The BBC iPlayer streaming service is host to a huge amount of exclusive TV, but you can’t watch any of it outside the UK. Using a VPN will allow you to stream anything from Killing Eve and Doctor Who to Line of Duty and EastEnders while overseas, and its line up of classic and contemporary films just gets better and better. In this guide, we'll help you find the most effective VPNs for BBC iPlayer unblocking.
An iPlayer VPN works by rerouting your IP address to make your device appear to be in a country of your choice. So, if you want to watch shows on iPlayer, you’ll want to appear to be in the UK.
Speed, number of servers and server location are your top priorities when choosing your iPlayer VPN. However, no-log status and active tech support are also worth considering – the better VPNs will provide lightning-fast connections alongside class-leading security so you can watch in comfort and privacy. And getting a VPN with a free trial can be useful if you want to try before you commit.
Below you’ll find the most reliable VPNs for accessing BBC iPlayer, and further down the page we’ll also explain how to use them once you’ve made your choice.
The best BBC iPlayer VPN in 2021:
ExpressVPN is our #1 VPN overall because it does everything a VPN needs to – and does it extremely well.
There’s a vast selection of servers - including several options in the UK - and finding a perfect connection isn’t a hassle. However, if something’s not working properly, we’ve found the live-chat support to be quick and helpful (and available 24/7), and they should be able to get you accessing iPlayer in no time - even if the Smart Location server choice doesn't let you get it working at first.
ExpressVPN’s split tunnelling also allows you to choose which of your connections route through the VPN. This is perfect if you’re running apps that are significantly affected by VPN use but still want to use BBC iPlayer abroad.
Back end of 2020 we experienced the odd issue unblocking iPlayer on any platform outside the service's MediaStreamer tool. But it's back working reliably again now so it returns to the top of our list.
While a little more expensive than some competitors, ExpressVPN combines great iPlayer access with a full suite of features. And if you’re not happy, there’s a 30-day money-back guarantee.
NordVPN has long been a great option for watching iPlayer abroad, with swift connection speeds, plenty of servers and great security. NordVPN is also optimized for P2P, so if you’re a keen torrenter it’s a great torrenting VPN, too.
With an effective kill switch, DNS leak protection and 2048-bit encryption, the security conscious will feel safe while streaming from BBC iPlayer with NordVPN.
If problems arise, the live-chat support will get you streaming in no time and, although some billing plans are a little pricey, NordVPN definitely earns its place on our top BBC iPlayer VPN list.
Don’t be fooled by the bargain-basement price – Surfshark is a top-notch VPN that offers just as much as many of its pricier rivals. Offering decent speeds which will be perfect for streaming as well as unlimited simultaneous connections, Surfshark is a wallet-friendly way to access BBC iPlayer.
Far from being a basic VPN, Surfshark offers great security with its private DNS on each server, and a double-hop ability to further obfuscate your location to ensure ultimate privacy. Add to this P2P support, split tunnelling and more, and you’ve got a premium package.
The easy set-up, unlimited simultaneous connections and quick live-chat support make Surfshark the cheapest way to stream BBC iPlayer abroad with a VPN.
If you're a little worried that connecting your VPN and iPlayer at the same time might lead to *shudder* buffering, then it may just be worth going for Hotspot Shield. It tops the lot when it comes to our fastest VPN list, largely thanks to its awesome proprietary Catapult Hydra protocol.
But speed isn't everything - it also has some serious website and service unblocking chops. In addition to - of course - BBC iPlayer, we also got it working admirably with Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, YouTube and Disney Plus. So if you're a big streamer, then Hotspot is a fine fit.
It's really easy to use, too, especially on PCs and Macs. From download to actually streaming iPlayer shows, this VPN makes things really easy.
Our main quibble with Hotspot Shield is actually a direct result of that Catapult Hydra protocol we gushed about above. It works in such a fashion that you can only use Hotspot Shield via its official apps - so no router or DNS-based workarounds like you can get with the likes of ExpressVPN or Nord. If you were intending to stream BBC iPlayer shows on your games console, Kindle tablet, Kodi or non-Android Smart TV, the you can pretty much forget it with this VPN.
Looking to stream iPlayer abroad in absolute security? You could do a lot worse than VyprVPN. With confirmed no-log status and an app for pretty much every device, VyprVPN offers a lot of bang for your buck.
The support of multiple protocols – OpenVPN, L2TP/IPsec, PPTP and VyprVPN’s own Chamaeleon – means that users can make their own decision as to whether streaming HD video in seconds or higher encryption is a priority.
With unlimited data usage as standard, one of the few downsides to VyprVPN we found from our testing were the connection speeds to some of the servers. However, a 30-day money back guarantee is available so you can make sure VyprVPN is the best way for you to access iPlayer.
BBC iPlayer VPN FAQ
How do I unblock BBC iPlayer with a VPN?
For those who haven’t used a VPN before, the process of rerouting your IP can sound like a difficult task – after all, you're just just trying to watch some TV! Don’t be put off, though, as all of our picks above all feature in our overall best VPN guide and all have user-friendly interfaces that will allow anyone to access iPlayer.
Although your chosen VPN might have advice for accessing certain content, here’s our very straightforward four-step guide for unblocking iPlayer by using a VPN:
1. Sign up for and install your chosen VPN
2. Pick the fastest available server in the UK and connect to it
3. Visit the iPlayer website – you’ll need to make an account if you haven’t got one already
4. Pick a show to watch and relax!
What is the best working BBC iPlayer VPN?
Right now, ExpressVPN tops our list of the best BBC iPlayer VPNs. It hasn't always been, but right now it's a really robust, reliable service that also boasts excellent speeds and a brilliantly easy-to-use interface on desktop, mobile, streaming devices, Smart TVs and more. It's great for unblocking Netflix and Amazon Prime Video blocking, too.
What else can a VPN do?
As we say, VPNs have become the way to watch your favourite shows when abroad and open up a whole world of new shows and films to watch on BBc iPlayer and beyond - the amount of people using a VPN for Netflix is enormous. And the same goes for Hulu, Amazon Prime Video and regular domestic stations, too.
The geo-spoofing nature of virtual private networks that make them so useful for streaming, also provides the perfect tool for unblocking restricted websites and sidestepping country-wide internet restriction, which is why VPNs for use in China are so popular.
And their encrypted tunnels also make VPNs a kind of de facto antivirus companion (or replacement). Using an unrelated IP address effectively makes you anonymous as you use the internet, and your data is shielded from prying eyes and cyber crooks.