If you’re thinking of watching BBC iPlayer while traveling abroad, you will find that iPlayer can only be streamed on devices with a UK IP address. This means a workaround is needed if you want to watch BBC iPlayer outside of the UK. We explain how to watch iPlayer abroad with the help of a Virtual Private Network (VPN) and the best VPNs for the job.
Due to content licensing restrictions, certain videos are restricted by geography. This applies to viewing on the iPlayer website as well as through the iPlayer app. Luckily the solution is simple, just use one of the best VPNs to unblock BBC iPlayer which will allow you to watch as normal from the USA or anywhere else abroad. However, not all VPNs work with BBC iPlayer.
We’ll cover eight BBC iPlayer VPNs in detail, but for those of you looking for a quick answer, our testing showed these to be the best options.
We found these to be the 8 best VPNs for BBC iPlayer:
- NordVPN Best option for accessing BBC iPlayer from anywhere. Extremely fast and secure, with a large selection of servers and a risk-free 30-day money-back guarantee.
- Surfshark Our top budget pick. Speedy VPN with no connection limit that unblocks various streaming services including BBC iPlayer.
- CyberGhost Works well with BBC iPlayer and other streaming services. Easy to use.
- PrivateVPN Good up-and-coming VPN that works well with BBC iPlayer and other streaming services.
- Hotspot Shield A solid budget option that offers fast speeds and unblocks BBC iPlayer and other services.
- ExpressVPN Stream geo-blocked content from anywhere in the world with no restrictions. Veteran provider with excellent security credentials.
- Private Internet Access Works well with BBC iPlayer and Netflix.
- VyprVPN Unblocked BBC iPlayer in our tests.
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Short for Virtual Private Network, a VPN service encrypts a device’s internet traffic before routing it through an intermediary server in a location of the user’s choosing. In the case of BBC iPlayer, the user just needs to pick a British server. They’ll be assigned a UK IP address to make it appear that’s where they’re located.
But this workaround is getting less effective by the day as BBC iPlayer starts cracking down on the circumvention software and detecting when a VPN is used. The site has followed in the footsteps of Netflix when it comes to banning VPN users. For this reason, it’s important to subscribe to a VPN service that bypasses iPlayer’s firewall and will actively work to fix the problem if it gets blocked.
Often only some servers from a specific VPN service can accomplish this, so if one VPN server is blocked for you then just try another or ask customer service which ones work.
We’ve curated the following list of the best VPN providers for watching BBC iPlayer outside the UK based on the following key criteria:
- Servers in the UK
- Works with iPlayer
- Fast connection speeds
- Competent customer service
If you would like to understand exactly how we analyze and rank VPNs you can find out more below.
Best VPNs for BBC iPlayer
These 8 VPNs will work with BBC iPlayer outside the UK. Just connect to a suitable UK server and start streaming.
Money-back guarantee: 30 DAYS
NordVPN is a reliable service for watching BBC iPlayer abroad with plenty of UK servers to choose from. In fact, it operates almost 700 servers in the UK, and some of them are even optimized for streaming. Check the NordVPN website’s official knowledge base to find out which servers currently unblock BBC iPlayer content. Live chat support can be contacted 24/7.
This service scored one of the highest results in our speed test, so you shouldn’t have any issues streaming in HD or even 4K. Security is excellent thanks to strong encryption, and a strict zero-logs policy means your personal information (including your IP address) remains private. What’s more, public wifi users will love NordVPN’s automatic wifi protection feature. Servers are available in over 60 countries. NordVPN allows up to six concurrent internet connections on a single subscription, making it a great option for a small household or office.
Apps are available for Windows, MacOS, iOS, Linux, and Android.
NordVPN speed test data
|Average Connection Speed - North America (USA)||460 Mbps|
|Average Connection Speed - Europe (UK)||349 Mbps|
|Average Connection Speed - Asia (Hong Kong)||299 Mbps|
- Plenty of servers in the UK unblock iPlayer from almost anywhere in HD
- Also great for unblocking a wide range of UK geo-blocked content
- Strict no-logs policy and solid security on apps
- Connect up to 6 devices at the same time
- Live chat support 24/7
- Desktop app can sometimes take a while to connect
Read our full NordVPN review here.
