Asked By: Caleb Hall Date: created: Feb 12 2023

Where do I apply for free TV Licence

Answered By: Zachary Cook Date: created: Feb 14 2023

Who do I contact regarding my entitlement to a free TV Licence? You should contact the Department of Social Protection (DSP) at 1890 500 000. My TV Licence has expired but I have applied to the Department of Social Protection for a free TV Licence. What should I do? It is your legal obligation to have a valid TV Licence if you have a TV in your home.

This includes the period between your TV Licence expiry date and you Free Licence award decision. I am paying for my TV Licence by Direct Debit and have recieved a free TV Licence from the Department of Social Protection. Can I terminate my payments? If you are paying for a TV Licence by instalments prior to a free TV Licence being awarded to you then you must continue to pay the remaining instalments for that TV Licence.

Once your final payment has been paid we will remove the Direct Debit agreement from your record and no more payments will be sought. The free TV Licence does not come into effect until the expiry date of your paid TV Licence.

Asked By: Carter Gonzales Date: created: Jun 02 2023

Do I have to pay TV Licence if I only watch Netflix

Answered By: Aidan Hernandez Date: created: Jun 02 2023

You don’t need a TV Licence to watch on demand programmes on Netflix.

Can I cancel my TV Licence if I only watch Netflix?

You can cancel your licence if you no longer: watch or record TV on any channel via any TV service (e.g. Sky, Virgin, Freeview, Freesat) watch live on streaming services (e.g. ITVX, Channel 4, YouTube, Amazon Prime Video, Now, Sky Go) use BBC iPlayer*.

Does everyone have to pay TV license?

It doesn’t matter what device you use. If you watch or record live TV programmes on any channel, or download or watch BBC programmes on BBC iPlayer, you need to be covered by a TV Licence.

What happens if I don’t have a TV Licence?

We may send an officer to your home because, if you do not get a TV Licence when you need one, you will be breaking the law. This means you could have to go to court and you might get a fine. The fine could be up to £1,000. In Guernsey, the fine can be up to £2,000.

What happens if I don’t pay TV license?

Can I go to prison for not having a licence? – No, there is no need to worry. You cannot go to prison for simply not having a TV licence. The court can only give you a fine. But if you fail to pay that fine, the court can take further action. They can send bailiffs or sheriff officers to your home.

How much is a TV Licence in UK?

A standard colour TV Licence costs £159. A black and white licence costs £53.50. If you are blind (severely sight impaired), you can apply for a 50% concession, so your licence will cost £79.50.

How much is TV Licence per month?

Pay monthly – from £13.25 We’ll usually spread the cost of your first Direct Debit licence over six months, at around £26.50 a month. From then on you’ll pay around £13.25 a month.

Do TV Licence inspectors visit?

Visiting officers This means they can check if you have a licence or not. If you tell us that you do not need a TV Licence, our officers may still visit you to confirm this.

Can I watch Netflix in UK without TV Licence?

You need a TV Licence if you:

watch or record live TV on any channel or service use BBC iPlayer

You may be able to get a free or discounted TV Licence if you’re 75 or over and get Pension Credit, or if you’re blind or in residential care. You do not need a TV Licence to watch:

streaming services like Netflix and Disney Plus on-demand TV through services like All 4 and Amazon Prime Video videos on websites like YouTube videos or DVDs

Why do I need a TV Licence?

A TV Licence is a legal permission to install or use television equipment to receive (i.e. watch or record) TV programmes, as they are being shown on TV or live on an online TV service, and to download or watch BBC programmes on demand, including catch up TV, on BBC iPlayer.

Are TV detector vans real?

How do TV detector vans work? Do they know what channel you”re watching, or just that you have the TV on? | Notes and Queries | How do TV detector vans work? Do they know what channel you’re watching, or just that you have the TV on? Jan, Mcr UK

