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The Best Free & Paid VPNs for BBC iPlayer

Best VPN for BBC iPlayer

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. Only the best VPNs assign you a UK IP address that unblocks the BBC’s video content from abroad.

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

What’s the Best VPN for BBC iPlayer?

Our unblocking tests show that the best VPNs that still work with BBC iPlayer are:

  1. NordVPN: Best VPN for BBC iPlayer Overall
  2. ExpressVPN: Fastest VPN for BBC iPlayer
  3. PrivateVPN: Best Cheap VPN for BBC iPlayer
  4. HideMyAss: Best Beginners VPN for BBC iPlayer
  5. Windscribe Free: Best 100% Free VPN for BBC iPlayer

The overall best VPN for BBC iPlayer in 2024 is NordVPN, with a test rating of 9.7/10. Impressively, all of NordVPN’s 440+ UK servers unblocked BBC iPlayer at fast streaming speeds on PC, Mac, iPhone, Android smartphones, and Fire TV Stick.

In this guide we’ll also show you how to fix your BBC iPlayer VPN not working. We’ve summarized below the main workarounds:

Comparison of the Best BBC iPlayer VPNs

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

Further down, we’ll also explain how to watch BBC iPlayer with a VPN from outside the UK.

Why Trust Us?

We’re fully independent and have been reviewing VPNs since 2016. Our ratings are based on our own testing results and are unaffected by financial incentives. Learn who we are and how we test VPNs.

VPNs Tested with BBC iPlayer65
VPNs That Unblock BBC iPlayer40
Test DevicesWindows, iOS, PS5, Fire TV & Apple TV

Analysis of the Best VPNs for BBC iPlayer

  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 65 VPNs for BBC iPlayer
    NordVPN Mobile App ScreenshotVisit 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 category ratings. To learn more, read our BBC iPlayer VPN testing methodology.

    • 10/10
    • 9.7/10
    • 9.8/10
    • 8.9/10
    • 9.7/10

    NordVPN is the best VPN choice for BBC iPlayer in 2024. 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.

    NordVPN's app for macOS

    Cheapest Price$3.29/mo over 2 years See all plans
    UK Servers588
    UK Server LocationsEdinburgh, Glasgow, London, Manchester
    Smart DNSYes
    Support24/7 Live Chat
    Compatible with
    1. windowsWindows
    2. macosmacOS
    3. linuxLinux
    4. chromeosChromeOS
    5. iosiOS
    6. 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 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.

    NordVPN is one of the fastest VPNs on the market. When we tested NordVPN’s speeds connecting from the US to the UK, we recorded an average of 90Mbps on a 100Mbps baseline connection.

    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 with BBC iPlayer on macOS

    NordVPN is one of the most reliable VPNs for streaming BBC iPlayer.

    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 and Apple TV.

    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 devicesVisit ExpressVPN

    • Works with BBC iPlayer (from outside UK)
    • One of the fastest VPNs 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: 9.5/10

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

    • 9.2/10
    • 9.7/10
    • 9.8/10
    • 9.3/10
    • 9.8/10

    ExpressVPN is the fastest VPN we recommend for BBC iPlayer. 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.

    ExpressVPN's app for macOS

    Cheapest Price$6.67/mo over 15 Months See all plans
    UK ServersUndisclosed
    UK Server LocationsCoventry, London
    Smart DNSYes
    Support24/7 Live Chat
    Compatible with
    1. windowsWindows
    2. macosmacOS
    3. linuxLinux
    4. chromeosChromeOS
    5. iosiOS
    6. androidAndroid

    Excellent speeds & effective Chrome and Firefox extensions

    In our recent rounds of testing, ExpressVPN was one of the fastest VPNs connecting into the UK from the US.

    We registered an average download speed of 93Mbps connected to the UK on a 100Mbps connection, which is 3% 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 Browser Extension

    The Wembley server is the most reliable way to unblock BBC iPlayer.

