How to watch BBC iPlayer from Abroad (Updated 2018)

BBC iPlayer 2017

BBC iPlayer is one of the most popular online streaming sites in the UK. If you’re abroad then you’ve probably been wondering how you can watch this great British institution.

Unfortunately when you’re outside the UK then you’re blocked from watching BBC iPlayer even if you’re in the EU.

It doesn’t matter if you’re an expat, on holiday or you just love BBC shows. If you’re not in the UK then BBC iPlayer is blocked.

I’m sure you’ve already tried to watch so you know you’re blocked. To unblock BBC iPlayer abroad you’re going to need to get a VPN app such as ExpressVPN which will let you watch in any country.

How does a VPN app unblock iPlayer

When using the BBC iPlayer app or visiting the website it checks your location.

When it sees that you’re not in the UK then it blocks you. The app and website know your physical location because of your internet connection.

So if you’re on the beach in Bali, a mountain in Switzerland or quaffing wine in the South of France, old beeb knows.

A VPN app allows you to disguise your location. So that mountain you are up suddenly becomes London in the UK. Well, at least as far as BBC iPlayer is concerned.

How to choose the best VPN app for BBC iPlayer

A few years ago back in 2015, BBC iPlayer tried to stop people using this ‘loophole’ and blocked a bunch of different VPN services.

Most, but not all VPN services work with BBC iPlayer again and have done for a number of years. It’s important to choose one that does work otherwise you may as well go back to that wine.

My recommendation to watch BBC iPlayer abroad is ExpressVPN.

I’ve tried and tested them and use them regularly. They’re really easy to use and they’ve got a 30-day money back guarantee so it’s completely risk-free.

If you’ve got a bit of time in-between picking sand out your toes then also check out CyberGhost VPN and NordVPN. They’re two other good options for watching BBC iPlayer abroad.

How do I use the VPN to watch BBC iPlayer abroad

To watch on a computer, tablet or phone you first need to sign up for one of the VPN services above. It will cost you a couple of pounds (or dollars).

A great way to save some cash is to take the 12-month package which is 49% cheaper.

Then download their app. For ExpressVPN this can be found in the ‘Products’ section of their website. Or you can search your regular app store like the Google Play, Apple App or Amazon App store for ‘ExpressVPN’.

Open the app and the first time you’ll need to log in with the account details you created.

Then press the ‘Choose Location‘ (1) button and then click on ‘United Kingdom‘ (2).

You may need to click ‘Connect‘ (3) if it doesn’t automatically connect for you.

ExpressVPN UK

Watch BBC iPlayer abroad with ExpressVPN.

It should only take 15-30 seconds for the app to get connected.

Once it’s connected open your BBC iPlayer app or visit the BBC iPlayer website.

It’s now unblocked and you’ll be able to watch all your favourite shows from abroad.

Take a look at this really simple video

If you’re still a little unsure then take a look at this quick example video we made.

How can I watch on an Amazon Fire TV Stick

If you want to watch BBC iPlayer on an Amazon Fire TV Stick then you’ll need to sign up to ExpressVPN.

They’re one of the only services that work with both iPlayer and the Fire TV Stick.

Once you’ve signed up for ExpressVPN download their app directly on your Amazon Fire TV Stick.

ExpressVPN Fire TV search

Search for ‘ExpressVPN’

Then open it and connect to the United Kingdom.

You’ll then need to install either Silk Browser or Firefox and visit the BBC iPlayer website directly. It won’t work with the actual BBC iPlayer Fire TV Stick app.

Still having trouble?

99% of problems watching even when connected to the VPN can be solved by opening your web-browser in Inprivate or Incognito mode. You can find more about how to do that using this link.

This content doesn’t seem to be working” – If you see this message simply change TV programme to watch something else first, once it starts playing you can switch back to your original programme.

How about watching for free

Generally people want to access things for free, I do myself. However, in the case of watching BBC iPlayer from abroad I always advise people of the old saying, “there is no such thing as a free lunch“.

Providing VPN services cost money to the companies who operate them and if they’re not charging you for the service then they’re making money from you in another way.

Many free alternatives record what you do on the internet and sell it for marketing purposes to recoup the costs of providing the service. Just look at the recent case of Hotspot Shield and the sketchy free VPN apps sending data to China.

Slow, Slow, Slow

Another problem with free services is everyone is trying to pile on them and when too many people pile on the connection becomes slow and unreliable, this leads to buffering, pauses and sometimes just complete hangs of BBC programs.

I don’t know about you but buffering really bugs me so I would rather spend a few quid and watch without issues than have it buffer every few minutes.

There is also the issue of downloading random “free” tools that more times than not contain viruses, trojans or other nasties that slow down your computer and could potentially be a security risk – it just isn’t worth the hassle.

That’s really all you need to stream iPlayer abroad

You would think it would be more complicated to watch BBC iPlayer abroad but thankfully it isn’t.

Another bonus is once you’ve got a VPN service you can use it for other purposes too like watching ITV, Sky, BT Sport, Channel 4 and more.

So for a few pounds, you really do get a lot of bang for your buck (or pound!).

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