Best VPNs for BBC iPlayer in 2021
BBC iPlayer is one of the most popular streaming services in the UK. But unfortunately, if you’re outside the UK, you won’t be able to access it because of geo-blocking. Luckily, a VPN can help you get around this by connecting to a server in the UK and making it appear like you're located there.
We’ve put together a list of our favorite VPNs that aren’t currently blocked by BBC iPlayer. In this guide, we’ll also talk you through how to use a VPN, how to know if you’ve been blocked, and which VPNs will and won’t work. So, read on for everything you need to know.
Best VPNs for BBC iPlayer - our shortlist
- NordVPN - best VPN for BBC iPlayer
- Surfshark - cheapest BBC iPlayer VPN
- VyprVPN - great for streaming and privacy
- Windscribe - feature-rich VPN for BBC iPlayer
- ExpressVPN - great speeds for streaming
Quick guide: how to access BBC iPlayer with a VPN
It’s really easy to use a VPN to bypass the BBC’s region restrictions so you can watch iPlayer. Just follow these simple steps, and you’ll be binge-watching in no time:
- Register for a VPN. We recommend NordVPN, currently available at 72% OFF
- Download and install the software.
- Connect to a server in the UK.
- Go to the BBC iPlayer website or download the BBC iPlayer app.
- Grab a snack and start watching your favorite shows!
Alternatively, you can connect your Wi-Fi router to your VPN. This means you can then watch BBC iPlayer on all your devices, including your smartphone, laptop, tablet, smart TV, or streaming stick.
To find out more, check out our full guide on everything you need to know about unblocking BBC iPlayer.
VPNs for BBC iPlayer - our detailed list
We tested out a huge range of VPNs to find out which ones work best with BBC iPlayer. And we have compiled a list of our five favorites. Let's take a look at them.
- Baseline testing speed: 300 Mbps download/300 Mbps upload
1. NordVPN - Best VPN for BBC iPlayer
|Servers/countries:||5,500+ servers in 59 countries|
|Current deal:||Get NordVPN, now 72% OFF + 3 Months FREE!|
Out of all the VPNs we've tested, NordVPN is the best choice for bypassing geo-restrictions on BBC iPlayer. In fact, NordVPN can unblock region-restricted content on every major streaming service we tried it on, including Amazon Prime Video, Netflix, and Disney Plus.
Thanks to NordLynx, a modified version of WireGuard, NordVPN’s average speed sat at an impressive 249 Mbps. This means that you will not only be able to access pretty much any content you want, but you also shouldn’t experience any buffering.
Elsewhere, NordVPN has more than 5,400 servers in 59 countries, including plenty in the UK. So you will have a wide range of servers to choose from. And it also comes with SmartDNS, which means you can unblock BBC iPlayer even using a device that doesn’t support VPN connections.
Additionally, NordVPN boasts a vast array of security features to keep your privacy intact, your data safe from online hackers and other third parties, and your mind at ease.
For all this, NordVPN is actually very reasonably priced. Its plans start at just $3.30 a month, and they come with a 30-day money-back guarantee.
To find out more, read our full NordVPN review.
- Can unblock any major streaming service with ease
- Provides really fast and reliable speeds
- The most secure VPN we’ve tested
- SmartDNS means you can use it on your device
- Loads of servers from around the world
- Good value for money
- Torrenting isn’t supported on all servers
- Not the cheapest option on our list
2. Surfshark - Cheapest BBC iPlayer VPN
|Based in:||British Virgin Islands|
|Servers/countries:||3,200+ servers in 65 countries|
|Current deal:||Get Surfshark, now 81% OFF!|
Surfshark offers exceptional value for money. Its security features are on a par with the likes of NordVPN and ExpressVPN, but it comes at a lower monthly cost. And crucially, it can bypass the BBC’s geo-restrictions with ease, so you can use it to watch BBC iPlayer from wherever you are in the world. It also works with all the main international streaming services, including YouTube, Hulu, and HBO Now.
You will also find Surfshark one of the fastest VPNs around, with an impressive average speed of 263 Mbps. This is thanks to its use of WireGuard, the cutting-edge new tunneling protocol.
