BBC iPlayer is a UK-based platform offering hundreds of TV shows and movies for free. However, it’s only available to UK residents, as it has licensing policies that don’t allow people from other countries to access or watch its content. However, with a suitable VPN for BBC iPlayer, you can access it no matter where you are.
A VPN will help mask your location with a UK IP address, so you can trick BBC iPlayer into thinking you’re in the UK. And since VPNs work on practically any device, you'll get to access the streaming platform on your computer, handheld, and even media streaming device.
However, not all VPNs can unblock this streaming service. Websites like iPlayer have aggressive anti-VPN systems, which few VPNs can still bypass.
In this article, we present the top 5 best VPNs for BBC iPlayer providers, along with a detailed guide on how to set up a VPN. You’ll also learn more about the streaming service and why you need a VPN to access it unless you’re in the United Kingdom. So, let’s begin!
Top Best VPNs for BBC iPlayer - Our Shortlist
- ExpressVPN – Our #1-Rated VPN for BBC iPlayer
- NordVPN – Best BBC iPlayer VPN for Extra Security
- CyberGhost VPN – Best VPN for BBC iPlayer with Optimized Servers
- Surfshark VPN – Great Streaming-Friendly VPN for Beginners
- Ivacy VPN – Affordable VPN Suitable for Streaming
How to Watch BBC iPlayer with a VPN
To watch BBC iPlayer with a VPN, you need to subscribe to a suitable BBC iPlayer VPN and connect to a UK server. Here’s everything you need to do:
- Subscribe to a suitable VPN for BBC iPlayer (we recommend ExpressVPN).
- Download and install the VPN app on your device(s).
- Launch the app and sign in to your VPN account.
- Connect to a UK-based VPN server.
- Open BBC iPlayer via its website or apps and start streaming. That's it!
By connecting to a UK-based server, you'll obtain a UK IP address - and that's how you'll unblock websites such as iPlayer. You can use the same procedure to unblock other UK-based sites.
The Best VPNs for BBC iPlayer in 2023
To find the best VPN for BBC iPlayer, you need to base your search on the criteria that'll help you find the best VPN for streaming. That said, you need a VPN that can unblock iPlayer across a range of devices. You're also after a VPN with a sizable server network (with many servers in the UK, of course).
Then, let's not forget that you need a fast VPN, as you'll want to avoid heavy throttling. It's also important to pay attention to the availability of obfuscated servers, which can hide the fact that you use a VPN. Another useful feature is a kill switch, whose role is to prevent data leaks if your VPN connection drops.
In terms of privacy and security, look for a no-logs policy, reliable VPN protocols (like OpenVPN and WireGuard), and strong encryption (AES-256). Also, pay attention to simultaneous connections so that you can stream iPlayer and use your VPN on multiple devices at once.
Last but not least, make sure your purchase comes without risks, which you can do by relying on money-back guarantees. What's also crucial is 24/7 customer support.
Based on the criteria explained above, these are the top 5 best VPNs for BBC iPlayer in 2023.
1. ExpressVPN - Our #1-Rated VPN for BBC iPlayer
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ExpressVPN is the best BBC iPlayer VPN as it works "out of the box." This VPN unblocks iPlayer on practically any device and from any country. Connect to one of its UK servers, and a range of websites will be at your disposal, including All 4, ITVX, and more.
Speaking of ExpressVPN's servers, you'll find 3,000+ of those in 90+ countries. Hundreds of servers are found in the UK, across Docklands, East London, London, Midlands, and Wembley. And yes, all those are obfuscated servers, which is how ExpressVPN can unblock any site.
This VPN offers native apps for 60+ platforms. Since iPlayer is available on any computer, phone, tablet, or streaming device, no complicated workarounds are needed. You can use both ExpressVPN and iPlayer, side by side.
