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Best Free VPNs for BBC iPlayer in 2024

A truly free VPN doesn’t provide access to BBC iPlayer. In this article, I show you which paid VPNs offer a risk-free trial, so you can choose a VPN that will give you the BBC iPlayer access you seek.

BBC iPlayer offers a wide variety of films and television episodes. However, if you’re outside of the United Kingdom, you can’t watch them. This is because the BBC limits iPlayer access to viewers inside the U.K.

If you are a U.K. resident that is currently outside of the U.K. – due to being on vacation, or working or living abroad – you will not be allowed to view your favorite BBC iPlayer content.

Can a VPN Help Me to View BBC iPlayer Content?

A Virtual Private Network (VPN) can help you gain access to BBC iPlayer from anywhere in the world.

When you use a VPN, it replaces your IP address with one of its own, and if you choose to connect to a server in another country, then this new IP address can make you appear to be located there, even if you’re half a world away.

By connecting to a VPN server in the U.K., you can then gain access to BBC iPlayer.

A VPN also encrypts your internet connection, which makes it impossible for Internet Service Providers, governments, and hackers to monitor your online activities or steal your personal data.

It’s important for you to understand that video streaming services like BBC iPlayer and Netflix have honed their skill at blocking users with VPN-provided IP addresses. This makes it hard for VPNs to ensure that you can access international streaming services, and not every VPN is up for the job.

Free VPNs don’t have the resources to continue replacing IP addresses as they’re blocked, making them a useless option for accessing BBC iPlayer. That’s why I only recommend taking advantage of a paid VPN’s money-back guarantee period to gain a risk-free trial of a service that can actually access BBC iPlayer and other services.

In this article, I’ll review the top six best “free” VPNs for accessing BBC iPlayer from abroad. I’ll also explain why truly free VPNs are a hazard to your online health and why you should avoid them like the plague.

WANT TO TRY A TOP VPN RISK-FREE?

The best VPN providers out there all offer 30- to 45-day money-back guarantees. While you do have to pay upfront, you’ll get an extended period of time to try out a provider’s service risk-free to see if it’s right for you. Then, if you’re unsatisfied for whatever reason, you can get your money back, no problem.

Best “Free” VPNs for Accessing BBC iPlayer

After rounds of extensive testing, I’ve discovered that these top six “free” VPN service providers offer the best access to BBC iPlayer from abroad.

Here’s a short rundown (expanded reviews can be found below) of the best “free” VPNs for BBC iPlayer:

  1. NordVPN: Best “free” VPN for BBC iPlayer. Offering a risk-free 30-day money-back guarantee, NordVPN provides an excellent service with a superior ability to access BBC iPlayer from anywhere. The provider offers high-speed servers, strong encryption, optimal privacy protections, and wide app support.
  2. Surfshark: Budget-priced “free” VPN. Surfshark doesn’t charge much for its formidable service offerings, so you don’t have to pay much before enjoying its 30-day trial period. Unlimited simultaneous connections mean you and your family can watch BBC iPlayer on separate devices at once.
  3. ExpressVPN: Premium VPN provider. ExpressVPN doesn’t come cheap, but some users will think it’s worth it to pay to get its 30-day money-back guarantee. The provider delivers some of the fastest connection speeds out there, making it possible to view BBC iPlayer in HD or 4K.
  4. CyberGhost: Easy-to-use VPN. CyberGhost offers an extra-long 45 days to try out its service. The provider offers streaming-optimized servers to enhance your BBC iPlayer-viewing experience. Easy-to-use apps are available for a plethora of platforms.
  5. Private Internet Access (PIA): Reliable VPN protection. PIA offers a 30-day money-back guarantee. The provider offers comprehensive online protection and reliable access to geo-controlled content in the U.K. and around most of the globe.
  6. PrivateVPN: Small but powerful. PrivateVPN gives you 30-days to give their service a try. While this provider’s global server network is much smaller than its competitors’ networks, it offers fast connection speeds, easy-to-use apps, and a proprietary “Stealth VPN” feature.

The following factors proved to be the most important when considering which “free” VPN to use for BBC iPlayer.

