Do Students Pay Council Tax (when they do & don’t)

This blog will answer the question “do students pay council tax?” It will cover who needs to and need not pay council tax. It will cover the exemptions applicable on council tax, and related topics.

Do students pay council tax?

No, students do not pay council tax. Full-time students do not pay councfil tax. They are exempt whether they are living on their property, or renting an apartment or hostel or any such thing. Whether they live in university halls of residence or rent a house, they do not have to pay council tax. Part-time students, however, do have to pay it.

Council tax

Council tax is a charge on your property, or your place of residence, depending upon your earning status, the band of your property, the number of dependents living with you and your living circumstances. Council tax depends and changes according to the number of people on the property, as well as any changes in the local area.

Who pays council tax?

Any person over 18, who resides in a property, or owns or rents a house, and is sufficiently able to do so, in general, pays the council tax. A  full Council Tax bill assumes at least 2 adults living on a property. Spouses, partners and adults who live together are jointly responsible for paying their council tax

Generally, the following persons have to pay council tax:

  • Any person who is 18 years of age or over 18, and who owns or rents a home.
  • If only 1 person lives in a property they will be the liable person
  • The person who occupies a property is the person liable to pay council
  • When the property is an HMO, or it is empty, the owner of the property is liable to pay the council tax.
  • If more than one person is living on a property, the person who is liable to pay council tax is determined by a system called the hierarchy of liability. The hierarchy goes from top to bottom. The topmost person is the one responsible for paying council tax, in whose absence, the next will be responsible and so on.

Council tax exemption on students

Any property occupied by full-time university or college students is exempt from council tax. Student halls of residence are also free from council tax payment. Full-time students are disregarded from council tax payment. They are not considered as adults, thus do not have to pay council tax. 

Conditions for persons qualified to be full time students are:

  • They should cover at least 24 weeks, over a whole academic year.
  • They should have at least 21 hours of weekly study during term time including tuition or work experience.
  • Students studying for a qualification up to A-level, under 20, must be on a course lasting for at least three months, with at least 12 hours of study per week.

Full-time postgraduate students also, should not pay council tax. They are completely exempt from council tax. In the case of research students, they are often given a ‘writing-up period at the end of their programme, to prepare their thesis for submission. They are given an exemption by some local councils and not by others.

If you are a student but live with someone who is not a student, you may be able to get a discount on the council tax bill for your house.

Your local council might demand a certificate of enrolment from you to prove that you are a full-time council student. You can ask for this certificate from your university or college, or the student enquiries centre of your university, while you are continuing the course, or within one year from the date, it finished.

The council tax discount you are getting as a student will end on the official end date of your course, and you will no longer be exempt as a student.

If you are a student and you live with an adult, then that person will get a 25% discount on their council tax, as the council disregards you from payment of tax and thus provides a discount on that property.

Student nurses are also exempted from paying council tax.

An apprentice working to get a qualification and earning not more than  £195 per week is also exempt from paying council tax.

Postgraduate students

Postgraduate students also do not pay council tax, as long as they get a letter from their university or institute stating that they are full-time students. For postgraduate students, it is no longer required that they need to attend the classes physically at any particular educational institute to get to be disregarded from council tax payment. You can be a postgraduate student writing up your thesis, and you can be counted as a full-time student if your university provides you with a letter stating the same.

However, you do have to pay council tax for the summer break months after the end of your undergraduate program and before the start of your postgraduate course, even if you go straight into your postgraduate programme.

This is so because, during that period, you are not counted as a student, rather you are a graduated adult.

In case you are a postgraduate student who is taking a bit of extra time to finish your thesis, that counts as extra time, and you might or might not have to pay council tax for that period because it is technically outside of your studying time. You have to apply for your local council for that. 

Part-time students

If you are a part-time postgraduate student, writing up your thesis, claiming welfare benefits, then you need to pay council tax you cannot claim council tax exemption in this case however, you are still eligible for a reduction, based on other factors applicable on you such as being the only part-time student in the household, or if you are a part-time student but you are still studying for more than 20 hours per week etc.

