If you live or travel in the United Kingdom the need to use a VPN is ever increasing and in 2020 you should definitely be using a VPN most, if not all of the time.
In this guide, we'll be showing you 10 of the leading secure VPN services for the job and pointing out some of their features that make them top options for use in the UK.
The services listed in this guide are also suitable for accessing UK services if you're overseas.
But with so many VPN services out there, which should you choose?
Answering that can end up costing you a lot in wasted sign up fees and time. In this busy world of ours, time you could better spend elsewhere.
We've tested a wide range of services for you and broken them down to just ten choices.
Our favourite virtual private network for the UK currently is ExpressVPN but as a savvy shopper, you'll probably want to compare some other options yourself. Although they are our favourite, you're free to choose.
However, rather than wading through over 500 options, you'll only need to compare these ten.
Top 10 UK VPNs
You can discover some of the features you should be considering when choosing a VPN further below in this guide. First, below are our top choices:
ExpressVPN through our extensive expert testing is our standout winner as the no.1 VPN for the UK.
They've got VPN server locations in 94 countries which includes the UK and many surrounding countries. This gives you the best of both worlds and plenty of choices of places to connect to.
We like how well they work with the UK's streaming services and you'll have no issues watching BBC iPlayer, Sky Go, ITV Hub or other services from the across the UK. Plus they work well to unblock Netflix and with other overseas services.
Based in the British Virgin Islands, an independent audit has confirmed that ExpressVPN's no-log policy is robust and reliable.
Through our testing and reports, ExpressVPN works well with all UK ISPs including Virgin, BT, TalkTalk and others. In our speed tests we found them to be one of the fastest VPN services with top download speeds.
You can also transfer unlimited data which is useful for heavy use and they offer a safety kill switch feature plus DNS leak protection.
They also offer one of the largest ranges of user friendly apps available for iOS and Android, Windows and Mac OS, Linux, Amazon Fire TV devices and more. Plus the ability to have five simultaneous connections.
Our #1 Recommended VPN for the UK
30-day money back guarantee
NordVPN offers one of the easiest to use VPN services we've seen with some of the best-designed apps on the market that work on every operating system and device type.
Servers are available in the UK and at current count, they have a massive 680 of them available.
There's also an extensive range across Europe and further afield, so you've got plenty of options. In fact, there are over 5,600 servers available in total which is a higher number of servers than most others.
There's a whole range of apps available for Android, iOS, Windows, Mac and the Amazon Fire TV and Fire TV Stick. They're some of the easiest to use we've tested so if you're a beginner or don't want to delve into the technical side too much they'll be right up your street.
UK streaming services work well on NordVPN, in fact, in tests, they work more than most other providers for all the leading services such as iPlayer, BT Sport, iFollow, Sky and others.
You can test the service risk-free with their 30-day money back guarantee and if you get stuck they provide top-notch customer support.
3. CyberGhost VPN
CyberGhost VPN has been vastly improving their service in recent years, making them a great choice for using in the UK.
With their recently redesigned apps, you can make a VPN connection and protect your online activities across your range of devices. We like that their apps help you find the correct server for your needs which saves time and doesn't leave you frustrated like some alternative services.
There are over 6,100 VPN servers dotted across the world with some 810+ in the UK in London, Manchester and Berkshire. Most of the servers have a low utilisation with just 12-20 other users so there's plenty of bandwidth to go around allowing you to get decent speeds when connected.
We had no trouble with the leading UK streaming services and when using the range of apps they even show you which server to connect to to unblock which specific TV service.
There's a huge 45-day money back guarantee which is more than most. Plus you can use the service on up to 7 devices although you'll need to de-register some if you hit the limit which is a little uncommon and a bit unnecessary.
IPVanish is one of the most popular VPN services and for use in the UK they have a decent offering.
Currently, servers are available across 3 UK locations which is more than most and includes London, Manchester and Glasgow. Overall there are servers in 55 countries.
The service has been expanding again after cutting back on servers for several years and there are now three new worldwide locations since our last look.
The standout feature is the ability to have ten devices connected at the same time. You'll be hard pressed to find another service that beats this limit.
Speeds on the service are favourable and we didn't experience any issues when watching video, browsing websites or streaming other media to a range of devices.
This coupled with their apps for Windows, Mac OS, Android, Apple iOS and a decent Amazon Fire TV Stick app, makes IPVanish an all-round good service with just a few weaknesses.
VyprVPN has been one of the most highly regarded VPN services for many years and their commitment to offering a no log service proven by audit has won them many fans – ourselves included.
For UK use this makes them a great choice because you can use their service without fear what you're doing is being recorded. This allows you to browse the web privately.
Servers are available in the UK and while they're not quite the fastest, they are incredibly reliable. There's also a bunch of nearby servers across Europe and the rest of the world is well covered too.
A 30-day money back guarantee is available which matches the competition and gives you an entire month to test it for a variety of purposes.
Apps are available for all the most popular devices but sadly there's no dedicated Amazon Fire TV app so if you're a big streamer you'll need to look elsewhere.
Surfshark is relatively young when compared to most others on this list. However, that does not make it any less worthy of being on it.
