BBC iPlayer offers movies and shows from the United Kingdom’s BBC network, allowing UK residents to enjoy their favorite content from the comfort of their own home, or while traveling inside the UK.
Unfortunately, BBC iPlayer fans that are traveling abroad or British ex-pats that are living abroad will miss out on their favorite shows and events, including the UEFA Euro 2020 Football Tournament, as all BBC iPlayer content is restricted to viewing only inside the UK.
However, there is a way for fans to catch all the championship football action, and maintain access to their favorite movies and series. A Virtual Private Network (VPN) can make it appear that you’re inside UK borders, even if you’re far, far away.
I’ve put my favorite VPN providers through rounds of extensive testing, and the results show that the 5 VPN providers below are the best VPNs for viewing BBC iPlayer content while outside of the U.K.:
- NordVPN: NordVPN is your best option for watching your favorite BBC shows when outside U.K. borders. The provider has a knack for unblocking geo-restricted streaming services, and BBC iPlayer is no exception.
- Surfshark: This provider is an excellent low-cost provider, and it does an admirable job of unblocking BBC iPlayer and other streaming services. Surfshark also provides unlimited simultaneous connections.
- ExpressVPN: ExpressVPN is a great all-around VPN provider, offering fast speeds, plenty of servers in the U.K., great multi-platform support, and more.
- CyberGhost: This provider is a great option for first-time VPN users. Works well with BBC iPlayer and other streaming services, like Netflix.
- PrivateVPN: While this provider hasn’t been around as long as its competitors, it’s quickly gaining a reputation as a reliable, streaming-compatible VPN. While the company’s global server coverage could use work, its connection speeds are impressive.
When ranking the best VPNs to use to watch BBC iPlayer content from outside U.K. borders, I considered the following factors:
- Servers located in the United Kingdom
- Works to unblock BBC iPlayer for users outside of the U.K.
- Provides fast, HD-capable connection speeds
- Imposes no data caps or bandwidth limitations
- Excellent multi-platform support
Here is my list of the 5 best VPNs for watching BBC iPlayer:
NordVPN is your #1 best option for reliably unblocking BBC iPlayer from outside the United Kingdom. The provider also offers access to numerous other streaming services, including Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and Hulu.
The provider has over 5,300 servers located in nearly 60 countries around the world, with 440+ of those being located within the borders of the U.K. Check NordVPN’s BBC iPlayer info page for their recommended BBC iPlayer-capable servers.
NordVPN offers the speediest connections I’ve ever seen, quickly delivering smooth HD streams from the BBC iPlayer service. Those connections have no bandwidth limitations or data caps imposed upon them.
The provider’s connections are secured via 256-bit military-grade encryption, and a kill switch option ensures your online activities will never be exposed if you lose your connection to the provider. The provider also uses its own proprietary NordLynx protocol (based on WireGuard), which provides improved performance and security.
Privacy isn’t a worry if you subscribe to NordVPN, as the service keeps no logs of their customers’ internet activities and accepts cryptocurrencies as payment for subscriptions.
The provider also runs all server operations directly from RAM, meaning no data is written to a physical hard drive. This ensures that all information is wiped completely each time the servers are rebooted. Also, NordVPN is making the move to a server network totally owned and operated by the VPN provider, keeping third-party contractors away from your information.
Native apps are available for the Android, Windows, macOS, iOS, Android TV, Amazon Fire, and Linux platforms. Meanwhile, Chrome and Firefox users can make use of handy browser extensions.
NordVPN also offers a SmartDNS service, which allows devices not compatible with VPN apps (such as gaming consoles and set-top boxes) to connect to international streaming services. Be wary, though, because the service doesn’t encrypt your connection like the VPN service does.
If you have devices not covered by NordVPN’s app support, you can take advantage of their support for numerous router makes and models to protect all of your connected devices via a single connection.
That router support also comes in handy if you need more than the 6 concurrent connections that the provider allows.
- Servers in nearly 60 countries, including the U.K.
