Thousands of people across the country do not pay for their TV licence and potentially risk a fine of up to £1,000 – but what happens if you don’t pay?
A TV licence costs £154.50 and covers all live TV or BBC iPlayer, meaning if you watch anything live or want to catch up on the latest episode of Line of Duty or The Bodyguard, you must have one.
What are the exemptions to having a TV licence?
If you only watch on demand TV – for example using the ITV Hub or All 4 – you do not need a TV licence, unless you are using BBC iPlayer, according to MoneySavingExpert.
In addition, if you only use streaming services such as Netflix or Amazon Prime, you also do not need to have a licence.
However, if you want to record live TV and watch it back later on, you will still need a TV licence due to the fact you are watching content as it has been shown on a TV channel, rather than through an on demand service.
If you are a student, you may be covered by your parent’s licence if you are using equipment which runs on its own internal batteries (so a laptop that is not plugged in) and is not connected to an aerial.
If you are in halls of residence or private accommodation, however, whether you are covered by an existing TV licence or need to purchase one can differ.
What happens if you don’t pay?
You will receive letters from TV Licensing asking for confirmation that you do or do not have a licence. The nature of these letters often become more serious over time, and can warn of court appearances and enforcement agents visiting your property.
TV Licensing caught more than 240,000 people watching TV without a licence in 2017/18 and have a database of more than 31 million addresses which they use to catch evaders.
These agents carry out checks on those they believe do not have a TV licence but they are not legally allowed inside your property without permission. They can, however, gain a search warrant giving them access.
High-tech handheld detectors and vans can also be used to detect whether someone is watching TV without a licence.
People dodging paying the fee can face a fine of up to £1,000 and can face jail if they do not pay a court-ordered fine.
This article originally appeared on our sister site, Lancashire Evening Post