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 simply 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, but the great news is, it doesn't need to be!
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.
So keep scrolling to discover how.
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 allowing you to unblock BBC iPlayer 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
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 several years. It's essential 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. ExpressVPN is easy to use and offer a 30-day money back guarantee so it's completely risk-free.
30-day money back guarantee
How do I use the VPN to stream 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 ‘Selected 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.
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.
30-day money back guarantee
How do the VPN apps compare?
Consistently fast connections – good enough for HD
Large network of reliable servers
Strong security and privacy protections
Can also unblock Netflix, Hulu and more
Only 5 simultaneous connections
ExpressVPN is our top recommendation for watching BBC iPlayer abroad.
Its huge server network includes hundreds of UK servers that can unblock the iPlayer from anywhere.
Its servers are optimised to deliver consistently fast speeds and its encryption and privacy settings are world-class with 256-bit AES encryption used as standard and a no user logs guarantee.
ExpressVPN has a wide range of apps for all your devices and allows up to five simultaneous connections with every account. As well as BBC iPlayer, ExpressVPN can also unblock US and UK Netflix, Sky Go, ITV Hub, Hulu, and many other popular streaming services.
Unblocks BBC iPlayer from anywhere
Super-fast connections and downloading speeds
Strong encryption and privacy policies
User-friendly apps for almost any devices
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 logs promise.
NordVPN's apps are user-friendly and available for Windows, macOS, iOS, and Android.
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, ITV Hub, and many other streaming services.
3. CyberGhost VPN
Unblocks BBC iPlayer and most other streaming services
No user logs guarantee
Monthly subscription a bit pricey
Another good VPN 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 logs guarantee, so security and privacy are guaranteed. 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 the 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
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.
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 Change DNS settings to watch on Xbox or PS4
It is possible to watch the BBC iPlayer abroad on either your Xbox or PlayStation games consoles. 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.
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.
Do any VPNs come with a BBC iPlayer account?
No. All VPN providers are totally separate from the BBC so you will need to sign up for a BBC iPlayer account on your own.
This is easy and free to do. All you need is a UK-based postcode and an email address.
Can you watch BBC iPlayer Live?
Yes. The BBC streams all of its channels live on the BBC iPlayer so if you want to stream their channels live, you can do so.
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, 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.
If I can't access BBC iPlayer, what can I do?
If you have tried to watch a show on the iPlayer only to be met with the message, “BBC iPlayer only works in the UK. Sorry, it's due to rights issues”, you need to do one of two things.
This could mean that you are overseas but not connected to a VPN. If so, you need to sign up for a VPN, log in and connect to a UK-based server then try again.
Alternatively, the VPN server you are connected to isn't working for some reason.
This can usually be fixed by switching to a different one. If the problem persists, contact your VPN's customer support and they will be able to advise you on a server that is working with iPlayer.
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.
What if I don't have a UK TV license?
The BBC is funded by a TV license and it is technically a criminal offence to stream BBC iPlayer content without one. The BBC will warn you about fines of up to £1,000 for breaking this law.
However, enforcing this law is extremely difficult especially if you are using a VPN. The BBC also has no jurisdiction over people from overseas.
That said, you should always have a valid UK TV license when accessing BBC content and the onus is on yourself to ensure you do.
Will the BBC check my name and address is on the TV license register?
No. The BBC does not check name and address on the TV license register.
However, you're not required to provide your correct details when signing up, so for your privacy you can supply whatever details you want.
Will I see any ads when using a VPN to stream for BBC iPlayer?
Not if you use a high-quality premium VPN.
The BBC is a public service broadcaster so the only adverts it runs are for its own programmes.
Premium VPNs don't run adverts either so unless you use a free VPN, your streaming should be ad-free.
Still having trouble watching BBC iPlayer abroad?
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.
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 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. Just grab ExpressVPN and enjoy watching anywhere.
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 can stream BBC iPlayer from anywhere and other UK streaming services giving you a lot of bang for your buck (or pound!).
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