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5 Best VPNs For BBC iPlayer (Working in 2023): Watch Abroad

Accessing BBC iPlayer’s content from abroad is difficult without the right VPN. Even VPNs that provide UK IP addresses can still get caught at BBC’s tough geoblocks. What’s more, some VPNs can slow your internet connection down severely, making it almost impossible to stream at all.

My team and I tested 90+ VPNs to see which can reliably access BBC iPlayer outside the UK. I’ve shortlisted which ones consistently access the iPlayer app and website, and provide fast speeds for streaming.

ExpressVPN is my favorite VPN for BBC iPlayer. It has effortless unblocking abilities, and lightning-fast speeds, so you can enjoy buffer-free streaming. You can test ExpressVPN risk-free since it offers a 30-day money-back guarantee. If you’re not completely satisfied, you can easily claim a refund.

Access iPlayer With ExpressVPN

Short on Time? Here Are the Best VPNs for BBC iPlayer in 2023

  1. ExpressVPN — Works seamlessly with BBC iPlayer, plus it offers superfast speeds to stream from anywhere without lag.
  2. CyberGhost — Optimized BBC iPlayer server and a user-friendly app for reliable and fast access to streaming.
  3. Private Internet Access — Tons of UK servers, including one optimized for streaming, but long-distance connections are slower.
  4. NordVPN — Built-in SmartPlay lets you securely access BBC iPlayer, but the Windows app took more than 30 seconds to launch every time.
  5. Surfshark — Unlimited simultaneous connections to watch BBC iPlayer on all your household devices, but you can’t see the ping and the load next to servers while connected.

The Best VPNs for BBC iPlayer — Full Analysis (Updated 2023)

1. ExpressVPN — Lightning-Fast Speeds to Watch BBC iPlayer Without Buffering

  • Ultra-fast speeds and unlimited bandwidth
  • 3,000+ servers in 94 countries, including 5 UK locations
  • 5 simultaneous device connections
  • Works with: BBC iPlayer, ITV Hub, My4, My5, Sky Go, Netflix, Disney+, Hulu, HBO Max, and more
  • Compatible with: Windows, Mac, iOS, Android, Linux, routers, smart TVs, Fire Devices, browsers, game consoles, and more
ExpressVPN Offer February 2023: For a limited time only, you can get an ExpressVPN subscription for up to 49% off! Don't miss out!

ExpressVPN has ultra-fast speeds so you can enjoy BBC iPlayer without buffering. During my tests, I recorded the average speed of every UK server location offered by ExpressVPN. This gave me an impressive 49.93 Mbps — it barely affected my base speed, which was 51.42 Mbps, and you only need 5 Mbps to stream in HD. Using its UK - Docklands server, I watched 3 hours of Doctor Who, and could even skip to later points in the show without encountering loading times.

Screenshot of the BBC iPlayer showing Doctor Who with the ExpressVPN app connected to a server in UK — DocklandsExpressVPN’s Lightway protocol is optimized for minimal speed loss, so it’s perfect for streaming

Its servers bypass BBC iPlayer’s stubborn geo-blocks with ease. ExpressVPN has 4 locations in the UK — London, East London, Wembley, and Docklands. Connecting to each one took seconds, and they all reliably accessed BBC iPlayer. I found that London was the fastest location for me, so I “favorited” it for quick access. ExpressVPN even remembers the last server you connected to so you can reconnect with one click.

Since it offers apps for the most popular devices, you can get straight to streaming without hassle. No matter which device I used (laptop, mobile, Fire Stick), it only took a few seconds to install. I also like that the app layout is similar across devices, so it’s easy to navigate. It even offers a MediaStreamer feature that lets you watch BBC iPlayer on devices that don’t normally support VPNs, such as smart TVs and gaming consoles.

ExpressVPN is a little more expensive than the other VPNs on my list. Prices start from $6.67/month. Considering that all plans come with the same features, its long-term plans are much more cost-efficient than the short-term option. Plus, ExpressVPN frequently offers discounts — when I signed up, I got 3 months of free service.

