What is council tax?

Council tax is a yearly charge (usually paid in instalments of 10 or 12) that household’s pay to fund things such as rubbish collections, park maintenance, roadworks and schools in their local area.

All properties are put into ‘council tax bands’ which are lettered A through H and are based on the size, location and a few other factors. This determines the amount payable by the household. Not very exciting but bear with us!

Student exemption

If you’re a full-time student however, it’s more than likely that you’ll be exempt from having to pay anything! Winning.

But don’t go making it rain with cash just yet, you will need to complete the following steps to register for exemption as soon as you move into your new digs. No one wants unwelcome council tax or utility bills creeping through their letterbox, especially students!

How to ensure you’re exempt from paying council tax  

To be exempt from council tax you must be a full-time student (very important) meaning your course must tick the following criteria:

  • Be at least a year long
  • Involve at least 21 hours of study per week

If this applies to you, score! You can continue with the process, here’s how…

How to apply 

It’s super important that you follow these steps carefully to ensure it’s done right. Don’t assume just because you’re a student that the council will know not to bill you. This is not the case and you will need to inform them.

Some universities now offer an online system where a simple login generates a letter that automatically sends to the council. It’s defo worth checking out!

Whichever way you decide to do it, the steps are pretty simple and shouldn’t take you too long. 

  1. Visit your local council website

First things first, you’ll need to visit your local councils’ website and navigate to the ‘council tax’ section.

You can easily find this by Googling your University’s city followed by council tax.


Visit https://www.gov.uk/apply-for-council-tax-discount  and simply pop in your postcode and you’ll be navigated to your local council website.

Once navigated to the right page, you should be able to see a section on applying for exemption.

(Note: before you take the next step, you may be asked to create an account)

  1. Fill in the exemption form and submit it

While most forms will be online, some councils may request a simple phone call to complete the form electronically. This is a fairly straight forward process for the council and can take anywhere from a few minutes to a few days to process. Once you’ve got confirmation that all is complete you can sit back and relax.

What you will probably be asked to provide:

  • Name
  • Student number – you can find this on your student ID card
  • University name
  • University course
  • Possibly a certificate of enrolment

 Note: You may be asked for proof that you are a full-time student. You can do this by contacting your uni and asking for a certificate of enrolment. This is something that your uni has to provide you with if asked for (unless you have finished your course and a year has passed since). Once you’ve got it you can post it to your local council for review.

What if some of my housemates aren’t students?

If you share a house with someone who isn’t a full-time student, you will receive a bill though the letter box each month – boo! However, because you are a full-time student you will be treated as exempt (if you apply!). Meaning the non-student person will be solely reliable for the bill – unlucky for them – but they should be entitled to a 25% single person discount.

Therefore, it’s a good idea to choose your housemates wisely before jumping into a house share. Especially for a non-student bunker!

Still unsure?  

If you’re still unsure about any of the above or uncertain of what your house share situation means for you, contact your local council directly for further guidance or visit GOV.UK.