BBC iPlayer is one of the most popular streaming services around, but it’s also one of the hardest to consistently access.
The BBC goes to great lengths to block its streaming service for those outside of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
With the right VPN, though, you can watch BBC iPlayer anywhere. Whether living abroad or a Brit on holiday, these VPNs do the trick.
We’ve picked the best, fastest, and most effective VPNs that work with iPlayer and beat the BBC’s blocks.
The Most Important Factors When We Review a VPN for BBC iPlayer
- Unlocks BBC iPlayer
- Has city-level choice of servers in the UK
- Reliable and fast speeds
- Useful privacy features like a VPN kill switch
- Transparent, fair, and privacy-focused logging policies
- High quality customer support
Wondering why you should trust our reviews? Take a look at How We Test VPNs
Read More Information on Our Top 5 Best VPN Services for BBC iPlayer
What Is the Best VPN for BBC iPlayer?
We also recommend ExpressVPN for watching BBC iPlayer if you live abroad, but it’s not included in this list as it often doesn’t work from within the UK. ExpressVPN is our top pick for general streaming, too.
How We Picked the Best BBC iPlayer VPN of 2019
These top VPN picks for BBC iPlayer are the complete package. Not only do you get reliable connections to the popular streaming service from VPN servers around the world, but you’re also guaranteed fast speeds and high-end security to ensure that your data remains private and encrypted.
Our most recommended VPNs for BBC iPlayer are intuitive and easy to use, but should a problem arise these VPNs also provide top-tier customer support to help you resolve the issue as soon as possible.
You can rest assured that these VPN recommendations are 100% up-to-date, too. We re-test our best VPNs on a weekly basis to ensure that they still work with your platforms and services of choice. We spend hours using them exactly as you would so that we can say with confidence that you’ll be happy with your purchase.
Does BBC iPlayer Block VPNs?
For the past couple of years the BBC has cracked down on VPN providers, making it very hard to find a VPN that works with the popular British streaming service.
The BBC detects certain VPN and proxy connections (using IP addresses), and blocks users from viewing its streaming content on iPlayer. You might be faced with one of the dreaded BBC iPlayer error messages:
“BBC iPlayer only works in the UK. Sorry, it’s due to rights issues.”
“This content doesn’t seem to be working. Please try again later.”
Don’t worry, though, because our top VPN picks on the above list work reliably with BBC iPlayer, with minimal disruption.
The BBC is very fast to block IP addresses associated with VPNs, but our recommendations work hard to provide access to the streaming service day in and day out.
How to Install, Set up & Use a VPN with BBC iPlayer
Finding the right VPN for BBC iPlayer can be a little trickier than with other services, as the BBC ruthlessly pursues VPN providers. Fortunately, there are still a handful of VPNs that work with the streaming service.
Before you start streaming BBC shows for the first time, you’ll need to decide whether to install the VPN on your router or install the VPN software on each device you plan to use for streaming.
There are pros and cons to each setup method. Installing at router level is a little more technically complex than using your VPN’s desktop program or app, but it does cover all devices connected to it by default.
Installing a VPN on multiple devices is easy, but there will be two key restraints: the number of installs or simultaneous connections allowed by your VPN, and whether or not a dedicated app exists for your device.
Apple TV, for example, doesn’t currently have any dedicated VPN apps available for it. Click or tap on the link to see our Best VPNs for Apple TV.
Some VPNs, including a couple of our top picks, provide native apps for Amazon Firestick – all you need to do is download them directly from the Amazon’s app store, connect to a BBC-friendly VPN server, and boot up iPlayer.
Once you’ve set up the VPN apps (you can check out our How To Install guides for step-by-step VPN setup instructions for a range of devices), you might need to fiddle with some of the settings.
While some VPN apps have an automatic settings, it’s sensible to manually set the most appropriate VPN protocol for streaming. We recommend using OpenVPN as it has the best balance of speed and security.
Once you’re up and running, ensure that you connect to a VPN server based in the UK – no other location will work.
You may well be presented with an intimidating error message, but don’t be dissuaded – just pick another server location, clear your browser cache and cookies, and try again.
Locations that work one day may not work the next, and vice versa, so there can be a little trial and error involved. If in doubt, it’s best to get in touch with your VPN’s customer support as they’ll know which servers work with BBC iPlayer.