  • They work by detecting the electromagnetic signature that your television gives off. They are so accurate that they can tell you where in the house the TV is, and they can indeed see the channel you are watching.
    • Gareth Williams, Hilversum Netherlands
  • There are no TV detector vans. It was originally a PR stunt to frighten people into thinking they could be detected and then pursued for not having a TV licence. There are still no TV detector vans. The way they can tell is if you don’t pay your direct debit or move into a home which did have a TV licence but which hasn’t renewed the license.
    1. Mr Butterworth,
  • I believe they pick up the signal from the local oscillator in your TV. When radio or television signals are transmitted the audio or video signal is superimposed on a ‘carrier wave’ – a process known as modulation. When you tune the set it is the frequency of the carrier you tune to. To retrieve the original audio or video signal it is necessary to demodulate the composite signal. That is achieved by ‘mixing’ it with a locally-generated signal of the same frequency as the carrier. Hence the need for a local oscillator. As the different channels use carrier waves of different frequencies it is presumably possible to tell which you are tuned to by measuring the frequency of the radiation emitted by the oscillator.
    • Robin Graham, Wirksworth Derbyshire
  • They operate by detecting some of the radio frequencies generated inside the set, in its conversion of the TV signal into watchable ‘video’ signals, while it’s switched on. These ‘intermediate frequency’ signals are a by-product of the techniques used in the conversion, and ‘leak’ out of the set. In principle, you could screen the set in earthed wire mesh in an attempt to defeat detection, but you’d also have to filter the aerial and mains cables too.
    1. Mike Whittaker, Stapleton UK
  • They don’t work, or even exist. It was a con to make people buy TV licenses. As far as I’m aware, it didn’t work.
    • Clive Cox, Sydney Australia
  • Television and radio transmitters broadcast at a frequency that is so high it is unintelligible to the human ear. Any receiving device will use a series of oscillators built into the set to reduce this frequency to something more managable. The oscillator produces a frequency which is just below the one from the transmitter. In saying that, if two frequences are mixed, the resulting frquency is the mathematical difference of the two. These oscillators in your TV are in effect mini transmitters which radiate a signal over a few hundred yards. These signals are easily picked up by detector vans. As each station needs a specific frequency, then the oscillator needs to be adjusted (tuning). It is therefore easy to detect which station or channel you are watching or listening, by determinig which frequency that your set’s oscillator is producing. The detector van does this easily.
    1. John Duncan, Edinburgh Scotland
  • They work by detecting emissions from the part of your telly that converts the incoming signal (which is at a high frequency, broadcastable through the air to your aerial) into an intermediate signal (at a lower frequency) that the telly can then convert into pictures and sound. Because the different TV channels are broadcast at different frequencies, the detector van can determine which channel is being “down-converted” to pictures and sound.
    • Tim Waterfield, Cambridge England
  • They see the ariel on your roof, although I once heard a story about a tv detector man claiming someone had a tv because of the ariel, the man then replied “just cos’ I’ve got milk on me door step doesn’t mean I’ve got a cow.” He was apparently quite heavely fined.
    1. James, Chiswick England
  • They don’t really. Detection of TV Licence evasion is works on an address based system, so if you’re not on their supposedly exhaustive list, they nip round, listen really carefully at the door and bust you if they hear Anne Robinson’s voice.
    • Alistair Crosbie, Glasgow UK
  • They amplify the tv frequency so it can be picked up by detector equipment. It doesn’t differentiate between channels – but then it doesn’t need to as it’s no excuse to say you were only watching ITV or Sky.
    1. Baz Druker, Barnet UK
  • I wouldn’t worry if I were you. So-called ‘TV detector vans’ do not exist. Have you ever seen one? It is perfectly easy to evade payment for a TV licence if one chooses to do so. If it wasn’t, the BBC wouldn’t bother making scary warnings and inventing tosh such as TV detector vans.
    • Karl Burns, Newcastle upon Tyne England
  • I’ve never believed in them. Surely they just have a list of addresses without licences, and go a-knocking.
    1. Jon, Lancaster UK
  • No! They can’t even tell if you have a TV, never mind what channel you are watching, the way they work is they assume that everyone has a TV, and they ahve a list of people who have not got a TV licence, and then they drive around and knock on everyones door who does not have a TV licence, to check they are nto using a TV. The reason they can not detect anything is because you TV does not transmit anything at all, it is only a reciever.
    • Paul Gibson, Newcastle Upon Tyne UK
  • When I was at university in the early 90’s a lecturer who had worked at the BBC told us that detector vans couldn’t detect whether a household had a TV or not. Instead, people were caught for the following three reasons: 1. When renting a TV your details are passed on to the licensing authorities.2. When buying a new TV, your details are passed on to the licensing authorities.3. When moving into a new house or flat where the previous occupant has cancelled any licence, a standard letter is sent automatically asking the new occupier to obtain a licence. When this is ignored, it was often assumed that the new occupier was trying to evade payment.
    1. Simon, Vienna Austria
  • I had always thought it was an Orwellian myth. There would be far too much interference around to be able to pin-point an accurate signal. Surely, they asume everyone has a TV therefore everyone needs a TV license. If you haven’t got a TV license, your breaking the law. If you haven’t got a TV you’re weird.
    • Lee, London UK
  • Having worked in various TV & Hi Fi shops all those years ago, I can confirm – as Simon in Vienna stated – that every TV sale (I didn’t do rentals) has to reported to “the authorities.” That’s how they know you have a TV. When I bought a brand new TV (the only new TV I ever had!) I gave the money to a friend and he made the purchase for me as he already had a TV licence. As one licence allows you to own an indefinite number of TV sets, I knew the Licence Evader Police wouldn’t come after him. I successfully managed to avoid ever buying a TV licence. I’m almost proud of that! Nowadays, I never have to worry about such ridiculous things as TV licences – although I do have to put up with a lot of ads!
    1. Alasdair Patrick, Lake Forest, California USA
  • Yes they do work. You can prove it yourself. Switch your TV on. Get a portable radio and tune it up and down the medium wave until you get a buzzing noise – sounds a bit like an electric shaver. You should be able to tune the radio to the frequency of the TV set’s intermediate frequency oscillator. Confirm this by switching the TV off – the sound should go away. MW radios are directional, so rotating the radio should change the volume of the sound. A TV detector van can use this effect to triangulate from 2 positions and should be able to ascertain the position of a TV set to within a couple of feet. If they think they’ve found a TV in your house, and they don’t have a record of you owning a license, they knock on your door. I have seen one of these vans. They knocked on my door (I’d just moved house) and one of the vans was sitting outside. I don’t think they can tell what channel you are watching. The IF oscilator should stay at a constant frequency no matter which frequency the TV is tuned to. Or for that matter whether you’re watching a video. Most of the other answers above are true as well. TV detector vans are an Orwellian Myth as well. Even though they exist!
    • Mike Burton, Newcastle-upon-Tyne UK
  • It is possible to detect all sorts of things from an operating TV, but this isn’t normally necessary. TV Licensing know who doesn’t have a license, and then they knock on your door. Most people (particularly if the Inspector can see your TV!) own up and pay up on the spot. If they want to search your house for a hidden TV, they need “reasonable evidence”- which may be the existence of a TV antenna, or the results of a detector surevey. Oh- and they don’t just have vans these days, but neat hand-held detectors too!
    1. Mike, York UK
  • I go with the people that say the whole thing is address-based. I’ve been corresponding (very politely) with the licensing body for some time. Their most recent letter told me that most people who claim not to have a television do in fact discover that they own one after all (presumably in the haunted west wing) and that an inspector would be calling to help me locate the television that I was not paying the license fee for. Oddly enough, the inspector has so far not only failed to locate my non-existent TV, he hasn’t even managed to locate my house. At any rate, he hasn’t called.
    • Jenny Smith, Brighton UK
  • The vans exist, though whether just as a deterrent is hard to say. They work by detecting the emission from the line flyback circuitry of the TV picture tube itself – nothing to do with local oscillators or intermediate frequencies in the receiver, which are tiny signals that are heavily screened – and also vary according to the design of the TV. The tube circuitry however, scans consistently at 15.625 kHz to move the electron beam across the face of the tube (625 lines, 25 times per second) using coils around the neck of the tube – this also radiates the signal so it can be picked up using a very large antenna at close range (such a low frequency doesn’t travel very well). This signal is modulated with the picture signal so the detector van equipment can display what you’re watching. The poor radiation actually helps the van to pinpoint the source of the signal, since the antenna has to be very highly directional to be able to pick it up at all. Modern technology will make the detector van’s job harder, if not impossible – already analogue TVs often have much higher scan rates to provide less flickery images, and with the advent of digital, there is no reliable scnning signal available for detection. A TV card in a computer system is undetectable also. Detector vans’ days are numbered because technology is advancing.
    1. Graham Cox, High Wycombe, Uk
  • As many people have already pointed out, the licensing authority work on a system of supposing that there isn’t anybody who doesn’t possess a TV. This inevitably leads to a witch hunt, where people without licenses are sent monthly forms to declare the fact that they are TVless. Until recently we had a black and white TV (and black and white licence) and it was only after we sent a black and white photo of our black and white TV that the monthly harrassment stopped!
    • jackie rigley, ilkeston derbyshire
  • TV detector vans exist, but they do not detect anything. They are just for show. TVL have a database of addresses in the UK with or without a licence. It is just assumed that anyone without a TV licence is guilty, and so a campaign of harrassment begins by letters and visits to intimidate people into buying a licence. Fact 1: Never in court has evidence been used to prosecute people (mainly single mothers) based on ‘detector’ van evidence. Fact 2: Although TVL threaten that they might apply for a search warrant if you do not let them in to inspect your house, it is very difficult indeed for them to apply for a warrant. They first need proof that you are receiving live broadcast. Never has ‘dectector van’ evidence been used to apply for a warrant. Search warrants are very rarely applied for today. The reason people get prosecuted is that they admit to having a TV and then sign a ‘confession’ form. They assume a visiting TVL ‘officer’ has some sort of legal power when they visit. They have no more legal power than if any member of the public came round. Tell them to leave and they must immediately comply else be in breach of law.
    1. Philip Dean, Newport, Wales
  • TV detection is just a myth. I was in a flat without a TV (without a licence), and the intimidating letters never stopped in spite of me sending them letters confirming I did not own or possess or use a TV set, over several months. The “sophisticated” vans and detection tools failed to detect the absence of a TV in my place. REPEATEDLY!!
    • Dean Grant, Glasgow, Scotland
  • If an address that previously had a licence shows up on their database as currently not having one, they assume that you are cheating them. They issue a couple of letters telling you a licence is needed and then they turn up one day out of the blue. Its hardly rocket science as most people own TVs the chances are good they will catch you out. My mother was arrested one day for watching an unlicensed TV, but they certinly didn’t need a detector van they looked through the window. I have never seen a detector van but they probably do exist. If you have no licence and no TV they will eventually visit your home. I went a number of years without a TV and they turned up every single year to check up. I had a friend who was prosecuted 3 years on the trot for not having a licence but here again it was very easy for them to prove she was using a set. They can get a magistrate to issue them with a warrant to search a house they suspect is using a set without a licence. If the property you live in has never had a TV set then you might get away with it but I would not bank on it. I suppose you should be able to shield your equipment from detection although it might be a lot more trouble than it is worth. Personally I think the licence fee is actually worth paying to keep the BBC independent of advertising but I am in a minority I suspect.
