BBC iPlayer Not Working With a VPN? Try This 3 Minute Fix! (2020)

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BBC iPlayer

You don’t expect to see BBC iPlayer’s annoying error message with your VPN switched on, do you? But the BBC’s geoblocks are some of the toughest around and it’s getting better at detecting VPNs. Once it knows you’re using a VPN, you’re blocked by this error:

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

BBC iPlayer error message

BBC iPlayer’s error message stops you from streaming outside the UK.

Does this mean you need a new VPN? Not if you’re using a leading service like NordVPN that flies past BBC iPlayer’s geo-restrictions with ease. And I have some other tricks you can try that’ll get BBC iPlayer working in just minutes.

How to Fix VPN Problems with BBC iPlayer

It’s tough to bypass BBC iPlayer’s geo-blocks. Before you try any of my tricks, make sure you’ve followed these steps first.

Quick Guide: Easiest Hack to Solve VPN Problems With BBC iPlayer

  1. Make sure you’re using a premium VPN like NordVPN, that’s guaranteed to unblock BBC iPlayer.
  2. Disconnect and reconnect to a different UK server.
  3. If step 3 didn’t work, disconnect from the VPN, clear your browser history, and reconnect to a UK server.
  4. If you’re still geoblocked, check my troubleshooting guide below.

Unblock BBC iPlayer With NordVPN!

Still not working? Follow these steps one at a time to troubleshoot the problem and see why your VPN isn’t working. Then check to see if the problem is resolved. If not, move on to the next step.

1. Switch Servers

Open up your VPN’s server selection menu and connect to a new UK server. If it still doesn’t work, try at least one more server.

Can’t select another UK server? Some VPN providers don’t allow that and only let you choose your desired virtual country location. Reach out to the vendor’s customer service and ask if they can recommend a better server.

2. Clear Your Tracking Cookies

Open your browser settings. For most browsers, you can find the settings menu by clicking on the three dots or lines in the upper right-hand corner of your browser screen. 

Navigate to your cookies settings. You can usually find this under a settings tab labeled something like “Privacy & Security” (Firefox and Chrome), “Clear Browsing Data” (Edge), or “Manage Website Data,” (Safari). Select the option to clear all cookies.

3. Restart Your Browser

Try fully closing your browser, then reopen it and check access to BBC iPlayer again.

4. Enable Leak Protection

Open your VPN app and navigate to its settings. If available, enable the setting called “leak protection” or “IPv6 leak protection.”

5. Switch Time Zones

Go into your device settings and find the option to set your time zone. Change your time zone to match the UK rather than your real location; If these are different, it might indicate your true location. 

The UK uses Greenwich Mean Time (UTC+0) or British Summer Time (UTC+1), depending on the time of year.

6. Switch Devices

Are you trying to watch BBC iPlayer on a phone, tablet, or Smart TV? This can create some extra geo-spoofing challenges. You might have more success with a desktop PC or laptop. Try installing your VPN on a computer and then load BBC iPlayer on your desktop browser.

7. Get a Dedicated IP Address

A dedicated IP address is simply a virtual IP address given to you by your VPN provider that only you can use.  

Not all VPNs offer dedicated IP addresses and those that do typically charge a small extra fee for the service. When multiple users connect to BBC iPlayer with the same IP address, that IP address is often flagged and blocked. Since you’re the only one with access to the dedicated IP address, it’s unlikely to be blacklisted.

Best VPNs for BBC iPlayer — 2020 Update

To unlock your favorite British TV shows, you need a fast, reliable VPN that’s guaranteed to bypass geoblocks. I’ve rounded up the five best services for BBC iPlayer that do just that.

Small assortment of technological devices compatible with NordVPN.
  • 690+ UK servers to choose from
  • Unlimited data for limitless streaming
  • Connect on up to 6 devices at once
  • 30-day money-back guarantee
  • SmartPlay feature designed to bypass geoblocks
  • Works with: BBC iPlayer, Netflix, Hulu, Disney+, HBO, Amazon Prime Video, Sky Go, and more
  • Compatible with: Windows, Android, iOS, macOS, Chrome, Linux, Firefox, routers

With its massive global network, high speeds, and reliability for breaking through the toughest of geoblocks, NordVPN is my top choice when it comes to streaming.

