10 Best VPNs for BBC iPlayer That REALLY WORK in 2020

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best vpns for bbc iplayer

If you’re trying to watch your favorite British shows from outside the UK, you’ll know that BBC iPlayer has some of the toughest geoblocks of any streaming service. But don’t worry—I’ve tested over 300 premium VPNs and put together a list of the 10 best VPNs for BBC iPlayer.

With one of these top VPN services (I recommend NordVPN for BBC iPlayer), you’ll be enjoying the latest adventures of Doctor Who or joining Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman as Sherlock and John Watson at Number 221B, Baker Street.

How do you know which of my top 10 VPNs for BBC iPlayer is best for you? I’ve tested and reported my findings on all of their best features to help you decide.

Short on time? Here are the best VPNs for BBC iPlayer
  1. NordVPN – Best all-rounder for speed, reliability, performance, and price. Stream BBC iPlayer hassle-free with the SmartPlay feature.
  2. ExpressVPN – Flexible, reliable streaming with split tunneling and blazing speeds.
  3. CyberGhost – Best for VPN newbies, with optimized streaming servers and quick setup.
  4. Surfshark – Impressive server coverage in the UK and dedicated streaming profiles for BBC iPlayer.
  5. SaferVPN – Great speeds and reliable connections for streaming BBC iPlayer securely.

And 5 more premium VPNs for BBC iPlayer | Our VPN Research Methodology | FAQs

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How BBC iPlayer Blocks You

Imagine this: You’re hyped up ready to binge-watch His Dark Materials from start to finish, only to head over to BBC iPlayer and be faced with an error message. Except, you don’t need to imagine it, because it’s something you’re all too familiar with, right?

BBC iPlayer georestriction error

The reason you see this message is because BBC iPlayer uses geolocation technology to track your whereabouts. When you’re outside the UK, geoblocks stop you from streaming content.

Even if you live in the UK and already have a BBC iPlayer account but are traveling to another country, you still can’t stream.

However, a VPN helps you bypass these geo-restrictions.

It connects your device to a server in the UK from wherever you are, and it passes your online activity through a secured tunnel. This tunnel is separate from all other internet traffic and keeps your data locked away so you can’t be traced by anyone, including potential hackers or privacy thieves.

When you’re connected, the VPN hides your real location and actually gives you a new, temporary UK IP address. This means when you visit BBC iPlayer, it thinks you’re in the UK, so you can simply press play on your favorite content without any barriers.

Already have a VPN? Jump down to see how to stream BBC iPlayer

Quick Guide – How to Watch BBC iPlayer With a VPN

  1. Choose a VPN with plenty of servers in the UK and a proven track record of getting around geoblocks. My top recommendation is NordVPN.
  2. Install the VPN, and connect to a UK server.
  3. Head over to BBC iPlayer, sign up or log in, and start streaming your favorite British shows.

Start Streaming BBC iPlayer Today!

The Best VPNs for BBC iPlayer – Full Analysis (Updated June 2020)

After hours of rigorous testing, I’ve whittled down more than 300 premium candidates to the 10 best VPNs for BBC iPlayer. Each VPN on this list lets you stream reliably and consistently, with no lag or buffering and no caps on bandwidth or speed. They’ll also keep you secure and anonymous, and let you access other streaming services like Netflix, and let you torrent safely.

TIP: If you’re unable to access BBC iPlayer on one of the vendor’s servers, switch to another UK server. It’s sometimes the case that a few of the vendor’s servers are blocked, but others will work.

1. NordVPN – Best Overall VPN for BBC iPlayer

Small assortment of technological devices compatible with NordVPN.

  • 5,390+ servers worldwide, and 580+ in the UK
  • Lightning-fast speeds
  • SmartPlay feature designed for streaming
  • Dedicated IP addresses
  • Six simultaneous connections
  • Works with: BBC iPlayer, Netflix, Disney+, Sky Go, Hulu, HBO GO, and Amazon Prime Video
  • Compatible with: macOS, iOS, Windows, Android, Linux, browsers, and routers

You’ll see NordVPN on a lot of our recommendation lists, and that’s because it’s a solid choice, especially for streaming.

NordVPN has over 5,390 servers in 55+ countries, and it’s always adding more. In the UK, it has 580+ servers, which is the highest UK coverage I’ve seen.

Its SmartPlay feature is actually designed for streaming, so you can access BBC iPlayer on all of NordVPN’s UK servers. The feature combines VPN technology with Smart DNS so that it can bypass tough geoblocks with ease. This is very important, as the BBC’s geoblocks are getting better all the timeNordVPN has proven capable of breaking them year after year.