International students

The following international students are fully exempt from paying council tax:

  • Full-time student meeting the above-mentioned criterion
  • Trainee nurse or a midwife
  • A sabbatical officer having a student union after their studies have ended
  • A student who qualifies for the doctorate extension scheme
  • A postgraduate international doctor or dentist

Besides these, an international student who is sharing a property with any British citizen or with someone settled in the UK, having indefinite leave to enter or remain inside the U, or someone from the EEA or a Swiss national, or someone being a family member of an EEA or Swiss national, who is exercising a right of free movement in the UK – can be liable for full or part of the council tax bill.

Also, any person on an  NHS apprenticeship or other apprenticeship pathway might be entitled to a part of the council tax bill.

Also, students studying in Northern Ireland can apply to claim full or partial exemption on their council tax bill, depending upon your local council.

Households with students

Entirely occupied by full-time students

Any household or premises fully occupied by full-time students is completely exempt from council tax. Such a property is completely exempt from council tax.

Full time-students with one adult

If one or more than one full-time student are living in a house with a single adult then the council tax is to be paid only by the adult. However, the adult person can claim a  25% discount on their council tax on account of single occupancy.

Full-time students with more than one adult

For full-time students sharing a property with, or renting with adults, the council tax is only to be paid by the adults. The full-time students are not counted for council tax purposes. 

Applying for student council tax exemption

There are different procedures by which you can apply for council tax exemption. It depends upon your local council.

Some local councils might ask you to just ring them up and provide them with your name, student ID number and university course. The council itself will then arrange your exemption electronically while they keep you on a line to a member of staff.

Some councils might also ask for your certificate of the student as proof of your full-time student status. This certificate can be gotten by applying to the admission office of your university. You can then post this certificate to your local council.

You can also get this certificate through the online portal available from your university. You can log onto this portal yourself and send the automatically generated letter to your local council.

When you are renting at a private rented accommodation from a landlord, you or your landlord can be required to provide a completed student form along with a valid student certificate to your local council.

Other exemptions on council tax payment

You are exempt from paying council tax in Scotland if the following conditions satisfy:

Renting from a housing association

If you are a tenant renting a trial flat from some housing association because you are disabled or you are a pensioner, you will be exempt from paying council tax.

Foreign language assistants

Properties that are exempt from council tax include properties where a Foreign Language Assistants on the official British Council programme is staying. This could be a hall of residence or another type of shared property, neither the tenant in this case nor the homeowner will have to pay council tax.

Person under 18

If you are under 18 and live with other people who are under 18, you will not have to pay council tax until someone turns 18. If you are the only person over 18 living in a house with under 18-year-olds, you may be able to get a council tax discount, as per the rules of your local authority.

Rented and receiving housing support

You may also be exempt from paying council tax if you:

  • Live in rented accommodation, and
  • Receive housing support services, and
  • Share a kitchen, bathroom or toilet with other residents in your accommodation

This exemption will only be applicable when you satisfy all the three conditions mentioned above.


This blog answered the question “do students pay council tax?” It covered who needs to and needs not to pay council tax. It covered the exemptions applicable on council tax, and related topics.


Do I need to register for Council Tax as a student?

Yes, you do need to register for council tax even if you are a student. You don’t have to pay the council tax as you are exempt if you are a full-time student. But, you still need to the registrar as a resident, with your local council.


Do students have to pay Council Tax in London?

No students, full-time students do not have to pay council tax is London. They are exempt from paying council tax.

Do students have to pay Council Tax over the summer?

No, students do not have to pay council tax during the summer as long as theri course lasts and they are still refistred as a student. However, students do have to pay council tax after their undergraduate course is finished and before the postgraduate course starts, in the summer between these two. You cannot be counted as a student during this period, so you have to pay council tax for these 2-3 months.

Do full-time students have to pay council tax?

No, full-time students don’t have to pay council tax. Any property where only full=time students are staying is fully exempt from paying council tax.

Do students get taxed on wages?

Yes, students do get taxed on wages. They are liable to pay income tax and national insurance similar to how other workers are. However, students are given an exemption period for the time in which they earn a certain amount – called their Personal Allowance- before they start paying the council tax.