If you're an ex-pat living abroad and missing your home comforts, or just a fan of British TV, a VPN for BBC iPlayer could be the perfect online tool for you. With a VPN, you can stream BBC iPlayer outside of the UK – and setting up a VPN for iPlayer takes less than 5 minutes!
What are the best VPNs that work with iPlayer?
To watch iPlayer outside the UK, we recommend using these VPNs:
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[[post-object type="gotolink" provider="expressvpn" class="btn btn-md btn-primary"]]Try ExpressVPN our #1 VPN for iPlayer[[/post-object]]
Not all VPNs have UK servers that work to unblock iPlayer. In 2021, the number of VPNs that actually work with iPlayer is at an all-time low, which is why it is essential that you stick to a recommended service to avoid disappointment.
The good news is that our experts have reviewed over 150 VPNs since 2013 and we are intricately aware of the few VPNs that still work reliably with iPlayer.
In this article, we'll show you the best VPNs that work with BBC iPlayer. We will also show you which ones you definitely need to avoid. As a result, you will be able to get a service that lets you instantly start streaming iPlayer content from anywhere in the world.
When choosing the best VPNs for BBC iPlayer, our primary concern was servers that actually unblock iPlayer from outside the UK. However, we also search for fast VPNs that can handle HD streams and the following features:
- The number of UK servers
- If it can stream in HD
- Good customer support
All the VPNs listed below have these vital features, so we can recommend them all to stream BBC iPlayer.
The best VPNs for watching BBC iPlayer in 2021
Our tests revealed five VPNs that are by far the best for unblocking BBC iPlayer in 2021. Below you can read summaries about each service that will help you pick the VPN that sounds best for you.
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Which is the fastest VPN for BBC iPlayer?
For a VPN to unblock iPlayer, it isn't just necessary for it to have UK servers that work with the BBC's website. It must also have fast enough servers to let you stream iPlayer videos without buffering. As a result, a reliable VPN for iPlayer must have fast Tier-1 servers that don't suffer from congestion.
To give you up-to-date information about the speeds you can expect to get with our recommended VPNs, we run daily speed tests and display the results in the table below. The table updates three times each day, so you can see which VPN is fastest in real time!
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Unblocking & watching BBC iPlayer abroad explained
Unfortunately, you'll find that you cannot access BBC iPlayer if you live outside the UK. You'll almost certainly be met with the following message if you try:
[[post-object type="blockquote"]]BBC iPlayer only works in the UK. Sorry, it's due to rights issues.[[/post-object]]
This is where a VPN comes into play.
How does a VPN for BBC iPlayer work?
The video below explains how a VPN unblocks iPlayer from anywhere in the world.
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To put it simply, a VPN does two important things to help you unblock iPlayer and stream in abroad:
- Provides digital privacy via strong encryption: This stops your ISP from knowing what you do online.
- Conceals your real location: This allows you to pretend to be in another country.
The encryption prevents your ISP knowing that you are accessing BBC iPlayer, so they cannot block traffic coming from that particular website. Concealing your real location by connecting to a VPN server located in the UK gives you a UK IP address. This makes it seem like you are a UK resident, which lets you unblock iPlayer!
This is how an iPlayer VPN works in a nutshell - but it's not quite this black and white in practise. VPNs are, first and foremost, tools designed to enhance online privacy and security, and so they've not necessarily been engineered to unblock iPlayer. As a result, while 99% of VPNs can provide you with a UK IP address, the vast majority may not be able to actually provide you with access to iPlayer.
This is why we put this guide together. If your primary focusing is streaming BBC iPlayer abroad, we'd recommend choosing one of our VPN recommendations to avoid disappointment.
If you're new to VPNs, you can learn the basics with our helpful guides:
- What is a VPN? A non-technical guide
- Ultimate privacy guide
- How to change your virtual location with a VPN
What can I watch with an iPlayer VPN?
There's a whole host of new and old BBC content available on iPlayer and you can watch it all once you're connected with a VPN with no limits! Some popular titles include:
- Earth II
- Killing Eve
- New: Top Gear
- Doctor Who
- His Dark Materials
- Gavin and Stacey
- And so much more.
Downloading iPlayer shows to watch offline with a VPN
Like with many other streaming services it is possible for you to download a show to watch offline on BBC iPlayer – and it works through your VPN too!
All you need to do is follow the steps below to unblock iPlayer and then when you have found a show you want to download, simply click the link. Once downloaded, you have 30-days to watch the content before it disappears from your device.
How to watch iPlayer abroad using a VPN
If you choose the right VPN, then using a VPN service to watch BBC iPlayer abroad is simple. All you need to do is follow the instructions below.
- Subscribe to a VPN for BBC iPlayer and download the software.
- Open the app or VPN client. When the app loads, you will be prompted to sign in to the service.
- When you get into the app, find the server list, and choose a server based in the UK to connect to.
- Go to the BBC iPlayer website and sign up for an account. You will be asked for a UK postal code, which is basically the same thing as a ZIP code. You can find postcodes online quite easily through a simple internet search.
- You will now have access to BBC iPlayer, and you can watch all the BBC content you want!
You should now be able to stream BBC content from any country.
VPN does not work with BBC iPlayer?
There could be several issues at play if your VPN isn't working to unblock iPlayer. Some of the most common are:
- Your VPN doesn't have servers compatible with iPlayer. Double check that your VPN actually works with iPlayer. If it doesn't, you might want to consider subscribing to one of the services listed above.
- Your VPN works with iPlayer, but your current server doesn't. Simply switch to a different UK server a try again. Most top providers will highlight which servers access iPlayer.
- Your VPN's iPlayer server has been temporarily blocked. This does happen from time-to-time. If you find that your VPN used to work and no longer does, it's a good idea to get in touch with your provider. The customer service team can let you know which server to use, or when a potential fix will be released.
