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The Best VPN for BBC iPlayer

Best VPN for BBC iPlayer
Headshot of Top10VPN.com Site Editor Callum Tennent

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

The BBC blocks iPlayer to anyone trying to stream it from outside of the UK. The best VPNs for BBC iPlayer fix that by changing your IP address to a UK one.

The problem is that even some of the most popular VPNs no longer work with iPlayer. This is because the BBC is increasingly detecting and blocking VPN traffic.

That’s where we come in. We’ve tested and analyzed 69 VPNs to find the best ones that still stream BBC iPlayer, whenever and wherever.

The VPNs we recommend have fast UK servers, and are the most effective at unblocking BBC iPlayer.

The best VPNs that still work with BBC iPlayer are:

  1. NordVPN: The best overall VPN for BBC iPlayer. Reliable, fast, and works on all platforms. Read summary
  2. PrivateVPN: Very cheap and secure VPN, with servers specifically for streaming iPlayer. Read summary
  3. ExpressVPN: The best option if you’re outside the UK. Excellent speeds for streaming iPlayer in buffer-free HD. Read summary
  4. Windscribe: A budget VPN that reliably unblocks BBC iPlayer. Also offers a capable free service. Read summary
  5. HideMyAss: A very good streaming VPN for beginners, HMA also comes with a seven-day free trial. Read summary

What’s more, you’ll be able to use these VPN apps on all platforms, including Windows, Mac, iOS, Android, and Fire TV Stick. Some of them even have Smart DNS functionality for easy streaming on Apple TV.

Best VPNs for BBC iPlayer (Tested & Verified)

1. NordVPN

A great all-round VPN with fast speeds for HD streaming.

NordVPN Mobile App Screenshot
NordVPN app
 94% 
(246 user reviews)
Visit NordVPN
  1. UK servers unblock BBC iPlayer
  2. Fast internet speeds
  3. Includes app for Amazon Firestick
  4. Smart DNS works with iPlayer
  5. No-logs policy & no IP, DNS, WebRTC leaks
  6. Good Chrome & Firefox VPN extensions
  1. Inconsistent in China
  • Best Price

    $3.71/mo over 24 Months

    See all plans

  • Top Speedi

    93Mbps same city speed

    Based on a 100Mbps test connection

  • Servers

    59 countries, 5,515 servers

  • Compatible with

    • Windows logoWindows
    • Mac logoMac
    • iOS logoiOS
    • Android logoAndroid
    • Linux logoLinux

The Bottom Line

NordVPN is the best VPN for BBC iPlayer right now. It’s fast, private, and, best of all, NordVPN streams BBC iPlayer on all of its UK servers.

That means that you don’t have to try loads of different UK VPN servers to find one that works for the British streaming platform.

NordVPN’s UK VPN servers are also very reliable and speedy, meaning that you’ll be able to watch your favorite shows in HD. You can switch to the NordLynx protocol for even faster speeds, too.

The VPN comes with an intuitive app for Fire TV Stick and its Smart DNS feature unblocks iPlayer on PS4 and Apple TV, so you can watch TV shows and movies on your biggest screen.

Should you ever need any help watching shows on BBC iPlayer, NordVPN’s live chat agents are on hand 24/7. You can also take advantage of its 30-day money-back guarantee if you want to try the VPN before committing long term to the service.

On the whole, NordVPN’s fast speeds, its apps for streaming devices, and its 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

For a more in-depth look, read our full NordVPN review.

2. PrivateVPN

The cheapest way to unblock BBC iPlayer, with dedicated streaming servers.

