How to deal with your TV licence when you move home

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Moving homes can be a stressful and hectic experience, with numerous tasks to juggle and things to remember.

Amid the chaos of packing, coordinating logistics, and settling into your new abode, it’s easy to overlook the need to transfer or update your TV licence when moving house fast.

In this article, we answer all your questions so you can streamline the process and spend minimal time on this often-overlooked aspect of relocating.

What is a TV licence?

In the United Kingdom, a TV licence is a mandatory fee that must be paid by households and businesses if they watch or record live television broadcasts or use the BBC’s online streaming service, BBC iPlayer.

This includes watching live TV on any channel, whether it’s

  • BBC
  • ITV
  • Channel 4
  • Live TV from TV services

It’s essentially a legal requirement for anyone who consumes live television content in the UK, and the fees collected help fund the operations of the BBC and other public service broadcasters.

When do you pay a TV licence?

According to the information provided, a TV licence is required in several situations before you start watching TV:

  1. If you watch or record live TV broadcasts on any channel, whether free-to-air or paid services.
  2. If you use the BBC’s online streaming service, BBC iPlayer, to watch or download content.
  3. If you stream live TV content from online platforms like YouTube or Amazon Prime Video.

It’s important to note that a TV licence is not required if you solely watch on-demand or catch-up services that do not involve live broadcasting or if you only watch S4C programmes on demand (a Welsh-language channel in Wales).

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Who is responsible for paying a TV licence?

The responsibility for paying a TV licence typically falls on the household or the primary resident of the property. However, there are certain scenarios where the responsibility can shift or be shared:

  1. If you are moving into a property where someone already has a TV licence, you are sharing the responsibility and would have to check with them.
  2. If you are moving into a property as a single tenant or a lodger, you will likely need to obtain your own TV licence.
  3. If you are moving out of a property and someone else is moving in, you can transfer your existing licence to the new resident by providing written permission to TV Licensing.

It’s crucial to communicate with the existing licence holder or the incoming resident to determine the appropriate course of action and ensure that the necessary licensing requirements are met. Failure to comply with TV licensing regulations can result in fines or legal consequences.

Is it illegal to not pay your TV licence?

The information provided in this article should not be used to make legal decisions, refer to governmental sources for this. The information in this article is for additional informational purposes only.

Unless you are exempt, it is illegal to watch or record live TV in the UK without a valid TV licence. Failing to obtain a TV licence when required is considered a criminal offence under the Communications Act 2003.

If caught without a licence, you could face prosecution and potentially receive a fine of up to £1,000 (plus legal costs) in addition to the cost of purchasing a licence.

When you move house, what should you do about your TV licence?

Moving house requires you to take specific steps regarding your TV licence to ensure compliance with the law and avoid any penalties. Here’s what you should do:

  • Notify TV Licensing of your change of address: You can update your address up to three months before your move date. This can be done online or by contacting TV Licensing directly.
  • Transfer your licence if someone at your new address already has one: If your spouse, partner, family member, or joint tenant/mortgage holder at your new address already has a TV licence, you may be covered under their licence, and you won’t need to obtain a new one.
  • Obtain a new licence if needed: If you’re moving into a property where no one has a TV licence, and you plan to watch or record live TV or use BBC iPlayer, you will need to purchase a new TV licence for your new address here.
Paying for a new TV licence
  • Cancel your existing licence if no longer needed: If you’re moving abroad or won’t be watching live TV or using BBC iPlayer at your new address, you can cancel your existing licence and may be eligible for a refund for any unused months remaining.
  • Transfer your licence to the new resident: If someone is moving into your old address, you can provide written permission to TV Licensing to transfer your licence to the new resident, allowing them to take over your existing licence instead of obtaining a new one.

Find Your TV Licence Number

Click this link which helps you find your TV licence number. This number is required when updating your details or accessing your account online.

The page prompts you to enter your TV licence or customer number (if known), your last name as it appears on the TV licence, and the postcode of the licensed address.

If you don’t know your TV licence number, follow the steps for this as instructed.

Finding tv licence number

By providing these details, the website can retrieve your TV licence information and display your TV licence number, which you can then use for any required actions or updates.

Determine if you want to pay for TV

Moving houses can be a financially demanding time, and it’s essential to evaluate your priorities and spending habits. Not everyone may find it necessary or affordable to pay for a TV licence immediately after relocating.