You can try ExpressVPN for yourself since it offers a money-back guarantee. If you don’t like it, you’ve got 30 days to claim a full refund. I put this guarantee to the test. After over 3 weeks of testing, I contacted ExpressVPN’s 24/7 live chat to request a refund. They didn’t even ask me to provide a reason for canceling, and I got my money back within 3 days.

Watch BBC iPlayer With ExpressVPN

2. CyberGhost — Specialty Server for Accessing BBC iPlayer With Ease

  • Optimized server for BBC iPlayer
  • 9,753+ servers in 91 countries, including 3 in the UK
  • 7 simultaneous device connections
  • Works with: BBC iPlayer, ITV Hub, My4, My5, Netflix, Disney+, Hulu, HBO Max, and more
  • Compatible with: Windows, Mac, iOS, Android, Linux, routers, smart TVs, Fire devices, browsers, game consoles, and more
February 2023 Deal: CyberGhost is currently offering 84% off its most popular plan! Take advantage of this offer now and save more on your CyberGhost subscription.

CyberGhost offers a specialty server for BBC iPlayer, as well as tons of additional streaming platforms. Finding these was easy; I just opened the server menu in the app, and clicked “For Streaming”. They are listed by location and platform, however, you can connect quicker if you enter “BBC” or “UK” into the search box. I hit the connect button and was able to watch Mortimer & Whitehouse: Gone Fishing within seconds. You can access the site without hassle, as CyberGhost checks these connections regularly.

Screenshot of the BBC iPlayer streaming Mortimer & Whitehouse: Gone Fishing with a connected CyberGhost appCyberGhost also provides unlimited bandwidth, so you can stream without restrictions

With CyberGhost’s easy-to-use app, you won’t have to waste time before streaming BBC iPlayer. During my tests, I set up a quick shortcut to iPlayer by using its Startup rules feature. This allowed me to have Chrome browser automatically launch when I start the VPN — and I set BBC iPlayer as my homepage. So, whenever I connect to the BBC iPlayer server, it’s launched, loaded, and ready in one click.

It’s plenty fast for you to watch BBC iPlayer in HD. The optimized BBC iPlayer connection was the fastest one I tested, with speeds of 45.31 Mbps — that’s around 9 times what’s necessary for streaming in HD. Using this, I binge-watched BBC iPlayer for over 2 hours and didn’t encounter any lag. Its regular connections were almost just as fast, giving me an average of 42.24 Mbps between 3 UK locations.

Long-term plans are very affordable — you can get a subscription for as little as $2.19/month. Look out for offers too; when I signed up, I got 3 months extra for free. Short-term plans offer the same features, but they are more pricey overall and come with a reduced money-back guarantee period (14 days instead of 45).

The best way to find out if CyberGhost is for you is to try it with BBC iPlayer for 45 days using its money-back guarantee. If it’s not what you want, you can easily claim your money back. To put this to the test, I contacted its 24/7 live chat to request a refund. The agent asked a few questions, then approved the return. I got my money back 4 days later.

Watch BBC iPlayer With CyberGhost

3. Private Internet Access — Customizable App to Boost Streaming Speeds

  • 29,650+ servers in 84 countries, including 1 optimized for UK streaming
  • 10 simultaneous device connections
  • Unlimited bandwidth and fast speeds
  • Works with: BBC iPlayer, ITV Hub, My4, My5, Netflix, Disney+, and more
  • Compatible with: Windows, Mac, iOS, Android, Linux, routers, smart TVs, Fire devices, browsers, game consoles, and more
February 2023 Update: PIA doesn't usually have deals or discounts (it's already so affordable), but right now you can get a new subscription for a crazy 83% off!

Private Internet Access (PIA) has a highly customizable app, giving you full control over speeds. While testing, I lowered the encryption level (from 256-bit to 128-bit) and noticed a 10% speed increase (34.23 Mbps to 37.64 Mbps). You can even set up split tunnelling so that only BBC iPlayer gets routed through the VPN. Since only part of your traffic is encrypted, there’s a lot less speed loss.