  • Risk-free money-back guarantee
  • Ability to access BBC iPlayer and other streaming services
  • Strong encryption and security measures
  • Comprehensive privacy protections
  • Speedy connections with unlimited bandwidth and no data caps
  • A large, global network of servers
  • Responsive customer support

For more in-depth information about the criteria I used, check out the testing methodology section further down this article.

These are the six top “free” VPN providers for accessing BBC iPlayer from almost anywhere.

1. NordVPN

NordVPN Jun 2024

Apps Available:

  • PC
  • Mac
  • IOS
  • Android
  • Linux

Website:  www.NordVPN.com

Money-back guarantee: 30 DAYS

NordVPN has proven time and again to be the best VPN service provider for most online activities, including accessing and streaming BBC iPlayer.

The provider offers a 30-day money-back guarantee for all subscription lengths, making it an excellent option if you’re looking to get a top “free” VPN service without risk.

NordVPN’s ability to access BBC iPlayer is unparalleled, and it’s also adept at accessing Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime Video, Disney+, and more.

The VPN service provider does extremely well when it comes to protecting your security, offering government-grade AES 256-bit encryption, automatic kill switch protection, IP/DNS leak prevention, and malware and ad blocking. An obfuscated server option makes it appear as if you’re not actually using a VPN.

NordVPN doesn’t save any logs of your online activities and certainly never sells non-existent information. You can also pay with Bitcoin if you so choose to protect your financial identity.

The provider’s entire server network is run 100% from volatile RAM, writing no data to a physical hard drive. This ensures that all data is securely wiped from a NordVPN server when it is shut down or rebooted. Plus, the provider owns and operates many of its server farms, keeping outsiders away from your personal information.

NordVPN’s connection speeds are some of the fastest available from any provider, capable of streaming content in HD and 4K (depending on your usual connection speeds). Unlimited bandwidth is on offer, and there are no data caps to ruin the fun.

NordVPN’s server coverage is wide, including 5,600+ servers in 59+ countries, the U.K. obviously included.

App support from this provider is wide as well, with apps available for macOS (offers native Apple Silicon support), Windows, Android, iOS, Linux, Amazon Fire, and Android TV device platforms. You can protect your browsing sessions with a Chrome, Edge, or Firefox browser extension, and comprehensive router support is available for multiple makes and models. Six simultaneous connections are allowed.

A SmartDNS service is also on offer, which allows streaming of international content like BBC iPlayer on devices that are incompatible with VPN apps, such as smart TVs, gaming consoles, and other set-top boxes. However, keep in mind that the service doesn’t encrypt your internet connection like the VPN service does.

You’ll be happy to know that your questions can be answered immediately when you take advantage of NordVPN’s 24/7 live chat. Email support and a searchable support knowledge base are also available.

Pros:

  • 30-day money-back guarantee
  • Adept at accessing BBC iPlayer
  • Extensive multi-platform support, with SmartDNS service
  • Super fast connection speeds
  • Very affordable pricing

Cons:

  • No labeled streaming-optimized servers in the app

THE BEST “FREE” VPN FOR BBC iPLAYER:NordVPN offers fast enough speeds to handle HD and 4K streaming, and its wide app support means you can watch BBC iPlayer on myriad devices. The provider is low-cost, so you don’t have to pay much upfront to enjoy its risk-free 30-day money-back guarantee.

Read my full review of NordVPN.

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2. Surfshark

Surfshark

Apps Available:

  • PC
  • Mac
  • IOS
  • Android
  • Linux
  • FireTV

Website:  www.Surfshark.com

Money-back guarantee: 30 DAYS

Surfshark is my budget-priced recommendation, making it an excellent option for users who want to pay as little as possible before enjoying its 30-day money-back guarantee. (You can get a seven-day free trial if you use the Android, iOS, and macOS apps.)

Surfshark has no problem accessing BBC iPlayer from almost anywhere, and multiple other streaming services are also no match for the provider.

