BBC iPlayer—the BBC's award-winning streaming service—is home to brilliant TV shows, movies, news, live sports, and more. It's free to use with a valid TV license, but if you find yourself outside the UK, you'll need a Virtual Private Network (VPN) to bypass the BBC's stringent geo-restrictions, unblock iPlayer, and enjoy all that it has to offer.
You won't get away with picking any old VPN, though. You'll need one of the best BBC iPlayer VPNs for the job. Luckily, TechRadar's team of experts has been testing VPNs for over 15 years, so we know the good from the bad. Metrics such as speed and security are core to my review process, but I also spent a considerable amount of time identifying the best streaming VPNs, so you can watch UK TV from abroad without breaking a sweat!
Below, I've compiled a definitive shortlist of the 5 best VPNs for watching BBC iPlayer. Each pick wowed me with its unblocking capabilities, not to mention its security and privacy credentials—so let's jump right in.
The three best VPNs at a glance
Just want to get up and running? Take a look at the top 3 BBC iPlayer VPNs.
1. ExpressVPN: #1 best BBC iPlayer VPN
You'll often see ExpressVPN top lists of VPN providers, and it's no different for accessing the BBC library from abroad. It gives reliable unlocking with excellent speeds and is straightforward to use—even if you're a total beginner.
Sign up for a year to get 3 months extra free, and you can give it a try for 30 days risk-free thanks to its no-quibble money-back guarantee.
2. NordVPN: a security-conscious BBC iPlayer VPN
One of the biggest and best-known providers on the block, NordVPN makes short work of unblocking the BBC's on-demand library. It's packed with privacy-enhancing features, too, including built-in ad blocking, and boasts some seriously impressive speeds.
Try NordVPN for yourself, and see why it's also my number one VPN for Netflix, with a handy 30-day money-back guarantee.
3. Surfshark: a budget-friendly choice for unblocking BBC content
If you're on a budget, Surfshark is an affordable VPN that still manages to pack a punch. You'll get unlimited simultaneous connections, tons of servers to choose from, and intuitive apps for all your devices.
You'll get plenty of bang for your buck with plans from under $2.50 a month, and a 30-day money-back guarantee gives you plenty of time to see how it compares to ExpressVPN and NordVPN.
In our latest update, we've spruced up the page structure to make it easier to compare our top VPN picks and ensured our facts and figures are all up to date. For more information, check out our summary of the latest VPN test results.
The best BBC iPlayer VPN in 2023:
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Take a look at how my top picks compare, as well as each VPN's key features, test results, what I liked best about each service, and any reasons you might be better off avoiding them.
The best iPlayer VPN overall
The best VPN for BBC iPlayer... and everything else
Unblocks BBC iPlayer: Yes | 24/7 customer support: Yes | Money back guarantee: 30 days | UK servers:: Docklands, East London, London, Wembley | Also unlocks: Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, YouTube, Hulu, ITVX, All 4, 9Now, 10Play | Streaming devices: Android, iOS, Amazon Fire, Apple TV, Chromecast, Roku, PlayStation, Xbox | Maximum devices supported: 5
✔️ You want access to international content: Whether it's BBC iPlayer, Netflix, or Amazon Prime, ExpressVPN can unblock your favorite shows.
✔️ You need a trustworthy service: ExpressVPN proves its commitment to privacy with regular audits and a no-logs policy.
✔️ You stream on multiple devices: All of ExpressVPN's apps are easy to install and use, so you can check out BBC iPlayer on desktop and mobile.
❌ You're sticking to a budget: ExpressVPN is a pricey provider, so you might want to check out Surfshark if you're looking for a bargain.
❌ You want a full security suite: While ExpressVPN is my number one pick for unblocking BBC iPlayer, it doesn't come with built-in antivirus capabilities.
🔒 ExpressVPN is the total package, with sleek, stylish apps for all your devices and tons of security features. Plus, the VPN can unblock virtually all in-demand streaming services, including BBC iPlayer, and you can try it for yourself with a 30-day money-back guarantee.
Visit our full ExpressVPN review for a more in-depth look at this premium provider and its suite of features.
Seeing as ExpressVPN is my #1 VPN overall, it should go without saying that it also claims to the top spot when it comes to unblocking BBC iPlayer. I've never had trouble accessing iPlayer content when connected to an ExpressVPN server.
On the subject of servers, there are more than 3,000 to choose from, scattered across 94 countries, and a decent selection of UK locations in London, the Docklands, and the Midlands. These UK servers come in handy for unblocking BBC iPlayer and other on-demand platforms, like ITVX and All 4, and during my tests, I was able to access a huge library of content without any roadblocks. The VPN also claims to unblock other Brit favorites, including BT Sports and Now, and international staples like Netflix, Prime Video, and Disney Plus.
On the off chance that you can't unblock BBC iPlayer using the Smart Location server feature, the excellent live chat support is on hand to help. Available 24/7, shoot them a message and they'll tell you exactly which server will unlock the gates to BBC's brilliant collection of entertainment and live broadcasting.
ExpressVPN has some of my favorite apps—they're incredibly easy to use, regardless of the device you install them on, and have a fresh, fun design. It's a little disappointing that the VPN only gives users eight simultaneous connections to play with, especially when Surfshark supports unlimited devices, but you should still be able to cover all of the most important gadgets in the home.
Admittedly, ExpressVPN isn't the fastest service on my shortlist—that honor goes to NordVPN. That doesn't mean ExpressVPN moves at a snail's pace, however, despite the slight drop in peak speeds to 560 Mbps. These results place it comfortably within the average performance range of a VPN, and you'll still be able to stream, torrent, and game online.