This VPN has 690+ UK servers, and the number is always growing. It makes NordVPN a great option for BBC iPlayer, because there are plenty of servers to go round. You can also choose from 5,390 servers in 62 countries worldwide.

The SmartPlay feature is designed specifically for streaming. This combines VPN with Smart DNS technology, making it easy to bypass geoblocks on streaming sites, no matter what device you’re using. I had no trouble accessing BBC iPlayer on any of NordVPN’s UK servers.

Thanks to its large UK network, crowded servers are never an issue with NordVPN, even during times of peak traffic. NordVPN’s speeds always impress me during testing and it proved itself as the fastest VPN again this time.

Connection Ping – ms
Download Speed – Mbps Upload Speed – Mbps
Starting speed from the US 11 55.73 11.88
Quick connect UK server 154 47.58 11.22
Manual connect UK server 234 42.11 10.89

Over 4,000+ miles, I only lost 14.62% of my speed using the quick connect UK server. And even when I selected a manual server, my speed only dipped by a further 11.5%. My steady speed of 42+ Mbps meant I could stream in HD with no dip in performance.

NordVPN gives you the option to purchase a dedicated IP address in the UK that only you can use. This gives you reliable access to BBC iPlayer without any concerns about your IP address being blacklisted by the site.

Dedicated IP addresses can also give you a huge speed boost since you don’t have to share your connection. My speeds increased by a further 6.23% with a dedicated IP address.

Unlimited data means your streaming marathon will never be cut short. And 6 simultaneous connections means you can watch on multiple devices at once.

The apps are quick to install and easy to use. Setup took less than two minutes, which made finding a server and getting over to BBC iPlayer a breeze—especially if you use the Quick Connect feature to find you the best UK server.

Test it out and start streaming risk-free thanks to a 30 day money-back guarantee. If you run into any problems, NordVPN’s friendly support team is there to help 24/7 via live chat.

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

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Watch BBC iPlayer with NordVPN!

Small assortment of technological devices compatible with ExpressVPN.
  • 5,390 high-speed VPN servers around the world, with 3 UK locations
  • Unlimited data and bandwidth for unrestricted, fast streaming
  • Connect on up to 5 devices simultaneously
  • 30-day money-back guarantee
  • 24/7 live chat support
  • Works with: BBC iPlayer, Netflix, Hulu, Disney+, HBO, Amazon Prime Video, CBC, NBC
  • Compatible with: Windows, Android, iOS, macOS, Chrome, Linux, Firefox, routers, games consoles

There are lots of reasons to choose ExpressVPN. From its lightning-fast speeds to its Media Streamer app for your games console, it’s a great choice.

This VPN offers impressive speeds and unlimited data on its worldwide network of 3,000 servers, which includes three locations in the UK: Docklands, East London, and London.

During my tests, ExpressVPN’s customer service team quickly recommended to me the best server location to use with BBC iPlayer. I was able to start streaming right away without error messages or buffering delays.

All three locations unblock BBC iPlayer, but I liked the London server best for performance.

I used ExpressVPN’s Media Streamer to stream Peaky Blinders from my PlayStation 4 easily. This feature is designed specifically for games consoles, meaning you can download the app to your device and bypass geoblocks without any manual configuration—that’s not something I see very often.

ExpressVPN also offers split tunneling, which allows you to pick and choose which apps you want to route through the VPN. This means you can send BBC iPlayer through the tunnel, while leaving all your other apps out. It’s great for giving you more flexibility, as I was able to shop online locally while streaming.

Split tunneling can also give your speeds a boost. Mine spiked by 3.65% by leaving all other apps out of the VPN. Though ExpressVPN’s speeds are super-fast wherever you connect. Just check out my results.

Connection Ping – ms
Download Speed – Mbps Upload Speed – Mbps
Starting speed from the US 11 55.73 11.88
Quick connect UK server 148 44.83 7.09
Manual connect UK server 103 39.85 9.75

I maintained a super-fast speed of 44.83 Mbps, which meant I could stream in HD with zero interruptions.

