If you're looking to watch BBC iPlayer abroad securely, then an iPlayer VPN is an essential app to do so.
However, as you're probably already aware many VPN services don't work with the BBC iPlayer streaming service. When you connect you simply get told you're not in the UK, even if you connect to one of their UK based VPN servers.
Finding an iPlayer VPN can be time-consuming and costly. Many don't state if they work with the service and there's a lot of outdated and untested information out there.
What worked last year doesn't necessarily work this year. If you are trying to watch the latest episode of Doctor Who, this can be frustrating.
Our favourite BBC iPlayer VPN is ExpressVPN, they're easy to use and work without messing around. However, there are other options.
We've been testing a whole host of the most popular VPN services to find out which others work best with BBC iPlayer abroad this year. Let's take a look.
How to choose a VPN
Choosing an iPlayer VPN isn't all that difficult. Apart from finding one that actually works to access the service, which is the hardest part, there aren't many extra considerations.
There are, however still a few things you'll want to think about before rushing in and signing up and they are:
- Works with iPlayer: Not all VPN services work with BBC iPlayer. In fact, more don't work than do. Offering a UK IP Address and server in the UK is critical.
- Fast speeds: Speeds matter when it comes to finding a VPN for the iPlayer. The quality of video on BBC iPlayer has improved dramatically in recent years. They even stream some big events in 4k. Ensuring the VPN service offers fast speeds will allow you to watch in all its glory without buffering or other stuttering issues.
- Range of apps: Different VPN services offer apps for different devices. Ensure that the service you sign up for has a dedicated app for the device you want to watch on.
- Money back guarantee: It's essential to choose a VPN service that offers a lengthy month back guarantee. 30 days is a common length. It covers you should something go wrong or if you simply can't get the VPN service to work.
Top VPN for use with iPlayer
Remembering the above features, particularly speeds, will ensure you get the best VPNs for BBC iPlayer.
Let's now look at the Top 7 VPN services that will unblock the BBC iPlayer outside the UK. Don't forget, we've tried and tested all of these, so it doesn't matter too much which you end up signing up for as they all work.
ExpressVPN is our #1 recommended iPlayer VPN. There's no need to select any specific server as all will work, you can simply connect to their UK servers for access to BBC iPlayer abroad.
The VPN servers ExpressVPN offer have consistently fast connection speeds which is great for streaming. We tested them in our 2021 ExpressVPN review and found little speed loss compared to our regular connection.
This means you'll be able to stream in the highest quality without any issues on all streaming services including BBC iPlayer, Netflix, Amazon Prime video, Hulu, and more.
They recently updated their range of apps which connect quicker and on some devices have the option to quick-launch the BBC iPlayer app or a web-browser to access iPlayer. It's an elegant feature and is especially useful on large screens like TVs when using the Amazon Fire TV Stick, for example.
Apps are available for all Windows, Mac OS, Android, Apple iOS and Amazon devices. No matter what device you've got, you should be covered as there are thousands of IP Addresses available.
There is a 24/7 live chat support service available too, which is the definition of impressive customer support.
ExpressVPN offers multiple server locations including many servers in the UK. You can now have five simultaneous connections so you can watch iPlayer at the same time across multiple devices and benefit from a wide range of security features such as a kill switch and split tunneling. Quite simply the best VPN for iPlayer.
Our #1 Recommendation to unblock iPlayer
30-day money back guarantee
NordVPN is one of the most well-known and easy-to-use VPN services around and they're also one of the best iPlayer VPNs.
Connect to their UK servers, all of which offer fast speeds, and you can enjoy BBC iPlayer from anywhere without restrictions.
Our recent NordVPN review found their service impacts very little on speeds even at large distances, so there's no trouble streaming high-quality content on the BBC iPlayer. Even 4k content for big sporting events works well.
There's a huge range of NordVPN apps available allowing you to watch on desktop, laptop, tablet and mobile running Windows, Mac OS, Android or Apple iOS. There are masses of server locations, and also six simultaneous connections available too and many great privacy and security features, including a kill switch and DNS Leak protection.
They've also got an Amazon Fire TV app so you can access BBC iPlayer via Silk Browser or Firefox on your Fire TV device too. There's a 30-day money back guarantee available giving you loads of time to test the service and great customer service too including 24/7 live chat support.
3. CyberGhost VPN
CyberGhost VPN is the best option if you're new to VPN use and want simplicity.
They work well with BBC iPlayer and have the added bonus that their apps will even tell you what server to connect to for watching BBC iPlayer.
Their apps are well designed and available for all the most popular devices running Windows and Mac OS plus mobile devices running Android or Apple iOS.
They've also got one of the most well designed Amazon Fire TV apps we've seen so you can watch streaming services like BBC iPlayer, Netflix, Amazon Prime video, Hulu, and bypass geo restrictions, securely on your big screen.
