Do I need a TV Licence if I watch Youtube?

Years ago it was a TV licence for having a TV in your home and you were only really able to avoid paying this yearly fee if you stated that you only used the TV to watch videos on. Then came satellite television from EuroSport to RTL’s we had a wider choice and eventually the Sky package with Premiership football was all the rage so once again, the TV license had to extend what they covered.

Then the big one came along, the internet and not long in to this new age of communication there was enough power to share and play videos with giants like Youtube upon us to open up a whole new world of entertainment for millions…

So, do you need a TV licence to watch Youtube?

No. From the date of this post and following a communication between myself and TV Licensing, it is made quite clear to me that:

If you watch user generated content, be it live or not, you do not need a TV licence.

Of course, if you watch live broadcasting on Youtube from a main TV channel, ie ITV / Channel 4  etc then you will need to have a TV licence. BBC broadcasts online are usually catch up or you need to sign in for viewing live.

I know it sounds extreme, but videos play a big part in our lives and much of what we consume is live content, so again the following will not need a TV licence:

  • Live Video Chats such as on Facebook or Whatsapp (so long as no live broadcast of television shows take place).
  • Live user generated videos on other social media channels such as Facebook, Snap Chat, Instagram etc.

If you do not pay the TV licence then you will undoubtedly have a contact from TV Licensing. This will usually commence with a letter to the home occupier. This will be followed by a visit to your property with a part hand written letter indicating that someone has visited from TV Licensing to help you understand how you can watch live TV legally.


After this point another visit will take place where you will be able to speak face to face to a TV Licensing representative who will advise and try to ascertain that you are legally watching content on your television / computer / phone etc.

If it is felt / proven that you are not paying the TV licence and are still watching live TV then things may escalate to legal letters and ultimately a court appearance along with fines and potentially a prison sentence.

Please do not fear though and especially not if you are in fact not watching live TV. You can either not take any notice and avoid contact, the TV Licencing will need to prove you are watching live TV and if you are not then they will have no evidence. You can also contact TV licensing and advise them that you do not watch live TV and they will take you off their ‘watch list’.

Our experience was that someone attended our property to leave a letter of which was caught on our video doorbell, we shared that as a post on social media with a question of which TV Licensing then responded quickly (on Twitter). Within a couple of hours a phone call was received, a helpful person to be honest guided us on what we need to do and advised us on some of our questions and everything was completed including taking us off their list.

The above is our own account and our own advise – Please visit the official TV Licensing website to find out more.


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