BBC iPlayer is home to a whole treasure trove of beautifully British entertainment - but if you find yourself outside of the UK, you'll be unable to access it due to geo-restrictions. Thankfully, the best VPN will come in handy for dalliances with the Time Lord in Doctor Who, or streaming the latest Sally Rooney adaptation, Conversations with Friends, no matter where you are. All you need is the best BBC iPlayer VPN to ensure you can unblock the 100% free streaming service.
Admittedly, privacy and security is at the forefront of a VPNs primary purpose. However, its ability to unblock streaming services and other online content is perhaps one of its most exciting functionalities, meaning you can watch the final season of Peaky Blinders without having to pay a penny - or wait until its international arrival on Netflix.
As well as its ability to unblock iPlayer, you'll also be looking for great clients and competitive speeds from your best BBC iPlayer VPN. Luckily we've rounded up our top five so you don't have to. Better still, all of these providers also unblock some of the other biggest streaming services, too.
1. ExpressVPN - the overarching best BBC iPlayer VPN
ExpressVPN hits the top of the list time and time again - that's because it truly is the best VPN. In this case, it also does the job of unblocking iPlayer around the globe, as well as offering offering a superb interface, an array of excellent security features, competent speeds. Better still, you can try it out with a 30-day all your money back guarantee.
2. Surfshark – excellent streaming VPN for those on a budget
Surfshark just goes to show that you don’t need to spend a fortune for a feature-packed BBC iPlayer VPN service. Starting at just $2.50/£2 per month, it provides unlimited connections, 3,200 VPN servers, fast speeds, the ability to unblock BBC iPlayer and other streaming platforms, alongside impressive security and privacy, plus 24/7 support.
3. NordVPN – the best BBC iPlayer VPN
NordVPN is not only a household name, but it lives up to its reputation thanks to a large global server network, fast speeds, user-friendly apps, access to major streaming services like BBC iPlayer, excellent security features, and lots more.
The best BBC iPlayer VPN services in 2023:
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Once again, ExpressVPN ends up on top. The only VPN awarded a full 5 star rating, ExpressVPN is the best at what it does across the board, its only downfall being that it's on the pricier side.
That said, you can benefit from a risk free trial with its 30-day money back guarantee. The fact that it also adds the ability to unblock BBC iPlayer to its repertoire makes it the top choice for a BBC iPlayer VPN.
With over 3,000 severs across 160 locations, ExpressVPN makes jumping over geo-restriction hurdles easy with the ability to access a working server in a number of countries around the world.
Able to unblock the likes of Netflix, Prime Video, and Disney Plus, too, customers can enjoy extensive bingeing. Better still, in our speed tests it had averages of 420-630Mbps. Though not as fast as its fellow competition, you certainly won't fall victim to the dreaded buffering screen anytime soon.
On top of being the best BBC iPlayer VPN, ExpressVPN also boasts an exceptional user interface that is both straight forward to use and clean in design, making it a smooth experience even for newbies to VPN. This means benefitting from its boatload of features is exceptionally easy, able to breeze through the likes of its split tunnelling feature, which allows you run apps simultaneously with one connected to the VPN, while another could be turned off, or on another server.
Surfshark is a well-known and reputable VPN provider that won’t break the bank. However, it’s also one of the best BBC iPlayer VPN services available, no matter where you're based.
Boasting 3,200 VPN servers globally across 65 countries (up from 60), many of which are located in the UK across London, Manchester, and Glasgow. This is great news for accessing BBC iPlayer no matter where you are, as well as other services like Amazon Prime Video and Disney Plus. Surfshark is also excellent if you're after a Netflix VPN, able to gain access to its libraries in the US, UK, Canada, Australia, and Japan.
On top of an excellent unblocking track-record, Surfshark has also really gone in with the big guns when it comes to its performance. Thanks to WireGuard, you can achieve peaks of 720-790Mbps, which is more than fast enough to enjoy great streaming on BBC iPlayer.
Unlike NordVPN and many other providers, Surfshark enables users to install its VPN apps on an unlimited number of devices, which means you can cover just about every device you own, and then share your plan with those you live with, too. It also offers apps for Android, iOS, Windows, Mac, Linux, and many other platforms.
Another excellent feature offered by Surfshark is CleanWeb, which offers protection from unwanted adverts, web trackers, malware, and phishing. Other features include a no-logging policy, a built-in kill switch, private DNS and leak protection, a camouflage mode, 256-bit encryption, and various protocols.
In all honesty, there isn't a whole lot between NordVPN and ExpressVPN, so if you're looking for something a touch more affordable, NordVPN is a fantastic option and potentially a name you'll be more aware of.
Offering exceptional security features, including a dedicated kill switch (something ExpressVPN doesn't have), DNS leak protection, and 2048-bit encryption, NordVPN is also an incredible performer, too.
Benefitting from its very own version of WireGuard, NordLynx, NordVPN had an incredible set of speeds in our testing with averages of 730-760Mbps. A slight drop since our last tests, these are still exceptionally fast speeds from NordVPN, ticking the boxes for a rapid and consistent performance.
Admittedly its interface can be a bit clunky and awkward to use at times, but this may simply come down to personal preference. That said, as well as unblocking other big streaming services alongside BBC iPlayer like Netflix (in the US, UK, Canada, Australia, and Japan), it also comes with a wealth of amazing features and performance stats that put this in our top three best BBC iPlayer VPNs.
