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The Best Free & Premium VPNs for BBC iPlayer

Best VPN for BBC iPlayer
Callum Tennent's profile image

Callum Tennent oversees how we test and review VPN services. He's a member of the IAPP, and his VPN advice has featured in Forbes and the Internet Society.

Fact-checked by Simon MiglianoAdditional Testing by David Hughes

BBC iPlayer is only available in the UK. The best VPNs for BBC iPlayer assign you a UK IP address that unblocks BBC’s video content from anywhere.

Sadly, some of the best streaming VPNs don’t work with BBC iPlayer. That’s because the BBC uses advanced technology to detect and block VPN traffic.

What Is the Best VPN for BBC iPlayer in 2023?

Based on our unblocking tests, the best VPNs to watch BBC iPlayer outside the UK are:

  1. NordVPN: Best VPN for BBC iPlayer
  2. ExpressVPN: Fastest VPN for BBC iPlayer
  3. PrivateVPN: Best Cheap VPN for BBC iPlayer
  4. Windscribe: Best Free VPN for BBC iPlayer
  5. HideMyAss: Best Beginners VPN for BBC iPlayer

The best VPN for BBC iPlayer in 2023 is NordVPN. NordVPN’s 440+ UK servers all work with BBC iPlayer, delivering fast streaming speeds on PC, Mac, iPhone, Android smartphones, and Fire TV Stick.

Comparison of the Best BBC iPlayer VPNs

Use the table below to compare the top BBC iPlayer VPNs based on UK VPN speeds, UK server coverage, streaming-specific features, and more.

Top BBC iPlayer VPNs: Summary Test Ratings

The table below shows how the best BBC iPlayer VPNs performed in our five key testing categories:

Later in this guide, we’ll also explain how to watch BBC iPlayer with a VPN from countries like the USA, Canada, and Germany.

And if you’re having trouble unblocking BBC iPlayer from abroad, we’ll show you how to fix your VPN not working.

Why Trust Top10VPN.com?

We’re completely independent and focused on VPN software. We’ve spent thousands of hours testing and reviewing BBC iPlayer VPNs using our BBC iPlayer VPN testing process to recommend the best ones.

Here are some of the key BBC iPlayer VPN test statistics:

VPN Services Reviewed56
Weekly Speed Tests3,000+
Total Hours of Testing30,000+
UK VPN Servers Tested3,000+
Extra Features TestedSmart DNS & Router Support
Longest Streaming Distance Tested10,553 miles

The Best VPNs for BBC iPlayer Analyzed

  1. 1. NordVPN: Best VPN for BBC iPlayer

    Reliably unblocks BBC iPlayer with a large UK server network and very fast speeds.

    Ranked #1 out of 56 VPNs for BBC iPlayer
    NordVPN Mobile App Screenshot
     Rated 4.7 out of 5 
    246 user reviews
    Visit NordVPN

    • 440+ UK servers unblock BBC iPlayer
    • Fast international download speeds
    • Good Fire TV Stick application
    • Chrome & Firefox VPN extensions
    • Unblocks UK Netflix, All 4 & ITV Hub
    • Six simultaneous device policy

    • Smart DNS isn't reliable with UK streaming apps
    • Doesn't accept PayPal payments
    • Desktop clients can't be resized
    • Renewal plan price is much higher

    Overall BBC iPlayer Rating: 9.7/10

    This overall rating is calculated based on the following subcategory ratings. To learn more, read our BBC iPlayer VPN testing methodology.

    • 9.99.9/10
    • 9.69.6/10
    • 9.69.6/10
    • 9.39.3/10
    • 9.59.5/10

    NordVPN is the best VPN choice for BBC iPlayer in 2023. It’s fast, easy to use, and it reliably streams BBC iPlayer on every single one of its UK servers.

    You won’t have to spend time trying servers and its Smart DNS feature allows you to stream BBC iPlayer from multiple devices.

    Cheapest Price$3.29/mo over 2 years See all plans
    UK Servers440
    UK Server LocationsLondon
    Smart DNSYes
    Support24/7 Live Chat
    Compatible with
    1. windowsWindows
    2. macosMac OS
    3. linuxLinux
    4. iosiOS
    5. androidAndroid

    Over 440 fast streaming London-based servers

    NordVPN has over 440 UK servers, which is one of the highest currently available on the market.