We'll also add that ExpressVPN gives you 5 simultaneous connections. You'll also have a set of VPN protocols (OpenVPN, Lightway) to switch between, paired with AES-256 encryption. Doing so helps you optimize the VPN's performance, even though it's ultra-fast, even without any fine-tuning. Aside from that, this is a verified no-logs VPN service relying on 'TrustedServer' technology (which ensures your private data is never collected).
ExpressVPN comes with a 30-day money-back guarantee. Lastly, we’ll also mention that you get 24/7 live chat support. So, in case of any questions or issues, you’ll get to rely on ExpressVPN’s team.
- Incredibly powerful VPN.
- Works great with BBC iPlayer.
- Ultra-fast performance.
- Easy to set up and use.
- Allows a bit of fine-tuning.
- 30-day money-back guarantees.
- 5 simultaneous connections.
2. NordVPN - Best BBC iPlayer VPN for Extra Security
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NordVPN is another great option for unblocking BBC iPlayer from anywhere in the world. You'll find 5,000+ servers in around 60 countries and close to 500 servers in the UK. Furthermore, NordVPN's UK servers are located in London, Machester, Glasgow, and Edinburgh.
You can use NordVPN on up to 6 devices at the same time. And yes, this VPN works on any computer, phone, tablet, or streaming device. It also offers a Smart DNS feature that lets you use the VPN on devices that don't support this type of software. However, that feature doesn't allow you to unblock BBC's iPlayer (it works with ABC Go, Amazon Prime, Disney Plus, Fox Now, HBO Max, and Netflix).
In terms of its performance, this VPN doesn't disappoint. Still, we recommend diving into its settings, where you can choose from different protocols and other options that affect your Web connection's speed.
Know that NordVPN also offers specialty servers (including obfuscated servers), which are helpful if you want to battle against online trackers more aggressively. As expected from the best VPN for BBC iPlayer, a capable kill switch is there to protect your data.
Also, NordVPN comes with a 30-day money-back guarantee. It releases new features every few months while staying loyal to its no-logs policy. We'll also mention that you get protocols like OpenVPN and NordLynx, coupled with ultra-strong AES-256 encryption.
And just like any other best VPN for BBC iPlayer, this one comes with comprehensive support. There’s 24/7 live chat available, as well as a whole slate of other resources.
- Easy iPlayer unblocking.
- Highly polished software.
- Easy to get started with.
- Great for media streaming.
- Doesn't log your data.
- 30-day money-back policy.
- Requires some fine-tuning.
3. CyberGhost VPN - Best VPN for BBC iPlayer with Optimized Servers
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CyberGhost is a unique BBC iPlayer VPN because it offers specialized servers for the media streaming platform. However, even CyberGhost's regular servers work with iPlayer and many other platforms, both from the UK and other countries.
That's because CyberGhost comes with over 9,000 servers in 90+ countries. More than 700 servers are found in the UK, divided into 3 locations: London, Manchester, and Berkshire.
CyberGhost gives you 7 simultaneous connections, which seems quite generous. Those apps are available on any desktop or mobile device. Aside from that, it allows you to switch between different protocols (OpenVPN, WireGuard), which plays a large part in optimizing the VPN's performance. The VPN has an audited no-logs policy, in addition to AES-256 encryption.
That said, keep in mind that some optimization is required as this VPN doesn't come with the fastest speeds out of the box. Another downside is that CyberGhost doesn't have obfuscated servers. So, you can't use it in countries with heavy censorship. However, it does provide a capable kill switch designed to prevent accidental data leaks.
Another interesting thing about CyberGhost is its 45-day money-back policy. You'll have plenty of time to test-drive this BBC iPlayer VPN, ensuring you spend your money wisely. Still, that option applies to the VPN's long-term plans only.
Also, CyberGhost matches our other BBC iPlayer VPN recommendations in terms of customer support. It features 24/7 live chat support, installation guides, an active blog, and more.
- Works on any device.
- 9,000+ servers available.
- Streaming-optimized servers.
- Unblocks iPlayer with ease.