    1. Ross Burger, Swindon Wiltshire
  • My friend’s dad used to work for the TV licensing people, and according to him the vans are empty. The BBC always seem to publish stories about the latest TV detecting technology, but no-one else seems to. I wonder why.
    • James, Maidenhead UK
  • First of all, line flyback, line sync, sync seperators. These are a part of all CRT circuits (be it T.V. or a p.c. monitor), and cannot be detected accurately, from more than 1ft away from the appliance. All CRT devices and appliances are adequately shielded to prevent the emission of harmfull radiation, and in any case, the EHT and shielding (earthed),would prevent smaller signals from interfering with other equipment thus eliminating any signals that tranverse the air waves before they get a chance to.
    1. mellissa george, Kingston upon hull England
  • So where will this leave the BBC if we all get rid of traditional stand alone tv’s and simply watch broadband delivered tv on our computers? No Aerial, no CRT etc. Gordon Brown will doubtless introduce a licence for having a computer – and it will be known as a ‘Windows Tax’ – what goes around comes around!
    • Paul Churchill, Barton under Needwood England
  • TV detector vans were a PR stunt. Think about it, they claimed to have had this advanced technology in the 1960s? Yeah Right and if they were so effective, why did the vans have “TV LICENSE” plastered all over it? Surely they’d just have cruised around anonymously? Anyway things have moved on and they can detect signals with handheld devices. They recieve audible signals and some work by picking up lines i.e BBC1 has a certain line frequency and ITV a different one. I don’t have a TV and was harassed by a man who visited and spent about ten minutes scanning and an hour hanging outside. Its bullying, and I refused to let him unless he was accompanied by a female. No one has the right to push there way into your home without a warrant regardless of what they say! Also, they need to see the TV with their eyes before they can nab you. By the way, how much does all this crap cost.? More than a bloody licence.
    1. Laura Smith, Lancs UK
  • In the late seventies I had a ride around SE London one evening in one of the light blue “Commer” TV detector vans and saw it working. The vans worked by receiving stray intermediate frequency radiation from the TV with two directional antennas and could indeed pinpoint the location within the house and the channel being watched. I had a technical specification on the vehicle and receiver equipment at the time. The operators of the van told me they would do only one detection run on a street because as soon as one offender got the knock on the front door they would phone the others and all of them would turn off their TVs. Earlier detectors, before ITV started in 1955, detected the 10,125Hz line oscillator radiation from BBC only, 405 line TVs that had no intermediate frequency oscillator. Some of those old TVs whistled so loudly at 10kHz and you could even hear that outside the house on the street!
    • Steve, London, UK
  • I checked with the Patent Office, so that I could review the technology that has been modified for TV detection – there isn’t any. They might have tried using variations of it to find the similarly non-existent Weapons of Mass Destruction in Iraq. Oh how we Brits fall so easily for the rubbish we’re fobbed off with from government.
    1. Nick Harper, London UK
  • Why is it that people that dont know what they are talking about make mind boggling statements that are complete fantasy and quite incorrect. If you dont understand the law concerning search warrants and arrest, dont make idiotic statements claiming first hand knowledge and experience.
    • Andrew, London
  • As long as you do not let the TVLA/Capita employees into your house and do not speak to them at your door there is absolutely no way you can ever get prosecuted.
    1. John, Falkirk, Scotland
  • Well, there is a detector van outside my home at the moment and has been there since 6.30pm, obviously to catch workers returning home for a night’s viewing, sneaky sods. It is unmarked too!!!
    • Stacy, London, UK
  • Whether or not they work is immaterial. Evidence cannot be heard in a court of law unless it is available to both the prosecution and the defence, and since TV Licensing and the BBC refuse to disclose the technology they use, its results cannot be admitted as evidence.
    1. Joe, Lewes, England
  • I have always wondered if TV detector vans worked or if they are scare tactics propagated to ensure compliance and raise revenue. I don’t have the technical knowledge to evaluate or reason what signals may be given off by my TV but the register of license holders and notification by retailers of TV purchases is certainly correct. You cannot buy a TV without providing your name and address. Having read this page I had a look at a press release from the BBC regarding the latest generation of detection equipment, vans come complete with removable ‘TV Licensing’ signs, so you can’t see them coming! The Beeb claim that the latest detection systems are so secret that even the engineers who developed the systems worked in isolation from each other so as not to know how the systems work! This reminds me of a Monty Python sketch in which the British Army developed a joke during WW2 so funny that the enemy would die from laughing upon hearing it, a joke so funny it had to be translated into German by individuals in isolation, translating one word each, so that they were never exposed to the full horror of the jokes consequences. Is the case of TV detector vans a case of life imitating art?
    • Steve, Ilkeston, Derbyshire, England
  • I do not have a licence because I dont have a TV. All that rubish about vans detecting if you have a TV. Some of the arguments about how they might detect a TV is interesting but unlikely. The idea about pin pointing a TV like you see in the war movies is rubish. The germans pin pointed transmitters because it was the only one transmitting in that area. With TV reception the air space is flooded with signals. Tv licence officers come to your house unexpectedly walk pass your window and see it, or lie there way into your home and see the TV. He was checking the reception in your area! etc. Unless they actually see the TV they cannot do any thing. If they call at your house you do not even have to let them in. Blocks of flats are license officers worst nightmare for catching people. If you get caught by a speed camera on the road they produce the photgraphic evidence in court to prove it. If you drink drive they produce a breath test and bood test in court to prove it. There has never been a case in court where the TV license officer has produce evidence from any mythical detection device to prove you had a TV. The only way is for the license officer to photograph your property with some thing distinctive identifying your house and showing a TV on in your lounge.
    1. Marcus D, Eccles Manchester
  • If it was unmarked how do you know it was a TV detector van? Call me a cynic but several of the replies sound like scaremongering from the TV licensing bullies. The police really don’t have the resources for that! If the “detection” system is so sophisticated why do I get so many “reminders” to pay when I have told them I don’t own a TV in writing? (A rhetorical question there.)
    • Alan Martins, London London
  • I was born in England in the 1950s and I can’t believe what has happened over there. This seems to be a place where privacy and civil liberties are unknown. Why does ANYONE put up with cameras at every corner and people sneaking around to see if you have a television set? This is the nation of Orwell no less.
    1. Werner, Regina, Canada
  • Detector vans were used successfully back in the early days of radio and TV (prior to 1971 radios also had to be licenced) and they detected the local oscillator in the target receiver. In the days of valves the mixer required quite a high level of LO signal. It was also very easy to detect the low intermediate frequencies common in the old 405-line days. In fact I could receive the 16MHz sound IF of the family TV on an ordinary short wave radio. There were some “straight” (ie TRF or non-superhet) single-channel receivers in use during the late ’40s and early ’50s which had no local oscillator and were therefore safe from detection. However it must be borne in mind that back in my young days TV aerials were large, TV ownership was relatively sparse, and licence enforcement was by the GPO, not unskilled, non-technical salesmen as now. Detection nowadays is a moot point as the general “electrosmog” that unfortunately smothers our environment would make pinpointing any discrete radiator at UHF very difficult. Want to try detecting a working TV yourself? Find a radio receiver that can tune 39.5MHz and you should be able to pick up the “buzz” of the video IF signal. Picking up the sound channel is a little more difficult due to the “intercarrier” method used to transmit the audio on the UK 625-line system. By the way, I am a radio/electronics engineer with over 40 years’ experience 😉
    • Pete Roberts, Runcorn, Cheshire
  • This is why TV Detectors won’t work. It isn’t a technological explanation but a logical one – assuming they could detect signals, they’d pick up every single TV set in every house without distinguishing who has a license or now. They won’t be cruising around and suddenly pick you up. Yes, they may get the addresses of those without a license, but it’d be much cheaper for them to use a handheld device, or look through the window, or probably even get a warrant.
    1. Greg, Birmingham West Midlands
  • TV Detection is possible but extremely difficult to carry out. You can, however, protect your privacy by building a small electronic gadget called Television Cloaking Device. It’s all explained on
    • Erik Oostveen, Coventry, UK
  • THey just work by visiting all the properties that don’t have a licence! I know as I’ve had this a few times, when I didn’t have a TV, but they still came round and asked to see. They had my name (somehow) and my new address but still kept showing up at my old address asking for me and asking to see a TV, even though the new tenant didn’t have one, so was nothing to detect. He let them in,showed them a blank space and they left him alone.
    1. Paul, London GB
  • I like all the techy explanations as to how tv detector vans work but you’d have to be a complete idiot to think that the government would spend millions of pounds sending vans round every town in the UK just to pursue a few license fee evaders. Get a life.
    • Chas Likely, Brinkingham Middle England
  • “Television and radio transmitters broadcast at a frequency that is so high it is unintelligible to the human ear.” Utter nonsense. Electromagnetic waves are completely different from sound waves. If they weren’t, the 50 Hz waves given off by the wiring in your home would be deafening.
    1. Tom Spraggins, Palmyra, Virginia, USA
  • Well, to reply to several of the above comments: Just because the details of the patent and technology are not available to the public, doesn’t mean they are not available to the justice system – indeed, this is the case for many prosecuting methods. Secondly, I know that the vans exist for a fact as a good friend of mine worked in them for a couple of years – they provided excellent easy work for electronics and radio engineers. Also, several local radio station billboards in America use the same technology to detect whether a driver is listening to their station – and if not it flashes up to ask them to change to it! These billboards have been tested and respond to changes in the tuned frequency of the target receiver. Anyway – that was my input!
    • Laurence Stant, Cowes, Isle of Wight
  • Someone here said his mother was arrested for not having a licence. Don’t know why he says this, but watching TV without a licence is not an arrestable offence. Even a police officer can’t arrest you for it! Furthermore,threats the TV Licensing make about taking your statement under The Police and Criminal Evidence Act is bull! Only the Police, Inland Revenue,Customs and Excise and benefit fraud investigators can use this Act.
    1. John Kibbey, Runcorn
  • Either there are a huge number of trolls here, or some people are incredibly psychotic. Detectors and detector vans (and cars) do exist and have existed for years. An American friend of mine who was living in the UK in the 1980s is the only person I know to have beaten the “must have a license” rule in court. His set was USA NTSC and couldn’t pick up UK PAL signals. He only used it to watch NTSC tapes played on his NTSC VCR, nothing more. The court agreed with him and his claim that he did not require a license, and the case was dismissed. You need a license if you possess *anything* that can receive a PAL signal in the UK – not just a TV – whether or not it is used, whether or not it has a plug on it (that used to be one of the ploys for not having a license). That can include a VCR, because it usually has a tuner. The exception used to be if you were a student living away from home (at uni, say) and using a portable TV set. However, your parents had to have a current license that also covered your portable. So if you had a colour portable but your parents only had a B/W license, you were stuffed. (That may have changed since the last time I looked it up.)
