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 expats that are living abroad will miss out on their favorite shows and events, including the 2022 FIFA World Cup, as all BBC iPlayer content is restricted to viewing only inside the UK.
Can a VPN Help Me Watch BBC iPlayer From Abroad?
There is a way for fans to catch all the 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 seven VPN providers below are the best VPNs for viewing BBC iPlayer content while outside of the U.K.:
- NordVPN: Best BBC iPlayer VPN. 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. Comes with a risk-free 30-day money-back guarantee.
- Surfshark: Best Bargain BBC iPlayer VPN. 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: Premium BBC iPlayer VPN. ExpressVPN is a great all-round VPN provider, offering fast speeds, plenty of servers in the U.K., great multi-platform support, and more.
- CyberGhost: A good option for VPN first-timers. This provider is a great option for first-time VPN users. Works well with BBC iPlayer and other streaming services, like Netflix.
- Private Internet Access (PIA): Reliable access to BBC iPlayer. PIA’s server network provides reliable access to BBC iPlayer TV streams, as well as other streaming services and other geo-controlled content around the globe.
- PrivateVPN: Small but mighty VPN. While this provider’s server network is much smaller than others on this list, it’s a reliable, streaming-compatible VPN. While the company’s connection speeds are impressive.
- Atlas VPN: Unlimited access to British TV streams. Atlas VPN has no limit on how many devices you can simultaneously connect to its servers. This means you can stream to your heart’s content, no matter how many devices you have.
When ranking the best VPNs to use to watch BBC iPlayer content from outside U.K. borders, I considered the following factors:
- Has 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
- Comprehensive privacy and security protections
Find out more information about the criteria I used in the testing methodology section further down this article.
Here is my list of the seven 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 5,500 servers located in nearly 60 countries around the world, with 440+ of those 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 its 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 Android, Windows, macOS (with native M1/M2 Mac support), iOS, Android TV, Amazon Fire, and Linux platforms. Meanwhile, Chrome, Edge, 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 six concurrent connections that the provider allows.
- Servers in nearly 60 countries, including the U.K.
- Lightning-fast connection 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 could be friendlier
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 risk-free 30-day money-back guarantee is available.
Read my full review of NordVPN.
Surfshark took the 2nd 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 95+ countries (including locations in four cities 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 government-level encryption, and the provider also offers kill switch and ad-blocking protection. Automatic protection is available when connecting to public WiFi hotspots.
Your privacy is well-protected with this provider, as the firm keeps no logs of its users’ online activities and accepts various forms of cryptocurrency in return for its services.
Surfshark should have your device needs covered, as it offers native app support for iOS, Android, Linux, Windows, macOS, and Fire TV platforms. (with native support for M1/M2-powered Mac computers.) Chrome, Edge, 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.
In addition to a comprehensive VPN service, Surfshark also offers truly private search, virus protection, and alerts when your information is exposed in a data breach.
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
- Lacks some advanced features that other providers offer
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 my full review of Surfshark.
ExpressVPN 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. The provider has server farms located in four cities 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 binging your favorite series, no worries, as ExpressVPN never limits its 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 (with native M1/M2 Mac support), 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 Edge, 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 five 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 app support
- More expensive than some other VPNs
- Only five simultaneous connections
EXCELLENT ALL-ROUND VPN: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 my 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 8,000+ servers in more than 90 countries. More than 770 of those servers are located in three locations 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, Netflix, and numerous other streamers.
CyberGhost offers some fast connection 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 seven simultaneous connections that CyberGhost allows, you can take advantage of the provider’s excellent router support.
CyberGhost also offers a password manager, alerts when your email address is exposed as part of a data breach, and more. Windows virus and malware protection is available, as is privacy customization for Windows.
The provider’s support features include always-available chat, email, and a searchable support library.
- Servers in 90+ countries, with numerous streaming servers in the U.K.
- Easy to use
- Online security protection second to none
- Doesn’t offer many advanced configuration options
- Doesn’t work well in some restrictive regions
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.
Read my full review of CyberGhost.
Private Internet Access (PIA) is a well-established VPN provider, offering reliable access to streamers in the U.K. and elsewhere.
The provider boasts a good-sized global server network (3,300+ servers stationed in nearly 85 countries).
PIA native app support includes offerings for Android, Android TV, iOS, Windows, macOS, and Linux devices. Chrome, Opera, and Firefox browser extensions are also available, as is excellent compatibility with multiple router platforms.
Up to 10 devices can be simultaneously connected to PIA servers on a single user account.
Even though PIA’s connection speeds are the slowest on this list, it can easily handle popular online activities, including streaming HD and 4K video. No data cap or bandwidth throttling to be found here.
All PIA-provided connections are protected with government-grade encryption, IP/DNS leak prevention, and a kill switch. Blocking of ads, trackers, malware, and dangerous websites is also available.
The provider’s servers are run free of user logs, meaning there is no evidence to be had of your online antics. The provider accepts Bitcoin as payment, meaning that if you use a disposable email address and cryptocurrency, you can fully keep your payment privacy intact.
