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Best VPN for the UK in 2020

Illustration of the flag of the UK
Simon Migliano Head of Research at Top10VPN

Simon is a recognized world expert in VPNs. He's tested hundreds of VPN services and his research has featured on the BBC, The New York Times, CNet and more. Read full bio

Using the best VPNs in the UK will hide your IP address and your web activity from intrusive UK ISPs. It will also protect you from the Snoopers’ Charter, and you’ll be able to unblock thousands of websites blocked in the UK.

In general we see people want one of two things when they ask for the “Best UK VPN”:

  1. They want a UK IP address to access geoblocked content, such as TV, websites and apps. 
  2. They want a VPN to use a VPN in the UK for privacy, security, or accessing geoblocked content elsewhere.

Our testing criteria and our recommendations are built to account for both of these situations. These recommendations are just as relevant to users who want a UK IP address, and to those who want to use a VPN from the UK.

A top UK VPN allows you watch BBC iPlayer, ITV Hub, Sky Go and all other British video content from abroad (i.e. outside the UK).

We tested over 70 VPN services from our office in London and the five providers below are the very best we’ve found. As of November 2020, the best UK VPNs are:

  1. NordVPN: The best and fastest VPN for the UK. Over 600 UK servers that work with British TV websites and apps. Read Summary.
  2. ExpressVPN: An excellent VPN with no-log servers in five UK cities. Fast speeds across all popular devices. Read Summary.
  3. CyberGhost: Over 1,000 fast UK servers including dedicated streaming servers optimized for BBC iPlayer. Read Summary.
  4. IPVanish: 100 fast servers in three UK locations and the best Fire Stick TV app. Ideal for Kodi users. Read Summary.
  5. PrivateVPN: A very affordable, fast and anonymous VPN with streaming-friendly UK servers. Read Summary.

Compare these VPNs side-by-side with our tool
All the VPNs above are fast, safe, and will give you an anonymous UK IP address to keep your internet activity private. And, except for IPVanish, they all unblock British TV streaming services from anywhere in the world.

Wondering why you should trust our reviews?
See How We Review VPNs.

5 Best UK VPNs for November 2020

1. NordVPN

Ranked #1 out of 69 VPNs for the UK

  1. Over 690 servers in the UK
  2. Impressive fast speeds on UK servers
  3. Unblocks Netflix & BBC iPlayer
  4. Torrenting allowed on most servers
  5. Strict zero-logs policy & IP leak protection
  6. Multi-device compatibility & 24/7 live support
  1. Manual configuration of VPN protocols on Windows & Android
  2. No pure Smart DNS for Apple TV & gaming consoles
  3. No city-level UK server selection
  • 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, 5,394 servers

  • Compatible with

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

The Bottom Line

NordVPN is the best VPN service for the UK across all platforms. It has over 600 very fast UK servers, and it easily unblocks popular UK streaming services BBC iPlayer and ITV.

It’s also very easy to download and set up NordVPN on popular devices like PCs, Macs, iPhones and iPads, and Android smartphones. All VPN connections are secured using the AES-256 encryption cipher, and none of your web activity will be logged.

If you’re in the UK, NordVPN allows P2P traffic on its UK servers, which is ideal for torrenting and using the VPN with Kodi. NordVPN also has a VPN kill switch for its Windows, macOS, iOS and Linux apps. This tool protects your real IP address from leaking in the event of a VPN connection drop.

Moreover, NordVPN works with US Netflix on many of its US servers. If you have problems unblocking Netflix, or BBC iPlayer, NordVPN’s live support is very helpful and available 24/7. Get in touch and a support agent will point you towards a recommended streaming server.

Unfortunately, NordVPN doesn’t come with pure Smart DNS functionality. This means that to run your Apple TV or your gaming consoles through NordVPN, you’ll have to install the VPN on your home router.

Also, changing VPN protocols on the NordVPN Windows and Android apps isn’t straightforward and requires manual configuration. Luckily, both native apps come with OpenVPN as the default, and our favorite, protocol.

On the whole, NordVPN remains our top-rated UK VPN and its multi-year subscriptions come at affordable monthly prices. And if you’re not happy with the service, you can get a no-questions-asked refund within 30 days of signing up.

