It's a well known fact that the Beeb (the BBC) is home to some of the best entertainment across movies, TV shows, and sporting coverage. The best part, of course, is that for people in the UK, it's completely free to watch. When abroad, you may be at a loss due to BBC iPlayer being off limits to anyone outside of the UK. Thankfully a nifty bit of software known as a VPN will ensure you always have access.
Even those that pay a TV licence won't be able to tune into BBC iPlayer while on holiday due to licensing agreements. However, we've rounded-up five of the best BBC iPlayer VPN providers, all of which make easy work of circumventing the blocks put in place on the platform, allowing you to watch UK TV from abroad without issue.
All you need to do once you've got the best VPN for the job installed is connect to a UK server and the VPN will do the rest of the work, rerouting your IP address to make it appear as if you're browsing from your sofa in Great Britain. Without issue, you'll then be able to tune into Frozen Planet II and the upcoming forth season of RuPaul's Drag Race UK.
While VPN providers are not one in the same in their capabilities, you need look no further than our top 5 best BBC iPlayer VPNs below to find the services worthy of the job. Not only can they all unblock iPlayer, but they'll also open the doors to other popular streaming services, boast excellent speeds, and plenty of choice of servers. That's on top of their security and privacy credentials.
Today's top 3 BBC iPlayer VPNs:
1. ExpressVPN - #1 best BBC iPlayer VPN (opens in new tab)
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 extremely easy to use - even for beginners. 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 secure BBC iPlayer VPN (opens in new tab)
One of the biggest providers in the world of VPN, NordVPN makes handiwork of unblocking the BBC's on-demand library, as well as other streaming services and boasts some of the most exceptional security features, too.
3. Surfshark - a cheap VPN for streaming BBC content (opens in new tab)
For those on a budget, Surfshark tops our charts as one of the most affordable VPN that still manages to pack a punch. You'll get plenty of bang for your buck, then, with plans from under $2.50 a month and excellent unblocking prowess.
The best BBC iPlayer VPN in 2022:(opens in new tab)
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 3,000+ 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 to route through the VPN. This is perfect if you’re running apps that are significantly affected by VPN use but still want to use it to watch BBC iPlayer while outside of the UK.
And it's not just BBC iPlayer it can unblock, either. You'll be able to access Netflix country exclusives in the likes of the US, UK, Canada, and Australia, as well as unblocking Disney Plus and Prime Video. In terms of streaming, you'll also want to think about speed. While certainly not the fastest, ExpressVPN more than delivered in our speed tests with above average scores hitting peaks of 420-630Mbps.
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.
(opens in new tab)
NordVPN has long been a great option for watching iPlayer from overseas, thanks to its swift connection speeds, 440+ UK based servers, and great security. NordVPN is also optimized for P2P, so if you’re a keen torrenter it’s a great torrenting VPN, too. Add to that its reputation proceeds it as one of the most well known providers on the market, you can rest assured you're buying into a great bit of kit.
Loaded with plenty of excellent security features, NordVPN boasts an effective kill switch, DNS leak protection and 2048-bit encryption. That leaves the security conscious left to feel safe while streaming from BBC iPlayer with NordVPN - something which it's managed to do with a delightful amount of consistency as of late.
You can also add Netflix, Disney Plus, Prime Video, and other key streaming services to its repertoire of streaming service unblocking. In fact, NordVPN is currently one of the strongest Netflix VPNs, consistently able to access libraries in the US, UK, Canada, Australia, and Japan.
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.
(opens in new tab)
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, including plenty of security features, well above average speeds, and the ability to unblock many streaming services - including BBC iPlayer. On top of that, you'll benefit from unlimited simultaneous connections - all at a wallet-friendly price.
The speed aspect is certainly important when you're looking for the perfect choice for streaming. The good news Surfshark has really stepped it up a notch, soaring above average with peaks of 720-790Mbps, which is a very healthy figure for anyone looking to stream without issue.
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. And with servers based in London, Manchester, Edinburgh, and Glasgow, anyone wanting to unblock BBC iPlayer is covered.
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.
(opens in new tab)
Whether it’s a journey through time and space with the Time Lord in Doctor Who, or cracking up with Kerry and Kurtan in This Country, Proton VPN does just the job in ensuring you can access BBC iPlayer’s extensive library of quintessentially British entertainment no matter where you find yourself. Whether you’re outside of the UK, or in an office or school where access to BBC iPlayer is blocked, hop onto one of Proton’s UK servers and you’ll be able to stream iPlayer as if you were at home.
To add to the experience, Proton VPN offers excellent performance with the introduction of WireGuard. While our last round of testing saw a slight dip, we still see peaks of 360-670Mbps.
Alongside that, it does a great job of unblocking other popular streaming services like Netflix, Disney Plus, Amazon Prime Video, and YouTube. Better still, it's also more recently introduced a dedicated Amazon Fire TV Stick VPN app to its roster of clients. Now it just needs to add Apple TV...
That said, having seen a huge leap across the board, hopefully dedicated clients for these devices won't be far behind, much like its live chat feature, which we've been informed is set to be 24/7 soon. What's more, new users can give its free VPN a whirl to get a taste for its power before paying out.
(opens in new tab)
Offering a network on the larger side, CyberGhost hosts over 7,800 networks across 91 countries, 600+ of which are based across London, Manchester, and Berkshire. Able to unblock BBC iPlayer, there's plenty of servers to choose from on the off-chance the first UK server you connect to doesn't work, allowing you to access UK TV from anywhere with a VPN.
Adding US Netflix, Disney Plus, and Prime Video among a number of streaming services to its unblocking repertoire, CyberGhost also offers consistently fast speeds, which is great news for those keen to use their VPN for streaming. In our latest round of testing, CyberGhost secured a range of 830-850Mbps, putting it just behind some of the fastest VPN, including Hide.me and IPVanish.
There are also plenty of features to make the most of and if you're planning to stream on your smartphone, CyberGhost has exceptional apps for that.
While its support site isn't the best, we found its live chat to be incredibly useful and quick to assist with any of our queries - great news if you happen to run into any problems along the way.
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!
Want more info? You can also check out our guide on how to watch BBC iPlayer from abroad.
What is the best working BBC iPlayer VPN?
Right now, ExpressVPN tops our list (opens in new tab) 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.
Why would I need a VPN for BBC iPlayer?
With more streaming services popping up than we can feasibly subscribe to, the BBC's on-demand platform, BBC iPlayer, is a bit of an anomaly, offering thousands of TV shows and films to stream 100% for free. However, if you find yourself outside of the UK for whatever reason, you're going to need a VPN to bypass the geo-restrictions implemented across the platform's library of content.
Hosting incredible British television like Peaky Blinds and Doctor Who, BBC iPlayer is also the place to watch Sally Rooney adaptations Normal People and Conversations with Friends, and US imports like the 2021 reboot of Gossip Girl. You'll also want an iPlayer VPN to watch Gentleman Jack season 2, RuPaul's Drag Race UK, and The Great British Sewing Bee.
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.