NordVPN’s speeds are lightning-fast. In fact, connecting to NordVPN can actually make your connection faster, so it’s no wonder it’s our top VPN for speedThis guarantees you high-quality, speedy streaming without any buffering.

There’s unlimited data, too, so no restrictions on how much you can stream.

Another great feature for streaming is dedicated IP addresses. This means you can purchase an IP address that only you use, on top of your subscription.

Why is that important? Well, a dedicated IP address means BBC iPlayer is less likely to think you’re using a VPN, as there’s only you with that single IP address—the same as if you weren’t using a VPN. It also means no other user is sharing your IP address, so no slow speeds.

You can have up to six simultaneous connections with one subscription, so you can use multiple devices and stream BBC iPlayer wherever you are.

Ready to experience for yourself why I think NordVPN is the best? Try it out risk-free with its 30-day money-back guarantee. And if you need help, support is always on-hand with NordVPN’s 24/7 live chat.

Want to know more? Explore our NordVPN review to see the full results of our research and testing.

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2. ExpressVPN – Reliable Streaming With High Speeds

Small assortment of technological devices compatible with ExpressVPN.

  • 3,000+ servers worldwide, including 4 UK locations
  • Blazing speeds with built-in speed test
  • Unlimited data and bandwidth
  • Five simultaneous connections
  • Works with: BBC iPlayer, Amazon Prime Video, Netflix, CBC, NBC, HBO GO, Hulu
  • Compatible with: Windows, Android, macOS, iOS, Apple TV, Chrome, Firefox

ExpressVPN might currently be in the second position, but it’s a powerhouse of a VPN with lots of great features.

For starters, it has 3,000+ servers around the globe, including several in the UK. This means it bypasses BBC iPlayer’s geoblocks with ease, with no crowding that can slow down your connection.

While ExpressVPN has fallen to number two on our speed tests, too, the race is right. Its connections are so speedy, you can stream in ultraHD without delay.

To prove its ability, the service offers a built-in speed test so you can see for yourself that its servers are at peak level. When you’re ready to stream BBC iPlayer, connect to a UK server and use the speed tester to confirm that server’s latency and download speed.

ExpressVPN has unlimited data, too, so if you want to binge-watch TV show after TV show, you can.

Looking to stream on-the-go? ExpressVPN allows up to five simultaneous connections so you can continue your favorite British TV show on your morning commute or while working out.

Split tunneling is one of ExpressVPN’s standout features. You can control which apps go through the VPN and which don’t. This means you can stream BBC iPlayer from the UK in one window, while accessing your banking and social media pages using your local IP address in another window.

Ready to go? Already downloaded and need help with next steps? There’s a 24/7 live chat if you need any support, plus tutorials and step-by-step guides.

Is ExpressVPN for you? Try it out risk-free with its 30-day money-back guarantee.

Want to know more? Explore our ExpressVPN review to see the full results of our research and testing.

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3. CyberGhost – Quick Streaming Setup

Small assortment of technological devices compatible with CyberGhost.

  • 5,700+ servers globally with 400+ in the UK
  • Optimized streaming servers for BBC iPlayer
  • Lightning-fast speeds
  • Easy-to-use apps
  • 24/7 live chat
  • Seven simultaneous connections
  • Works with: BBC iPlayer, Netflix, Disney+, NBC, MTV, and FOX
  • Compatible with: iOS, macOS, Windows, Android, Linux, browsers, and routers

New to VPNs? CyberGhost is a smart choice for newbies thanks to its quick setup and one-click steps. The fact that it also has the power to blast through geoblocks and maintain fast speeds adds to the appeal.

It has a widespread global network of over 5,700 servers in 90 countries, including over 400 in the UK. This means plenty of options for getting online and less risk of overcrowding.

CyberGhost offers impressive speeds. During my tests, I could easily access BBC iPlayer and stream hassle-free. It also has unlimited data, so you can watch all your favorite British TV shows one after the other.

To make tuning in even easier, CyberGhost has optimized streaming profiles for BBC iPlayer. Access one of its optimized servers, and you’ll have guaranteed super-fast speeds for buffer-free streaming.

Got friends and family who also stream? CyberGhost allows up to seven simultaneous connections so you can protect and stream on all your devices.

With the service’s split tunneling feature, you can browse locally using your real IP address while catching up on Strictly as if you were sitting in the UK.

You’ve decided CyberGhost is right for you. Now try it out risk-free by taking advantage of its 30-day money-back guarantee. 