- Lightning-fast speeds
- Extensive multi-platform support, with SmartDNS service
- Military-grade encryption and kill switch protection
- Passed 2nd no-logs audit by PWC
- The app interface needs improvement
BEST VPN FOR BBC iPLAYER:NordVPN is my top choice for a reliable tool for opening access to BBC iPlayer content when you’re traveling outside of the United Kingdom because of its high-speed connections, great multi-platform support and many servers in the U.K. A 30-day money-back guarantee is available.
Read our full review of NordVPN.
Surfshark took the 2nd spot 5th and final spot in this roundup thanks to its low price, ability to unblock BBC iPlayer, its unlimited simultaneous connections allowance and its excellent privacy and security protections.
Surfshark’s global server coverage of over 3,200 servers in 65 countries (including 3 locations in the U.K.) is above-average, doing a good job of unblocking BBC iPlayer.
Surfshark’s connections easily keep up with the HD content that the BBC supplies. It also does a good job of keeping up with Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, and other streaming services. The provider currently unblocks more than 30 Netflix libraries around the globe.
The provider’s fast connections are never hindered by Surfshark-imposed data caps or bandwidth limitations.
The connections are protected by high-level encryption, and the provider also offers kill switch and ad-blocking protection. The provider can also offer automatic protection when connecting to public WiFi hotspots.
Your privacy is well-protected with this provider, as the firm keeps no logs of their users’ online activities and accepts various forms of cryptocurrency in return for their services.
Surfshark should have your device needs covered, as it offers native app support for the iOS, Android, Linux, Windows, macOS, and Fire TV platforms. (Surfshark recently became the first VPN provider to offer native support for Apple’s new M1-powered Mac computers.) Chrome and Firefox browser users can make use of the provider’s extensions.
If you have a device that isn’t covered, you can make use of the provider’s router compatibility to protect all of your devices as soon as they connect to your network.
You can connect as many devices simultaneously as you’d like thanks to Surfshark’s unlimited simultaneous connections allowance.
- U.K. servers provide reliable BBC iPlayer connectivity
- Bargain pricing
- Unlimited simultaneous connections
- Top-notch privacy protection
- Certain advanced options not available
BEST FOR A BARGAIN:Surfshark is the best VPN for BBC iPlayer fans looking for reliable BBC iPlayer access without breaking the bank. The provider’s unlimited simultaneous connections allowance will cover folks with many devices. A 30-day money-back guarantee is available.
Read our full review of Surfshark.
ExpressVPN VPN offers a well-rounded service, including many servers in the U.K., top-notch multi-platform support, fast speeds, and more.
The provider currently has 3,000+ servers stationed in 160 locations in 94 countries around the globe. 7 of those server farms are located in the United Kingdom.
ExpressVPN-provided connection speeds easily have enough horsepower to smoothly stream the high-definition content that the BBC provides. If you’re planning on bingeing your favorite series, no worries, as ExpressVPN never limits their users’ bandwidth or ever puts a data cap on their VPN usage.
Security is a top priority at ExpressVPN. The provider’s connections are protected with military-grade encryption and a kill switch. The provider’s proprietary Lightway protocol offers improved protection and performance.
Privacy is also job one, as ExpressVPN keeps no logs of any kind connected to a customer’s online activities and offers a Bitcoin subscription payment option. The provider’s TrustedServer network means all server operations are run only from volatile RAM, never writing any data to a physical hard drive. This means all data is securely wiped from the server whenever it is restarted.
ExpressVPN’s native app support includes apps for iOS, Android, Windows, macOS, Amazon Fire TV, Kindle Fire, Chromebook, and Linux devices.
BBC viewers who prefer to use their browser to view the service can use ExpressVPN’s Safari, Firefox and Chrome extensions to protect their viewing sessions.
The VPN’s MediaStreamer DNS service allows game consoles and streaming boxes to access BBC iPlayer. (However, this service does not encrypt your connection like the provider’s full-blown VPN service does.)
While ExpressVPN allows only 5 simultaneous connections on a single account, it does offer extensive router support, which allows you to protect all of your connected devices via a single connection. The provider recently improved its router firmware, offering an easier-to-use user interface, along with an interactive router setup guide.
