Every household, business or institution in Ireland with a television or equipment capable of receiving a television signal (using an aerial, satellite dish, cable or other means) must have a television licence. A television licence is a certificate that states that you have paid the appropriate fee to the government and contributed to the cost of public service broadcasting in Ireland. Your television licence is issued for 1 year in general.
Public service broadcasting in Ireland means comprehensive radio and television services that are free to transmit programmes that entertain, educate, inform and cater for all members of the community. These services must also provide news and current affairs programmes, including coverage of proceedings in the Houses of the Oireachtas (Irish Parliament) and the European Parliament.
Each year, the government provides a grant to RTE (the national broadcasting organisation), which is funded by your television licence fee. RTE has responsibilities to deliver public service programmes in Ireland. The television licence fee is collected by An Post on behalf of the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources, who has responsibility for broadcasting policy in Ireland.
The EU decided that all member states must stop broadcasting analogue television by the end of 2012. Saorview is the free-to-air digital terrestrial television (DTT) service which replaced analogue television in Ireland. It is owned and managed by RTE. Saorsat, a satellite service, provides access to Irish free-to-air digital television channels and services for those unable to receive Saorview. The analogue television service in Ireland switched off in October 2012. More information is available at saorview.ie.
As the analogue television service is switched off, your analogue television set needs a set-top box to receive digital television. Your analogue television set, with or without a set-top box, still requires a television licence.
If your household, business or institution possesses a television or equipment capable of receiving a television signal, you are required by law to have a television licence. Even if the television or other equipment is broken and currently unable to receive a signal, it is regarded as capable of being repaired so it can receive a signal and you must hold a licence for it. Failure to produce evidence of a television licence to an inspector can result in a court appearance and on conviction, you can receive a substantial fine. People who have been fined and who have breached court orders directing them to pay their television licence can be imprisoned.
You do not require a television licence to watch television on your computer or mobile phone. However, the computer must not be able to receive a signal distributed by conventional television broadcasting networks, for example, cable, satellite or aerial.
When a first-time television licence is issued it remains in force until the end of the 11th month following the month in which it was issued. For example, if the licence was issued in the middle of April it will remain in force until the end of March the following year. When you renew it at the end of that period, the new licence remains in force for 12 months.
If you are aged over 70, you can receive a television licence free of charge. If you are aged over 66 and are receiving a State pension and nobody in your household is employed or receiving Jobseeker's Benefit or Jobseeker's Allowance, you may be entitled to a free television licence. To find out more about the Household Benefits Package click here.
If the equipment capable of receiving a television signal (for example a television set or a personal computer) is held in a household (an apartment, flat or a house), then one television licence will cover multiple pieces of equipment. In other words, if you have a television set in your living room and kitchen, one television licence covers both sets.
However, if the building in which the equipment is kept is sub-divided into flats or apartments or other separate living quarters, then a separate television licence must be held for each of these quarters. In other words, an individual licence must be held for each separate flat, apartment or other dwelling.
If you are a tenant living in rented accommodation with a television you must have a television licence. This applies irrespective of who owns the television (whether the television belongs to you or the landlord). The law states that anyone resident on a premises in possession of a television set must have a television licence.
If you are moving house, it is possible and highly advisable to have your television licence transferred to your new address. Simply bring your existing licence to your nearest Post Office, together with evidence of your new address (that is a household utility bill or a bank statement). Staff in your Post Office will then amend the details on your record and your licence will be updated and re-issued to you. This service is free.
If your holiday home/second home contains a television, or equipment capable of receiving a television signal (using an aerial, satellite dish, cable or other means), then this household must also have a television licence. This is the case even if this is not your main residence and you already hold a licence for your main address. Failure to have a television licence where this is required can result in penalties.
It is not possible to transfer a television licence from another jurisdiction to Ireland. Television licences for Ireland can only be purchased here and are only valid here. This means that if you transfer residence from Northern Ireland or another country (either in the EU or outside the EU) you must still purchase a television licence here.
Even if you will be remaining in Ireland for a short time, you are required to have a television licence. Each licence is issued for a 1 year period; this means that if you will be staying in Ireland for less than 1 year, you must still obtain a full television licence. You cannot obtain a refund on the licence fee if you will be leaving Ireland before the licence expires.
Conviction for non-payment of a television licence (first offence) is a fine of up to €1,000.
If you are convicted a second time or more for not paying your television licence, you will be fined up to €2,000.
The cost of a television licence is €160.
You can pay for your television licence at any post office by cash, cheque, debit card (some post offices also accept credit cards). You can also pay for your television licence by using television licence savings stamps. You can also pay for your licence by credit card using the lo-call telephone number (1890 228 528, 24 hours per day, 7 days per week). You can also pay your television licence online at www.tvlicence.ie.
You can download an application form here to arrange payment of your television licence by direct debit through your financial institution.
If you wish to pay for your television licence by cheque, the cheque must be crossed and made payable to An Post. You must also include your renewal notice if you are renewing your licence and supply your full name and address in all correspondence.
If you are aged over 70 you can apply for a free television licence. Application forms for Household Benefits Package (pdf) (Comprising Electricity/Gas Allowance and Free Television License) are available here.
If you are aged over 66, are receiving a social welfare pension and nobody in your household is employed or receiving Unemployment Benefit or Unemployment Assistance, you may be entitled to a free television licence. Complete an application form available in any post office.
If you are resident in a nursing home, you may be eligible for a free television licence if you can show that you are responsible for paying the licence fee.
Every post office in the country sells television licences and stocks application forms for those who wish to apply for a free television licence. If you have a query regarding the free television licence scheme, contact:
Department of Social Protection
Locall:1890 500 000
Cheques (crossed) for television licences should be made payable to An Post and forwarded (freepost) to the TV Licence Records Office at:
Completed forms for those who wish to pay by direct debit or credit card
should also be returned to this address.
If you have a question relating to this topic you can contact the Citizens Information Phone Service on 0761 07 4000 (Monday to Friday, 9am to 8pm) or you can visit your local Citizens Information Centre.