Customer support options from the provider include live agent chat, a trouble ticket form, and a searchable support library.
- Provides access to BBC iPlayer and other streaming services
- Top-notch security and privacy
- Reliable, fast connections
- No streaming-enhanced servers
- Issues in some heavily-restrictive countries
RELIABLE ACCESS TO BBC iPLAYER:Private Internet Access provides well-protected, reliable access to BBC iPlayer and other U.K. streaming services, as well as streamers in other regions. The provider offers comprehensive online security and privacy. A 30-day money-back guarantee is available.
PrivateVPN’s 6th-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 mean your privacy is completely protected.
Apps are available for 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 10 simultaneous connection limit begins to chafe.
PrivateVPN’s customer support options include an email support feature, an FAQ library, and live chat. (You’ll know when live chat is available, as the chat balloon will be green.)
- Reliable BBC iPlayer access
- Super fast connection speeds
- Up to 10 devices can be connected at once
- Server numbers definitely lacking
- Multi-platform support could stand improvement
IMPRESSIVE CONNECTION SPEEDS:PrivateVPN reliably unblocks BBC iPlayer on up to 10 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 my full review of PrivateVPN.
Atlas VPN has an above-average global server network (750+ servers in 40+ countries), that provides reliable, fast access to BBC iPlayer and other geo-controlled content.
The provider’s connection speeds deliver an enjoyable online experience, whether you’re watching HD or 4K content. Atlas never imposes data caps or bandwidth throttling on its customers’ usage.
All of your online travels are kept incognito when connected to Atlas VPN’s servers, thanks to the provider’s use of banking-grade encryption, kill switch protection, IP/DNS leak prevention, and more. Safebrowse and Safebrowse Plus features help protect users from online perils, as well as pesky ads.
No user logs of any kind are ever saved on Atlas VPN servers, meaning your online travels are never shared or monitored. However, those that prefer to pay using cryptocurrency will want to look elsewhere for a VPN service.
Native app support is available for Android, iOS, macOS, Windows, Android TV, and Amazon Fire TV device platforms. Although Atlas VPN doesn’t yet offer Linux, browser, or router support, they are being developed.
There are no limits whatsoever on the number of devices that can be simultaneously connected to Atlas servers on a single account.
Live agent chat is limited to paying customers. However, email, a contact form, and a support library are available to all users.
- Reliable access to BBC and other U.K. streaming services
- Well-protected, fast connections
- Supports most popular devices
- Live chat is available only to paying customers
- Lacks router, browser, and Linux support
- Global server coverage needs expansion
UNLIMITED ACCESS TO STREAMING SERVICES:Atlas VPN’s global network of servers provides reliable, well-protected access to BBC iPlayer and other streaming services. An unlimited number of devices can be connected to Atlas servers on a single user account. A 30-day money-back guarantee is available.
Read my full review of Atlas VPN.
Methodology for Assessing VPNs to Watch BBC iPlayer From Abroad
If you’re running into virtual roadblocks when you attempt to view BBC iPlayer and other TV streaming services while traveling or living abroad, it’s because you don’t have a reliable VPN. Below, you’ll find the most important features to consider when deciding on a VPN for watching BBC iPlayer from abroad:
- Streaming: BBC iPlayer viewers should only consider VPNs that provide reliable access to BBC iPlayer and other popular streaming providers, such as Netflix, Hulu, Disney+, Amazon Prime Video, and more.
- Connection speed: Streaming HD and 4K video streams require fast connection speeds. All of the VPNs on my list offer streaming-capable connections.
- Server network: Look for a VPN with a large global server network. The larger the server network, the better access you’ll have to geo-fenced content like BBC iPlayer. Also, look for VPNs that have more than one server in the countries it serves, as this helps to ensure that an individual server won’t be overloaded by too many users at once.
- Value: VPNs should provide good value. The VPNs I recommend all offer an excellent return on investment. They also all offer at least a 30-day money-back guarantee.
- Ease of use: A VPN should offer support for multiple devices, making it easy to quickly stream your favorite shows and movies. The VPNs on my list provide excellent ease of use.
- Security and privacy: At a minimum, a VPN should offer banking-grade encryption, an automatic kill switch, and DNS/IP leak protection. Any additional protections and features are a bonus. The VPNs I include on my list offer all of the above, and never save any user logs related to your online antics.
This is quite a list, however, it doesn’t end here. This list includes just a portion of my comprehensive VPN testing methodology. My in-depth, data-driven approach to research gives me a better understanding of these VPNs, allowing me to recommend only VPNs that provide a good fit for my customers’ needs.
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 license” 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 a while 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 WiFi 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 means 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, and CyberGhost. 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.
- Can a VPN Help Me Watch BBC iPlayer From Abroad?
- 1. NordVPN
- 2. Surfshark
- 3. ExpressVPN
- 4. CyberGhost
- 5. Private Internet Access
- 6. PrivateVPN
- 7. Atlas VPN
- Methodology for Assessing VPNs to Watch BBC iPlayer From Abroad
- 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?