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8 Best VPNs for BBC iPlayer That REALLY WORK in 2021

Many VPNs claim they can access BBC iPlayer, but this isn’t always true. BBC iPlayer not only blocks its content from viewers outside the UK it also uses some tough VPN detection technology which most VPNs can’t get around.

That doesn’t mean you can’t stream your favorite British TV shows from a different location. It’s actually very easy if you use the right VPN.

Over the last several months, I tested every VPN claiming it could access BBC iPlayer — over 100 in total. I wanted to see which ones could bypass BBC iPlayer’s geoblocks, while consistently providing fast speeds for high-quality streaming. I narrowed down the options to this list of the 8 best VPNs for BBC iPlayer. 

My top choice is ExpressVPN because of its impressive UK server coverage, ability to bypass even the toughest geoblocks, and incredible speeds. But you can’t go wrong with any of the 8 on this list.

Unblock BBC iPlayer with ExpressVPN

Short on time? Here are the best VPNs for BBC iPlayer

  1. ExpressVPN – Costs a bit more, but its speedy servers ensure buffer-free streaming of your favorite BBC iPlayer programming.
  2. CyberGhost – Strong choice for VPN newbies with optimized BBC iPlayer servers and super-quick setup (doesn’t work in China).
  3. PrivateVPN – Provides reliable connections for unblocking BBC iPlayer on some of its servers.

And five more premium VPNs for BBC iPlayer | Our VPN Research Methodology | FAQs

Start Streaming BBC iPlayer Now!

How I Found the Best VPNs for BBC iPlayer

To access BBC iPlayer from outside the UK, you need a VPN that can hide your IP address to make it appear as if you are streaming from inside the UK. Your VPN should also be able to get around BBC iPlayer’s VPN detection technology.

To find the best VPNs for unblocking BBC iPlayer, I reviewed over 100 services and spent months carefully testing and comparing my results. I used several devices to ensure compatibility and tested at different times of the day. Here’s what I specifically looked for:

  • Ability to bypass VPN blocks to give you easy access to BBC iPlayer.
  • Reliable connection speeds so you can stream video seamlessly with no interruptions like buffering or a pixelated picture.
  • Unlimited data and bandwidth so you can stream as much and as often as you like, without having to pick and choose.
  • Vast server coverage in the UK to give you a better streaming experience. A high server count gives you more available IP addresses, which means it’s less likely for BBC iPlayer to detect and block your access.
  • Device compatibility and simultaneous connections so you can watch wherever you are, on any device.

Quick Guide – How to Access BBC iPlayer With a VPN

  1. Choose a VPN that can get past BBC iPlayer’s geoblocks. My #1 recommendation is ExpressVPN because it consistently provides high speeds for streaming.
  2. Install your VPN and connect to a server in the UK.
  3. Head to BBC iPlayer, sign up or log in, and start streaming!
PRO TIP: If you’re new to BBC iPlayer, remember to enter a valid UK postcode when you sign up, such as SW1A 1AA for Buckingham Palace. Be sure to also click “yes” if BBC iPlayer asks if you have a valid UK TV license.

Unlock BBC iPlayer Now!

The Best VPNs for BBC iPlayer – Full Analysis (Updated September 2021)

I’ve spent months testing over 100 VPNs, and I can confidently recommend these 8 for their unblocking abilities, fast speeds, and ease of use. Even if you’ve never used a VPN before, you can start streaming BBC iPlayer from anywhere in the world within minutes.

I regularly test all the VPNs on this list to make sure my recommendations are always up-to-date.

1. ExpressVPN – High Speeds for Unlimited BBC iPlayer Streaming

  • 4 server locations in the UK (London, East London, Docklands, Wembley) and 3,000 worldwide
  • MediaStreamer for watching BBC iPlayer on smart TVs, games consoles, and more
  • 5 simultaneous connections on a single account
  • 30-day money-back guarantee
  • Works with: BBC iPlayer, Netflix, Hulu, Disney+, HBO, Amazon Prime Video, ESPN
  • Compatible with: Windows, Android, iOS, macOS, Chrome, Linux, Firefox, routers
ExpressVPN’s latest deal September 2021: Get 3 months completely free on your annual subscription with this current offer! It’s not for certain when this deal will end so it’s best to check the deals page to see if it’s still available.

