Watch UK TV abroad

After exhaustive research and rigorous testing, we present a fail-safe guide to unlocking the world of iconic British television. We show you how to watch UK TV abroad with a VPN, no matter where you are. If you’re in France, Spain, Germany, Canada, Australia, the USA, or any corner of the globe, we’ve got you covered. Do you miss those quintessential British dramas and comedies? Do you long for live TV streams or on-demand content from the UK?

We understand the frustration of missing out on your favorite shows, especially when you’re abroad. Many have tread the path before you, only to find that much of the beloved UK content remains elusive due to geo-restrictions. These geo-locks, often due to intricate licensing agreements, become barriers when non-British IP addresses try to access the content.

But here’s our promise: With this comprehensive tutorial, you will navigate these digital restrictions effortlessly using a VPN to watch UK TV abroad.

For example, trying to access BBC iPlayer from an overseas location non-UK server might deliver the following message:

“BBC iPlayer only works in the UK. Sorry, it’s due to rights issues.”

A BBC iPlayer error message.

Thankfully, there is a way around this that enables you to watch content from British television sites like BBC iPlayer, ITV Hub (formerly ITV Player), All4 (previously 4OD), Netflix UK, and more freely. The solution is a Virtual Private Network (VPN), which encrypts all of your traffic and tunnels it through an intermediary server in a location of your choice. A VPN service masks your real IP address and replaces it with one from your chosen country. So by connecting to a UK server, you can watch British TV channels from anywhere in the world, like Spain, as if you’re in the UK.

What’s more, with a VPN, you get additional perks like increased levels of security and privacy and access to other geo-restricted sites. Not all VPN providers offer the same service, so choosing the right one is essential.

If you want to skip ahead and find out which VPN to use to watch UK TV from abroad without reading the whole article, below is a summary of our top picks.

Best VPN for UK TV abroad:

  1. NordVPN: The best VPN top choice for watching UK TV abroad. A huge network of fast servers, including many in the UK. Easily unblocks geo-restricted content. First-class security and privacy. Includes a 30-day money-back guarantee.
    TIP In our testing we found that the cheapest NordVPN plan (Standard) works perfectly for UK TV.
  2. Surfshark: Best value VPN and an affordable choice. It provides instant access to UK TV platforms with ease in a couple of clicks Surfshark keeps no logs and allows unlimited simultaneous devices.
  3. ExpressVPN: Fast servers in the UK make streaming effortless. Unblocks many major UK-based services and streaming sites. Solid privacy and security with no collection logs.
  4. CyberGhost: A huge network of servers. Unblocks geo-blocked content from the UK, including popular British streaming platforms. Great privacy and security and easy-to-use apps.
  5. PrivateVPN: Good up-and-coming VPN that works well with UK television channels, BBC iPlayer, and other streaming services. Strong 256-bit AES encryption.
  6. IPVanish: Fast speeds and good privacy features. It works with plenty of platforms but, unfortunately, doesn’t reliably work with Netflix or iPlayer.
  7. PureVPN: Is an easy and great value way to watch British TV abroad. Fast, strong security, no-logs policy, and allows 10 simultaneous connections.
  8. ProtonVPN: Impressive VPN with plenty of advanced features, including port-forwarding. Works with popular UK streaming services and Freeview TV.

How to watch UK TV abroad with a VPN

If you’re trying to watch UK TV from Canada, Australia, the US, or anywhere else in the world, you first need to set up a VPN. Never used a VPN before? Not to worry just follow these proven steps below to unblock your favorite UK television channels.

Here’s how to watch UK TV online from anywhere:

  1. Choose a VPN provider that can unblock UK TV from abroad. We particularly recommend NordVPN.
  2. Download and install the VPN app onto your device from the provider’s website or your official app store.
  3. Run the app and select a VPN server in the UK.
  4. Once the connection has been established, open the video you want to stream. It should now be unblocked as if you were in the UK.
  5. Note that some sites might require you to clear your browser cookies and/or web cache. If the video is still blocked, do so and refresh the page.

WANT TO TRY THE TOP 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 UK TV without any restrictions for a month. As such you'll be able to stream British TV during vacations abroad.

There are no hidden terms or rulesjust 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.

