Excited about a show on the BBC but struggling to watch from the US? Luckily you can watch BBC iPlayer for free from the USA with the help of a Virtual Private Network (VPN). We reveal which are the best VPNs for watching BBC iPlayer in the USA, plus how to get set up if you’ve never used one before.
VPNs encrypt your traffic, preventing your activities from being monitored by hackers, your Internet Service Provider (ISP), your employer, or the government. However, they have another major benefit: they allow you to change your IP address. As streaming platforms often rely on the user’s IP address to verify their location, accessing geo-blocked services abroad is as simple as connecting to a server in the appropriate country. So if you are a Brit traveling to the US and want to keep watching BBC a VPN is the solution.
BBC content is available online via BBC iPlayer, this includes content from BBC One and other BBC channels. The BBC invests a huge amount of resources into improving its geo-restriction measures, so not all VPNs can unblock the online streaming platform.
However, there are a select few VPNs that can reliably access BBC iPlayer in America and while we’ve reviewed each of these in greater detail further down, you can find a brief summary of each below:
Best VPNs for watching BBC in the US:
- NordVPN: Our top choice for watching the BBC in the USA. This service is faster than any other, with top-notch security features and a no-logs policy.
- Surfshark: Best value VPN. A fast, security-conscious VPN that unblocks BBC iPlayer with ease and allows any number of connections. Excellent security.
- ExpressVPN: Fast, reliable, secure, and boasting excellent unblocking capability. Servers available in 94 countries worldwide, the UK included.
- CyberGhost: A budget, user-friendly service with pre-configured security options and strong unblocking ability, CyberGhost is ideal for beginners.
- PrivateVPN: This VPN is secure, privacy-conscious, faster than most, and unblocks a wide range of popular streaming services. Strict no-logs policy.
- Atlas VPN: Particularly fast server speeds for streaming BBC iPlayer lag-free. Also works with Netflix. Unlimited simultaneous connections per account.
- Private Internet Access: Works with BBC iPlayer and offers consistent connections. Use it on 10 devices at once. Ad and malware blocking.
How to watch BBC iPlayer in America
It’s actually very simple to bypass regional restrictions with a VPN. Below, we’ll explain how you can use BBC iPlayer and a VPN to stream the BBC live in the USA.
Here’s how to watch BBC iPlayer in USA:
- Sign up for one of the VPNs mentioned below (we recommend NordVPN).
- Download and install the app, making sure to get the right version for your device’s operating system.
- Connect to one of your VPN’s British servers.
- Sign in to BBC iPlayer and try loading a video. It should begin immediately, but you might have to clear your browser’s cookies and cache first. Once this is done, refresh the page and you should be able to stream freely.
- You can now access restricted content from BBC One, BBC Two, BBC Three and BBC Four on iPlayer.
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iPlayer USA – VPN testing Methodology
With so many VPN providers claiming to be the best, it can be difficult to decide which one to get. At Comparitech, we use a data-based VPN testing methodology to review market-leading VPNs. This allows us to compare services directly to find the best VPNs for specific use cases, including watching iPlayer abroad.
To find the best VPNs for streaming the BBC in the US, we found services that are fast, reliable, and have the features listed below:
- Reliably works with BBC iPlayer and similar streaming platforms. We look for VPNs that have solid British servers that work with iPlayer, All 4, ITV Hub, and other popular services such as internet banking.
- Offers consistently high-speed connections. Many VPNs run on outdated protocols and slow networks of cheap servers. We recommend fast VPNs that offer modern protocols such as WireGuard.
- Uses strong encryption and includes several other security features. We only recommend VPNs that have fully-featured apps with plenty of advanced privacy and security features. We also test for IP and DNS leaks and ensure the VPN has a kill-switch.
- Doesn’t log any information that could identify you. We recommend VPNs with watertight privacy policies you can rely on to ensure your browsing habits always remain private.
- Has apps for all the most popular operating systems. We check the VPN has apps for Windows, macOS, iOS, and Android to ensure you can stream iPlayer on all your devices.