Image of PrivateVPN's app on mobile
Image of PrivateVPN's app on mobile
 98% 
(1,736 user reviews)
Visit PrivateVPN
  1. Consistently works with BBC iPlayer
  2. Reliable speeds into the UK
  3. Optimized for streaming
  4. Simple VPN apps & instant setup for your favorite devices
  5. Custom VPN app for Amazon Fire TV
  6. Super safe VPN with strict no-logs policy
  1. Limited number of individual VPN servers
  2. Inconsistent live chat availability
  3. No Smart DNS functionality
  4. No browser extensions
  • Best Price

    $1.98/mo over 24 months

    See all plans

  • Top Speedi

    94Mbps same city speed

    Based on a 100Mbps test connection

  • Servers

    62 countries, 150+ servers

  • Compatible with

    • Windows logoWindows
    • Mac logoMac
    • iOS logoiOS
    • Android logoAndroid
    • Linux logoLinux

The Bottom Line

A tremendous choice for BBC iPlayer fans, PrivateVPN may have a fairly small VPN server network (only 150 individual servers), but it still represents great value for money.

There are only six total UK VPN servers, and PrivateVPN offers one streaming server optimized for watching BBC iPlayer – it’s clearly labeled so that you can access the service with ease.

There are also VPN servers optimized for a range of other streaming services like Netflix.

PrivateVPN’s speeds are fast, too. Whether you’re in the UK or further afield, you’ll be able to stream BBC iPlayer without any waiting around.

But if you do run into any issues, PrivateVPN’s live chat isn’t always available. Email support is fairly quick, though.

PrivateVPN really is as private as its name suggests – it’s very safe to use with a no-logs policy and some great security features.

The following PrivateVPN servers work with BBC iPlayer:

  • UK – London
  • UK – Manchester

For a more in-depth look, read our full PrivateVPN review.

3. ExpressVPN

The fastest VPN for unblocking BBC iPlayer on any UK server.

ExpressVPN's new app on mobile devices
ExpressVPN's new desktop app
 96% 
(1,758 user reviews)
Visit ExpressVPN
  1. Works with BBC iPlayer (from outside UK)
  2. Unrivalled reliability & fast speeds
  3. Custom app for Amazon Fire TV Stick
  4. Smart DNS for Apple TV & gaming consoles use
  5. Simple setup on wide range of devices
  6. The best VPN extensions for Chrome & Firefox
  1. Inconsistent access to iPlayer within the UK
  2. More expensive than some rivals
  • Best Price

    $6.67/mo over 15 Months

    See all plans

  • Top Speedi

    88Mbps same city speed

    Based on a 100Mbps test connection

  • Servers

    94 countries, 3,000+ servers

  • Compatible with

    • Windows logoWindows
    • Mac logoMac
    • iOS logoiOS
    • Android logoAndroid
    • Linux logoLinux

The Bottom Line

ExpressVPN is our top-rated VPN of 2021, and it’s a highly recommended choice for BBC iPlayer fans, too. That is, as long as you’re not located within the UK. While users located outside the UK can unblock BBC iPlayer using ExpressVPN’s UK servers, the VPN service doesn’t generally work when connecting within the UK.

In our latest round of testing, the most effective way to unblock BBC iPlayer was to use ExpressVPN’s browser extensions (for Chrome and Firefox) and connect to the Wembley server.

Additionally, ExpressVPN is one of the most reliable VPN services we’ve tested. It’s very fast across all server locations, including long-distance connections. This means you’ll be able to watch BBC iPlayer smoothly with little to no buffering.

ExpressVPN provides custom VPN apps for PCs, tablets and smartphones, but also for Fire TV Sticks. If you want to stream BBC iPlayer on your Apple TV or your gaming console, ExpressVPN’s Smart DNS tool (MediaStreamer) will allow you to do just that.

While it’s certainly more expensive than most other VPNs, ExpressVPN’s higher cost is justified by the VPN’s overall reliability, versatility and user-friendliness.

The following ExpressVPN servers work with BBC iPlayer:

  • UK – Docklands
  • UK – Wembley

For a more in-depth look, read our full ExpressVPN review.

4. Windscribe VPN

Free and paid plans unblock BBC iPlayer with ease.