We’ve covered access to specific UK streaming sites — BBC iPlayer, ITV Hub, Channel 4, Sky Go, and BT Sport — in separate articles. If you’re looking for the best VPNs to use while in the UK, we have an article for that, too.

We’ve tested many VPNs and compiled a list of the best ones for accessing UK TV abroad. Our choices are based on the following criteria:

  • Has a selection of UK servers
  • Enables access to UK content, such as that from Netflix UK and BBC iPlayer
  • Provides a fast, reliable VPN connection with unlimited bandwidth
  • Uses strong encryption backed by additional security features
  • Keeps no traffic logs of user activity or IP addresses

Best VPNs for watching UK TV abroad: Our hands-on review

We’ve tested and compared the most important features of the top VPNs here. Prefer to read the in-depth reviews? Start with NordVPN – our #1 choice for watching UK TV abroad.

No valueNordVPNSurfsharkExpressVPNCyberGhostPrivateVPNIPVanishPureVPNProton VPN
WebsiteNordVPN.comSurfshark.comExpressVPN.comCyberghost.comPrivateVPN.comIPVanish.comPureVPN.comprotonvpn.com
Ranking for UK TV:12345678
UK Servers440+ servers400+ servers300+ servers750+ servers50+ servers100+ servers3 cities170+ servers
Avg Speed (Mbps)100+ Mbps100+ Mbps100+ Mbps100+ Mbps39 Mbps100+ Mbps400 Mbps100+ Mbps
Devices SupportedWindows, MacOS, iOS, Android, LinuxWindows, MacOS, iOS, Android, Linux, Amazon Fire TV, Apple TVWindows, MacOS, iOS, Android, Linux, Smart TVs, RoutersWindows, MacOS, Linux, iOS, AndroidWindows, MacOS, iOS, Android, Amazon Fire TVWindows, MacOS, iOS, AndroidWindows, MacOS, iOS, Android, Smart TVs, Chromebook, RoutersWindows, Linux, MacOS, iOS, Android, Chrome, Firefox, Chromebook
Simultaneous Connections10Unlimited8710Unlimited10Free: 1, VPN Plus: 10
Best deal (per month)$3.09
Up to 74% off + 3 months FREE
$2.19
Save 86% on a 2 year Starter plan + 3 months free
$6.67
SAVE: 49% + 3 months free
$2.19
SAVE 83% on the 2 year plan + 2 months free!
$2.00
Save 85% on a one year plan + 24-months free
$2.99
SAVE 76% on the 2 yr plan
$2.11
Up to 82% off the 2-yr standard plan + free months
$3.59
Up to 64% off a 2-year plan

The best VPNs for watching UK TV abroad

From our real-world experience, here’s our list of the best VPNs for watching UK TV abroad:

1. NordVPN

NordVPN May 2024

Apps Available:

  • PC
  • Mac
  • IOS
  • Android
  • Linux
  • Background FireTV

Website:  www.NordVPN.com

Money-back guarantee: 30 DAYS

NordVPN is our top pick for watching UK TV abroad. It operates a large network of over 5,500 worldwide servers, more than 400 of which are located in the UK. This means it’s well-equipped to help you access the British content library from sites like Netflix UK, BBC iPlayer, ITV Hub, Sky Go, All 4, and more. Its blazing-fast speeds make it particularly suitable for accessing content through geographically distant servers.

NordVPN operates with a strict no-logs policy to help maintain the privacy of its users. For security, you have 256-bit AES encryption, perfect forward secrecy, DNS leak protection, and a kill switch. A bonus with this provider is automatic wifi protection, which means you never have to worry about connecting to an unsecured network while traveling. A NordVPN plan allows up to five simultaneous connections which is great for families or if you tend to switch devices regularly.

Apps are available for Windows, MacOS, iOS, and Android.

NordVPN speed test data

No valueNordVPN
WebsiteNordVPN.com
Average Connection Speed - North America (USA)354 Mbps
Average Connection Speed - Europe (UK)262 Mbps
Average Connection Speed - Asia (Hong Kong)284 Mbps
Best deal (per month)$3.09
Up to 74% off + 3 months FREE

Pros:

  • One of the fastest VPNs we’ve tested
  • Veteran provider with over 400 servers throughout the UK
  • Unblocks most popular UK streaming content
  • Military-grade 256-bit encryption for great privacy
  • Customer service is available via 24/7 live chat
  • No-logs policy

Cons:

  • Can select city location of servers, but not specific servers

Our score:

4.5 out of 5

BEST VPN FOR UK TV ABROAD:NordVPN is our top pick. A good budget all-rounder that works well for viewing UK TV while abroad with a good selection of UK servers. Strong security features and handles up to 6 devices simultaneously from one account. Includes a 30-day money-back guarantee for a risk-free deal.