Best VPNs for watching BBC in the USA
Below, you’ll find our list of the best VPNs for watching the BBC in the USA:
Money-back guarantee: 30 DAYS
NordVPN has more than 5,400 high-speed servers spread 60 countries, including 700+ in the UK alone. It works with a wide range of popular platforms, meaning you’ll be able to securely access services like Amazon Prime Video, Netflix UK, and BBC iPlayer from anywhere in the world. NordVPN allows up to six simultaneous connections, so it’s ideal if you’re looking to protect all of your devices at once.
This service puts major emphasis on your security. Its features include 256-bit encryption, an app-specific kill switch, a malware scanner, an adblocker, and protection against DNS, IPv6, WebRTC, and port-forwarding leaks. Users can choose to access Tor over VPN or use multiple VPNs simultaneously for added protection. NordVPN has a strict no-logging policy so your privacy is in good hands. Customer support is available 24/7 via live chat.
NordVPN has apps for Linux, MacOS, Windows, iOS, and Android. Manual installation is required for use on home routers.
- Major emphasis on security and privacy
- Hundreds of British servers
- Currently the fastest VPN on the market
- Great low-cost alternative for streaming
- Keeps no logs whatsoever
- Desktop apps can take slightly longer to connect
BEST VPN FOR BBC IPLAYER:NordVPN is our first choice! It’s an extremely fast, privacy-oriented service that takes your security seriously. Better still, its plans include a risk-free 30-day money-back guarantee.
Read our full review of NordVPN here
Money-back guarantee: 30 DAYS
Surfshark has high-speed servers in over 60 countries, including the UK, making it ideal for accessing region-locked platforms abroad. In fact, as well as unblocking BBC iPlayer, Surfshark allows you to use other popular British streaming platforms like All 4 and ITV Hub. Better still, there’s no limit to the number of devices you can connect, so it’s perfect for those with families or lots of devices to protect.
This VPN takes your security seriously; it boasts 256-bit encryption, DNS, WebRTC, and IPv6 leak protection, a kill switch (in every version), and finally, automatic ad-blocking and malware-scanning. Surfshark doesn’t log any information that could identify you, but if you’d like, you can pay in cryptocurrency for another layer of anonymity. Need help? You can reach customer support over live chat, 24/7.
Surfshark apps are available for Windows, Android, Linux, MacOS, and iOS. Manual configuration is required for use with network routers.
- Unblocks BBC iPlayer, All 4, and ITV Hub
- Connect as many devices as you like
- Fast enough for HD live streaming
- Strong on security and privacy
- Relatively small server network
- Some slow speeds
BEST BUDGET VPN:Surfshark is a fantastic low-cost option as it boasts top-notch security features, solid speeds, and the ability to unblock plenty of popular streaming platforms (including BBC iPlayer). Plans come with a 30-day money-back guarantee.
Read our full review of Surfshark here
Money-back guarantee: 30 DAYS
ExpressVPN is one of our favorite all-round VPNs so it had to make this list, but it has been less reliable with BBC iPlayer lately. It has more than 3,000 servers in 94 countries worldwide, including the UK. This service can securely access streaming platforms that many other VPNs struggle with, including ITV Hub, and Netflix UK. Best of all, it’s fast enough to stream live HD content with no noticeable stuttering or buffering whatsoever.
This VPN service includes 256-bit secure encryption, DNS and IPv6 leak protection, perfect forward secrecy, and a kill switch (which halts all traffic whenever you disconnect unexpectedly), to keep your activities private at all times. ExpressVPN doesn’t log any data that could identify you, but it’s possible to register almost completely anonymously with Bitcoin and a throwaway email address for an additional layer of privacy. Support is available 24/7 over live chat in case of any issues.
ExpressVPN apps are available for Windows, MacOS, Linux, Android, and iOS. Plans include access to custom router firmware to make protecting all of your devices as easy as possible.
- Suitable for streaming sites
- Fast enough to play HD video without buffering
- Solid privacy settings and security
- Pay anonymously with Bitcoin
- May not offer enough flexibility for advanced users
- Worth trying but sometimes struggles to unblock BBC iPlayer
PRIVATE STREAMING:ExpressVPN is a solid choice for streaming. It offers high-speed connections, powerful security and privacy features, and excellent streaming potential, plus a 30-day money-back guarantee.
Read our full review of ExpressVPN here
Money-back guarantee: 45 DAYS
CyberGhost offers access to 1,000+ British servers, and more than 5,000 others in a further 88 countries. This service is extremely user-friendly; each server shows its current load and the streaming service it’s designed to unblock. With high speeds and up to seven simultaneous connections, CyberGhost ensures you’re free to stream the BBC flawlessly at home or on the go.