You’ve 5 simultaneous connections, which means you can tune in from more of your devices at once.

The mobile app is a personal favorite of mine, since it still offers split tunneling and all the other features you often have to compromise with other services. And it’s quick to connect too. All of ExpressVPN’s apps are incredibly easy to use, though, so you shouldn’t run into any issues.

ExpressVPN’s 24/7 live chat support is always there to help if you have any problems or concerns. It offers a no-questions-asked 30-day money-back guarantee on all subscriptions, so you can try it out risk-free.

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

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Watch BBC iPlayer with ExpressVPN!

Small assortment of technological devices compatible with CyberGhost.
  • 520+ UK servers
  • Optimized streaming servers for BBC iPlayer
  • Easy-to-use apps and quick connections
  • Unlimited bandwidth and reliable speeds for streaming in HD
  • 7 simultaneous connections ideal for multi-device users
  • Works with: BBC iPlayer, Netflix, Hulu, Disney+, HBO, Amazon Prime Video, Sling TV
  • Compatible with: Windows, Android, iOS, macOS, Chrome, Linux, Firefox, routers

When it comes to finding a VPN that’s easy to set up and use, CyberGhost has it covered. And it also offers reliable connections, fast speeds, and a dedicated streaming profile.

CyberGhost has a huge global network of 6,400 servers, which is the highest I’ve seen. In the UK alone, there are upwards of 520 servers to choose from, so you’re guaranteed to find plenty that work with BBC iPlayer. Not that I ran into any geoblocks—I tested 334 servers with no issues.

CyberGhost even has servers optimized for different streaming platforms, which includes BBC iPlayer. Not only does it take away the hassle of finding a manual server, but it can increase your performance too since these servers generally provide faster speeds.

My speeds increased from 20.61 Mbps to 36.98 Mbps using the BBC iPlayer server, so I’d stick with these if you want the best viewing quality.

Connection Ping – ms
Download Speed – Mbps Upload Speed – Mbps
Starting speed from the US 11 55.73 11.88
Quick connect UK server 191 10.18 8.19
Manual connect UK server 151 20.61 10.51
Optimized BBC iPlayer server 128 36.98 10.32

It’s not the fastest of services, but I still maintained a steady download speed of between 10.18 Mbps and 20.61 Mbps so I could stream with little buffering. Some episodes took between 10-20 seconds to load, though.

CyberGhost’s apps took seconds to install and only a minute to set up. I tried the app on my Android cell phone, Windows laptop, and iPad, and I loved each one. They’re really easy to navigate and incredibly intuitive, but if you need any help, just use the 24/7 live chat.

Something else I discovered during testing is that CyberGhost has a data compression feature in the apps. This compresses images and other elements on the page so that they load faster. Once I turned this on, it cut episode loading times on BBC iPlayer in half.

Your subscription comes with 7 simultaneous connections, so it’s ideal for larger households with multiple devices.

You’re protected by a generous 45-day money-back guarantee. I read the small print, though, and it’s only available if you sign up for longer than 6 months. If you don’t, you only have 14 days to test it risk-free.

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

Sign up today for just $2.75/month

  • 1,040 servers, including 3 UK locations
  • Unlimited simultaneous connections
  • Fast, reliable speeds for high-quality streaming
  • Whitelister split tunneling to improve speeds and add flexibilty
  • Works in restricted locations to stream BBC iPlayer from China, Turkey, and more
  • Works with: BBC iPlayer, Netflix, Hulu, Disney+, HBO, Amazon Prime Video, ESPN
  • Compatible with: Windows, Android, iOS, macOS, Chrome, Linux, Firefox, routers

Surfshark is a personal favorite of mine because it’s fast, easy to use, and great for multi-device users. It comes with Unlimited simultaneous connections, which means you can stream BBC iPlayer on as many devices as you like at once.

Its ever-growing network of 1,040 includes servers in 3 UK locations—Glasgow, London, and Manchester.

I wasn’t able to find out how many servers there actually are in the UK, but I had no trouble with congestion during testing. And you can actually see how loaded servers are in the app, which makes it easy to find the fastest one.