Got questions about how to get started or what to do next? Use CyberGhost’s 24/7 live chat. Its advisors are helpful and will quickly find you an answer to anything you need.

Want to know more? Explore our CyberGhost review to see the full results of our research and testing.

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4. Surfshark – Low Prices With Powerful Features

Small assortment of technological devices compatible with Surfshark.

  • 1,040+ servers in 60+ countries, including the UK
  • Fast, reliable speeds
  • Unlimited data transfer
  • Unlimited simultaneous connections
  • Works with: BBC iPlayer, Netflix, Hulu, HBO GO, ESPN, SHOWTIME, and DAZN
  • Compatible with: Android, Windows, iOS, macOS, Chromebook, routers, and Amazon Fire TV

If we had to use one word to describe Surfshark, it would be unlimited. This VPN is all about giving you unlimited access to an unlimited internet.

Surfshark has over 1,040 servers in 60+ countries, including the UK. While not quite as many as other leading vendors, there are still plenty of IP addresses available for reliable, speedy streaming on BBC iPlayer, as well as lots of other streaming services.

It offers unlimited bandwidth and data, so you can enjoy all of your favorite TV shows and movies with no restrictions. I was able to watch episode after episode with great speeds and quality during my tests.

Want BBC iPlayer with you wherever you go? Surfshark allows unlimited simultaneous connections. Connect all of your devices so you can securely stream in every room of your home.

Surfshark also has a Whitelister split tunneling feature. It’s a helpful tool if you want flexibility while you’re streaming. Decide what connects through the app and what doesn’t for the greatest flexibility.

Support-wise, Surfshark has a 24/7 live chat. Need help with installation? Want to know more about what else the service can unblock? Hop on chat for quick answers.

It’s risk-free to test out Surfshark’s feature-rich packages when you take advantage of its 30-day money-back guarantee, so give it a try.

Want to know more? Explore our Surfshark review to see the full results of our research and testing.

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5. SaferVPN – Dedicated Streaming Profiles for Ease of Use

A small assortment of devices compatible with SaferVPN.

  • 700+ servers worldwide, with plenty of UK IP addresses
  • Servers designed for streaming
  • Easy setup and configuration
  • Five simultaneous connections
  • Works with: BBC iPlayer, Netflix, Hulu, Sling TV, Amazon Prime Video, ESPN, and HBO Now
  • Compatible with: Windows, macOS, iOS, Android, routers, browsers, and Linux

SaferVPN has got several valuable features, but what I’ve always liked about it is just how speedy it is—both in terms of connections and how easy it is to navigate its apps.

SaferVPN has 700+ servers in over 30 countries, including servers specifically designed for streaming. Its selection of UK-based servers means plenty of different IP addresses from which to choose. Each one is reliable for unblocking BBC iPlayer.

Speedy streaming and SaferVPN come as a package. You have unlimited bandwidth and data, and lightning-speeds are guaranteed.

Setup is easy, and you can connect to a server in seconds. I was able to launch the VPN and head over to BBC iPlayer in no time at all—perfect for when you just can’t wait to see what happens next on your favorite TV show.

SaferVPN supports up to five devices simultaneously, so you can stream BBC iPlayer and other streaming services across multiple devices in your household.

Its browser proxy extension for Chrome makes connecting even easier. Just click the add-on rather than launching the full VPN to encrypt your traffic. This feature only encrypts your browser traffic, so you can stream BBC iPlayer but use your other apps as usual.

If you need help, live support agents are on hand 24/7. You can access this service even before you’ve signed up. There are step-by-step guides, too, although setup is so simple you probably won’t need them.

Close to committing? SaferVPN’s 30-day money-back guarantee lets you test the service risk-free so you can be certain you’re making the right choice.

Want to know more? Explore our SaferVPN review to see the full results of our research and testing.

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Small assortment of technological devices compatible with PrivateVPN.

  • 150+ servers globally, and 6 UK servers
  • Fast speeds
  • 24/7 live chat
  • Six simultaneous connections
  • Works with: BBC iPlayer, Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Hulu, SHOWTIME, HBO GO, and ESPN
  • Compatible with: iOS, macOS, Windows, Android, Kodi, browsers, and routers

PrivateVPN may look like a smaller company on the surface, but don’t let that fool you into thinking this VPN won’t perform.

It’s got 150+ servers in 60 countries to its name, including 6 in the UK, all of which are reliable for unblocking BBC iPlayer. It’s usually hit-and-miss with some other vendors’ servers, but you have guaranteed streaming with PrivateVPN.

It has unlimited bandwidth and data, and its speeds are impressive. You can watch all of your favorite TV series with no annoying buffering or lagging to sit through.