PIA offers 3 UK servers, so you'll always have a reliable connection to access BBC iPlayer. It's helpful to have alternatives in case a server doesn't work with the site or is slow. For example, its Southampton server didn’t unblock BBC iPlayer. However, when I switched to its UK streaming-optimized server, it loaded instantly. It's not specifically designated to BBC iPlayer, like CyberGhost's specialty server, but unblocked the site just as well.

Screenshot of the BBC iPlayer streaming Fleabag with a connected Private Internet Access appThis server is also perfect for accessing other UK sites, like ITV Hub and My4

The apps are not the easiest to navigate if you’re new to VPNs. However, certain features come preconfigured, so you don’t need to bother with its enhanced settings to begin streaming. You can simply connect straight to the UK streaming server and start watching BBC iPlayer.

PIA offers a range of plans — you can sign up for as low as $2.19/month with a long-term subscription. Its website frequently carries special offers and discounts; I subscribed to a 2-year plan and got 2 months extra for free. All plans offer the same features and are backed by a 30-day money-back guarantee, but the short-term plans are more costly overall.

Its 30-day money-back guarantee is one you can depend on — when I tested it, I had no problems. I just used PIA’s 24/7 customer support to make my request. The agent asked one question regarding user experience and then agreed to a full refund. The money was back in my account 5 days later.

Watch BBC iPlayer With PIA

4. NordVPN — SmartPlay Feature to Easily and Reliably Access BBC iPlayer

  • Automatic SmartPlay feature gives you the benefits of a VPN and a Smart DNS
  • 5,384 servers in 60 countries, including 1 UK server locations to watch BBC iPlayer
  • 6 simultaneous device connections
  • Works with: BBC iPlayer, ITV Hub, My4, My5, Sky Go, Netflix, Disney+, Hulu, HBO Max, and more
  • Compatible with: Windows, Mac, iOS, Android, Linux, routers, smart TVs, Fire devices, browsers, game consoles, and more

NordVPN has a built-in SmartPlay feature that lets you securely access your BBC iPlayer account on any compatible device. It’s designed as a combination of a VPN with a Smart DNS, which means that it changes your DNS and IP address, and encrypts your data. You don’t have to do any additional setups to enable it. It works automatically in the background when you’re trying to watch BBC iPlayer or any other platform.

This VPN also has a very fast proprietary NordLynx protocol optimized to give you the best streaming speeds possible. I tested NordVPN’s speeds with it while connected to UK servers and got an average of 46.6 Mbps. This was just a 10% drop from my base, so I was really satisfied with the results. I never experienced buffering while watching episodes of Marie Antoinette, and the quality was HD throughout.

A screenshot showing an episode of Marie Antoinette playing on BBC iPlayer while connected to NordVPN's London serverThe streaming was smooth, and there were no long loading times while using NordVPN

NordVPN offers servers in Manchester, Glasgow, London, and Edinburgh that you can use to access BBC iPlayer. I tried all of them, and they easily unblocked the platform. The connection was reliable and stable, so you can expect a good streaming experience.

The only issue I had with NordVPN is that the Windows app took too long to start running. It took more than 30 seconds every time. However, once it launched, the app worked smoothly. It connected me to the UK servers in just a couple of seconds, so I didn’t wait long for that.

You can choose between long- and short-term subscriptions. I subscribed to the longest NordVPN plan that costs $3.49/month. For a small fee, you can also get a dedicated UK IP, which helps in avoiding IP blocks usually imposed by streaming services like BBC iPlayer.

All of its plans come with a money-back guarantee, which lets you try NordVPN’s UK servers for 30 days to watch BBC iPlayer. If it’s not what you were looking for, getting a refund is a really easy process. I just contacted customer service to test its legitimacy and got my money back in 5 days.