See our full NordVPN review.

NordVPN Coupon
Up to 74% off + 3 months FREE
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2. Surfshark

Surfshark

Apps Available:

  • PC
  • Mac
  • IOS
  • Android
  • Linux

Website:  www.Surfshark.com

Money-back guarantee: 30 DAYS

Surfshark is a great budget-friendly provider that currently operates over 3,000 servers in 95 countries including the UK. Its speeds are fast enough for flawless live streaming, and it can unblock BBC iPlayer, ITV Hub, and All 4 effortlessly, meaning you’ll never struggle to watch your much-loved UK TV shows. One of Surfshark’s standout features is that it has no connection limit: simply, it lets you protect every streaming device you own simultaneously.

This VPN includes a surprising number of security features, given its low monthly price. For example, there’s a kill switch in every version of the app, strong 256-bit encryption, and protection against DNS, IPv6, and WebRTC leaks, as well as an automatic ad-blocker and malware scanner. Perhaps most important, Surfshark keeps no logs, meaning they don’t track user activity and none of it can be traced back to you.

Surfshark provides apps for MacOS, Linux, Windows, iOS, and Android.

Surfshark speed test data

No valueSurfshark
WebsiteSurfshark.com
Average Connection Speed - North America (USA)521 Mbps
Average Connection Speed - Europe (UK)702 Mbps
Average Connection Speed - Asia (Hong Kong)561 Mbps
Best deal (per month)$2.19
Save 86% on a 2 year Starter plan + 3 months free

Pros:

  • Great at unblocking British streaming services
  • Strong security and privacy features
  • Good speeds, plenty of UK servers
  • No internet connection limit
  • Live chat 24/7 support

Cons:

  • Occasionally slow to connect to servers

Our score:

4.5 out of 5

Read our full Surfshark review.

BEST VALUE VPN:Surfshark works out of the box with many UK streaming services, but support is available if needed. It boasts strong security and privacy features, and you can connect as many devices as you like. Includes a 30-day money-back guarantee.

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3. ExpressVPN

ExpressVPN

Apps Available:

  • PC
  • Mac
  • IOS
  • Android
  • Linux

Website:  www.ExpressVPN.com

Money-back guarantee: 30 DAYS

ExpressVPN is known for its ability to unblock geo-locked content, including popular streaming sites. It has a network of over 3,000 servers in more than 94 countries, including a selection of UK locations. It works with Netflix libraries from various countries, including your favorite content in the UK. You’ll also be able to access geo-blocked content from other popular sites like ITV Hub, Sky Go. This also includes sports streaming platforms like BT Sport. Great speeds and a reliable VPN connection mean you shouldn’t have to deal with buffering.

Another selling point of ExpressVPN is its excellent customer support. You can contact a representative through live chat if you run into problems accessing content. ExpressVPN uses 256-bit AES encryption and perfect forward secrecy. A kill switch means you don’t have to worry if the VPN connection is lost and there’s protection against DNS leaks. ExpressVPN’s clear logging policy tells us that user activity is never monitored and no IP addresses are logged.

Apps are available for Windows, MacOS, iOS, Android, Linux, and some wifi routers.

ExpressVPN speed test data

No valueExpressVPN
WebsiteExpressVPN.com
Average Connection Speed - North America (USA)319 Mbps
Average Connection Speed - Europe (UK)303 Mbps
Average Connection Speed - Asia (Hong Kong)278 Mbps
Best deal (per month)$6.67
SAVE: 49% + 3 months free

Pros:

  • Servers in 94 countries including the UK
  • Unblocks all major UK streaming sites
  • Fast server network is great for streaming and downloading
  • High-grade security features and no logs policy protects your privacy
  • Connect up to five devices at the same time

Cons:

  • Not as cheap as some other services

Our score:

4.5 out of 5

EASY STREAMING:ExpressVPN is a fast and reliable VPN. It works with most major UK TV streaming services including Netflix and Amazon Prime Video. Great security and privacy features and keeps no traffic logs. Plans include a 30-day money-back guarantee.

