BBC iPlayer with a VPN
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Watch BBC iPlayer Wherever You Are: A Brief Overview

If you aren’t currently in the UK, you won’t have access to BBC iPlayer. Luckily, there’s an easy way to watch your favorite BBC series and films regardless, wherever you are in the world. This is how you do it:

  1. Subscribe to a good VPN and create an account. We recommend Surfshark as the best BBC iPlayer VPN because of its superior unblocking capabilities.
  2. Download the VPN software onto your device.
  3. Log in to the VPN software.
  4. Choose a VPN server in the United Kingdom and turn on the VPN.
  5. Go to the BBC iPlayer website and create an account – have fun watching!

Surfshark is our top VPN for streaming as it offers high connection speeds and affordable prices. Moreover, thanks to its “NoBorders” feature it can circumvent some of the toughest internet blocks.

For more information on why BBC iPlayer is blocked abroad and which VPNs work best with BBC iPlayer, read our full article below.

BBC iPlayer is only available in the United Kingdom – unless you use a VPN. If you want to watch Doctor Who or Strictly Come Dancing but you’re not connecting from a UK IP address, you’ll find yourself blocked.

But when you change your IP address with a VPN (virtual private network), you can watch BBC iPlayer abroad. In this article, we’ve tested the best BBC iPlayer VPNs, making sure you can access and stream BBC programs wherever you are in the world.

How to Watch BBC iPlayer in the USA Using a VPN

BBC iPlayer logo

To watch BBC iPlayer in the US, you need to show that your location is within the UK, and the best way to do that is with a VPN. Using Surfshark VPN, we’ll take you through the process of changing your IP address to mirror the location of a VPN server in the UK.

Once you’ve got a UK IP address, you can watch BBC Live along with series and movies immediately. You can use a desktop device or go fully mobile with Surfshark’s dedicated apps. Just follow our quick-start guide below.

  1. Get a VPN subscription. Our advice is to choose Surfshark for its unlimited data, strong unblocking capabilities, and fast connections.
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    • Very user-friendly and works with Netflix and torrents
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    Visit Surfshark
  2. Download the Surfshark software on the device you want to use to watch BBC iPlayer. This can be on your Mac or Windows computer but also on your iPhone or Android smartphone.

    Devices supported by Surfshark as shown on their website
  3. Log into the VPN software with the account you created in step 1. In most cases, all you have to do is fill in your username and password.

    Screenshot of Surfshark, website login page
  4. Choose a VPN server in the UK and connect to the VPN. Clicking on the server location is enough. In other cases, you might need to click the “On” button in the VPN software.

    Screenshot of Surfshark VPN, UK server list
  5. Go to the BBC iPlayer website once your VPN is active.

    Screenshot of BBC iPlayer streaming with Surfshark VPN connected to UK server
  6. Create a BBC iPlayer account (this is mandatory). To create an account, you must enter a UK postcode and indicate that you live in the United Kingdom. We recommend using Royal Mail’s postcode finder if you need some help.

    Screenshot of Royal Mail homepage
  7. Click Register” once you have entered all the information.

    Screenshot of BBC iPlayer, registration step
  8. Confirm your email address and click “Continue.”
    Screenshot of BBC iPlayer email confirmation
  9. Stream to your heart’s content and enjoy your favorite shows on BBC iPlayer!

    Screenshot of BBC iPlayer

Most premium VPN providers will have servers in the UK. However, when selecting a VPN service, you must ensure that it has a wide server network in addition to those servers offering consistently fast speeds. Surfshark has several UK servers that provide excellent speeds, hence, offering you a seamless streaming experience.

TV License for BBC iPlayer

In the United Kingdom, the government expects people to have a TV license. This is a nominal fee paid monthly, at around $15 per month. When asked whether you have a TV license, you can confirm that you do – most programming on BBC iPlayer is recorded, and a TV license is only required to watch live UK TV online.

Why Is a VPN Important to Watch BBC iPlayer?

The BBC (British Broadcasting Corporation) has the rights to broadcast certain series and films within the United Kingdom, so if you try to access iPlayer from outside the UK to watch BBC News or British shows, you’ll be blocked. We tried streaming BBC iPlayer from the Netherlands, and this is what we saw:

Screenshot of iPlayer blocked from Netherlands notice

The website looked at our IP address to determine our location. Because we’re not in the UK, we were locked out – but it wasn’t game over. By getting a United Kingdom IP address from Surfshark, we were able to watch BBC iPlayer outside of the country.