    NordVPN's List of UK Servers

    NordVPN has over 440 servers in London, UK.

    The UK IP addresses assigned to these servers are also regularly refreshed. This way they stay regularly ahead of streaming blocks and IP blacklists.

    When we tested NordVPN’s speeds connecting into the UK, we recorded an average of 74Mbps out of a baseline 100Mbps.

    These impressive long-distance connection speeds result in flawless picture quality with no buffering or blurring.

    We recommend you stick with the VPN’s default NordLynx (WireGuard) protocol to achieve the fastest speeds.

    NordVPN Unblocks BBC iPlayer

    We easily unblocked BBC iPlayer using NordVPN.

    Fire TV Stick and Smart DNS for streaming BBC iPlayer on TV screens

    NordVPN also offers an intuitive Fire TV Stick app, which unblocks BBC iPlayer effectively. You’ll need associated your Firestick with a UK Amazon account, though.

    In addition, NordVPN’s Smart DNS unblocks iPlayer on PS4/5, Apple TV, and Roku.

    Should you ever need any help streaming BBC iPlayer from outside the UK, NordVPN’s helpful live chat agents are on hand 24/7.

    You can also try NordVPN for up to 30 days before committing long term to the service.

    On the whole, NordVPN’s fast speeds, wide compatibility, and ability to unblock all major streaming sites make it the perfect VPN for BBC iPlayer.

    The following NordVPN servers work with BBC iPlayer:

    • UK#2010
    • UK#2174
    • UK#2195
  2. 2. ExpressVPN: Fastest VPN for BBC iPlayer

    The fastest VPN for BBC iPlayer with excellent media streaming device support.

    ExpressVPN's new app on mobile devices
     Rated 4.8 out of 5 
    1,834 user reviews
    Visit ExpressVPN

    • Works with BBC iPlayer (from outside UK)
    • The fastest speeds connecting into the UK
    • Custom app for Amazon Fire TV Stick
    • Smart DNS works with Apple TV & gaming consoles
    • The best VPN extensions for Chrome & Firefox
    • 7-day free trial & 30-day refund guarantee

    • More expensive than rivals
    • Extensions need application to run alongside
    • Undisclosed number of UK servers

    Overall BBC iPlayer Rating: 9.2/10

    This overall rating is calculated based on the following subcategory ratings. To learn more, read our BBC iPlayer VPN testing methodology.

    • 8.58.5/10
    • 9.89.8/10
    • 9.49.4/10
    • 9.89.8/10
    • 9.99.9/10

    ExpressVPN is the fastest VPN for connecting into the UK. It works well with BBC iPlayer especially using its web browser extensions.

    The VPN is highly compatible with all popular devices, including Fire TV, Apple TV, Roku, and games consoles.

    This level of performance comes at a cost, though – on initial signup, ExpressVPN is more expensive than its closest rivals.

    Cheapest Price$6.67/mo over 15 Months See all plans
    UK ServersUndisclosed
    UK Server LocationsLondon
    Smart DNSYes
    Support24/7 Live Chat
    Compatible with
    1. windowsWindows
    2. macosMac OS
    3. linuxLinux
    4. chromeosChrome OS
    5. iosiOS
    6. androidAndroid

    Excellent speeds & effective Chrome and Firefox extensions

    In our recent rounds of testing, ExpressVPN was the fastest VPN connecting into the UK.

    We registered an average download speed of 79Mbps, which is 7% faster than NordVPN.

    The most reliable way to unblock BBC iPlayer with ExpressVPN is using its Chrome and Firefox browser extensions, and connecting to the ExpressVPN Wembley server.

    ExpressVPN Chrome extension server locations

    Some of ExpressVPN’s UK server locations on Chrome.

    Don’t worry though, ExpressVPN’s native apps work with BBC iPlayer on most devices including PCs, tablets and smartphones.

    Moreover, the VPN’s Fire TV Stick app and Smart DNS service (MediaStreamer) allow you to stream the BBC’s video service on your TV, too.

    An expensive but versatile VPN for streaming

    ExpressVPN is a great all-round VPN. It’s reliable and very fast across all server locations, including long-distance connections.

    You’ll be able to easily watch BBC iPlayer, access UK Netflix, and unblock Channel 4 with the VPN.