Having 3,200+ servers in over 60 countries, Surfshark comes with unlimited simultaneous connections, so you and your whole family can use it at the same time. You also get access to live chat customer support.
Surfshark offers an excellent range of security features, including sophisticated encryption, to keep your data secure from online snoopers.
But our favorite thing about Surfshark is the cost, as prices start at just $2.49 a month. Plus, it comes with a 30-day money-back guarantee.
To find out more, read our in-depth Surshark VPN review.
- Great value for money
- Unlimited simultaneous connections included
- Can unblock any streaming service
- Provides really fast speeds for buffer-free streaming
- Excellent security features
- Dedicated Android TV app
- Not independently audited
3. VyprVPN - Great for streaming and privacy
|Servers/countries:||700 servers in 70 countries|
|Current deal:||Get up to 12 months FREE!|
If you’re looking for another cheap alternative to Surfshark, you might want to consider VyprVPN. It can unblock region restrictions on BBC iPlayer, along with every other major streaming service we’ve tested it on. This includes platforms such as DAZN, Amazon Prime Video, and HBO Now.
VyprVPN uses the WireGuard protocol to deliver fast and reliable speeds. We were easily able to use VyprVPN for smooth, buffer-free streaming for BBC iPlayer.
On the flip side, VyprVPN only has just over 700 servers in more than 70 countries worldwide, which is a lot fewer than its competitors. In our experience, this doesn't impact performance, so perhaps it doesn't matter much.
Better still, it uses military-grade AES-256 encryption, along with a kill switch to protect your online information from hackers. And, thanks to the Chameleon 2.0 tunneling protocol, which disguises VPN traffic as regular traffic, it can even be used in countries that restrict the use of VPN, such as China.
VyprVPN is an incredibly cheap option, with prices starting at just $1.67 a month, with a free 30-day money-back guarantee included.
To find out more, read our in-depth VyprVPN review.
- Fantastic value for money on its longer plans
- Chameleon 2.0 tunneling protocol is a great addition
- WireGuard helps to deliver fast and reliable speeds
- Can unblock geo-restricted content on all the major streaming services
- Works well for torrenting
- Only has 700 servers
- No SmartDNS support
4. Windscribe - feature-rich VPN for BBC iPlayer
|Servers/countries:||480 servers in 60 countries|
|Current deal:||Get 55% OFF with 1-year plan!|
If you want an even cheaper VPN provider (in a sense) to help you bypass the BBC’s geo-blocks, Windscribe might be the perfect solution for you. It can unblock the BBC iPlayer with ease and all the other major international streaming services, including Netflix, DAZN, and YouTube.
Unfortunately, it isn’t as fast as the other options on our list, delivering an average speed of 84 Mbps. But, it should still be able to provide relatively smooth streaming.
Windscribe has fewer servers, offering just over 480 servers in 63 countries. However, it does come with an Android TV app - helpful if you want to use it to stream content from around the world.
This VPN does offer some decent security features to protect your online information. But it’s based in Canada, which isn’t a very privacy-friendly country.
On a more positive note, Windscribe comes with unlimited simultaneous connections, so you can use it on as many devices as you like. And even better, it comes with live chat customer support.
For all this, Windscribe is an excellent value for money. Aside from the free plan, prices for a single server start at just $1 a month - this could be great if you want a VPN specifically for BBC iPlayer.
If you want to find out more, take a look at our in-depth Windscribe VPN review.
- Really cheap
- Freemium version is pretty good
- Some plans come with unlimited simultaneous connections
- Works well at unblocking international content
- Malware and ad blockers are really helpful
- Much slower speeds than its competitors
- Based in a country that isn’t very privacy-friendly
5. ExpressVPN - Great speeds for streaming
|Based in:||British Virgin Islands|
|Servers/countries:||3,000 servers in 94 countries|
|Current deal:||Get ExpressVPN, now 35% OFF!|
Although ExpressVPN is a lot more expensive than some of the options on this list, it’s definitely worth taking a look at all it has to offer. For one thing, it’s great at unblocking the geo-restrictions on BBC iPlayer, as well as HBO Now, Disney Plus, and Amazon Prime Video.
