BBC iPlayer lets you stream popular TV shows like Killing Eve, Peaky Blinders, and Poldark online, but only if you’re in the UK. This service, like many others, is region-locked. Additionally, it has particularly strict VPN-detection features, meaning most VPNs can’t unblock BBC iPlayer abroad. If you try, you’ll see one of two errors:
“BBC iPlayer only works in the UK. Sorry, it’s due to rights issues” or “This content is not available in your location” or “This content doesn’t seem to be working”.
Luckily, there are still a few VPNs that can unblock BBC iPlayer. Below, we’ll let you know which services work best, and how to fix any other issues you might encounter when trying to use BBC iPlayer abroad.
Why doesn’t my VPN work with BBC iPlayer?
As one of the UK’s largest broadcasters, the BBC has invested significant amounts of time and money into preventing users in other countries from using their service. As a result, it can be difficult to unblock BBC iPlayer with a VPN.
Here are the potential reasons your VPN doesn’t work with BBC iPlayer:
- The VPN’s servers have been blacklisted by the BBC.
- Your device’s GPS location and IP address location don’t match.
- Your VPN doesn’t have the resources to keep finding workarounds when BBC iPlayer’s geo-blocking is upgraded.
- BBC iPlayer has stored a cookie on your device telling its services that you’re not in the UK.
- Your VPN is using virtual servers and BBC iPlayer can see the server’s actual location.
- Your real IP address is leaking.
- The server you’re using isn’t able to unblock BBC iPlayer.
How to fix VPN problems with BBC iPlayer
Below are the steps you can take to solve the problems above and stream BBC iPlayer live from anywhere. Try using BBC iPlayer after each step to see if it has worked. If not, move on to the next step.
Here’s how to fix your VPN not working with BBC iPlayer:
- Clear your cookies or try a different browser.
- Ask your VPN’s customer support team which server to use, since sometimes only a few can unblock the most popular streaming services.
- Enable leak protection in your VPN’s settings menu to prevent BBC iPlayer from finding out your real location.
- Try watching on a desktop PC instead of a mobile device. This way, GPS location data can’t be cross-referenced with your IP address.
- If none of the above steps helped, it’s likely your VPN doesn’t work with BBC iPlayer. Instead, try using one of the VPNs below.
WANT TO TRY THE TOP BBC VPN RISK FREE?
NordVPN is offering a fully-featured risk-free 30-day trial if you sign up at this page. You can use the VPN rated #1 for BBC iPlayer without restriction for a month. Needless to say, this is great if you're looking to binge British TV shows during a short trip abroad.
There are no hidden terms or conditions—just contact support within 30 days if you decide NordVPN isn't right for you and you'll get a full refund. Start your NordVPN trial here.
How to sign in to BBC iPlayer with a VPN
With the right VPN, it’s easy to watch geo-blocked content abroad. Just follow the steps below to get a UK IP address and stream BBC iPlayer from outside the UK.
Here’s how to use BBC iPlayer with a VPN:
- First, sign up for a suitable VPN. We recommend NordVPN but Surfshark and ExpressVPN are both great options too.
- Download and install the VPN app, taking care to get the appropriate version for your device.
- Connect to one of your VPN’s British servers (ideally in London or another major city).
- Now, create a BBC iPlayer account. You’ll be asked for your postal code, but the BBC doesn’t actually check whether you live there or not, so any valid postal code will work.
- Finally, try playing a video. If it doesn’t start right away, clear your browser’s cookies and cache, then reload the page. Still having trouble? Read on to find out how to fix some of the most common issues VPN users have with BBC iPlayer.
Which VPNs still work with BBC iPlayer?
We’ve found these VPNs to be the most consistent at working with BBC iPlayer:
- NordVPN: Our top choice for streaming BBC iPlayer. Particularly fast, with a no-logs policy and excellent unblocking ability. Comes with a risk-free 30-day money-back guarantee.
- Surfshark: Best budget VPN for iPlayer. Quick and reliable, with a major focus on privacy. Lots of advanced features. Apps for all popular platforms. Connect as many devices as you like.
- ExpressVPN: Great all-rounder. Fast and security-conscious, with servers in 94 countries. Unblocks various popular platforms including Netflix US, ITV Hub, and All 4.