    Bypassing BBC iPlayer's geo-blocks using ExpressVPN

    All of ExpressVPN’s UK servers work with BBC iPlayer.

    While it ExpressVPN is more expensive than many other VPNs, you can trial the service for free for seven days. Or, you can make the most of its 30-day money-back guarantee.

    The following ExpressVPN servers work with BBC iPlayer:

    • UK – Docklands
    • UK – Wembley
  3. 3. PrivateVPN: Best Cheap BBC iPlayer VPN

    A simple and very affordable VPN for BBC iPlayer, with fast dedicated streaming servers.

    Image of PrivateVPN's app on mobile
     Rated 4.9 out of 5 
    1,735 user reviews
    Visit PrivateVPN

    • Reliably works with BBC iPlayer
    • Very affordable on a three-year plan
    • Simple VPN apps & instant setup
    • Native VPN app for Amazon Fire TV
    • 30-day money-back guarantee

    • Only six UK VPN servers
    • Inconsistent live chat availability
    • No Smart DNS functionality
    • No VPN browser extensions
    • Unreliable speed performance
    • Free trial no longer available

    Overall BBC iPlayer Rating: 9.1/10

    This overall rating is calculated based on the following subcategory ratings. To learn more, read our BBC iPlayer VPN testing methodology.

    • 9.89.8/10
    • 8.78.7/10
    • 8.58.5/10
    • 8.78.7/10
    • 8.38.3/10

    PrivateVPN only has 150 servers in its entire network, but it’s still a very good choice for BBC iPlayer.

    The VPN’s user-friendly apps reliably unblock the streaming service from outside the UK with good speeds. What’s more, it’s great for accessing other streaming services like Netflix, too.

    The VPN’s strongest feature is its affordability – you can subscribe to PrivateVPN for only $2.00 a month on a three-year subscription plan.

    Cheapest Price$2.00/mo over 3 years See all plans
    UK Servers6
    UK Server LocationsManchester, London
    Smart DNSNo
    SupportLive Chat
    Compatible with
    1. windowsWindows
    2. macosMac OS
    3. linuxLinux
    4. iosiOS
    5. androidAndroid

    Small network of specialized streaming servers

    While there are only six PrivateVPN servers in the UK, one is specifically optimized for watching BBC iPlayer.

    This server is clearly labeled in the application, and our tests found it consistently unblocked BBC iPlayer.

    Using PrivateVPN to access BBC iPlayer from outside the UK

    The VPN unblocks BBC iPlayer content without buffering.

    However, only six UK servers is limiting. A larger UK server network could help reduce congestion and improve the VPN’s speeds connecting into the UK.

    Average download speeds connecting into the UK

    Despite its small server network, PrivateVPN’s speeds are relatively fast, for now.

    Connecting from outside the UK, you’ll be able to smoothly stream BBC iPlayer. But, the VPN’s speeds lag behind NordVPN’s and ExpressVPN’s.

    If you do run into any issues, PrivateVPN’s live chat isn’t always available, which is an area that could use improvement.

    The VPN also lacks the added compatibility of its better rivals. It doesn’t offer browser extensions, and there is no Smart DNS functionality, either.

    All in all, PrivateVPN isn’t as good as NordVPN or ExpressVPN, but it’s more affordable longer-term and still a reliable choice for BBC iPlayer.

    The following PrivateVPN servers work with BBC iPlayer:

    • UK – London
    • UK – Manchester
  4. 4. Windscribe: Best Free BBC iPlayer VPN

    The only safe 100% free VPN that unblocks BBC iPlayer consistently.

    Windscribe mobile screenshots
     Rated 5 out of 5 
    3 user reviews
    Visit Windscribe

    • Unblocks iPlayer on all UK free servers
    • No payment details required
    • Includes app for Fire TV Stick
    • Easy app setup for all platforms
    • Unlimited device policy

    • 10GB monthly data limit
    • No Smart DNS service
    • Slower long-distance speeds
    • No live chat customer support
    • Only 2 free UK servers

    Overall BBC iPlayer Rating: 8.9/10

    This overall rating is calculated based on the following subcategory ratings. To learn more, read our BBC iPlayer VPN testing methodology.

    • 9.59.5/10
    • 99.0/10
    • 7.57.5/10
    • 99.0/10
    • 8.18.1/10

    Windscribe is the only safe free VPN that works with BBC iPlayer, smoothly and reliably.

