BBC iPlayer with a VPN

Watch the Most Popular BBC Programming on iPlayer Outside the UK

Last edited: June 21, 2019
Reading time: 6 minutes, 16 seconds

Whether you want to catch up on series like Blue Planet II, Peaky Blinders, or Taboo, or you want to re-watch your favorite episodes of Sherlock or Doctor Who, the BBC iPlayer is the best place to catch your favorite British shows online. However, if you try use the iPlayer outside of the UK, you’ll get the error, “BBC iPlayer only works in the UK. Sorry, it’s due to rights issues.” If you were satisfied with taking no for an answer, you wouldn’t be reading this now. Below you can read how a VPN might be able to make the BBC iPlayer work for you wherever you are.

How Does it Work?

Streaming services like the BBC iPlayer often only show their content to viewers in their own country. The TV license many brits have pays for the shows that the BBC produces. They want to make sure that their content is only visible to those who pay for their service, even if this is through their TV license. However, this also means that brits on holiday cannot what their BBC programs. In addition, anyone that lives outside the UK cannot watch BBC shows online.

Website like the BBC iPlayer website find out where you are from your IP address. This is your online fingerprint. If only there were a way to change that fingerprint? Well, there is!

Use a VPN

A Virtual Private Network (VPN) allows you to securely connect to a server which in turn connects to the internet and relays information to and from your computer. VPN providers typically give you access to dozens, if not hundreds, of servers in numerous countries, including the UK. When you log onto a VPN server in the UK, the server sends a request to the BBC iPlayer, which sees a request from a British IP address and forwards on your request without any hassle. The VPN server encrypts the data and sends it on to your computer, wherever you happen to be located.

One Final Step

Using a VPN will help you convince the BBC iPlayer that you are accessing the internet from the UK. However, even within the UK, you can only view the content if you have a TV lincense. You will need to fill in a UK postcode to be able to watch all your favorite series.

Choosing a VPN Service

When looking for a VPN service to access the BBC iPlayer, there are several factors to keep in mind. You want a VPN with servers in the UK, preferably several servers so there is plenty of access when you need it. Look for a VPN service with fast internet speeds as well. The speed of your connection to the iPlayer will be limited to the speed of the VPN server you connect through. Make sure you choose a provider with fast access speeds to avoid frustrating buffering and load times.

If all you use the VPN for is access to the iPlayer, security might not be a big consideration for you. As a bonus, however, you can confidently access your bank account and other sensitive information while on a public network, such as at your favorite coffee house, by making use of a VPN. While shopping for a VPN, it pays to check out the security they offer. Look especially for VPNs that do not log traffic through their servers.

Finally, of course, you will want to consider the price of the VPN service. While there are many free VPN providers on the market, the old saying, “you get what you pay for,” comes into play here. Free services usually have fewer servers, slower connection speeds, and monitor your traffic to sell targeted advertisements. By spending just a little for a VPN service, you can get a quality connection with great customer support as well.

The Best VPN Providers for Streaming the BBC iPlayer

There are many quality VPN providers out there to suit your needs. Here are just a few of the very best VPNs available today.


This is one of the newer VPN providers in the industry, having started up in 2018. With fast download speeds, and access to servers in the UK, Surfshark makes a great choice for streaming the BBC iPlayer wherever you are worldwide. Surfshark is quick and easy to setup, and is available on Windows, Mac, iOS, Android, and Linux. Surfshark offers strong encryption for tight security. In addition, they allow access to the USA region Netflix – something many VPN providers struggle with.

The pricing for Surfshark starts at a very reasonable rate as well. Great customer service, an easy to use interface, and a 30-day money back guarantee round out the top reasons to give Surfshark a try. Also read our comprehensive Surfshark user test.

Safe and anonymous internet for only $1.99 a month
  • Very user-friendly and works with Netflix and torrents
  • 30 days money back guarantee. No questions asked!
  • Cheap with many extra options
Visit Surfshark


ExpressVPN has been one of our top choices for VPN services for some time now – and for good reason. This provider offers an astounding 2000+ servers in 94 countries to choose from. This means you can access geographically restricted content from practically any country in the world. ExpressVPN offers seven different servers in the UK alone, two in Berkshire, one in the Docklands, East London, Kent, London, and Maidenhead. With multiple options, you are guaranteed to have access to the BBC iPlayer at any time, day or night.

Security conscious users will appreciate ExpressVPN’s 256-bit encryption and the multiple protocols available to accessing the service. ExpressVPN does not log your activity online, so your information is private as well as secure. For added anonymity, you can even pay in bitcoin.

ExpressVPN provides consistently high access speeds as well. Installation and setup is quick and easy, and ExpressVPN provides customer support if you run into any difficulties along the way.

Our pick
Our pick
3 months for free with a one-year subscription
  • Super fast and simple VPN
  • Perfect for anonymous browsing, downloading and streaming (i.a. Netflix)
  • 3000+ servers in 94 countries
Visit ExpressVPN


IPVanish has been a dependable company for over two decades and began providing VPN services back in 2012. This provider takes the prize for fastest VPN service provider with download speeds regularly 90% to 95% of service without the VPN. With such high speeds, you are guaranteed a quality streaming experience while streaming videos from the BBC iPlayer.

IPVanish also offers 256-bit encryption and three different protocols for connections. Because IPVanish is based in the United States, there is some concern about privacy, but IPVanish maintains that it does not log user activity in any way (although a certain court case implies otherwise).

With software apps available for Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, Linux, Widows phones, and even many routers, IPVanish should work with any device you try to use it on. The service also provides for up to five simultaneous connections and has no limit on how much data you can use through the system.

Because of IPVanish’s top notch speed, this makes a good choice for those trying to stream the BBC iPlayer, or any other video streaming service, with their VPN.

To see if this provider does all you ask of a VPN, read our full review of IPVanish.

Very fast VPN for a special price if you for a long term subscription
  • Super fast VPN
  • Torrents possible
  • Netflix doesn't always work
Visit IPVanish

Stream to Your Heart’s Content

Connecting to the BBC iPlayer doesn’t have to be a source of frustration just because you aren’t in the United Kingdom at this time. With the help of a VPN, you can access all the content available online without seeing the dreaded error message. You can also access our reviews of other top VPN services and keep up to date with the latest changes by bookmarking our website.

Tech journalist
Tove has been working for VPNoverview since 2017 as a journalist covering cybersecurity and privacy developments. Since 2019 she is's cybersecurity news coordinator.

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