Windscribe mobile screenshots
Windscribe desktop screenshots
 100% 
(2 user reviews)
Visit Windscribe
  1. Unblocks iPlayer on all UK servers
  2. Includes app for Fire TV Stick
  3. Free plan unlocks iPlayer
  4. Easy app setup for all platforms
  1. No Smart DNS feature
  2. Slower long-distance speeds
  3. No live chat customer support
  • Best Price

    $4.08/mo over 12 Months

    See all plans

  • Top Speedi

    95Mbps same city speed

    Based on a 100Mbps test connection

  • Servers

    63 countries

  • Compatible with

    • Windows logoWindows
    • Mac logoMac
    • iOS logoiOS
    • Android logoAndroid
    • Linux logoLinux

The Bottom Line

Windscribe is a cheap VPN service that reliably unblocks BBC iPlayer. The VPN can bypass the streaming site’s geo-restrictions on all of its UK servers, with fast speeds on short-distance connections.

Windscribe’s free plan is the only safe free VPN that works with BBC iPlayer. We found the free tier to be just as reliable as the premium plan for streaming iPlayer, but it does come with a 10GB monthly data cap. Although this is generous for a free service, this will allow you to stream just four hours of HD BBC iPlayer content per month.

The VPN also comes with a native app for Fire TV Stick, so you can stream shows like Top Gear, Killing Eve, and Fleabag on your TV.

The main drawback for using Windscribe with BBC iPlayer is that it does not come with Smart DNS functionality. This means that you won’t be unable to unblock iPlayer on devices that are not VPN-compatible, like an Apple TV or PS4.

In addition, Windscribe suffers from mediocre long-distance speed performance, so you may not be able to stream in HD if you’re located far-away from the UK. It also does not offer any live chat support, forcing you to rely on the VPN’s poor automated chat agent or wait for an answer from its email support team.

Overall, Windscribe is a great VPN for BBC iPlayer. It’s a cheap service that outperforms many premium VPNs for iPlayer, and it also works with all other major streaming sites.

The following Windscribe servers work with BBC iPlayer:

  • London Crumpets
  • Manchester United
  • Windflix UK

For a more in-depth look, read our full Windscribe VPN review.

5. HideMyAss

A VPN built for streaming with impressive speeds.

Screenshot of HideMyAss' Mobile App
Screenshot of HideMyAss' Desktop App.
 80% 
(5 user reviews)
Visit HideMyAss
  1. VPN servers optimized to unlock BBC iPlayer
  2. Fast speeds connecting to UK VPN servers
  3. VPN extensions for Chrome & Firefox
  4. 7-day free trial available
  5. Clean, modern, user-friendly VPN apps
  6. 24/7 live chat support
  1. Based in privacy-unfriendly UK
  2. No custom VPN apps for streaming devices
  3. No Fire Stick TV app
  4. No Smart DNS tool
  • Best Price

    $2.99/mo over 3 years

    See all plans

  • Top Speedi

    96Mbps same city speed

    Based on a 100Mbps test connection

  • Servers

    190 countries, 1,100+ servers

  • Compatible with

    • Windows logoWindows
    • Mac logoMac
    • iOS logoiOS
    • Android logoAndroid
    • Linux logoLinux

The Bottom Line

HideMyAss stands out for its huge VPN server network, with over 190 countries on offer worldwide, and 20 servers in the UK alone.

The service provides snappy speeds, regardless of where you’re based and has optimized VPN servers for streaming – connect to ‘Donkey Town’ to stream BBC iPlayer.

HMA isn’t all perfect, though.

Its biggest downfall is privacy. Although HideMyAss has an impressive minimal-logs privacy policy, the VPN provider has a history of handing user data over to law enforcement. The company is also based in the UK, a jurisdiction known for its harsh surveillance laws and data-sharing agreements.

HideMyAss also lacks custom apps for streaming devices like Amazon Fire TV Stick and Android TV, meaning that you have to install it at router level if you want to watch British shows on your TV.

The following HideMyAss servers work with BBC iPlayer:

  • Donkey Town

For a more in-depth look, read our full HideMyAss review.

BBC iPlayer VPN FAQ

Can I Watch BBC iPlayer Abroad for Free?

With a VPN you can watch BBC iPlayer abroad for free. That’s because it’s a completely free streaming service; but it does block access to viewers located outside the UK.