Your security is thoroughly protected thanks to banking-level AES 256-bit encryption, an automatic kill switch, and IP/DNS leak protection. Ad and tracker blocking, as well as malware and phishing protections, increase your security.

Also available is “MultiHop,” which allows you to connect through two VPN servers instead of one, doubling your anonymity and security.

The provider offers a cryptocurrency payment option and follows a strict no-server-logs policy.

It also offers connection speeds fast enough to handle most of your favorite online activities, including streaming BBC iPlayer. No data caps or bandwidth limitations are to be found.

Surfshark’s global server network is steadily growing, comprising 3,200+ servers in 100+ countries at the time of this article. Of course, servers are available in the U.K.

There are apps available for Windows, Android, iOS, macOS, Linux, Amazon Fire, and Android TV device platforms. Chrome and Firefox browser extensions make the scene, and there’s plenty of support for multiple makes and models of routers.

Surfshark offers an unlimited simultaneous connections allowance, meaning you can connect as many devices as you’d like to the provider’s servers at one time on one account.

In addition to quality VPN protection, Surfshark also offers virus protection, truly private search capabilities, and alerts when your info is exposed in a data breach.

Should you have any questions, Surfshark’s customer support is always available via 24/7 live chat. A searchable support library and an FAQ section, as well as a support contact form, are also available.

Pros:

  • Reliable ability to access BBC iPlayer
  • Seven-day free trial on iOS, Android, and Mac apps
  • Unlimited concurrent connections
  • Top-notch privacy and security protections

Cons:

  • Streaming servers are not labeled in the app

BEST FOR THE BUDGET-MINDED:Surfshark’s service is bargain-priced, so you can enjoy its 30-day money-back guarantee without paying too much upfront. The provider’s speeds are fast, it offers unlimited simultaneous connections, and you’ll get plenty of app support and security protections.

Read my full review of Surfshark.

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3. ExpressVPN

ExpressVPN

Apps Available:

  • PC
  • Mac
  • IOS
  • Android
  • Linux
  • FireTV

Website:  www.ExpressVPN.com

Money-back guarantee: 30 DAYS

ExpressVPN charges a high price, but some users will find it worth it to get ExpressVPN’s admirable service free for 30 days.

ExpressVPN has always been a prime candidate when it comes to accessing video streaming services, including BBC iPlayer. The provider won’t let you down in this regard.

Government-grade AES 256-bit encryption, as well as IP/DNS leak and an automatic kill switch, all protect your connection. There’s a Bitcoin payment option, and the provider never records usage logs.

Also, the provider’s proprietary “TrustedServer” technology runs all operations from RAM, writing no data to a physical hard drive. This means all information is wiped upon every server reboot.

ExpressVPN’s speeds are formidable, scoring as the fastest of all VPN providers in my most recent testing. You can stream BBC iPlayer in HD or 4K with no problem. Unlimited bandwidth is available from the provider, and there are no data caps to deal with.

The provider has invested much of its revenue into its global server network, which covers 94 countries (including the U.K.) with 3,000+ servers.

ExpressVPN’s app support is wide, with apps available for macOS, Android, iOS, Windows, Linux, Amazon Fire, ChromeOS, and Android TV device platforms. The provider’s macOS app boasts native M1/M2 Mac support. Chrome, Firefox, and Edge browser extensions are also available from this provider.

ExpressVPN’s router support is impressive, and it recently began offering its self-branded “Aircove” router, which includes ExpressVPN protection by default.

Only five simultaneous connections are allowed.

ExpressVPN offers a “MediaStreamer” DNS service as well, which lets you watch BBC iPlayer on devices such as game consoles, smart TVs, and other set-top streaming boxes. However, the service does not encrypt your internet connection like the VPN service does.

When it comes to customer support, ExpressVPN provides four options: around-the-clock live chat, email support, a trouble ticket tracking system, and a searchable troubleshooting and support library.

Pros:

  • Optimal at accessing BBC iPlayer
  • Support for a wide array of devices, plus smart DNS service
  • Strong encryption and security measures
  • High-speed servers

Cons:

  • More expensive than many other VPNs
  • No labeled streaming servers in apps

RELIABLE “FREE” VPN:ExpressVPN may charge a high price, but its 30-day money-back guarantee takes the risk out of giving the provider a try. Its fast connection speeds and wide app support enhance your video-streaming experience. No worries about your online security and privacy.