The ExpressVPN price point is on the steeper side, that's undeniable, but you're getting a premium provider stuffed with features, and proven security, as well as reliable access to BBC iPlayer and other popular streaming platforms.
|Design||A stylish (and clutter-free) design that stands out from its competitors||⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐|
|Ease of use||Newbies and VPN veterans will have no trouble tweaking settings or finding UK servers||⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐|
|Performance||Not the quickest VPN, but still ideal for 4K streaming||⭐⭐⭐⭐|
|Unblocking||Unblocks BBC iPlayer and other UK staples||⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐|
|Security and privacy||Top-notch encryption and an audited no-logs policy||⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐|
|Customer support||24/7 live chat support can handle even the most techy questions||⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐|
|Price||On the expensive side, but the quality speaks for itself||⭐⭐⭐|
The best VPN with antivirus
A big-name VPN with bonus security features
Unblocks BBC iPlayer: Yes | 24/7 customer support: Yes | Money back guarantee: 30 days | UK servers:: 440+ | Also unlocks: Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, YouTube, Hulu, ITVX, All 4, 9Now, 10Play | Streaming devices: Android, iOS, Amazon Fire, Apple TV, Chromecast, Roku, PlayStation, Xbox | Maximum devices supported: 6
✔️ Speed is everything. In my most recent tests, NordVPN leapt to the top of our fastest VPN rankings.
✔️ You're an avid streamer. In addition to BBC iPlayer, NordVPN can unblock in-demand platforms like Netflix and Prime Video.
✔️ You want affordable quality. NordVPN strikes the perfect balance of features, performance, and security at wallet-friendly prices.
❌ You're looking for a simple interface. The NordVPN apps are well designed, but the novelty of the map-style interface can wear off.
❌ You need servers everywhere. Servers in 60 locations is pretty impressive, but NordVPN is more limited than my other top picks.
🔒 NordVPN is an awesome all-rounder that won't break the bank. You'll get access to BBC iPlayer, as well as a ton of Netflix libraries, and lightning-fast speeds that'll ensure your streams are HD and buffer-free. Try NordVPN risk-free with a 30-day money-back guarantee.
Head over to our NordVPN review to see why this super-speedy service is also our #1 Netflix VPN.
NordVPN excels in all sorts of areas, and is one of the most secure VPN services you'll come across with a sterling reputation for vigilant security. It's also proved incredibly reliable for watching BBC iPlayer from overseas—with some seriously impressive speeds.
Currently, NordVPN has a broad network of more than 5,600 servers, and 44 of them are based in the UK. This is great news for folks looking to appear as though they're in ol' Blighty and access BBC iPlayer, ITVX, All 4, and other British streaming services. That's not all, though—NordVPN has no trouble unblocking Disney Plus and Prime Video. Where Netflix is concerned, I think NordVPN is one of the best Netflix VPNs out there, reliably unblocking catalogs in the US, UK, Canada, Australia, and Japan. NordVPN could even provide a solution to the Netflix password sharing ban.
NordVPN claims a top spot in my shortlist thanks in no small part to its incredible performance. It's the quickest VPN I've tested, and I've always found these speeds to be reliable, even during peak times. You'll be able to install NordVPN, leave it running, and not be slowed down as you go about your usual browsing and downloading.
A NordVPN subscription comes with plenty of features, too, like an effective kill switch, DNS leak protection, and 256-bit encryption that'll ensure your browsing sessions remain nice and private. P2P support also makes NordVPN an ideal choice for anyone looking for a torrenting VPN.
One of my only quibbles is that the map interface is somewhat glitchy. Admittedly, this is a fairly superficial qualm, but if you're using NordVPN on a device with a smaller screen, it could be a bit annoying. It's also worth noting that you'll only get 6 simultaneous connections, which might not be enough to cover a whole household.
If any problems arise, or if you need help accessing your BBC iPlayer favorites, the live-chat support is happy to help. You can also reach out via email, or do your own troubleshooting with the help of a well-stocked library of support articles and tutorials.
|Design||A fun and fresh design that can feel a little busy||⭐⭐⭐⭐|
|Ease of use||Intuitive apps for all devices, although the map interface could be easier to use||⭐⭐⭐|
|Performance||The fastest VPN I've tested||⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐|
|Unblocking||Unblocks BBC iPlayer, Netflix, and a ton of British staples||⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐|
|Security and privacy||Built-in antivirus, a kill switch, and reliable leak protection||⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐|
|Customer support||Live chat is ready to help tackle questions and concerns||⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐|
|Price||Fair prices and excellent value||⭐⭐⭐⭐|
The best cheap iPlayer VPN
Budget-friendly and fully featured
Unblocks BBC iPlayer: Yes | 24/7 customer support: Yes | Money back guarantee: 30 days | UK servers: London, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Manchester | Also unlocks: Amazon Prime Video, YouTube, Hulu, ITVX, All 4, 9Now, 10Play | Streaming devices: Android, iOS, Amazon Fire, Apple TV, Chromecast, Roku, PlayStation, Xbox | Maximum devices supported: Unlimited
✔️ You're on a strict budget. Surfshark is the best cheap VPN out there, and manages to cram a ton of features into low-cost subscriptions.
✔️ You want a cheap security suite. Like NordVPN, Surfshark has its own set of built-in security tools to keep your browsing private.
✔️ Speed is a priority. Surfshark managed to max out my connection speeds at over 950 Mbps, making it ideal for HD streaming.
❌ You rely on your kill switch. I managed to break the kill switch during testing, so stick with NordVPN to avoid IP leaks.