    • Peter Brooks, Los Angeles, USA
  • We do not own a TV. We have had numerous letters threatening us that if we didn’t buy a license we’d be in big trouble. They said they’d come round and check and if they found anything by god we’d be sorry. Thing is, if they really had detector vans, they’d also be able to tell if people DIDN’T have a TV, which they clearly can’t. It’s all just a clever viral urban myth to make people buy the license. And do you know what? It works. Anyway we just sit and wait for them to show up one murky evening whilst we’re reading the Guardian or listening to the wireless (the pictures really ARE better) or – god forbid – talking to each other. We’ve had them round once in the past and they just took a quick look round the living room, which was rather tame compared to the threats they made. I had hoped at the very least to have my bed over turned and books strewn all over the room. Reality never quite lives up does it?
    1. Tony, Manchester UK
  • I saw one of these so called detector vans which was labelled as such. The sun was shining through the blacked out windows, and I could see that it was just a minibus with blacked out windows. No equipment whatsoever, just seats for carrying around the dudes who come knocking on your door.
    • Peter Christie, East Kilbride, Scotland, UK
  • @Peter Brooks “You need a license if you possess *anything* that can receive a PAL signal in the UK” Not quite, you need a licence “if you receive a TV broadcast” not “if you are capable of receiving a TV broadcast”. It’s all down to whether you do, not whether you can.
    1. jazzyjeph,
  • From the UK TVL Website: You donÂ’t need a TV Licence if you donÂ’t watch or record television programmes as theyÂ’re being shown on TV – on any device. If you donÂ’t watch or record television programmes, or you only stream TV programmes online after theyÂ’ve been broadcast – through on-demand services like YouTube, BBC iPlayer and 4oD – you donÂ’t need to be covered by a TV Licence. Or all of these are true 1.Your out-of-term address is covered by a TV Licence 2.AND you only use TV receiving equipment that is powered solely by its own internal batteries 3.AND you have not connected it to an aerial or plugged it into the mains.
    • David, Stockport, UK
  • When a “TV inspector” arrives at your house he requires you to sign what is effectively a contract for his private company to enforce a legal statute on you, breaking a statute is not breaking a law, legal and lawful are not the same, breaking a statute it is a offence, a violation of your contract with that office. For this to be enforced he will need “joinder” A human to represent a person, in other words you give them all your details and sign his contract/ confession admitting you were watching TV without a licence. Without this basic information they can be no prosecution. Simple Law. You have a right to silence- use it !
    1. Mark Reed, Leeds, UK
  • Bought my flat brand new 13 years ago (no previous TV licensed owner had lived there). Couldn’t afford a TV immediately -no probs- all my friends had one should I have withdrawal symptoms from a favourite programme. After a while I realised I quite liked the extra quality time in my life sans TV so I never bought one. I still receive a license reminder EVERY year! Was visited by an ‘inspector’ once but declined to let him in since he was a he and I was a she wrapped in a towel just out of the shower. Having said all that (yes its irritating having to ‘excuse’ youself annually for being one of life’s ‘weirdos’ that can live without a box License evaders nothwithstanding)I think it is understandable that they check up. Yes the letters used to be quite threatening, now they are less so. If I do ever succumb I shall pay for a license to support the quality of the BBC programmes WITHOUT ADS.
    • Liz, London
  • I used to think that the TV licence was for watching the BBC, and that it was this that kept the BBC free of advertising. Apparently not. A licence is required in order to watch live television as it is being broadcast from any channel. However, for those innocent people that do not have a TV, nor watch live broadcasts on any other gadget, the licensing authorities have a hard neck expecting people to waste their own money on stamps in answering their pointless questions, which have no SAE enclosed by which to answer them. The thing to do is to completely and utterly ignore their letters. In this country, a person is innocent unless proven guilty. It is therefore not incumbent upon an innocent person to prove their innocence, but it is incumbent on the accuser to provide the evidence for guilt. And, if it is correct that evidence must be available to all parties, there can be no prosecution if the evidence is withheld as appears to be the case by the BBC. It seems that prosecutions have only been possible because people have let these people into their houses, and have signed a form admitting guilt (perhaps inadvertently admitting guilt where none exists). ON NO ACCOUNT SHOULD YOU SIGN ANYTHING. In fact, if you do accidently open your door to these people, you should simply close it without comment in their face. Better still, you should never open your door to anyone unless you know you are expecting someone. Do not worry if you have a light on, as many people leave their houses to go out of a night and leave lights and/or televisions on to deter burglars. So do not open your door, even if they call through your letterbox or hammer very loudly. And. if you get a letter demanding payment or threat of court action because they claim to have detected a TV on in your house, again completely ignore it. As a previous person here has said, you have the right to silence – use it. They work their seedy practices by calling people’s bluff and succeeding because people are intimidated by “authority”. Don’t be. Adopt some of the Churchillian bulldog spirit and call their bluff instead.
    1. David Anderson, Dundee, Angus
  • Just been reading through all comments and whether or not vans work I haven’t a clue.I notice everyone saying if you already own a tv you need a license.You only need a licence if you use it to watch live tv.I own a tv but only use it to play online games as I don’t watch tv.I have told them this but still get all the letters and visits so I’m guessing they ain’t got a clue what you are watching they just know addresses without a licence.
    • Andy, Staffs England
  • Rodger Burger, good post, along with plenty of others. TV detector vans, I think just an urban myth, like some others said, if you move to a house with no licence, they will send you a letter. I had this a few years ago and paid up, thinking a detector van had caught me out, think I was wrong, as for people coming to my door I have never had that, but I can believe it to be right, if you don’t pay up. Do people get taken to court? I don’t know. as for some of the comments about detector vans able to pick up the signals from CRT TVs this could well be right, but what about LCD,LED and plasma? To finish, I pay the licence fee, it’s a pig, but until someone comes with a better idea, then i have to, just as long as the BBC use my money well, that’s all that matters.
    1. John Chrisite, Cramlington uk
  • The license is nothing more than a tax – an unfair one at that. It is used to fund the BBC – none of the other channels receive money from it. A tax is based on your use of services – you drive, you pay road tax. You pay council tax (some might say unfairly) for council services. If you don’t watch the BBC or use any of its services you should not have to pay a license fee. However, you are forced into paying one if you watch TV, even if that’s not the Beeb. They also like to imply that you need a license for DVD players, computers, mobile phones etc on some of their letters. You do not. You only need a license if you watch or record live broadcast signals (i.e. as it’s being broadcast over the air waves). If you watch BBC iPlayer, 4OD, ITV Catchup or watch DVD’s, play console games or stream anything from, say, YouTube – YOU DO NOT NEED A LICENSE, even if they are BBC produced. TV detector vans do not work, it’s all based on your address and they are not valid in a court of law. You are paying an unfair tax simply to keep the BBC running. You buy a shop’s products to keep them running – proft and loss. If you don’t watch BBC’s programming, why should you be paying money towards them? You wouldn’t pay £12 to Marks & Spencers each month and receive nothing in return just to keep their business alive would you? Why, if you don’t use BBC services, should you do it for the BBC,, **because that is what you are effectively doing**.
    • Darren, Nottingham
  • From the CAB If you do not use your television set, video recorder or DVD player to watch or record live broadcast programmes (that is, BBC, ITV, Channel 4, Channel 5, cable television or satellite television) you will not need a licence. This means that you would not need a licence if, for example, you only: * use the television set as a computer monitor * use the television set to play electronic games * watch pre-recorded videos or DVDs, whether or not these have been bought or recorded by someone else. However, the television set must be incapable of receiving all live broadcast programmes. This could be done, for example, by making sure that a television set, DVD or video recorder are not: * tuned into any channels * connected to an aerial * connected to any cable or satellite services.
    1. Gary, Birkenhead England
  • As a previous poster mentioned, it does not matter if they exist because in court, the defence MUST have full access to documentation of electronic equipment used to gather evidence (so a technical person can challenge whether the equipment it is working correctly). TV licence claim on their website that their detection equipment is so “secret” that not even their own engineers know how it works. It is inadmissible in court.
    • Tom Rodgers, Cardiff, UK
  • I have not had a tv licence in 6 years at 3 different addresses. I use my tv for live signals almost 10 hours a day. TvL send threatening letters. Now answer this question. In all the time I have been licence evading scum, why have their detector vans and hand held detectors not caught me? Answer: Because the vans with elaborate detection equipment don’t exist. I’m at number 5 watching Colombo if you want to catch me 🙂
    1. Paul Willars, Nottingham, Luton UK
  • There are TV licensing vans. I just saw a ‘Mobile Detection Unit’ drive up our street! I also thought they were fictional but surprise, surprise they exist. Take a look here, lots of pictures of them
    • Brook, Clapham, London, UK
  • Vans and cars do exist with TV licensing written on them but they don’t actually use this method to catch possible evaders. Prosecution will only happen if the householder signs a confession admitting to watching live TV without a license during a TV officer visit. Householders are not legally obliged to co-operate with TV Licencing staff either by letter or in their home/doorstep. So if an evader refused to speak to the officer they legally have to leave the property and no further legal action would be taken.
    1. Alan Singer, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, UK
  • CON! Major CON! I know a guy who worked at TV Licensing. He quite happily told me they didn’t exist. I believe him.
    • John, Edinburgh Scotland
  • Some questions: I have 3 TVs which are used solely for computer games, I Player, DVDs and previously recorded hard disk playback. Assuming that TV Detectors exist, can get through the electrosmog – can they differentiate between Live TV and these other sources? And is it legal for me to listen to radio using Digital Radio channels on my TVs? Any answers appreciated.
    1. Patrick, London UK
  • Firstly, I must point out, it is legal (in the UK) to buy a TV and not license it. The licence is for it’s use. Secondly, having worked in a Government department wherin a sub department’s job was intercepting all sorts of electronic noises from considerable distances TV.s were a constant nusiance but knowing the manufacturer and model of the TV and with clever use of mixing with the actual broadcast signal, the electronic noises generated by the TV could be actively filtered out allowing the much weaker signals (like the pulses from your computer keyboard) to be intercepted clearly. It therefore stands to reason that the the presence of an operating TV receiver is comparitevely simple. It is also possible simply to aim an extremely sensitive microphone to a window, noises in the room (Speech for instance will cause class pane to vibrate, the microphone will pick up the sound vibrations from the window pane.For TV detection, they could simply hear the thing!! Finally, I have seen TV detector vans. They do exist, but I have no idea as to what level of sophistication their equipment. One sitting outside a multi story block of flats had a device on the roof that looked like a large directional microphone, it rotated and tilted, which seemed to me to be the best way of detecting TV’s in multi story apartments. I believe that they did or possibly still do exist, but that a very large percentage would be dummies.
    • Alan, Bedford UK
  • Hitler invented them to scare people into funding a propaganda machine and socialists have been using them ever since
    1. John, Manchester England
You might be interested:  Who Is My Water Supplier?

