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5 Best VPNs for BBC iPlayer in 2018

If you want to watch BBC iPlayer abroad, you will need a UK IP address. The good news is that a Virtual Private Network (VPN) will let you pretend to be in Britain to watch iPlayer - no matter where you are.

BBC iPlayer VPN

A VPN enables you to unblock BBC iPlayer by encrypting your web traffic and sending it to a server in the UK. This gives you the UK IP address you need to stream BBC online.

Not every VPN works with iPlayer. In fact, the BBC is blocking VPN users from accessing their service. That means you will need some inside knowledge to choose a VPN that works with the streaming service. 

Our experts have reviewed every single VPN that can successfully access iPlayer in search of the very best for the job.

The best VPN for BBC iPlayer

In the table below you will see a list of the best VPNs for iPlayer. 

Editor's Choice 1. From $2.99 / month
BestVPN.com Score 9.8 out of 10
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2. From $6.67 / month
BestVPN.com Score 9.8 out of 10
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3. From $2.75 / month
BestVPN.com Score 9.5 out of 10
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4. From $2.73 / month
BestVPN.com Score 9.5 out of 10
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5. From $4.92 / month
BestVPN.com Score 9.4 out of 10
Visit Site   Read Review

A few years ago, many VPNs unblocked BBC iPlayer, but times have changed. This is because the BBC has embarked on a vigorous campaign to block VPNs. Staying one step ahead of the BBC to bypass iPlayer’s firewall is costly and time consuming, and most VPNs have given up.

Luckily, some VPN providers understand that there are people (like you) who want to watch a service abroad. The VPN services in the table above stand head and shoulders above alternative services that work. So, why are they the best?

Firstly, they have proven that they can consistently stay ahead of the BBC’s VPN blocking efforts and bypass the iPlayer proxy error. No downtime, no missing your favorite shows, and no having to constantly ask: “why isn’t it working?”

Next, these VPNs have shown that they can provide access to fast servers in the UK that permit HD streaming without any buffering. This is essential, because there is nothing more annoying that an iPlayer VPN that “works,” but is always frozen.

Top 5 iPlayer VPN services

We regularly test the providers in our best VPN for BBC iPlayer list to make sure that the services are still working.

Despite this, each VPN differs slightly. So it is well worth looking at the in-depth comparisons below before making your final decision.

1. NordVPN

BestVPN.com Score 9.8 out of 10
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Editor's Choice

NordVPN is one of our top choices for watching BBC iPlayer because it offers fantastic value for money! Speeds are fast enough to let you enjoy HD shows and you can use the VPN on an incredible six devices at the same time. The software is streamlined and intuitive, which means you can be streaming your favorite content in seconds. With clients available on all popular platforms, NordVPN is a cost-effective solution for streaming BBC iPlayer on the go.

VPN Stats

  • Server Locations 62
  • Average Speed 59.23 Mbit/s
  • Simultaneous Connections 6
  • Jurisdiction Panama

Likes

  • Based in Panama (great for privacy)
  • Six simultaneous connections
  • Works with US Netflix and BBC iPlayer
  • Dedicated IPs (cost extra)

Dislikes

  • IPv6 leak in macOS IKEv2 app

Features

Port forwarding
Total servers 4568
Countries 62
Simultaneous connections 6
Bare metal or virtual servers Combination
Router Support
Routers Supported Raspberry Pi Tomato Synology DD-WRT AsusTOR AsusWRT AsusWRT-Merlin pfsense D-Link Linksys TP-Link OpenWRT belkin DrayTek Qnap Arris TOTOLink Mikrotik Huawei Tenda WD MikroTik IPFire TRENDnet EdgeRouter GLiNet NetDuma Fortinet Sabai ubee
Allows torrenting
Port selection

Supported platforms

Windows
MacOS
iOS
Android
Linux
Windows Phone

Protocols offered

PPTP
L2TP/IPsec
SSTP
IKEv2
OpenVPN

Privacy

Jurisdiction Panama
Logs Traffic
Logs Connections
Logs Timestamps
Logs Bandwidth
Logs IP Address
Logs Aggregated or Anonymized Data
Website tracking? Google Analytics

Performance

BestVPN.com SpeedTest (max/burst) 229.99
BestVPN.com SpeedTest (average) 59.23
Data limits
Bandwidth limits
IPv4 leak detected?
IPv6 leak detected?
WebRTC leak detected?