This VPN makes it as easy as possible to stay safe online. It protects your data using 256-bit encryption, an always-on kill switch, and protection against IPv6 and DNS leaks. That’s not all: it automatically blocks ads and scans for malware. CyberGhost logs no personally identifiable information but you can pay in Bitcoin for added anonymity. If you run into any issues, you can contact customer support over live chat, 24/7.
CyberGhost offers Windows, Android, MacOS, Linux and iOS apps. Network routers are supported but require manual configuration.
- Fast, reliable service
- Works well with Netflix, BBC iPlayer, and more
- All security features enabled by default
- Not suitable for those that need control of advanced features
- Doesn’t work in China
Easy-to-use apps:CyberGhost boasts high-speed connections, comprehensive security, and the ability to stream BBC iPlayer anywhere. It comes with a 45-day money-back guarantee.
Read our full review of CyberGhost here
Money-back guarantee: 30 DAYS
PrivateVPN has around 150 servers in 60 countries (including the UK), but it makes up for its smaller network by providing faster speeds than many similar services. Additionally, PrivateVPN reliably works with not just the BBC iPlayer, but also Netflix UK, ITV Hub, and All 4. This service allows six devices to be connected at once.
With 256-bit encryption, DNS, WebRTC, and IPv6 leak protection, and a kill switch (Windows only), PrivateVPN guarantees your internet traffic is kept secure at all times. Your activities can’t be traced back to you (whether you pay in Bitcoin or not), thanks to this service’s zero-logs policy. Live chat is available for 22 hours each day (it’s offline from 1-3PM PST), and with your permission, the staff can remotely configure the software for you.
PrivateVPN has Windows, Android, MacOS, and iOS apps. It works on Linux-based platforms and wireless routers with manual configuration.
- Works with Hulu, Amazon Prime Video, and BBC iPlayer
- Very fast speeds
- Zero-logs provider
- Other providers have more server selection options
- Live chat is not around the clock
STREAM BBC ANYWHERE:PrivateVPN keeps no logs, prioritizes your security, and offers fast, flawless streaming. It includes a 30-day money-back guarantee.
Read our full review of PrivateVPN here
Money-back guarantee: 30 DAYS
Atlas VPN is one of the best VPNs you can use for streaming. Not only does it offer consistent unblocking of content (it works with BBC iPlayer, Disney+, and Prime Video), it also has very fast server speeds. This combined with Atlas VPN’s unlimited bandwidth means you can use it to stream content in 4K, all without suffering from performance issues such as lag and buffering.
If you have a lot of devices to secure, it’s worth knowing that Atlas VPN doesn’t limit the number of simultaneous connections. Once connected to a server, you’re kept safe from hackers and snoopers thanks to 256-bit AES encryption, a kill switch, and DNS leak protection. If that’s not enough, you can always connect to a MultiHop server for an extra layer of encryption. No identifying logs are kept of users.
Atlas VPN apps are available for desktop (Windows and Mac) and mobile (Android and iOS). While this VPN can be used with Linux and select compatible routers, manual setup is required.
- Stream the likes of BBC iPlayer and Disney+ from abroad
- High-speed servers combined with unlimited bandwidth
- MultiHop servers encrypt your data twice for extra security
- Doesn’t keep any logs by which you can be identified
- No option to pay in cryptocurrency
SEAMLESS STREAMING:Atlas VPN is fast and a reliable unblocker of streaming platforms, BBC iPlayer included. Secure all of your devices simultaneously. Secure with encryption and the option of MultiHop servers. 30-day money-back guarantee.
Read the full Atlas VPN review.
Money-back guarantee: 30 DAYS
Private Internet Access operates a network spanning 80 countries including the UK. This makes it a viable choice for accessing geo-restricted content while traveling abroad. When you use it to stream BBC iPlayer (you can also access Netflix US), you’ll benefit from unlimited bandwidth and stable connections as a result. Another advantage of PIA is that it permits as many as 10 simultaneous connections per account.
