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How to Watch BBC iPlayer FREE Anywhere in 2021!

The BBC produces some of the best drama and documentary programming in the world, but it’s only available in the UK. So how do you watch great TV shows like Seven Worlds, One Planet, or Line of Duty outside of the UK?

You can stream BBC iPlayer for FREE from anywhere with a VPN. But, because it’s toughened up its geoblocks, many VPNs can’t access it anymore.

I’ve spent months testing 300 VPNs to determine which can consistently access BBC iPlayer. My top pick is ExpressVPN for its lightning speeds and excellent unblocking abilities, but any of the VPNs on my list are fast and reliable for accessing BBC iPlayer.

And you can try all my VPN recommendations for FREE for a limited period, thanks to risk-free money-back guarantees. Request a refund during the guarantee term and it’s yours, no questions asked.

Get BBC iPlayer With ExpressVPN Now!

How to Unblock BBC iPlayer from Anywhere in Under 2 Minutes

  1. Choose a VPN that’s proven to overcome BBC iPlayer’s geoblocks, like ExpressVPN. It’s my top pick as it’s super-fast and has excellent streaming features.
  2. Use your VPN to connect to a server in the UK.
  3. Head over to BBC iPlayer and start streaming the best of British TV.

Note: When registering for iPlayer, you will need to provide a UK postcode, which looks like this: SW1A 1AA – the postcode for Buckingham Palace. iPlayer will also ask you if you have a valid UK TV license. You don’t need to provide proof — just click yes, and it will let you stream.

Start Streaming BBC iPlayer Now!

Why You Need a VPN to Watch BBC iPlayer

Your IP address tells the sites you visit which country you’re in. If BBC iPlayer detects that you’re using a non-UK IP, it’ll deny you access with this error message:

BBC iPlayer geoblocked error.

Error message: BBC iPlayer only works in the UK. Sorry, it’s due to rights issues. In the UK? Here’s some advice.

This is geoblocking – restricting what you can view based on your location – and BBC iPlayer is particularly efficient at it, but I’ve found five VPNs that can beat BBC iPlayer’s tough geo-restrictions and anti-VPN software.

It’s easy.

Simply connect to one of your VPN’s UK servers and you’re allocated a UK IP address. Your virtual location then changes and it’ll appear to BBC iPlayer that you’re in the UK. You can now stream as much Noughts + Crosses or This Country as you like.

The Best VPNs for Watching BBC iPlayer – Updated 2021

To watch all your favorite BBC shows, you need a VPN that can guarantee a reliable connection to BBC iPlayer. After many months of research and testing, I’ve decided on my five best VPNs for unblocking iPlayer around the world.

TIP: If you find you can’t connect to BBC iPlayer, disconnect from your current server and reconnect to another. With a new UK IP address, you will be able to access BBC iPlayer.

1. ExpressVPN – Best VPN for Unblocking BBC iPlayer


  • 3,000 servers worldwide, including 4 UK locations
  • Lightning-fast speeds for HD streaming
  • Works on devices that don’t normally support VPNs
  • 5 simultaneous device connections
  • 30-day money-back guarantee
  • Works with: BBC iPlayer, Netflix, Hulu, Disney+, HBO, Amazon Prime Video
  • Compatible with: Windows, Android, iOS, macOS, Chrome, Linux, Firefox, routers

ExpressVPN’s latest deal April 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.

With exceptional streaming features, ExpressVPN is my top pick for watching BBC iPlayer from around the world.

Test out ExpressVPN’s streaming capabilities for yourself risk-free with a 30-day money-back guarantee

You can use the MediaStreamer feature to watch the best of British TV on your big screen. It enables streaming on devices that don’t support a native VPN app, like smart TVs. Following a step-by-step guide on the ExpressVPN website, I had BBC iPlayer up on my LG smart TV in minutes.

I had no problem accessing BBC IPlayer from the US with each of ExpressVPN’s four UK server locations. Plus, my colleagues in China broke through the Great Firewall to watch BBC iPlayer in the world’s most censored country.