Read my full review of ExpressVPN.

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4. CyberGhost

CyberGhost

Apps Available:

  • PC
  • Mac
  • IOS
  • Android
  • Linux
  • FireTV

Website:  www.CyberGhost.com

Money-back guarantee: 45 DAYS

Sadly, users opting for a one-month CyberGhost subscription will only get 14 days to try out the service without risk. Users opting for a one-year or longer subscription, however, will get a full 45-day money-back guarantee.

Accessing BBC iPlayer and other streaming services is not a problem for CyberGhost, so you can rest easy should you opt for this VPN service provider.

The provider protects your connection with military-grade AES 256-bit encryption and IP/DNS leak prevention, as well as ad and malware blocking, and the ability to force websites to use HTTPS if available. You can pay with Bitcoin, if that’s how you roll, and the provider follows a strict no-server-logs policy.

CyberGhost provides impressive connection speeds, including the ability to watch BBC iPlayer in HD if that’s what you prefer. There are no data caps or bandwidth restrictions to ruin the fun.

The provider offers 9,000+ high-speed servers in 90+ countries, including the U.K. Some of those servers are optimized for streaming.

CyberGhost’s apps are easy to use and are available for Android, Windows, iOS, macOS, Linux, Amazon Fire, and Android TV device platforms. There’s plenty of router support available, and seven devices are allowed to connect at once on one set of login credentials.

The platform offers free Chrome and Firefox browser extensions. However, they only provide access to eight servers in four countries, not including the U.K., so you’ll get no access to BBC iPlayer. Still, I thought it was worth mentioning.

Alongside its comprehensive VPN services, CyberGhost also offers a password manager, alerts when your information is exposed, and Windows security products, including antivirus and anti-malware protection.

Customer support is available in the form of 24/7 live chat, a trouble ticket submission system, and an easy-to-search knowledge base.

Pros:

  • Excels at accessing BBC iPlayer
  • Top-notch encryption and other connection protections
  • Easy-to-use apps
  • Streaming-optimized servers

Cons:

  • Only 14-day guarantee on monthly subscription
  • Struggles to access some streaming services

BEST VPN FOR NEWBIES:CyberGhost offers 45 days to try its service risk-free when you opt for a one-year or longer subscription. The provider’s apps are easy to install and use, making it a great option for rookie VPN users. The provider’s connections are well-encrypted and fast.

Read my full review of CyberGhost.

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5. Private Internet Access

Private Internet Access

Apps Available:

  • PC
  • Mac
  • IOS
  • Android
  • Linux
  • FireTV

Website:  www.privateinternetaccess.com

Money-back guarantee: 30 DAYS

Private Internet Access (PIA) provides reliable, well-protected access to BBC iPlayer, as well as other geo-protected content in the U.K. and abroad. A 30-day money-back guarantee is available.

The PIA global server network boasts over 3,300 servers stationed in more than 80 countries (with servers in three U.K. cities: Manchester, London, and Southampton).

PIA native app support includes options to protect Android, Android TV, iOS, Windows, macOS, and Linux devices. Chrome, Opera, and Firefox browser extensions are available to protect your browsing. Comprehensive router compatibility is also present and accounted for, to protect all of your connected devices.

Up to 10 devices can be connected at once to PIA servers by a single user.

Although PIA’s download speeds are far from being the best on this list, they are up to handling streaming video, online gaming, and more. No data caps or bandwidth throttling to deal with here.

The provider’s industry-standard online protection includes 256-bit banking-grade encryption, IP/DNS leak protection, and a kill switch. The provider also offers blocking of ads, trackers, malware, and dangerous websites.

PIA saves no user logs recording your online travels and the provider also accepts Bitcoin as payment. This provides privacy protection for both your usage and payment privacy. Use a disposable email address for an additional bit of security.

PIA’s customer support offers a live chat option, a trouble ticket system, and a searchable support library.

