personal finance

Are you eligible for a free TV licence?

If you are aged over 75, you are eligible to get a free TV licence.

Equally, if you are aged 74 and your licence is due for renewal, you can get a short-term licence. This will be valid until the end of the month before your 75th birthday.

Once you reach 75, you can apply for your free TV licence. You will then be sent this licence every three years by TV Licensing.

Many people believe that there is a free TV licence for pensioners, but although you are likely to be a pensioner by the time you reach your 75th birthday, retiring does not automatically qualify you for a free TV licence.

What benefits will I be entitled to when I retire?

Make sure you claim

If you fit the criteria for a free TV licence, it is important to claim for it – you won’t automatically see a free TV licence appear on your doorstep on the morning of your birthday. 

You can apply for a free or short-term TV licence here. You can also apply by phone on (0300) 790 6071.

As part of the process, you will need to provide TV Licensing with your date of birth, name, address, postcode, and National Insurance number. 

You will also have to submit the current TV licence number for your household.

If you are already over 75, you will need to apply for your free licence, as your licence will not automatically change to a free one.

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Cancelling and refunding payments

If you are over 75 and pay for your licence by direct debit, TV Licensing will cancel this when they process your application.

The organisation will also refund any money overpaid – backdating the refund to the first month of your 75th birthday.

I’m not retired yet, what benefits could I claim?

Free licences available to households where any member is over 75

Even if you are not aged 75 yourself, you will still be eligible for a free TV licence if anyone in your household is over the age threshold.

This might apply if, for example, you live with parents, or have an older spouse or partner.

Once the licence has been applied for and received, it will cover everyone living at that address.

Common blue badge myths dispelled

Talk to eligible relatives

If you have parents or other relatives who are over 75, you should speak to them to check that they have applied for their free licence, as they may not be aware that they are eligible to do so.

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Other properties

It’s important to note that a free over 75 TV licence only covers the licence-holder’s main home address. If they have any other properties, they will need to buy separate licences.

What are the different ways to view TV?

Discounted TV licences

While pensioners aged over 75 do not have to pay a penny for the TV licence, there are discounts available to those who are blind or in residential care.

Licences for people in care

If you are in residential care, you can get a special licence for £7.50.

To qualify, you must be either retired and over 60 or disabled.

Your housing manager can apply for you.

Licences for individuals who are blind

If you are registered blind, you can get a 50% discount. The same reduction applies if you live with someone who is blind.

The licence has to be in the name of the blind person. If it isn’t, you can transfer it by calling TV Licensing.

To apply for this discount, visit or write to TV Licensing with your name, address, phone number and existing TV licence (if you have one), along with a copy of your blind registration certificate or a certificate from your ophthalmologist with your licence number.

You also need to provide a cheque or postal order for the 50% fee. This will cost £72.50 for a colour licence. The address is: TV Licensing, Blind Concession Group, Bristol BS98 1TL.

What is catch-up TV?

How is this being funded?

In a deal agreed between BBC bosses and the Government in 2016, the BBC is to take responsibility for funding free TV licence fees for the over-75s; this move will be phased in over 2018-19.

In return, rules on paying for catch-up services such as iPlayer changed; you now need to be covered by a TV Licence to watch or record live TV programmes on any channel, or download or watch BBC programmes on iPlayer. The licence fee will also rise with inflation.

The BBC will then have sole responsibility for funding TV licences for older viewers from 2020-21.

The BBC made noises in early 2016 about asking over-75s to contribute towards their BBC licence fee.

Paul Green, director of communications for Saga commented: “The over-50s are among the strongest champions of the BBC and value its programming. However, the BBC needs to be very cautious not to drive away their support with such simplistic measures. 

He explained: “In a poll of 10,000 older people, three quarters of the over 70s were opposed to taking away the free TV licence.

“There is a growing sense that the BBC has to look wider than the licence fee for funding. Saga’s members applaud the absence of adverts interrupting programmes, but 63% of those who supported change thought that sponsorship of programmes should help balance the BBC’s books. 

“The BBC’s leaders need to open their minds to new sources of cash and ensure that any additional funds raised go back into programming and not into BBC Bureaucracy. They need to be more a grade A program maker than a W1A bureaucratic sitcom.” 

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