This service has excellent streaming speed, as well as plenty of servers around the world to let you unblock anything. It offers over 1,040 servers in more than 61 countries. The UK is, of course, one of them, and so are many of the surrounding regions.
Surfshark also offers dedicated apps for many of the most popular devices and systems, such as iOS, Android, Windows, Linux, macOS, Smart TVs, gaming consoles, and even browser extensions.
It claims it doesn't keep logs, but while it has been audited, this is only minimal in scope and doesn't extend to the majority of the back end of the service.
The standout feature is the fact that you can use it on an unlimited number of devices at the same time. This makes it perfect for families, businesses, and people with plenty of different devices with an internet connection.
Lastly, Surfshark has a 30-day money-back guarantee, just in case you change your mind about using it.
ProtonVPN is one of the most trustworthy VPN services out there. It is based in Switzerland, and it is fully compliant with the country's stringent privacy laws.
ProtonVPN offers rich coverage of 46 countries, although its server count is a bit lower than what most other VPNs with such an extensive coverage have to offer. It has 767 servers, all of which are strategically located across the world.
It also has a strict no-logs policy, and being run by the same team which brought you ProtonMail it's one you should be able to trust.
It is available on all the popular systems, like Windows, Mac, Android, and iOS. The basic package only allows two simultaneous connections so you'll probably want to look at their plus package which allows five.
If you decide that it doesn't work well for you or that you don't like it, you can always rely on a 30-day money-back guarantee. You even get to test it via its free version, so it has a lot to offer.
Up next is VPN.ac, a service with quite a small, but effective server network.
It only has servers in around 21 countries, which might sound small when compared to the giants of the VPN industry mentioned earlier, but it is more than enough for most people.
Its servers are placed in some of the most popular locations for users to unblock all kinds of content. There are over 120 servers in total, which are reliable, some of the fastest we've tested and suitable for a variety of reasons.
Further, VPN.ac offers apps for Windows, Android, Mac, and iOS. You can use it on six devices at the same time, which is also pretty good for securing your devices.
From the privacy standpoint, VPN.ac is also useful, as it claims not to be keeping any activity logs. It does retain some minor connection logs for troubleshooting but for just 24 hours.
Last but not least, it offers a 7-day money-back guarantee, which is a bit short, but the service is one of our favourites and you probably won't need to utilise it.
Private Internet Access, or PIA for short, is one of the oldest VPN services that has been around for a long time.
As such, it survived many different situations as the online privacy world changed. Today, PIA offers some of the lowest prices in the world of premium VPNs, while at the same time, it works well to protect the user.
It offers over 3,350 servers in 31 countries, and you can use it to protect up to ten devices at the same time.
Meanwhile, it is available on countless platforms, including Windows, Mac, Linux, Android, iOS, and 34 others, so those ten simultaneous connections can come in handy.
PIA does not keep logs, and this was confirmed when Libsodium audited it. Owners of CyberGhost, KAPE acquired the service but some have raised questions about this acquisition which you can read more about here.
Last on our list; we have VPNCity – another relatively new service that is pretty much unheard of.
It has servers in 42 different cities, covering 33 countries around the world. The total number of its servers is 3,167, which is more than enough to prevent overcrowding, and provide some high download speeds.
In terms of apps, you can use it on Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, Chrome, Firefox, Android TV and Fire TV Stick. It can be used for protecting between 6 and 12 devices at the same time, depending on your subscription package.
VPNCity also claims it doesn't keep logs, which makes it safe to use. It has low prices, and if you decide that you do not like it, it has a 30-day money-back guarantee which you can use to get your money back.
What is a VPN?
A VPN is a service which you can use to keep yourself safe on the internet. This is usually offered in app form.
VPN apps hide your traffic with security protocols, they make it unreadable with encryption, and they use server networks to protect your location and identity.
As such, they also allow you to bypass geo-restrictions and censorship on the internet, and to unblock all the content you could ever want.
If you're interested in learning more, we have a detailed guide on what VPNs are.
How to choose a VPN for Britain
Choosing a VPN for the UK has a few unique requirements because of regulations, monitoring, censorship and a whole host of other reasons.
Knowing the standout features specifically for the UK will help you better choose a VPN service so below we've listed four that you should be considering.
- Servers in and around the UK: For different purposes you'll require VPN servers in the UK plus servers near enough to put you outside the UK in locations such as the Netherlands, Switzerland and Iceland.
- Unblocks UK streaming: To get the most out of your private connection you want to ensure that the VPN isn't blocked by the leading UK streaming services such as BBC iPlayer, ITV Hub, Sky Go, BT Sport, iFollow and others. This will allow you to watch your favourite content while remaining secure.
- Works with UK ISPs: While any good VPN should work with the UK's ISPs, there have been incidences where poor server connection can lead to slow speeds. Making sure the VPN works well with the likes of Virgin Media, BT, TalkTalk and Sky Broadband etc will give you the best experience.
- Money back guarantee: Not much is guaranteed in the VPN world so choose a VPN that gives you at least a 30-day money back guarantee. This will let you test the service for your specific uses to see how they perform, risk-free.
