How to Watch BBC iPlayer Around the World
With some of the toughest geoblocks in the world, BBC iPlayer tries hard to stop you watching your favorite shows from outside the UK. This on-demand service employs powerful anti-VPN software, too, so even some of the best-known VPNs don’t work with iPlayer. But I can help!
I’ve tested 37 VPNs and have found the 5 best VPNs for BBC iPlayer. All of the VPNs on my list let you access BBC iPlayer content, so you can catch up with Tommy Shelby as he takes over Birmingham in Peaky Blinders, or watch stars go head to head in the Strictly Come Dancing dance-off from any location across the globe.
Keep reading to find out how to watch BBC iPlayer abroad and see which VPNs made our list of the top VPNs for BBC iPlayer that really work in 2020.
Quick Guide – How to Watch BBC iPlayer Around the World
- Purchase and download a VPN that works with BBC iPlayer – my top choice is ExpressVPN, thanks to its UK server coverage, speed, and security.
- Install your chosen VPN software. Most VPN services have easy to follow instructions or an installation wizard.
- Connect to a UK server.
- Head over to BBC iPlayer and sign up/log in. You may be asked for a UK postcode when signing up for BBC iPlayer, which looks like this one for Buckingham Palace: SW1A 1AA.
- Find your favorite British show and press play!
Short on Time? Here are the best VPNs for BBC iPlayer
- ExpressVPN– Flexible, reliable streaming with split tunneling and blazing speeds.
- Surfshark – Impressive server coverage in the UK and dedicated streaming profiles for BBC iPlayer.
- Cyberghost – Best for VPN newbies, with optimized streaming servers and quick setup.
- NordVPN – Great for speed, reliability, performance, and price. Stream BBC iPlayer hassle-free with the SmartPlay feature.
- PrivateVPN – Able to maintain fast speeds and reliable connections
Why You Need a VPN to Watch BBC iPlayer
Ever wondered how the BBC stops you from watching those binge-worthy UK box sets? Well, it uses geolocation technology to track your location.
BBC iPlayer can see your IP address, and it uses this to find your exact physical location. If it sees you’re outside the UK, say hello to geoblocks and that annoying error message.
But there’s a solution. Installing a VPN to your device allows you to connect to a UK server through a secure connection that hides your real IP address. You’re given a new IP address (from the UK) so it looks like you’re actually there instead.
Once you’ve spoofed your location and fooled BBC iPlayer into thinking you’re in the UK, you have access to every BBC TV show at your fingertips.
5 Best VPNs for Watching BBC iPlayer
- 3,000+ servers worldwide, including five UK locations
- Lightning-fast speeds
- Five simultaneous connections
- Split tunneling
- Military-grade encryption and high-end security
- 24/7 live chat
- Works with: BBC iPlayer, Netflix, ITV Hub, Amazon Prime Video, NBC, CBS, Disney+
- Compatible with: iOS, macOS, Android, Windows, Linux, routers, Apple TV
If you’re after speedy streaming (who isn’t?), then ExpressVPN is a great choice. It offers some of the fastest speeds of any VPN I’ve tested, which guarantees no buffering or lagging.
ExpressVPN has over 3,000 servers in 94 countries, including the UK. There are servers in five UK locations, so you can stream from London, Kent, or even Wembley.
You can use ExpressVPN’s built-in speed test to see which UK servers are performing the best, so you have hassle-free streaming.
There’s unlimited data transfer, which is perfect for binge-watching show after show.
It allows five simultaneous connections on most popular devices, which means you can pick up that episode on another device on-the-go.
ExpressVPN’s security is high-end, including 256-bit encryption and multiple security protocols for you to choose from. It’s compatible with OpenVPN – a great choice for secure, fast streaming.
You also have an automatic kill switch, strict no-logs policy, and DNS and IP leak protection for added privacy.
ExpressVPN also offers something not every vendor does, and that’s split tunneling. You can select to route your browser or BBC iPlayer app through the VPN with your new UK IP address, but leave other apps like online banking, separate. Neat, right?
As for support, you can use ExpressVPN’s 24/7 live chat, and access a wealth of step-by-step guides and FAQs on its site.
It pays to do your research, so why not read our full ExpressVPN review before you sign up?
You can try it out risk-free with its 30-day money-back guarantee and use our coupon to cut the cost of your subscription.
- 1,040+ servers in 61+ countries and three UK locations
- Unlimited simultaneous connections
- Blazing speeds
- CleanWeb ad, tracking, and malware blocker
- 256-bit encryption and a strict no-logs policy
- Camouflage Mode to unblock BBC iPlayer more easily
- Works with: BBC iPlayer, Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Hulu, HBO GO, SHOWTIME, Hotstar
- Compatible with: iOS, macOS, Chromebook, Linux, Android, Windows, browsers
Want super-fast streaming on all of your devices? Surfshark allows unlimited simultaneous connections, so all of your household can stream BBC iPlayer.
Surfshark has 1,040+ servers globally, with servers in three UK locations. Each server is reliable for unblocking BBC iPlayer and I had no trouble bypassing geoblocks during my tests.