Watch BBC iPlayer With NordVPN

5. Surfshark — Unlimited Simultaneous Connections to Watch BBC iPlayer on All Your Devices

  • Unlimited simultaneous device connections give you good value for money
  • Fast speeds for watching BBC iPlayer in HD
  • 3,200 servers in 100 countries, including 4 UK locations to access BBC iPlayer
  • Works with: BBC iPlayer, ITV Hub, My5, Sky Go, Netflix, Disney+, Hulu, HBO Max, and more
  • Compatible with: Windows, Mac, iOS, Android, Linux, routers, smart TVs, Fire devices, browsers, game consoles, and more

Surfshark lets you connect as many devices as you want simultaneously with just 1 license. This means that everyone in your household can watch different shows on BBC iPlayer at the same time on their own devices. I tested it on 2 computers, a tablet, and a smartphone while doing different activities on all of them, including streaming and torrenting. The performance was the same as when only one device was connected.

Namely, the speeds were quite fast in my tests. On average, I experienced only a 12% drop from my base speed while connected to its UK servers. This was more than enough for binge-watching Bad Education without any interruptions. Even if your base speeds are lower than mine, you should be able to watch BBC iPlayer in HD (it requires a minimum of 5 Mbps).

A screenshot showing an episode of Bad Education playing while connected to Surfshark's Glasgow serverSurfshark easily accessed BBC iPlayer with its Glasgow server

Surfshark lets you see the ping and load next to each server location, making it easy to choose the best one for streaming. However, a minor drawback is that you can refresh the results once you’re connected to the VPN. Taking into account that disconnecting and reconnecting takes just a couple of seconds, this isn’t too big of an issue.

You can get a long-term Surfshark subscription for just $2.30/month. I recommend getting a yearly plan because it always gives you better value for money.

If you’re not satisfied with it, there’s a 30-day money-back guarantee. This is more than enough to see whether you like it for watching BBC iPlayer and decide whether to keep it or not. If you need a refund, all you need to do is contact customer service. When I did that, they approved my request and issued my refund within the same week.

Watch BBC iPlayer With Surfshark

Quick Comparison Table: BBC iPlayer VPN Features

A VPN’s features can either make or break your streaming experience. The table below compares key features that effect how well each of these VPNs work with BBC iPlayer.

Having access to multiple UK servers make it easier to bypass BBC iPlayer’s geoblocks. That way, if one of the VPN’s IPs get blacklisted, you have plenty of alternative connetions to switch to. This also helps prevent overcrowding to keep your streams fast and free from interruptions.

It’s best to go for a VPN with superfast servers, so you’re less likely to encounter any noticeable speed loss. At least 5 Mbps is required to stream BBC iPlayer in HD. It’s also important that the VPN offers apps for your devices and allows enough simultaneous connections to cover all of them.

VPN Lowest Price (Monthly) Average Speed in Mbps # of UK Servers Supported Devices # of Simultaneous Device Connections
🥇ExpressVPN $6.67/month 49.93 Undisclosed, in 5 UK locations Windows, Mac, iOS, Android, Linux, routers, smart TVs, Fire Devices, game consoles, and more 5
🥈CyberGhost $2.19/month 43.76 3 Windows, Mac, iOS, Android, Linux, routers, smart TVs, Fire devices, game consoles, and more 7
🥉PIA $2.19/month 37.64 3 Windows, Mac, iOS, Android, Linux, routers, smart TVs, Fire devices, game consoles, and more 10
NordVPN $3.49/month 46.6 1 Windows, Mac, iOS, Android, Linux, routers, smart TVs, Fire Devices, game consoles, and more 6
Surfshark $2.30/month 45.3 4 Windows, Mac, iOS, Android, Linux, routers, smart TVs, Fire Devices, game consoles, and more Unlimited

Try ExpressVPN Today

Tips on How to Choose the Best VPN for iPlayer

When testing VPNs for BBC iPlayer, I wanted to be sure each one offered the necessary features to give you fast and reliable access to the site. Feel free to use this as a checklist to help you find the best VPN for BBC iPlayer for you.