Money-back guarantee: 30 DAYS
Surfshark currently has over 1,700 servers in 60 countries, including the UK. It’s fast enough to stream live HD content with no noticeable buffering, and can reliably access major services including BBC iPlayer, ITV Hub, and Netflix US. Best of all, though, Surfshark has no connection limit, meaning you can secure every one of your streaming devices simultaneously.
This service uses 256-bit encryption, a kill switch, and protection against DNS, IPv6, and WebRTC leaks to keep your online activities private at all times. There’s also a zero-logs policy and the option to block ads, trackers, and malware automatically. With 24/7 support available over live chat, you’re never more than a few seconds away from help with any problems
Surfshark offers apps for Windows, MacOS, Android, iOS, and Linux. It can be manually installed on supported wireless routers.
Surfshark speed test data
|Average Connection Speed - North America (USA)||317 Mbps|
|Average Connection Speed - Europe (UK)||253 Mbps|
|Average Connection Speed - Asia (Hong Kong)||400 Mbps|
- Decent speeds
- Strong unblocking ability
- Powerful security and online privacy features
- Secure every device you own simultaneously
- Very affordable
- Has the occasional slow server
- Doesn’t have the largest network
Read our full Surfshark review
BEST BUDGET VPN:Surfshark is our favorite low-cost option. It’s quick, versatile, and able to unblock a huge number of streaming services from abroad. Better still, it comes with a 30-day money-back guarantee.
Money-back guarantee: 45 DAYS
CyberGhost makes unblocking geo-locked content easier than most other VPNs. Instead of contacting customer support or guessing at which server to connect to, CyberGhost’s apps let you choose a server based on the video site you want to unblock. Clicking the streaming option upon opening the app will bring up a lengthy list of popular streaming sites, including BBC iPlayer. Just click that option to get connected, and the app will even open iPlayer in your browser for you.
CyberGhost also boasts a strong security and privacy pedigree, which is perfect for security-conscious users. It keeps no logs and uses strong encryption with perfect forward secrecy. Leak protection and a kill switch ensure none of your internet traffic ever leaves the encrypted tunnel. CyberGhost boasts solid speeds that should be more than sufficient for streaming video in high quality.
A single plan allows up to seven simultaneous connections. Apps are available for Windows, MacOS, Linux, iOS, and Android.
CyberGhost speed test data
|Average Connection Speed - North America (USA)||853 Mbps|
|Average Connection Speed - Europe (UK)||480 Mbps|
|Average Connection Speed - Asia (Hong Kong)||312 Mbps|
- No issues unblocking BBC iPlayer from various test locations
- Operates a global network of more than 5,900 servers in 90 countries
- Low-cost option with beginner-friendly apps
- Very good speeds
- Doesn’t work reliably in UAE or China
- May not be customizable enough for experienced users
Read our full CyberGhost review.
Money-back guarantee: 30 DAYS
PrivateVPN is a zero-logs VPN with a good track record for streaming BBC iPlayer, Netflix and other content. It makes short work of BBC iPlayer’s VPN firewall, and also works with other streaming sites like Netflix and Hulu. It boasts extremely high speeds and round-the-clock live chat support in case of any issues.
Speeds are excellent despite the comparatively small network of servers. Security doesn’t fall short, either, sporting 256-bit and 128-bit encryption options guarded with perfect forward secrecy. PrivateVPN stores no logs of user activity and won’t record your IP address.
You can connect up to six devices on a single plan. Apps are available for Windows, MacOS, iOS, and Android.
PrivateVPN speed test data
|Average Connection Speed - North America (USA)||94 Mbps|
|Average Connection Speed - Europe (UK)||57 Mbps|
|Average Connection Speed - Asia (Hong Kong)||62 Mbps|
- Unblocks BBC iPlayer at decent streaming speeds from abroad
- A growing reputation for unblocking popular streaming sites from anywhere
- Keeps no logs whatsoever
- Privacy and security are high-grade
- Doesn’t have 24/7 live chat
Read our full PrivateVPN review.