Payment

Visa/MasterCard
Amex
Cryptocurrency

Security

Kill Switch
Obfuscation (stealth)
Self-hosted/Proxied DNS Yes
IPv4 leak protection
IPv6 leak protection
WebRTC leak protection

Support

Free trial Yes - 3 Days
24-hour support
Live chat support
Money-back Guarantee
Money back guarantee length 30

Unblocks:

Netflix
iPlayer

2. ExpressVPN

BestVPN.com Score 9.8 out of 10
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ExpressVPN takes our top spot thanks to its blazing download speeds, reliable servers and ability to consistently unblock the world's most in demand content. The VPN can be used on three devices simultaneously and while this isn't as many as some other providers, is usually more than adequate for most streaming needs. When it comes to privacy, ExpressVPN leads the pack thanks to military grade encryption, and a watertight privacy policy.

VPN Stats

  • Server Locations 94
  • Average Speed 77.14 Mbit/s
  • Simultaneous Connections 3
  • Jurisdiction British Virgin Islands

Likes

  • Super fast - great for streaming!
  • Very secure 256-bit encryption
  • Unlimited downloading
  • 30-day money-back guarantee
  • 5* 24/7 customer support
  • Special Deal: Save 49% Today

Dislikes

  • IPv6 WebRTC leaks (fixed by browser extension)
  • A little pricey
  • BVI jurisdiction is not ideal

Features

Port forwarding
Total servers 2000
Countries 94
Simultaneous connections 3
Bare metal or virtual servers A combination
Router Support
Routers Supported Asus RT-AC56R, Asus RT-AC56S, Asus RT-AC56U, Asus RT-AC68U, Asus RT-AC87U, Linksys EA6200, Linksys WRT1200AC, Linksys WRT1900AC 13J1, Linksys WRT1900AC 13J2, Linksys WRT1900ACS, Linksys WRT3200ACM, Netgear R6300v2, Netgear Nighthawk R7000
Allows torrenting
Port selection

Supported platforms

Windows
MacOS
iOS
Android
Linux
Windows Phone

Protocols offered

PPTP
L2TP/IPsec
SSTP
IKEv2
OpenVPN

Privacy

Jurisdiction British Virgin Islands
Logs Traffic
Logs Connections
Logs Timestamps
Logs Bandwidth
Logs IP Address
Logs Aggregated or Anonymized Data
Website tracking? N/A

Performance

BestVPN.com SpeedTest (max/burst) 178.05
BestVPN.com SpeedTest (average) 77.14
Data limits
Bandwidth limits
IPv6 leak detected?
WebRTC leak detected?

Payment

Visa/MasterCard
Amex
Cryptocurrency

Security

Kill Switch
Obfuscation (stealth)
Self-hosted/Proxied DNS Yes
IPv4 leak protection
IPv6 leak protection
WebRTC leak protection

Support

Free trial No
24-hour support
Live chat support
Money-back Guarantee
Money back guarantee length 30

Unblocks:

Netflix
iPlayer

3. CyberGhost

BestVPN.com Score 9.5 out of 10
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Cyberghost has taken the industry by storm in a short space of time by offering a great product at a great price. Cyberghost is a superb VPN for unblocking UK content. It has a choice of fast UK servers that are capable of unblocking iPlayer and are up to the task of streaming in HD. Software is available for all major platforms and is very easy to and the VPN is secure thanks to military-grade encryption. With a 30-day money back guarantee, an attractive price and a robust offering, Cyberghost is certainly one worth considering.

VPN Stats

  • Server Locations 60
  • Average Speed 61.97 Mbit/s
  • Simultaneous Connections 7
  • Jurisdiction Romania

Likes

  • Private: Strong no logs policy
  • 45-day money-back guarantee
  • Based in Romania so no government spying!
  • Good looking and easy-to-use software: Seven simultaneous connections
  • Friendly Live Chat support
  • Peer-to-peer (P2P) torrenting allowed

Dislikes

  • Not much

Features

Port forwarding
Total servers 2750
Countries 60
Simultaneous connections 7
Bare metal or virtual servers A combination
Router Support
Routers Supported Any router with VPN capabilities
Allows torrenting
Port selection

Supported platforms

Windows
MacOS
Android
Linux
Windows Phone

Protocols offered

PPTP
L2TP/IPsec
SSTP
IKEv2
OpenVPN

Privacy

Jurisdiction Romania
Logs Traffic
Logs Connections
Logs Timestamps
Logs Bandwidth
Logs IP Address
Logs Aggregated or Anonymized Data
Website tracking? Trackers used

Performance

BestVPN.com SpeedTest (max/burst) 132.01
BestVPN.com SpeedTest (average) 61.97
Data limits
Bandwidth limits
IPv4 leak detected?
IPv6 leak detected?
WebRTC leak detected?