  • Unblocks BBC iPlayer — To have consistent access to BBC iPlayer, a VPN should offer reliable servers in the UK. Even better, it should provide multiple UK connections in case one struggles to access the site or is slow due to overcrowding. The VPNs on this list all have at least 6 UK servers.
  • Fast speeds — BBC iPlayer’s maximum resolution is 1080p HD, which requires at least 5 Mbps download speeds. I tested all of the VPNs in this list to make sure they’re fast enough to stream in HD. They all come with unlimited data so you can watch as much as you want.
  • Device compatibility — I wanted to ensure that my recommended VPNs work with the most commonly-used devices, such as Mac, Windows, Android, and iOS. I also ensured the apps are user-friendly and easy to install. You can use each VPN on multiple devices at once, too.
  • Responsive customer service — In case you run into questions, your VPN should provide reliable customer service. This could be via a contact form or email. Even better is 24/7 live chat, so you’ll get answers quickly. My recommended VPNs provide reliable support and quick response times.
  • Trustworthy money-back guarantee — Testing the VPN with BBC iPlayer shows you how well it works with the site. A dependable refund policy allows you to try it yourself without risk. I tested the money-back guarantees of my recommended VPNs and can confirm they’re reliable.

Quick Guide: How to Use a VPN to Watch BBC iPlayer in 3 Easy Steps

  1. Sign up for VPN. I recommend ExpressVPN due to its effortless unblocking abilities and ultra-fast speeds.
  2. Connect to a server in the UK. This provides you with a UK IP address, so it appears as though you’re accessing BBC iPlayer from the UK.
  3. Start watching BBC iPlayer. Stream live TV or browse BBC iPlayer's huge library of classic shows, box sets, and movies.

Try ExpressVPN Risk-Free

VPNs that Don’t Work With BBC iPlayer

The BBC uses highly advanced blockers, which many VPNs struggle with. This is usually due to limited server networks, or because they leak your real location to the sites you visit. Here are a few VPNs that do not work with BBC iPlayer:

  • Betternet — On its website, Betternet says, “Unlock sites and favorite shows from Netflix, Hulu and more”. It doesn’t mention the BBC, and I can confirm that it can’t access the iPlayer.
  • Mullvad VPN — It failed to access BBC iPlayer, and other platforms such as ITV Hub, All 4, Disney+, and Amazon Prime Video.
  • UltraVPN — While it has servers in the UK, none of them successfully unblocked BBC iPlayer during my testing.

Watch BBC iPlayer With ExpressVPN

FAQs on Watching BBC iPlayer With a VPN

Is it legal to use a VPN to watch BBC iPlayer?

Yes, but it’s complicated. VPNs are perfectly legal in most countries, and using one to watch BBC iPlayer is also legal if you have a UK TV license.

BBC iPlayer does not require proof of a UK TV license to access the site — you just have to click yes or no when prompted. However, there are possible legal repercussions in the UK if you use BBC iPlayer without having a TV license, and it infringes the BBC’s terms of service.

What’s more, some countries with strict censorship laws ban VPNs altogether (like China and the UAE). The team at vpnMentor doesn’t condone using a VPN to break any rules or laws, so just be sure to watch BBC iPlayer responsibly.

Do I need a TV license to access BBC iPlayer?

Technically, yes — but you’re not required to provide proof. To access BBC iPlayer’s content, you can use a VPN that offers at least one reliable UK server. However, when you sign up, you'll need to provide a UK postcode, but you can use one from any location in the country. Also, before you begin the stream, you’ll be asked if you have a UK TV license with the option to select 1 of 2 answers:

  • I have a TV licence. Watch now.
  • I don’t have a TV licence.

If you click the 1st button, it will allow you to watch your show, without any further questions. If you click the 2nd button, you won’t.

Why isn't BBC iPlayer working with my VPN?