Money-back guarantee: 45 DAYS
Editor’s Note: Hotspot Shield is owned by Pango, Comparitech’s parent company.
Hotspot Shield is an excellent choice for streaming. It works with BBC iPlayer and lots of other popular streaming platforms, including Netflix UK and US, ITV Hub, Amazon Prime Video, and Hulu. Plus, it has blazing fast speeds and unlimited bandwidth so streaming HD video is no issue. Live chat is available 24/7 should you run into problems.
This service has a checkered privacy past but has improved its policy and doesn’t log any personally identifiable information past your session duration. It backs this up with strong security features, including military-grade encryption, perfect forward secrecy, and a kill switch (in the Windows app). Additional security features include automatic wifi protection (in the mobile apps) and protection against DNS and WebRTC leaks.
Apps are available for Windows, MacOS, Android, and iOS and you can connect five desktop or mobile devices at a time.
Hotspot Shield speed test data
|No value||Hotspot Shield|
|Average Connection Speed - North America (USA)||48 Mbps|
|Average Connection Speed - Europe (UK)||49 Mbps|
|Average Connection Speed - Asia (Hong Kong)||48 Mbps|
- Large global network of servers
- Very fast speeds for streaming HD content
- Strong encryption and other security features
- Allows 5 simultaneous connections
- 45-day money-back guarantee
- Had past digital privacy issues
- Doesn’t accept cryptocurrency payments
Great low-cost VPN:Hotspot Shield comes at a low price and its fast speeds and excellent unblocking abilities make it a great option for streaming content from BBC iPlayer and other platforms. It even comes with a 45-day money-back guarantee.
Read our full Hotspot Shield review
Money-back guarantee: 30 DAYS
ExpressVPN has a good server choice with six locations in their server network across the UK alone. While it’s one of our favorite all round VPNs, ExpressVPN has been less reliable with BBC iPlayer recently. Its speeds remain exceptional, though, plus it offers live chat-based support 24 hours per day.
ExpressVPN logs no identifying personal information and boasts top-notch security standards. It operates servers in over 90 countries, each optimized for maximum speed. If you want to watch iPlayer on a streaming device that doesn’t natively support VPNs, ExpressVPN makes its own router firmware which customers can either download and install free of charge or purchase with a pre-flashed router on the website.
Apps are available for Windows, MacOS, iOS, Android, Linux, and certain wifi routers.
ExpressVPN speed test data
|Average Connection Speed - North America (USA)||136 Mbps|
|Average Connection Speed - Europe (UK)||134 Mbps|
|Average Connection Speed - Asia (Hong Kong)||136 Mbps|
- Servers in the UK are great for streaming in HD quality
- Unblocks most popular streaming sites with ease
- Best-in-class encryption makes for solid security and privacy
- 24/7 live chat support staff are on the ball
- Not the cheapest choice on this list
- Worth trying, but less reliable at avoiding the VPN ban than it once was
RELIABLE SPEEDS:ExpressVPN is fast and secure, making it perfect for unblocking popular services. Offers top-notch security, reliable download speeds, and a 30-day money-back guarantee.
Read our full review of ExpressVPN here.
Money-back guarantee: 30 DAYS
Private Internet Access boasts dedicated streaming servers for the UK, and unblocks BBC iPlayer without breaking a sweat. Speeds are fast enough for live HD streaming, and there are no bandwidth limits at all. Further, PIA has a generous 10-connection limit and offers live chat support around the clock.
This service offers plenty of security features, including adjustable encryption (up to 256-bits), a kill switch, DNS leak protection, and even support for the extremely fast Wireguard protocol. There’s a strict no-logs policy in place too, so your privacy is in good hands.
PIA apps are available for iOS, MacOS, Linux, Windows, and Android.
Private Internet Access speed test data
|No value||Private Internet Access|
|Average Connection Speed - North America (USA)||76 Mbps|
|Average Connection Speed - Europe (UK)||31 Mbps|
|Average Connection Speed - Asia (Hong Kong)||42 Mbps|
- Generally fast connections with unlimited bandwidth
- True no-logs policy
- Works wide a wide range of streaming services
- Streaming speeds can be inconsistent
SOLID ALL ROUNDER:Private Internet Access achieves decent speeds although they can be variable. Reliably unblocks geo-restricted content and has great digital privacy credentials. Lacks some popular features. Includes 30-day money-back guarantee.
