If you’re based in the UK, you need a very private and secure VPN service to protect yourself from the country’s strict surveillance laws.
If you’re outside the UK, you’ll want a VPN that lets you stream British streaming platforms such as BBC iPlayer, BritBox and ITV.
We’ve tested hundreds of free VPNs to see which work well in the UK. We split the analysis into five main categories, and rate each VPNs performance in these categories out of ten.
We then combine these five category ratings to calculate an overall ‘Free VPN for UK’ rating.
To find the best free UK VPN, we test for:
- An absolutely 100% free VPN service.
- A generous or unlimited data allowance.
- VPN servers located in the UK or nearby.
- Local download speeds within the UK.
- Works with UK Netflix, BBC iPlayer, BritBox, ITV Hub and more.
- Whether torrenting is permitted on UK servers.
- Strong AES-256 & OpenVPN encryption, with no data leaks
Here’s a more detailed look at the strict, scientific process we follow for every free VPN we test. The percentages show how each category is weighted when we calculate the overall UK VPN rating.
1. Data Cap: 30%
Minimum Requirement: At least 1GB per month.
We Recommend: At least 10GB per month.
It doesn’t matter how good and safe a VPN is if its data cap is so restrictive you can barely use it.
Some free VPNs limit your data usage to just 500MB per month. For normal web browsing, that’ll last you a reasonable amount of time. But, if you’re using the VPN to stream, you’ll likely reach the monthly data limit within a hour.
The best free VPNs let you pass an unlimited amount of data through their servers. However, this is rare among safe, free VPNs. Instead, a 10GB+ data cap is a generous offering.
2. UK Speeds: 20%
Minimum Requirement: Local UK download speeds of at least 30Mbps.
We Recommend: Local UK download speeds of 60Mbps or higher.
Using any VPN service will slow down your normal internet speeds to some degree. With free VPNs, speed loss tends to be higher than with the fastest paid VPNs.
That said, even with a free VPN, there’s no need to put up with unmanageably slow speeds – especially when connecting locally within the UK.
To measure UK speeds, we put each free VPN through our manual speed testing process that we re-run at least once a week.
For UK VPNs, we’re particularly interested in download speeds from our base in the UK to other servers within the UK. We also record upload speeds, ping time, and international connection speeds (both in and out of the UK).
The best free VPNs deliver speeds of 60+ Mbps, which is faster than many premium VPN services.
3. No. of UK Servers: 20%
Minimum Requirement: At least one VPN server located in the UK or a nearby country.
We Recommend: A selection of UK-based VPN servers.
In order to unblock UK streaming services and deliver the fastest UK speeds, a VPN needs to offer servers that are based in the UK.
We analyse each VPNs server network and count how many UK-based servers they offer to free subscribers. For fast speeds, we also check how many servers the VPN offers is nearby, neighbouring countries.
The best free VPNs for the UK will offer a choice of British server locations.
4. Privacy & Logging Policy: 20%
Minimum Requirement: Anonymised connection logs and no activity logs.
We Recommend: A strict, zero-logging policy and no data leaks whatsoever.
Privacy is our top concern. Many free VPNs fail to meet the basic standard for online privacy, by either leaking your data or selling your information onto advertisers.
We’re looking for policies that are as close to zero-logs as possible. That means no recording of activity logs and, ideally, no connections logs either. This is especially important in the privacy-unfriendly UK.
We also investigate the company behind each free VPN. They should be transparent and trustworthy.
The VPN itself should be equipped with good security features, too. Poor encryption methods and outdated protocols cause data leaks that leave you identity expose.
We like to see OpenVPN or WireGuard, and AES-256 encryption. Additional IP/DNS leak protection, and features like port forwarding and kill switches, are important too.
5. UK Streaming Services & P2P Servers: 10%
Minimum Requirement: Can unblock some global streaming libraries.
We Recommend: Works with UK Netflix and BBC iPlayer, and allows P2P activity on UK servers.
Many VPN users want to unblock streaming content that is restricted in their location.
For UK VPNs, we regularly test each and every VPN’s ability to watch British streaming libraries from overseas. The platforms we test are:
- UK Netflix
- BBC iPlayer
- All 4
- ITV Hub
We also test whether the VPN can access other streaming libraries around the world. The US content libraries are particularly valuable.
For torrenters, we assess each VPN’s P2P performance, too. The UK’s Digital Economy Act gives ISPs the power to monitor your internet – meaning they can simply throttle your torrenting activity or ban you outright.
We analyse the VPN’s P2P policy (i.e. whether it’s permitted), count the number of UK-based P2P-optimized servers it offers, and measure our torrenting bitrate when using the VPN.