See our full ExpressVPN review.

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4. CyberGhost

CyberGhost

Apps Available:

  • PC
  • Mac
  • IOS
  • Android
  • Linux

Website:  www.Cyberghost.com

Money-back guarantee: 45 DAYS

CyberGhost is based in Romania and continues to expand its huge network of more than 8,000 servers. CyberGhost puts a lot of effort into ensuring users can access geo-locked content, and with nearly 700 servers in the UK, fans of British TV won’t miss out. You can access UK-based services like ITV Hub, All 4, Channel 5 (My5) and Eurosport player by selecting each channel through the VPN client. Once you’ve made your selection, CyberGhost will automatically connect you to the right server.

This provider pegs some great speeds, even when connected to geographically distant servers, so you shouldn’t run into issues while streaming. CyberGhost is another secure provider, with strong 256-bit AES encryption and perfect forward secrecy. Its logging policy clearly states that it doesn’t maintain traffic logs and never keeps connection logs that can be traced to an individual user. Further privacy is provided by a kill switch and DNS leak protection. CyberGhost plans allow for up to seven simultaneous connections.

Apps are available for Windows, MacOS, iOS, and Android.

CyberGhost speed test data

No valueCyberGhost
WebsiteCyberghost.com
Average Connection Speed - North America (USA)449 Mbps
Average Connection Speed - Europe (UK)269 Mbps
Average Connection Speed - Asia (Hong Kong)167 Mbps
Best deal (per month)$2.19
SAVE 83% on the 2 year plan + 2 months free!

Pros:

  • Large contingent of nearly 700 UK servers can unblock most geo-restricted streaming content
  • Strong encryption and solid privacy policy
  • Very good streaming speeds along with unlimited bandwidth
  • Can be used on seven devices at the same time

Cons:

  • Doesn’t work in China or the UAE

Our score:

4.5 out of 5

FASTEST SPEEDS:CyberGhost has a simple set up. A user-friendly service that unblocks a wide range of geo-blocked UK streaming TV and sports content. Big choice of UK servers that are fast and reliable. Good marks with security and privacy. 45-day money-back guarantee.

See our full CyberGhost review.

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5. PrivateVPN

PrivateVPN

Apps Available:

  • PC
  • Mac
  • IOS
  • Android
  • Linux

Website:  www.PrivateVPN.com

Money-back guarantee: 30 DAYS

PrivateVPN is a major VPN service that places a large focus on ensuring users can access geo-locked content. It has a smaller network of servers than others on this list, but it boasts some competitive speeds and can deliver otherwise restricted content. PrivateVPN has multiple servers in the UK. Between these servers, you should be able to gain access to content from sites like BBC iPlayer, ITV Hub, Sky Go, BT Sport, Sky Sports, and others.

This provider doesn’t disappoint on the privacy and security front. A strict zero-logs policy is backed by strong security, including 256-bit encryption and perfect forward secrecy. A kill switch and DNS leak protection help keep your information safe further. PrivateVPN allows up to five simultaneous connections with a basic plan.

Apps are available for Windows, MacOS, iOS, and Android.

PrivateVPN speed test data

No valuePrivateVPN
WebsitePrivateVPN.com
Average Connection Speed - North America (USA)94 Mbps
Average Connection Speed - Europe (UK)57 Mbps
Average Connection Speed - Asia (Hong Kong)62 Mbps
Best deal (per month)$2.00
Save 85% on a one year plan + 24-months free

Pros:

  • Minimal fuss accessing Netflix UK, BBC iPlayer, ITV Hub, Sky Go, and BT Sport
  • Strong security and privacy protection features
  • Keeps no logs whatsoever
  • Faster than many other providers

Cons:

  • Live chat isn’t available 24 hours a day
  • A smaller network of servers (just over 200 in all)

Our score:

4.5 out of 5

GREAT SPEED:PrivateVPN is a good family choice. Reliably unblocks a good selection of UK streaming content. Allows up to 6 devices on the same account. Smaller network but with fast connections. 30-day money-back guarantee.

