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.
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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.
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.