Can I Watch BBC iPlayer Abroad for Free?
Yes, it’s possible to watch BBC iPlayer abroad for free.
You can use a VPN to access BBC streaming content when you’re outside of the UK. You’ll need to connect to a UK server in order to get a UK IP address.
Our VPN recommendations are reliable options for watching iPlayer abroad.
BBC iPlayer Not Working with Your VPN?
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 providers describe it as a “cat and mouse game,” as the BBC blocks VPN IP addresses almost as fast as the VPN service churns out new ones.
However, there are a few solutions you can use to get your VPN to work with BBC iPlayer once again.
- Clear your browser cache and cookies. You can do this within the browser settings.
- Reconnect using a different UK VPN server.
- Log out of your VPN and then log back in and try again (after you’ve cleared your cache/cookies). This may give you a new IP address that hasn’t been blacklisted by the BBC.
- Make sure to switch on DNS and IP leak protection. If your VPN is leaking your true IP address, iPlayer will recognize that you’re abroad.
Some VPNs offer iPlayer support on some devices and not others, so it’s best to get in touch with your provider’s customer support so that they can help you out.
Likewise, if your VPN service doesn’t come with special servers for BBC iPlayer you should ask customer support which servers they recommend for accessing the streaming site.
Ironically, those connecting to a VPN for iPlayer within the UK run into issues a lot more frequently than those connecting from outside the country. We’ve tried our hardest to ensure the recommendations above are as reliable as possible, but access for those connecting from within the UK dips in and out more often than we’d like to see.
How Do I Watch BBC iPlayer Abroad on Firestick?
It’s possible to watch iPlayer on your Amazon Fire TV Stick. You can take the streaming device with you wherever you go, so it’s great for watching BBC iPlayer abroad and on the go.
Simply download the custom VPN app on your Firestick, connect to a BBC iPlayer-friendly UK server, and then boot up the iPlayer app.
If your VPN doesn’t come with an Amazon app, you’ll need to install the VPN at router-level.
Can I Watch Other Streaming Services With a VPN?
Using a quality VPN can unlock streaming content that you might not be able to access from your country, or the country you’re visiting.
Some VPNs also work with:
- Amazon Prime
- Now TV
Are VPNs legal?
VPNs are perfectly legal in most countries, but using a VPN doesn’t exempt you from the law. Be sure that you don’t use your VPN to break any laws.
How to Choose a VPN for BBC iPlayer: 7 Tips
Undoubtedly the single most important factor when picking a VPN with BBC iPlayer in mind is the availability of UK VPN servers.
You’ll need to have a UK IP address to watch iPlayer, so the VPN will need to have UK-based servers – the more the better.
Having VPN servers based in the UK is only the first step – they aren’t much good to you if they’re too slow to stream in HD.
If you want consistent, smooth and uninterrupted HD streaming then be sure you can find a VPN connection of at least 20Mbps.
A lot of the time any old VPN server will do when it comes to accessing the content you’re after, but when it comes to iPlayer, it’s a little more hit-and-miss, involving a great deal of trial-and-error and wasted time.
Look for VPNs that offer servers dedicated to streaming – and BBC iPlayer in particular – as they can help ensure you’re up and running as quickly as possible with one click.
Think about where you mainly watch BBC iPlayer: on your laptop? Your tablet? A smart TV? Whatever you usually tune in, you’re going to want to make sure your VPN of choice is supported.
If your desired device isn’t supported then that isn’t the end of the world – you can usually set the VPN up at router level, although that’s a bit more technical and less convenient, too.
If you have no plans for using your VPN for anything other than BBC iPlayer then this list has you all set, but realistically you’ll likely have broader plans.
Make sure that, in addition to supporting BBC iPlayer, your VPN of choice gives you access to all your other favorite websites and services like Netflix.
Nobody likes a badly-designed, confusing app. Look for a VPN with intuitive, powerful software and you’ll be much more likely to use it on a regular basis.
We share the results of our hands-on testing of all the VPN apps in the Ease of Use section of its review – we spend all day testing them, so we should know a thing or two.
Even the most expensive VPN plans are very affordable but you will likely have a budget in mind.
12-month plans typically offer the best value and you can reduce the risk of buyer’s remorse by choosing a VPN with a long refund period, preferably 30 days and with no questions asked.
These guarantees are much more common than traditional free trials but are essentially the same thing.