BBC iPlayer with a VPN

Watch the Most Popular BBC Programming on iPlayer Outside the UK

Last edited: April 20, 2020
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Watch BBC iPlayer Wherever You Are: A Step-By-Step Plan

If you aren’t currently in the UK, you won’t have access to BBC iPlayer. Luckily, there’s an easy way to watch your favorite BBC series and films regardless, wherever you are in the world. This is how you do it:

  1. Subscribe to a good VPN and create an account, for example with NordVPN:
  1. Download the VPN software onto your device.
  2. Log in to the VPN software.
  3. Choose a VPN server in the United Kingdom and turn on the VPN.
  4. Go to the BBC iPlayer website – have fun watching!

For more information on why BBC iPlayer is blocked, how a VPN works and which other VPNs work with BBC iPlayer, read our full article below.

Watching BBC iPlayer when you aren’t in the United Kingdom can be quite a challenge. If there’s a BBC series or program you’d like to watch online, you might find that you don’t get access to BBC iPlayer. Fortunately, there is a way to easily access the BBC iPlayer wherever you are in the world. Watch all your favorite series, documentaries and news broadcasts by securing your connection and redirecting your online traffic with a VPN. This article will explain exactly how to do that.

Watch BBC iPlayer Outside the UK with a VPN

BBC iPlayer logoVPN stands for Virtual Private Network. A VPN creates a shielded tunnel between your device and the internet. As a result, nobody will be able to see where you are and which websites you visit. If you set up the VPN in the right way, which is very easy to do, BBC iPlayer won’t be able to see you aren’t in the UK, so you can simply gain access.

A VPN provides more online privacy, security and freedom. In the case of BBC iPlayer, the latter is especially important. A VPN gives you the freedom to watch your favorite programs anywhere in the world. This is possible, because a VPN hides your IP address. Instead, you’re assigned the IP address of the VPN server you’re using.

Because of this, watching BBC iPlayer from anywhere in the world will become easy with a VPN connection. All you need is a subscription to a good and reliable VPN provider with servers in Great Britain. VPN providers usually work with simple apps and software that allow you to make your internet connection anonymous. Most VPNs have software you can use on all your devices, from Mac to Windows and iPhone to Android. Once you have a good VPN, you’ll be able to watch BBC iPlayer in no time.

Watch BBC iPlayer with a VPN: A Quick Step-By-Step Plan

Do you want to watch BBC iPlayer right away, without actually being in the UK? You’ll need a VPN for that. Here’s a short step-by-step guide that will give you free access within minutes.

  1. Get a subscription with a good VPN provider and create an account. One provider we recommend is NordVPN. You could also scroll down to our list of best VPN’s for BBC iPlayer, or head straight over to our top 5 best VPN’s of this moment.
  2. Download the VPN software on the device you want to use to watch BBC iPlayer. This can be on your Mac or Windows computer, but also on your iPhone or Android smartphone.
  3. Log in to the VPN software with the account you created in step 1. In most cases, all you have to do is fill in your username and password.
  4. Choose a VPN server in the UK and connect to the VPN. Clicking on the server location often is enough. In other cases you might need to click the ‘on’ button in the VPN software.
  5. Go to the website of BBC iPlayer and stream to your heart’s content!

The Best VPNs for BBC iPlayer

Not all VPN providers are suitable to watch BBC iPlayer with. You’ll need a VPN with servers in the United Kingdom, first of all. Besides that, you might want to choose a VPN provider that offers decent speeds, so you don’t have to wait for your show to buffer while streaming. Finally, it’s important that the VPN you choose has software that matches your operating system, for example Windows or iOS.

Here’s a list of VPN providers we recommend for watching BBC iPlayer.

ExpressVPN: fast streaming without buffering

ExpressVPN is arguably the best VPN provider for BBC iPlayer. They offer servers at different locations in the UK, so you can easily switch to a different one if a server doesn’t work. Besides the fact that this gives you plenty of choice, all servers are also very fast: ExpressVPN was the undisputed winner of our speed tests. This top speed makes ExpressVPN a suitable provider for streaming in general, not only for BBC iPlayer. Also streaming with Kodi, for example, is easy with ExpressVPN.

ExpressVPN is available for Windows, Mac, Android, iOS and Linux and has a 30 day money-back guarantee. Furthermore, you can use the service on up to five devices at the same time.

ExpressVPN
Our pick
Our pick
Deal:
3 months for free with a one-year subscription
9.5
  • Very easy to use VPN
  • Perfect for anonymous browsing, downloading, and streaming (i.e. Netflix)
  • 3000+ servers in 94 countries
Visit ExpressVPN

NordVPN: dedicated servers for BBC iPlayer

NordVPN has thousands of servers, including many in the United Kingdom. Not all of these servers work with BBC iPlayer, but new ones are often added. Therefore, perhaps with a bit of looking, you’ll always find a server that works, even if iPlayer blocks some of them. Furthermore, NordVPN offers special servers you can use to enable the download function of BBC iPlayer. These are the following British servers: 481, 483, 717-720, 745-752, 757-764, 974-977, 1022-1025, 1044-1045. To choose one of these servers, go to the list of server locations in the NordVPN software and click on the three dots behind “United Kingdom”.