Read our full PIA review.
Money-back guarantee: 30 DAYS
VyprVPN has high-speed servers making it a great option for unblocking the BBC iPlayer streaming service. It also works to stream content from other popular sites, including Netflix. This VPN is also one of the best VPNs for China, where most of its rivals are blocked outright. As a bonus, plans include access to online storage and encrypted messaging apps.
This VPN service uses strong encryption and includes DNS leak protection and a kill switch. It does store some logs, including the user IP address which might be a turnoff to more privacy-conscious users. It scored well in our speed tests, so you should have no problem streaming the latest season of Peaky Blinders in HD.
Apps are available for Windows, MacOS, iOS, and Android.
VyprVPN speed test data
|Average Connection Speed - North America (USA)||41 Mbps|
|Average Connection Speed - Europe (UK)||44.3 Mbps|
|Average Connection Speed - Asia (Hong Kong)||47.3 Mbps|
- Unblocks BBC iPlayer and plenty of other streaming sites
- Operates servers in the UK
- Great unblocking capabilities, even works well in China
- Marginally more expensive than some VPNs
- Lacking options for advanced configuration
- No cryptocurrency payment options
EASY TO USE:VyprVPN is user friendly. A solid choice. Stores no logs, offers great security and unblocks most streaming services. More pricey than some. 30-day money-back guarantee.
Read our full VyprVPN review.
|No value||NordVPN||Surfshark||CyberGhost||PrivateVPN||Hotspot Shield||ExpressVPN||Private Internet Access||VyprVPN|
|Unblocks BBC iPlayer|
|Reccomended for other streaming services||Hulu, Netflix, Amazon Prime, Disney+, HBO Max||Hulu, Netflix, Amazon Prime, Disney+, HBO Max||Hulu, Netflix, Disney+, HBO Max||Hulu, Netflix, Amazon Prime, Disney+, HBO Max||Amazon Prime||Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, Disney+, HBO Max||Hulu|
|Average speed (USA)||111.7 Mbps||70.3 Mbps||78.7 Mbps||94 Mbps||48 Mbps||135.7 Mbps||43 Mbps||41 Mbps|
|Simultaneous connections||6 devices||Unlimited||7 devices||6 devices||5 devices||5 devices||10 devices||3 devices|
|Money-back Guarantee||30 Days||30 Days||45 Days||30 Days||45 days||30 Days||30 Days||30 Days|
|Lowest monthly cost||$3.49||$1.99||$2.25||$1.89||$2.99||$6.67||$2.85||$5.00|
VPNs to avoid using with BBC iPlayer
Our tests show that the following VPN providers do not unblock the BBC iPlayer, according to our tests.
- Perfect Privacy
- VPN Master
Although many of the VPN providers in the above list may be excellent for other online activities, you would be wasting your money with them if your main aim is to get videos from the BBC iPlayer over the internet while abroad.
Can I use a free VPN for BBC iPlayer?
No. Although there are some free VPNs circulating on app stores and Google, they will unfortunately not work to stream iPlayer. Free VPNs have few servers, and they are oversubscribed. This puts a great amount of strain on those servers, which causes them to become congested. To deal with this, free VPNs implement bandwidth throttling that renders the VPN useless for streaming and other data-intensive activities.
Even without these performance issues, we have yet to find a free VPN that has servers in the UK that work with iPlayer. The BBC is extremely active in discovering and blocking IP addresses that belong to VPNs. As a result, the vast majority of VPNs have been blocked (including most paid services). Free VPNs are extremely easy to spot, which means that they are the first to lose access.
Besides the fact that free VPNs don’t work to stream iPlayer, we recommend that you stay away from them for security reasons. Studies have revealed that free VPNs have dodgy privacy policies that let them harvest and sell user data for marketing purposes. As a result, everything you do online will be tracked and sold to third parties, such as data brokers.
