TV Licence Fee Is Going Up – But Do You Need To Pay?

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The UK television licence fee is going up again next month, for the second year in a row. Starting April 1, 2018, the fee will increase from £147 to £150.50, annually.

Some people still have time to skip that increase – and the rest, especially cord cutters, are wondering whether they need to pay the TV licence at all – so we’re here to help.

The TV licence is a tax used to fund the BBC. It is collected by the BBC, mainly through outsourced companies, and failure to pay can incur penalties of up to £1,000. In the past, cord cutters who never watched live TV were exempt – but due to a recent change in the law, people who only watch BBC iPlayer still need to pay.

Last year, the TV licence fee increased for the first time since 2010, following a government decision to increase it every year in line with inflation – for five consecutive years. So this year, from April 1, the new fee will be £150.50 for colour TVs, and £50.50 for a black and white telly (if you can find one!).

According to the “TV Licensing” database, 300,000 households will have their TV Licence expire on March 31. Thus, if they renew their licence before the end of the month, they can save those £3.50 (until next year.)

Additionally, if you’re paying via an instalment scheme (with a monthly direct debit, for example), you will continue to pay your regular payments until your year is over and your licence comes up for renewal.

BBC House in Bristol
Photo: Deposit Photos – claudiodivizia

Do I Need To Pay The TV Licence?

TV Cord Cutters who are used to watching Netflix and other streaming TV services, and do not usually (or at all) watch live TV, often wonder whether they’re even required to pay the TV licence fee.

In most cases, the answer is YES. But there are two main questions to ask yourself, when you’re determining whether you need to pay the licence fee or not:

  • Are you watching ANY live TV on ANY device?
  • Are you watching BBC iPlayer on ANY device?

If the answer is YES to either one of those, then in most cases, you do need to pay a TV licence.

Also note that the LIVE TV part refers to ANY live TV, not just the BBC channels. ITV, Channel 4, Channel 5… anything that is being broadcast right now, in real time, falls into that category – even if you RECORD it for later viewing.

For our full rundown on TV Licence fees, who can skip it and who can get a discount – read our complete guide right here.

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