- 45-day money-back policy.
- Slower than its competitors.
4. Surfshark VPN - Great Streaming-Friendly VPN for Beginners
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The best VPN for BBC iPlayer doesn't have to be a VPN that overwhelms you with technical terms and numerous options. Instead, that can be a simple-to-use solution that unblocks iPlayer without a hitch. Well, that's where Surfshark comes into play.
This is a relatively young VPN, present on the global market for several years now. Still, it's one of the fastest-developing VPNs. It features 350+ servers in the UK, across London, Manchester, Edinburgh, and Glasgow. And yes, all those work with iPlayer and other UK-based streaming services and websites. Globally, it has 3,200+ servers in 100 countries.
Aside from being excellent for streaming, this BBC iPlayer VPN is a hugely capable all-in-one VPN. It's powered by OpenVPN and WireGuard, has a no-logs policy, uses ultra-strong AES-256 encryption, and as per our tests, it's as fast as its competitors.
Then, know that Surfshark offers an unlimited number of connections (the only VPN that offers that, at least when it comes to this guide). There's also support for computers, phones, tablets, streaming devices, and even routers. Speaking of support, there's a range of obfuscated servers based on the OpenVPN protocol, including some in the UK.
To show that it has nothing to hide, Surfshark has a 30-day money-back guarantee. On top of that, 24/7 live chat support is available as well.
- Suitable even for beginners.
- Unlimited simultaneous connections.
- Great for media streaming.
- Servers in 100 countries.
- 24/7-available customer support.
- 30-day money-back policy.
- Takes a while to connect.
5. Ivacy VPN - Affordable VPN Suitable for Streaming
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Ivacy is a relatively simple and user-friendly BBC iPlayer VPN that's also great for those on a budget. It allows you to unblock iPlayer in several different ways (via specialized or standard servers), all of which are equally simple.
In terms of its server fleet, you'll be covered more than well. Ivacy has 500+ servers in the UK, as well as 5,700+ servers in 100+ locations globally. Regarding its platform compatibility, Ivacy brings an excellent range of apps available for computers, phones, tablets, and browsers, and there are even apps for Android TV and Fire OS. You can use it on up to 10 devices at once.
We also must note that Ivacy can be somewhat slow when using overly remote servers. That's why we recommend it to those with fast Web connections (50+ Mbps), especially if you plan on streaming media in HD or 4K.
Thanks to protocols such as OpenVPN, Ivacy can create a secure tunnel for your data. You'll also encounter AES-256-bit encryption. There's also a kill switch, ensuring your data doesn't leak if your connection drops. And, of course, you'll get to count on a no-logs policy. There's also basic obfuscation on Windows and Android.
Another important feature is Ivacy’s 30-day money-back policy. You’ll also find live chat on Ivacy’s website, but that option isn’t available 24/7.
- Compatible with many devices.
- Unblocks iPlayer with ease.
- Over 3,500 servers in total.
- Dedicated servers for streaming.
- 30-day money-back policy.
- Smart DNS isn't a part of its offer.
- Can be slow at times.
Why Do You Need a VPN for BBC iPlayer?
You need a VPN for BBC iPlayer to bypass the streaming platform’s geo-restrictions. As mentioned earlier, only UK residents can access iPlayer, so if you live elsewhere, you won’t be able to watch its content.
If you access BBC iPlayer outside the UK, you won't encounter any issues with accessing the website itself. However, when you try to watch something, the following error message will appear: "BBC iPlayer only works in the UK. Sorry, it's due to rights issues."
Other reasons why you need a VPN for BBC iPlayer include the following:
- Keep Your Personal Information Hidden – VPNs offer great security and privacy, so if you want to protect your identity online and ensure your real location doesn’t leak, you’ll need a powerful BBC iPlayer VPN.
