Between your hours studying at university, you’ll be chilling at home with your flatmates. One of the activities you might be doing is watching TV, but what about the license? The TV license confuses many internationals when they arrive in the UK, so we’ll explain it all in this article.

Depending on your landlord, there are a number of possibilities for watching TV with or without a TV license. You may have to pay for your own, your landlord may pay for it themselves, or even provide you with alternatives. Normally, the landlord’s website will list what applies to you.

If you want to watch conventional TV in the UK, you need a TV licence.

What is a TV license?

Technically it’s a license to receive radio broadcast signals, but really it’s used to fund private broadcasting companies. In this country, that is primarily the BBC. Essentially, if you want to watch conventional TV in the UK, you need a TV licence.

Services such as YouTube, Netflix or Amazon prime do not require a license. A standout example is that BBC iPlayer DOES require a license. The service will often tell you before you accept.

What do landlords have to do with it?

Often, your landlord will offer you a different choice than to simply pay for the license. Depending on the local competition, some will:

  1. Provide the license for you, without you ever having to purchase one.
  2. Reimburse you for purchasing one.
  3. Provide you with a communal internet streaming account, such as Netflix.
  4. Provide you with a device to stream, such as an Amazon Fire TV stick.

If none of these are an option for you, or your house is unwilling to pay for a license, you have an option. Often, laptops come with HDMI ports, which mean connecting to a TV is quick and simple, and will allow you to watch internet content.

If you’re looking at buying a laptop for watching content on, see here.

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