licence. In this case we suggest you buy one.

If you're not watching any TV programmes on the TV set your neighbour gave you - perhaps you put it in your loft or it's unplugged in your spare room - then you do not need a TV licence. In this case do make sure the equipment is tucked away somewhere and not plugged in.

If you do not require a TV licence then you are under no legal obligation to communicate or co-operate with TV Licensing. Simply ignore their letters and close the door on any of their salespeople that visit.

Anonymous said...

I am renting out my property as unfurnished with no TV or licence there. If the tenants get a TV is it their responsibility to get a licence?

Admin said...

Yes, it is their responsibility.

Anonymous said...

The law, as it's been quoted several times above, says that you need a license if equipment designed to receive television transmissions at, or about, the same time as everyone else is installed in a property.

If you have a TV plugged into the mains in your house, and that TV has a working receiver in it, then you are required to have a license.
The law says nothing at all about whether you actually WATCH the programs being received - It is only concerned with the receiver being installed.

Luckily, I have a large TV in which there is no DTV receiver, only an analogue one, and as analogue TV transmissions stopped around here quite some time ago now, what I effectively have is a very large monitor.

Needless to say, I will not be buying a license...

Oh, and moderators, apologies if this is a duplication. I chose to sign in with my Google account, then the page flicked & cleared the form. There was no confirmation that anything meaningful had occured.

Anonymous said...

First let me say that I have always had a TV license and had never given a moment's thought to TV licensing or the BBC. Recently I acquired a second home where I have no TV set and do not watch television. What happened next has left me shocked and very stressed as I am a law abiding citizen. I received letters of an escalating threatening legal nature. I replied to every one but they kept coming. I was finally intimidated into putting myself onto their database saying I had no TV when they threatened a court date would be set for not replying to them (even though I had.) Can they take you to court for not replying?

Admin said...

Of course they can't.
No-one is under any legal obligation at all to communicate or co-operate with TV Licensing - FACT.
Their letters are riddled with half-truths - lots of "mays" and "ifs", but no legal substance.
Ignore TV Licensing if you do not need a TV licence, as it sounds like you don't.

Diane said...

Grrrr! My Council house had an "escape of water" from the loft in July this year and have been living in temporary accommodation since then while my house is fixed. I lost practically everything in the flood, including my tv's for which I am properly licensed for - within a few days of staying at the temp address, I had a quite threatening letter telling me I needed a licence, I called and explained my situation and was told that someone would pop round to check. I also work full time, of which they are aware, and so far 3 visits have been made at various times between 9am & 5pm. I have called to tell them that I am out from before 6am and not back until after 7pm most nights but they persist in leaving tickets telling me that I MUST obtain a licence. Im glad I came accross this site - I am going to ignore them from now on and hopefully be back at my own address very soon! Thanks :)

dpg said...

Hello. I failed to upgrade at the digital switchover 2 years ago and told them so. I told them they'd be unwelcome to visit and they didn't. They promised to leave me alone for 2 years and did, but now I'm getting the letters and ignoring them. They're addressed to "The Current Occupant". I've half a mind to write to the same person at No 10 or Buck Pal.

Anonymous said...

I'm paying too much for too many in this country,i'm not going to pay tv licence so they can use that money to pay a bunch of cunts of BBC to say shit on the radio and tv. BBC should have adverts to pay for that.

Anonymous said...

I still find the law a bit confusing as having a internet connection
could be seen as access to live tv, even though the stream would always be slightly delayed due to the process of it needing to be buffered at both ends before being viewed
Incidentally I remember being told by someone back in the 80's that they'd had a look in the back of a tv detector van and it was full of old gear that looked sophisticated but was just a load of useless lights and meters posing as detector technology

Anonymous said...

p.s what does around the same time mean? , within seconds, hours
I was wondering if i should bother to install iplayer for radio use but won't bother if it gives them any excuse to claim I was watching tv
I just realised 6 months ago when my licence was due for renewal that I hardly ever watched it as I've always preferred the radio and getting on with things rather than sitting down and being confined to a passive one way information exchange, Hate the idea they treat us like we can't live without them. I closed my door last time only saying I had cancelled which they should have known when they said they'd like to ask me some questions. To gain access to my front door they had claimed to be from my housing association, a bared faced lie so they don't deserve the time of day

Anonymous said...