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

2. ExpressVPN

Ranked #2 out of 69 VPNs for the UK

  1. Servers in 5 UK locations
  2. Consistently good speeds
  3. Reliable access to Netflix
  4. No torrenting restrictions
  5. Minimal logging policy
  6. Very easy to set up use
  1. Shorter plans are expensive
  2. BBC iPlayer not always available within the UK
  • Best Price

    $6.67/mo over 15 Months

    See all plans

  • Top Speedi

    85Mbps 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 isn’t the fastest VPN in the UK but it easily offers the most complete package, and only just missed out on the top spot.

Connecting to any of ExpressVPN’s UK servers will provide quick, reliable speeds, plenty fast enough for Full HD streaming on Netflix.

An unfortunate quirk is that ExpressVPN often struggles to get BBC iPlayer to work from within the UK, but works consistently when connecting from elsewhere. This is fine if you just want to stream, but for users interested in wider privacy and security it could be frustrating.

The ExpressVPN custom apps are simple yet powerful with a VPN kill switch, and we like its privacy-friendly minimal logging policy.

You can install ExpressVPN on an very long list of platforms, including the Amazon Fire TV Stick, and it uses the most secure connection protocol, OpenVPN.

ExpressVPN’s 24/7 live chat feature will come in use if you ever experience any issues, too – we’ve never been left waiting longer than a few minutes for a response.

True, ExpressVPN isn’t the cheapest VPN service out there, but it’s certainly worth paying that little bit extra for.

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

3. CyberGhost

Ranked #3 out of 69 VPNs for the UK

  1. 1075 VPN servers in 3 UK locations
  2. Very fast download speeds
  3. Quick, easy access to Netflix & iPlayer
  4. Optimized torrenting servers
  5. Complete zero-logs policy
  6. Simple set up on all platforms
  1. Apps could do with a makeover
  • Best Price

    $2.75/mo over 3 years

    See all plans

  • Top Speedi

    87Mbps same city speed

    Based on a 100Mbps test connection

  • Servers

    90 countries, 6,400+ servers

  • Compatible with

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

The Bottom Line

CyberGhost is an excellent budget VPN service for the UK, competing with our top two VPN picks on several key fronts.

Not only is CyberGhost very quick on its UK servers, it also provides optimized streaming servers that work well with BBC iPlayer.

A zero logs policy and first-party DNS servers make CyberGhost a top privacy pick for UK users, along with other useful extras such as a VPN kill switch.

CyberGhost’s apps use the highest possible level of encryption (AES-256) and most secure protocol (OpenVPN), too – not to mention you can use the VPN on up to seven devices at once.

What’s more, CyberGhost’s customer support team is on hand 24/7 to answer any questions you may have about this VPN service, and they’re always helpful and responsive.

The one downside is that CyberGhost’s apps can occasionally be a little unresponsive, but don’t let that put you off this otherwise excellent VPN for the UK.

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

4. IPVanish

Ranked #4 out of 69 VPNs for the UK

  1. 100 UK servers in 3 cities
  2. Impressive download speeds
  3. Currently working for Netflix
  4. Torrenting allowed on all servers
  5. Completely zero-logs policy
  6. Simple set-up on all devices
  1. Apps not very user-friendly
  2. Short seven-day refund period
  3. Blocked by BBC iPlayer
  • Best Price

    $2.91/mo for 12 months

    See all plans

  • Top Speedi

    84Mbps same city speed

    Based on a 100Mbps test connection

  • Servers

    57 countries, 1,400+ servers

  • Compatible with

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

The Bottom Line

IPVanish is our top VPN pick for torrenting and Kodi in the UK thanks to its consistently impressive speeds.

IPVanish is also a totally no-logs VPN, not even collecting connection metadata of its VPN users in the UK, keeping you super safe online.

The custom IPVanish apps could be more user-friendly but come with powerful privacy features, including DNS leak protection and a VPN kill switch.

IPVanish also uses the highest possible level of encryption, AES-256, and the most secure VPN connection protocol, OpenVPN, to protect your confidential data.