    Using the VPN, we watched a range of BBC shows from overseas on all its apps and web browser extensions.

    However, the free VPN enforces a 10GB monthly data cap. While generous for a free service, you’ll only be able to stream four hours of HD content per month.

    Cheapest PriceFree
    UK ServersUndisclosed
    Smart DNSNo
    SupportEmail & Online Resources Only
    Compatible with
    1. windowsWindows
    2. macosMac OS
    3. linuxLinux
    4. iosiOS
    5. androidAndroid

    Great for Firestick, but doesn't support Smart DNS

    Windscribe is compatible with all mainstream devices, as well as Fire TV Stick.

    We easily streamed BBC shows like Top Gear, Killing Eve, and Fleabag on our test Fire TV device.

    Using Windscribe Free with BBC iPlayer

    Windscribe Free streamed BBC iPlayer from outside the UK.

    However, Windscribe Free doesn’t come with Smart DNS functionality. Therefore, unblocking BBC iPlayer on devices that don’t support VPN applications will be more challenging.

    Slower international speeds & no live chat support

    Windscribe’s speed can’t compete with ExpressVPN or NordVPN. However, they are very good for a free VPN service.

    There is also no live chat support, which forces you to rely on the poor automated chat agent or wait for an answer from its email support team.

    Overall, Windscribe is a good free VPN to stream BBC iPlayer for a few hours each month. For longer, either upgrade to its premium service, or use one of the other BBC iPlayer VPNs in this guide.

    The following Windscribe servers work with BBC iPlayer:

    • London Crumpets
    • Manchester United
    • Windflix UK
  5. 5. HideMyAss: Best Beginners VPN for BBC iPlayer

    An simple VPN built for streaming, with easy apps and great live chat support.

    Screenshot of HideMyAss' Mobile App
     Rated 3.7 out of 5 
    7 user reviews
    Visit HideMyAss

    • VPN servers optimized to unlock BBC iPlayer
    • Fast speeds connecting to UK VPN servers
    • 26 UK VPN servers (4 virtual)
    • VPN extensions for Chrome & Firefox
    • Clean, modern, user-friendly VPN apps
    • 7-day free trial available

    • No Fire Stick TV application
    • No Smart DNS tool
    • Expensive for what it offers

    Overall BBC iPlayer Rating: 8.7/10

    This overall rating is calculated based on the following subcategory ratings. To learn more, read our BBC iPlayer VPN testing methodology.

    • 9.59.5/10
    • 9.69.6/10
    • 8.88.8/10
    • 5.55.5/10
    • 8.58.5/10

    HideMyAss (HMA) VPN operates a wide server network, covering 190 countries. There are only 26 servers in the UK, but it’s still enough to deliver fast speeds connecting into them.

    The VPN service also has VPN servers optimized for streaming British TV. Our testing found that the ‘Donkey Town’ server was the best for unblocking BBC iPlayer.

    Cheapest Price$2.99/mo over 3 years See all plans
    UK Servers22
    UK Server LocationsGlasgow, London
    SupportLive Chat
    Compatible with
    1. windowsWindows
    2. macosMac OS
    3. linuxLinux
    4. iosiOS
    5. androidAndroid

    User-friendly applications and browser extensions

    HMA VPN’s applications are very intuitive and ideal for VPN newbies. There are native apps for Windows, macOS, Android, and iOS.

    The service’s native software easily unblocks BBC iPlayer, and at very high speed. In fact, HMA VPN is almost as fast as NordVPN.

    The VPN’s Chrome and Firefox browser extensions are also easy to use, and effective at beating BBC iPlayer’s geo-blocks.

    HideMyAss streaming BBC iPlayer

    HMA worked with BBC iPlayer in our latest tests.

    No native apps for Firestick or Apple TV

    sadly, HideMyAss lacks custom apps for streaming devices like Amazon Fire TV Stick and Android TV. It also lacks Smart DNS support.

    While it’s very simple to use and ideal for beginners, HMA VPN is rather expensive for what it offers. It does come with a seven-day free trial, though.

    The following HideMyAss servers work with BBC iPlayer:

    • Donkey Town

BBC iPlayer VPNs to Avoid

We tested and reviewed 56 to determine if, and how well, they can unblock BBC iPlayer.