- CyberGhost: CyberGhost is highly versatile and very easy to use. It boasts 700+ British servers, powerful security features, and strong unblocking ability, as well as a 45-day money-back guarantee.
- PrivateVPN: PrivateVPN is a very fast service capable of unblocking BBC iPlayer, Netflix, and ITV Hub without any issues. With a zero-logs policy, advanced security features, and a 30-day money-back guarantee, PrivateVPN is ideal for streaming.
- IPVanish: A fast VPN with servers in the UK that work to watch iPlayer. Apps for all devices. Great speeds thanks to its WireGuard protocol. Allows an unlimited number of connections with a single account.
- AtlasVPN: A fast and reliable VPN that is great for streaming. Servers in 30+ countries, including the UK for iPlayer. Apps for all platforms. Easy to use. Malware filtering built-in.
Note that every VPN is this last has at some point been blocked, for example our second choice service, NordVPN, has had some temporary downtime with BBC iPlayer at the time of writing, despite stellar past performance. We’ve listed them in order of preference so suggest starting with the VPN at the top of the list.
Best VPNs for BBC iPlayer – at a glance
We’ve compared the most important features for the top VPNs here. Prefer to read the in-depth reviews? Start with NordVPN – our #1 choice for BBC iPlayer.
No value NordVPN Surfshark ExpressVPN CyberGhost PrivateVPN IPVanish AtlasVPN Website NordVPN.com Surfshark.com ExpressVPN.com Cyberghost.com PrivateVPN.com IPVanish.com atlasvpn.com BBC iPlayer 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Simultaneous Connections 6 Unlimited 5 7 10 Unlimited Unlimited Devices Supported Windows, MacOS, iOS, Android, Linux, Smart TVs, Routers Windows, MacOS, iOS, Android, Linux Windows, MacOS, iOS, Android, Linux Windows, MacOS, Linux (command line), iOS, Android Windows, MacOS, iOS, Android Windows, MacOS, iOS, Android Windows, MacOS, iOS, Android, Linux, Android TV, Amazon Fire TV Avg Speed (UK) 100+ Mbps 100+ Mbps 100+ Mbps 100+ Mbps 57 Mbps 100+ Mbps 100+ Mbps Best deal (per month) $3.29
SAVE up to 63% + 3 months FREE
Get 2 Months FREE with a 2-year plan
SAVE: 49% on the annual plan
SAVE 83% on the 2 year plan + 3 months FREE
SAVE 85% on the three year plan
SAVE 77% on the 2 year plan
SAVE 83% on a 3 year plan
Why do streaming services region-lock their content?
Usually, streaming services don’t own exclusive worldwide broadcast rights for their shows, although there are some exceptions, such as with Netflix Originals. This means that, for instance, the BBC might have the rights to broadcast a particular title in the UK, while another network will show it in the US. As such, major streaming services often use region-locking to stick to their end of the bargain and prevent users in other countries from watching anything.
Of course, region-locking doesn’t help much if your broadcast schedule punishes the viewer for living outside of a certain country. Killing Eve season 2, for instance, had different release dates for the UK and the US, meaning British fans not only had to wait longer, but they also had to avoid spoilers for several months. To prevent having one of the UK’s biggest shows in recent years spoiled for them, many fans resorted to using VPNs to watch new episodes as they were released on American TV.
What can I watch on BBC iPlayer?
BBC iPlayer lets you stream 10 TV channels and one radio station live, for free, online. It also offers a wide range of on-demand content covering everything from news to documentaries to reality TV. Here’s a brief list of some of the content you can watch on BBC iPlayer with a VPN:
- BBC One
- BBC Two
- BBC Three
- BBC Four
- BBC News
- BBC Scotland
- BBC Parliament
- Radio 1
- BBC Alba
- Peaky Blinders
- Our Girl
- Nigella: At My Table
- Dragon’s Den
- Would I Lie to You?
- Keeping Faith
BBC iPlayer VPN FAQ
How does iPlayer know if I am using a VPN?
Like most geo-blocked services, BBC iPlayer determines the user's location by examining their IP address. If it points to anywhere outside of the UK, you simply won't be able to use the service. Luckily, getting around this type of blocking is easy: just connect to a British VPN server to get an IP address from the UK and trick iPlayer into letting you watch from abroad.
Are there any free VPNs that work with iPlayer?