Read our full PrivateVPN review.

PrivateVPN Coupon
Save 85% on a one year plan + 24-months free
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6. IPVanish

IPVanish

Apps Available:

  • PC
  • Mac
  • IOS
  • Android
  • Linux

Website:  www.IPVanish.com

Money-back guarantee: 30 DAYS

IPVanish has more than 2,000 servers in dozens of countries and is very popular with Kodi users. It doesn’t usually compete as well on the streaming front as it doesn’t put a large focus on watching Netflix. However, if it is British streaming platforms you’re after, IPVanish can deliver. With five UK servers, it provides access to content including that from BBC iPlayer, ITV Hub, Sky Go, Eurosport, and All 4.

There are no traffic or connection logs kept, so you don’t need to worry about your information being disclosed. Security is in the form of 256-bit AES encryption along with perfect forward secrecy. Apps come with a built-in kill switch and DNS leak protection. Better still, you can connect an unlimited number of devices at the same time with your subscription.

Apps are available for Windows, MacOS, iOS, and Android.

IPVanish speed test data

No valueIPVanish
WebsiteIPVanish.com
Average Connection Speed - North America (USA)277 Mbps
Average Connection Speed - Europe (UK)237 Mbps
Average Connection Speed - Asia (Hong Kong)352 Mbps
Best deal (per month)$2.99
SAVE 76% on the 2 yr plan

Pros:

  • Unblocks most major UK streaming sites from abroad
  • Particularly favored by remote control users with Kodi devices or Fire TV Sticks
  • Keeps no traffic logs or connection logs

Cons:

  • Apps don’t work in China
  • Doesn’t accept Bitcoin

Our score:

4 out of 5

UNLIMITED DEVICES:IPVanish has a large network of servers. Unblocks several UK streaming services. Great for families that need many simultaneous connections. It works well with Kodi, but look elsewhere if you will be using it from China. 30-day money-back guarantee.

See our full IPVanish review.

IPVanish Coupon
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7. PureVPN

PureVPN

Apps Available:

  • PC
  • Mac
  • IOS
  • Android
  • Linux

Website:  www.PureVPN.com

Money-back guarantee: 31 DAYS

PureVPN is based in the British Virgin Islands which puts it well out of reach of invasive jurisdictions like the US and the UK. Despite starting at a mere $1.96 per month, the VPN is both secure and reliable. It has apps for all platforms that offer strong encryption and a no-logging policy.

The service covers more than 65 countries, including the UK to watch BBC iPlayer, Netflix UK, ITVX, Channel 4, and other popular British streaming services. You can also use it to watch major US platforms like Netflix US, Hulu, and HBO Max.

PureVPN offers impressive speed performance, boasting an average download speed of 400 Mbps. This makes its WireGuard protocol the third fastest at the time of writing. As a result, PureVPN is both cheap and useful for data-intensive tasks like streaming, gaming, and torrenting.

Unlike many other low-cost VPNs, it doesn’t compromise on security, offering AES encryption, a kill switch, and DNS leak prevention. This makes it reliable for bypassing streaming blocks at work, and for using the internet without being tracked by ISPs or government agencies.

The only real drawback is the slow response times of its live chat support. However, considering it has live chat, this is a pretty small quibble. You can see what the fuss is all about by using its 31-day money-back guarantee – giving you plenty of opportunity to test it with your favorite streaming services.

PureVPN speed test data

No valuePureVPN
WebsitePureVPN.com
Avg Speed (US)628 Mbps
Avg Speed (UK)324 Mbps
Avg Speed (Asia)246 Mbps
Best deal (per month)$2.11
Up to 82% off the 2-yr standard plan + free months

Pros:

  • Great speeds using its WireGuard protocol
  • Works to watch British TV services like iPlayer and ITV X from abroad
  • Servers in 65+ countries

Cons:

  • Support is a bit slow
  • Port forwarding costs extra

Our score:

4 out of 5

GREAT VALUE:PureVPN makes it both easy and cheap to watch British TV platforms from abroad. It works without issues to stream BBC iPlayer and many other British TV services. The VPN is fast and offers strong security. A no-logs policy ensures that your online habits remain private at all times. 31-day money-back guarantee to compare it to any other VPN yourself.