When you use a VPN your true IP is masked and replaced with an IP address belonging to the VPN server. That means you can connect to a UK VPN server in order to ‘trick’ BBC iPlayer into thinking you’re located in the UK.

Sadly, many VPNs don’t work with BBC iPlayer, therefore it’s crucial to choose one of the five VPNs we recommend above to avoid disappointment.

Screenshot of BBC iPlayer Homepage

Does BBC iPlayer Block VPNs?

Streaming services, like BBC iPlayer, restrict content by region. This is to enforce licensing agreements that the BBC has with rights-holders. However, a VPN can bypass the location checks, so you can stream BBC iPlayer from anywhere in the world.

That said, the BBC has recently cracked down on VPN providers, making it very hard to find a VPN that works with the popular British streaming service.

The BBC monitors the IP addresses used to access its content. If it detects that a large number of people with the same IP address are accessing the service at the same time it will block the IP address.

This stops users connecting with that IP address from viewing its streaming content on iPlayer.

If this happens, you might be faced with one of the all-too-familiar 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.”

Screenshot of BBC iPlayer error message

Don’t worry, though, because our top VPN picks on the above list work reliably with BBC iPlayer, with minimal disruption.

Our recommendations work hard to provide access to the streaming service day in and day out by constantly updating their IP address pool.

While no VPN can guarantee to work with BBC iPlayer 100% of the time, the VPN services on this list are the most reliable.

What’s the Best Free VPN for BBC iPlayer?

Piggy bank illustration

Windscribe Free is the only safe free VPN that works with BBC iPlayer. However, it comes with a monthly data allowance of just 10GB. If you want to stream more than a few hours of content each month, it’s worth upgrading to a premium VPN.

Make sure to avoid all other free VPNs, too, as many free VPNs are not safe to use.

We’ve found free VPNs that have secret Chinese ownership, while others suffer from excessive permissions and security flaws.

Hola is one example of a free ‘VPN’ that isn’t actually a VPN — it doesn’t encrypt your traffic and it puts your online identity at risk by allowing strangers to use your IP address to do with as they please.

Hola doesn’t allow free users to access streaming services either, so you wouldn’t be able to watch BBC iPlayer anyway.

Aside from the privacy issues that come with some free VPNs, even the safest ones lack the resources to get past BBC iPlayer’s firewall and VPN blocking.

Getting around BBC iPlayer’s constant IP blocking is time-consuming and expensive. Free VPNs generally don’t put resources towards unblocking iPlayer for their users.

Your best chance of watching your favorite British TV shows is to buy a quality VPN. They don’t have to be expensive — some only cost a couple of dollars per month if you opt for a long-term subscription.

How to Set Up & Use a VPN with BBC iPlayer

Once you’ve picked which VPN service you want to subscribe to, you’ll need to install and set up the VPN software before you can watch BBC iPlayer.

The installation process depends on which device you want to use the VPN on.

Most VPN services have custom apps for desktop and mobile devices, while some also come with special apps for Amazon Fire TV and Android TV, too.

Screenshot of the app store on the Amazon Firestick

If your VPN provides a custom app for the device you wish to stream BBC iPlayer on, just download it directly to the device and log into the app once the installation process is complete.

If you want to use your VPN on a device that doesn’t have a special VPN app, you may be able to install it at router level.

This method 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.

If your VPN service allows only a small number of simultaneous connections, installing the software at router level is one way to get around that as it only counts as one connection.

Once you’ve set up the VPN, you might need to fiddle with some of the settings for the best levels of privacy.

While some VPN apps have 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.

Make sure to enable the VPN kill switch feature and IP leak protection to keep safe while you stream.

Once you’re up and running, ensure that you connect to a VPN server based in the UK – no other location will work.

If you still see the BBC iPlayer error message read on to find out how to get past it.

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.