ProtonVPN is more than capable when it comes to getting your fix of the latest BBC productions. It's proven to be an excellent one for streaming for a number of reasons, including being able to consistently unblock streaming platforms (which seems like a good place to start when it comes to a BBC iPlayer VPN).
As well as BBC iPlayer, it was able to unblock Disney Plus and Amazon Prime Video. While it's been taken over by the likes of NordVPN and Surfshark in terms of Netflix access, ProtonVPN still maintains its stronghold on Netflix in the US, UK, Canada, and, for the most part, Australia.
A speedy performance also goes hand-in-hand when it comes to watching content online. We were impressed with both Proton's WireGuard and OpenVPN speeds, hitting above average figures of 360-670Mbps. While lower lows than we've seen previously, its peaks still impress and, whatever end of the spectrum your connection is, it'll be competent enough to stream and then some.
Alongside BBC iPlayer and Netflix, it also unblocks Amazon Prime Video and Disney Plus, making this a superb choice for keen bingers. What's more, its apps are plentiful across operating systems, and it's straight forward to use, too. Note that you will need its more expensive Plus plan to benefit from streaming service unblocking and any other premium features.
Seeing a boost to its network, now with 1,800+ servers across over 63 countries, ProtonVPN seems to be going from strength-to-strength, and is a more than capable BBC iPlayer VPN.
CyberGhost is worthy of its place on our best BBC iPlayer VPN for a number of reasons. It's fast (in fact, it's the fastest VPN on this list), it unblocks BBC iPlayer, and it's got a big network of servers spaced out across the globe. What more could you want from a service?
Of course, it ticks the all-important box of unblocking BBC iPlayer with its 600+ servers based in the UK across London, Berkshire, and Manchester. It also passed our tests and unblocked Amazon Prime Video and Disney Plus. While it could unblock US Netflix exclusives, it's ability to gain access to overseas Netflix libraries stopped there - though it's fair to say many VPNs are struggling with Netflix now.
Still, if you're in want of a BBC iPlayer VPN, it's got you covered. Not least because of its impressive performance in our speed tests. In fact, this time around CyberGhost comes in not far behind top performers like TorGuard (950Mbps) and Hide.me (900Mbps), peaking with averages of 830-850Mbps with its WireGuard protocol.
The reason it finds itself at #5 in our line-up rather than further up, is in part due to its fiddly device limitations. While it offers seven simultaneous connections, which is more than some, in order to stretch that across devices you must manually unregister each individual device. It's also well overdue a security audit, and we don't love that we're not notified when CyberGhost connects and disconnects, leaving us potentially vulnerable.
That said, it is a powerful provider with great apps and plenty of features. It also does one better than its competitors, offering a 45-day money-back guarantee period - that bit longer than the standard 30-days.
What is the best VPN for BBC iPlayer?
Ticking all the boxes for the best BBC iPlayer VPN is ExpressVPN. Not only does it expertly unblock iPlayer when you're outside of the country without too much hassle, it offers over 3,000 servers dotted across the world and the kind of speeds that mean no lag - music to all our ears and our bingeing hearts, too.
Of course, there are also another four recommendations from us depending on what you want from your VPN beyond simply being able to access iPlayer outside of the UK. For the true bingers, you'll want to ensure it successfully unblocks your preferred streaming services, like Netflix.
For some, ExpressVPN won't be the top choice either with its limitation on connections. For those who want one VPN account for not only all their own personal devices, but to share across their household, the likes of Surfshark unlimited connections. This means simultaneous connections across any number of devices and across all servers.
How do I bypass BBC iPlayer restrictions?
Put simply, a VPN. For those who are less familiar with the tool, however, allow us to better explain how the best BBC iPlayer VPN actually works in dismantling geo-restrictions implemented on BBC iPlayer content.
Those looking to watch any TV shows or movies on iPlayer outside of the UK will be met with a message stating: BBC iPlayer only works in the UK. Sorry, it’s due to rights issues.
However, a VPN's basic function is to make your connection more secure and private. It does this by altering your IP address. IP addresses identify where you are and even the device you're using to browse on. When using a VPN, though, you'll be able to hop on a server, whether within your own country or another altogether. For those abroad, you can select a server within the UK and unlock the doors of iPlayer so you can enjoy entertainment as if you were at home on the couch.
Simply find one that works - any of our top five recommendations will more than do the job - and catch up on incredible entertainment straight from the BBC.
How do I watch iPlayer abroad for free?
Watching BBC iPlayer abroad for free is easy when using a VPN. Simply download the provider of your choice and connect to a server within the UK to access all iPlayer's content, including TV boxsets and movies.
It's worth noting, though, any of BBC's content is not strictly free. In the UK you require a TV license to watch BBC content, whether broadcast straight to your TV or online on iPlayer.
Is watching BBC iPlayer abroad illegal?
In the UK you are required to have a TV licence in order to watch any live TV. While this means you can watch on-demand content from the likes of ITV Hub and All4, BBC iPlayer requires you to have a licence to watch any of its TV shows and films online.
As long as you have a licence, then, it's not illegal to watch BBC iPlayer abroad. However, with all content locked to the UK due to licensing agreements, you'll be in need of a BBC iPlayer VPN to circumvent these geo-restrictions and watch UK TV abroad.
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