- Reliably unblocks BBC iPlayer and other streaming services
- Global server coverage includes numerous choices inside the U.K.
- Optimal privacy and security protections
- Impressive multi-platform app support
- Quite expensive
- Concurrent connections limited to 5
EXCELLENT ALL-AROUND:ExpressVPN offers a service that performs highly in multiple categories, such as speed, multi-platform support, security and privacy, and more. A 30-day money-back guarantee is available.
Read our full review of ExpressVPN.
CyberGhost is the optimal choice for users who are new to the world of VPNs because of the easy-to-use apps that the provider offers.
CyberGhost has 7,300+ servers in more than 90 countries. More than 640 of those servers are located in the U.K., and a large number of those are streaming-optimized. (Windows users can select a U.K. streaming server with a single click.)
The servers also do an admirable job of unblocking streams from Hulu, Amazon Prime and Netflix.
CyberGhost offers some fast speeds. BBC iPlayer’s high-definition streams began playing almost instantly during testing.
And, you can binge to your heart’s content, as you’ll never have to worry about this provider imposing data caps or bandwidth limitations on your use.
The VPN provides military-grade encryption and kill switch protection to keep your online travels incognito. The provider also offers ad blocking, malware and spyware blocking, and can force websites to serve up HTTPS versions of their pages if available.
Your privacy is in safe hands with CyberGhost, as the provider has a strict no-logs policy when it comes to tracking its users’ online activity, and they accept Bitcoin, so your payment info is kept secret, too. A new Privacy Guard feature allows you to customize how much of your data Microsoft gets to access. A password manager is also available.
The provider delivers easy-to-use apps for Windows, macOS, Android, iOS, Android TV, and Amazon Fire TV devices. Browser extensions are available for Chrome and Firefox.
For devices not on the above list, or if you need more than the 7 simultaneous connections that CyberGhost allows, you can take advantage of the provider’s excellent router support.
- Servers in 90+ countries, with numerous streaming servers in the U.K.
- Easy to use
- Online security protection second to none
- Simplistic controls might not be a good fit for advanced users
- Doesn’t work from inside overly restrictive countries
BEST FOR BEGINNERS:CyberGhost is the best option for BBC iPlayer fans who are in the market for a provider that offers easy-to-use apps and one-click protection. Streaming-optimized servers are available in the U.K. A 45-day, no-risk money-back guarantee is available.guarantee.
Read our full review of CyberGhost.
PrivateVPN’s 5th-place finish is thanks to its speedy connections and its reliable access to BBC iPlayer and other popular streaming services.
While PrivateVPN’s server count of 200+ servers in 60 countries isn’t very impressive, they did do a decent job of spreading them around the globe. They have multiple servers located in the U.K.
PrivateVPN has some pretty fast connection speeds, providing plenty of speed for BBC iPlayer’s HD streams (and even the 4K streams that providers like Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime offer).
The provider imposes no data caps or bandwidth restrictions on their customers’ connections.
Those speedy connections are well-protected by 256-bit encryption and a kill switch, ensuring your online travels will be kept secret.
A strict no-logs policy and a Bitcoin payment option means your privacy is completely protected.
Apps are available for the macOS, iOS, Android and Windows platforms. Plus, users can take advantage of PrivateVPN’s router compatibility if they need to protect other devices, or if the provider’s 6 simultaneous connection limit begins to chafe.
- Reliable BBC iPlayer access
- Fast connection speeds
- Allows up to 6 simultaneous connections
- Server numbers could stand much improvement
- Multi-platform support needs to be expanded
IMPRESSIVE CONNECTION SPEEDS:PrivateVPN reliably unblocks BBC iPlayer on up to 6 devices at once. The provider’s impressive connection speeds mean you’ll never have to wait long for the action to start. 30-day money-back guarantee.
Read our full review of PrivateVPN.
How Do I Access BBC iPlayer With a VPN?
In addition to using a VPN, there are a few other steps you need to take to be allowed access to BBC iPlayer content.
While access to the BBC iPlayer website is free, as of September 2016, the site requires viewers to have a U.K. television license. The site also requires viewers to enter a U.K. postcode.
