We take a look at how to access Rai TV and RaiPlay abroad with a VPN and which are the best VPNs for the job.

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RAI is Italy’s national public broadcaster and has been a key operator of the country’s radio and TV stations for the better part of a century. More recently, this veteran of the airwaves took to the internet and introduced RaiPlay, an on-demand streaming service. Here you can find a wide range of original and syndicated programming from Rai’s catalog of TV shows and other content.

If you want to skip reading the whole article, here are the top performing VPNs for viewing RaiPlay outside of Italy including summaries:

  1. ExpressVPN Our #1 choice. Fast servers in Cosenza and Milan are great for RaiPlay and most Italian streaming content. Leads with strong privacy and security features. Includes 30-day money back guarantee.
  2. NordVPN Budget choice streams RaiPlay with no issues. Even has an Italian section on their website. Fast and secure.
  3. CyberGhost Low cost yet speedy servers and solid security.
  4. IPVanish 10 servers in Milan unlock RaiPlay with good speed and security.
  5. PrivateVPN Strong security and decent speed. Works with RaiPlay and plenty of other streaming content like Netflix.

Rai TV is geo-locked to Italy, meaning you’ll need an Italian IP address in order to unblock RaiPlay from outside the country. An IP address is a unique identifier that indicates your general location. If you try to access RaiPlay from abroad, you’ll get the following error message:

“Video non disponibile fuori dall’Italia”

Or, in English:

“Video not available outside Italy”

The easiest way to circumvent RaiPlay’s geographic restrictions is with a VPN. Short for virtual private network, a VPN encrypts all of a device’s internet traffic and routes it through an intermediary server in a location of the user’s choosing. In this case, you would connect to a VPN server in Italy, which will assign you an Italian IP address.

Best VPN for Rai TV

There are hundreds of VPN services out there, but only a handful are suitable for RaiPlay viewers. We’ve curated our list of the best VPNs for RaiPlay based on the following criteria:

  • Servers in Italy
  • Fast and reliable connections
  • Strong security
  • No identifying logs
  • Bonus points if the website is available in Italian

1. ExpressVPN

Express VPNApr 2019Unblocks Rai TVTested Apr 2019

ExpressVPN operates a huge network of more than 1,500 servers in 94 countries. That includes two locations in Italy: Cosenza and Milan. The website is also available in Italian. Every server is optimized for maximum speed and reliability. Subscribers should have no problem streaming their favorite Italian shows from RaiPlay in HD. ExpressVPN uses the strongest encryption standards in the business and keeps no logs of your activity or real IP address. DNS leak protection is built in, which means RaiPlay can’t identify you by determining where your website lookups are sent, nor by your IP address. ExpressVPN can also unblock other popular streaming sites like Netflix, Hulu, and HBO Now.

Apps are available for Windows, MacOS, iOS, Android, and Linux. ExpressVPN also makes a custom router firmware that you can install for free on compatible wifi routers, or you can opt to purchase a pre-configured router directly from the company.

Pros:

  • Works seamlessly with RaiPlay and Rai TV
  • Blazing-fast servers for streaming and downloading
  • High-grade encryption, security and privacy throughout
  • Great at unblocking most popular streaming sites from almost anywhere
  • Live chat customer support has you covered

Cons:

  • Not as cheap as some other services

BEST VPN FOR RAI TV:ExpressVPN is our top choice. A super fast and reliable choice which unblocks Rai TV and most major streaming services. Italian servers are optimized for speed. Hard to beat on security and privacy features and keeps no logs. Good choice of user friendly apps. Try it risk-free with the 30-day money back guarantee.

Read our full ExpressVPN review.

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2. NordVPN

NordVPNUnblocks Rai TVTested Apr 2019

NordVPN operates a single server in Italy, but it doesn’t seem to be under heavy load so you should have no problem watching HD video without buffering. All in all NordVPN’s network includes over 1,000 servers in more than 60 countries. NordVPN can also unblock popular streaming sites like Netflix and Hulu, among others. The Panama-based company runs on a strict zero-logs policy, which means it retains no information about your connection or activity whatsoever. DNS leak protection comes standard. The website is available in Italian.

Apps are available for Windows, MacOS, iOS, and Android. The Italy server is a standard server, but NordVPN also has specialized servers for anti-DDoS, Tor over VPN, ultra-fast streaming, and more.

Pros:

  • Unblocks Rai TV and other streaming sites from abroad
  • Fast enough for HD streaming and unblocks popular content
  • Allows 6 simultaneous connections on one account
  • Easy to use apps that are secure and offer privacy
  • Zero-logs policy

Cons:

  • Connections through the desktop app can be slow

BEST BUDGET VPN:NordVPN is a good value choice. Works well with Rai TV and has servers in Italy. Connects up to 6 devices simultaneously. Great privacy and security credentials. 30-day money back guarantee.

Read our full NordVPN review.

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3. CyberGhost

CyberghostUnblocks Rai TVTested Apr 2019

CyberGhost, the premium tier of the popular free VPN, allows subscribers to connect to a whopping 36 servers in Italy alone. You can even translate the website into Italian, if you prefer. In total, CyberGhost Pro operates over 1,000 active servers in 27 countries. All connections are hardened with 256-bit encryption. The company keeps zero logs but note that it did just change hands, so this policy could change in the future. DNS leak protection is built in. During testing, CyberGhost scored well for speed and stability.

