Radio licences were issued from the 1920s until 1971.

The rarest examples are from the early 1920s (when few people had a radio) and the early 1970s (when few people with a radio didn't have a TV). 

Radio licences did change from year to year and the "conditions" changed slightly over the decades too.   

Follow the history of the radio licence decade by decade.  As the story evolves you'll discover how much they cost, why you needed two if you had a car, what happened when people forgot to renew them and when you finally didn't need to buy one.

The history pages tell the story of the radio licence illustrated with examples from our large collection of documents.  You can view every licence in the collection by viewing "the collection".

The number of radio licences issued grew steadily through the first three decades.  The official figures from the BBC handbooks show the following:

 1923 200 000
 1924 600 000
 1925 1 200 000
 1926 1 800 000
 1927 2 200 000
 1928 2 400 000
 1929 2 600 000
  
 1930 3 000 000
 1931 3 400 000
 1932 4 300 000
 1933 5 200 000
 1934 5 700 000
  
 1948 8 800 000
(+ 50 000 TV / radio licences)
 1949 9 100 000 


In 2010 24.964 million TV licences were issued in the UK