TV Licence Loophole (You don't need to pay for a TV licence AND you can still watch iPlayer)

There is nothing we love more than a cheeky loophole, and after the rage many of you felt after the new iPlayer TV licensing laws were announced, we're pleased to tell you that if you are a student, there is a way to avoid paying for one - and yet still watch iPlayer.

A few months ago, the BBC announced that changes would be made to the licensing law in January 2017 that would force anyone who downloaded or streamed on demand TV from BBC iPlayer to pay for a TV licence. It was then brought forward to 1 Sep 2016 which coincided with students going back to university.

So, what's the loophole?

So the law is the law right? Well yeah... but like all the best legal dramas - there's usually a loophole to sniff out.

If you look closely on the official press release on the TV licensing website, you'll see it says this:

“In limited circumstances, students can be covered by the licence at their parents’ address. The device must be powered by its own internal batteries - e.g. a table or mobile phone - and must not be plugged into the mains when receiving television. This is enabled by the Regulations governing TV licensing.”

This means that as long as you only watch iPlayer on a mobile device that can function without being plugged into power mains and that you avoid charging while you watch on demand shows (good luck proving that!), you’re exempt from having to buy a licence as long as your parents have one.

What do the folks at TV Licensing say?

It says that this isn't a new thing, and has been written in the media before - so nothing has changed because of the new law. Students can be covered by their parents' licence if ALL the following apply:-

  • They only ever use a device that is powered by its internal batteries to watch live TV or watch and download programmes on BBC iPlayer; and
  • They have not connected it to an aerial or plugged it into the mains to receive TV; and
  • Their permanent address (outside term time) is their parents' home; and
  • Their parents have a valid TV Licence.

If they do not meet all of these requirements, they will need to buy their own TV Licence for their student accommodation.

To find out more, go to

So hooray! Free iPlayer!