Better still, it delivers very fast speeds, averaging at 226 Mbps. ExpressVPN has its own Lightway protocol, which delivers these awesome speeds consistently across their various apps. And the service comes with SmartDNS (MediaStreamer), so you can use it to watch BBC iPlayer wherever you are, even if your device doesn’t support VPN connections.
ExpressVPN offers more than 3,000 servers in 94 countries, giving you a huge number of options to choose from. And it gives up to 5 simultaneous connections, so you can use it on more than one device.
If you’re concerned about online privacy, you’ll like that ExpressVPN delivers military-grade encryption to keep your data secure.
ExpressVPN is still a lot more expensive than a lot of its competitors, even on its longer plans. Its prices start from $8.32 a month, but it does come with a 30-day money-back guarantee, so you can try it out before committing.
To find out more, check out our in-depth ExpressVPN review.
- Excellent speeds thanks to its Lightway protocol
- Can unblock pretty much any region-restricted content
- Great security features
- SmartDNS works really well
- Support for split tunneling
- Very expensive, even with a long-term commitment
- Occasionally lost connection during our tests
How we selected and tested these VPNs
When selecting our favorite VPNs for watching BBC iPlayer, we made sure we considered all of the following criteria:
- Good for streaming: Of course, the most important thing for this list was to make sure that all the VPNs included can unblock geo-restrictions on BBC iPlayer. But if you’re choosing a VPN for this reason, it’s convenient to have one that can also unblock content on other streaming services. So we tested all of these VPNs on a variety of popular services, including Netflix, YouTube, and Amazon Prime Video.
- Speed: You’ll want a VPN that offers fast and reliable speeds. This will make sure you avoid any annoying buffering while you’re binge-watching.
- Customer support: If you do have any issues with unblocking BBC iPlayer, it’s important to have access to some form of customer support. So we made sure we only included options that have live chat available to its customers.
- Price: As with any subscription, price is always a big consideration when comparing services.
- Security: Even if you just want a VPN so you can access BBC iPlayer from abroad, it’s essential to make sure that it’s able to protect your online information. So we have only included VPNs that offer a range of robust security features.
How to choose the best VPN for BBC iPlayer
If you’re looking for a VPN that will be able to successfully bypass the BBC’s geo-restrictions, you’ll need to look for one that has plenty of UK servers to choose from. By connecting to a server in the UK, you should be able to get around these geo-blocks so you can watch BBC content.
BBC iPlayer does block VPNs, so not all of them work. We have included a list below of VPNs to avoid because they’ve been blocked. We have also pulled together a list of our favorite VPNs that work with BBC iPlayer above - these are a good place to start.
And, of course, there are lots of other helpful online reviews out there. Make sure you read ones that have been written by VPN experts who have tested out the VPNs for themselves.
If all else fails, most VPNs come with a 30-day money-back guarantee. This will let you try it out for yourself to see if it works before committing to a long-term payment.
Does BBC iPlayer detect VPN providers?
Yes, BBC iPlayer works hard to actively block VPN connections. If your VPN provider isn’t able to bypass iPlayer’s region restrictions, you will see this text at the top of the page:
BBC iPlayer only works in the UK. Sorry, it’s due to rights issues.
All you’ll then be able to do is scroll through the site and see what kind of content the BBC has to offer, which isn’t all that helpful.
These are the reasons why your VPN might be getting blocked by BBC iPlayer:
- BBC iPlayer can blacklist VPN services. It does this by compiling lists of IP ranges that belong to VPN providers and blocks them from accessing its content.
- It can detect unusual activity. BBC iPlayer can also identify if too many people are using an IP address at the same time. For example, if there are hundreds of users trying to access the iPlayer from the same IP address, those users are probably using a VPN. BBC iPlayer will then ban that IP address.
- DNS leaks. In the unlikely event that your VPN leaks your real location to BBC iPlayer, it will block you from accessing its content.
VPNs that do not work with BBC iPlayer
As we’ve discussed, BBC iPlayer is getting better at blocking VPN users from bypassing its geo-blocks so they can access its content from outside the UK.
We’ve tested out a lot of VPNs, and we have found that BBC iPlayer has currently blocked these ones:
Please note: this list is correct at the time of writing.