- Avoid Bandwidth Throttling – Most Internet Service Providers (ISPs) slow down your Internet when they notice you’re using large amounts of data. To avoid throttling, you’ll need a VPN, which will hide your online activity from your ISP and allow you to enjoy continuous high-speed connections while streaming.
- Watch BBC iPlayer on the Go – If you’re from the UK and don’t want to miss any BBC content while traveling, you can get a BBC iPlayer VPN to watch your favorite shows and movies wherever you are.
How to Choose the Best VPN for BBC iPlayer?
You can find the best VPN for BBC iPlayer for your needs - but only if you set your priorities right. We're here to help, so check out the following steps.
- Find a VPN Compatible with iPlayer: Since your primary goal is to unblock iPlayer, make sure to find a VPN that has that ability. However, know that unblocking iPlayer isn't that easy, so make sure to rely on hands-on reviews or contact VPNs directly (many of them offer live chat via their websites).
- Ensure There Are Plenty of Servers in the UK: Using a VPN with plenty of servers in the UK means that you'll avoid overcrowded servers. In general, iPlayer offers 'Full HD' video content, so you'll want to take full advantage of that by using a fast VPN.
- Check Which Platforms & Devices Are Covered: To unblock iPlayer, you need to use a VPN app on the same device you'll use to access iPlayer. So, your chosen VPN must offer apps for any device you own. Some VPNs offer a Smart DNS feature, which isn't a VPN per se. However, that feature allows you to unblock streaming platforms on devices like smart TVs and game consoles.
- Find What Kind of Performance to Expect: No matter which VPN you pick, it will slow down your Web connection as it routes your traffic through a lengthier path (since it adds an additional stop in the form of a VPN server). Rely on hands-on reviews to learn what to expect from any VPN, and don't believe in marketing messages, as VPNs often overpromise their capabilities.
- Protect Yourself via Money-Back Policies: If you invest in a long-term plan, you'll get to save quite a lot of money. So, to invest your money wisely, make sure to check money-back policies. In general, any reputable VPN will be willing to return your money if you're unhappy with its service for any reason.
Is There a VPN That Works with BBC iPlayer?
Yes, there are plenty of VPNs that work with BBC iPlayer. With that said, know that our top recommendation would be ExpressVPN.
We're happy to recommend ExpressVPN to a broad range of users, even those who haven't used a VPN before. It works flawlessly with iPlayer and a range of other streaming services. Most importantly, ExpressVPN keeps you more than safe and protected on the web without any compromises.
Is It Legal and Safe to Use a VPN to Watch BBC iPlayer?
Yes, it's legal and safe to use a VPN for BBC iPlayer - if you're a UK TV license payer (so, you technically already pay for iPlayer's content).
BBC TV productions are sponsored by the UK television license fee and various deals with third parties from all around the world. Therefore, you are allowed to watch BBC's channels and on-demand content if you're a TV license holder.
To prevent those who don't pay for BBC's productions from accessing its content, iPlayer employs geo-blocks. So, legally speaking, there's nothing wrong with accessing the media streaming service if you're currently abroad.
What If You Don't Have a UK TV License?
If you don't have a UK TV license, you're not allowed to access BBC iPlayer. However, many still decide to do so without any consequences (for now).
Upon trying to access iPlayer, you will be asked whether you have a UK TV license. You can say that you do, and the streaming service will grant you access. If you say that you don't, you'll be redirected to a support page with more info on who can access the service.
In other words, BBC iPlayer doesn't check whether you have a valid license, and it relies on your honesty. So, if you don't have a license and decide to access iPlayer, you would technically be stealing that content, as you didn't pay for it.
Of course, that doesn't stop millions from enjoying BBC's content from all across the world. And also, it's a known fact that the BBC is quite relaxed with its policies regarding who can access its content.
However, they know that more than 60 million people use iPlayer for free from outside the UK (that information came out in 2015, so those numbers are probably higher today).
Does BBC iPlayer Detect and Block VPNs?
Yes, BBC iPlayer detects and blocks VPNs based on their IP addresses primarily. However, it also has other ways to see VPN traffic.