It's possible you'll be able to find a free VPN that unblocks BBC iPlayer, but not likely. This service has poured a huge amount of resources into its VPN-detection systems, to the point that many major providers still can't access it.
Even if you find one that works, however, you're likely to run into other issues. There'll almost certainly be a monthly bandwidth cap preventing you from streaming regularly, for instance, and as most free VPNs tend to have small networks, your connection may not even be fast enough to watch at all.
How does a VPN let me watch iPlayer?
A VPN is a privacy tool that encrypts your internet traffic and conceals your location from the websites you visit. It does this by creating a securely encrypted tunnel for your internet data that runs between your device and the VPN server.
A happy byproduct of how a VPN works to provide online privacy is that you can pretend to be in a different location. By connecting to a VPN server in the UK, you get temporary use of an IP address there. This allows you to visit the BBC iPlayer website to login and stream as if you were physically located in back home in Britain.
Is it legal to watch iPlayer with a VPN?
Using a VPN to access geo-restricted services like iPlayer while on vacation abroad is not considered illegal, and there is no precedent of UK residents being prosecuted for using a VPN to watch iPlayer while traveling abroad.
That said, it is technically in breach of the BBC’s terms of service and you could theoretically have your login revoked. Despite this, the BBC does not spend time blocking accounts or chasing up VPN users.
Instead, it uses technical means to detect IP addresses associated with VPNs and blacklists them to prevent users from being able to watch iPlayer abroad. This is why only a few VPNs work, and why it is essential to use a recommended VPN that knows how to stay one step ahead of those blocks.
The only instance in which using a VPN to access iPlayer could be construed as illegal is if a UK resident attempted to cover up their use of iPlayer to avoid paying their TV license. In this case, the user would be breaking UK law and could be fined. Nothing in this article constitutes legal advice, so please do your own research before using a VPN to bypass geo-restrictions.
Can I still stream in HD on BBC iPlayer with a VPN?
It's true that most VPNs will slow your connection to some degree. However, live HD broadcasts only require download speeds of around 5 Mbps. In other words, unless your internet connection is already extremely slow, you shouldn't have any problems streaming BBC iPlayer with a VPN active.
Will iPlayer block me for using a VPN?
Of course, BBC iPlayer attempts to block all VPN users regardless. Despite this, even if the service realizes you're using a VPN (which it may not), it'll just show you an error and prevent you from watching anything, rather than blocking your account.
How can I tell if my VPN has been blocked by iPlayer?
There are a few ways to tell if your VPN has been blocked by iPlayer. The most common way to check is to play a stream, and if you receive the error "BBC iPlayer only works in the UK. Sorry, it's due to rights issues, " your VPN has been blocked. Alternatively, your VPN may have been detected and blocked if you're unable to connect or if the connection is slow or unreliable.
Do I need a TV license to watch BBC iPlayer?
Yes, you need a TV license to watch BBC iPlayer. This is the case whether you're streaming content live or on-demand. However, the platform doesn't check whether you have a TV license -- there's no verification process in place. It does ask you to provide a UK postcode upon signing up though. Any UK postal code should be accepted.
What devices does BBC iPlayer support?
You can access and stream BBC iPlayer on a wide range of devices. This includes desktop and mobile devices, smart TVs, set-top boxes, and games consoles. Here’s a full list of devices that BBC iPlayer supports:
- Desktop (Windows 7 and above, Mac OS 10.10 and above, and Linux)
- Mobile (Android 5.0 or above, iOS 7 or above, Blackberry 10, Windows 10)
- Browser (Chrome, Firefox, Edge, and Safari)
- Set-top boxes (Fire TV, Android TV, Apple TV, Roku)
Games consoles (Xbox One, Xbox Series X and Series S, PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 5)
Are local TV channels available on iPlayer with a VPN?
Yes, accessing local TV channels on iPlayer with a VPN is possible. However, to do this successfully, you will need to connect your device through a VPN located within the region of the BBC that you wish to view.
However, most BBC programming is available in iPlayer, so you should have no problem viewing what you like, by connecting to an optimized iPlayer server via your VPN.
My vpn connects BBC Iplayer on two devices but recently bought a new Dell laptop and it does not work on this but says I am outside the UK any ideas ?