Screenshot of iPlayer accessed from UK IP address

This doesn’t just work with BBC iPlayer. There are lots of online platforms, services, and websites that are only accessible from certain locations. Perhaps the country you live in uses censorship to hide away large parts of the internet. In any case, you can unblock geo-restricted websites with a VPN.

What if BBC iPlayer Doesn’t Work With a VPN?

In most cases, you should not encounter any problems getting BBC iPlayer to work with a VPN if you have opted for a top VPN provider like Surfshark, NordVPN, and CyberGhost. However, if you’re still having trouble watching BBC iPlayer from outside the UK with a VPN, check out our tips below.

Infographic showing what if BBC iPlayer doesn't work with a VPN
  • Use a private browser session: Whether through cookies or ad trackers, some services can override your VPN and still determine your true location. Switch to private browsing or Incognito mode to avoid being tracked.
  • Switch VPN servers: Streaming providers often crack down on VPN use. If they know your current VPN server’s IP address comes from a VPN provider, they might block it. Switching servers should help – the best VPN services routinely refresh their server IPs.
  • Contact the VPN’s customer support: Top VPN providers have knowledgeable customer support departments with some offering help 24/7, so if you encounter any issues, they will surely be able to help you.

The Best VPNs to Watch BBC iPlayer From Anywhere in the World

We’ve selected the top three best VPNs for BBC iPlayer after testing dozens of VPNs with BBC iPlayer’s website. These virtual private networks offer uninterrupted data use and streaming and, in our experience, won’t slow down your connection to the BBC’s services.

1. Surfshark: A VPN for BBC iPlayer with powerful unblocking capabilities

Screenshot of Surfshark homepage
  • Affordable subscription plans
  • No data limits
  • NoBorders feature
  • 30-day money-back guarantee

We’ve been using Surfshark to unblock streaming services for years. In our recent Surfshark review, we ranked this VPN service highly, particularly for connection speeds and affordability. There’s rarely a website that Surfshark cannot unblock, thanks in part to its “NoBorders mode,” which can overcome some of the strictest internet blocks by offering you a list of servers that can circumvent restrictions.

BBC iPlayer is free, and you likely don’t want to spend too much on a VPN to watch it. Surfshark is the cheapest premium VPN we’ve found that unblocks BBC iPlayer. There’s also a 30-day money-back guarantee, making it perfect for temporary vacations or limited-runtime TV series.

What’s more, Surfshark has no data limitations. Watching movies or TV shows online can eat up bandwidth quickly – watching something in standard definition takes around 0.3 GB of data per hour. In full HD, this can rise to around 3 GB per hour. None of this matters with this VPN service. And coupled with speed and powerful unblocking capabilities, Surfshark is our best BBC iPlayer VPN.

2. NordVPN: A BBC iPlayer VPN with fast speeds

Screenshot of NordVPN website homepage, with added logo in the corner, May 2023
  • 440 servers in the UK
  • Allows for BBC iPlayer’s download function
  • Fast speeds
  • 30-day money-back guarantee

NordVPN is also a great VPN for BBC iPlayer as it unblocks the streaming provider with ease. It has thousands of servers, with more than 440 in the United Kingdom alone. It’s important that you have a broad UK server network, as server load from other users can slow down connections. If too many people use the same server, you could find BBC iPlayer streams slow to load.

We recommend looking for the following server numbers: 481, 483, 717-720, 745-752, 757-764, 974-977, 1022-1025, 1044-1045. These are NordVPN’s optimized servers for streaming BBC iPlayer.

Moreover, based on our NordVPN tests, we discovered that this provider allows you to use BBC iPlayer’s download feature, saving programs to watch later on your device.

Like Surfshark, NordVPN offers a 30-day money-back guarantee, giving you more than enough time to watch Steeltown Murders or binge all seasons of The Capture.

3. CyberGhost: Inexpensive VPN for BBC iPlayer with dedicated streaming servers

Screenshot of CyberGhost homepage, June 2023
  • 781 UK servers
  • Unlimited data
  • Dedicated streaming servers
  • 45-day money-back guarantee

CyberGhost isn’t quite as cheap as Surfshark, but it’s definitely one of the more affordable premium VPNs for accessing BBC iPlayer and other popular streaming services. It’s also one of the few providers to step away from the industry-standard 30-day refund guarantee, offering a 45-day money-back promise instead.