Pros:

  • Reliable access to BBC iPlayer and other geo-fenced content
  • Online security protection second to none
  • Multiple server locations in the U.K.

Cons:

  • No streaming-enhanced servers listed in app
  • Has issues working in restrictive countries

RELIABLE PROTECTED ACCESS TO BBC iPLAYER:Private Internet Access provides fast, well-protected, and reliable access to BBC iPlayer content, as well as geo-limited content around the globe, while protecting all of your online activities. A 30-day money-back guarantee is available.

Read my full review of Private Internet Access.

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6. PrivateVPN

PrivateVPN

Apps Available:

  • PC
  • Mac
  • IOS
  • Android
  • Linux
  • FireTV

Website:  www.PrivateVPN.com

Money-back guarantee: 30 DAYS

PrivateVPN’s global server network could certainly stand some much-needed expansion. However, the provider’s excellent online protections and fast connections may make it attractive to many. A 30-day money-back guarantee is available.

200+ servers spread out thinly among 60+ countries is certainly not impressive when compared to other providers on this list. However, its servers are well-placed and provide reliable access to content in the United Kingdom via its London and Manchester servers.

This provider’s connections deliver 4K streaming-capable download speeds, making it an excellent option for streamers, gamers, and file sharers.

All PrivateVPN connections are protected by banking-grade encryption, IPv6 and DNS leak prevention. The provider’s proprietary “Stealth VPN” feature keeps your VPN usage hidden, adding to the protection.

A strict no-logs policy means there are no records of your online antics, while a Bitcoin payment option keeps your subscription info undercover. (Use a disposable email address for added anonymity.)

PrivateVPN’s native software support is limited, offering support only for the big four platforms (iOS, Android, macOS, and Windows).

The provider can be manually set up on select routers, providing protections for all of the devices connected to the router, if you need more than 10 simultaneous connections.

A support request form is available when live support chat isn’t, and an FAQ section is available all of the time.

Pros:

  • Reliable access to BBC iPlayer and other geo-controlled content
  • Fast, well-protected connections
  • Up to 10 simultaneous connections

Cons:

  • Global server coverage needs expansion
  • App support could also stand to be improved

IMPRESSIVE ONLINE SECURITY: Despite its limited server coverage,: PrivateVPN provides reliable access to BBC iPlayer, as well as other global content. The provider’s connection speeds are up to handling popular online activities. A Stealth VPN feature hides your VPN activity. A 30-day money-back guarantee is available.

Read my full review of PrivateVPN.

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Methodology for Assessing “Free” VPNs for BBC iPlayer

There are several factors to carefully consider when researching VPN protection and enhancement for BBC iPlayer.

Below, you’ll find a list of the most important features to consider when making a decision about which VPNs to use to protect and enhance your BBC iPlayer viewing:

  • Connection speeds: Fast internet speeds are an important factor, especially if you’re streaming HD or 4K content like that offered by BBC iPlayer. All of the VPNs I included on my list provide fast connections.
  • Global server network: A large global server network provides access to geo-controlled content around the globe. Multiple servers in each country is a definite plus, as it helps prevent a single server from being overloaded.
  • Value: A VPN service provider’s asking price should be weighed against the features and performance it offers. Every VPN I include in my articles offers an excellent return on investment.
  • Ease of use: VPN apps should be easy to use and offer native app support for most popular device platforms. Each VPN on this list offers well-designed, intuitive apps for popular platforms.
  • Security and privacy: A VPN should offer (at the very least) 256-bit encryption, an automatic kill switch, and DNS/IP leak protection. The provider should also follow a no-logs policy.
  • Streaming: VPNs included in my articles all offer reliable access to streaming sites, including BBC iPlayer, Netflix, Hulu, and numerous other popular services.

My research doesn’t end here. Evaluating the features above are just a small part of my comprehensive VPN testing methodology. This data-driven approach allows me to better understand these VPNs and their services, so I can recommend only those that are a good fit for my readers’ needs.

How to Use a VPN to Access BBC iPlayer

This is how you use a VPN to access BBC iPlayer.