NordVPN is a fairly fast VPN and works for Windows, Mac, iOS and Android as well as Linux. In addition, NordVPN offers a 30 day money-back guarantee. You could use this to try out the service before getting yourself a long-term subscription.

NordVPN
Deal:
Only $3,49 a month for a 2-year subscription
9.1
  • Excellent protection and a large network of servers
  • Nice and pleasing application
  • No logs
Visit NordVPN

Other providers: CyberGhost and Surfshark

Various other VPN providers are trying to make BBC iPlayer available to their users as well. However, at the time of testing, these did not work for us. The IP addresses of VPN servers often change once in a while, because providers keep adding new servers and replacing old ones. This means there is a chance that the providers listed below will work again soon.

First of all there is CyberGhost. Previously, CyberGhost was known as one of the better free VPN services, but it has since turned into a fully paid service. Still CyberGhost is a very decent option. They offer specialized servers for all kinds of streaming services, including Netflix USA, Disney Plus and, of course, BBC iPlayer. Although this VPN couldn’t unblock BBC iPlayer for us at the moment of testing, they are working on this issue and a working server should be up again shortly.

CyberGhost
Deal:
Try CyberGhost for $2.75 per month and get two extra months for free!
9.3
  • Very user-friendly
  • High quality for a low price
  • Torrents and Netflix possible
Visit CyberGhost

The second option that unfortunately didn’t work for us at the moment is Surfshark. Surfshark is a cheap and good alternative to more expensive VPN services, such as ExpressVPN. In many cases, Surfshark is perfect for streaming. When it comes to Netflix, for example, this provider gives you access to various libraries all over the world. We expect that Surfshark will soon be able to unblock BBC iPlayer again, too.

Surfshark
Deal:
Safe and anonymous internet for only $1.99 a month
8.8
  • Very user-friendly and works with Netflix and torrents
  • 30 days money back guarantee. No questions asked!
  • Cheap with many extra options
Visit Surfshark

BBC iPlayer Restrictions Explained

Maybe you’re wondering why you keep running into those geographical restrictions when visiting BBC iPlayer. The truth is this: BBC has the rights to broadcast certain series and films within the United Kingdom. If people from outside the UK try to watch these shows, they won’t get access to the BBC iPlayer. Elsewhere in the world, other television stations have the rights to these series and programs, so BBC can’t show them to you.

BBC checks your IP-address to determine your location when you visit their iPlayer. If your IP-address is located outside of the United Kingdom, you will be denied access. This is where a VPN steps in: it changes your IP-address so the BBC thinks you’re in Great Britain. In other words, you’ll be able to get around the block and access the content you want anyway.

Unblocking-with-a-VPN

This doesn’t only work for BBC iPlayer. There are lots of online platforms, services, and websites that are only accessible from certain locations. Perhaps the country you live in uses censorship to hide away large parts of the internet. In such cases, a VPN can help as well. You could use it to get access to Facebook, for example, or to watch football matches anywhere in the world. As mentioned before, a VPN can also give you access to a bigger Netflix library.

Final Thoughts: Watch BBC iPlayer with a VPN

Both NordVPN and ExpressVPN work perfectly with BBC iPlayer. When using one of these VPN’s, you’ll be able to watch all your favorite series, like Eastenders, Masterchef, and Peaky Blinders, on BBC iPlayer. Other providers, such as Surfshark and CyberGhost, also promise to provide access to BBC iPlayer, although these services didn’t work for us when we tested them. Please note that these VPNs might be able to give you access, but aren’t guaranteed to work. If you’d rather look for a good VPN to watch BBC content yourself, take a look at our VPN reviews.

Watching BBC iPlayer Abroad: Frequently Asked Questions

Do you have a question about watching BBC iPlayer when you aren’t in the UK? Take a look at our FAQ below and click on a question to see its answer!

BBC iPlayer is only available when you use a British IP address. If you don’t live in the UK, you can use a VPN to make this happen. Simply connect to a British server via a VPN provider, such as NordVPN, and you’ll be able to access BBC iPlayer from anywhere in the world.

BBC only holds the broadcasting rights for the programmes on BBC iPlayer in the United Kingdom. In other countries, they aren’t allowed to broadcast those series and programmes. If you go to the BBC iPlayer website with a non-British IP-address, you will therefore not get access to the programmes. If you do want access, you’ll have to use a VPN.

There are many good VPN providers that try to provide access to BBC iPlayer, although only a few manage to do so consistently. In our experience, ExpressVPN and NordVPN are the best VPN providers for watching BBC iPlayer.

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

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