ExpressVPN has servers in 4 UK locations, and I was able to access BBC iPlayer on every one I tried. The app was so quick to connect that I was streaming BBC iPlayer within seconds.

ExpressVPN performed impressively in my speed tests, so it’s no surprise that I was able to stream in HD with no delays. For the full results of our team’s speed tests from all over the world, check out our in-depth ExpressVPN review.

Connection Ping – ms Download Speed – Mbps
Starting speed in the US 11 55.73
Quick connect UK server 148 44.83
Manual connect UK server 103 39.85

Some VPNs will slow your connection down significantly, making streaming impossible. While I was testing ExpressVPN, my speed never dropped below 39 Mbps, which is impressive. It’s well beyond the 5 Mbps you need to stream in HD.

ExpressVPN offers unlimited bandwidth and data on all plans, so I binge-watched Sherlock and Killing Eve to confirm it. I experienced no interruptions or reductions in speed.

I also tested ExpressVPN’s MediaStreamer. This is a really cool feature that lets you bypass geo-restrictions on devices that don’t usually support VPNs. I found it really easy to set up on my smart TV.

Even though ExpressVPN is incredibly easy to use, I wanted to check out its customer support. I tried its 24/7 live chat for help with choosing a server and setting up MediaStreamer. I also used it to test out the 30-day money-back guarantee. I had my confirmation within a few minutes, no questions asked. This is a great way to try out ExpressVPN risk-free.

Unblock BBC iPlayer With ExpressVPN Now!

2. CyberGhost – Optimized Servers for BBC iPlayer With Quick Streaming Setup

  • Over 1,000 servers in 3 UK locations (London, Berkshire, Manchester)
  • Optimized streaming servers for BBC iPlayer
  • Easy-to-use apps and quick setup
  • Up to 7 device connections per license
  • 45-day money-back guarantee
  • Works with: BBC iPlayer, Netflix, Hulu, Disney+, HBO, Amazon Prime Video, CBS
  • Compatible with: Windows, Android, iOS, macOS, Chrome, Linux, Firefox, routers
September 2021 Deal: CyberGhost is currently offering 83% off its most popular plan! Take advantage of this offer now and save more on your CyberGhost subscription.

CyberGhost has a widespread global network, including over 1,000 servers in the UK. I tested over 150 of these servers and was able to access BBC iPlayer every time. CyberGhost’s optimized streaming profiles for BBC iPlayer made it even easier to find a reliable, speedy server.

During my speed tests, I found that CyberGhost wasn’t as fast as some of the other services on my list, but I could still easily access BBC iPlayer and stream hassle-free. For an in-depth look at our team’s speed test results, see our full CyberGhost review.

Connection Ping – ms Download Speed – Mbps
Starting speed in the US 11 55.73
Quick connect UK server 191 10.18
Manual connect UK server 151 20.61
BBC iPlayer optimized server 128 36.98

Interestingly, I had better speeds when I connected manually to a UK server than when using the quick-connect function. When I tried the optimized BBC iPlayer server, I got even better performance — 36.98 Mbps download speed, which is super fast. Stick with the optimized servers for better loading times.

One of my favorite things about CyberGhost is its easy-to-use apps. Download and setup took less than 5 minutes, and I was able to unblock BBC iPlayer and start streaming just minutes after that. This is a great VPN for beginners.

CyberGhost offers a very generous 45-day money-back guarantee — longer than the industry standard, as long as you sign up for 6 months or more.

When I tried out CyberGhost’s 24/7 live chat support, the agents were always helpful and quick to respond.

Unblock BBC iPlayer With CyberGhost Now!

3. PrivateVPN – Reliable Speeds for BBC iPlayer Streaming and Excellent Customer Support

  • Servers in 2 UK locations (London and Machester), including a dedicated server optimized for BBC iPlayer
  • 6 device connections per account
  • 30-day money-back guarantee
  • Works with: BBC iPlayer, Netflix, Hulu, Disney+, HBO, Amazon Prime Video, ESPN
  • Compatible with: Windows, Android, iOS, macOS, Chrome, Linux, Firefox, routers

PrivateVPN has servers in 2 UK locations, with a server in London specifically optimized for BBC iPlayer. I tested all the UK servers and found them to be reliable.

For a smaller VPN, PrivateVPN offers impressive speeds. You can see a full analysis of our team’s speed test results in our expert PrivateVPN review.