Most VPNs rely on third-party data centers to provide connections to various countries. In other words, VPNs get access to pools of IPs. So, if a site (or a media streaming platform, such as iPlayer) wants to block VPNs, it relies on its partners to implement blocks that detect IPs associated with VPN data centers.
To watch BBC iPlayer with a VPN without any issues in the long run, you need a VPN with a large pool of IP addresses. That’s precisely why ExpressVPN is our #1 pick, as it comes with a massive number of IPs, making it the best VPN for BBC iPlayer.
Another solution is to use a dedicated VPN IP address. That means you’ll “buy” a single IP, which will be associated with your VPN account. To learn more, check our guide on the best VPN for dedicated IPs.
Can You Stop Your ISP from Throttling BBC iPlayer?
You can stop your ISP from throttling any Web service by hiding your Web data. And yes, that is best done using a reliable VPN service.
It's interesting to note that your ISP can see that you use a VPN. However, there's nothing illegal about VPNs, which means that it's your right to use them. Besides that, your ISP won't be able to see what you do online - as your incoming and outgoing Web data will be encrypted.
So, since you'll keep your ISP out of your Web traffic, you'll also bypass ISP throttling. Still, do your research and find a BBC iPlayer VPN that brings fast speeds. After all, VPNs will throttle your Web speed as they take your Web data through a longer route.
Can You Watch BBC iPlayer in the US?
Yes, you can watch BBC iPlayer in the United States, but only if you use a VPN to bypass the streaming service's geo-based restrictions.
Legally speaking, you're allowed to use a VPN to watch BBC iPlayer if you have a UK TV license. However, as explained above, iPlayer won't actually check if you have a valid license, except for asking if you have one (so, it relies on your honesty).
That said, you can watch BBC iPlayer in the United States as well as from any country in the world. The only thing you need is a VPN with servers in the UK.
For more information, check our guide on how to watch BBC iPlayer in the US. Also, here’s how to watch iPlayer from abroad - for free.
Can You Stream BBC iPlayer on a Firestick Outside the UK?
Yes, you can stream iPlayer's content on Firestick streamers outside the UK - but only if you rely on a VPN with a native Fire OS app.
In other words, you’ll need to set up a Firestick VPN by installing its native app. Then, you can install the iPlayer app on your device. In other words, you’ll be using your BBC iPlayer VPN with the media streaming platform side-by-side.
To learn more, here’s our guide on the best VPN for Firestick streamers. You’ll find a wide range of amazing options there, most of which work with iPlayer without any issues.
What Can You Watch on BBC iPlayer?
BBC iPlayer lets you watch live TV channels, movies, TV shows, documentaries, daytime TV shows, and sports content - absolutely free of charge!
In terms of the available TV and radio channels, BBC iPlayer gives you access to the following: BBC One, BBC Two, BBC Three, BBC Four, CBBC, CBeebies, BBC News, BBC Scotland, S4C, BBC Parliament, Radio 1, and BBC Alba.
Perhaps the biggest reason for iPlayer's popularity is its on-demand content. You'll find a truly valuable library of TV shows and movies here, so let's give you some recommendations.
|EastEnders||1985-||Crime; Drama; Romance.|
|MasterChef||2005-||Cooking show; Reality TV.|
|Rain Dogs||2023-||Comedy; Drama.|
|Beyond Paradise||2023-||Crime; Drama; Mystery.|
|Strictly Come Dancing||2004-||Game-show; Music; Reality TV.|
|RuPaul's Drag Race UK||2019-||Game-show; Reality TV.|
|The Graham Norton Show||2007-||Comedy; Music; Talk-Show.|
|An Irish Goodbye||2022||Short; Comedy; Drama.|
|Darkest Hour||2017||Biography; Drama; War.|
|The Babadook||2014||Horror; Mystery.|
|Mr Jones||2019||Biography, Drama, Thriller.|
BBC iPlayer Not Working with a VPN - Try This!