Unblocking BBC iPlayer was easy with all UK servers and its NoBorders Mode makes it ideal for streaming from restricted locations. This automatically detects restrictions and bypasses them without you having to do anything. Our operatives in China, Russia, and the UAE had no problem streaming BBC iPlayer with Surfshark.

My speeds never dropped below 38 Mbps throughout the weeks of testing, and I even hit a peak speed of 44.83 Mbps while connected to the UK server. This made streaming really easy, and I was able to watch back-to-back episodes for over six hours with no buffering or lagging in sight.

Connection Ping – ms
Download Speed – Mbps Upload Speed – Mbps
Starting speed from the US 11 55.73 11.88
Quick connect UK server 148 44.83 7.09
Manual connect UK server 103 39.85 9.75

For even faster speeds, you can use Surfshark’s Whitelister feature which functions the same as split tunneling. I routed only BBC iPlayer through the VPN and left all my other apps unencrypted.

It only increased by speeds by 2.3%, but if you’re starting with a poor download speed, that can make all the difference. It also means you can surf the web locally at the same time as streaming.

Surfshark’s live chat is available 24/7 and agents are always helpful whenever I try it out.

Surfshark’s apps are quick install and a breeze to navigate, no matter what device you’re using. If you need to connect to BBC iPlayer ASAP, try mobile rather than desktop—I was able to connect to UK servers much faster.

You can try it out risk-free, too, with the 30-day money-back guarantee.

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

Save big and pay just $2.49/month

  • 100 servers, including 6 in the UK
  • Unlimited data and bandwidth for unrestricted streaming
  • 6 simultaneous connections
  • Remote installation makes for easy set up
  • Works with: BBC iPlayer, Netflix, Hulu, Disney+, HBO, Amazon Prime Video, SHOWTIME
  • Compatible with: Windows, Android, iOS, macOS, Chrome, Linux, Firefox, routers

PrivateVPN isn’t as big as some of the other services in this list, but that doesn’t mean it’s any less reliable. We like PrivateVPN because it’s easy to use, compact, and it’s really secure.

I was able to fly past BBC iPlayer’s geoblocks with any of PrivateVPN’s 6 UK servers. There are 100 servers worldwide if you want to connect elsewhere in the world and unblock other streaming sites, too. It regularly refreshes its IP address so it’s rare you’ll ever be blocked.

Your subscription includes unlimited data and bandwidth, which means there are no limits on your speed or how many episodes you can stream. You’re also safe from any bandwidth throttling.

Its speeds are steady and even over a distance of 6,800+ kilometers, I maintained a fast speed of 33.68 Mbps.

Connection Ping – ms
Download Speed – Mbps Upload Speed – Mbps
Starting speed from the US 11 55.73 11.88
Quick connect UK server 165 33.68 6.52
Manual connect UK server 103 31.54 6.01

My speeds dropped by 52% during peak times when servers were more congested, causing a small amount of lag. But I was able to stream in high quality the rest of the time. Stick with the quick connect servers if you want best performance as this finds the fastest server for you.

I enjoyed PrivateVPN’s easy-to-use apps and it even offers remote installation support where an agent takes over your device to configure the app for you. This is great if you’re new to VPNs and aren’t sure where to start.

You have 6 simultaneous connections so you and your family members can watch BBC iPlayer at the same time. It worked perfectly with four connections, but the fifth simultaneous stream lowered my picture quality.

You’re also protected by a 30-day money-back guarantee so you can try it risk-free.

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

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Watch BBC iPlayer With PrivateVPN!

Why Doesn’t My VPN Work with BBC iPlayer?

BBC got better at blocking VPNs using advanced tracking, active scans, and other tools for hunting VPNs. Many VPNs no longer work, and ones that do need a small tweak. BBC iPlayer can detect VPNs for a variety of reasons and most of them have to do with your true location, including: 

  • Your VPN isn’t masking your IP address well enough. Some VPNs only mask your IPv4 address but leave your IPv6 address exposed. 
  • Your VPN uses virtual servers that may leak your real location. Rather than investing in physical servers in each location, some VPNs rely on virtual servers to cut costs. 
  • Your device is displaying your real GPS location. This directly conflicts with your virtual location in the UK, and is easy to spot. 
  • You have cookies stored on your device that are giving away your true location to BBC iPlayer.
  • Your VPN’s servers have been blacklisted by BBC iPlayer. This is more common if your VPN has a small server network. It’s much harder for BBC iPlayer to block VPNs with a large server network.
  • Your VPN lacks the resources to keep up with BBC iPlayer’s geoblocks, which are always evolving.