This reliability would be meaningless if ExpressVPN didn’t have the speed to match. I was pleased to discover that ExpressVPN lived up to its name. My quick connect UK server provided an exceptional download speed of 35.71 Mbps, which proved to be more than fast enough for smooth streaming.

Connection Ping – ms Download Speed – Mbps Upload Speed – Mbps
Base speed in the US 12 60.45 18.56
Quick connect UK server 83 35.71 17.26

ExpressVPN’s built-in speed test for Mac and Windows made it easy for me to find the UK servers with speeds over 25 Mbps, so I could watch Blue Planet II in Ultra HD, knowing there would be no interruptions or long loading times. 

Unlimited bandwidth and data mean I didn’t experience any dropped connections, even when streaming over four hours of EastEnders.

I reached out to the 24/7 live chat team to ask how many devices I could connect at once — 5 — and found them to be helpful and polite. They were exceptionally knowledgeable about the streaming services ExpressVPN can unblock, and were able to point me towards the best streaming server, too.

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

Won’t last long: Save up to 49% off your subscription

Stream BBC iPlayer With ExpressVPN Today!

2. Surfshark – Unlimited Connections to Stream BBC iPlayer


  • 3,200 global servers, 3 UK server locations
  • Fast speeds
  • No limits on bandwidth
  • Unlimited simultaneous connections
  • 30-day money-back guarantee
  • Works with: BBC iPlayer, Netflix, Hulu, Disney+, HBO, Amazon Prime Video, Sky Go
  • Compatible with: Windows, Android, macOS, iOS, Chrome, Linux, Firefox, routers

Unlimited simultaneous connections make Surfshark an excellent value for your money. You can share a single subscription with the whole family, so they can stream their favorite BBC iPlayer shows on all their devices.

Put Surfshark to the test on all your gadgets before making a firm commitment with a 30-day money-back guarantee. Device compatibility is excellent – I connected my smartphone, tablet, and laptop at the same time and experienced no dips in performance.

I had no problems connecting to BBC iPlayer on numerous occasions with each of Surfshark’s three UK server locations.

I consulted with my team members in China and Russia, and thanks to Surfshark’s NoBorders Mode – which disguises your use of a VPN as regular traffic – they were able to beat censorship blocks and connect to BBC iPlayer with ease.

Although my download speed dropped by 60% with Surfshark’s UK server, 26.77 Mbps is still significantly more than the 5 Mbps required for HD streaming.

Connection Ping – ms Download Speed – Mbps Upload Speed – Mbps
Base speed in the US 12 60.45 18.56
Quick connect UK server 126 26.77 17.24

Buffering and lag were eliminated completely, and thanks to unlimited bandwidth, I could stream as much as I wanted.

Surfshark’s customer support is excellent with 24/7 live chat support providing a quick response when I inquired about the VPN’s split tunneling feature. With a little guidance, I was able to stream The Great British Sewing Bee on BBC iPlayer and access local emails at the same time.

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

Save 81% on Surfshark’s most popular plan

Stream BBC iPlayer With Surfshark Today!

3. CyberGhost – Dedicated Profiles for Easy Streaming

graphic of cyberghost 8 apps user interface on different devices like laptops, desktops, and smartphones

  • 6,800 global servers, 500+ UK servers
  • Servers optimized for iPlayer
  • Great network speeds and unlimited bandwidth
  • 7 simultaneous device connections
  • 45-day money-back guarantee
  • Works with: BBC iPlayer, Netflix, Disney+, HBO, Amazon Prime Video, CBS
  • Compatible with: Windows, Android, iOS, macOS, Chrome, Linux, Firefox, routers

April 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.

With CyberGhost, you’ll find it easy to stream BBC iPlayer from anywhere. Just a few clicks is all it takes to connect to a UK server and stream some great British TV shows. Each server is labeled with the streaming services it can unblock, so all you need to do is type “iPlayer” into the search field and it will automatically display the best server.

See how easy it is to connect to BBC iPlayer with CyberGhost for yourself while enjoying a generous 45-day money-back guarantee.