In fact, based on our CyberGhost tests, we found that this service actually has more VPN servers in the UK than NordVPN and Surfshark combined – 781 in total. Many of these are dedicated streaming servers, making them optimized for unblocking BBC iPlayer and other streaming platforms.

In testing, we were easily able to unblock iPlayer and stream EastEnders without any problems. And like NordVPN and Surfshark, CyberGhost offers unlimited data and fast connection speeds, which are some of the reasons we included it in our best BBC iPlayer VPN list.

How to Watch BBC iPlayer Free

Free streaming service icon

BBC iPlayer is already free, but the best VPNs are not. However, if you’re looking to avoid spending money, we recommend trying out Proton VPN – one of the best free VPN services. As we noted in our Proton VPN review, there’s a lot to like about this software:

  • Most free VPNs limit your data, but Proton VPN does not, so you won’t run out while streaming.
  • Proton VPN keeps no logs, so you’re not compromising privacy by using this free VPN.
  • During our last round of testing, this VPN could unblock BBC iPlayer, Netflix, HBO Max, Disney+, and Amazon Prime Video.


Overall, free VPNs aren’t great for streaming. Data and speed limitations can ruin your experience entirely. Premium VPNs are best for uninterrupted viewing.

We didn’t include Proton VPN as our best VPN for BBC iPlayer because it’s a free service. VPNs that are free will frequently have limited connection speeds and data limits. But top providers, like Surfshark, will give you a money-back guarantee, providing you with enough time to catch a lot of programming. And if you’re not happy, you can simply and easily cancel – we’ve done it ourselves, and it’s very easy.

The Best Series on BBC iPlayer

Movie clap and red box of popcorns icon

Now that you’ve got free access to BBC iPlayer, you might be wondering what to watch. Here are some of the best and most recent BBC shows we recommend:

  • Doctor Who: One of the longest-running and most successful sci-fi shows in existence
  • Strictly Come Dancing: A real-life dancing competition not unlike Dancing With the Stars
  • His Dark Materials: A new fantasy show based on the wildly popular books by Phillip Pullman
  • The Capture: A show about deepfake technology that is surprisingly realistic
  • Luther: A hit show about a detective solving crimes, starring Idris Elba
  • Peaky Blinders: A crime and drama series about a gangster family in the 1900s

Of course, BBC iPlayer hosts a league of non-British content as well, and you can use it to watch live television, too. In short, it has more than enough entertainment to fill your evenings. Enjoy!

Final Thoughts: Watch BBC iPlayer With a VPN

Icon representing VPN shield as hologram

Using a BBC iPlayer VPN to watch all this streaming provider has to offer is essential if you are outside the UK. Surfshark works perfectly with BBC iPlayer.

When using Surfshark, you’ll be able to watch all your favorite series, like Eastenders, Masterchef, and Peaky Blinders, on BBC iPlayer. You can even watch them on the dedicated BBC iPlayer app when you install the VPN on your phone.

Other providers, such as NordVPN and CyberGhost, will also let you access BBC iPlayer from abroad. The most important thing is to make sure you get a UK IP address before signing into the BBC website.

For more information on unblocking popular streaming providers from abroad with a VPN, check out the articles below:

Watching BBC iPlayer Abroad: Frequently Asked Questions

Do you have a question about watching BBC iPlayer when you aren’t in the UK? Take a look at our FAQ below and click on a question to see its answer!

How do I watch BBC iPlayer when I’m not in the UK?

To watch BBC iPlayer outside of the UK, you will need a British IP address which a VPN can provide to you. All you have to do is download a VPN like Surfshark to your device,  connect to a British server, and you’ll be able to access BBC iPlayer from anywhere in the world.

Why can’t I watch BBC iPlayer when I’m not in the UK?

BBC only holds the broadcasting rights for the content on BBC iPlayer in the United Kingdom. In other countries, they aren’t allowed to broadcast those series and movies.

If you go to the BBC iPlayer website with a non-British IP-address, you will therefore not get access to the content offered. If you do want access, you’ll have to use a VPN.

Which VPNs will allow me to watch BBC iPlayer?

There are many good VPN providers that can provide access to BBC iPlayer from outside the UK, although only a few manage to do so consistently. In our experience, Surfshark and NordVPN are the best VPN providers for watching BBC iPlayer.

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