Council Tax

If you decide to live off campus, you'll need to consider Council Tax. Council Tax is charged by the Local Authority on properties in England, Scotland, and Wales to help pay for local services. The value and use of the property, as well as the status of the residents, will determine how much Council Tax must be paid.

If you are living in University accommodation or University administered halls of residence you do not need a Council Tax Certificate as these properties are exempt from Council Tax.

Exemptions and discounts

Full-time students living off campus

Students who are on a full-time course of at least one academic or calendar year, (or other 'exempt persons') will not be liable for Council Tax. You will be exempt for the full duration of your course including vacations and any periods of intermission.

Students moving from a Foundation degree to top-up year will not be exempt for the summer period between the two courses. Sabbatical Officers are only exempt if they are taking up their post during a period of intermission, if they have finished their course they are not exempt.


If all occupants of the property are full-time students, all the student occupants should provide a Council Tax Certificate to the Local Authority to show that the property is exempt from Council Tax.

If you are a full-time student living in a property which is not occupied solely by other full-time students or 'exempt persons' you may still qualify for a Council Tax reduction (see Discounts and reductions section below).

Council Tax Benefit and other support

Whilst most full-time students are not eligible to receive Council Tax Benefit, certain groups may be (although undergraduate student loans/grants etc, will be taken into account as income). If you are a lone parent or part of a student-parent couple, a disabled student or are receiving Income Support, Income-related Employment and Support Allowance, or Income-based Jobseeker's Allowance you may qualify for Council Tax Reduction.

Part-time students living off campus

Becoming a part-time student does not exempt you from paying Council Tax. You may qualify for Council Tax Reduction.

Higher or Degree Apprentice living off campus

To show that an apprentice does not qualify as an adult for Council Tax and is disregarded for Council Tax purposes, they need a declaration from their employer stating that:

  • They earn less than £195 a week.
  • They are employed for the purpose of learning a profession.
  • The training leads to a qualification accredited by a body recognised by the Office of Qualifications and Examinations Regulation (Ofqual).

If you are a Higher or Degree Apprentice you must contact the local Authority for the area that you live and provide the above information. The Local Authority will then consider whether you can be disregarded for Council Tax. The University will not provide a Higher or Degree Apprentice with a letter of exemption or proof of registration for Council Tax purposes.

International students

International students are liable for Council Tax in the same way as Home and EU students (see full-time and part-time information above).

If you are on a short-term English course and do not intend to continue to a degree course with the University of Essex you will not be eligible for Council Tax exemption.

However, you may be eligible to claim a reduction if you are not solely or mainly resident in the UK. In order to claim this reduction you would need to write to the Local Authority explaining this. Each case is looked at on an individual basis and the reduction is not guaranteed.

People who are in the UK with a visa as the dependant of a student, are usually exempt from paying Council Tax. Therefore, accommodation occupied by eligible full-time International students living only with their dependants, should be exempt from Council Tax. In this situation a copy of the Dependent's visa should be sent to the Local Authority along with the Council Tax Certificate.

We recommend you read the UKCISA (The UK Council for International Student Affairs) information about Council Tax for international students.

Essex English Language Programme (formerly PEP) / Pre-sessional English students

Pathway courses are usually less than a year in duration so do not exempt you from paying Council Tax. However, students who are also holding an offer for a full-time degree at University of Essex (starting immediately after the pathway course ends) may still be exempt from Council Tax.

Students in this situation only should contact Essex Pathways to request a Council Tax Exemption Certificate.

Discounts, reductions and financial assistance

  • If only one liable person lives at the property (as their main residence) then the Council Tax bill should be reduced by 25%. This is know as Single Person's Discount.
  • If the dwelling is no one's main home then there may be a 10% discount.
  • Empty homes and second/holiday homes may qualify for a discount of up to 50%.

Exempt persons and further information

Exempt persons

  • Apprentices/young persons in training
  • Full-time students (on a course which lasts for at least one academic or calendar year)
  • Student dependents (with a student dependent visa)
  • Student nurses
  • Residential hospital patients
  • People living in care homes
  • Independent hospitals and hostels providing a high level of care
  • People who are severely mentally impaired
  • People staying in certain hostels or night shelters
  • Monks and nuns
  • 18 and 19 year-olds (who are in full-time further education)
  • Under 18's
  • Carers
  • People in prison
  • Members of visiting forces
  • International headquarters and defence organisations

Further information

Further information about Council Tax, Exemptions, Discounts and Council Tax Benefit can be found on the Council Tax web pages.


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