Alternatives to tv may include:

  • Subscription-based streaming services like Netflix, Hulu, or Disney+, which offer on-demand content without live TV.
  • Rental or purchase of movies and shows through digital platforms like iTunes, Google Play, or Amazon Prime Video.
  • Reading books, magazines, or e-books.

However, if you anticipate using any of the services that require a TV licence, it’s crucial to obtain one promptly to avoid potential fines or legal consequences.

Determine if you’re eligible for a TV licence discount

Certain groups are eligible for discounts or exemptions on their TV licences in the UK. These include:

  1. Over 75s with Pension Credit: If you (the licence holder) are 75 years or older, and you or your partner living at the same address receives Pension Credit, you may be eligible for a free TV licence.
  2. Blind or severely sight-impaired individuals: Those who are blind or severely sight-impaired can apply for a 50% concession on their TV licence fee.
A blind man walking
  1. Residential care homes: Some residential care homes may be covered by an ARC TV licence, which means residents aged 75 or over may not need to pay for an individual licence, regardless of whether they receive Pension Credit.
  2. Businesses offering overnight accommodation: Hotels, hostels, and other businesses that provide overnight accommodation may be eligible for an accommodation for residential licence, which covers the premises for guests.

To determine if you qualify for any of these discounts or exemptions, you should review the eligibility criteria and application processes.

It’s important to provide the necessary documentation and follow the appropriate steps to ensure you receive the correct licensing status and avoid overpaying.

Update your TV licence address

Updating your TV licence address is a straightforward process. Visit the TV Licensing website, you can update your details conveniently online.

Updating tv licence address

To update your TV licence address when moving, follow these steps:

  1. Navigate to the “Update your details” section on the TV Licensing website.
  2. Enter your TV licence or customer number (if known).
  3. Provide your last name as it appears on the TV licence.
  4. Enter the postcode of the licensed address (the address you’re moving from).

If you don’t have your TV licence number handy, the website provides an option to indicate that you don’t know it.

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Once you’ve entered the required information, the website will retrieve your TV licence details, and you can proceed to update your new address. This process can be completed up to three months before your scheduled move date, ensuring a seamless transition of your TV licence to your new residence.

How to cancel your licence

When cancelling your TV licence, it’s essential to only cancel your licence if you’re moving abroad or if you won’t be watching live TV at your new address.

To cancel your licence, follow these steps:

  1. Visit the “Refunds and Cancellations” section on the TV Licensing website.
  2. Select the option to “Cancel an existing licence.”
  3. Provide the necessary details, such as your licence number, name, and address.
  4. Submit any required evidence or documentation to support your cancellation request.
Requesting tv licence cancellation

It’s important to note that cancelling your Direct Debit alone does not cancel your TV licence. TV Licensing will continue to send reminder letters to your address unless you formally cancel your licence.

To ensure that your licence has been successfully cancelled, you can use solution:

  • Request a confirmation letter or email from TV Licensing acknowledging the cancellation of your licence.

  • Set a reminder in your calendar or personal organizer for a few weeks after submitting your cancellation request.
A calendar that is used to set reminders
  • Check your bank statements or payment records to ensure that no further payments are being deducted for your TV licence.
  • If you haven’t received a confirmation or notice any discrepancies, follow up with TV Licensing promptly to resolve the issue.

By taking these proactive steps, you can verify that your TV licence has been properly cancelled and avoid any unnecessary charges or penalties.

What should you do if your old home doesn’t have a TV  

If you’re moving out of a property where no one will be watching live TV, using pay TV services, streaming live TV, or accessing BBC iPlayer, you should take the necessary steps to cancel your TV licence and potentially receive a refund for any unused months remaining on your licence.

Here’s what you can do:

  1. Notify TV Licensing of your intention to cancel your licence by following the cancellation process outlined in the previous section.
  2. Provide any required evidence or documentation to support your cancellation request, such as a tenancy agreement, council tax bill, or property completion statement, to prove that the property will be vacant or that you have moved out.
A man providing the right documentation for TV licencing

If eligible, you can apply for a refund for any unused months remaining on your licence. The refund amount will be calculated based on the information you provide and the remaining validity period of your licence.

If you can’t provide any supporting evidence, you may still be eligible for a refund, but it will typically be limited to up to three months from the date TV Licensing receives your application.

Ensure that you have cancelled any Direct Debit or standing order payments for your TV licence to avoid any further charges.

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