Payment

Visa/MasterCard
Amex
Cryptocurrency

Security

Kill Switch
Obfuscation (stealth)
Self-hosted/Proxied DNS Yes
IPv4 leak protection
IPv6 leak protection
WebRTC leak protection

Support

Free trial No
24-hour support
Live chat support
Money-back Guarantee
Money back guarantee length 45

Unblocks:

Netflix
iPlayer

4. PrivateVPN

BestVPN.com Score 9.5 out of 10
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PrivateVPN is a regularly praised as great all-rounder. The provider has proven itself to be good at unblock a wide range of content, including iPlayer. It is fast, efficient and offers an extremely reliable service. It is a pleasure to use the software, and has all the important security features you would hope for. Private has a robust zero logs policy and, considering polished the product is, comes in at a really attractive price. Why not make use of the 30-day money-back guarantee and see what all the fuss is about.

VPN Stats

  • Server Locations 60
  • Average Speed 58.97 Mbit/s
  • Simultaneous Connections 6
  • Jurisdiction Sweden

Likes

  • 30-day money back guarantee
  • Servers in 56 countries
  • Strong OpenVPN encryption
  • Zero logs
  • 24/7 customer support

Dislikes

  • Not much

Features

Port forwarding
Total servers 100
Countries 60
Simultaneous connections 6
Bare metal or virtual servers A combination
Router Support
Allows torrenting
Port selection

Supported platforms

Windows
MacOS
iOS
Android
Linux
Windows Phone

Protocols offered

PPTP
L2TP/IPsec
SSTP
IKEv2
OpenVPN
Other protocols IPSec, Shadowsocks

Privacy

Jurisdiction Sweden
Logs Traffic
Logs Connections
Logs Timestamps
Logs Bandwidth
Logs IP Address
Logs Aggregated or Anonymized Data
Website tracking? Google Analytics

Performance

BestVPN.com SpeedTest (max/burst) 327.86
BestVPN.com SpeedTest (average) 58.97
Data limits
Bandwidth limits
IPv4 leak detected?
IPv6 leak detected?
WebRTC leak detected?

Payment

Visa/MasterCard
Amex
Cryptocurrency

Security

Kill Switch
Obfuscation (stealth)
Self-hosted/Proxied DNS Proxy
IPv4 leak protection
IPv6 leak protection
WebRTC leak protection

Support

Free trial Yes - 7 days
24-hour support
Live chat support
Money-back Guarantee
Money back guarantee length 30

Unblocks:

Netflix
iPlayer

5. VPNArea

BestVPN.com Score 9.4 out of 10
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VPNArea is an excellent Bulgarian provider that is a superb choice for streaming. It is a relatively cheap service when purchased yearly, and it will let you stream not only the UK's iPlayer - but many other channels from around the globe. VPNArea has solid software for all platforms, and they all come fully equipped with what you need to keep your data private. DNS leak protection and a killswitch are included, and the VPN keeps zero logs. Finally, and most importantly, VPNArea provides reliable and fast connections for streaming without buffering. A great allrounder.

VPN Stats

  • Server Locations 70
  • Average Speed 57.08 Mbit/s
  • Simultaneous Connections 6
  • Jurisdiction Bulgaria

Likes

  • Kill switch included
  • Dedicated IP available
  • Unblock Netflix US and iPlayer
  • Good security features
  • Good customer service

Dislikes

  • US speeds can be slow
  • Hosted in Switzerland

Features

Port forwarding
Total servers 200
Countries 70
Simultaneous connections 6
Bare metal or virtual servers A combination
Router Support
Routers Supported ASUS GLi DD-WRT
Allows torrenting
Port selection

Supported platforms

Windows
MacOS
iOS
Android
Linux
Windows Phone

Protocols offered

PPTP
L2TP/IPsec
SSTP
IKEv2
OpenVPN
Other protocols Double OpenVPN

Privacy

Jurisdiction Bulgaria
Logs Traffic
Logs Connections
Logs Timestamps
Logs Bandwidth
Logs IP Address
Logs Aggregated or Anonymized Data
Website tracking? Google Analytics

Performance

BestVPN.com SpeedTest (average) 57.08
Data limits
Bandwidth limits
IPv4 leak detected?
IPv6 leak detected?
WebRTC leak detected?