Hi, yes - pretty much concur with most of this. My mother dies eleven months ago, the place has been empty for more than a year and I notified TV in writing. I've also notified them since by telephone and their website and also sent back their letters with written across them 'she's dead, dead, DEAD, what don't you understand about dead?' but it makes no difference... no where in there forms etc is there any way of notifying TV that the occupier is deceased - they must like to collect the fee from beyond the grave. The letter to-day says they are applying to the court for a search warrant! And what after that?! Faceless extortionists like another fascist quango.

Anonymous said...

I used to ignore, but the last 2 times I've filled in their NO TV form & they've left me alone for 2 yrs. I feel it's less hassle to do that than get increasingly aggressive letters dropping through my letterbox, which I know mean nothing, but still puts me in a bad mood.If an inspector called I wouldn't let him in. I'm in the process of installing CCTV because I work from home & get loads of God botherers round my way that I don't want to have to talk to.

Unknown said...

Do I need TV licence when I am using software like filmon? It is sort of live streaming broadcast with a 30sec delay.

Admin said...

Not sure what Filmon is, however, if it involves receiving TV programmes at the same time as they are broadcast across the airwaves, then yes you do.

Gary Cook said...


Great article and very helpful. As somebody who owns a British TV website for expats I get people asking me all the time whether they need a TV licence when they are watching the different UK TV services abroad online in other countries but now I can point them to this for reference!

Amanda said...


I am somewhat confused by this message posted by the admin:

"If you watch live streamed foreign channels via the web then your property needs to be correctly licensed.
The law applies regardless of where in the world the live TV channel originates."

I am a Spaniard living in London who watches the iPlayer and 4OD on a laptop -I therefore do not need a TV license. I sometimes on weekends watch Spanish TV live though.
Could you please confirm that I need a TV license in order to do that? And in case I do, what would I be exactly paying for, considering I've already paid for my internet connection and that there is no such thing as TV licensing in Spain? To put it otherwise, where would the money I'd pay be supposed to go to? Sounds to me a bit dodgy to have to pay for watching foreign TV if the money does not go to that foreign TV at all.

Amanda said...

To put what I wrote above otherwise, and considering what I've heard before about "TV licensing is what allows the BBC to be advert free" (though not sure to what extent that is true, or that is the ONLY use of the money collected via TV licensing): paying for watching the BBC (regardless of being live or not) would make more sense to me, than paying for watching foreign TV live. Mostly when the way to avoid that is as ridiculously easy as waiting for just five or ten minutes after the TV show you want to see has started -which is a feature unavailable on iPlayer but available on public Spanish TV.

Anonymous said...

Some previius posters have questioned whether live internet streams are actually live because of buffering. The same argument could be made for satellite (Sky, Freesat or Foreign) TV since there is a delay on this too (while the signal makes its 45000 odd mile journey) even Freeview/DTT has some buffering delay.

Anonymous said...

I had a police and search warrant visit and although the tv was on I didn't tell them my name . Where does this leave me? Anon

Admin said...

Up Shit Creek without a paddle.
I think that's the term.

J Bonington Jagworth said...

"receiving or recording a television programme at the same time (or virtually the same time) as it is received by members of the public".

Would I be right in assuming that this means that the delay in bouncing the signal off a satellite is 'virtually the same time' but that buffering via a satellite or freeview box by say, a minute, is not? Or would 5 minutes be safer..?

Anonymous said...

I have two door bells on my house marked Flat 1 and Flat 2 with fake names on the bells. This keeps away driveway salesmen etc and reduces the chance of a break in as they do not know which property is empty. However it is only one house - the doorbells are fake. When TV licencing call will I then get TWO sets of letters for propertys that do not exsist. Great fun if they try to take to court a person that does not exsist for a property that does not exsist for use of a TV that does not exsist!

Broken Sapphire said...

Great blog. The licensing people have sent me a letter telling me 'what to expect in court.' It's the latest of a series. Unfortunately they are addressing their letters to a 9.5 acre field, which has a post box at the gate for sheep movement forms. They can inspect any time. There's a public footpath across. I'm looking forward to the summons they threaten....

Admin said...

Empty fields and buildings are TV Licensing's forte.

It's amazing how often they "detect" unlicensed TV reception in such places.

Read into that what you will!

Anonymous said...