I managed to beat BBC iPlayer’s geoblocks and anti-VPN software with a random selection of CyberGhost’s 500+ UK servers. Plus, CyberGhost’s optimized BBC iPlayer server gave me access to the platform several times with reliable speeds.

Unfortunately, the Great Wall of China proved problematic for CyberGhost. Our researchers in China failed to access BBC iPlayer, no matter which UK server they tried.

As far as speeds go, although the 13.91 Mbps from the UK server was not fast enough for smooth 4K streaming, it was sufficient for buffer and lag-free streaming in HD.

Connection Ping – ms Download Speed – Mbps Upload Speed – Mbps
Base speed in the US 12 60.45 18.56
Quick connect UK server 79 13.91 17.20

I put the unlimited data and bandwidth to the test by watching an entire series of Jonathan Creek, and I enjoyed a crystal clear picture with no frozen pixels. Plus, there were no long loading times between episodes, as my speed remained steady with no dropped connections.

You can connect the VPN to 7 devices simultaneously. I put this to the test by connecting all of my family’s devices and because you get unlimited bandwidth, our connections didn’t falter.

I’ve tested hundreds of VPNs, and I’ve found CyberGhost to be one of the easiest to use. But, if you do have any problems connecting, live chat support is on hand day or night with helpful and speedy advice.

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

Huge deal: Save 83% on your CyberGhost plan

Stream BBC iPlayer With CyberGhost Today!

4. NordVPN – Reliable and Fast UK Server Network for Streaming


  • 5,460 global servers, 450+ UK servers
  • SmartPlay DNS for beating iPlayer’s geoblocks
  • Superfast speeds and unlimited bandwidth
  • 6 connections allowed
  • 30-day money-back guarantee
  • Works with: BBC iPlayer, Netflix, Hulu, Disney+, HBO, Amazon Prime Video
  • Compatible with: Windows, Android, iOS, macOS, Chrome, Linux, Firefox, routers

With super-fast speeds, great unblocking power, and an impressive UK network, NordVPN is a smart choice for streaming BBC iPlayer from anywhere.

A 30-day money-back guarantee gives you plenty of time to play around with all the great streaming features of NordVPN with no risk.

One such feature is SmartPlay – NordVPN’s geoblock-busting DNS technology. It automatically connects you to the best of over 450+ UK servers to access BBC iPlayer. I tested out the proficiency of SmartPlay over a dozen times, and each time, I connected to a UK location that beat BBC iPlayer’s geo-restrictions.

NordVPN certainly lives up to its reputation as being one of the fastest VPNs. With NordVPN’s UK server, my download speed only dropped by 10% to 55.46 Mbps. This is phenomenal for a long-distance connection.

Connection Ping – ms Download Speed – Mbps Upload Speed – Mbps
Base speed in the US 12 60.45 18.56
Quick connect UK server 84 55.46 17.59

With such fast speeds, it was no surprise that whatever I streamed on BBC iPlayer was free from lag and buffering with sharp and clear images. Unlimited data and bandwidth allowed me to stream Sherlock through the night, safe in the knowledge that NordVPN wouldn’t slow me down or limit my connection for using too much data.

My colleagues in China also reported that NordVPN gave them a reliable connection to BBC iPlayer with stable speeds and smooth streaming.

It permits 6 simultaneous device connections, so you can keep your whole household occupied while you stream. I connected my laptop, desktop, Android phone, and tablet at the same time without any slowdown.

If you need help, NordVPN’s 24/7 live chat support is friendly and knowledgeable. They responded to my query in minutes.

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

Save big with 68% off your NordVPN plan

Stream BBC iPlayer With NordVPN Today!

5. PrivateVPN – Small but Dependable Streaming Network


  • 150 servers worldwide, 2 UK servers
  • A specialized iPlayer server
  • Good streaming speeds and unlimited bandwidth
  • 6 device connections at once
  • 30-day money-back guarantee
  • Works with: BBC iPlayer, Netflix, Hulu, Disney+, HBO, Amazon Prime Video
  • Compatible with: Windows, Android, iOS, macOS, Chrome, Linux, Firefox, routers

PrivateVPN’s network may be compact, but it offers reliable speeds and unblocking strength that rivals some larger providers.

