Do You Need a TV Licence To Watch Netflix?

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Do You Need a TV Licence To Watch Netflix? This is such a popular question about the TV licence that it's important to clarify it. The TV licence is a notorious part of British television watching culture. Getting a TV licence is vital if you want to watch live broadcasting and the BBC legally without any issues. With its fate still in the balance, in this complete TV licence guide, we outline what the TV licence is, how much it costs, and what you need it for.


The TV Licence might not seem like your typical utilities, but for watching the BBC and live broadcasting, having a valid TV licence is just as vital as paying for your gas, electricity and water. Making sure you sort out your TV licence should be high on yourmoving checklist!

What Is a TV Licence for?

A TV licence is a strange feature of Britain’s television programme. Especially if you’ve just arrived to the UK, the TV licence might need a bit of explaining. Introduced in 1946 after the Second World War as a way of funding the BBC programming, the TV licence has become a certainty of British life.

The TV licence scope has been evolving since 1946 when it was first implemented to cover the cost of broadcasting through the 405-line (black and white analogue TV). Then came coloured television and with it, a supplement fee to the TV licence. If you were lucky enough to have coloured television in those days, it also meant you were charged this additional cost.

TV licences are regulated by TV Licensing and are operated by Capita Business Services Ltd with the overall responsibility at the BBC.

It’s not just live TV! Remember that live doesn't just mean live music or sport events that are being streamed live. While it does include these, it also includes watching and recording any programme, movie and documentary on any channel.

Do I Need a TV Licence?

magnifying glass over tv licence

Today, the TV Licence is a requirement if you want to watch, record, or download live TV programmes. This means that if you want to watch live broadcasting on the BBC or any other channel, you must have paid for your TV Licence.

If you are planning to watch or record any live TV - including any programme being broadcasted. This includes live BBC programmes on iPlayer or any other streaming device. These rules apply to live content streaming on the following devices:

  • A television
  • A desktop computer
  • Mobile phones
  • Tablets
  • Game consoles
  • Digital boxes
  • DVD/VHS recorders

What Is My TV Licence Number?

Everyone who has a TV licence will also have a TV licence number which they will need for any communication between them and TV Licensing. If you don’t know your number, you will see it on any bills or correspondence emails or letters between yourself and TV Licensing.

If you are still having trouble finding your TV licence number, you can head to their website, enter your details and they will tell you what your TV licence number is.

Your TV Licence doesn't move with you! If you've moving house, be aware that your TV licence won't move with you to your new address automatically. You'll need to change your details with TV Licensing so you can continue watching live TV from your new home!

Check Out Our TV Licence Change Address Guide!

How Much Is a TV Licence?


The TV licence cost is updated regularly and the cost is constantly changing. However, as of 2022, a TV Licence will cost you £159 a year. You can pay this all in one go, or you can split it up via a direct debit for either £13.25 a month or £41 each quarter. You can even get a TV licence payment card that you can pay at a PayPoint.

In 2022, the UK government froze the TV licence cost at £159 a year until 2024 meaning it will not rise with inflation until then.

Who Pays for the TV Licence?

You’ll usually only need one TV licence per household who want to watch live broadcasting, so if you’re in a house sharing arrangement, you’ll only need one. The TV licence is registered to your address rather than your name or the number TV you have. In the majority of cases, it’s the homeowner who pays for the TV licence, but this is not always the case.

If you have a tenancy agreement and are renting from a landlord, there is a possibility that the TV Licence is included in the rent. However this is not standard practice and, like with council tax, renter generally have to pay their own licence fees.

In the case of students, lots of people make the mistake that they will be covered by their home TV licence, but this isn’t the case. If you’re living in hall of residence during term-time, you need to make sure you have a TV licence. Remember, you will need to include your TV licence in your change of address checklist!

Can I Pay Less for the TV Licence?

There are discounts off the full TV licence fee that are available for people in specific circumstances. In these situations, you can be discounted either dramatically reduced rate or half price:

  1. Over the age of 74
    If you are over the age of 74 and receive pension credit you can qualify for a free TV licence. If you don’t receive pension credit, you will be required to pay for the full fee.
  2. Living in a residential care home
    If you’re over 60 or disabled and living in a residential care home, you are entitled to a discount that reduces your yearly fee to £7.50 a month.
  3. Severely visually impaired or blind
    If you are severely visually impaired or blind, you are entitled to a 50% discount off the TV licence. you will have to get a certificate from an authority or from the Health Department, depending on where you live.
  4. Black and White TV
    If you only watch TV on a black and white set, you’ll only have to pay £53.50 a year for your TV licence.