Luckily, once you’ve fired up your VPN and made it appear that you’re connecting from within the United Kingdom, you can simply click “I have a TV licence” when prompted.
As for the postcode, you can easily Google those, or if you’re really lazy, use this U.K. postcode generator.
Can I Use a Free VPN to Watch BBC iPlayer?
The answer is a qualified “maybe.” But even if you do find a free VPN that works to unblock BBC iPlayer, I assure you that you won’t be happy with the experience.
First of all, you’ll find that many free VPNs will throttle your internet connection, making it possibly unsuitable for streaming high-definition streams like those that BBC iPlayer provides.
You may also have to wait awhile before the entertainment begins. Some free VPNs will force their users to sit in a queue, where they wait until a slot becomes available on one of the few servers the provider designates for free users.
Once you’re allowed to connect, you may find that you don’t have a choice as to which server you’re allowed to use. That server may not be in the U.K. If it’s not in the U.K., then it won’t help you unblock BBC iPlayer.
Privacy is not a priority when it comes to free VPNs. Many “free” VPNs make money by selling information about their users. They log their users’ online activities, then sell the information to interested third parties, such as advertisers.
“Free” providers have also been known to inject unwanted ads and tracking cookies into their users’ browsing sessions. UGH!
You are certainly welcome to try a free VPN. I mean, what’s the worst thing that can happen? You lose all of your online privacy. No big deal, right? (Where’s the sarcasm button on this thing?)
What Else Can I Do With A VPN?
In addition to opening up access to BBC iPlayer and other geographically-blocked streaming services, a VPN can also open up access to online gaming servers and other content and websites you might not normally have access to.
You can also use a VPN to prevent your ISP from throttling your internet connection simply because of the online activity you’re engaging in.
A VPN also keeps your ISP, the government, hackers and other interested third parties from monitoring your online activities. It does this by encasing your internet connection in an encrypted tunnel, preventing anyone from getting a peek at your online travels.
An encrypted connection really comes in handy when you’re connecting to the internet through a public Wi-Fi connection, such as the one your favorite coffee shop supplies.
BBC iPlayer VPN FAQs
What Is the Best Free VPN for BBC iPlayer?
There is no such thing as a good free VPN to use with BBC iPlayer. Free VPNs often throttle connection speeds and impose data caps, neither of which mean good things for streaming. Not only that, but free VPN providers track and sell the data of their users to nosy third parties. To avoid all of these problems, simply use a paid VPN provider.
What Is the Best VPN for the U.K.?
The best VPNs for the U.K. are NordVPN, Surfshark, ExpressVPN, CyberGhost and IPVanish. IPVanish doesn't show up on the best list for BBC iPlayer because it doesn't have reliable content-unblocking abilities, but the rest are the same. Overall, the best VPN is NordVPN, which is the best for both the U.K. and BBC iPlayer.
How Do I Watch BBC iPlayer Abroad?
To watch BBC iPlayer abroad, simply subscribe to your favorite VPN provider on this list. Download its app(s) onto your device(s) and select a VPN server in the U.K. Then, simply connect to the BBC iPlayer app or website and start streaming.
The BBC offers some of the best entertainment to be found anywhere, and there’s no reason you shouldn’t be able to enjoy it, no matter where you are.
A VPN like NordVPN – which offers comprehensive global server coverage, speedy connections, and top-notch privacy protections – is an excellent way to access BBC iPlayer content from anywhere around the world, while also protecting your other online activities.
For more information or to purchase a subscription, visit the NordVPN website.
- 1. NordVPN
- 2. Surfshark
- 3. ExpressVPN
- 4. CyberGhost
- 5. PrivateVPN
- How Do I Access BBC iPlayer With a VPN?
- Can I Use a Free VPN to Watch BBC iPlayer?
- What Else Can I Do With A VPN?
- BBC iPlayer VPN FAQs
- What Is the Best Free VPN for BBC iPlayer?
- What Is the Best VPN for the U.K.?
- How Do I Watch BBC iPlayer Abroad?