Find out more in our PureVPN review.

PureVPN Coupon
Up to 82% off the 2-yr standard plan + free months
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8. ProtonVPN

Proton VPN

Apps Available:

  • PC
  • Mac
  • IOS
  • Android
  • Linux

Website:  www.protonvpn.com

Money-back guarantee: 30 DAYS

ProtonVPN is a VPN with a fantastic reputation. It was launched by the team behind Proton Mail, and it is based in privacy-friendly Switzerland. As you’d expect from a VPN run by a well-known privacy company – the VPN has a solid no-logs policy that has been independently verified. It also maintains more than 60 Secure Core servers that are self-run for additional security.

The apps are jam-packed with useful features, including AES encryption, a kill switch, multi-hop connections, and obfuscation, and Tor over VPN. Split tunneling and port forwarding also make this one of the most popular VPNs for torrenting.

The VPN excels in streaming British services like BBC iPlayer, and ITVX, as well as US platforms such as Hulu, making it a versatile choice. It leverages the WireGuard protocol to provide bufferless streaming in HD. While its monthly plan is cost-effective, the longer plans aren’t as competitive. However, it is worth the extra few bucks if you want an incredibly reliable all-rounder.

Despite the sophistication of its features, the apps are user-friendly and manageable to learn. However, you can easily contact its excellent live chat support agents if you need to. Plus, ProtonVPN offers a 30-day money-back guarantee to test the service yourself.

ProtonVPN speed test data

No valueProton VPN
Websiteprotonvpn.com
Average Connection Speed - North America (USA)390 Mbps
Average Connection Speed - Europe (UK)306 Mbps
Average Connection Speed - Asia (Hong Kong)295 Mbps
Best deal (per month)$3.59
Up to 64% off a 2-year plan

Pros:

  • Has servers in 65+ countries, including the UK
  • Works with Netflix and other US platforms
  • Includes port forwarding, AES-256 encryption, kill switch, and a no-logs policy

Cons:

  • A touch expensive
  • Advanced features may confuse beginners

Our score:

4 out of 5

SECURE AND FAST:ProtonVPN is an impressive VPN that initiates connections to servers faster than just about any other VPN. More advanced features than most market-leading VPNs. Works with many popular UK streaming services and Freeview TV streams. Fully audited. 30-day money-back guarantee.

Find out more in our ProtonVPN review.

ProtonVPN Coupon
Up to 64% off a 2-year plan
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Our testing methodology for Watching UK TV Abroad

With so many VPNs circulating on the market, choosing one to watch British TV abroad can be tricky. Not all VPNs have servers in the UK that work to stream iPlayer, ITV Hub, Channel 4, BT Sport, Sky TV, Now TV, etc. In fact, British streaming platforms have managed to block most VPNs nowadays. This means you must pick a service carefully.

At Comparitech, we use a precise VPN testing methodology to test the market. This allows us to locate services that are suitable for different use cases, including accessing British TV abroad. Below, we have included a list of features we looked for and tested when curating this list of the best VPNs for British TV:

  • Fast servers: To stream UK TV abroad, you will require a VPN with fast servers in Britain. In this guide, we have recommended VPNs that work to stream iPlayer and other popular services outside the UK. We were also sure to pick VPNs with a large global server network that can access Netflix US, Hulu, HBO Max and other popular services.
  • Apps for all platforms: Our recommendations have apps for Windows, MacOS, iOS, Android, and various other platforms. This lets you install and use the VPN on a variety of devices to stream UK TV. Some of our recommendations even throw in a free Smart DNS service to allow you to stream on devices that will not let you install a VPN directly.
  • Strong security and privacy features: A reliable VPN must be able to provide solid security and privacy (in addition to increased online freedom). Our recommendations have robust AES encryption, a kill switch, DNS leak protection, obfuscation, and a no-logs policy. This ensures that they are good for protecting your digital footprint and preventing eavesdropping, whether at home or on public Wi-Fi.
  • Exceptional customer care: You never know when you may want to ask a question or get help with using your VPN. This is why we test VPNs’ customer support teams and recommend services with both email and live chat support that is available at all times of the day.
  • Great value for money: We compare VPNs’ features to cost ratios in search of VPNs that are priced fairly. In this guide, you will find services at various price points that all offer a high level of service.