In addition, free VPNs have been found to suffer from severe data leaks, have weak (or no) encryption, have app vulnerabilities, and even to purposefully include spyware. This makes using those VPNs a massive risk to your online health. A VPN is supposed to provide you with privacy, not spy on everything you do!
How to use a VPN with BBC iPlayer (video)
Getting a British IP address and unblocking BBC iPlayer is simple if your VPN supports doing so. Sign up with one of the recommended VPN providers above and follow these easy steps.
Here’s how to watch BBC iPlayer outside the UK with a VPN.
- Download and install the VPN for your device from your provider’s site or an official app store. We recommend NordVPN.
- Run the app and choose a VPN server in the UK that works with iPlayer. If you’re not certain which to choose, consult your provider’s website or customer service.
- Connect to the VPN.
- You should now have a UK IP address (check here).
- Clear your cookies and your browser cache. These can store location information from previous sessions.
- Open BBC iPlayer and start watching!
If you encounter any issues, contact your VPN’s customer support. You might need to adjust some settings on your device.
What can I watch on BBC iPlayer?
Some of the most popular TV shows you can watch on BBC iPlayer with a VPN include:
- Top Gear
- Doctor Who
- His Dark Materials
- Planet Earth
- Killing Eve
- The Graham Norton Show
- Normal People
- Our Girl
- A Suitable Boy
- Inside No.9
- Euro 2020
Comparitech aims to give readers the most useful, comprehensive, and accurate VPN reviews and recommendations on the web. To do that, our team of professional reviewers personally use, test, and analyze each VPN on a range of security and performance criteria. When it comes to BBC iPlayer VPNs, we specifically look at:
- Access to BBC iPlayer: If you’re reading this article, then this is what you’re here for. All of the VPNs we recommend are proven to work with BBC iPlayer in our tests.
- Speed: We measure download speeds on connections to VPN servers around the world. You should have no problem streaming high-definition video with the VPNs recommended above.
- Privacy: Every VPN we recommend maintains a no-logs policy, which means it won’t record what you do online nor any other identifying info while you’re connected.
- Security: VPNs must meet our minimum standards of encryption and security, which include passing a series of leak tests.
- Customer support: Our reviewers contact each VPN’s customer support staff as secret shoppers to gauge response times and quality.
- Device compatibility: We test each VPN on both desktop and mobile platforms, as well as Amazon Fire TV Stick, routers, and Linux devices.
Read more about our methodology and exactly how we analyze VPNs.
VPN for BBC iPlayer FAQs
BBC iPlayer not working with your VPN? Try this
Note that we can't guarantee these VPNs will work on the iPlayer website or the iPlayer app. If you run into trouble, it's often simply a case of disconnecting and trying a different VPN server. If that doesn't work, there may be bigger issues.
If you're using the BBC iPlayer app, you should know that apps for iOS, Android, streaming media boxes, smart TVs, and game consoles can force a device onto your internet service provider's DNS servers instead of the VPN's. One way to get around this is to set up the VPN on your home wifi router or a virtual router instead of using the VPN app. Check out our tutorials on how to configure VPN-enabled virtual routers using both PC laptops and Macbooks.
Even after you connect to a VPN server, BBC iPlayer might have stored your previous "location" in a cookie that's still active. If you still see a warning that the streaming content is not available in your location, you might need to clear your cookies. You can do this either in your browser settings or using an extension like EditThisCookie.
Sometimes when using a VPN, the BBC iPlayer page might not load at all and instead return an error page. If this is happening to you, you might need to flush your DNS cache. On Windows, type "cmd" into your search bar and open Command Prompt. Type in the following command and hit enter:
ipconfig /flushdns. For Mac users, find the instructions for your version of OSX here.
Finally, clear any cached data that might allow iPlayer to see your real location. You can clean out your entire browser cache in the settings, but usually it's enough to hold CTRL and hit F5 to perform a "hard" refresh.
For even more troubleshooting tips see our guide on VPNs not working with BBC iPlayer.
What if I don't have a UK TV license?