One major downside for UK-based users, though, is that IPVanish won’t unblock BBC iPlayer – this has been the case for a very long time.

If that isn’t important to you, though, IPVanish is a very reliable VPN service to use in the UK.

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

5. PrivateVPN

Ranked #5 out of 69 VPNs for the UK

  1. 6 VPN servers in 2 UK cities
  2. Very reliable download speeds
  3. Works with Netflix & BBC iPlayer
  4. All UK servers P2P-friendly
  5. Strict zero-logs policy
  6. User-friendly custom VPN apps
  1. Small number of IP addresses
  2. Live chat not available 24/7
  • Best Price

    $1.98/mo over 24 months

    See all plans

  • Top Speedi

    94Mbps same city speed

    Based on a 100Mbps test connection

  • Servers

    60 countries, 150+ servers

  • Compatible with

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

The Bottom Line

PrivateVPN is a reliable, cheap VPN service for the UK, even if it does lag behind our top picks when it comes to performance.

It’s still very quick, though – speeds on all of PrivateVPN’s UK servers are ideal for streaming, and it works with BBC iPlayer and Netflix too.

PrivateVPN’s strict zero-logs policy and range of security extras such as a VPN kill switch will go a long way to keep your online activities private while you’re connected.

Torrenting is permitted on all of PrivateVPN’s UK servers, and all of the custom apps are encrypted with the ‘unhackable’ cipher AES-256.

PrivateVPN users can choose between servers in London and Manchester, but the rest of its server network is pretty small compared to its rivals.

There’s a 30 day refund period, too, so you can cancel if you don’t like the service.

It’s not the very best choice for the UK, but PrivateVPN certainly provides a comprehensive and secure VPN solution.

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

FAQs About UK VPNs

Why Do I Need a VPN in the UK?

You may not think of the UK as a high-surveillance and heavily-censored nation, but the reality is that it is.

And because of that, there are many reasons why you should use a VPN in the UK:

  1. Protect yourself from UK surveillance laws

    The UK has some of the most intrusive surveillance laws in the world, and online privacy is decreasing by the day.

    UK ISPs (Internet Service Providers) and Telcos (telecom companies) must log all of your browsing history by law and make it available to the government. They are also legally able to monitor all your text messages (SMS), emails, and phone calls.

    The introduction of the Investigatory Powers Act (also known as the Snoopers’ Charter) in 2016 has only made matters worse for people’s privacy.

  2. Unblock websites blocked by UK ISPs

    UK ISPs actively block access to thousands of sites deemed inappropriate, but websites are also blocked due to the use of archaic content filters. This is known as ‘overblocking.’

    In 2019. Top10VPN.com carried out an investigation with the Open Rights Group to expose the problem of overblocking taking place in the UK.

    What’s more, many torrent and file-sharing sites are also blocked in the UK. Learn more about torrenting in the UK further down the page.

  3. Keep your browsing activity private on public WiFi

    As in many countries, UK internet users rely on public WiFi hotspots when out and about. And since there is a high concentration of coffee and fast-food chains in the UK, the use of public WiFi in the UK is prevalent.

    Unfortunately, unsecured public WiFi networks can be easily exploited by hackers who can obtain your personal information and data.

    Read our recently updated guide on how to stay safe on public WiFi.

  4. Unblock geo-blocked web (video) content

    Not all the online video content available around the world can be streamed from the UK.

    That’s because many websites and apps enforce geo-restrictions to avoid people streaming specific content from abroad.

    A popular use of VPN services in the UK is to connect to a US VPN server and unlock the US Netflix library, which has over 2,600 more titles than the UK catalogue.

Illustration showing countries where VPNs are illegal and legal

It’s completely legal to use a VPN in the UK.

Many UK citizens use VPNs on a daily basis for the reasons we outlined earlier in this guide.

Using a VPN doesn’t mean you’re exempt from UK laws, however, so make sure that everything you do when connected (and not) to a VPN is legal.

