If you're looking to watch BBC iPlayer overseas securely, then you are likely to be having some problems because the BBC doesn't like you watching BBC iPlayer abroad and has gone out of its way to stop you.
The good news is that there is a simple tool you can use to unblock BBC iPlayer; a VPN. The slightly less good news is that a BBC iPlayer VPN is not as easy to find as you might think.
An iPlayer VPN needs to make accessing BBC iPlayer simple but, as you may already be aware, many VPN services don't work with the BBC iPlayer streaming service.
They are no good at unblocking BBC iPlayer and when you connect, you simply get told you're not in the UK, even if you are connected to one of their UK VPN servers.
Finding an iPlayer VPN can be time-consuming and frustrating.
Many VPN provider websites don't state clearly if they can unblock BBC iPlayer abroad, some claim they can when they can't, and there's a lot of outdated and untested information out there too.
That's why we have compiled this guide to the best VPNs for BBC iPlayer. It features the best VPNs for streaming BBC iPlayer overseas right now, and we are updating regularly to ensure you can trust our list.
Our favourite BBC iPlayer VPN at the moment is ExpressVPN, which is both easy to use and works without messing around. However, there are other options as you will see in our shortlist.
We've tested all the most popular VPN services to find out which let you access BBC iPlayer abroad this year. Let's take a look.
How to choose a VPN
Choosing a VPN for streaming iPlayer is fairly straightforward with the exception of the one key factor; finding a VPN that actually unblocks BBC iPlayer abroad.
The other features that you will be looking for from your VPN are fairly self-explanatory.
However, if you are new to this or want to understand exactly what you are signing up for, here is a rundown of the key things we have been looking for:
- Works with iPlayer: As we have already explained, not all VPN services work with BBC iPlayer. In fact, more don't work than do. Unblocking iPlayer requires a UK IP Address and this means that choosing a VPN with at least a few UK servers is critical.
- UK VPN servers – Decent BBC iPlayer VPNs need some sort of UK server coverage and, for the best speeds, you want as many as possible.
- Fast speeds: Speeds matter when it comes to finding a VPN for the iPlayer and any streaming sites. The quality of video on BBC iPlayer has improved dramatically in recent years. They even stream some big events in 4k and UHD. 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 streaming devices 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 and at least a few UK servers, 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.
- Best in class for iPlayer
- Super fast streaming speeds
- Works on any device
- Great for HD content
- Easy to use apps
- 30-day money back guarantee
- Monthly package pricey
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 any of their UK servers for access to BBC iPlayer abroad.
The VPN servers ExpressVPN offer have continually fast connection speeds which is great for streaming. They will also consistently unblock BBC iPlayer.
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 any other streaming service you want.
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 outside the UK 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
- Simple apps
- Works on all devices
- 30-day money back guarantee
- Dedicated Fire TV app
- Not the fastest
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 unlimited bandwidth, 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 HD video and other 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. You can even use NordVPN with things like Apple TV too.
There are masses of different VPN server locations and VPN IP Addresses available and also six simultaneous connections too. Then there is the 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.
If you are planning to be watching iPlayer abroad while on your holidays this year, you won't go far wrong with NordVPN.
3. CyberGhost VPN
- Use on 7 devices
- Dedicated iPlayer servers
- Works on all devices
- Easy to use
- 45-day money back guarantee
- Apps less appealing
- Speeds not the best
CyberGhost VPN is the best option if you're new to VPN use and want simplicity and usability as well as a VPN that can easily unblock BBC iPlayer.
They work well with BBC iPlayer and other streaming services and have the added bonus that their apps will even tell you what server to connect to for watching BBC iPlayer outside the UK.
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 among an impressive server network. The kill switch works really well too but features are kept very simple and usable and the customer service is first-rate.
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 watch iPlayer abroad without having to commit any money.
- Very good app selection
- 30-day money back guarantee
- Consistent connection speeds
- Hit and miss with iPlayer
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 and unlimited bandwidth, 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 get that UK IP Address and unblock BBC iPlayer outside the UK with little fuss and no complicated set-up. It works with other streaming services like Netflix Amazon Prime video, and Hulu too.
Apps are available for most major devices, including those running Windows, Mac OS, Android and Apple iOS.
Unfortunately for those who like to use other streaming devices, 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.
- Works well with iPlayer
- 30-day money back guarantee
- Great for other streaming services
- Lesser proven provider
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 access BBC iPlayer content.
Surfshark already provides more than 3,200 servers in 65 different countries, including plenty in the UK to get that all-important UK IP address.
This makes it perfect as you just connect to a UK server to watch not only the iPlayer but also to access Netflix, Amazon Prime video, Hulu, Disney+, and other streaming services too.
In our tests, internet speeds were impressive which means there should be no trouble streaming your favourite BBC shows. There are superb apps for almost all streaming devices, even things like Apple TV.
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 unblocking iPlayer abroad.
6. Private Internet Access
- Huge range of server locations
- Old trusted service
- Good range of apps
- Hit and miss with iPlayer
Private Internet Access (PIA) is another impressive service that makes it one of the best BBC iPlayer VPNs.
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 that can (sometimes) unblock iPlayer no matter where you are.
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, decent privacy protections, and features like DNS leak protection as well. But be prepared for a bit of work to identify the UK servers that actually work.
PIA is a solid and worthwhile all-round VPN but as far as VPNs for BBC iPlayer are concerned, there are other VPN providers that do a better job.
- Works with iPlayer
- Good for security uses
- Run by security experts
- More focused to advanced users
VPN.ac is the VPN provider of choice if you want a service that unblocks BBC iPlayer and 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 that unblocks BBC iPlayer and also other streaming services like Netflix, Amazon Prime and the rest.
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 but it does have good customer support. 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 being able to unblock iPlayer and being fast, there aren't too many individual considerations for a BBC iPlayer VPN.
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.
With dedicated VPN apps for the Amazon Fire TV devices you can stream BBC iPlayer on your TV securely.
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 for streaming 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 either 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, hey presto your VPN will be unblocking BBC iPlayer and you can start watching your favourite BBC shows.
If you have any problems streaming BBC iPlayer, 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. A Free VPN is are rarely able to unblock the BBC iPlayer for a number of reasons.
Firstly, a free VPN like Hotspot Shield is highly likely cap the amount of bandwidth and data you can use which make them useless for streaming anything.
Their connection speeds are usually hopeless too and some free VPNs have even been found throttling BBC iPlayer and other streaming services.
You may well have seen Hotspot Shield and certain other free VPNs recommended as an iPlayer VPN elsewhere. Ignore these reviews. Free VPNs like Hotspot Shield are simply not iPlayer VPNs. Many are barely VPNs at all.
A lot of free VPNs come with major security and privacy concerns too. Some will bundle their apps together with malware and adware, others are harvesting user data to sell, or not even bothering to encrypt your data.
We have flagged Hotspot Shield here because it is the biggest and perhaps best known of the free VPNs.
Hotspot Shield is not guilty of everything listed in this page, but the service you will get from Hotspot Shield is far removed from that you will get from our recommended providers.
Quite simply, if you want to watch BBC iPlayer abroad, you need a quality iPlayer VPN service and Hotspot Shield and the other free VPNs are simply not up to the job.
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.
If you want to watch BBC iPlayer content outside the UK and you don't have an iPlayer VPN, you are in for a disappointment.
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 UK TV license 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 you will be asked when you first log in if you have a valid TV license and if you don't but claim you do, there could be consequences (although we are not aware of any specific instances of this).
We would also stress that 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 for the BBC iPlayer 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 checking locations services or even 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 there are only a few 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.