Unfortunately, you can’t get a discount if you are a student. However, you can request a partial refund at the end of your term so you’re not paying for the full year.

Check Out Our Uni Checklist!

How Do I Renew My TV Licence?


If you want to keep recording your favourite programmes and watching live TV, you will need to renew your licence. Keep an eye out on the expiry date of your licence because if it’s about to expire and you haven’t done anything about it, you might be receiving a letter from TV Licensing.

Don’t worry though, renewing your licence is easy as all you have to do to start the process is head to the Renew Your Licence section of the TV Licensing website and follow the prompts. We recommend you renew your licence a month before it expires to avoid any reminder letters or unnecessary conflicts with TV licensing if you end up forgetting altogether.

Find Out How To Cancel Your TV Licence!

What Can I Watch Without a TV Licence?

You don’t always need a TV licence to watch programmes on your TV. In fact, with Netflix, Amazon Prime, Disney Plus, and more on-demand services, needing a TV licence is becoming a thing of the past.

Generally speaking, you won’t need a TV licence if you are only watching on-demand programmes. Any app or service that you use to watch or download series or films which are not live is permissible without a TV licence.

Do I need a TV Licence for my TV package? TV Packages are becoming the standard for Smart TVs. From Now TV to Netgem TV, traditional TV channels are losing their appeal. However, even if you’ve left traditional programming completely, you will still need a licence if you want to watch shows live.

Check Out Our Guide to the Best TV Packages!

Do You Need a TV Licence To Watch Netflix?

You can watch Netflix without a TV licence. Netflix is a good example of not needing a licence since you can’t watch live broadcasting. So if you are only using Netflix on your TV and other devices, you won’t have any problems with TV Licensing.

What About Live Streaming?

living streaming on television and phone

This is where it gets a little bit grey. Although live broadcasting must be covered by a TV licence, what happens if you are watching a live stream on either YouTube or Twitch? Unfortunately, there’s no definitive answer to this since the TV licence was brought in long before streaming was around.

However, as long as the content you are watching live is not accessible on a regular TV channel, you won’t need to get a TV licence. For instance, if your favourite Vlogger is streaming something live, you won’t need to pay TV Licensing to watch them. However, if you are watching Channel 4 live from YouTube, you should have a licence to do so legally.

Can You Refuse To Pay the TV Licence?

If you are not watching live broadcasting, refusing to pay the TV licence won’t be any problem at all since you won’t need one in the first place. However, there’s a lot of controversy over what happens if you don’t have a TV licence when you need one.

What Happens If I Don't Pay My TV Licence?

pen writing fine

In the case that TV Licensing suspects that you’re evading the licence fee, they will likely start off by sending you a letter. The type of letter depends on the individual case.

These are the types of letters that might be sent out:

  1. Reminder letters about the expiry date of someones’ TV licence
  2. Letters to households that aren’t meeting legal requirements
  3. Letters to households that have made any enquiries about payments or refunds
  4. Letters to households about individual queries and cases

If you don’t respond, be prepared to receive progressively sterner letters. If you’re caught ignoring these warnings and continue to watch and record live TV without permission, it’s highly likely that a TV licensing officer might pay you a visit.

Some people might think they don’t need a TV licence and in this case, they can also write to TV licensing to explain why. Normally, an officer will come around to confirm this themselves. Out of all the visits that are made, it’s usually found that 20% of people who thought they didn’t need a TV licence, actually did.

In most cases, you might have to face the maximum fine of £1,000 if you are found watching or recording live broadcasts illegally.

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Will I Go To Jail for Not Having a TV Licence?

As a general rule, the chance that you’ll end up in prison for not having a licence is quite low. If someone who has received multiple warning letters and visits from TV licensing still decides to take no action, they still could have legal action taken against them. In 2013, 178,332 people were sued for fee evasion, 153,369 were found guilty but only 32 went to prison.

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