When trying to access BBC iPlayer, you might get a notification informing you that a UK TV license is required to watch any program on the site. When prompted, many sources report you can simply click "I have a TV license".
BBC apparently depends on the honor system to keep viewers honest and does not require actual proof that the user has a TV license. This message was added to iPlayer's terms of service in September 2016.
Access to the BBC iPlayer streaming service now requires viewers to register a BBC account and input a valid UK postcode. The form does not seem to verify whether or not the registrant actually lives within the postal code they input, so as long as you have a UK IP address, you should be okay.
Can I watch Planet Earth II on BBC iPlayer?
Yes, Planet Earth II and Blue Planet 2 are both on BBC iPlayer and available for free. It's even in HD! Just make sure you have one of the VPNs above if you're outside of the country. You'll need plenty of bandwidth to watch the wildlife in stunning high definition.
Can I use a free proxy to access BBC iPlayer?
Unlikely. BBC iPlayer is notoriously difficult to access with most VPNs and proxies. It will likely detect that you’re using a proxy and prevent you from watching the show. Stick with the VPNs recommended above for the most reliable access to BBC iPlayer from abroad.
How much Internet does BBC iPlayer use?
BBC iPlayer can stream in different resolutions and will adjust quality according to your available bandwidth. The highest resolution is 720p, which requires at least 5 Mbps of available bandwidth. You will need a minimum of 3.2 Mbps to watch TV shows without buffering.
Can I Watch BBC iPlayer in Australia, Canada and USA?
Yes! But without a VPN, you can only access the international version, which doesn’t include most of the on-demand TV shows and catch-up content. You can use one of the VPNs recommended above to access the full UK version by connecting to a server in the United Kingdom first. Make sure to clear your browser cookies and cache first.
How does BBC iPlayer detect and block me when I'm overseas?
BBC iPlayer, like many other streaming services, users your IP address to determine your location. Your IP address is a unique sequence of numbers and decimals used to identify your device and its approximate location. A VPN hides your location by changing your public IP address to that of another country, such as the UK.
If you’ve attempted to access BBC iPlayer from abroad and failed, the site might store your blocked status in your web browser. If you’re using one of the VPNs above and still can’t access iPlayer, be sure to clear your browser cookies and web cache.
BBC iPlayer also prompts new users for a UK postal code in order to use the service. The code a user enters is not verified, though; it accepts any genuine UK postal code.
How do I stop my ISP from throttling BBC iPlayer?
If you believe your internet service provider is specifically throttling BBC iPlayer, then a VPN can help. By encrypting the contents of your internet connection and routing it through an intermediary server, your ISP won’t be able to see what you’re doing online. In turn, it won’t be able to discriminate against a specific type or source of data, such as a BBC iPlayer stream.
However, if your ISP is throttling all your data and not just BBC iPlayer, then a VPN won’t help much. If you’ve reached your monthly data cap, for example, then throttling will be applied to all internet traffic whether it goes through a VPN or not.
Why does BBC iPlayer Radio block some programs when I listen from outside the UK?
Like TV shows and movies, radio content is also restricted according to your location. While most BBC Sounds content is available worldwide, some sports and music can’t be accessed from outside the UK without a VPN. This is usually due to licensing restrictions.
If BBC iPlayer blocks you from listening to radio content, you’ll hear one of two messages:
- Live content: “This content is unavailable due to technical or rights reasons.”
- On-demand content: “Sorry, this content can only be played in the UK.”
Has the BBC iPlayer blocked NordVPN?
NordVPN works with BBC iPlayer as of time of writing. That being said, BBC iPlayer occasionally blocks connections from known VPN servers. This might result in BBC iPlayer being temporarily unavailable. This can happen to any VPN, however, and isn’t specific to NordVPN.
If you’re unable to access NordVPN through BBC iPlayer, you can contact customer service so they can start working on a fix. Access is usually restored within a day or two.
What's new on BBC iPlayer?
Below are just a few of the newest titles available on BBC iPlayer.
- Superman & Lois
- Mock the Week
- What We Do in the Shadows
- Doctor Who: Series 10
- Queer Britain
- Canada's Drag Race