I had my first visit from the tv licensing thugs today. They came 15 minutes before I arrived home and left a note under the door. They illegally entered my “secure” block of flats, unannounced, and said they’ll be back again but didn’t say when. I immediately went to the police and disturbed four women police officers from chatting so they weren’t too happy. They said everyone has to buy a license and just wouldn’t help at all. I was there to ask for criminal charges to be brought against the tv licensing inspector who entered the building illegally. Recently, I’d been threatened with bodily harm by a neighborhood bully and then there was the pregnant woman in Bournemouth who was brutally beaten when she opened the door to a stranger. The police, it seems, are as disconnected to what’s going on as the tv licensing collectors. Does the tv licensing inspector really expect me to let in one of his goons who shows up whenever he wants to unannounced at the flat door in a building that he’s somehow managed to make his way inside? As for me, I’d be foolish to fall for this Gestapo tactic. I’ve lived in Sicily and have had to deal with this kind of thing there, now it’s happening all over again in “not-so-Jolly-old England”. Carol, Poole U.K.

  • A VERY GREY AREA. I once had a visit from these goons and I HAD a TV licence. They wanted to see it ????? TOLD THEM TO GO AWAY AND CHECK THEIR RECORDS. IDIOTS. Receiving live broadcast on your computer is another thing, Many programmes cannot be shown for “legal” reasons, One must assume this is theft and fraud by the authorities asking for money when the service is not available. Think the BBC and the authorities should wake up to the real world and stop trying to “con” people of their money. Cannot see a judge allowing a case where the person is not getting what he/she has paid for. It is a case for Trading Standards to investigate along with all the other “cons” we are subjected to by the authorities in the UK
    • john, reading uk
  • I was once told by a Postman that they were given “target” houses, where it was thought that the occupants did not have a TV Licence, and when delivering post to these houses, they were asked to spy on the occupants by looking through their window to see if a television was seen to be switched on. It appears that Postmen did not like doing this, but they were asked to nonetheless.
    1. John Holmes, Boston, Lincolnshire United Kingdom
  • Think about how many homes there are in the UK, millions! Now imagine how big the TV licensing department is and how many employees there are. NOT MANY! Think how many non payers there are, thousands! TV Licensing DO NOT have the staff or resources to deal with numbers of this scale! Only calls and letters so dont worry.P.s use a fake name and email on here as they will probably sell on your info!
    • Jedward, Irish Ireland
  • The TV license authority have 5 vans that can ‘detect’ whether or not any signals are reaching a flat or home. They cannot distinguish more than a ‘yes’ or a ‘no’ with this and so can’t tell if you are watching TV. If the established answer is a ‘yes’ then they’ll investigate further by sending someone round to talk to you. At this point it is best to not say anything and choose not to disclose any information even if you have no TV. If you choose to disclose information, a court date may be set.
    1. Charlie, London
  • UNBELIEVABLE!! The huge number of varying answers on this page are unreal. HERE are the FACTS. TV’s emit I.F. (Intermediate Frequencies) – these are the only traceable elements to allow locationing of an operational receiving TV/radio, or other local oscillating/transmitting device. However, as far as traceability goes, the I.F. (carrier frequency), often 400-500KHz based (varied), emits such a low power that locationing is at best extremely difficult, and certainly NOT reliable, and has never, ever been used as a basis for prosecution in the U.K. Everything else is irrelevant. If they can neither hear nor see your TV, then you do not have one in the eyes of the Law. It is of course assumed that you do not, and this will be the basis of any subsequent investigation. The only option open to TVL officials at this stage is to attempt to obtain a Court ‘warrant’ to gain access to the premises to clarify the situation. This will ONLY be granted once sufficient evidence/belief is shown. It is a UK householders right to refuse access to these officials without such ‘warrant’, and they have absolutely no powers whatsoever – you can shut the door in their faces, or speak to them however you wish. The Law is in fact on your side. That is it.
    • RadioWave Propagation EXPERT, LONDON UK
  • Tv detector vans are a complete crock. I have just read a load of technical mumbo jumbo, presumably by people who think the adage “bulls**t baffles brains is true. Yes, detector vans do exist just like Dr Who’s Tardis exists but it can’t actually travel in time. The BBC used to broadcast adverts advising “beware, detector vans are in your area” these were dropped after the ASA (advertising standards authority) was formed and any ads had to be “legal, truthful, honest and decent”. Make your own mind up but to pin point any radio transmitter at least two bearings need to be taken. Even CSI have to “triangulate”. Not that TVs are transmitters anyway.
    1. Pop Goulty, Rotherham South yorks
  • Straight to the point, 1- say no comment or I do not have to answer to any question, 2- do not sign anything, even if they say its only to say we have called, they are conning you, its for prosecution.3- they have NO rights to enter your home, even if they see a tv and also look on YOUTUBE NO TV LICENCE, HOW TO TELL THEM TO GO AWAY, AND T.P.U.C.ORG, YOU DO NOT HAVE TO HAVE A LICENCE EVEN IF YOU WATCH TV, there is NO common law to say you do,you are being conned.
    • alf crippin, toy town pc uk
  • They can’t and don’t work they were a propaganda invention by the BBC in order to scare people into paying fees in order to pay for the BBC to operate. Never the less, commercials took that over and later cable came and guess what every one pays
    1. Ron Meersand Chief Engineer, Philadelphia usa
You might be interested:  Who Won Ksi Or Swarmz?