Its speeds are lightning-fast, which means HD streaming with no need to wait for your favorite show to load.
Surfshark offers unlimited data and bandwidth, so there are no restrictions on how much you can watch.
You’re secure with military-grade encryption, a strict no-logs policy, and private DNS on each server.
Don’t want to be interrupted by ads? Surfshark has a built-in ad blocker called CleanWeb, which stops any ads, trackers, or malware getting in the way and infecting your device.
There’s also added privacy through Surfshark’s Multi-Hop Feature, which you can use to connect to several locations at once, so a single route of online traffic can’t be found. It also makes you even harder to trace.
If you’re in a country with heavy restrictions, Surfshark’s Camouflage Mode makes unblocking BBC iPlayer even easier. This hides you from your ISP, so it can’t actually see you’re using a VPN, never mind streaming UK content.
Want to find out more? Check out our review to learn more about Camouflage Mode and other Surfshark features.
If you need support, there’s a 24/7 live chat.
You’re protected with a 30-day money-back guarantee so you can try it out risk-free. And remember to apply our coupon for a great discount!
- 600+ servers in the UK
- Blazing speeds
- Optimized servers for streaming BBC iPlayer
- Seven simultaneous connections
- Top-notch security
- 45-day money-back guarantee
- Works with: BBC iPlayer, Netflix, NOW TV, Hulu, Amazon Prime Video, NBC, Crunchyroll
- Compatible with: iOS, macOS, Windows, Android, Linux, routers, Chromebook
CyberGhost is quick and easy to set up, and reliable for bypassing BBC iPlayer’s strict geoblocks.
It has more than 600 servers in the UK, and 5,700+ worldwide. Each of its UK servers allows P2P sharing.
CyberGhost also has servers with dedicated streaming profiles for BBC iPlayer, which means you can access optimized servers with lightning-fast speeds. Learn more about these servers, plus much more, in our CyberGhost review.
CyberGhost’s connections are reliable, so you don’t need to worry about missing Nessa and Smithy’s antics in Gavin and Stacey. It also has lightning-fast speeds for seamless streaming.
You have up to seven simultaneous connections, so let your whole family stream BBC iPlayer at home or on the go.
What about security? CyberGhost uses military-grade encryption, supports multiple security protocols, and has a built-in, automatic kill switch for maximum protection.
There’s a zero-logging policy, so no data trail is left behind. You can also sign up with cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin for complete anonymity.
Its strong encryption ensures you’re safe on public WiFi which gives you peace of mind anywhere you want to stream.
Find out more about its features in our review
You can use its 24/7 live chat for any support queries. And if you want to test it out risk-free first, use its 45-day money-back guarantee.
We wouldn’t let you sign up without a discount would we? Remember to use our coupon!
- 5,400+ servers worldwide and 500+ in the UK
- SmartPlay feature designed for streaming
- HD streaming with blazing speeds
- 256-bit encryption and zero-logging policy
- Six simultaneous connections
- Works with: BBC iPlayer, Netflix, Disney+, Hulu, Amazon Prime Video, CBS, Lightbox
- Compatible with: iOS, macOS, Windows, Android, Linux, routers, browsers
NordVPN is a speedy VPN that can get past nearly any geoblock, including BBC iPlayer.
It has 5,400+ servers in 59 countries, with over 500 residing in the UK. Of all the countries NordVPN offers, the UK is its second most widely covered area.
All of NordVPN’s servers are optimized for streaming with its SmartPlay feature, so you can access BBC iPlayer with ease. There’s unlimited data – essential for streaming shows back to back!
NordVPN’s speeds are lightning-fast. So fast, in fact, that my speed actually increased while I was connected.
It offers industry-leading encryption, alongside a strict no-logs policy, DNS and IP leak protection, and an automatic kill switch.
There’s also an ad blocker, CyberSec, which stops annoying interruptions, but also protects your device from any harmful viruses that may reveal your location or compromise your safety.
You can choose from multiple security protocols, including OpenVPN UDP/TCP and IKEv2/IPsec, so you get the best balance of speed and security right for you.
NordVPN has browser proxy extensions for Chrome and Firefox, which allows you to install lightweight add-ons direct to your browser. You don’t need to launch the full VPN to encrypt your traffic, which makes connecting easier. It only hides your IP address in your browser, so you can use everything else with your local IP address.
You have up to six simultaneous connections with one account, too.
See if NordVPN is for you by checking out our full review of its performance and features.
It has a 30-day money-back guarantee, so why not try it out risk-free? If you want to go ahead and sign up, remember to use our exclusive discount.
- Six UK servers
- Fast speeds and reliable connections
- Unlimited data
- Industry-leading encryption
- Zero-logging policy
- Six simultaneous connections
- Works with: BBC iPlayer, Netflix, SHOWTIME, HBO GO, HBO Now, Hulu, Amazon Prime Video
- Compatible with: Windows, Android, iOS, macOS, Chrome, Firefox, Blackberry
PrivateVPN is a small but powerful VPN that’s reliable for bypassing BBC iPlayer’s intense restrictions.
