Yes, you can get SOME updates for free... indefinetely.
You will need the latest version of TomTom Home software, available for free from www.tomtom.com
Install the software on your computer BEFORE connecting the TomTom GPC to the USB port of the computer.
The free updates you can get are:
1) "QuickFix" updates. This contains the global positions of GPS satellites, allowing the TomTom GPS to get a faster lock on the GPS satellites (the GPS will get a lock within 5-10 seconds of being turned on, instead of 2-5 minutes on some other GPS brands). It is suggested that you update the QuickFix at least once a week. If you don't do it often, the GPS will just take longer to find the GPS satellites, that's all.
2) Minor updates to your map(s), but only the ones submitted by other TomTom users.
3) Updates to POIs (Points of Interest), such as new stores, malls, gas stations, parking lots, etc.
Whole-map updates ARE NOT FREE