What is Council Tax?
Council Tax is a charge made by Local Authorities to all households within their borough. The value of the property and the number of residents within it will generally determine how much is charged from year to year. It funds services such as libraries, refuse collection, policing and fire services.
It can prove to be an expensive bill, but fortunately most full-time students don’t have to pay it. This is called ‘Council Tax Exemption’.
Who is exempt?
Full-time students are exempt, and to count as full-time for purposes of Council Tax Exemption, your course must:
Important to know: You will only be eligible for Council Tax Exemption during your official course dates, as stated on your student record. This means that when you start your course and apply for exemption, you'll only be eligible from your official start date, which will be on your record and appear on your Confirmation of Study Letter.
- Last at least 1 calendar or academic year, where you’re required to undertake the course for at least 24 weeks out of the year;
- Normally require at least 21 hours of study, tuition or work experience per week during term time.
How does my living situation affect Council Tax?
I live in university Halls of Residence
If you are living in university Halls of Residence you will not need to pay, as they are classed as buildings ‘occupied only or mainly by students’.
However, some private companies that provide ‘student-type’ accommodation (including some of the intercollegiate halls) may attract a charge.
King’s Residences are exempt from Council Tax, but other student accommodation might not be, so you should check with them before you sign up to anything.
You might need to provide evidence of your full-time student status to your accommodation provider as well as the Local Authority/Council.
I live in a private residence
If you live in a house or flat where everyone is a full-time student, you don’t have to pay Council Tax.
You should apply for exemption upon moving in. This can be done by sending a copy of your Confirmation of Study letter to your local council.
Find out how in I need to prove my student status.
Some students, however, may have to pay or contribute to this bill.
This will depend on:
- The type of property you live in
- Who else lives in the property
- Your mode of study
I live with non-students; will I have to pay Council Tax?
If you live with one other adult who is not a full-time student, the property you are in will likely be charged for Council Tax. You might be able to get the rate reduced by 25% by informing your Local Authority that you (as an individual) are exempt.
If you live with more than one non-full-time student, however, then the property will be liable for the full Council Tax charge.
Important to know: Your student status means that you are not legally liable to pay Council Tax. But, if you live with non-students then they might still expect you to contribute towards the bill. It is important to discuss this with potential flatmates before you commit to living together.
Does my visa status affect Council Tax?
I'm an EU/international student, am I exempt from UK Council Tax?
EU and international students are treated the same as Home students regarding Council Tax. If you live in a property attracting a Council Tax charge then you might have to pay, regardless of the fact you are not a UK national.
If you bring a partner with you to the UK on a visa, then they will be exempt from Council Tax charges provided their visa states that they have "no recourse to public funds" or "no right to work".
Important to know:
- Make sure you send evidence of these restrictions to your Local Authority so that they are aware.
- This does not apply to dependents who are EEA or Swiss Nationals, British Nationals or those who have Indefinite Leave to Remain in the UK themselves.
I’m an exchange student, am I exempt from UK Council Tax?
If you are an exchange student who is studying full-time but will attend King’s for less than an academic year, then you might still qualify for exemption if your home educational establishment is situated in a Member State of the European Union.
Our Money & Housing Advice team are very experienced in support students with council tax enquiries, so please contact them if you need support.
How does my student status and mode of study affect Council Tax?
In addition to the information here, we recommend referring to guidance about student status in our article Understanding student status: what does my status mean for me?
Students registered on a part-time course cannot claim exemption and will have to pay Council Tax.
If you are a student registered on a full-time course but have a period of part-time attendance, then you should still qualify for exemption.
You might be eligible for Council Tax Reduction if you are a part-time student and on a low income. If you think either of these scenarios apply to you, then please contact our Money & Housing Advice team.
I’ve taken a break and interrupted my studies
If you interrupt your studies, you should still retain your student status for Council Tax purposes if you were previously enrolled as a full-time student.
You will remain a student until you complete, withdraw or are expelled from the course.
While interrupted, your automatic Confirmation of Study letter won’t work for you; this is because it’s programmed only to work for fully enrolled students. However, we can still provide a letter for you for Council Tax Exemption; to make this request please log a case and provide as much detail as possible.
I’m still studying but considering an interruption
If you’re thinking about taking a break in your studies but haven’t made a request for it yet, please read our guidance to help you understand the various implications – including financial – of doing so:
I'm a distance learning student; how does this affect Council Tax?
Council tax exemption has traditionally only been possible for full-time students.
Distance learning courses are officially considered part-time by King’s. As such, any letter we issue needs to be clear about the mode of study.
As a distance learner, you have a greater degree of flexibility over how and when you study, but you are only deemed to be ‘actively’ studying when you are enrolled on a module.
For further detail on this, please read on in our article I'm a distance learning student; am I eligible for council tax exemption?
I'm a former student and need to retrospectively prove my student status
If you are a former student, you will not have access to Student Records to download a Confirmation of Study letter.
To request a Confirmation of Study letter for council tax reasons, please contact our team by using our webchat, raising a case here through Student Services Online or calling our phoneline. If you are a resident in London, you can also visit our services desks during opening hours.
How do I apply for Council Tax Exemption?
You will need to get a Confirmation of Study letter and provide this to your council/local authority.
Who is my Local Authority and how do I contact them?
To find out who your Local Authority/Council is and their contact details, use Find your local council.
You will need to know your postcode.
I’ve received a bill for Council Tax; what do I do?
Call your Local Authority immediately and find out what has gone wrong.
Important to know: It is your responsibility to ensure the Local Authority has the correct documentation. Have all the discounts or exemptions been applied correctly? If the issue is not straight forward, make an urgent appointment with the Money & Housing Advice team.
I’ve received a court letter/been contacted by a bailiff; what do I do?
If you receive a bailiff or court letter seek advice urgently. Know your rights so you know how to handle the situation.
Speak to our advisers or contact Shelter.
I need further support related to Council Tax
Make sure you have read through all the information in this article; it should address the majority of questions about Council Tax.
I’m claiming welfare benefits; how does this affect my Council Tax?
Where you are in a property that does attract a Council Tax charge and you are on a low income, there is Council Tax Support or Second Adult Rebates available from Local Authorities to help reduce the Council Tax Bill.
However, this is a complicated area, particularly as most full-time students are prohibited from claiming welfare benefits whilst studying, so please seek advice from the Money & Housing Advice team if you need support with this.
I still can’t find the answer to my question
If you still can’t find the answer, or find yourself in any of these situations:
- You receive a council tax bill whilst living in halls of residence
- You receive a council tax bill whilst living in an all-student household
- You live with non-students but have received a council tax bill in your name
- You are an international student with a UK student visa and your dependant has received a council tax bill
- You receive a council tax bill during a period of interruption
- You are a writing up student and the council has rejected your application for exemption
- You receive a council tax bill in relation to a summer holiday between the academic years of your course
- You receive a court summons;
Please don’t hesitate to contact the Money & Housing Advice team for support.