I'd like to know how to get a refund for the past 6 years or so that I've been duped into paying for a license I didn't need, but thought I was legally obliged to pay for just because I had a TV monitor screen, regardless of the fact that it was never hooked up the cable or an arial, and was only ever used to play dvds or games console and the only 'tv' programmes I'd watch would be boxed sets (borrowed from the library no less) and catch-up/on-demand or vimeo/youtube type thing.

I want to see a class action brought against them for NOT making it universally understood that many of us have been unwittingly paying for a tv license when we did not need them. Used to be if you had television receiving equipment, plugged in or not, in use or not, you had to pay the fee. Am I correct or am I mistaken?

When did the law change so that we no longer needed a license? Anybody able to point me to the legislation/documentation?

I feel this is akin to the PPI misselling scandal.

Admin said...

Hello Anon.

I'm afraid TV Licensing won't entertain your refund request in those circumstances. You can read a bit more about the circumstances in which they will refund in an earlier blog post.

It has always been the case that a TV licence is needed for those properties where equipment is used to receive TV programme services. Here in the UK it has never been a licence merely to own a TV set, although that is the case in the Republic of Ireland.

Anonymous said...

Hi, we have a licence for our house but we often go away at the weekend to our static caravan. I understand that as long as we don't watch TV in both places at once, our home licence will cover the caravan. However, we leave the TV on at home for security while we're at the caravan. In this case does the TV have to be watched to trigger the need for a separate licence, or is having it switched on enough?

Admin said...

Hello Anon.
If you left your TV tuned into a normal channel, then it would still be receiving a licensable TV programme service. In that case I don't think the legislation would allow you to watch TV in your static caravan at the same time.
Best to leave a DVD playing at home instead... not that you'd ever get caught, but just to be on the safe side.

Anonymous said...

I got a refund for over 6 months of money. I said I didn't need a license, need to cancel, and haven't watch TV in over six months.

I didn't ask for a refund. They gave me one.

I do get the threatening letter once a year. When I get it, I eventually cave in, go to their website, and confirm I still don't need a licence. That's it for another 12 months.

This years letter said they would never ask me again. If they do, I won't respond.

My experience has been pretty painless. It's obvious I don't watch TV anyway people look at it. The digital switchover left us without TV and we never bothered to change that.

However, they should wind their neck in. Threatening innocent people is not ok.

Repeat: threatening innocent people is not ok.

Admin said...

Refreshing to hear your story Anon and I am pleased that TV Licensing appears to accept your legally-licence-free status.
Sadly, as a quick read of our blog (and Google) will show, your case is not always the norm. It is a fact that a large number of people in your shoes are terrorised by TV Licensing in their homes.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for all the helpful advice people.

After quite a bit of Googling I am still uncertain whether watching 'live' tv streams approx 2 mins behind constitutes watching a live broadcast??? It seems no one has the definitive answer or they just blurt out the standard phrase - 'If it's not at the same time of broadcast...' blah-blah-blah


(Really doubt I'll get the answer I'm looking for)

Rob (anon)

Admin said...

Thanks for your comment Rob (anon).
As you predicted, I'm afraid I can't provide a definitive answer to your question. Such an answer will only be provided by legal precedent and we're not familiar with any cases where this has been debated/ruled upon.
In my opinion, for what it's worth, a "live" broadcast could include a 2 minute delay. The safest interpretation, in my opinion, is to assume "live" means any programme that is still being broadcast, however big a time-lag there may be.

Unknown said...


I have move abroad and I have never cancelled my tvl. I have received now few letters now reminding me to pay my tvl. Last one says that my property is under investigation. I don't live there but my tenants are and I don't wan't them to be harassed by tvl people. I don't want to wast my money to either call or write to them to cancel tvl. I have tried online but none of the links to cancel tvl is not working, how convenient.
Should I ignore the letter which I would do with pleasure but I don't want tenants hassled by them?

Thank you

Admin said...

Hello Seb,

If you don't need a TV licence, as you're not in the UK, then you can safely ignore the letters.
However, you should be aware that it is normally the tenant's responsibility to buy a licence if they need one.
It has previously been observed by many people how difficult it is to cancel on the TV Licensing website. As you said, it is in TV Licensing's interests to make cancellation as difficult as possible.
More information in these posts:

Erika said...