  1. 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.
  2. Run a leak test to see if your VPN is exposing your IP address or DNS requests. If it is, get in touch with your VPN provider’s customer support to resolve the issue.
  3. Clear your browser cache and cookies and flush your DNS cache. Log into BBC iPlayer again and try once more.
  4. Reconnect using a different UK VPN server. Sometimes a VPN server that worked yesterday might not work today. Be sure to do step #2 before you try to watch a show using the new server.
  5. Log out of your VPN and then log back in and try again (after you’ve completed step #2). This may give you a new IP address that hasn’t been blacklisted by the BBC.
  6. Try accessing BBC iPlayer using a different web browser.
  7. Disable GPS and location services on your device and browser.
  8. Disable IPv6 at device level.
  9. If you’re trying to access BBC iPlayer through the app try again via a web browser.

If all these fail you should get in touch with your VPN provider for help.

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.

If you’re in the UK and don’t need privacy to watch BBC iPlayer, you can use split tunneling with some VPN services to route iPlayer traffic outside of the VPN. All other traffic will remain protected.

We’ve tried our hardest to ensure the recommendations above are as reliable as possible, but even those sometimes suffer from the BBC’s aggressive blocks.

Sometimes you may have to come back later and try again.

Can You Download BBC iPlayer Shows?

It’s possible to download shows from BBC iPlayer to watch later when you’re offline.

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

You can watch downloaded shows anywhere in the world without a VPN. But remember that without a VPN your personal data will be left exposed to any third-party snoopers.

How Do I Watch BBC iPlayer Abroad on Firestick?

An Amazon Fire Stick streaming over VPN

The great thing about Amazon’s Fire TV Stick is that you can take it with you wherever you go.

That means it’s possible to watch BBC iPlayer on your Amazon Fire TV Stick while abroad or on the go.

You’ll need a VPN that works with iPlayer first – our top picks listed above are your best bet – and preferably one that comes with a native app for the Fire TV Stick, like NordVPN and
PrivateVPN.

Simply download the custom VPN app on your Fire TV Stick, 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, or side load it using an APK file.

Using a VPN to protect your online privacy is perfectly legal in most countries.

Even when VPNs are not against the law, using one doesn’t exempt you from the law, so be sure that you don’t use your VPN to break any laws.

Using a VPN to watch BBC iPlayer isn’t illegal, but it’s against BBC iPlayer’s Terms of Use to use one in order to access content from outside the UK, so do so at your own risk.

Screenshot of BBC iPlayer's Terms of Use

This is because you need to purchase a UK TV Licence to watch or download shows on BBC iPlayer on any device, whether they’re live or on demand.

You don’t need a TV licence to listen to iPlayer Radio or to watch S4C TV on demand on iPlayer, though.

Does Hola VPN Work with BBC iPlayer?

No, Hola VPN doesn’t work with BBC iPlayer.

This free proxy service is not a good choice for streaming, and even if it were we absolutely wouldn’t recommend it.

Hola doesn’t encrypt your internet traffic and it logs all of your online activities.

To make it worse, Hola works as a peer-to-peer network. Your IP address is added to a pool of IP addresses that strangers can use to do with whatever they like. Hola is downright dangerous.

Is ITV Blocking VPN?

Like BBC iPlayer, ITV Hub, another British streaming service, actively blocks VPN traffic.

It’s best to contact VPN providers to ask if they work with ITV Hub before purchasing a subscription. Not all VPNs that work with BBC iPlayer will work with ITV Hub.

Once you have a VPN that works with ITV Hub make sure to connect to a UK VPN server in order to watch your favorite British shows.

We tested NordVPN and it worked with ITV Hub first time.

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.

The best VPNs for streaming can unblock streaming services like:

  • Netflix
  • Hulu
  • Amazon Prime Video
  • HBO
  • Disney+
  • Sky

The other streaming services also try to block access to VPN connections, but aren’t as aggressive as BBC iPlayer.

Make sure you read the ‘Streaming & Torrenting’ section of our VPN provider reviews to find out which VPNs work with your favorite streaming services.

About the Author


  • Headshot of Top10VPN.com Site Editor Callum Tennent

    Callum Tennent

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