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Student Accommodation

How to get a TV Licence refund

Leaving your student accommodation for the summer but still have a few months left on your TV Licence? You could be due a refund!

how to get a TV Licence refund

Credit: Real Moment (foreground), BrAt82 and Lavrentsov Dmitrii (background) – Shutterstock

So you paid your TV Licence for a full year, but now you're about to head home for the summer months where you won't be using it – seems pretty unfair, right?

We all know that you have to pay your annual TV Licence in one lump sum of £154.50, which is especially annoying for students who only need one for 9–10 months.

The good news is, you can actually apply for a refund on the licence that will make sure you're not paying for any unnecessary months – and it's not that difficult to do!

Only watch catch-up TV on a portable device? Students don't normally have to pay for a TV Licence if this is the case. And the best part? If you've been paying out unnecessarily, you can apply for a full refund for the year!

Do you really need a TV Licence?

when you need TV license

Credit: Channel 4

We know you probably don't want to pay for yet another bill at the start of the academic year, but it's up to you to check whether you need a TV Licence or not - and pay it!

You need a TV Licence if you watch programmes live from any source (this includes TVs, laptops, tablets and desktop computers).

Previously, you didn't need a licence if you only watched programmes on catch-up services like BBC iPlayer or All4 (as long as you watched them at least an hour after they've been broadcast).

However, as of September 2016, you need a TV Licence to watch BBC iPlayer as well – but not for any other catch-up services.

But all is not lost! There's a small but crucial loophole that means the majority of students still don't have to pay to watch iPlayer – read more here!

Do you need a TV Licence to watch Netflix?

Nope! If you only watch on-demand TV services like Netflix then you don't need to pay for a TV Licence.

But remember, if you watch live TV or BBC iPlayer then you may need to cough up.

Check out our guide to the cheapest ways to stream films and TV for our top tips on cutting the cost of your Netflix subscription.

Are students covered by their parents' TV Licence?

There is a little known loophole that means, in some circumstances, students are covered by their parents' TV Licence and won't need to buy their own.

But this only applies if you're only watching catch-up TV (including BBC iPlayer) on a device that is not plugged into mains electricity. Weird, we know.

We've got the full details here.

Do you need a TV Licence if you live in a shared house?

If you live in a shared house at uni, how many licences you need depends on your tenancy agreement.

  1. If you have a joint tenancy agreement, you will only need one TV Licence for the whole house
  2. If you have an individual tenancy agreement for each room, each housemate will have to buy their own TV Licence.
Student halls may be covered for their TV Licence in the communal areas, but not in each individual dorm room. Make sure you check with your university to avoid any confusion.

Applying for a TV Licence refund

applying for TV licence refund

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It's surprising how many students don't take advantage of the fact that these refunds are available. We suspect because TV Licensing doesn't exactly shout about it, it's an easy trick to miss!

You can claim for a monthly refund – as long as there's at least one month left on your licence that you're not going to use, you can get some cash back.

Monthly discounts should work out at roughly £12.88 per month, but TV Licensing has made it clear that exactly how much you get back will be decided on a case-by-case basis.

If you leave your digs straight after exam time, though, you could see quite a big return. If you move out at the end of May and your licence doesn't expire until September, a three-month discount on your TV Licence could see a return of about £38. Not bad!

Plus, if you've realised that you weren't actually liable to pay for the whole year (if you were only watching catch-up TV on your laptop, for example) you could even claim the whole amount back!

You may have to split it a few ways between you and your housemates, but every penny counts – particularly if you don't plan on finding a part-time job over the summer.

How to claim your TV Licence refund

TV LicensingIn order to qualify for your refund you need the following:

  1. At least one complete month or more left on your licence or a licence which expired within the past two years
  2. Evidence that you'll no longer need it – for example a tenancy agreement that shows you're leaving the property before the licence runs out, or confirmation of your university attendance that shows term dates (full list of evidence options here). 

If you've got everything you need, you're good to go! However, you can only apply for the refund up to 14 days before you no longer need the licence – any earlier and your application will be denied.

Once you've submitted the form, the money should be with you within 21 days.

Apply for a TV Licence refund »

The TV Licensing website has a page dedicated entirely to students – check it out for more information.

What happens if you don't pay your TV Licence?

TV license fine

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If you watch live TV in any form without paying your licence, you're breaking the TV Licensing rules, and therefore the law.

Try to sneak by without paying and you could very easily end up in court facing a fine of up to £1,000. Ouch!

Check out our guide on how to save more on your bills, and follow our student bills guide to save £100s in minutes.


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