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 Gavin and Stacey and Doctor Who to Line of Duty and Eastenders while overseas, and this guide will help you find the most effective VPNs for BBC iPlayer unblocking.
A virtual private network – VPN for short – 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.
How to choose the best BBC iPlayer VPN
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 five best VPNs for accessing BBC iPlayer, and further down the page we’ll also explain how to use them once you’ve made your choice.
1. ExpressVPN is the best BBC iPlayer VPN
ExpressVPN - our overall #1 VPN - is fantastic at unblocking geo-restrictions on Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu, Disney+ and, you'll be pleased to hear, BBC iPlayer. It's ridiculously easy to set up and use and it comes with a no-questions-asked 30 day money back guarantee and 3 months extra free.
2. CyberGhost - feature-packed yet simple to use
CyberGhost is one of the best VPNs out there and leads the pack when it comes to sheer server numbers, counting more than 6,000. And 500+ of those are based on UK shores, meaning that you'll easily find a suitable option for unlocking all that brilliant BBC content on catch-up or live.
3. Surfshark - unblock BBC iPlayer for less
If the above are too expensive, look no further than Surfshark and its sub-$2.50 USD/£2 per month multiyear subscription. it's a fantastic, premium option that's unbelievably simple to use and has become a TechRadar favorite. It offers most of the same features as the other top services for less money.
The best BBC iPlayer VPN in 2020:
ExpressVPN is our top pick because it does everything a VPN needs to – and does it extremely well. Most importantly it unblocks iPlayer, but the excellent connection speeds mean you’re not left buffering on HD content. Our US test server reported average speeds of around 200-250Mb, which is more than fast enough.
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.
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.
Get the best BBC iPlayer VPN 2020: 49% off and 3 months FREE
Liking the sound of ExpressVPN as your key to unlocking iPlayer? Well its current offer may just convince you, as it's giving away 3 months extra FREE when you sign up for an annual plan. That's on top of the 49% off the usual price, too.
User-friendly CyberGhost is a simple and attractive VPN which makes accessing BBC iPlayer a breeze wherever you are. With tons of servers worldwide and over 500 in the UK, getting a good connection to watch iPlayer is easy, and it’s speedy enough to get streaming in HD.
A standout feature is the number of devices CyberGhost supports – whether you’re using your PC, iPhone, need a VPN for Amazon Fire Stick, or almost any other device, CyberGhost will keep you locked into iPlayer and secure online. And, no matter what you’re using, getting connected is always straightforward.
While CyberGhost’s live support isn’t the best, it does offer a limited free trial and a generous 45-day money-back guarantee, so it’s certainly worth considering.
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.
Although there are reports of a slightly buggy Android app, 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.
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, while CyberSec technology also brings adblocking, and malware and phishing protection. Not a bad combo.
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 five list.
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.
How to 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:
- Sign up for and install your chosen VPN
- Pick the fastest available server in the UK and connect to it
- Visit the iPlayer website – you’ll need to make an account if you haven’t got one already
- Pick a show to watch and relax!
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.