I apologise in advance as this may be somewhat long.
I moved into my current home 5 years ago (2011). When I moved in there were hundred of TV licence letters adressed to "the occupier" even though the house had been empty for at least 10 months. I ignored all the subsequent letters as I did not have a TV. I hardly watch TV (prefer going to cinema) and as I live on my own I did not see the need to buy one, plus I'm only home in the evenings. I do, however, have nieces and nephews who come for sleepovers. So in 2012 my brother gave me an old analogue TV which came with a DVD/Freeview box but he never managed to find the aerial to connect to the box. So to this day I'm not able to watch TV, I can only use it to watch DVDs. Last year I found a handwritten note saying they (TV Licence people) had paid a visit but I was not home and to contact them. I did and told them yes I have a TV but it doesn't work as it does not have an aerial. They said they would need to come in to check for themselves, I said fine but they still wanted all sorts of information (DOB, nationality, mobile no. and work tel.) which I found odd and said so. They said it was for information only so they could cross off my address from their list of unlicenced homes. I said they can send me a letter and form explaining everything or their agent can bring it along on their next visit and I asked when they were planning on coming. They said they can not set up an appointment until I'm "registered" with them, I said since I'm not buying a licence I did not see what "registered" meant and if I happen to be home when they "visit" again fine otherwise they can keep trying and I hung up. To this day I have not seen any "visiting cards" but I do still receive the usual warning letter, only this time (yesterday) it's addressed to "The Legal Occupier".

I have a laptop but I have grown tired of watching movies and Youtbe on a small screen, so I'm about to buy a smart TV so I can connect it to the internet. However, all TVs come installed with Freeview channels whether I need it or not. I do not watch "normal" TV, certainly not the BBC and wonder what can be done about this. TV licence is welcome to come in and "disable" the channels if they want, but I refuse to pay for a service I do not use. What are my options?

Thank you

Admin said...

Hello Erika and thanks for your comment. As you rightly say, all new TV sets come with built in Freeview. As long as you do not connect an external aerial and only connect to your laptop, you would be within the law (assuming you don't watch any "live" broadcast programmes via the web of course).
I really cannot stress this enough: Do not trust TV Licensing. Do not confirm anything to them. You are within the law and do not need to prove anything.
It is a fact that some TV Licensing goons stitch up innocent people, so don't give them the chance.

Erika said...

Thank you Admin for your advice I feel much at ease now.

Anonymous said...

#1 of 2 Stories:
I lived in a shared house many, many years ago in the era of Cathode Ray Tubes. We were watching Eastenders & there was a knock at the door. A housemate gets up & answers the door... "Hello" said the man at the door, "I'm from TV Licensing..." The housmate replies "I don't live here!" & slams the door shut. Housemate re-enters living room & switches off the TV knocking a vase of flowers over in the process, water drenching the back of the set. This made the device reasonably unsafe to use judging to the sparks & smoking. A fitting end to a hideous beast, & from that day on we lived without TV most remarkably.
#2 0f 2 Stories:
In the same house a number of years later. I was half way up the stairs when another & most different housemate answered the door. "TV Licensing..." said the man, "Come in we don't have a TV!" I nearly fell down the stairs! I rushed upstairs to close my door, even though I didn't have a TV, I didn't want some pseudo-offical thinking he could just snoop anywhere he pleased just because my housemate was stupid enough to let him over the threshold. By the time I had made it down the two short flights of stairs he had covered the same distance up the stairs & had the foot in the door of a young woman holding a baby who had answered the knock on her room door, oblivious that it was the TV licensing "Official". As I got back down to the 1st floor I was aware of expletives not fit for children's ears & a TVLO beating a hasty retreat to the front door.
OK I lied!! This is a trilogy...
#3 of 2 - The recent years...
I moved to a flat a few years ago & they started sending me letters. You know the one I'm sure. So I gave a "no license needed" declaration. It was bliss they never mailed me & if they did come round I never heard them & even if I had of I wouldn't have answered the door as I NEVER answer the door to unexpected knocks. If I know you I'll know you're coming round. Anyway, I got an email in December 2015 saying I needed to re-confirm that I didn't watch the gogglebox, so I did, online as before. "That's them in an obscure corner of my mind for another couple of years" I thought. But the new year has brought an increasing number of "letters" until today, AGAIN, the "an officer will visit your property" letter. So once again I have made a declaration online & I'll see what level of correspondence I receive from them now....
FOOTNOTE : If one of the TVLO's comes to my door, it won't get answered. I don't want to be hounded & intimidated for not having my brain drained in front of the flashy-screen. I do sit in front of a flashy screen but that is to make art & extend my creativity & understanding further than watching 5 hours of soaps a night ever could.