The truth is many VPNs, including very popular ones, either don’t work with the BBC’s streaming platform, or they’re too unreliable.

Below are popular VPN services that we don’t recommend you use to unblock BBC iPlayer from outside the UK.


Overall Ranking: #18 out of 56 VPNs Reviewed

Overall Rating: 8.2/108.2

What we don’t like: Mullvad is one of the most secure VPNs you’ll find. But, it’s not capable of unblocking streaming services, including BBC iPlayer.


Overall Ranking: #29 out of 56 VPNs Reviewed

Overall Rating: 5.7/105.7

What we don’t like: TunnelBear is not the quickest VPN, and more importantly hasn’t been able to access BBC iPlayer from several years.

Avast Secureline VPN

Overall Ranking: #32 out of 56 VPNs Reviewed

Overall Rating: 7.0/107.0

What we don’t like: Avast SecureLine is slow connecting into the UK, and hasn’t worked with BBC iPlayer since we started testing its VPN applications.

Turbo Free VPN

Overall Ranking: #46 out of 56 VPNs Reviewed

Overall Rating: 2.8/102.8

What we don’t like: Turbo Free VPN is unable to bypass the BBC’s streaming geo-restrictions. Also, the VPN has simply too many annoying ads, and it leaks your real DNS details.

Hola VPN

Overall Ranking: #54 out of 56 VPNs Reviewed

Overall Rating: 1.5/101.5

What we don’t like: Hola VPN is a dangerous free VPN that stores all your internet activity. It’s also very slow and can’t unblock BBC iPlayer.

How We Test VPNs for BBC iPlayer

We measure five key decision-making factors when testing VPNs for BBC iPlayer to calculate an overall use-case rating.

In this section, we’ll detail our exact testing process to select the best VPNs for BBC iPlayer.

For BBC iPlayer specifically, we test:

  • Whether the VPN consistently streams BBC iPlayer from abroad.
  • Average download speeds connecting into the UK.
  • How many UK VPN servers are available, and how good they are.
  • Compatibility with media streaming devices, including Fire TV Stick, Apple TV, and games consoles.
  • The quality and availability of live customer support.

Below is the complete list of factors we test to recommend VPNs for BBC iPlayer, along with how much of our overall rating they make up:

1. BBC iPlayer Access: 40%

Minimum Requirement: Access to BBC iPlayer on some UK servers.
We Recommend: Consistent access to BBC iPlayer on all UK servers.

The ability to reliably and consistently unblock BBC iPlayer is of course the most important factor, so it makes up the majority of our rating.

We regularly test every VPN service on multiple devices and test access to BBC iPlayer ourselves.

We use this first-hand testing to record the number of times a VPN can unblock BBC iPlayer in a given period, and on how many servers.

The most effective VPNs will work on the majority of UK servers, and will also unblock other streaming services like Netflix.

2. UK Speed: 20%

Minimum Requirement: Less than 45% speed loss on connections into the UK.
We Recommend: Less than 30% speed loss on connections into the UK.

Connection speeds are especially important for streaming because it is a high-bandwidth activity.

To stream in HD without buffering, you’ll need unlimited bandwidth and as little speed loss as possible.

We routinely test every VPN’s average download speed when connected to UK servers from Asia, Australia, Europe, and North America.

This gives us accurate data that reflects the speeds you’ll experience streaming BBC iPlayer from abroad with a VPN.

3. Number of UK Servers: 15%

Minimum Requirement: A good selection of UK servers.
We Recommend: A large selection servers in UK cities, with dedicated streaming servers.

The best iPlayer VPNs invest significant resources into unblocking the BBC’s streaming service.

They’ll have many UK VPN servers with thousands of IP addresses, or dedicated streaming servers regularly refreshed to avoid VPN bans.

The fewer UK VPN servers there are, the more congested the network will be, resulting in slower speeds.

A large number of servers also means more IP addresses, making it much harder for the BBC to detect and block your VPN.

4. Streaming Device Support: 15%

Minimum Requirement: Native applications for Android, iOS, Windows, and macOS.
We Recommend: Native apps for the above devices, as well as a Firestick app, browser extensions, and Smart DNS.

Device compatibility is also a key part of our rating. A VPN with many native applications lets you stream BBC iPlayer on most devices.

Top-rated VPNs are available on Android, iOS, Windows, macOS, and additional devices like home routers, Smart TVs, and Fire TV Stick.