Connection Ping – ms Download Speed – Mbps
Starting speed in the US 11 55.73
Quick connect UK server 112 36.98
Manual connect UK server 125 32.53
BBC iPlayer optimized server 93 41.65

While I tested PrivateVPN with BBC iPlayer, I achieved an excellent connection speed of 36.98 Mbps, which far surpasses what you need to stream content in HD. It even survived the peak time rush, as my speeds only dropped to 29.78 Mbps in the evening. With just a 21% speed decrease, I was still able to stream with no buffering or lagging whatsoever.

There’s live chat available 24/7 for assistance and handy setup guides if you need additional support. There’s also remote connection support, which is great if you’re new to VPNs. I tried this and an agent set up the app for me via a remote connection, so I didn’t need to do anything myself.

PrivateVPN offers a 30-day money-back guarantee so you can try it out for a month to experience its premium features risk-free.

Unblock BBC iPlayer With PrivateVPN Now!

4. SaferVPN – Easy to Use, With Dedicated Streaming Profiles

  • UK servers optimized for streaming
  • 12 simultaneous connections per account
  • 30-day money-back guarantee
  • Works with: BBC iPlayer, Netflix, Hulu, Disney+, HBO, Amazon Prime Video, ESPN
  • Compatible with: Windows, Android, iOS, macOS, Chrome, Linux, Firefox, routers

SaferVPN offers several valuable features, but what I’ve always liked about it is just how speedy it is. Another plus is how easy the apps are to navigate.

With a selection of UK-based servers, SaferVPN provides plenty of different IP addresses — I could unlock BBC iPlayer with every server I tested.

I was impressed with SaferVPN’s performance throughout my testing, as I was able to stream in HD most of the time. My speeds did decrease by 54.25% after three hours of streaming, though, which caused a small amount of lagging in the last few episodes. You can see the full results of our speed tests in our in-depth SaferVPN review.

Setup is easy, and you can connect to a server in seconds. If you need help, live support agents are on hand 24/7. There are helpful step-by-step guides, too.

You can use SaferVPN on up to 12 devices at the same time. If there are any issues, you can take advantage of the 30-day money-back guarantee to get a refund.

Unblock BBC iPlayer With SaferVPN Now!

5. Hotspot Shield – Consistently Fast Streaming

  • Fast servers in 2 UK locations
  • Unlimited data for unrestricted access
  • Up to 5 simultaneous device connections
  • 45-day money-back guarantee
  • Works with: BBC iPlayer, Netflix, Hulu, Disney+, HBO, Amazon Prime Video, DAZN
  • Compatible with: Windows, Android, iOS, macOS, Chrome, Firefox, Android TV

Hotshot Shield has an impressive global network of 1,800 in 80 countries, but it only has servers in 2 UK locations. While I would prefer more options, I can’t argue with results: I could bypass BBC iPlayer’s geoblocks with every server I tried. I had colleagues test from France, Canada, and Australia, too, and they experienced no problems.

Hotspot Shield’s servers are all optimized for streaming, and I got great performance when streaming BBC iPlayer. My speeds were fast enough for zero buffering, lagging, or fuzzy pictures. For additional speed test results, see our full Hotspot Shield review.

Hotspot Shield offers easy navigation and a simple interface across all of its apps. You can even set it to connect automatically as soon as you open the BBC iPlayer app on your smartphone, which means you can bypass blocks without thinking about it.

Its 24/7 live chat is always available if you have questions. But if you’re ready for a test run, take advantage of Hotspot Shield’s generous 45-day money-back guarantee.

Unblock BBC iPlayer With Hotspot Shield Now!

6. ZenMate – Optimized Servers for Streaming

  • BBC iPlayer-optimized servers for fast streaming
  • Reliable speeds and unlimited data transfer
  • Up to Unlimited simultaneous device connections
  • 30-day money-back guarantee
  • Works with: BBC iPlayer, Netflix, Disney+, HBO, Amazon Prime Video, Crunchyroll
  • Compatible with: Windows, Android, iOS, macOS, Chrome, Linux, Firefox, routers

ZenMate has 3,800 servers in 70 countries, which is pretty impressive for a smaller VPN. More impressive is its UK server coverage of 370+ in 2 UK locations (London and Manchester).