Anonymous said...

wow. the aggressive tone of the letters really takes some believing.

the tone alone makes you not want a TV, BBC or a TV License.

Unknown said...

A mobile phone cannot be used as a "TV Receiver", since it's unable to receive broadcast signals "at the time that they are transmitted to the general public" - the encoding and decoding times take care of that - there's no way that a stream to a mobile phone (or computer) could ever be considered a "Live" broadcast!

The first goon that turned up to my house couldn't understand that concept and also made the mistake of claiming "statutory right of access". A swift call to the local Police by my wife while he stood blustering on the doorstep, got him arrested for trespass and threatening behaviour.

The next one that turned up - just two weeks later - tried to barge through the partially opened door and received a broken nose for his trouble, since I firmly closed the door on him. The watching Policeman - that he'd brought with him - thought that it was funny!

The final visit was from a pair of them who really didn't like to be video recorded by several cameras with a couple of very large floodlights illuminating them for the passing public to enjoy! They drew quite a crowd. The bigger one was in tears when the local Bobbies removed him - firmly - from my front garden. Perhaps it was the bright lights, or perhaps it was the thought of the adverse publicity, the criminal record, and his failure to earn a penny of his paltry commission that afternoon that set him blubbing!

Anonymous said...

what happens if you havn't got an address to register your licence ?.. as it's the address not the person that gets licenced ?.. for eg. someone fulltiming / continuously cruising on a narrow boat ?

Admin said...

If you're permanently cruising on a narrow boat then you'll hardly need to worry about it.

Lerpz_Victim said...

So, I have a question, we have a 2 TV's at home but they both is used to watch only YT, and we practically don't watch TV, our family doesn't have time for that. I yesterday completed the form on their page saying that I don't we don't need one. But my friend said is better to call, cuz if they visit us and find any TV equipment that's enough for them to make us pay a fee for not having a TV license. Is that really how it is?

Admin said...

Hello EPIC4 LIFE - no, that's not how it is.
Suppose they were to visit and suppose you were to show them your TV sets and explain they are used for YouTube only (having taken the precaution to disconnect the aerial lead), then that should be enough to satisfy them that no TV licence is needed.
My advice, however, would be to never allow them access to your property. TV Licensing has stitched up innocent people in the past and we're sure they still try to on a daily basis.
Thankfully word is getting out - TV Licensing is lying, dishonest scum.

Lerpz_Victim said...

Thank you very much, I send them the online form saying that I don't need one, and that automatic bot replied on my email that I need to wait for letter from them or email in the next ten days, so hopefully they won't come and if they come to our doorbell downstairs is broken and we won't be able to hear anyways.
Thanks again!

Anonymous said...


Not sure if this posting will work.
If it does great - if not no one will ever know.

I don't have anything new to bring to the table. I'd just like to say how I great I think it is that someone has taken the time to set this site up.

for my two pennorth I find it intriguing that the TVL is not for the BBC yet the BBC put this website up http://www.tvlicensing.co.uk/ss/Satellite?blobcol=urldata&blobheadername1=content-type&blobheadervalue1=application%2Fpdf&blobkey=id&blobtable=MungoBlobs&blobwhere=1370006350329&ssbinary=true which quite clearly states the BBC require XYZ.

I'd also add to the growing voices that I am one of lifes bullied but this site has given me the courage to defy the goliath. I also got fed up with television programs, so I decided I'd only watch stuff I got on tape or DVD. And that is all I've watch for years now. (still not a lot as I only get a bout an hour and half possible viewing time each day. work and visiting don't leave much time or energy for much else. Anyhow I told them ages ago I DONT NEED A LICENCE now they've started up again and I'm tired (even more tire than usual) of it. So this site has given me the gumption to just ignore them.

I suppose, I worry about things and imagine a scenario where they come round when I'm not in and it all escalates to policemen coming to where I work and carting me off. Obviously I can't believe that their case would stand a chance so would they go that far? and if they did and they lost would I have to pay costs? that's the bit that really gets to me.
It's people like me they frighten with their terroristic (is that a word) letters, but I'm determined to just ignore them.