    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 ExpressVPN is more expensive than many other VPNs, you can trial the service for free for seven days. Or, you can take advantage 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 mobileVisit PrivateVPN

    • Reliably works with BBC iPlayer
    • Great value for money 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: 8.9/10

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

    • 9.8/10
    • 9.1/10
    • 8.5/10
    • 7.0/10
    • 8.3/10

    PrivateVPN only has 200 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.

    PrivateVPN's app for macOS

    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. macosmacOS
    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.

    PrivateVPN with BBC iPlayer on macOS

    PrivateVPN 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. We recorded speeds of 90Mbps connecting from the US to the UK on a 100Mbps connection.

    Connecting from outside the UK, you’ll be able to smoothly stream BBC iPlayer. But, the VPN’s speeds are slightly 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. 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 AppVisit 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: 8.6/10

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

    • 9.5/10
    • 9.5/10
    • 8.8/10
    • 7.0/10
    • 5.0/10

    HideMyAss (HMA) VPN operates a wide server network, covering 195 countries. There are only 26 servers in the UK, but it’s still enough to deliver fast speeds connecting into them.

    We recorded speeds just slightly slower than ExpressVPN’s when connecting from the US to the UK using HideMyAss, with just 8% average speed loss.

    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.

    HideMyAss' VPN app for macOS

    Cheapest Price$2.99/mo over 3 years See all plans
    UK Servers22
    UK Server LocationsGlasgow, London
    SupportOnline Resources & Email Support
    Compatible with
    1. windowsWindows
    2. macosmacOS
    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

    We’re disappointed to see HideMyAss doesn’t have 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
  5. 5. Windscribe: Best Free BBC iPlayer VPN

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

    The Windscribe VPN app running on two mobiles; one displaying connection options, the other connected to a New York server.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: 6.9/10

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

    • 9.5/10
    • 8.8/10
    • 7.5/10
    • 7.3/10
    • 8.0/10

    Windscribe is the only safe free VPN that works consistently well with BBC iPlayer.

    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.

    Windscribe VPN's app for macOS

    Cheapest PriceFree
    UK ServersUndisclosed
    Smart DNSNo
    SupportEmail & Online Resources Only
    Compatible with
    1. windowsWindows
    2. macosmacOS
    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 Free’s speed can’t compete with top-tier paid products ExpressVPN or NordVPN. However, they are very good for a free VPN service.

    Connecting from the US to the UK using Windscribe Free, we recorded average speeds of 87Mbps on our 100Mbps baseline connection.

    Its speeds fall short behind other fast free VPN like Hotspot Shield Free and Proton Free, but it’s much better at unblocking streaming services.

    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

How to Watch BBC iPlayer Abroad 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.

Watch the video below to see how easily we unblocked BBC iPlayer from outside the UK using NordVPN:

Below are the step-by-step instructions to watch BBC iPlayer from abroad using a VPN.

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

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

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

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 like the one we got when testing Mullvad VPN:

Mullvad with BBC iPlayer on macOS

Many VPNs do not work to access BBC iPlayer

If you see this message, try one of the fixes below, which we’ve tested to work in most instances (as long as you’re using a good VPN):

1. Connect to a Different UK VPN Server

The BBC’s VPN and geolocation detection systems are some of the most effective we’ve come across.

If a UK VPN server you’ve been streaming with suddenly stops working, try switching to a different one if your VPN operates several. For instance, NordVPN has over 440 UK servers, most of which unblock BBC iPlayer.

If you don’t want to try multiple UK servers to see which one works, contact your VPN’s support team who will recommend a working UK server.

ExpressVPN and NordVPN’s customer service teams are very responsive and available 24/7.

2. Check for IP Address Leaks

Another reason for your VPN not working with BBC iPlayer is that it may be leaking your IP address.

Run a check using our IP leak test tool to ensure this isn’t the case. If it is, then read our guide on fixing VPN leaks.

If you’re on an IPv6 connection, and your VPN doesn’t support it (many don’t), then your true IP location is potentially visible to BBC iPlayer’s detection technology.

In the event your VPN is suffering from an IPv6 address leak, disable IPv6 connectivity in your device’s settings, so that you solely use your IPv4 connection.

