Council tax is a tax collected by your local council. It is used to pay for local services such as schools, rubbish collection, roads and street lighting. The amount charged depends on who lives in the property and its value and location.

People living in privately rented accommodation or who own their home are normally liable to pay council Tax although special exemption rules apply to full-time students.

To be exempt from paying council tax, you must be attending a full-time course that lasts at least one academic year, requires at least 24 weeks' attendance each year, and involves a minimum of 21 hours' study per week. 

Council tax exemption applies from the course start date until the course end date or the date a person withdraws from their course.

Students registered on part-time courses are not exempt and are liable to pay council tax.

Students living in student halls of residence are not liable to pay council tax.

New full-time students

If you move into a property before the start of your course, you could be liable to pay council tax in the period leading up to the start of your course. Please bear this in mind when deciding on a date to move in.

If you’re aged under 20 and have just completed your A levels or an equivalent level course, you should be exempt from paying council tax from 1 May until the following 31 of October - by which time you’ll be enrolled on your full-time course.

Full-time students must obtain a Council Tax Exemption Certificate from their School Registry Office following enrolment and submit this to the Council Tax Office in borough where they live.

International students attending a full-time course

You may be in the UK on a Tier 4 visa or other type of visa.  Being in the UK on a visa does not exempt you from paying council tax. If you rent private accommodation, you are liable to pay the council tax in the period leading up to the start of your course and once you complete your course even if your visa ends after this.  It is the course start and completion dates that matter, not the start and end date of your visa. 

If you rent privately and have returned to the UK on a Short Term Study visa to complete your full-time degree level course, you will become liable to pay the council tax once you complete your course. Once again it is the course completion date that matters, not the end date of your visa. 

Please also note that you are liable to pay the council tax while attending a pre-sessional course or a full-time course that lasts less than one academic year.

All full-time students

If you live in halls of residence, you’ll automatically be exempt from paying.

If you live in privately rented accommodation either by yourself or in a house where everyone is a full-time student, you’ll also not have to pay council tax, but you must all provide proof of your full-time student status to the local Council Tax Office.  

If you’re a full-time student sharing with two or more people who aren’t full-time students, a full bill will be generated. As a full-time student you aren’t liable to pay any of this bill but the non-students in the house will be expected to pay. If you provide your Council Tax Exemption Certificate to the Council Tax Office, you should be excluded from the bill and cannot be pursued for any unpaid money.

If you’re a full-time student and you live with only one other person and they are not a full-time student, you are still exempt from paying the council tax.  The other person is liable to pay but will qualify for a 25% discount called a 'single person's discount'. You’ll need to submit your Council Tax Exemption Certificate for the discount to be applied.

If you rent and share with others, check the terms of your contract as sometimes council tax is included as part of the rent. The agreement may also state you have to contribute towards council tax. If so, you could be liable to contribute towards this cost.


If you live with any other adults who are not full-time students and you either own the property or you rent and the tenancy agreement is in your name only, you will be liable to pay the full council tax yourself. Your student status will not exempt you.

Contact Student Advice if you are unsure of your liability. You can also find general information on