KNOW THE LAW! Even if detector vans exist. The TVLA cannot use electronic equipment to spy on you in your own home, it is illegal. Even the police can’t snoop on suspected terrorists in their own homes without a court order. The law in question is the right to privacy in your own home. In the same vein, TVLA staff have no right of entry to your home. They have no statutory powers at all. They are no different to staff working for your local Tesco in this respect. The TVLA may apply for a court order to enter your home. Again this is false as they would be breaking the law, ie the right to privacy. The only way the TVLA can prosecute you is, if you are stupid enough to admit them to your home, then they can act as a witness against you in court. That is the only way they can catch you. By swearing an oath in evidence acting as a first hand witness. Even if you have a TV, you do not need a licence as long as it is not set up to receive a broadcast signal, ie connected to an aerial or dish. You can have a TV set up to play DVD’s or VHS videos, and you do not need a licence. As long as the TV is not capable of receiving a signal, that’s fine. You are not breaking any laws. As I said, know the law, and more importantly, your rights to privacy in your own home.S.Mouse, Taplow England UK.

  • They see the aerial on your roof, although I once heard a story about a TV detector man claiming someone had a TV because of the aerial, the man then replied “just cos’ I’ve got milk on me door step doesn’t mean I’ve got a cow.” He was apparently quite heavily fined.
    • Mark Maycock, Holden, Scotland
  • As is usual we have a divide in this debate. clearly both sides are correct and wrong. Detector vans do exist!! I know this because the company I work for designs technology used in the defence sector that shares the same principles. The vans do exist but there may be less than 10 in the entire country and most of those are assigned other duties. A van may be in your area but if you are to be prosecuted a man still needs to come knocking.
    1. Hertzman Mike, Baerrow In furness UK
  • I haven’t paid my TV licence but today I got a call asking me why I haven’t renewed it, I simply replied I bought an apple TV box that allows me to watch pre-recorded shows and movies on my TV, sort of like iPlayer. I was told providing I don’t watch live TV I didn’t need to buy a TV licence. I was then told I may receive crossed mail in the post but just ignore it. They then said they may send an inspector out to verify, I said fine.
    • Simon Cane, Enfield, London
  • The real working of the television transmission is based on digital, the specified channels are transmitted based upon certain frequencies so that every channel has its own frequency, henceforth if a subscriber is watching an xyz channel the signal load can be observed at the transmitting station, this is how each channel’s viewing ratio or rated can be gained
    1. Sanjay Hombal, Hubli, India
  • It’s possible to detect the oscillator and the signal gets stronger according to proximity, so in theory they could triangulate it’s position by moving the detector around in the van. In the 60’s that was feasible as yours might well have been the only TV in the street, but today they’d be surrounded by indistinguishable signals on all sides. So yes and no, basically. The BBC do rely on confession in the face of a visit, because detector van evidence couldn’t be presented in court under UK law. This is because the BBC will not publish how they work, so the defence would have no oppportunity to question their accuracy and reliablilty. Also the reporting of your purchase only allows the BBC to send a threatening letter about it. Even without a license, the purchase of a TV is not legally reasonable grounds to assume you are committing a crime on the premises (by actually watching the TV without a license). Therefore no warrent for entry would ever be issued. If you don’t have a telly and want to avoid harrassment, you can always just write to the BBC withdrawing the “implied right of access” to your property for their employees. “implied right of access” is the legal entitiy that prevents people who knock on your door, or deliver post etc, from being prosecuted for trespassing. You will then never get a visit, because it would be illegal. The threatening letters will continue though.
    • Simon Lock, London, UK
  • Detector vans no longer exist. The detector vans used to be run by Royal Mail (yes postmen used to do the detecting). They can pick up radiation emitted by tube TV’s (not LCD/LED & Plasma). It is possible to view the pictures emitted by your TV (the defence used it to read computer monitors).
    1. Joe Brand, Cardiff UK
  • As an electronics engineer of many years designing, modifying and repairing all manner of radar, comms and weapons systems for UK military, I can assure you that it is not only possible but, in terms of electronics, relatively simple to make such a detector. Whether or not the BBC does actually use detector vans – I have no idea.
    • Gordy the geek, Geeksville UK
  • I was parked in a lay-by a few years ago behind a Transit type van. I lots of ariels on its roof, then “TV Detector Van” written on each side panel. One of the men got out to retrieve something from the back of the van, When he opened the rear door I could see that it was, COMPLETELY EMPTY.!!!!
    1. Graham, Bicester UK
  • A freedom of information act has revealed that TV Detector vans have never to date provided evidence to be used in court against the TV Licence Non-Payer. “I can confirm that TVL has not, to date, used detection evidence in Court.”
    • Mr Maxwell, Liverpool United Kingdom
  • Never mind the techno-babble, from the ‘engineersÂ’ in previous commentsÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂ. The vans very effectively scare lots of people into paying. There are no more than ½ a dozen of them & they have nothing inside themÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂ. Van-detected evidence has never been presented in court, throughout the history of the licence A similar charade goes on with the BBC callersÂÂÂ. They earn commission for each licence sold and will come out with any amount of guff to scare some into paying up. Around 30% of UK households legitimately do not have a licence and at the rate people are waking up to live broadcast being pointless, it will soon be licence holders who are the odd-ones-outÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂ. If you tune into a live broadcast, you should buy a licence. If you own a TV (or have a hundred of them), but donÂ’t tune into live broadcast and instead watch iplayer, or other catch-up online, you need not get a licenceÂÂÂÂÂÂ. If the BBC callers knock on your doorÂ.Once they have identified themselves, do not allow them to lure you into a conversation, debate or discussionÂStay calm. A polite: ”No thank you”, will be quite sufficient as you close the door and is perfectly acceptable DonÂ’t even confirm whether you have a licenceÂÂÂJust: ”No thank you”. They have no more authority than the guy selling dusters for charity. Less, come to think of itÂ! If they sense any unease from you, they may try: ”WeÂ’ll be back with the police and a warrant”. So long as you donÂ’t watch TV as it is (live) broadcast, you have nothing to fear.
    1. tenpole, The Model Village UK
  • @Patrick, London UK. To answer your questions: So long as you do not receive a live-broadcast television programme, a licence is not required. No licence is required for any radio reception, whether digital or otherwise. So that includes your crystal set. The information and regulations are available online, but the BBC seem to rely on leaving those details buried in small-print, or phrased in vague, confusing dialogue to keep everyone unclear. Go figure!
    • tenpole, The Model Village UK
  • No such thing! Never has been! It’s that simple. You don’t need anything to own a tv if you don’t watch live BBC. Watching catchup BBC you need no tv license. Simple.
    1. ska, blackpool england
  • All this talk of frequencies how are they gonna get these frequencies from a pc or mobile phone which do not require an ariel?
    • i have no licence, London England
  • Note on my door: TV Licencing please use your detection equipment if you think I am braking the law and do not bother me. Electronic surveillance has NEVER been used in court by TVL. And it would be illegal.
    1. Charles Jones, London UK
  • TV detector vans did indeed detect any active TV receiver due local osc/converter circuit stage. The antenna acts as a yagi via the back feed, being directional pretty easy to pickup and locate a fix, rest is history. seen in operation many years ago, ha ha.
    • master watts, stonehenge wiltshire
  • There was a huge debate about this topic with my eldest sister. My argument was “look at how many properties there are in London, for example,there are 1000’s of blocks of flats, tower blocks, houses etc. I can’t see how they can have a detector van or someone with a hand held device outside every single block of flats and every street with houses and flats in all parts of London? It doesn’t add up.
    1. Alex, uk
  • I am a lecturer in Electrical Engineering at UCL London. The technical. There is no such thing as a television detector van or otherwise, you can only triangulate an electromagnetic wave signal from its source and not to its destination. Inductive reactance, capacitive resonance, and all the confusing words they use are a smokescreen to make you believe they work. The old televisions gave off radiation but only to a distance of around 18″ but so do microwaves, cell phones, vacuum cleaners, ovens, fan heaters and everything else that runs on electricity. I have been an electrical engineer for 40 years and have never heard such rubbish. The logical. Why has no-one ever in the history of television been convicted on the evidence of a detector of any description? Why do they visit the property and knock on the door if they have detectors? Why if I have never had a TV licence and neither had my father before me have we never been prosecuted?
    • Mr Electrical Engineer MSc. IEE, London UK
  • I agree with the lecturer above – there is no such thing as detector vans. It was, and still is to the more gullible amongst us, an effective excercise in control and compliance. Horrible, but then again abuse of power should come as no suprise.
    1. Napalm Jeff, Fuckton N Korea
  • The best answer has come from Mr Electrical Engineer Msc. I agree totally with him. Thank you.
    • Alex, UK
  • Now that there has been the switch over from analogue television to digital, and it is now even possible to watch television on your laptop or home computer, even mobile phones, I also cannot see how it is viably possible to trace all of the people who are watching? The only way that the Tv license people would contact you about a license is if you go to a shop to buy a television and the shop ask for your name and address.
    1. Antonio Barbaglia, London united Kingdom