However, if you’re planning on using a VPN to connect to the UK, there’s a small number of countries that place restrictions on unauthorized VPNs. These countries are:

  1. China
  2. Russia
  3. Turkey
  4. Iran
  5. Oman
  6. United Arab Emirates (UAE)

Unfortunately, VPNs are illegal in four countries, and using one could result in a large fine or even a prison sentence. The countries in which VPNs are illegal are:

  1. Belarus
  2. Iraq
  3. Turkmenistan
  4. North Korea

We’ve created a dedicated guide on the legality of VPNs around the world. You can also see our selection of best VPNs for China, to connect from China to the UK.

What's the Best Free UK VPN?

You’re probably thinking: why should I pay for a VPN when there are so many free ones available? Simply because many free VPNs will you do you more harm than good.

But, depending on what you need a VPN for, there are a handful of free VPN services that work well in the UK.

Windscribe is the best VPN at the moment: it’s fast, it has VPN servers in two UK cities, and you can use up to 10GB of data each month (that’s just about the most generous data cap you’ll find). It also works for streaming BBC iPlayer and UK Netflix (no other free VPNs pull this off consistently).

Other free VPNs we recommend for the UK are:

If you want to know more, take a look at our guide on the best free UK VPNs.

How to Get a UK IP Address

There are several ways to get a (new) UK IP address, whether you’re already in the UK or you want to browse the web as if you were in the country.

Here’s four simple steps to change your IP address to a UK one using a VPN:

  1. Choose a good UK VPN

    A good UK VPN must have fast UK servers that don’t leak your true IP location.

    If you choose one of the VPNs we recommend in this guide, you’ll be fine.

  2. VPN download & setup

    Once you’ve chosen a VPN, download the relevant VPN software and install it on your device(s). If you need help, read through our device-specific setup guides.

  3. Run the VPN

    Once the VPN is installed on your device, open it (sign in if necessary) and select a UK server and connect to it.

    For example, NordVPN has over 600 UK servers to choose from:

  4. Check for IP leaks

    Once connected to a UK server, quickly verify that you have been correctly assigned a UK IP address.

    This is easily done: go to our IP checker tool and the IP address you should see is your new UK one. If you see your real IP address, then your VPN is leaking.

How to Watch British TV from Abroad

Many readers, including UK expats, email us asking this: how can I watch BBC iPlayer, ITV Hub or Sky Go from outside the UK?

The problem many of them face is that when they try to stream UK video content from abroad, they get this sort of message:

Screenshot of the BBC iPlayer error message saying BBC iPlayer only works in the UK

Many UK streaming services can see when someone is accessing their website or app from abroad by looking at their IP address.

To mask your true location, and use the internet as if you’re in the UK, you need to get a UK IP address. A VPN is the most effective of tool that changes your IP address.

So, to watch UK TV online, all you need to do is:

  1. Download a VPN that works with your particular streaming service
  2. Connect to one of their UK servers
  3. Visit the website or open up the app
  4. Start streaming

Tip: Before you start streaming, clear your web browser cookies first.

Not sure if your VPN will work?

Read our ‘Best VPNs for BBC iPlayer’ guide and learn how to unblock the BBC’s video player, as well as other UK streaming platforms, from outside the UK.

Unblock US Netflix & Hulu from the UK

A man breaking through a wall with a hammer to reveal the Netflix logo

If you’re an entertainment fiend, then you’ll want access to as many TV shows and movies as possible. But, if you’re in the UK, you’re missing out on a lot of US-only video content.

Did you know that the American Netflix library has over 5,500 titles, but the UK catalogue has less than 3,000?

To unlock all this US video content, you’ll need to get a US IP address that can beat the Netflix VPN ban. Many VPNs can’t beat Netflix’s sophisticated traffic filters and you will face the infamous Netflix proxy error:

Screenshot of the image that Netflix displays when it detects a VPN or proxy service

To avoid this frustration, you have to use a VPN that still works with Netflix. Then, follow the steps below and you’re good to go:

  1. Select a working Netflix VPN

    Select one of the VPNs we’ve tested that can unblock Netflix in the US, and in other countries too.

  2. Set up the VPN software

    Once you’ve found your ideal VPN, download it onto your preferred device(s) and follow the installation prompts. We also have detailed VPN setup guides that can come in handy.