Can I use a free VPN to watch British TV abroad?

You’ll likely encounter some attractive free offerings when researching various VPN providers. While some of these might be able to get you access to some UK content, free services usually come with some downsides.

One of the major problems from a streaming standpoint is that a free VPN service is typically slower and less reliable than a paid one. You’re more likely to endure slow or dropped connections and buffering while trying to watch shows. What’s more, you’ll have access to fewer servers and might have to wait in a queue to connect to the ones you want.

Aside from lacking from a practical perspective, free VPN providers often fall short from a privacy and security standpoint, too. They usually have to make money somehow, and common business models involve collecting and selling user data and displaying ads through the service. Some providers have even been known to carry malware.

How to connect and watch TV through streaming sites

Once you’re set up with a VPN, watching UK TV is fairly straightforward. You’ll first initiate your VPN connection using a UK server. For example, below, we’re connecting to a UK server using NordVPN.

NordVPN Uk connection.

You can then access your desired content as usual. For Netflix, you’ll need a paid subscription no matter where you are. The difference is while you’re connected to a UK server, you’ll see the Netflix UK library instead of the one for the country you’re in.

Other sites offer free content but still require you to sign into an account. For sites like BBC iPlayer and ITV Hub, you can just set up an account if you don’t have one already. You may be asked to enter a postal code, so make sure it’s a UK one.

Signup page for ITVHub.

If you’ve tried to access a site before without first connecting to a UK server, you might still have issues. If so, you can try clearing the cache and cookies or switching to a different browser.

Note that once you’ve got your VPN subscription, you can use it to access all types of content, not just UK TV. For example, you can connect to a US server to obtain access to US Netflix, HBO, Hulu, and more from your Smart TV or other device.

How to watch UK TV through streaming apps

If you want to watch UK TV channels via a mobile app for Android or iPhone, a VPN can help with that, too. You just need to set up the VPN on whichever mobile device you’re using so that you can mask your IP on that device. All of the plans we’ve talked about above allow for multiple devices to be connected simultaneously, so you’ll have no problem switching at your leisure.

While your IP address will be masked by the VPN, depending on your device settings, its GPS could still give away your real location. If you’re having issues, try disabling the GPS in your settings menu.

What about the UK TV license?

Anyone who watches live TV in the UK needs to be covered by a TV license or could face fines of up to £1000. A UK TV license is required if you’re watching or recording live TV. If you’re accessing on-demand or catch-up TV, a license is not usually required.

An illustration depicting when a TV license is needed.

The exception here is if you’re watching any content on BBC iPlayer, in which case it is stipulated that you should have a license. Before you play a show, a popup will ask you if you have a TV license. Things get a bit tricky when you’re watching from abroad. For example, you won’t have a license unless you live in the UK. However, it appears that the TV license check is pretty much based on the honor system and not well enforced.

The TV licensing website does address travel to some extent. In an answer to an FAQ, it essentially says that if you have a TV license for your address, you’re okay with watching BBC iPlayer on your device while traveling. The exception is if your device is plugged into the electrical mains at another address. This seems like it might be a bit difficult to enforce, but these are rules.

When it comes to travel outside the UK, the same section simply states that the iPlayer won’t be accessible from abroad, but you can view shows that you’ve downloaded prior to travel (for a limited period of time). So, it’s not really clear if the licensing laws would apply to persons overseas.

While it’s not addressed directly, it seems like you should be okay with watching BBC iPlayer overseas if you have a TV license at your home address and your device is not plugged in. Although to err on the side of caution, you may want to stick to previously downloaded content or shows from other sites. After all, you wouldn’t want to get stuck with a nasty fine.

Related:

Watch British TV Abroad FAQ

Can I unblock UKTV Play with a VPN?

Yes. UKTV Play is geo-restricted and only allows access to users within the UK. But with a VPN, you can connect to a UK server to spoof your current location. You will be assigned a UK IP address, making it appear that you’re actually located in the UK. You can then access UKTV Play as normal.

How can I watch Britbox while abroad?

Britbox, a joint project between the BBC and ITV, offers viewers a wide range of classic British TV series as well as a few newer ones. This service is currently available in the UK, Canada, and the US. If you’re outside these countries, you can use a VPN to spoof your location and log in as you would at home.