On some devices, the app will even open the BBC iPlayer website for you once connected. There are multiple UK-based server locations to choose from too.
We really like the fact they've got a 45-day money back guarantee which is much longer than the competition and gives you over a month and a half to enjoy BBC iPlayer to test it working without risk. The kill switch works really well too and the customer service is first-rate.
VyprVPN makes a great choice for an iPlayer VPN as they work extremely well.
It's one of the more reliable VPN services we've tested. With very little speed loss when connected to their service, you'll have no trouble watching in high quality regardless of where you are.
Their apps are some of the best we've seen and are really easy to navigate. It's quick to connect to a UK server to unblock BBC iPlayer outside the UK with little fuss and no complicated set-up.
Apps are available for most major devices, including those running Windows, Mac OS, Android and Apple iOS. Unfortunately, there's no dedicated Amazon app which is a negative as it makes watching BBC iPlayer on your TV much more difficult.
VyprVPN offers a 30-day money back guarantee giving you plenty of time to test it and there is a helpful customer support team on standby too.
Surfshark is a young VPN but it has made a significant impact since its launch. It already has a huge range of apps and all the features needed to stream on the BBC iPlayer.
Surfshark already offers more than 3,200 servers in 65 different countries, including plenty in the UK. This makes it perfect as you just connect to a UK server to watch not only the iPlayer but other streaming services like Netflix, Amazon Prime video, Hulu, Disney+, and more.
In our tests, internet speeds were impressive which means there should be no trouble streaming your favourite BBC shows.
Surfshark comes with 256-bit AES military grade encryption as standard and decent privacy protections, although it does collect more connection data that we would like. Surfshark also offers unlimited simultaneous connections.
For the low prices Surfshark is available at, and with a 30-day money-back guarantee and great user-friendly customer support, this is an ideal VPN for BBC iPlayer users.
6. Private Internet Access
Private Internet Access (PIA) is another impressive service that makes it one of the best VPNs for BBC iPlayer.
PIA delivers fast streaming speeds, a decent range of apps, and almost 30,000 servers in 77 different countries with thousands of IP Addresses. This includes a significant number of UK-based servers.
The only downside with PIA is that while you can find a UK server that can unblock BBC iPlayer, it is not the case with all of them. And even the ones that do work can be a bit patchy. This can lead to some frustrating time being spent finding a working server before you can watch your favourite shows.
Prices are, however, very competitive and there is a 30-day money-back guarantee. Private Internet Access also offers military grade encryption as standard and decent privacy protections too as well as decent customer support options.
VPN.ac is the choice if you want to unblock iPlayer if you know a little bit more about what you're doing and consider yourself a ‘techie'.
While they're no harder to use than any of the other services and they work extremely well with BBC iPlayer they do have some advanced features that will let you use their service for a range of other purposes.
They also have a good range of apps supporting all major devices which include Windows and Mac OS, Android and Apple iOS and they even have a dedicated Amazon app for the Fire TV devices. Their server network is modest but you should have no trouble finding a UK server.
The service prices are a little on the expensive side when taking a 1-month package, so it's well worth looking at their longer subscription periods as yearly packages are much more cost-effective.
There's a slim 7-day money back guarantee available on the service. While it's not as long as many of the other services, it should give you enough time to test it to see it working with BBC iPlayer and for whatever other uses you need it for.
Which VPN is top choice?
Aside from actually working with BBC iPlayer and being fast, there aren't too many individual considerations.
However, if you're finding it difficult to choose from the seven providers above, there are a few specifics which will help you choose and below we've listed them.
If you want the best overall VPN for BBC iPlayer, get ExpressVPN. With a huge range of easy-to-use apps and a service that works well with BBC iPlayer, there is little reason not to sign up.
If you want the longest money back guarantee, get CyberGhost VPN. With a huge 45-day money back guarantee, it's longer than nearly any other service.
If you want the easiest to use VPN, get CyberGhost VPN. With helpful hints telling you where to connect specifically to watch BBC iPlayer, it's impossible to go wrong.
How do I stream BBC iPlayer using a VPN?
Once you have chosen your VPN, using it to stream the BBC iPlayer is simple.
Here is a step-by-step guide for you to follow. We have used ExpressVPN as an example but the process is similar for all VPNs:
- Sign up to ExpressVPN by clicking the link on this page, choosing your subscription package, and following the payment instructions.
- Download and install the app from your app store or the official ExpressVPN website.
- Log-in to your account using the details you were given in step 1.
- Connect to a UK-based server.
- Open the BBC iPlayer, log into your account, and start watching your favourite BBC shows.
If you have any problems, contact the ExpressVPN tech support for advice but usually you can just try a different server and it should connect without a problem.
Do free VPNs work with BBC iPlayer?
The quick answer is no. Free VPNs are rarely able to unblock the BBC iPlayer for a number of reasons.