3. Clear Your Web Browser Cache and Cookies

Sometimes deleting website cookies and cache stored in your web browser can help remove traces of your geolocation.

If you’ve visited the BBC iPlayer website, it will have stored cookies in your web browser. These cookies can help the BBC understand where past visitors have come from based on previous website interactions.

We always recommend clearing your web browser’s cache and stored cookies. This way you’ll access BBC iPlayer from a cleaner slate.

Clearing Browsing Data on MacOS Chrome

Clear Browsing Data option as seen on MacOS Chrome.

4. Disable Location Services

If your web browser has location services enabled, make sure you disable them. Otherwise, the BBC’s website can still determine you’re not in the UK even if you’re connected to a UK VPN server.

Some websites incorrectly state that the BBC iPlayer mobile app also uses GPS tracking to determine your location. This isn’t true, and simply using one of our recommended VPN’s UK servers will work on your smartphone.

5. Change VPN Service

If none of the solutions above work, it means your VPN’s UK servers have all been identified and blocked by BBC iPlayer.

In this unfortunate event, you’ll have no other option but to choose a new VPN that still works with BBC iPlayer.

BBC iPlayer VPNs to Avoid

We tested and reviewed 65 VPN providers 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 weren’t able to unblock BBC iPlayer in our tests.


Overall Ranking: #15 out of 65 VPNs Reviewed

Overall Rating: 7.8/107.8

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.

Avast Secureline VPN

Overall Ranking: #32 out of 65 VPNs Reviewed

Overall Rating: 6.2/106.2

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 65 VPNs Reviewed

Overall Rating: 2.2/102.2

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: #40 out of 65 VPNs Reviewed

Overall Rating: 4.1/104.1

What we don’t like: Hola VPN is a dangerous free VPN that logs your IP address, browsing history, timestamps, and more. Its speeds aren’t bad and it might be able to unblock BBC iPlayer, but there are much safer and more secure free VPNs available, like Windscribe Free.

Why and How Does BBC iPlayer Block VPNs?

The BBC is very strict when it comes to enforcing geo-restrictions and banning VPN access to its streaming service.

It does this to enforce licensing agreements they have with content owners, and to sell their own original content outside of the UK.

BBC iPlayer Is Only Available in the UK Error Message

BBC iPlayer is only available in the UK.

To block VPN access from outside the UK, the BBC monitors the IP addresses used to stream iPlayer. If it detects hundreds of viewers with the same IP address streaming at the same time, it blacklists the IP address since it almost certainly 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).

In order to avoid detection, the top VPNs for BBC iPlayer have to constantly update their UK IP addresses and obfuscate their traffic to make it appear as ‘normal.’

How We Test VPNs for BBC iPlayer

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

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

VPNs with a data cap receive a reduction to their overall 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:

  • If the VPN consistently unblocks BBC iPlayer from outside the UK.
  • 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. 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 Compatibility: 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.

Data Cap Penalty: Up to 50% Reduction

Nearly all free VPNs come with a data cap. As is the case with most limitations on free VPNs, this is implemented to encourage users to upgrade to the paid service.

This data cap will limit the amount of movies and TV shows you can watch on BBC iPlayer.

We apply a penalty to the VPN’s final overall BBC iPlayer rating based on its data cap:

  • Unlimited bandwidth: No deduction to the overall rating
  • 10GB per month: -20% to the overall rating
  • 500MB per day: -25% to the overall rating
  • 5GB per month: -30% to the overall rating
  • 1GB per month: -35% to the overall rating
  • 200MB per day: -40% to the overall rating
  • 500MB per month: -50% to the overall rating

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 Free VPNs Work with BBC iPlayer?

Most free VPNs 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.

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

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

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.

Can You Download BBC iPlayer Shows?

Yes, you can download BBC iPlayer shows. From abroad, you can use a VPN to access BBC shows, download them, and watch them with or without your VPN running.

However, keep in mind that downloaded shows expire at the same time as their online versions do.