Payment

Visa/MasterCard
Amex
Cryptocurrency

Security

Kill Switch
Obfuscation (stealth)
Self-hosted/Proxied DNS Yes
IPv4 leak protection
IPv6 leak protection
WebRTC leak protection

Support

Free trial No
24-hour support
Live chat support
Money-back Guarantee
Money back guarantee length 7

Unblocks:

Netflix
iPlayer
Amazon Prime
Hulu

Why do I need a BBC iPlayer VPN?

A VPN service is an online tool designed to give people digital privacy. VPNs work by encrypting all your data and concealing your real location (your home IP address).

When you connect to a VPN server, you instantly appear to be in a location that you choose. If you select a server in the UK - you get a UK IP address - which lets you stream iPlayer from anywhere in the world.

The thing to remember is that VPNs are a digital privacy tool - not a tool designed to unblock iPlayer. For this reason, many VPNs are happy to provide their users with a UK IP address, however, this doesn't mean that you will be able to unblock iPlayer.

The VPNs in this guide, do both... they unblock iPlayer and provide strong encryption that will protect your privacy (including stopping your ISP from knowing that you unblock geo-restricted content). For more detail about how VPNs work please visit our VPN beginners guide.

Why is my VPN not working for BBC iPlayer?

The BBC does not want people outside of the UK to watch shows that are only licensed for British audiences. Copyright holders sell TV show and film rights to the BBC and the broadcaster is only permitted to air those shows in the UK. Auntie Beeb must work hard to ensure it doesn’t negligently break any of those contracts.

The same goes for original content produced by the BBC - it wants to be able to sell those shows and license them abroad to generate extra revenue. Either way, the BBC’s job is to stop you watching iPlayer outside the United Kingdom.

The BBC knows it is extremely hard to do anything about the actual people who unblock iPlayer. Those people could be anywhere around the globe, and the BBC has no real power in those jurisdictions. For this reason, the BBC concentrates its efforts on blocking VPNs rather than people.

BBC iPlayer VPN block workaround

BBC iPlayer blocks VPNs by monitoring how many people log onto iPlayer from a specific IP address. If too many people are using one IP, the BBC can safely assume that it belongs to a VPN provider and block it, cutting off all users who are connected to that VPN server.

If iPlayer is blocking your VPN, it is possible that there is nothing you can do to make it work. This is because your VPN provider might not even be trying to unblock the service. If this is the case, you will need to cancel your subscription and choose a VPN from this guide.

If you are currently subscribing to a VPN that you are certain unblocks iPlayer, there are a few things you can do:

  1. Contact your provider for advice - Often only specific VPN servers actually work with iPlayer. If one UK VPN server is blocked either try another - or ask customer service to tell you which ones work
  2. Clear your cookies
  3. Update your browser’s geolocation data settings
  4. Flush your DNS cache - For Windows VPN users type “cmd” in your search bar > Open Command Prompt > Type the following command > ipconfig /flushdns. For Mac VPN users please follow Apple’s VPN instructions as it varies on different versions of macOS
  5. Fix DNS leaks
  6. Fix WebRTC leaks
  7. Get a VPN dedicated IP. Some VPNs provide access to dedicated IPs which are reserved for your use only. These often work with iPlayer.

Do you need a TV license to watch iPlayer abroad?

In the UK, people need a TV license to watch BBC channels both online and on their TV. For this reason, every single person that accesses BBC iPlayer should have a TV license.

People living inside the UK can be fined if they watch the BBC (including iPlayer) without paying for a TV license. A lot of people do watch the BBC without a TV license. We'll leave it at that.

How to use a VPN to watch BBC iPlayer

To unblock iPlayer abroad with a VPN follow these steps:

  1. Choose a VPN from this guide and subscribe. We recommend ExpressVPN because it has super fast British servers for streaming that work with iPlayer
  2. Download the VPN software and install it
  3. Connect to a UK server using the VPN software
  4. Navigate to BBC iPlayer website online
  5. Sign up for iPlayer using a burner email address 
  6. Enter a valid UK postcode 
  7. Read the T&Cs and continue if you agree
  8. That is it! You can now watch iPlayer! Remember you will always need to use your VPN to log in to the iPlayer website! Otherwise you will see the iPlayer proxy error:

“BBC iPlayer TV programmes are available to play in the UK only. Find out why. If you are in the UK and see this message please read this advice.”