We also test useful additional features like split tunneling, browser extensions, and other bespoke tools like Smart DNS. Smart DNS lets you bypass geo-blocks on Smart TVs and games consoles.

5. Customer Support: 10%

Minimum Requirement: Email support and an online knowledge-base.
We Recommend: Useful 24/7 live chat and email support.

Customer support is also important, particularly for temperamental streaming services like BBC iPlayer.

We use email and live-chat to test the quality of assistance on offer from every VPN provider.

This is to make sure you’ll be able to get the technical help you need if your VPN stops working with BBC iPlayer.

Live chat or responsive email support are both rewarded, while slow and ineffective customer support are rated lower.

Other Key Testing Areas

Though they are not always part of our overall rating, there are certain indicators of quality that we factor into every VPN recommendation.

We expect every VPN to provide basic levels of security including AES-256 encryption, IP and DNS leak protection, and the OpenVPN protocol.

It’s also important that every service is simple to use for beginners and experts.

We analyze every VPN application in-depth to make sure it has a user-friendly interface and settings.

We reward customization and configuration options, as long as they come in an easily-understood format.

Finally we consider the price of the service. We give higher ratings to VPNs offering valuable features for a below-average price.

How to Watch BBC iPlayer with a VPN

Wherever you are in the world, you can use a VPN to get a UK IP address and watch restricted TV only available in the UK.

First, make sure to choose a VPN with servers in the UK. All the VPNs listed above have servers in London and elsewhere.

Step-by-step guide to stream BBC iPlayer with a VPN:

  1. Sign up to a recommended VPN for BBC iPlayer and follow the setup prompts on your device.
  2. Open the VPN application and enable IP leak protection (if there’s an option to) and the VPN kill switch.
  3. Choose a VPN server in the UK and click connect.
  4. Use our IP info tool to verify you’ve been assigned a UK IP address.
  5. Once you’ve confirmed you have a UK IP address, log into BBC iPlayer and start streaming.

Following the above steps, you’ll be able to watch BBC iPlayer from outside the United Kingdom.

If you still see a BBC iPlayer error message, read the workarounds below to fix the issue.

Video: How to Unblock BBC iPlayer with a VPN

Watch the video below to see how easily we unblocked BBC iPlayer (as well as as US Netflix and Hulu) using NordVPN:

How to Fix Your VPN Not Working with BBC iPlayer

Sometimes even the most reliable VPNs stop working with BBC iPlayer. The situation can change from day to day as the BBC’s blocks become more aggressive.

VPN services describe it as a “cat and mouse game” because the BBC blocks VPN IP addresses almost as fast as the VPN service releases new ones.

If this happens, you may see a BBC iPlayer error message saying something like this:

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

The best solution is to try a different VPN server. If this doesn’t work, you’ll need a workaround.

If your VPN isn’t working with BBC iPlayer, here’s how to fix it:

  1. Switch on leak protection and run a VPN leak test. If your VPN is leaking your IP address or DNS requests, iPlayer will detect you’re not in the UK.
  2. Clear your browser’s cache and cookies and flush your DNS cache, then log into BBC iPlayer and try again.
  3. Once you’ve cleared your browser’s cache, reconnect using a different UK VPN server. Sometimes a VPN server that worked yesterday may not work today.
  4. Disconnect your VPN, flush your cache, and then reconnect. You may receive a new UK IP address that hasn’t been blacklisted by the BBC.
  5. Try accessing BBC iPlayer using a different web browser.
  6. Disable GPS and location services on your device and browser.
  7. Disable IPv6 at device-level.
  8. If you’re trying to access BBC iPlayer via the app, try again via a web browser.

If your VPN still isn’t working with BBC iPlayer after following these tips, get in touch with your VPN service’s customer support. Otherwise, you may need to choose a new VPN service.

If your VPN doesn’t come with dedicated iPlayer servers, ask customer support which servers they recommend using.

Internet users connecting within the UK run into issues a lot more frequently than those connecting from outside the country.

If you’re in the UK, you can use split tunneling to route iPlayer traffic outside the VPN. All other web traffic will keep using the VPN connection.

Why Do I Need a VPN for BBC iPlayer?

BBC iPlayer Homepage

Streaming services, like BBC iPlayer, use geo-blocking technology to restrict their content by region.