Thanks again for a great site.


Admin said...

Thank you for your kind words Anon.
Glad to have been of some assistance.

Anonymous said...

I too am fed up of this harassment from them. I have buckled and called them and given them my name! Wish i had read this before i had done so. I wouldnt have given it to them.

As i dont watch tv i could hear when an enforcement officer walked up to my flat, they didnt knock, just stuck a letter through the door. I got a date for the next enforcement officer. I was in all day, and nothing. It is like psychological warfare.

I have now lost my temper with some woman on the phone after yet another threatening letter, which is not like me, but theyre sending me crazy.

If anyone does actually ever turn up now i will use the advice on this site. I had already planned to film them as i dont trust them. I will also call the police if they do try to force their way in.

Thanks for your advice. I wish id read it before i lost my temper.

David said...

My house is currently a building site and has been for a couple of years now. The TV licencing people simply cannot accept that I do not need a TV licence and I appear to be unable to prevent them from repeatedly sending offensive threatening letters every few months.

They tell me that they will not contact me for another six months, but this is the maximum time they will leave me alone... before again accusing me of a criminal offence. Despite telling me this last time, they sent another threatening letter after a couple of months!

I cannot think of any other situation, where I would be expected to put up with being bombarded by threats and be required to repeatedly confirm my innocence of a crime.

I have told them "I do not need a TV licence; nobody there is watching TV. If and when this changes, I will purchase a licence...!" I have also complained that the letters are offensive in their nature, but clearly this is utterly irrelevant to them.

I suppose that if the letter "asked" me to confirm that a TV licence was still not required, then I would not be so offended. But the attitude and offensive, threatening nature of their letters is unacceptable.

Is there any way to stop them from harassing me, seemingly at will?

Anonymous said...

I think someone in my house has streamed a few games of the World Cup and I just received a letter.
What would you suggest I do? And is there a way to pay for the license only for a short time period and do they have student rates?

Admin said...

What do we suggest you do: Nothing. What's done is done and TV Licensing will not know about it unless you contact them and admit to it. Don't do that!
Can you get a discounted licence for being a student: No.
Can you get a short-term licence: No. What you can do - not that we'd recommend it - is buy a full 12 month licence and then cancel it later on. You will be able to claim a refund of every unused calendar quarter, but it might be difficult trying to convince TV licence that you do not need a TV licence. They don't believe a word anyone says.

Anonymous said...

I moved to UK and lived in a flat for 1 year and paid the TVL. I moved out to another flat but my antenna connector on my tv is broken. I don't watch BBC live through my laptop. My tv is just used to play with my PS4 and watch netflix via Amazon fire stick. So I decided to not pay TVL because I never/can't watch BBC on it and don't want to.
I kept receiving these letters, which I avoided to answer. They tried to call me twice, didn't pick up.
I receive now a letter saying that an officer will come in few days to inspect my premises...
Do I need a licence?
I won't let in this guy anyway because I will probably be at work when they come.
I find just awful to be able as a government connected company to harass people as scammers would do...
Thanks a lot for your website.

Admin said...

If you're only watching on-demand programmes via Netflix, which is probably the case, then you do not need a TV licence.
Remember that a TV licence is only needed if you watch TV programmes at the time they are broadcast on any channel OR on-demand programmes via the BBC iPlayer.

Anonymous said...

Why do they broadcast without first charging the person with its debit card the moment they start broadcasting to that person who is watching?????? charge before broadcaaasting !!!!!! Or don't broadcast

why do they allow that acces of broadcast without charging?

they can easily charge when you want to watch, but they fail to do so.... that would be easier.


is there a petition to complain to the relevant authority about unsolicited mail? i need to complain at the same time with others !

Fine if its a civil case ! see you in court. But there is no civil case.

any solicitors interested in taking over a class action case to ask for compensations for the "harassment"/ "stress"? I have all these letters.....as proof. thanks.

Anonymous said...

is there a petition for everyone to sign at the authority dealing with unsolicited mail?

Anonymous said...

Is there an add for an interested solicitor to take up the case?

is there a place where i can send evidence of their letters so that the evidence is gathering somehwere. where?

Anonymous said...

where is a petition to the bbc to charge the viewers before they start viwewing !!!!!!???????

i will sign that petition each time i get an unsolicited letter!

Anonymous said...

petition with complaints to police about police would also be useful....