When I tested BBC iPlayer from the US, ZenMate unlocked it instantly, and I was able to stream in HD with minimal buffering to interrupt my streaming. All of the BBC iPlayer optimized servers worked every time, too.

I found ZenMate’s speeds to be a little shaky at times, but despite this, I dealt with only minimal buffering before streaming in HD. Check out the full results of our speed tests in our in-depth ZenMate review.

You can try ZenMate out risk-free with its 30-day money-back guarantee or 7-day free trial.

Unblock BBC iPlayer With ZenMate Now!

7. VyprVPN – User-Friendly Interface and Quick Setup

  • Reliable UK servers can access BBC iPlayer
  • Quick and easy setup and a user-friendly interface
  • 30 simultaneous device connections per account
  • 30-day money-back guarantee
  • Works with: BBC iPlayer, Netflix, Hulu, Disney+, HBO, Amazon Prime Video, ESPN
  • Compatible with: Windows, Android, iOS, macOS, Chrome, Linux, Firefox, routers

VyprVPN’s UK servers are in London, and they could successfully unblock BBC iPlayer every time I tested them.

The service offers reliable speeds, but they’re not always the fastest. Many times, my stream took a few moments to load, but once I pressed play, I was able to watch with minimal buffering. The worst time to stream was during peak hours — the slow connections caused a lot of lag, which was annoying. To find out more, read our full VyprVPN review.

VyprVPN’s apps have a user-friendly interface that’s simple to navigate. It only took me two minutes to set up. Finding a UK server is straightforward, but sometimes it took a while to connect, especially on mobile.

If you’re on the fence about VyprVPN, consider that it has 24/7 live chat support and a 30-day money-back guarantee so you can try it out with no risk.

Unblock BBC iPlayer With VyprVPN Now!

8. HMA – IP Shuffling to Get Around VPN Blocks

  • UK servers optimized for streaming
  • 5 connections per account
  • 30-day money-back guarantee
  • Works with: BBC iPlayer, Netflix, Hulu, HBO, Amazon Prime Video, DAZN, Sky
  • Compatible with: Windows, Android, iOS, macOS, Chrome, Linux, Firefox, routers

HMA has one of the biggest server networks, with 1,080 servers in 210 different countries – including streaming-optimized servers in several locations in the UK. I could access BBC iPlayer on every UK server I tried.

Its speeds are steady, but HMA’s servers are capped at 10 to 20 Gbps bandwidth. That’s still really fast, as long as you can avoid congestion.

My speeds dipped by as much as 83% when servers were busy, but at quieter times, I only lost around 42%. Either way, you’ll have to sit through a small amount of buffering, but then you can stream your HD shows on BBC iPlayer. To read more about HMA’s speed limitations, see our full HMA review.

If you need support, there’s a helpful 24/7 live chat team available. HMA also offers a 30-day money-back guarantee so you can try it out risk-free.

Unblock BBC iPlayer With HMA Now!

VPNs That Don’t Work With BBC iPlayer

During my testing, I ran into many VPNs that couldn’t get around BBC iPlayer’s geo-restrictions. Here are some VPNs you’ll want to avoid:

Private Internet Access

Private Internet Access is great for many things, but streaming BBC iPlayer isn’t one of them. I had no luck on any of its UK servers. It can unblock many other streaming sites, though, including Netflix. Find everything you need to know in our full Private Internet Access review.

IPVanish

IPVanish often comes out high in our rankings because it has high-speed servers, unlimited P2P connections, and solid security features at a great price. But it won’t grant you access to BBC iPlayer. Read our in-depth IPVanish review to find out what it can do.

PureVPN

While the PureVPN website explains how you can use it to unblock BBC iPlayer, I couldn’t access it no matter how many times I tried. It’s worked in the past, but right now, all you’ll see is an error message. It can unblock several Netflix libraries, though, and it offers quick, secure browsing. Take a look at our PureVPN review to find out more.

Unblock BBC iPlayer with ExpressVPN!

How BBC iPlayer Detects and Blocks You

BBC iPlayer keeps its content exclusive to the UK using geolocation technology to track your whereabouts. When you’re outside the UK, these geoblocks stop you from tuning in to your favorite British TV shows. So instead of streaming EastEnders or Peaky Blinders, you see an error message like this:

BBC iPlayer only works in the UK. Sorry, it’s due to rights issues.