If your VPN stops working, the first thing to do is disconnect and reconnect to a different UK server. However, if you’ve tried everything and your VPN still won’t work, you may want to consider switching to a VPN that’s been tried-and-tested to work with BBC iPlayer. Here are a few additional measures you can take:

  • Clear your cookies and cache. Cookies can contain data about your location. The BBC uses tough geo-blocks, which can detect if your cookies suggest you’re outside the UK. You can bypass these blocks by simply clearing your cookies and cache in your browser’s settings.
  • Ensure your VPN is updated. Check that you're running the VPN's most up-to-date version to give you the strongest unblocking capabilities it offers.
  • Contact your VPN’s customer support. The problem may be temporary, and your provider may already be working on a solution. If not, you can alert them to the issue. They may also be able to help you tweak your settings to make it harder for BBC iPlayer to detect your VPN.
  • Change your protocol. Some protocols are more likely to be detected and blocked by BBC iPlayer. I found that Lightway (ExpressVPN) and WireGuard (offered by CyberGhost, PIA, and Surfshark) worked the best for accessing iPlayer, but you may also have success with L2TP or IKEv2.
  • Use a kill switch and IPv6 leak protection. Some VPNs don’t offer these features, which can reveal your IP and true location, causing iPlayer to detect your VPN.
  • Set up the VPN on a home or virtual router. It's possible that the device you're using could force your traffic through your ISP's DNS servers (instead of the VPN's), which can reveal your true location. However, you can prevent this by using the VPN via a router instead of the device app.

Can I use a free VPN to unblock BBC iPlayer?

Possibly, but free VPNs are usually not good options for streaming. For fast and consistent access to the site, it’s usually best to go with a low-cost premium VPN. Paid VPNs are generally faster with stronger unblocking abilities, so you’re sure to get access to BBC iPlayer. This is because they don’t limit you in the way that free VPNs do.

Most free VPNs simply don’t offer the features needed to use BBC iPlayer. You’ll usually get access to only 1 UK server (if any), plus, severely limited speeds and data. This makes it hard to do much streaming at all, and is a way that free VPNs encourage you to upgrade to their paid service. Another problem is that they have been known to sell user data and bombard you with intrusive advertising.

Can I watch BBC iPlayer in the US, Germany, and Australia?

Yes, the easiest way is to get a reliable VPN with at least one server in the UK. When you connect to the VPN’s UK server, it will mask your IP while providing you with one in the UK. This makes it appear as if you’re in the UK, so that BBC iPlayer won’t block you. All you have to do at that point is log into your BBC iPlayer account and start watching — no matter your location.

Can I stream BBC iPlayer on Fire TV Stick with a VPN?

Yes, I recommend using ExpressVPN, as it has a native app for both Fire Stick and Fire TV. You can easily download it from the Amazon Appstore. When I tested it with my Fire Stick, it only took a couple of minutes to install the app. Once it’s set up, all you have to do is connect to a server in the UK and you can begin watching BBC iPlayer from your Fire device.

Watch BBC iPlayer With ExpressVPN

Get the Best VPN for BBC iPlayer Today

Many VPNs fail to bypass BBC iPlayer’s tough blocks. Even those that do are often too slow to enjoy your streams without interruptions. However, after testing several VPNs, I found a few that you can depend on for accessing BBC iPlayer from abroad.

My top recommendation for BBC iPlayer is ExpressVPN. Its reliable unblocking capabilities and ultra-fast speeds are why it’s my #1 choice. You can try ExpressVPN with BBC iPlayer risk-free since it offers a 30-day money-back guarantee. If you’re not completely happy with the VPN, it’s easy to claim a full refund.

To summarize, the best VPNs for BBC iPlayer are…

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About the Author

James fervently advocates freedom of speech and denounces censorship. He believes it is everyone's right to protect their online privacy and evade data tracking. From a professional perspective, he has written about cybersecurity for business, including e-commerce store maintenance, SaaS, and MFA.

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