These content platforms do this to enforce licensing agreements they have with content owners. The extent of the restrictions varies across streaming services.

Netflix, for instance, has a different content library in every country. Other platforms, like Hulu and BBC iPlayer, are only available in one country.

BBC iPlayer is only available within the UK. If you try to connect from elsewhere, you’ll be unable to stream content. By using a VPN, your true IP address is replaced with the IP address of a VPN server.

If you connect to a UK VPN server, you can make BBC iPlayer think you’re located in the UK which will allow you to stream BBC iPlayer from anywhere in the world.

Currently, BBC iPlayer is one of the hardest content platforms to unblock. The service makes a dedicated effort to monitor and block VPN traffic.

As a result, even some of the top-rated VPNs don’t work with BBC iPlayer. Therefore, it’s crucial you use a VPN we’ve verified to work.

How Does BBC iPlayer Detect and Block VPN Services?

The BBC is very strict when it comes to enforcing geo-restrictions.

It monitors the IP addresses used to stream iPlayer. If it detects hundreds of people with the same IP address streaming at the same time, it blacklists the IP address since it clearly belongs to a VPN.

The BBC also runs checks on whether an IP address is ‘residential’ or belongs to a data center (VPN services mostly use data center IP addresses).

The BBC iPlayer error message

The BBC’s VPN ban makes it very hard to find a VPN that consistently works with BBC iPlayer. It’s also why even the best choices sometimes have a few UK servers that don’t work.

The top VPNs constantly update their UK IP addresses to maintain access to the streaming service.

While no VPN can guarantee to stream BBC iPlayer 100% of the time, the five VPN services we’ve picked are by far the most reliable.

Do Free VPNs Work with BBC iPlayer?

Free VPNs often do not work with BBC iPlayer. Bypassing BBC iPlayer’s VPN blocks is time-consuming and expensive.

Free services simply don’t have the resources to refresh their UK IP address pool, and keep finding new ways to obfuscate their traffic.

Not to mention that the free VPNs that do work are often slow and unreliable.

Also, most free VPNs are limited at best, and dangerous at worst. Learn more about these risks in our article on the best free VPNs.

Having said that, our tests indicate Windscribe is the only safe free VPN to consistently stream BBC iPlayer.

The VPN is fast, safe, and has servers across the UK. You can use Windscribe to watch BBC iPlayer abroad completely free.

Using Windscribe Free with BBC iPlayer

The free version of Windscribe unblocks BBC iPlayer from abroad.

However, there is a monthly data allowance of just 10GB. Unless you’re happy streaming for only a few hours each month, you’ll need to upgrade to the premium version.

Ultimately, we recommend using a subscription-based VPN to stream BBC iPlayer. They’re faster, more secure, and more reliable.

BBC iPlayer VPN FAQs

Is it Legal to Use a VPN to Watch BBC iPlayer?

Using a VPN to watch BBC iPlayer isn’t illegal. If you own a UK TV licence, you’re legally permitted to stream BBC iPlayer regardless of what country you’re in.

A VPN will connect you to a UK server and give you a UK IP address, which is also completely legal.

It is technically against the BBC’s Terms of Use to use a VPN to access content from outside the UK, but nobody has ever been prosecuted for doing so.

Do You Need a UK TV License?

According to BBC iPlayer’s Terms of Use, you need to purchase a UK TV Licence to stream, download, or access shows on BBC iPlayer on any device.

This rule applies to both live and on-demand TV. However, you don’t need a UK TV licence to listen to iPlayer Radio.

You also need to create a BBC account to watch BBC iPlayer. You’ll have to provide a UK postcode, although it doesn’t have to match your UK IP address location.

What Channels Can I Watch on BBC iPlayer?

BBC iPlayer shows live and on-demand video content from the following channels: BBC One, BBC Two, BBC Three, BBC Four, CBBC, CBeebies, BBC Scotland, BBC News, BBC Parliament, BBC ALBA, and S4C.

Can You Download BBC iPlayer Shows?

If you use a VPN to stream BBC iPlayer from overseas, you can download these shows and watch them later when you’re offline. This is a great way to save on bandwidth and data usage.

Downloaded shows expire at the same time as their online versions do, so make sure to download them before they get removed.

You can watch downloaded shows anywhere in the world without a VPN, but you’ll need to use a VPN to access them in the first place.