With PIA, you can stream securely with 256-bit AES encryption and DNS leak protection. If you lose the VPN connection, a kill switch cuts your internet traffic and prevents your data from being exposed. There’s also ad and malware blocking and a no-logs policy. The lightweight apps are highly accessible even for beginners and should you have any trouble, 24/7 support is at hand.
To use Private Internet Access, download and install an app for Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, Linux, or Amazon Fire TV. Browser extensions are even offered for Chrome and Firefox. Manual configuration is necessary to use it with a router.
- Servers in 80 countries including the UK for use with BBC iPlayer
- Allows up to 10 simultaneous connections per account
- Provides live chat and email support around the clock
- Online security with encryption and ad and malware blocker
- Struggles with some other streaming services
- One of many VPNs that doesn’t work in China
SERVERS IN 80 COUNTRIES:Private Internet Access has a global network of servers and won’t throttle your bandwidth. Use it to watch BBC iPlayer overseas and connect 10 devices at once. No identifying logs. 30-day money-back guarantee.
Read the full Private Internet Access review.
|No value||NordVPN||Surfshark||CyberGhost||PrivateVPN||Atlas VPN||ExpressVPN||Private Internet Access|
|Unblocks BBC iPlayer|
|Reccomended for other streaming services||Hulu, Netflix, Amazon Prime, Disney+, HBO Max||Hulu, Netflix, Amazon Prime, Disney+, HBO Max||Hulu, Netflix, Disney+, HBO Max||Hulu, Netflix, Amazon Prime, Disney+, HBO Max||Amazon Prime, HBO Max, Hulu||Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, Disney+, HBO Max|
|Average speed (USA)||460 Mbps||317 Mbps||853 Mbps||94 Mbps||247 Mbps||136Mbps||76 Mbps|
|Simultaneous connections How many devices can you connect at once?||6||Unlimited||7||6||Unlimited||5||10|
|Money back guarantee||30 days||30 days||45 days||30 days||30 days||30 days||30 days|
|Lowest monthly cost||$3.29||$2.49||$2.29||$2.00||$1.99 per month||$6.67||$2.19|
Can I watch the BBC abroad with a free VPN?
Free VPN services can be tempting, but we advise against using one for several reasons. The first is their performance; free VPNs rarely have enough servers to support all of their users, and this manifests as slow speeds. Streaming is fairly data-intensive, particularly at higher resolutions, and as such, it’s likely you’ll experience choppy playback, subpar video quality, long buffering times and data limits. Further, the BBC regularly updates its geo-blocking measures so there’s a good chance you won’t be able to access BBC iPlayer at all with a free VPN service.
These services might be free to use, but they are businesses and as such, exist to make money. Most use an ad-supported model or offer perks like higher speeds for a monthly fee, but some resort to shadier practices. Some services store tracking cookies on your device to see which sites you visit, and sell the resulting consumer profile to advertisers. This takes control over who sees your data out of your hands, which is the exact opposite of what a VPN is supposed to do.
Unfortunately, it’s difficult to even tell if you are using a safe VPN or not. Researchers recently tested 283 free VPN apps and found that almost 40% contained malware, 84% were vulnerable to IPv6 leaks, and 18% used no encryption whatsoever. Well-known services aren’t necessarily safer; in 2015, Hola was caught selling user bandwidth to help run a botnet.
How to sign up for the BBC iPlayer
Creating a new BBC account is easy and only takes a few minutes. First, go to the login page and click Register Now. You’ll be asked to enter details including your date of birth, email address, and postal code. This last step isn’t much of a deterrent for overseas viewers, however, as any UK post code is accepted, and you don’t have to prove your location in any way. When you’re done, click Register, and verify your email address.
British law requires you to have a TV license to watch anything on the BBC iPlayer. While this service does sometimes show a popup making you aware of this, it doesn’t appear every time you try to watch something and as such, is easy to forget. The iPlayer doesn’t actually check whether you have a TV license or not and relies entirely on an honor system.
How to watch BBC iPlayer in the USA FAQ
VPN not working with iPlayer?
There are a few reasons why your VPN might not be working with BBC iPlayer. Below, we’ll explain, step by step, what you can do to narrow down the cause of the issue.
- Firstly, make sure you’re connected to a British server, since iPlayer is only available in the UK.
- When you use the BBC iPlayer website or app, it stores your location. To have it forget your old location, simply clear your cookies. The next time you visit, this service will be forced to get your location again, and should hopefully allow you to watch.