However, it’s important to note that iPlayer is getting better all the time at blocking VPNs. So there may be a lot more VPNs than this that have now been blocked. On the flip side, because VPN providers are also becoming more sophisticated, it’s perfectly possible that some of the VPNs on this list can now successfully access BBC iPlayer from outside the UK.
What can I watch on BBC iPlayer?
BBC iPlayer has loads of fantastic content on offer, with everything from award-winning dramas, comedies, and soap operas, to sports, news, politics, and even blockbuster movies.
Here’s a list of some of the most popular content you can watch on BBC iPlayer right now:
Bob the Builder, Citizen Kane, Death in Paradise, Doctor Who, Dragon's Den, Eastenders, Early Man, Fawlty Towers, Gavin & Stacey, Good Trouble, Gravity, I May Destroy you, Life on Mars, Line of Duty, Keeping Faith, Killing Eve, Masterchef, Miranda, Molly's Game, Normal People, Not Going Out, Our Girl, Peaky Blinders, Pretty Little Liars, RuPaul's Drag Race, Sherlock, Silent Witness, Small Axe, Snowfall, Spotlight, Stan & Ollie, Strike, The Missing, Roadkill, The Royal Family, The Salisbury Poisonings, The Terror, The Watch, Time, Traces, Vicar of Dibley, Yesterday, Viceroy's House
Can I use a free VPN to unblock BBC iPlayer?
Most free VPNs have been blocked by BBC iPlayer and most other international streaming services. This is because free VPNs don’t tend to rotate their IP addresses, which makes it a lot easier for streaming services to identify them as VPNs.
Even if you do manage to use a free VPN to successfully access BBC iPlayer, we certainly don’t recommend it for security reasons. After all, free VPN providers usually make money by collecting your data and selling it to third parties.
Free VPNs are normally very slow, too, so you should expect a lot of buffering if you do manage to use it to watch BBC iPlayer.
If you do want to use a free VPN, however, you’d be better off trying a freemium service, which is a free version of a reputable, paid-for VPN. As you’d expect, they don’t offer as much functionality as the paid-for versions, but they should be a lot safer and more reliable than a free VPN provider. They also usually come with a data cap, so you might not be able to use it to watch that much content.
If you want to try one out, we’d recommend Windscribe’s freemium service that comes with a monthly data cap of 10GB. Or, if you want one that doesn’t come with a data cap, we’d suggest trying ProtonVPN or Atlas.
If you want to watch BBC iPlayer from outside the UK, you’ll need to use a really good VPN that hasn’t been blocked by the BBC. Unfortunately, streaming services are getting better at detecting VPNs, so it’s vital to find one that can unblock the content you want before you commit to a long-term payment plan.
Luckily, there are lots of VPNs out there that can do this for you, including NordVPN, VyprVPN, and Surfshark.
A good VPN makes it possible for you to access all your favorite content from wherever you are in the world. And it can also encrypt your data, so it will remain safe from cybercriminals, government agencies, and other third parties.
Has this article answered all your burning questions about choosing a VPN for BBC iPlayer? Let us know in the comments below!
More VPN guides from CyberNews:
Best VPNs for Netflix: unblock the US library & more
Best VPNs for Hulu: secure streaming in 2021
Is NordVPN good for BBC iPlayer?
Yes, NordVPN is a great choice for watching BBC iPlayer. It is constantly hard at work to ensure that it is able to bypass the BBC’s region restrictions. This means that you can use NordVPN to watch iPlayer, along with other streaming services, from wherever you are in the world.
How do I unblock BBC iPlayer outside the UK?
All you need to unblock BBC iPlayer from outside the UK is a reliable VPN that has plenty of UK servers to choose from. The BBC is getting better at identifying and blocking VPNs, so we recommend choosing one on our list earlier in this article, such as NordVPN, Surfshark, or ExpressVPN.
How does BBC iPlayer know I'm using a VPN?
BBC iPlayer constantly monitors for VPN traffic to identify and block IP addresses that are linked to VPNs. If you’re having problems unblocking iPlayer with your VPN, try connecting to a different server in the UK.