There are several things to try if your VPN doesn't work with BBC iPlayer. We recommend using a different protocol, using another server, and more. Find more info below.
- Try Another VPN Protocol: We had plenty of luck unblocking iPlayer via OpenVPN and WireGuard protocols. Protocols like IKEv2 and IPsec work just fine as well. So, if you can't access iPlayer, our first recommendation would be to switch to another protocol, done by visiting your VPN's settings.
- Switch to Another Server: If your VPN offers servers specialized for streaming, make sure to use those (and find one located in the UK). If you don't have access to specialized servers, you'll need to try a range of UK servers manually. Whenever you connect to a new server, relaunch iPlayer and check whether you have access.
- Remove Your Browser's Cache: As you use the Web, your browser stores cookies and all kinds of data retrieved once you re-visit websites. If you tried accessing iPlayer before, a file could already exist on your device, helping the streaming service detect your VPN traffic. So, you need to clear your cookies.
Of course, there's more you can do to resolve VPN-specific issues. For more information, turn to our central VPN troubleshooting guide, focusing on 25 different issues.
Can You Use a Free VPN to Unblock BBC iPlayer?
Yes, you can use a free VPN to unblock BBC iPlayer. However, know that free VPNs will limit your media streaming experience - in a big way.
Free VPNs come with bandwidth and data limitations, giving you a limited amount of data to "spend" on a daily/monthly basis. That might be useful for several quick browsing sessions, but it's not useful for media streaming. When you stream media, you download a lot of data, even if you stream in the lowest resolution possible.
Then, another problem is that free VPNs can leak your data. Furthermore, they abuse your trust and could place you in a very problematic situation, as many free VPNs collect your data while injecting code to serve ads. That's why free VPNs are not safe to use.
If you still want to give a free VPN a try, we can offer you our guide to the best free VPN for BBC iPlayer. However, as said above, you’ll face a limited experience. That said, your best option is to go for a premium VPN, which is the only way to get an uninterrupted streaming experience. To see your options, here's our guide to the best VPN services.
Which VPNs No Longer Work with BBC iPlayer?
BBC's iPlayer isn't the easiest streaming service to crack, which means a whole range of VPNs cannot unblock this service. That said, here are the VPNs that no longer work with BBC iPlayer:
- Private Internet Access
- Hide Me
- Perfect Privacy
- VPN Master
With a suitable VPN for BBC iPlayer, you’ll be able to unblock the streaming platform, which is otherwise only available in the UK. A VPN will allow you to mask your IP address and watch BBC content without restrictions.
Keep in mind that BBC iPlayer can detect when someone is using a VPN and block your IP address. To avoid this issue and enjoy BBC iPlayer content without interruptions, ensure that you use a reliable VPN with strong security and privacy protocols.
We recommend ExpressVPN as the top VPN for BBC iPlayer because of its encryption, wide server network with plenty of UK options, and strong unblocking capabilities. Using this powerful VPN, you’ll be able to avoid all the VPN-detection measures that BBC iPlayer has in place and stream its content without disruptions.
What’s the Best BBC iPlayer VPN?
The best BBC iPlayer VPN is ExpressVPN. It can unblock the platform, provides a wide range of servers in the UK, and protects your data. Also, it offers lightning-fast speeds and is suitable for streaming in 4K.
Does ExpressVPN Work with BBC iPlayer?
Yes, ExpressVPN works with BBC iPlayer. It can unblock its content, allowing you to access BBC iPlayer in any location from multiple devices, including your phone, PC, and tablet.
Does NordVPN Work with BBC iPlayer?
Yes, NordVPN works with BBC iPlayer. It is an excellent VPN for streaming and has the ability to unblock multiple streaming services, including BBC iPlayer.
That’s all for our guide on the best VPN for BBC iPlayer. If you have any questions, leave a comment just below. Thank you for reading!