  • Mr electrical engineer may well be qualified in his field but that is clearly not electronics or signal propogation. This does not involve radiation from the tv set rather the transmission of a signal backwards up out of the aerial. A relatively simple electronics concept. In no way am I saying detector vans exist or are used (personally I doubt it) but I can guarantee that it IS possible to build a detector that could determine what channel you are watching.
    • Gordy the Geek, Geeksville
  • Three simple questions If there are TV Detector vans why in over 50 years have I NEVER seen one? What would be the point of unmarked TV detector vans when the belief of their existence would intimidate some to pay the tax? And finally If they did exist why do the thugs of Capita need to get into your home to check your television?
    1. Will Mossop, London England
  • Wonderful discussion going on here but little about the law governig requirement of a t.v licence. You only need a licence to watch or record live transmissions, i.e. eastenders as it’s being broadcast for example. No licence is required for catch up tv, dvd, video, xbox, playstation, or any other non-live broadcast picture. Owning a t.v does not mean you need a licence, as simply put a t.v does more than pick up live transmissions, sky go for example is a service that requires no licence, are we getting the picture here ?? Tvl are preying on your fears. The cant enter your home. So what if your watching tv, who’s to say it’s not catch up such as sky go. They have no right of entry, no detector vans or hand-held devices that work or there would have been at least 1 prosecution in 50 years, there have been exactly no prosecutions in 50 year supported by detector van or device evidence. It’s a massive smoke screen and you fell for it. I on the other hand challenged the law and am awaiting a refund.haha.they couldn’t deal with me on their best day. Don’t be fooled by them. They lie.
    • Ash, Newport Isle of Wight
  • The database we are all on, if you don’t have a licence is called Miranda.I have no TV, but I was still sent numerous odious letters (which basically stated that I was a criminal and 1 out of 5 people don’t have a valid licence) addressed to Current occupier, not myself then.2 lackies, for want of a better word, came to my door one evening and asked if they can they see my TV. I said I had no TV and did not allow them into my property.2 weeks later I had another letter from them which stated “you were found to have a working TV set” apparently in my house. strange that! TV detectors are fake just to scare us all into getting a licence. there are many sites with all the details and pictures of so called detector vans LOL. Google it further and you will see. Anyway if they could detect the signals from the master OSC then everyone that has a TV and no licence would be caught, but current figures state otherwise. I do remember the old green and white Commer vans that prowled the streets, but I never ever heard of anyone being busted through the use of these vans. Last thought on the matter, with today’s technology I really think they could now isolate and DF an unlicensed TV, but the sheer cost would outweigh the revenue accrued.
    1. jason williams, dundee scotland
  • TV detector vans do not work. I got that from the horses mouth. It was all a PR stunt to frighten folks into buying a licence. This hand held device is pure fantasy as well. Even if it was to work as they say it would only work in a 25 foot radius so how could they detect a tv in a block of flats. Your neighbours could be watching TV right next door. It’s all fantasy.
    • William, Kirkcaldy Scotland
  • It’s funny because if those detector vans were real, you would have thought that they would have used their findings in court about how people have been dodging their licence whilst watching top gear live. But to this date they have never used their findings in court.
    1. matt detering, Kirkcaldy Scotland
  • TV detector vans are a fiction that were first promoted in a TV advertising campaign in the 1970s. In reality there is no such thing as detector van with TV detection equipment and there never has been. It’s just a clever PR trick that has stuck since the 1970s adverts trying to scare people into buying a TV license. The reality is that TV licensing inspectors use sophisticated methods such as looking through your window or listening through your letterbox and quite often insisting and bullying into being allowed to search your house without a warrant. What many people don’t realise that is that you can simply tell the inspectors to go away and slam the door on them as you are not obliged to speak to them at all.
    • Chris Mac, London, England
  • ok listen people I am truly ashamed to be related in any way with england right at this moment. THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS TV DETECTOR VANS, I AM A MASTER TECHNICIAN ELECTRICAL AS WELL AS AUTOMOTIVE. This silliness is nothing more than a tool to scare you into letting them in your house. Please do not fall for it. thaks dave
    1. david phimister, niagara falls canada
  • Wikileak search for “Tempest”. It has all your answers.
    • Stolzy, Townsville Australia
  • Their ears operate at a frequency that allows them to hear a TV set being operated only if they place their head against a window.
    1. Bill, Swindon United Kingdom
  • Their ears operate at a frequency that allows them to hear a TV set being operated only if they place their head against a window
    • Bill, Swindon United Kingdom
  • I recall living in a student house a few years ago. We got a TV from a relative and were watching it for months and got no letters regarding a TV licence. One of the lads in the house, stupidly, joined the local video rental shop. Not long after, we got our first letter. The house address would of appeared on a data base saying, basically ‘there’s a TV at this address’ and that’s how the authorities discovered we had a TV. The detector vans are a myth. I get notices all the time now, despite not having a TV, simply because there’s an unused satellite dish on my roof and perhaps the old owner was a sky customer and the house address is still on a data base somewhere.
    1. Charlie Logan, Bilaricky, Dundee
  • Not sure how old this thread is but TV vans DO exist! I saw one 2 weeks ago drive past my house. An LDV box van with a TVL sticker on the door.
    • Pete, Bristol UK
  • I have never had a TV license as I don’t watch programmes are they’re being broadcast. I find sitting and watching TV totally boring. I do, however, download and watch lots of stuff from around the world and films. I don’t need a license for that despite having two 42″ TVs. I informed the TV license people and that they are welcome to come have a look. They have left me alone ever since.
    1. Owen, Manchester, UK
  • They are a myth! I had a lot of fun with an officer from TV licencing. It was the day we moved into our new house, my wife had to work so I was unpacking and looking after the kids on my own. This officious little bumpkin turned up on the doorstep. I had set the TV up first and sat the kids down to watch it to keep them busy. He demanded to see my licence. I hadn’t unpacked it yet but knew exactly where it was, but decided to have some fun. I told him I was unpacking and he should come back. He declined this suggestion and insisted he would wait until I found it. He asked if he could come in to wait. I insisted he waited on the doorstep. His requests for a glass of water and to use my toilet were also denied. In total he waited on my doorstep for six hours. I left the box with the licence in until last, and after I had unpacked it, waved it in his face and before slamming the door in it! I think the part I enjoyed most was when my then five-year-old daughter asked “why is that ugly man standing by our door?” Priceless.
    • Travis, Ashford, Kent UK
  • I cancelled my TV licence 2 years ago after checking with them that I did not need a TV licence to watch such as Iplayer etc, as I found I was watching very little TV due to work and then when I did nothing I watched was live – or at the broadcast time. It did come from them therefore that NO I did not need a tv licenceeven though i have TV’s. I have a box which connects to the internet which allows me to watch iplayer, 4oD etc. I’ve never been bothered by a visit, and if they where to check they are more than welcome to check any programme which may be on my 40inch TV ( which it is possible to see from the road ) at the time of the visit is not on as broadcast – i have their email as back up 🙂
    1. Sharon, barnsley UK
  • Detector vans are a myth designed to scare you into buying a licence. Because the BBC know this they have changed to include cable, satellite and internet streaming of services. These cannot be detected by radio waves. Also, most TV’s now are flat screen and not cathode ray tube where you could possibly detect radio emissions. The ONLY thing the BBC have is a database of every address in the country and they compare this to their own database of licence payers. They also use TV retailers to help maintain this database. When you buy a TV they always ask for your address. Why? They say it is for warranty reasons. Really? Buy a small TV for cash and tell the shop they don’t need you address for warranty as the receipt is proof of purchase and warranty. You can also own a TV and use it for watching Netflix, Youtube, DVDs and all other streamed material that is not from a live broadcast whether it has the ability to do so or not. You just need to affirm that you do not watch live broadcasts.
    • Dave, Fife UK
  • I have never read so much crap in all my life. The vans do exist but only to scare people into paying. They are not functional and do not have any detecting equipment inside. They are for targeting areas with lots of license fee evaders. Take an area with lots of people not paying their fee send the van around for a couple of days. Then word soon spreads and most pay their fee. Simple and effective. I know for a fact that there is no detecting equipment inside these vans as I have worked on them.
    1. P Ness, London UK
  • I used to work at Berkhamsted PO where the 6 vans used to be parked up. They are EMPTY. There was no monitering stuff in the back at all, just the ariels on top. We used to get up close to the windows and stare in. It is all a bluff.
    • Anon, Grantham England
  • There are no vans that work. Under The Freedom of Information Act the BBC cannot supply details of vans that operate as there are none. It is as the BBC say a useful tool that people believe those vans exist. There used to be 6 empty vans that looked real. And to end the argument, you cannot tell by any signal where any TV set is being used. The BBC employ a company to chase up households without a licence and they must SEE you watching a live program.
    1. Sarah, Wirral, Wirral
  • What in the world is a “TV license?” Never heard of such a ridiculous thing. Shades of “1984”
    • Sam, Bloomfield USA
You might be interested:  Who Won Traitors Uk?