I tested PrivateVPN’s two UK servers on multiple occasions, and each time, I was able to skip past BBC iPlayer’s geoblocks. Plus, the dedicated server for BBC iPlayer guaranteed a dependable connection, even during peak times.

PrivateVPN gives you a 30-day money-back guarantee that allows you to try out all it has to offer, risk-free.

While not as fast as the other VPNs on this list, the 11.51 Mbps download speed from the UK server allowed me to stream Pose in HD with no buffering or lag and minimal loading time between episodes.

Connection Ping – ms Download Speed – Mbps Upload Speed – Mbps
Base speed in the US 12 60.45 18.56
Quick connect UK server 102 11.51 12.35

Thanks to unlimited data and 6 simultaneous device connections, the whole family can stream as much as they like from BBC iPlayer without worrying about being dropped from PrivateVPN mid-binge.

If you need help with anything, PrivateVPN’s live chat is available during business hours in Sweden. Outside live chat hours, you’ll find plenty of useful information, FAQs, and tutorials on the PrivateVPN website.

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

Won’t last long: Save up to 77% today

Stream BBC iPlayer With PrivateVPN Today!

FAQs

😀 What else can a VPN do?

The ability to unblock BBC iPlayer and other global content is a major benefit of premium VPNs, but there is more to them. A premium VPN provides:

  • Complete protection of your online privacy and sensitive data with advanced security features, including military-grade encryption, leak protection, an automatic kill switch, and a zero-logging policy.
  • Anonymous streaming, browsing, and torrenting, even in countries with strict online censorship.
  • Peace of mind that your sensitive data is protected every time you go online, including when connected to unsecured WiFi networks.
  • Malware and adware blockers.
  • Access to a widespread global server network.
  • The ability to bypass local network congestion and throttling.

Our guide to VPNs has some excellent information about the additional benefits of using a VPN. 

😄 Can BBC iPlayer detect a VPN?

BBC iPlayer uses anti-VPN software that compares your IP address against a database of known VPN IPs. If it finds a match, your connection is blocked and your server is blacklisted.

This isn’t a problem for the VPNs on my list, as they regularly update their IP addresses to prevent detection. If you have a problem connecting to BBC iPlayer with any of the VPNs on this list, simply disconnect from your current UK server and reconnect to your VPN with a different one. This assigns you a new IP address that isn’t blocked.

Take a look at our comprehensive guide to the best VPNs for BBC iPlayer

🙂 Can I watch BBC iPlayer on my phone with a VPN?

Absolutely! Each of my recommendations has excellent mobile apps, so you can stream BBC iPlayer on your phone, tablet, laptop, and more.

😊 Is using a VPN to watch BBC iPlayer illegal?

In the majority of countries, using a VPN to stream content is perfectly legal. However, countries with heavy internet restrictions, like China and Russia, can be a bit of a gray area. Russia has banned VPNs entirely, while China only blocks them. You can still use a VPN in China, but you need to install it before you arrive.

We tell you everything you need to know about the legality of using a VPN in your region with our guide

🤗  Do I need a TV license to watch BBC iPlayer?

When signing up for an account with BBC iPlayer, you will be asked if you have a UK TV license. However, you don’t need any proof, you just need to check a box confirming TV license ownership.

Bottom Line

Outside of the UK’s borders, you’re unable to access BBC iPlayer and all of its great content unless you use a VPN.

With a top-class VPN, like ExpressVPN, you’ll have no problem obtaining a UK IP address that can fly past BBC iPlayer’s geoblocks.

I’ve thoroughly tested each of my VPN recommendations, so I can confirm that they have the unblocking power and the speed required for the smooth streaming of BBC iPlayer from anywhere around the world.

Stream BBC iPlayer Now!

To summarize, the best VPNs for unblocking BBC iPlayer are:

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

Ariel Hochstadt, Formerly Gmail Marketing Manager globally for Google, and today web entrepreneur. Ariel is a successful international speaker and author of 3 published books on computers and internet. He is the co-founder of vpnMentor and an advocate of online privacy.

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