Another standout feature? PrivateVPN allows up to six simultaneous connections. This means you can stream on the bus while someone else is watching at home, at the library, and at the office.

There’s a live chat available 24/7 and a bank of setup guides if you need any support.

It has a 30-day money-back guarantee so you can try it out long-term to experience its premium features risk-free.

Want to know more? Explore our PrivateVPN review to see the full results of our research and testing.

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Small assortment of technological devices compatible with Hotspot Shield.

  • Over 3,200 servers in 70+ countries
  • Blazing speeds
  • Five simultaneous connections
  • 24/7 live chat
  • Works with: BBC iPlayer, Netflix, Hulu, YouTube, HBO GO, HBO Now, and DAZN
  • Compatible with: Windows, Android, iOS, macOS, Chrome, Firefox, and Chromebook

Hotspot Shield offers lightning-fast speeds on all of its servers for quick, reliable streaming. It’s so speedy, it holds a spot on our list of the fastest VPNs.

It also has an impressive global network 3,200+ servers in 70+ countries, with plenty of available IP addresses in the UK.

Hotspot Shield’s servers are optimized for streaming. With unlimited bandwidth and data, I was able to stream on BBC iPlayer in HD quality with no buffering.

Everyone wants an easy life, don’t they? Hotspot Shield offers just that with its easy navigation and simple interface.

Five simultaneous connections and no ads means everyone in the house can settle back for uninterrupted viewing.

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

Want to know more? Explore our Hotspot Shield review to see the full results of our research and testing.

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Small assortment of technological devices compatible with Ivacy.

  • 58 servers in the UK and 1,000+ worldwide
  • Fast speeds
  • Dedicated IP addresses
  • Split tunneling
  • Works with: BBC iPlayer, Netflix, Hulu, ESPN, HBO GO, HBO Now, and Amazon Prime Video
  • Compatible with: iOS, Android, Windows, Linux, Kodi, Raspberry Pi, and Smart TVs

Ivacy may not be as well-known as some of the biggest industry players, but it offers bang for your buck, especially if you need to unblock your favorite streaming services.

It’s equipped with over 1,000 servers in 100+ locations, including 58 servers in the UK alone. Every server has unlimited bandwidth so you can enjoy blazing speeds while non-stop streaming Top Gear or Killing Eve.

Ivacy’s dedicated IP addresses make it easier for you to access geo-restricted services. As you’re the only one using a particular address, services like BBC iPlayer are less likely to detect and block your connection because they won’t associate it with the use of a VPN.

Split tunneling is another Ivacy feature that provides more flexibility while surfing and streaming. With this component, you control which apps pass through the VPN and which use your regular connection.

As with all other VPNs on this list, Ivacy supports multiple device connections. You can use Ivacy on up to five of your devices at once.

For any support or general queries, you can use Ivacy’s 24/7 live chat.

Thinking this might be the one you want to go with? Ivacy offers a 30-day money-back guarantee so you can try it out to be sure.

Want to know more? Explore our Ivacy review to see the full results of our research and testing.

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Small assortment of technological devices compatible with VyprVPN.

  • 200,000 IP addresses worldwide
  • Reliable connections
  • Five simultaneous connections
  • 24/7 live support
  • Works with: BBC iPlayer, Netflix, Hulu, Vudu, Amazon Prime Video, HBO GO, and SHOWTIME
  • Compatible with: Windows, macOS, iOS, Android, Linux, Blackphone, and smart TVs

VyprVPN isn’t as high on my list because its speeds aren’t always the greatest. However, it’s still a solid choice, especially for streaming BBC iPlayer. It can get past the service’s geo-restrictions even when lots of other VPNs can’t.

VyprVPN has 700+ servers in locations all over the globe, with more than 200,000 IP addresses worldwide. Its UK connections are in London and can easily bypass BBC iPlayer’s geoblocks.

It offers reliable speeds and connections, although it’s not quite as fast as other vendors. My stream took a few moments to load, but once I pressed play, I was able to watch with minimal buffering.

VyprVPN’s app has a user-friendly interface and is simple to navigate. Connecting to a UK server is straightforward, and you have access to BBC iPlayer right away.

You have five simultaneous connections with one subscription, so there’s plenty of room for all your devices.

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 risk-free.

Want to know more? Explore our VyprVPN review to see the full results of our research and testing.

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Small assortment of technological devices compatible with ZenMate.