The tips and tricks I’ve showed you solve some of these problems, but ultimately it’s also up to your VPN provider to give you a VPN service that’s strong enough to bypass geo-restrictions. If you’ve tried all my tips and you’re still seeing the error message, the problem is your VPN.

I recommend you try streaming BBC iPlayer risk-free with my top choice, NordVPN. It comes with a 30-day money-back guarantee, offers lightning fast speeds, and has a huge network, including plenty of servers in the UK that can access BBC iPlayer.

FAQs

🚨 Is it safe to watch BBC iPlayer with a VPN?

Yes, if you choose a trustworthy provider like those in this list. All of my recommended VPNs offer tight security measures designed to keep you safe while you’re streaming, so you’re never exposed. The same can’t be said for every VPN though, which is why it’s important to choose one that’s really safe. As long as you do, you can stream without worry.

💸 Can I use a free VPN with BBC iPlayer?

There’s nothing stopping you using a free VPN, but finding one that works with BBC iPlayer and keeps you safe is tricky. Most free VPNs limit your security measures, which could put you at risk online. And they also come with other restrictions like smaller server networks, limited data, and throttled speeds—the exact opposite of what you need for fast, high-quality streaming.

After testing hundreds of free VPNs, I’ve only found three that actually work with BBC iPlayer. They’re all reliable, but you should be prepared for some limitations, like slow speeds and limited data. My advice? Stick with an affordable, premium vendor instead.

🕵️ How does BBC iPlayer know I’m using a VPN?

Streaming services like BBC iPlayer have got much smarter at detecting VPNs. When you connect to a VPN server, you’re assigned an IP address. This IP address is visible to BBC iPlayer.

While this isn’t a problem if you’re just a usual internet user, if other people have the same idea and the same IP address pops up thousands more times, it’s easy for BBC iPlayer to detect your IP address as belonging to a VPN.

You can easily get around these restrictions with a powerful VPN though, especially one that updates its server addresses regularly. This reduces the risk of BBC iPlayer recognizing an IP address, because it’s been changed before there’s time to detect it.

🌟 Which is the best VPN for BBC iPlayer?

Any of the five on this list are great choices for BBC iPlayer, and we know they work because I’ve tested them again and again. But when it comes to the #1 for BBC iPlayer, it has to be NordVPN. It’s affordable, easy to use, and super-fast which means you can always stream in high-quality. You won’t even know you’re using a VPN.

❓ Is BBC iPlayer free to stream?

Yes, BBC iPlayer is completely free. To stream, you only need to enter a valid UK postcode when you sign up. Try SW1A 1AA for Buckingham Palace and you’re good to go!

📱 Can I watch BBC iPlayer on my mobile?

Yes, as long as you choose a VPN that offers mobile apps. All of the VPNs on this list offer easy-to-use mobile apps that I’ve tested with BBC iPlayer, so you can stream on-the-go too.

Bottom Line

The tricks on this page can solve most problems that block you from watching BBC iPlayer with a VPN.

However, keep in mind that BBC iPlayer has some of the most challenging geo-restrictions of any streaming platform, so not every VPN is powerful enough to access its content.

If none of these tricks fixed your problem, it’s time to try a new VPN. There are only a few VPNs that can still successfully stream BBC iPlayer content.

When you stick with a high-quality provider like NordVPN, you’re guaranteed to be able to stream BBC iPlayer without problems. You can test it out risk-free with the 30-day money-back guarantee.

Finished with BBC iPlayer but still want to stream? Take a look at our top VPN recommendations for Netflix.

To summarize, here are the best VPNs for BBC iPlayer in 2020

Privacy Alert!

You are exposing yourself 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 NordVPN — 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  68% off.

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