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

Pros:

  • Works well with Rai TV and some other streaming sites
  • Streams HD quality video
  • Budget priced provider with impressive streaming speeds
  • Good security and they don’t store user activity logs

Cons:

  • Not suitable for those that need control of advanced features

GREAT VALUE:CyberGhost is easy to use. A budget choice that is good on privacy and security. Streams HD video reliably. Good for Rai TV and Netflix but not many other streaming sites. 45-day money back guarantee.

Read our full CyberGhost review.

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4. IPVanish

IPVanishUnblocks Rai TVTested Apr 2019

IPVanish operates 10 servers in Milan as part of its large network of 850 servers spread across more than 60 countries. The company owns, rather than rents, its physical servers, ensuring maximum privacy and top quality connections. RaiPlay viewers abroad should have no problem streaming video in HD. IPVanish holds to a serious no-logs policy, meaning it doesn’t record any information about what you do while connected. DNS and IPv6 leak protection come built in and turned on by default. 256-bit AES encryption is used to secure the tunnel that all your traffic travels through.

Apps are available for Windows, MacOS, iOS, and Android. IPVanish is particularly popular in the Kodi community thanks to a remote control-friendly app and the ability to work with any Kodi add-on.

Pros:

  • Works well with Rai TV and other popular services
  • All the security and privacy features you need for most situations
  • Works well with Kodi add-ons for remote control users

Cons:

  • Apps don’t work in China
  • No live customer support

LARGE SERVER NETWORK:IPVanish is great for families. Works well with Rai TV and is well represented with Italian servers. Privacy and security are solid. Speeds handle multiple simultaneous connected devices. No live customer support. 7-day Money back guarantee.

Read our full IPVanish review.

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5. PrivateVPN

PrivateVPNUnblocks Rai TVTested Apr 2019

PrivateVPN is a relatively young provider with only two servers in Italy, but you can be sure that they’ll add more as demand grows for this excellent service. The company only operates about 100 servers in 55 countries in all, but don’t let that dissuade you–PrivateVPN scored extremely well in our speed tests. HD streaming should be a breeze. It’s not making any rookie mistakes either. You’ll find a kill switch, DNS leak protection, strong encryption and a zero logs policy already in place. A single subscription allows you to connect up to six devices at the same time.

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

Pros:

  • No issues unblocking Rai TV
  • Gaining a reputation for unblocking popular streaming sites
  • Strong security and privacy features and decent speeds

Cons:

  • Small number of servers with only 2 in Italy
  • Live chat is not around the clock
  • Support staff are OK, but only operate during European business hours

GREAT SPEED:PrivateVPN is consistently reliable. Unblocks Rai TV and allows up to 6 devices on the same account. Solid security and privacy credentials. Only two servers in Italy but achieves fast connections. 30-day money back guarantee.

Read our full PrivateVPN review.

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Can I use a free VPN to watch Rai TV?

You might be asking why you need to pay for a VPN when so many free ones are available. In truth, these so-called “free” VPNs are still businesses, and it costs money for them to operate a VPN service. To pay for server fees and other overhead costs, free VPNs often mine your internet traffic for personal info and browsing data, which is then sold to third-party advertisers. Sometimes free VPNs inject advertisements right into your browser, and other times they insert tracking cookies to monitor what you browse online.

On top of that, free VPNs tend to have far fewer servers, and those they do have are overloaded and slow. They often implement data caps or bandwidth limits, which will lead to long buffer times and TV shows getting cut off in the middle while watching RaiPlay. Most free VPNs, of course, do not have servers in Italy anyway.

Finally, using free VPN apps runs a high risk of contracting malware that can damage your device and steal your private data. In short, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

VPNs to avoid using with RaiPlay

If you just want a VPN to unblock RaiPlay, you might not care so much about the privacy-related reasons for using a VPN. But at their core, VPNs are privacy services. They can protect you while using unsecured public wifi, prevent your ISP from snooping on your behavior, and mask your device’s unique IP address so hackers and governments cannot trace your activity back to you. All VPN providers need to maintain a high standard of privacy and security in order to earn users’ trust and keep them protected.

Unfortunately, not all VPNs succeed at this. If you’ve been Googling around for a VPN, you might come across some of these big names with bad reputations. We recommend avoiding them:

Hola

Hola lost the trust of its once 50-million users when it hijacked their computers via a browser extension and used them to carry out DDoS attacks on websites and distribute copyrighted material including pornography.

The Hola VPN browser extension doesn’t work like a normal VPN. It uses a peer-to-peer model wherein users tunnel traffic through other users’ computers using their spare bandwidth. The problem is that you can be held liable for what other users–or Hola itself–do online.

We strongly advise readers to avoid Hola.

Hotspot Shield

A recent complaint filed with the FTC accuses Hotspot Shield of illegal privacy practices and misrepresenting their product. One of the most popular free VPNs out there, Hotspot Shield is under pressure for allegedly hijacking its users HTTP requests to certain websites and redirecting them to affiliate sites from which Hotspot Shield profits. The company is also known for inserting tracking cookies into users’ browsers to monitor their online activity, then selling that data to third-party advertisers.

We advise readers avoid Hotspot Shield for the time being until an official judgment is made as to Hotspot Shield’s guilt or innocence.

How to use a VPN with RaiPlay

For novices, here’s a quick guide on how to use a VPN with Rai TV online:

  1. Sign up for one of the recommended VPN services listed above.
  2. Download and install your provider’s VPN app onto your device.
  3. Open the app and find the server selection page
  4. Filter the servers by country if they aren’t already, and choose a server in Italy
  5. Hit Connect and wait for the connection to establish.
  6. The app will give some indication that you are now connected to the VPN server. Open up RaiPlay in your browser and start watching!

Note that you may also need to clear your browser cookies and cache to remove old location identifiers.