How to watch BBC iPlayer from abroad

iPlayer abroad

BBC iPlayer is one of the most popular UK TV online streaming sites and if you're abroad then you've probably been wondering how you can unblock BBC iPlayer.

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, UK resident on holiday or you simply love UK TV 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, but the great news is, it doesn't need to be!

To unblock BBC iPlayer abroad you're going to need to use a VPN (Virtual Private Network) app such as ExpressVPN which will let you watch in any country.

So keep scrolling to discover how to watch BBC iPlayer abroad.

How does a VPN app unblock iPlayer

When you use BBC iPlayer via its app or visiting the website it checks your location and IP address.

When it sees that you're outside of the UK then it blocks you. The app and website know your physical location because of your IP address.

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 (Virtual Private Network) allows you to disguise your location by giving you a new IP address allowing you to unblock BBC iPlayer streaming service anywhere in the world.

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

Way 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 several years.

However, it's still essential to choose one that does work otherwise you may as well go back to that wine.

My recommendation to watch BBC iPlayer outside of the UK is ExpressVPN.

I've tried and tested them and use them regularly. ExpressVPN is easy to use and offer a 30-day money-back guarantee so it's completely risk-free.

It has the best reviews, excellent customer service (with live chat), and great privacy features.

With the ability to stream high-quality video from a geo-restricted streaming service from anywhere in the world, you can watch BBC One, BBC News, and even access radio shows by connecting to a UK Server when you use a VPN.

If you've got a bit of time in-between cleaning sand out of your shoes then also check out NordVPN and CyberGhost VPN.

They're two other good options to access BBC iPlayer and the choice is yours.

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How do I use the VPN to unblock BBC iPlayer abroad

To watch iPlayer 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.

Follow the steps below:

  1. Visit the ExpressVPN website and sign up.
  2. Then download their app from their website. Or you can search your regular app store on your mobile device like the Google Play, Apple App or Amazon App store for ‘ExpressVPN'.
  3. Open the app and the first time you'll need to log in with your accounts details (email address/password).
  4. Then select your VPN server, press the ‘Selected Location‘ (1) button and then click on ‘United Kingdom‘ (2).
  5. You may need to click ‘Connect‘ (3) if it doesn't automatically connect for you to your VPN server.
ExpressVPN connecting to the UK

Unlock iPlayer anywhere.

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 UK TV shows from abroad.

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How do the VPN apps compare?

1. ExpressVPN

Pros

  • Consistently fast connections – good enough for HD
  • Large network of reliable servers
  • Strong security and privacy protections
  • Can also unblock Netflix, Hulu and more

Cons

  • Only 5 simultaneous connections

ExpressVPN is our top recommendation if you want to watch BBC iPlayer abroad.

Its huge server network includes hundreds of UK servers that can unblock the iPlayer from anywhere.

ExpressVPN's fast speeds and its encryption and privacy settings are world-class with 256-bit AES encryption used as standard and a no user/data logs guarantee.

ExpressVPN has a range of apps for all your devices and allows up to five simultaneous connections with every account.

It can unblock BBC iPlayer, along with the US & UK Netflix, Sky Go, Hulu, and other popular streaming services.

2. NordVPN

Pros

  • Unblocks BBC iPlayer from anywhere
  • Super-fast connections and downloading speeds
  • Strong encryption and privacy policies
  • User-friendly apps for almost any devices

Cons

  • Speeds don't quite match some of its rivals

NordVPN is another decent VPN for streaming BBC iPlayer shows overseas. It has fast connection speeds, a large network of UK-based servers, secure 256-bit AES encryption and a no user/data logs promise.

NordVPN's apps are user-friendly and available for iOS, Android, Windows, and MacOS.

It can be installed into almost any device you care to mention, with a range of manual installation guides already available.

You can also connect up to six devices at the same time.

NordVPN can also unblock US and UK Netflix, Hulu, HBO Now, Sky Go, and many other streaming services.

3. CyberGhost VPN

Pros

  • Unblocks BBC iPlayer and most other streaming services
  • Strong encryption
  • No user logs guarantee
  • Beginner-friendly apps

Cons

  • Monthly subscription a bit pricey

Another good VPN service for unblocking BBC iPlayer abroad is CyberGhost VPN. This VPN has some of the best VPN apps around and if you are new to VPNs, CyberGhost is a great place to start.

It has 256-bit AES encryption and a no user/data logs guarantee.

Its recent expansion means it has a lot of UK servers to choose from now and speeds are consistent and more than fast enough for streaming on BBC iPlayer.

CyberGhost also works with ITV Hub, Sky Go, Disney+, Hulu and a whole host of other streaming sites too.

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

Then open it and connect to the United Kingdom.

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

How to watch on Xbox or PS4

There are two possible ways to do this.

One involves adjusting some of your DNS settings. To do this, you will need to visit the network settings section of your console and manually adjust the devices primary and secondary DNS (Domain Name Servers) numbers.

These numbers change fairly regularly so you will need to take a look online to find the latest ones. These are usually fairly easy to find, but not always.

A much simpler way is to install your VPN onto your router directly.

This means that once your router is connected, all data from any devices using your Wi-Fi will also be redirected. This will include your Xbox or PlayStation and mean that you can enjoy the BBC iPlayer no matter where in the world you are.

In most cases your home router won't be suitable so you will need to look to a special VPN router such as the Invizbox 2.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I watch iPlayer without a VPN?

If you live in the UK, you can watch the BBC iPlayer on any device whenever you like. All you will need is a TV license and to register an account with the BBC.

If you don't live in the UK, you will need to use some sort of tool to convince the BBC iPlayer you are actually based there.

The best and easiest tool to do this is a VPN, giving you access to UK IP addresses which we described earlier in this guide.

What devices can I watch BBC iPlayer on?

Just about any device that has an internet browser will be able to stream content from the BBC iPlayer. This includes smartphones (iOS, Android), tablets, computers, Smart TVs, games consoles, and more.

If you are outside the UK, you will either need to use a device that you can install your chosen VPN on to as well or have a VPN installed on your router to redirect content from all your devices via a UK server.

Why is BBC iPlayer not available overseas?

This is all to do with rights.

The BBC buys in the rights to much of its content and sells the rights to its own shows overseas.

It doesn't always hold the rights to show all of its content in other countries, so it is unable to make its iPlayer streaming service available outside the UK.

It's also funded exclusively by the British public through the license fee.

Is it illegal to access BBC iPlayer using a VPN?

Using a VPN to stream content from the BBC iPlayer does not breach any laws either in the UK or overseas. But the BBC doesn't like you doing it, so it is possible they could suspend or block your account if they spot you.

It could be against their Terms & Conditions which could lead to an account closure.

We aren't aware of this being implemented ever.

Troubleshooting

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 change TV programme to watch something else first, once it starts playing you can switch back to your original programme.

Can I get a free VPN for iPlayer?

Generally, people want to access things for free, I do myself.

However, if you want to watch iPlayer from abroad, I always advise people of the old saying, “there is no such thing as a free lunch“.

Providing VPN services costs 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.

Summary

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. Just grab ExpressVPN and enjoy watching anywhere.

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

So for a few pounds, you can stream watch iPlayer from anywhere and other UK streaming services giving you a lot of bang for your buck (or pound!).

Start watching BBC iPlayer now by using the best VPN service ExpressVPN to bypass any geo-restrictions and keep your data secure.

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Author: Christopher Seward

After 25 years of using the internet, Christopher launched one of the very first VPN comparison websites in 2013. An expert in the field his reviews, testing and knowledge have helped thousands of users get the correct VPN for their needs.

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