: How do TV detector vans work? Do they know what channel you”re watching, or just that you have the TV on? | Notes and Queries |

How do you prove you don’t watch live TV?

You can’t prove you weren’t watching. Another party can’t prove you were watching. There is simply no way. However if you have difficulty with getting an over air signal which is watchable, that can well be one means of proof, possibly.

Can I watch YouTube without a TV Licence?

Watching YouTube You don’t need a TV Licence to watch videos or clips on demand on YouTube. But you DO need a TV Licence if you watch TV live on YouTube.

Can I watch TV without a Licence?

When do I need a TV licence? – Put simply, if you ever watch a ‘live’ TV programme, you’ll need to be covered by a TV licence. A ‘live’ programme is one that you’re watching at the same time as it’s being broadcast on a TV channel. It doesn’t matter how you’re watching it, whether through an aerial, cable, or the internet.

  1. It also applies to every channel, even those broadcast from abroad.
  2. Therefore, you need a licence if you’re watching a channel on a normal TV.
  3. And if you’re using a streaming service like All 4 or Amazon Prime, you’ll need a licence if you click the ‘Watch Live’ button.
  4. You’ll also need one if you record live TV onto a digital recorder or even an old-fashioned VHS machine.

And if you watch anything on BBC iPlayer, whether it’s live or on catch-up, you need a TV licence for that.

Asked By: Howard Gonzalez Date: created: Jan 15 2023

What happens if I don’t have a TV Licence

Answered By: Connor Foster Date: created: Jan 17 2023

We may send an officer to your home because, if you do not get a TV Licence when you need one, you will be breaking the law. This means you could have to go to court and you might get a fine. The fine could be up to £1,000. In Guernsey, the fine can be up to £2,000.

Asked By: Brian Henderson Date: created: Aug 05 2023

What if I can’t afford TV Licence

Answered By: Tyler Henderson Date: created: Aug 06 2023

If you’re faced with unexpected financial difficulties and sorting your TV Licence is still on the to-do list, organise it sooner rather than later. You can call 0300 790 6113 to talk it through with an advisor, or speak to a debt management organisation, such as Christians Against Poverty, for advice.