Anonymous said...

ofcom does not have nuisance letters complaints available ! just calls and sms....... so i have to complain about ofcom. now.

Anonymous said...

I got rid of my TV recently because I was so bored of what was available: programmes I didn't want to see: daytime TV, cooking shows (I like cooking but damn there's too many of them), chat shows, soaps, endless repeats, old films I've seen before, endless ads (on the commercial channels) and I've noticed clumsy, heavy-handed PC/SJW lecturing creeping into the BBC (Doctor Who has to be one of the worst offenders in this respect). Netflix is guilty of this at times too, but at least I have the choice to watch or cancel.

There's the odd programme I like on broadcast TV, but for 150 odd quid a year I certainly wasn't getting my money's worth. It's also high time that the BBC adopted a subscription model, then people could opt out of watching BBC programmes, the BBC can learn to stand on its own two feet like a grown-up and TV Licensing and Capita can die the deaths they so richly deserve. In fact in the past 6 months the only TV I remember watching is a couple of England games (on ITV), Dave Gorman's Modern Life is Goodish (on Dave), Gogglebox (on Channel 4) and Would I Lie To You (on Dave, although originally made for the BBC). Dave has way too many ads btw. The rest of the time I was watching Netflix on my laptop.

And as for BBC iPlayer, it really pisses me off that it only shows programmes for a set period of time and certain series of certain programmes aren't available. I saw one programme listed where series 3-5 were available, but 1 and 2 weren't (I forget the name of the programme). Well if that isn't the most retarded thing ever. These are programmes that TV licence payers paid for, yet the BBC in its infinite arrogance decides how long series can be watched for. And then to add insult to injury, BBC Worldwide sells series to foreign networks. Well surely licence fee payers should be getting a cut of those sales since they funded those programmes?

Anyway there's a lot of garbage on iPlayer, just as there is on the BBC TV channels. I deleted my iPlayer account because I wasn't interested in watching drivel on iPlayer any more.

So I called TV Licensing to cancel my licence and told them I no longer had a TV. I was asked if I watched TV on any other devices and I said "Just Netflix, but I don't need a licence for that, do I?" and I could distinctly hear the disappointment in the woman's voice when she said "No, no you don't". She then said she'd cancelled my licence and would be sending me out a refund form, but insultingly said that if I was "caught" watching live TV I could face a fine of up to £1,000. Stupid cow. She was effectively calling me a liar.

But I'm really not sure about the whole Netflix thing at all. At https://www.tvlicensing.co.uk/faqs/FAQ104 it says you don't need a TV Licence if you only watch Netflix and not the BBC iPlayer, but since any computer can easily access iPlayer (whether you watch it or not) is that really correct? Why does Netflix get treated differently to all the other online on-demand services? I don't see a difference. If All4 requires a TV licence, why doesn't Netflix? (And why All4 requires a licence when it's got nothing to do with the BBC is also retarded).

And why does it say at https://www.tvlicensing.co.uk/check-if-you-need-one/topics/Live-TV-and-how-you-watch-it that you need a licence if you want YouTube? YouTube isn't even a TV channel? That makes absolutely no sense. Does TV Licensing give each YouTuber a cut of the TV licence? I highly doubt it.

TV Licensing makes absolutely no sense any more. It might have in the 1950s, but it needs to end.

Anonymous said...

A computer is only classed as a TV receiver within the meaning of the legislation if it is used to watch live TV or BBC iPlayer.
Therefore, you only need a TV licence to access the live broadcasts on All4 and YouTube. You don't need a licence if you only use these services for on-demand content. Since Netflix has no live broadcasts of any kind there are no circumstances under which you will need a TV licence to watch it.

Anonymous said...

In the 60's I worked for the GPO. A job that one guy did was to go out with an engineer in the detector van. He had file of who had licenses.

One day they found an address that had no license but someone was receiving a broadcast. The guy knocked at the door and a woman answered the door in a dressing gown and then opened her gown to show her naked body. The guy asked to move to another position and many others asked for his role.

I have ended up here do to me being hassled. I have spent several years letting them know I don't have a TV and don't watch anything on a computer or similar. I object to them telling me they will still come and check on me, insinuating I am a liar, so this year I didn't answer the letter. I now have a rather threatening letter arrived.

PS Too old and not brave enough to strip off at the door if an enforcement Officer comes round!!.