If you are still having issues, check out our iPlayer VPN block troubleshooting guide, where we cover additional fixes to all kinds of iPlayer VPN issues.
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Will any VPN work with iPlayer?
No. It's tricky and expensive to bypass the BBC firewall, and plenty of VPN providers have simply given up! The BBC continues to get better and better at blocking VPN users with each passing year. As a result, fewer and fewer VPNs work to allow you to stream iPlayer. So, you must be extra careful when choosing a VPN if you want to use it to unblock iPlayer.
Fortunately, the providers that we recommend on our list still go to the effort of ensuring you can watch iPlayer on their servers.
Our recommended VPNs have all found ways to combat the iPlayer VPN block, and they all successfully and reliably bypass the iPlayer proxy error.
If you're having trouble unblocking iPlayer, check out our iPlayer VPN troubleshooting guide.
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Popular VPN services that don’t work with iPlayer
The vast majority of VPNs do not unblock iPlayer, and there are literally hundreds of commercial VPNs on the market – meaning that there are a lot of VPN providers you will need to avoid if you want to access iPlayer from abroad. To help you out, we have listed some of the more prevalent VPNs that don’t work with iPlayer in 2021. These VPNs should be avoided if you want to stream iPlayer from outside the UK.
- TunnelBear – This popular VPN has servers in the UK but it, unfortunately, does not work to unblock iPlayer. That is a shame because this is a VPN that is generally extremely well-liked and otherwise quite good. Find out more with our TunnelBear review.
- Windscribe – This well-known VPN has not been unblocking iPlayer as of January 2021 and has been receiving complaints and comments on its forums from disgruntled users. Check our Windscribe review for more information.
- PureVPN. This VPN claims to unblock iPlayer. However, users are complaining about its inability to do so – even when they use the VPN and the extension together, as they are supposed to. For this reason, PureVPN is better avoided by anyone wishing to access iPlayer. You can read more into this in our detailed PureVPN review.
- GooseVPN. This VPN is often subscribed to by consumers who want to unblock content. However, the VPN admitted that it cannot unblock iPlayer currently, so please stay away from Goose. For more details, head over to our GooseVPN review.
Other VPNs that won't work
|VPN||Works with iPlayer?|
|Hotspot Shield (Free)||No|
|Private Internet Access (PIA)||No|
|Windscribe||Only works with the WindFlix add on|
|PureVPN||Only works with browser extensions|
The VPNs above do not unblock BBC iPlayer, even if you connect to their UK servers. This is because the BBC has already successfully blacklisted these VPNs.
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Can I stream BBC iPlayer on firestick outside the UK?
You can, but you'll need to connect to a UK server and create a UK-based Amazon account for your firestick to access the iPlayer app. See our guide on how to change country on a firestick for a step-by-step on how to do this.
Alternatively, you can use Kodi to access iPlayer, click the link for more information.
What's coming to BBC iPlayer in January 2021?
January 2021 has a bunch of great shows coming to iPlayer. Below we have included those recommendations so that you can start using your VPN right away!
Now that you know everything you need to about unblocking BBC iPlayer with a VPN, let's review our top picks:
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[[post-object type="accordion" question="Can BBC detect VPN users?" answer="Yes, streaming sites like BBC iPlayer can detect if a visitor is using a VPN. If the site detects that the visitor is accessing the site from a pool of known VPN IP addresses that have been blacklisted by the streaming service. This is how the BBC is able to prevent the majority of VPN users from accessing its iPlayer content – even if the user is connecting through a UK server. In order to avoid being blocked from accessing the content, your best bet will be to use one of the services listed in this guide, all of which are excellent and have the ability to unblock iPlayer consistently and reliably." /]]
[[post-object type="accordion" question="Can you get a free VPN that works with Player?" answer="The short answer is no, sadly. There are very few <a href='/vpn/guides/free-vpn-hack-bbc-iplayer-access-service-free-world'>free vpns that can unblock BBC iPlayer</a>. This is largely because they lack to speeds needed to stream. Free VPN services impose speed restrictions and have usage throughput limits, meaning those that do unblock BBC iPlayer will be unreliable, anyway.
It is possible to gain temporary access to an iPlayer VPN for free. Check out our <a href='/vpn/guides/free-vpn-hack-bbc-iplayer-access-service-free-world'>free VPN for iPlayer</a> hack to find out more." /]]
[[post-object type="accordion" question="Do you need a TV license to watch iPlayer abroad?" answer="UK residents can be fined if they watch iPlayer without paying for a TV license. However, because you're located outside of the UK, and because of the VPN's encryption, the BBC won't know who you are. Just remember that iPlayer requires an email address and valid UK to access. You'll be good to go if you use a random postcode generator and a burner email to register. Bear in mind, though, that whilst a VPN might be an effective way folks inside the UK to watch iPlayer without a TV license, we cannot endorse or recommend it. You could be slapped with a hefty fine if you live in the UK and don't pay for a TV license!" /]]
[[post-object type="accordion" question="Is it legal to use a VPN with BBC iPlayer?" answer="Don't worry, it's not illegal to access BBC iPlayer with a VPN. Nobody has ever been prosecuted for doing so." /]]
[[post-object type="accordion" question="How do I get around the BBC VPN block?" answer="First, try restarting your VPN and connect to a different server - but make sure it's also compatible with iPlayer. If you're uncertain which server to pick, it's a good idea to get in touch with your VPN provider. Hopefully, this will solve your issue, but if it doesn't, we have more tips and tricks in our <a href='/vpn/guides/iplayer-troubleshoot-vpn'>iPlayer VPN block guide</a>." /]]