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TV licences can add a hefty sum to a household’s annual or monthly outgoings and while living costs soar, many Britons will be searching for ways to make reduce outgoings. While a TV licence is only necessary for those who watch live TV and/or BBC iPlayer, it could mean the thousands who don’t could cut costs by cancelling or requesting a refund if they’ve already paid the fee.
A TV licence is, effectively, a fee to fund public broadcasting and by law, any household in the UK that watches live TV or live-streamed content, such as BBC iPlayer, must have a TV licence.
The fee for a TV licence currently costs £159 a year, while for those with black and white TVs it costs £53.50 a year.
However, the rise in consumers opting for subscription services to watch TV instead is seeing a dip in the need for households to buy a licence.
According to research by Cyber Crew, 53 percent of all households in the UK are subscribed to at least one online streaming service.
Netflix was the most popular service in the UK in the first quarter of 2020 with more than 13 million subscriptions, while Amazon Prime had 7.9 million.
So Britons who find themselves only watching TV through services like these might find they can make a saving by scrapping their TV licence.
How to request a TV licence refund
Britons can request a TV licence refund if they won’t need their licence again before it expires, and they have at least one complete month left on it.
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The main circumstances in which refunds are typically considered include:
- TV receiving equipment no longer being in use
- The address is already being covered by another licence
- The TV Licence being bought in error
- A replacement TV Licence being bought, such as moving from a black and white TV licence to a colour licence
- Blind concession refunds
- Refunds in consequence of an over 75 TV Licence application
- The death of the licence holder.
According to the TV licencing website, Britons have up to 14 days before the date they no longer need the TV licence to apply for the refund and if it has already expired, they can apply for it if less than two years have passed since the expiry date.
To apply, Britons will have to fill out a short form in which they may be asked to provide evidence.
After submission, TV Licencing will confirm whether or not they’ll be able to provide a refund, before working out the precise refund amount. Refunds are typically calculated in complete months.
The TV Licencing website states: “We aim to process and issue refunds within 21 days of receiving your application. Any refund due to you will be paid to you by either a cheque or by BACS transfer directly into your bank account.”
Britons can find out when their licence expires by signing into their account, in which they must have their licence number, the name on the licence, and the postcode to hand.
However, those who are found to be ineligible for a refund can still cancel their licence online.
How to cancel a TV licence
People hoping to cancel their licence can do so by filling out a cancellation request form.
TV Licensing may then pay a visit to check the household is right to have cancelled – it says these inspections find one in five households do need one.
If a licence is needed, the household will have to pay the full licence fee and may risk prosecution plus the fine.
How much is the TV licence fine?
Failing to pay for a TV licence when it’s needed is a criminal offence and fines can vary by location.
Those who are found to have streamed a programme live without a licence in UK mainland could be hit with a £1,000 fine, while those in Guernsey could face fines of up to £2,000, and in Jersey, £500.
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