  3. Connect to a US server

    Once you’ve installed the VPN, start it up and pick a US server from the VPN’s country list and connect to it. Some VPNs, like CyberGhost, have dedicated Netflix servers that you can easily select.

  4. Clear your web cookies

    If you’ve visited the Netflix website in the past, it’s probably a good idea to clear your web browser cookies. Sometimes these cookies can interfere with unblocking Netflix, so best to wipe them clean.

  5. Start streaming

    Now, you’re ready to go. Visit the official Netflix website, or open up the Netflix app, and start streaming all that new video content you couldn’t access before!

Don’t forget, you can also unblock Hulu and HBO Max from the UK if you use a reliable VPN for streaming. Not to mention that some of the best VPNs also work with Disney+.

If you want to watch a European Netflix a VPN won’t help you, though. This is because EU Netflix customers get their home Netlfix library anywhere in the EU.

UK Surveillance: The Snoopers' Charter

As mentioned earlier, the Investigatory Powers Act – informally known as the Snoopers’ Charter – was passed into UK law in November 2016.

Essentially, the Snoopers’ Charter legalises mass monitoring and surveillance of electronic communications. It grants Intelligence agencies powers to monitor and store:

  • Phone calls
  • Emails
  • Web history
  • Text messages (SMS)

The Investigatory Powers Act also gives GCHQ (Government Communications Headquarters) the power to hack into computers and phones to obtain personal information and data of people.

Without a doubt, it’s one of the most intrusive pieces of legislation we’ve ever seen in a western democracy.

This is nothing new, though. The UK has been unlawfully collecting data for over 20 years.

If you feel that the Snoopers’ Charter violates your right to privacy (we certainly think so), then one of the things you can do is use a VPN to hide your web history from ISPs.

UK Surveillance: What is the Five Eyes Alliance?

In addition to the Snoopers’ Charter, we consider the UK to be very privacy-unfriendly due to its membership of the The Five Eyes Alliance.

This is the data-sharing agreement signed by five of the most powerful English-speaking nations:

  • Australia
  • Canada
  • UK
  • US
  • New Zealand

These countries freely share surveillance data with one another, and one nation can pressure another to hand over someone’s personal data, including web activity logs.

Our advice? Avoid using a VPN service headquartered in any of the countries above. Unless, it’s absolutely no-logs or only collects data that couldn’t in any way be used to personally identify you.

Other ‘alliances’ to be wary of are the Nine-Eyes, 14-Eyes and the European Union. For more information, see our guide on jurisdictions and VPNs.

How Many Websites Are Blocked in the UK?

Historically, UK ISPs have blocked over 760,000 websites and just in the last two years over 8,000 domains have fallen victim to ISP content filters.

In our 2019 investigation into UK ISP overblocking, we uncovered a scary number of websites being blocked:

  • Wedding services: Over 1,700 sites blocked
  • Photography: Over 700 sites blocked
  • VPN-related: Over 300 sites blocked

Not to mention that over 2,000 file sharing domains are also currently blocked.

Torrenting and file-sharing is legal in the UK, as long as the files (works) are not copyright-protected.

In fact, UK copyright laws make it illegal to download and/or share copyright-protected material.

The law in question is known as the Digital Economy Act, which was introduced in 2010. Its purpose is to assist the British Phonographic Industry (BPI) tackle illegal torrenting.

In practice, the law requires major UK ISPs to notify customers (via a Cease and Desist) caught downloading or sharing a copyrighted digital work. ISPs with less than 400,000 customers are exempt.

Also, UK ISPs have the right to throttle torrenting and P2P speeds and even block subscribers from accessing torrent sites. In fact, UK ISPs block over 2,000 domains including popular torrent sites:

  • YTS
  • The Pirate Bay
  • Torrentz

So, what’s the solution for torrenters? Use a safe torrenting VPN to unblock torrent sites and download files anonymously.

About the Author

  • Simon Migliano

    Simon is a recognized world expert in VPNs. He's tested hundreds of VPN services and his research has featured on the BBC, The New York Times, CNet and more. Read full bio