Hi Joe, it could be that BBC iPlayer is picking up old location data. If so, clearing your cookies and trying again should solve the problem. You might want to try turning off your laptop’s location services too. It’s a good idea to make sure that you’re using the same server on all three devices, just to rule server choice out as a possible cause. Hope this helps, Ian
Yes, this is a running battle. Using a good VPN and ensuring you don’t have a DNS leak is good. Test your connection by ensuring you can use bbc.co.uk and don’t get redirected to bbc.com. For the iPlayer app, make sure your time is set to UK time and that ‘location services’ are off otherwise it’ll stop working after a few minutes. Tricky!
I have been running a VPN (Surfshark) and accessing iPlayer until a couple of months ago when I couldn’t download anymore. I can still watch programs using iPlayer but when I attempt to download one I get a message ‘media selector failed’. I have been in touch with the BBC and have followed their instructions and also downloaded their latest release but to no avail. Do you have any ideas on this?
Hi Jeremy, we’ve had several reports of people struggling to download iPlayer shows while connected to a VPN. The BBC uses particularly strict VPN-detection measures, and unfortunately, there’s no workaround as yet. Thanks, Ian
I’ve started having a problem with iPlayer having sound but picture freezing on playback content. Live tv works fine! Using android app and nord vpn
I have a very strange issue with the iPlayer client. I can download using Nord VPN without a problem on my Windows 10 laptop. I can also stream direct from the BBC to my TV using Chromecast. When I attempt to play a downloaded video the playback never starts, I just have a revolving circle on the client.
Question about BBC I player, Would it work if I took computer device to England and downloaded all the content and then returned to the United States? Also What about connecting with someone in England and they record the shows then email them to me?
Hi Jason, your first idea should work: https://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/help/questions/watching-outside-the-uk/watching-dl-outside-uk
I just downloaded express VPN and am able to connect to iPlayer – it recognizes me as being from the UK – but content just won’t play. The buffering circle never stops and content does not begin. Also tried the download feature. Also tried the Channel 4 site.
Hi there – I’ve just tested this and am getting the same issue. It’s possible that the BBC have recently upgraded their VPN-detection system, which could explain why ExpressVPN is having problems at the moment. I was, however, able to access All 4 without any issues – I’d recommend clearing your browser’s cookies and trying again or contacting support for further assistance. Hope this helps, Ian
i got a dns leak. problem solved with google dns.
Confirmed that it is the app that uses some kind of a hole (vulnerability ?) in the Android system. Removed the app, now the Chrome itself is forced to stream the video (if there is iPlayer app on the system it will always use the app!) and streaming via browser works. Perhaps a clumsy workaround for those having problems. Will upgrade Android to 7 and check if this prevents the app of exploiting the hole.
did you been able to get de bbc iplayer android app working with vpn? i can get iplayer in chrome browser play with vpn, but it’s been impossible with the android app!!
Hi Gonzalo, I’ve just tested this for you. Using ExpressVPN, I was able to watch live and on-demand content on the Android app without any problems. Thanks, Ian
I’m on holiday at the moment in the USA and using Express VPN successfully to download BBC iPlayer to my iPad. I am then trying to screen mirror or airplaythe content to my larger tv but it won’t work. The same problem with All4 and IT. hub. Is this a known problem and is there a workaround that you know of?
Hi Mike, this is actually a known issue. As you’ve rightly identified, many larger streaming apps prevent you from mirroring the screen during a broadcast. The only reliable workaround I’ve found is to physically connect your device to the TV using a USB-to-HDMI cable. If you’re using an iPad, you’ll need a special adapter to do this. Hope this helps, Ian
I have exactly the same problem. Having dedicated streaming IP from provider not in the above list, using it on 3 Android devices and VPN router. It stopped working on one device and all attempts to make it work were unsuccessful. The same goes for My5. I guess we see new, yet unknown method of detection being deployed. The device that stopped working runs Android 6, others Android 7. It works on any device through VPN router, so there must be some leak in the Android system, possibly fixed in the newer versions. It is definitely not GPS and not the browser – Chrome reports the restriction only after it runs the app for the actual playback, so proofing Chrome is not needed.
Unlocator used to be great. Now I cannot watch the BBC iPlayer with the app on my iPad or with Safari or chrome browser. Their VPN worked for a while in January but the subtitles have disappeared. Do you think the Nordic VPN plus the Unlocator might work? Do you know why there are no more Subtitles? The S is gone. Is it just me? Sigh. So fed up. TY.