Which UK VPN is for you?
With more than 500 VPN services available to choose from, it's hard to select just one for the UK.
That's why we've slimmed this list down to the top ten options. However, even with ten, you may still be a little undecided.
While all ten are excellent for use in the UK there may be one that is most suitable for your personal needs which is why we've broken it down into typical usage scenarios.
If you're still confused, take a look at the usage scenarios below to pick the one that closest matches your needs.
If you want the best privacy protection, get ExpressVPN. Their no-logs policy has been tried and tested plus they're registered off-shore so you can be safe in the knowledge that what you do while connected to their service remains nobody's business but yours.
If you're a complete beginner, choose NordVPN. Their apps are well designed and make connection effortless. Even if you've never used a VPN before you can simply make use of their one-click connection which will get you connected to the best VPN server automatically.
If you want to access UK streaming services, choose ExpressVPN or NordVPN. Both services work with the greatest number of the UK's streaming websites and offer excellent connection speeds. If you're in the UK or overseas and you want to watch the likes of BBC iPlayer and others then these two providers work with most of them.
If you want to test risk-free, opt for CyberGhost VPN. They've got the most extended money-back guarantee of 45-days giving you plenty of time to check the service.
If you want help choosing the right server, take CyberGhost VPN. Their vast range of helpful apps points you in the correct direction of where to connect for what purpose.
Why is a VPN for the UK necessary?
Using a VPN regardless of which country you're in is essential these days for a range of reasons. The most obvious is the slow erosion of online-privacy but there are plenty of other pressing reasons using a VPN is good practice.
The UK has some very good causes why you should be using a VPN to protect your internet connection which include:
The UK's Investigatory Powers Act also known as the ‘Snooper's Charter' is one of the most invasive surveillance and data retention laws in the western world.
With the UK having now left the EU at the start of 2020 there will be no further European oversight allowing the UK government to pass even more restrictive laws.
Online threats in the UK are at their highest recorded levels and your personal details are big business.
Anything from credit card details to your driving licence and other personal details can be bought or sold on the ‘dark web' for anywhere between as little as 80 pence up to £25.
While a VPN can't protect you against data breaches of businesses, it does secure you in many other circumstances.
Unblock TV services
If you're outside the UK or travelling overseas many of the UK's TV service websites are blocked.
Using a VPN allows you to unblock them anywhere by changing your IP Address. It also means you can watch in the UK while retaining your privacy.
Unblock other content
There's plenty of other content blocked or censored in the UK. Using a VPN allows you to hop outside the UK to access legal content from another location.
Adult Age verification
Age Verification was proposed to come into effect in the UK in 2019.
However, for the time being it has been shelved. That doesn't mean that age verification has gone away entirely as UK authorities are still proposing to introduce similar measures in their ‘Online Harms' legislation.
You therefore may wish to be prepared for any future laws that could be implemented.
The above isn't an exhaustive list of reasons to use a VPN but it's some of the best reasons to use one. Even taking the five specifics above goes to show that using a VPN for your everyday internet use in the UK is now essential.
Is using a VPN illegal in the UK?
No, using a VPN is entirely legal in the UK.
There are no laws against protecting the privacy of your internet connection. Nor against using encryption which is how a VPN protects you.
Encryption is also how websites such as your bank manage to secure your connection.
VPN systems are used by thousands of businesses daily and hundreds of thousands of individuals as a way of staying safe online.
Is there a free VPN to use?
We don't recommend free VPNs like hotspot shield for several reasons.
Most importantly, they are a security risk. There have been numerous reports about free VPN services selling access to your data or usage.
They also have questionable ownership which can be in countries like China that have very few laws to protect the privacy of your data.
There have even been reports of free VPNs that aren't actually VPNs at all and are instead malware.
If you managed to find a reliable free VPN (which is incredibly tricky) then you would discover they're slow, drop connection and don't tend to work as you would expect.
What is the leading VPN for UK TV?
To stay secure while watching TV services or access UK TV from abroad picking the correct VPN can be difficult.
Not all work with UK TV services and while some work with specific services, they often don't work with them all.
Through our extensive testing we've found both ExpressVPN and NordVPN to be the best options. They've been the most reliable for UK TV and they unlock the greatest number of services.
Either of them makes good choices for watching UK TV.
In Summary: A quick round-up
The best VPN for the UK right now is ExpressVPN.
They offer the perfect balance of privacy protections, TV unblocking, apps, ease of use and more. They've also got an extensive range of server locations across the UK and plenty of nearby locations.
You can try them risk-free using their 30-day money back guarantee.
We recommend signing up for their 1-year package because it's almost 50% cheaper than paying every month and they're giving you 3-months free right now which isn't to be missed.
If you've got time to do further research then it's worth checking out all ten recommendations above as you may like one more than the others.
Whichever VPN you end up choosing you can't go wrong because they're ten of the most reliable VPN services for the UK this year.
- The Telegraph | The best VPNs to protect your data, browser, iPhone, Android and more
- NCA | Cyber crime
- Metropolitan Police | Little Book of Cyber Scams
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