What are the best British TV quiz shows?

Love a bit of trivia? UK television doesn’t disappoint on this front with shows ranging from intellectual to downright silly. Here are the most popular British TV quiz shows you may want to check out:

  • Pointless
  • Mastermind
  • 8 Out of 10 Cats
  • QI
  • CatchPhrase
  • Big Fat Quiz of the Year
  • University Challenge
  • Countdown

How can I watch Now TV outside of the UK?

To watch Now TV outside of the UK, you can use a VPN to remove the geographical restrictions. A VPN allows you to connect to a server in the UK, making it appear as if you are accessing Now TV from within the country.

To watch Now TV using a VPN, follow these steps –

  1. Sign up for a VPN service.
  2. Install the VPN app on your computer or mobile device and log in.
  3. Connect to a UK server within the VPN app.
  4. Log in to your Now TV account and start streaming your desired content.

Not all VPNs work with Now TV, as the platform may block some VPN servers. If you encounter issues, connect to a different UK server within your chosen VPN app.

How can I watch the English Premier League online live?

English Premier League (EPL) matches are aired by broadcasters worldwide, many of which provide online live streams. In the UK, the major broadcasters are Sky Sports, BT Sport, and Amazon Prime Video, enabling you to stream content online. If you happen to be traveling outside the UK and want to access your regular services, you can use a VPN to spoof your location.

Do you normally reside outside the UK? If so, you won’t be able to sign up with the above services (except Amazon Prime Video), so you will need to look for an alternative broadcaster. In the US, NBC has the rights to air EPL matches, while Canadians must subscribe to DZAN. Optus Sport broadcasts EPL games in Australia.

Why is UK TV blocked abroad?

It’s not just UK TV that’s blocked abroad! It’s the same story regarding other countries’ streaming platforms. One of the most common reasons for geo-blocked content is copyright and licensing. This is certainly the case for UK TV, whether BBC iPlayer, ITV Hub, or Sky Go. This is why so many people choose to use a VPN when traveling abroad — so they can continue watching their favorite TV shows from anywhere without restriction.

Can I watch UK TV abroad on a smart TV?

Yes, it’s possible to watch UK TV abroad on a smart TV or, indeed, any other streaming device. Indeed, the process across devices is much the same. To stream UK TV abroad from a smart TV, you’ll need to download and install a VPN app for Amazon Fire Stick/Fire TV or Android TV. Alternatively, you can manually install a VPN with your wifi router.

Is BBC iPlayer free to use?

Yes. Anybody in the UK is allowed to stream on BBC iPlayer for free as long as they have a valid TV license. As a result, there is nothing stopping anybody from signing up for iPlayer to stream content for free. Just bear in mind that you will need to provide an email address and a valid UK postcode to sign up. You will also have to accept terms in which you state you have a valid TV license (no proof of this is required).

Does the Freeview app work overseas?

Freeview is a UK-based service that is only available to British residents who log in and use the app or website with a valid UK IP address. The good news is that anybody who leaves the UK on vacation or traveling for work can regain access to their account by connecting to a VPN. Using a VPN will allow the Freeview app to work overseas. 

It is also worth noting that the Freeview app will allow you to download content to watch at a later date. Thus, if you are only leaving the country for a short time and want something to watch until you return, you could use this feature.

Can I watch UK sports abroad with these VPNs?

Most sports streaming platforms (including BT Sports, DAZN, and Sky Sports) are geo-restricted and only available in specific countries. However, you can regain access to your usual services while traveling abroad by connecting to a VPN.

So how does this work? Simply, VPNs send your traffic through a server in a location of your choosing. This makes it seem like you are browsing from wherever your server is. Just choose a server in the UK to continue using services like BBC iPlayer whether you’re in Spain, the US, or anywhere else.

Is it legal to watch UK TV while abroad?

No, it isn’t illegal to watch UK TV while abroad in most countries. In fact, a Virtual Private Network (VPN) is the easiest and safest way of accessing UK television channels when traveling outside the country.

Using a VPN lets you virtually transport yourself back home by allowing your device to connect to a private network in another location. This means that sites you’re trying to access will think you are based in the correct country, giving you access to all your favorite content, including BBC iPlayer or ITV Hub, no matter where you are located.