On holiday or away on business? Even if you live in the UK and are just traveling, you still can’t stream.

A VPN helps you get around these restrictions by assigning you a UK-based IP address when you connect to a UK server. This tricks BBC iPlayer into thinking you’re actually in the UK, so it unlocks its entire content library for you.

However, this only happens if you find a VPN that actually works. A lot of VPNs stall at BBC iPlayer’s blocks and aren’t powerful enough to get around them. For the best results, use ExpressVPN or one of the other VPNs on this list.

FAQs

Is BBC iPlayer free?

Yes, BBC iPlayer is free to use. To start streaming, you simply need to create an account and choose a UK postcode. You’ll also need to select “yes” when it asks if you have a UK TV license.

Why isn’t BBC iPlayer working with my VPN?

BBC iPlayer is known for its tough geoblocks. It easily detects VPN technology, which means that it blocks many VPN IP addresses. However, all the VPNs on this list are guaranteed to stream BBC iPlayer. But remember, some servers might not work if BBC iPlayer has already detected and blocked them. If this happens, just switch to another server.

How does BBC iPlayer detect VPNs?

BBC iPlayer’s geoblocks are strict. It crawls the internet to find IP addresses that look like they belong to VPNs. BBC iPlayer adds any that it finds to an IP address blacklist and immediately blocks them, which is why you sometimes find VPNs with a few UK servers that don’t work, while others do.

On top of this, BBC checks every IP address that comes to its site. If it sees one that hundreds or even thousands of users are sharing, it’ll block that address, because it’s easily identifiable as belonging to a VPN.

Can I watch BBC iPlayer in the US?

Yes, but you’ll need a VPN. Using a VPN, you can connect to a UK server, set up a BBC iPlayer account, and start streaming all your favorite British TV shows. ExpressVPN is my top choice thanks to its advanced features, blazing speeds, and reliability for streaming in HD.

Can I use a free VPN to unblock BBC iPlayer?

I tested over 100 VPNs for this article, and some of those were free services. Unfortunately, I cannot recommend any of those. Most could not bypass BBC iPlayer’s VPN detection technology, and the few that could gave me speeds that were too slow for streaming or limited my bandwidth so I couldn’t even stream an entire episode of a show.

What else can a VPN do?

I’m glad you asked! A high-quality VPN can give you access to countless streaming services, including Netflix US, HBO, Hulu, Disney+, Prime Video, and more.

But a VPN does more than provide access to good entertainment. It also secures your internet connection and encrypts all your traffic, keeping you safe from online threats, from hackers to identity theft. When you use a VPN, no one can spy on what you’re doing online – not even your ISP. This is the best way to reclaim your digital privacy.

I stream BBC iPlayer on Fire TV Stick from outside the UK?

Yes, you can access iPlayer via your Fire TV Stick, as long as you have a UK-based Amazon account (if you don’t have one yet, you can always create one). Don’t miss our list of the best VPNs for Fire TV Stick.

You can also connect to iPlayer through Kodi if you use the right VPN.

Do I need a UK TV license to watch BBC iPlayer abroad?

UK residents need a TV license to watch BBC iPlayer, but if you’re located outside the UK and using a VPN, the service will have no way of knowing who you are. You just have to register for iPlayer with a UK postcode.

Start Streaming BBC iPlayer Now!

The Bottom Line

BBC iPlayer’s geo-restrictions are tough, but the right VPN can give you easy access, no matter where you are in the world.

ExpressVPN is my #1 choice to stream BBC iPlayer because it provides incredible speeds, hundreds of UK server choices, and no limits on how much you can stream.

To summarize, here are the best VPNs for BBC iPlayer in 2021

Privacy Alert!

Your data is exposed to the websites you visit!

Your IP Address:

Your Location:

Your Internet Provider:

The information above can be used to track you, target you for ads, and monitor what you do online.

VPNs can help you hide this information from websites so that you are protected at all times. We recommend ExpressVPN — the #1 VPN out of over 350 providers we've tested. It has military-grade encryption and privacy features that will ensure your digital security, plus — it's currently offering 49% off.

Visit ExpressVPN

About the Author

Elly is an experienced writer in digital technology. With an avid interest in researching the latest cybersecurity and technology trends, Elly is committed to helping vpnMentor's users find the very best VPN and maintain their online privacy.

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