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The best BBC iPlayer VPN 2021

bbc iplayer vpn
(Image credit: Carl Court/Getty Images)

BBC iPlayer plays host to a huge amount of exclusive TV - but you won't be able to watch any of it outside of the UK. By using a VPN, however, you can stream anything from its huge library of TV shows and films no matter where you find yourself. All you'll need is the best BBC iPlayer VPN to bypass geo-restrictions and unblock the platform.

With one of the biggest football tournaments kicking off, a BBC iPlayer VPN is exactly what you'll need to watch a Euro 2020 live stream, as well as fan favourites like Line of Duty, Doctor Who, and Killing Eve while overseas.

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 the best BBC iPlayer VPN

(Image credit: ExpressVPN)

1. ExpressVPN

The best overall VPN of them all

Unblocks BBC iPlayer: Yes | 24/7 customer support: Yes | Money back guarantee: 30 days | Also unlocks: Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, YouTube, Hulu | Streaming devices: Android, iOS, Amazon Fire, Apple TV, Chromecast, Roku, PlayStation, Xbox | Maximum devices supported: 5

Lightning-fast speeds for streaming
Great tech support
Super simple to use
Priced on the premium side

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.


(Image credit: Future)

2. NordVPN

Popular VPN with bonus security features

Unblocks BBC iPlayer: Yes | 24/7 customer support: Yes | Money back guarantee: 30 days | Also unlocks: Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, YouTube, Hulu | Streaming devices: Android, iOS, Amazon Fire, Apple TV, Chromecast, Roku, PlayStation, Xbox | Maximum devices supported: 6

P2P optimized
Fully audited no-logging claims
Good live chat support
Not the cheapest

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.


Surfshark BBC iPlayer VPN

(Image credit: Future)

3. Surfshark

Cheap and fully featured VPN making waves

Unblocks BBC iPlayer: Yes | 24/7 customer support: Yes | Money back guarantee: 30 days | Also unlocks: Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, YouTube, Hulu | Streaming devices: Android, iOS, Amazon Fire, Apple TV, Chromecast, Roku, PlayStation, Xbox | Maximum devices supported: Unlimited

Tempting price
Plenty of servers
Unlimited connections
Not quite as fast as Express or Nord

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.


Hotspot Shield VPN for BBC iPlayer

(Image credit: Hotspot Shield)

4. Hotspot Shield

One of the fastest services out there

Unblocks BBC iPlayer: Yes | 24/7 customer support: Yes | Money back guarantee: 45 days | Also unlocks: Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, YouTube, Hulu | Streaming devices: Android, iOS, Amazon Fire | Maximum devices supported: Unlimited

Super fast connections
A dream to use
Lengthy trial
Not as many streaming devices available

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, then you can pretty much forget it with this VPN.


(Image credit: Private Internet Access)

5. Private Internet Access

VPN with one of the biggest server networks

Unblocks BBC iPlayer: Yes | 24/7 customer support: Yes | Money back guarantee: 30 days | Also unlocks: Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Disney Plus | Streaming devices: Android, iOS | Maximum devices supported: 10

35,000+ servers
Unblocks major streaming services
Feature packed clients
No security audit
Doesn't offer the fastest speeds

After a feature-packed iPlayer VPN with a large server network? Private Internet Access more than does the job, boasting an almost unfathomable 35,000 servers across 78 countries. 

While to watch BBC iPlayer all you'll need is a few situated in the UK, it's good news if you want to go one step further and unblock the likes of Netflix, Prime Video, and Disney Plus, too. Private Internet Access is able to slip between the gaps of any geo-restrictions and offer all the results of a streaming VPN, allowing you to watch all the most popular streaming platforms. 

What's more, of our four iPlayer tests, performance was excellent for three out of four, with our third attempt still gaining us access, but running on the slower side of average. Considering it certainly isn't the fastest in terms of speeds, we weren't surprised and were still able to unblock iPlayer and watch BBC's plethora of on-demand content.

Admittedly Private Internet Access doesn't have clients for many streaming devices. That said, what it lacks in devices, it makes up not only in the up to 10 simultaneous connections, but also its feature-packed clients, especially its mobile apps, which we are big fans of.

A clean interface across the board, a swipe up reveals a number of settings and features to toggle on/off and customize to better cater to your experience and what you want from your VPN.


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.

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