Hi there – I’ve just checked and was able to unblock the iPlayer via Chrome using NordVPN. For what it’s worth, I’ve had a few reports of vanishing subtitles, although for me, they’re only available on certain shows. Given how widespread this issue is, I’d guess the BBC are updating the iPlayer. Hope this helps, Ian
I am unable to stream bbc I player currently. I am using express vpn and linksys router. On vpn I only have the option to connect via dock lands where previously I had option of 4 locations.
Hi Derek, I’m still seeing four locations and can still unblock the iPlayer without any issues. I’d recommend contacting customer support directly to see if there might be an issue with your setup. Thanks, Ian
Hi Ian – I’m having a problem I can’t fathom the logic of, and I wonder if, based on your obviously extensive knowledge, you might have an idea.
I’m in Spain. I have a BBC TV licence. I have been using, for probably three years now, Overplay (DNS, not VPN).
Until recently, I could watch iPlayer on all my devices (PC, iPad, iPhone AND SAMSUNG Smart TV.)
Last week, and with no apparent explanation, I could no longer get iPlayer on my TV (“this content is not available at this moment”), yet I can still access iPlayer on all other devices.
Any ideas please?
Hi David, I can’t say I’m familiar with this exact software but since iPlayer still works on your other devices, I suspect that the iPlayer app for your TV has had its geo-restriction features upgraded. There are a couple of possible solutions to this problem:
1) Try a different Smart DNS service
2) Install a VPN on your router (ExpressVPN has custom firmware to make this as simple as possible)
2) Plug an Amazon Fire Stick, Roku, or other streaming device into your TV and watch via this instead
3) Connect one of your working devices to the TV using a USB-C to HDMI cable or screen mirroring app.
Hope this helps,
I can view bbc tv on iplayer out of uk on my pc but i cannot use my Samsung tablet. Any way around this problem?
I know bbc require using android greater than 4.1 which I do but still am not able to connect. Tablet was working on
november but not now. Will I have togive upon my tablet or just use my pc?
Hi there – it could be that the iPlayer is checking your tablet’s location as well as your IP address. You may be able to watch directly on the iPlayer website instead of the app, but I’d recommend clearing your cookies first. Hope this helps, Ian
ExpressVPN is also now not accessing iplayer on its UK servers. There’s no manual server addresses for routers that are working. It’s been like this for a few days now.
Hi Paul, I’ve just checked and was able to access iPlayer via the East London server. If you’re having problems, I’d recommend contacting customer support for assistance. Thanks, Ian
Hi Ian. I am having problems using an Asus Router using both L2TP and Open VPN on all UK servers and IP addresses accessing both BBC iPlayer and Amazon Prime on my Roku Express. I have had absolutely no problems until a few days ago. I have contacted Express Support and as yet there is no fix available which is a shame as I have been using Express for 12 months now. I don’t really want to change VPN providers but will have to if the issue is not resolved in the near future. I believe Nord have Fixed IP programs available and if so would this help resolve my issues?
Hi Derek, I’m not entirely sure what could be causing this issue but if I had to guess, it’d be that the apps are able to see your true location somehow (perhaps by checking your account region). ExpressVPN unblocks iPlayer and Amazon Prime Video just fine on my PC, so it could be that the Roku platform itself could be the issue. Without a clear cause, it’s difficult to say whether switching to NordVPN would help fix this issue – there is a 30-day money-back guarantee, though, so if you’d like, you could try it and claim a refund if it doesn’t work. Hope this helps, Ian
This all assumes you watch via browser but not via the app, do these work around also apply to the app? Seems unlikely as surely the cookies in say chrome won’t be referenced by the app?
Hi Sam, I’ve just checked and was able to unblock the Android app using this method. Hope this helps, Ian
This is misleading, in that BBC asks for far more than just your post code. They also want your tv licence number as you can’t watch it unless you have a licence. So there’s no point in me using the VPN as I don’t have a licence number.
Hi there – the BBC iPlayer does not ask for your TV Licence number. It does ask whether you have a licence or not, but doesn’t actually verify this in any way. In fact, as far as I’m aware, no major streaming platform in the UK asks for a TV License number. Ian
How good is avast. mac upgrade vpn no good.
Hi Graham, Avast Secureline struggles to unblock major streaming services like the BBC iPlayer. It’s better for just general encrypted browsing. Thanks, Ian