Firstly most free VPNs cap the amount of bandwidth and data you can use which make them useless for streaming anything.
Their connection speeds are usually hopeless too.
Then there are the concerns about free VPNs coming bundled together with malware and adware, harvesting user data to sell, or not even bothering to encrypt you data and it quickly becomes clear that free VPNs are simply not worth the bother when the best VPNs cost such small amounts.
Do you really need a VPN?
BBC iPlayer can be accessed from within the UK without a VPN.
However, it's good practice for your online security and data privacy to be using a VPN at all times. With BBC iPlayer blocking many VPN services that's why it's essential to choose one of the seven recommended above.
Not only have we tested these to confirm they work with BBC iPlayer but they'll also allow you to continue protecting your privacy while streaming anywhere.
Is using a VPN with BBC iPlayer legal?
Using VPN apps is completely legal. They're a legitimate way to protect your online privacy.
There are no specific laws that say you can or can not use a VPN with the BBC iPlayer.
You of course need a valid TV licence if you watch the BBC iPlayer service regardless if you're using a VPN or not. Of course, that's really outside the scope of this guide but it's worth remembering anyway.
Using a VPN is not an excuse to break the law or access services you're not legally entitled to.
Does the BBC detect VPNs?
There are several simple ways the BBC iPlayer can detect if you are using a VPN or not.
The most obvious one is to monitor whether there are multiple users connecting to their service from the same IP Address. If there are, this is unlikely to be a regular internet connection and the most common alternative is a VPN server.
There are other ways that the iPlayer can determine that you are not in the UK, such as examining the cookies on your device.
The best VPNs are able to mask this by using different techniques, while some will let you pay a little more for a dedicated IP Address. But with the VPNs on our recommended list, this shouldn't be necessary.
How to access iPlayer on devices that don't support VPN?
If you want to watch BBC iPlayer on devices like a Roku Box or a Smart TV that cannot support a VPN, there is another way.
You will need to get hold of a VPN-enabled router instead. These routers can have VPN software installed directly onto them and they then protect your entire Wi-Fi network and all the devices that connect to it.
Not all routers can support a VPN and of those that can, some are much better than others. If you want to go down this route, there are two VPN-enabled routers we would particularly recommend:
The InvizBox 2 is a powerful pocket-sized VPN-enabled router that comes in a neat circular design and is extremely easy to set up. Even VPN setup is simple on this one.
InvizBox 2 comes complete with a quad-core processor and also an inclusive subscription to Windscribe. This is optional though and you can also purchase this router subscription-free and then set it up to work with other VPNs such as ExpressVPN, NordVPN, IPVanish, and Surfshark.
Once the VPN is set up, you can connect any device to your Wi-Fi network and it will be protected. This means that you can stream BBC iPlayer and other streaming services like Amazon Prime Video, Hulu, and Netflix on devices like Roku boxes and Smart TVs, no matter where you are.
Setting up and configuring an Invizbox 2 is simple and while the multiple hotspots and profiles features are a little more complex, they are still far from rocket science.
Price-wise, the InvizBox 2 sits firmly in the mid-range category. But given the connection speeds it can offer, we still think it is ideal for iPlayer users.
Check out the Invizbox 2 here.
StreamLocator is a fairly new device but as you will see in our full review of the StreamLocator, it has really impressed us with its consistent performance.
It is not actually a VPN router but one that utilises the DNS network. For you as a user, this doesn't matter much, it just means that it won't provide encryption or privacy protections. But for iPlayer viewers wanting to unblock their favourite shows, this is not a number one priority.
The StreamLocator design is really smart and this router can be set up in just four simple steps.
There are a few downsides. StreamLocator covers all the most popular regions, it isn't universal and cannot unblock all geo-restrictions.
It does work in the UK, which is great for iPlayer users, but aside from that, the US, Canada, Germany, Italy and Switzerland are the only other countries supported.
Connection speeds are impressive and consistent and the StreamLocator works well with Roku boxes and Smart TVs. It is ideal for all streaming services including Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime Video, and more.
The StreamLocator router costs US$83.88 or £62.09 and that includes 12-months of service. After that, you can keep streaming with your StreamLocator for just $6.99 a month.
Check out StreamLocator here.
If you're looking for a VPN to access BBC iPlayer in 2021 then it's important to consult up to date guides like this one. We have recommended the best iPlayer VPNs on the market right now.
The situation can change regularly and services that worked with last year or prior to that may no longer work this year.
We recommend ExpressVPN as our top VPN to access BBC iPlayer. They combine the ability to work with BBC iPlayer with some great easy-to-use apps and an all round good service.
You can use their service across a wide range of devices, including your computer, laptop, tablet, phone or even the Amazon Fire TV devices if you wish to watch on your TV.
If you've got time then it's worth checking out the other services too. Don't worry too much because they all work with BBC iPlayer, so you really can't go wrong no matter which you end up choosing.