  • 1,400+ servers worldwide, and 200+ in the UK
  • Fast speeds
  • Five simultaneous connections
  • P2P sharing on all UK servers
  • Works with: BBC iPlayer, Netflix, YouTube, SHOWTIME, HBO GO, and Amazon Prime Video
  • Compatible with: macOS, iOS, Windows, Android, Firefox, Chrome, and OpenVPN

ZenMate’s last on this list, but it’s still here because it’s a reliable option for getting around BBC’s region restrictions. This is more than a lot of services can say.

ZenMate has over 1,400 servers in 35+ countries, with over 200 servers in two major UK cities. When I tested BBC iPlayer, ZenMate unlocked it instantly, and I was able to stream in HD with minimal buffering and lagging.

Plan on using a VPN to torrent alongside streaming? All of ZenMate’s UK servers allow P2P sharing.

You have unlimited bandwidth and data to watch as much as you like with quick speeds. Plus, you have five simultaneous connections to stream on all of your household’s devices.

Tempted by what ZenMate has to offer? You can try it out risk-free with its 14-day money-back guarantee or 7-day free trial.

Want to know more? Explore our ZenMate review to see the full results of our research and testing.

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The VPNs That Can’t Stream BBC iPlayer

My research showed there were lots of VPNs that couldn’t get around BBC’s geo-restrictions, including these:

PureVPN

PureVPN has a guide on its site explaining how to access BBC iPlayer, but I couldn’t get it to work no matter how many times I tried. It’s worked before, but right now that reliability seems shaky. Until it figures things out, I would avoid this VPN for British TV (though it does work for several Netflix libraries). Read our full PureVPN review to find out more.

IPVanish

IPVanish is somewhat hit-or-miss when it comes to getting around geoblocks. It didn’t work for BBC iPlayer, but it does work for a handful of other streaming services. Read our full IPVanish review to find out more.

TunnelBear

TunnelBear is a great VPN for torrenting, but it’s lacking when it comes to unblocking streaming sites. It can’t get bypass BBC’s anti-VPN measures, so you’ll want to look elsewhere. Read our full TunnelBear review to find out more.

Watch BBC iPlayer Abroad With a VPN

Research Methodology

In an effort to find the best VPNs for unblocking BBC iPlayer, I reviewed over 300 services and spent weeks 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:

  • Speeds and reliability. After all, what’s more annoying than trying to watch your favorite show when it’s slow, fuzzy, and full of buffering?
  • Unlimited data. You don’t want caps that keep them from streaming as much as you like.
  • Server coverage. The more servers a VPN has in the target country, the more likely you are to have a better streaming experience. A low server count means there are fewer IP addresses for BBC iPlayer to detect and block, so it’s more likely that you’ll run into geoblocks eventually. It also means servers become more crowded as more users connect to them, which can cause slower speeds.
  • Safety and security. I looked closely at every vendor’s security measures, including their no-logs policies, encryption, and security protocols.

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.

💡 Why don’t all VPNs work with BBC iPlayer?

BBC iPlayer is known for its tough geoblocks. It easily detects VPN technology, which means that many VPN IP addresses are blocked.

However, all the VPNs on this list are guaranteed to stream BBC iPlayer. But remember, some servers might not work if they’ve already been detected and blocked. Switch to another and try again if this happens.

🌎 Can I watch BBC iPlayer in the USA?

Yes! You’ll need a VPN to watch BBC iPlayer in the US. 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.

NordVPN is my top choice, thanks to its advanced features, blazing speeds, and reliability for streaming in ultra-HD.

🚫 Why is my TV show buffering with a VPN?

A VPN connects you to a server in the UK so you can watch BBC iPlayer. If you’re in a nearby area, such as Europe, you’ll usually have better speeds than if you’re on the other side of the world in the US or Australia. The more distance there is for data to travel, the slower your speeds usually are. This can cause buffering, lagging, and fuzzy pictures when you’re streaming.

However, a reliable, high-performing VPN like NordVPN offers amazing speeds no matter where you are.

Bottom Line

Finding a VPN that can get around BBC iPlayer’s geo-location technology and guarantee high-quality, fast streaming isn’t easy.

I’ve spent hours researching the best VPNs that can offer you both. These 10 premium VPNs offer fast speeds, reliable connections, and high-end security for the best streaming experience.

Of them all, NordVPN is my top recommendation. Its lightning-fast speeds, easy streaming setup, and consistent geoblock bypassing make it my number one.

Is Netflix next on your list? We’ve tested plenty of VPNs to find the very best ones for Netflix, too. Check out our top picks.

Did you know that you can do more with VPNs than just streaming? If you’re an avid gamer, check out our review of the best VPNs for gaming performance.

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