BBC iPlayer proxy error

Remember: a VPN is not a method for watching iPlayer without a TV license from inside the UK. If you live in the UK and don’t pay for a TV license you could be fined.

VPN services that don’t work with iPlayer

To make your life a bit easier we have decided to include a list of VPNs that do not unblock iPlayer:


The services above don’t unblock iPlayer, even if you connect to their UK servers. This is because the BBC has successfully discovered their IP addresses and blacklisted them.

Other ways to unblock iPlayer

It is possible to unblock iPlayer using a specific BBC iPlayer proxy server. In fact, this is how PureVPN unblocks iPlayer (with an unencrypted proxy extension for Chrome and Firefox). However, it is worth noting that most proxies will not provide the level of privacy that a VPN provides. This means your ISP will know you are accessing iPlayer from overseas (which isn’t ideal).

In addition, the BBC has now blocked the vast majority of proxies, which means that you will find it very hard (probably impossible) to find a free proxy for iPlayer (proxy extension, or proxy website) that works.

FAQs

Written by: Ray Walsh

Ray Walsh is one of BestVPN's resident VPN experts. Ray is currently ranked #1 VPN authority in the world by agilience.com. During his time at BestVPN.com Ray has reviewed some of the world's foremost VPNs. Ray is an advocate for digital privacy, with vast experience writing about the political and social aspects of infosec, cybersec, and data privacy. Find him @newsglug on Twitter.

27 Comments

  1. Cotts
    on August 13, 2018
    Reply

    As a footnote, it might be an idea to increase the scope of this review to all UK TV rather than just the iplayer as I'm sure that anyone who wants to unblock the BBC is also interested in ITV hub, All4, My5, TVcatchup and Sky Go. Unblocking ipayer doesn't necessarily mean the others are also unblocked. For example, PrivateVPN and ExpressVPN both unblock Sky Go whereas NordVPN does not. As previosly stated, having a dedicated server just for the BBC, as well as another for Sky, puts PrivateVPN a step shead of the rest in my opinion. I haven't encountered a single problem unblocking any of the aforementioned UK TV services which I think is fairly unusual these days.

    1. anonymous replied to Cotts
      on October 25, 2018
      Reply

      Warning: CyberGhost tracks their paying subscribers.

  2. Cotts
    on August 12, 2018
    Reply

    Excellent article but in my opinion PRIVATEVPN should be number 1. I have trailed expressvpn, nordvpn and privatevpn for the last month and the best by far is PrivateVPN. I live abroad and am particularly interested in UK TV. Privatevpn works flawlessly with all of the UK services like BBC, all4, sky, itv... They even have a dediicated server for the BBC. Expressvpn was good but expensive and only 3 simultaneous connections. Also, their smartdns didn't work on my smart TV (UnoTelly does so the problem is not my TV). Nord was surprisingly poor considering the praise it gets from you and others. Android app in particular just didn't work consistently with BBC. It worked mostly fine with the iplayer app but hardly at all with the web browser ( despite clearing cache etc) and not at all with the BBC sport app. Lots of UK servers but useless and frustrating. Also, Skygo isn't supportred at all. Full marks for PrivateVPN in my opinion. It does what it says on the tin, quite rare these days.

    1. Dominique replied to Cotts
      on August 22, 2018
      Reply

      Hi Cotts, I wanted to thank you for your suggestion of privatevpn. I, like you have, tried many of the above and as stated by Douglas it is a constant game of cat and mouse. So far I am very satisfied with privatevpn. Well priced and aside from the occasional buffering, works like a charm. Hope privatevpn can keep it up.

  3. Michael
    on July 12, 2018
    Reply

    Hello I use Express VPN but BBCiPlayer is always a step behind and continually blocking the site!

    1. Douglas Crawford replied to Michael
      on July 13, 2018
      Reply

      Hi Micheal, It is a cat and mouse game, but Express usually has at least one server that works with iPlayer.

  4. Frevab
    on July 11, 2018
    Reply

    I cannot stream iPlayer outside UK as BBC recognize I am using VPN. How can I work around this to get it working?

    1. Douglas Crawford replied to Frevab
      on July 12, 2018
      Reply

      Hi Fevab, All the providers listed above should be able to stream iPlayer. If you have problems, contact your provider to see if there are any particular servers it suggests you use.

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