  1. Subscribe to your VPN provider of choice (I recommend NordVPN).
  2. Install the provider’s app(s) onto your device(s). You can also install a browser extension (if available) onto your favorite browser if you’d prefer.
  3. Log in to the VPN.
  4. Select a VPN server in the U.K. and connect to it.
  5. Enjoy your new access to BBC iPlayer content!

Is a Truly Free VPN a Good Option for BBC iPlayer?

Good luck trying to find a truly free VPN that can access BBC iPlayer. In addition, privacy violations, inconvenience, and lack of performance make free VPNs a waste of time and energy.

First of all, consider the fact that streaming services like BBC iPlayer invest a lot of resources into blocking VPN-provided IP addresses. They’ve become quite adept at doing so, so VPN providers have had to up the ante, quickly replacing IP addresses as they’re blocked.

Free VPNs don’t make much money from their services, so they’re not able to play this virtual game of whack-a-mole. Trying to access BBC iPlayer with a free VPN is a losing proposition.

Free VPNs are also inconvenient, making you wait in a queue before allowing you to connect to their servers. When you are given the green light to connect, you won’t have many servers to choose from, if any choice is part of the equation at all.

They also impose daily or monthly data caps on your connection and throttle your connection speeds shamelessly.

Most importantly, free VPNs are a hazard to your online health. Free VPNs have to make money somehow, and they often do so by recording your online activities and then selling the information to the highest bidder. There’s also the issue of free VPNs inserting unwanted ads and tracking cookies into your browsing sessions.

As you can see, absolutely free VPNs do more harm than good. It’s a much better idea to take advantage of a paid VPN’s money-back guarantee to get quality service without risk.

Conclusion

BBC iPlayer fans would do well to investigate the paid providers on this list and take advantage of their money-back guarantees. Truly free VPNs pose just too many problems, and they have no ability to access BBC iPlayer anyway.

NordVPN is your best bet for a quality VPN provider to access BBC iPlayer from anywhere. During your 30 days of risk-free service, you’ll get fast speeds, wide app support, comprehensive security and privacy protections and, of course, an unmatched ability to access and enjoy BBC iPlayer.

For more information or to purchase a subscription, visit the NordVPN website.

“Free” BBC iPlayer VPN FAQs

What Do I Do If I Don’t Have a UK TV License?

The first time you connect to the BBC iPlayer website, you may be alerted that a UK TV license is required to watch any program on the site. The site also requires viewers to enter a U.K. postcode.

However, since your VPN makes it appear that you’re connecting from within the United Kingdom, you can simply click “I have a TV license” when prompted.

To come up with the postcode, Google it, or use this U.K. postcode generator.

How Do I Watch BBC iPlayer Abroad?

To watch BBC iPlayer abroad, subscribe to a VPN provider on this list. Install its app(s) onto your device(s) and select a VPN server in the U.K. Then, connect to the BBC iPlayer app or website and start streaming.

How Much Data Does the BBC iPlayer Use?

BBC iPlayer can stream in different resolutions and will adjust quality according to your available bandwidth. The highest resolution is 720p, which requires at least 5 Mbps of available bandwidth. Most sources say an hour-long TV program will typically use 225MB of data.


Roundup - best VPNs for speed

Position Our Score Verdict
1.
4.5/5
Verdict: Our top rated VPN
Get NordVPN »
2.
4.5/5
Verdict: Best budget option
Get Surfshark »
3.
4.0/5
Verdict: Great privacy options
Get ExpressVPN »
4.
4.0/5
Verdict: Highly versatile
Get CyberGhost »
5.
3.0/5
Verdict: Up to 10 devices
Get PrivateVPN »

PRIVACY ALERT: Websites you visit can see these details about you:

The following information is available to any site you visit:

Your IP Address:

Your Location:

Your Internet Provider:

This information can be used to target ads and monitor your internet usage.

By using a VPN you can hide these details and protect your privacy.

I recommend NordVPN - the top provider in my testing. It offers outstanding privacy features and there is currently a discounted rate available through this link.

Visit NordVPN

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