It has a server network of 150+ servers in 60 locations, with six in the UK. There’s unlimited server switches, so you can change between the six UK servers as many times as you like, to find the one that performs the best.
Although it has a small network, its speeds are fast, so you don’t need to worry about servers becoming overloaded with users and slowing you down.
It has unlimited data, so wave goodbye to restrictions on how much you can watch!
PrivateVPN’s apps are easy to use, and you can install it on up to six devices simultaneously.
Secure streaming is essential, and PrivateVPN uses 256-bit encryption to hide your IP address and protect your traffic. It also has an automatic kill switch and strict no-logs policy.
If you need support, there’s a 24/7 live chat. There’s also free remote support to help you set up.
Try it out yourself with a 30-day money-back guarantee and use our discount code to make savings with your subscription.
Of course, we’ve run extensive testing on PrivateVPN to see how well its features perform. Read more in our detailed review.
How We Chose the Best VPNs for BBC iPlayer
I don’t want to risk my reputation recommending VPNs that are below-par, so I tested each VPN to make sure it met strict criteria before adding it to my list.
For this, I primarily considered the VPNs’ server locations, connection speeds, and security features.
UK-based servers are a must if you want to unblock iPlayer. But just one or two servers isn’t enough. iPlayer is continually adding new VPN IPs to its block list, so you need a substantial selection of servers to switch to if the one you’re on is blocked.
I decided to look at VPNs with at least 10 UK servers for the best reliability. The services I recommend give you unlimited server switches, so you can change location as many times as you like.
Nobody likes to stream in low definition. We want to be able to see the face of the actor who’s delivering a line – not just a blurry cluster of pixels. For high definition streaming, you need a connection speed of at least 3Mbps.
After connecting to the UK servers, I ran a speed test on each one to make sure they were fast enough for high-quality streaming.
Streaming seems like the most crucial aspect of a VPN, but in reality, it ranks just below security. Using a dangerous VPN puts your personal information, like credit card and banking details, at risk.
I have only recommended VPNs that use military-level encryption to fend off hackers. The services on my list don’t record your browsing activity, and they all have automatic kill switches to protect you in the event of a connection failure.
DNS and IPv6 leak protection aren’t strictly necessary for streaming, but I still gave preference to VPNs that offer them. They make it easier to bypass geoblocks by adding an extra layer of protection to your IP and DNS requests.
What Else Can a VPN Do?
A VPN lets you unblock geo-restrictions so you can stream from anywhere in the world. But that’s not all it’s good for.
When you connect to a server, it hides your IP address. This means you’re completely invisible while you’re catching up with Downton Abbey.
If you’re wondering why that matters, well, it makes you less vulnerable to hackers and privacy thieves who’d love to get their hands on your data, because they don’t even know you’re there.
A VPN is also an excellent solution for security, not just anonymity.
All of your traffic is passed through a highly encrypted tunnel, which is separate to any other internet traffic. It’s invisible, but it’s also secured with code that’s near-impossible to break, protecting you and your data. That’s especially important on unsecured networks like public WiFi.
Ever heard anyone say a VPN can increase your internet speed? They’re not lying. Your Internet Service Provider (ISP) can throttle your bandwidth, especially once it knows you’re streaming, which causes annoying lag and buffering. Since your ISP doesn’t know you’re there, it can’t interfere.
A VPN doesn’t throttle your speeds, so you have reliable, fast connections for HD streaming.
Is BBC iPlayer free to use?
There are no costs to download iPlayer or create an account, and you won’t pay any ongoing subscription fees. The only cost associated with its use is a TV license.
Do I need a TV license to watch BBC iPlayer?
Per UK law and the BBC’s terms and conditions, you must possess a TV license to watch content on iPlayer. To use the service, you’ll need to create an account, provide a UK postal code, and check a box to affirm that you have a TV license; that’s it. You need the TV license whether you’re streaming, recording, or catching up on previous episodes.
How can I watch BBC iPlayer?
There are several ways you can watch BBC iPlayer. You can download its app for use on tablets, cellular phones, and other mobile devices. You can also stream online using a browser like Chrome or watch on your television using a streaming device, set-top box, or smart TV.
Why won’t BBC iPlayer work with my VPN?
Assuming that you’re using ExpressVPN or one of our other recommendations for iPlayer, you may have trouble connecting if you’re using a blocked server. First, make sure you’re connected to a UK server as they’re the only ones that work. If you’re still having an issue, it may be that the particular server has been identified by the BBC and blacklisted. Simply disconnect from that server, and try another.
BBC iPlayer’s geoblocks might be tough, but a powerful VPN can easily get around them. You need a speedy, reliable VPN that guarantees access to BBC iPlayer and keeps you secure.
My #1 recommendation is ExpressVPN, because of its speeds, security, and added features for users.
Now you’ve seen which VPNs are best for watching BBC iPlayer, why not see our top picks for Netflix?
Wondering which security protocol is best for streaming? Read our comprehensive guide to help you decide.