- Still no luck? Turn off location services, as well as any ad-blockers you might be running. Note that some VPNs have ad-blockers built-in which are often accidentally overlooked.
- At this point, you may want to get in touch with your VPN’s support team. Staff may be able to tell you of a specific server capable of unblocking iPlayer. Alternatively, if the VPN no longer works with BBC iPlayer, at least you’ll know for sure.
How do I watch BBC iPlayer on a normal, not smart TV?
Because BBC iPlayer is such a popular service, it has apps for all kinds of devices. This means that you don’t necessarily need a Smart TV to watch it, provided you have another device capable of running the iPlayer app.
For instance, if you have a PlayStation or Xbox games console, or an Amazon Fire Stick, all you have to do is connect these to your TV and they’ll effectively turn it into a Smart TV. All that’s left to do is install the BBC iPlayer app from the store and start streaming.
Does Smart DNS proxy work with BBC iPlayer?
If you’d like to live stream BBC iPlayer from abroad but can’t install a VPN, Smart DNS services are a good compromise. There are plenty of these capable of unblocking iPlayer (including Smart DNS proxy) but it’s important to bear in mind that they don’t usually encrypt your data the way a VPN would. Additionally, you’ll have to manually change your DNS settings any time you want to change location, whereas VPN apps let you switch region in just a few clicks.
Is it legal to stream BBC iPlayer in USA?
So what does this actually mean, considering it’s not a crime to do so? Essentially, BBC iPlayer will attempt to stop you from streaming abroad with a series of advanced VPN-detection features. Even if it finds that you’re using a VPN, though, you’ll just be asked to turn it off -- there are currently no reports of anyone having their account banned for watching via VPN.
Why else might I need a VPN?
VPNs enable you to do more than just watch the BBC in the USA. Worried about having access to your RBS, Santander, or Halifax bank account limited because you logged in from another country? Just connect to a British VPN server first and it’s likely your bank’s automated system won’t even realize you’re actually somewhere else. You can also use this method to access betting sites like Ladbrokes and William Hill from outside of the UK.
As your traffic is often routed through a server in a completely different country, you can use a VPN to bypass any web filtering imposed by your workplace, or the government. Public wifi networks are often less secure than they should be, which means they’re a prime target for hackers. However, when connected to a VPN, you’ll know for certain that your activities are safe from prying eyes.
Which BBC channels and shows can I watch with a VPN?
The BBC offers a huge variety of content ranging from soap operas to gritty dramas. Below, we’ve listed the BBC channels you can stream live and some of the shows you can watch on the BBC iPlayer:
- BBC One
- BBC Two
- BBC Four
- BBC News
- BBC Three
- BBC Scotland
- BBC Parliament
- BBC Alba
- Radio 1
Can I play BBC iPlayer downloads abroad?
Although BBC iPlayer won’t let you stream live or on-demand content from outside of the UK, it has no issue with you watching previously-downloaded shows abroad. In fact, it says as much in its website’s official support section.
Can I watch BBC iPlayer in the USA on Roku TV?
Unblocking BBC iPlayer on Roku is a little more complicated than on a different device, since the selection of apps is very limited, and no VPNs are supported. However, it’s not impossible to stream your favorite BBC shows from abroad on Roku. Just follow these steps:
- Install a VPN capable of unblocking BBC iPlayer on your PC or mobile device.
- Connect to a British server (if in doubt, London servers are usually a safe bet).
- Create a new wireless hotspot to share your encrypted connection with other devices.
- Go into your Roku’s settings menu and connect to your newly-created hotspot.
- Finally, simply open the BBC iPlayer app and try watching something. If you still can’t use the service, try a different VPN server or get in touch with your provider’s support team for more assistance.
Can I watch iPlayer on Firestick?
Yes, you can start watching BBC iPlayer on Firestick in a matter of minutes. There isn’t even any need to sideload anything, since the app is included in the Amazon app store. Just search for “BBC iPlayer”, install the app, and sign in.
How does BBC iPlayer know I am abroad?
When you visit the BBC iPlayer website, it can automatically detect your home IP address. This digital address instantly reveals your location, which tells the BBC whether you are in the UK.
If you are outside of Britain on vacation or traveling for work, the service will instantly be able to tell. As a result, it will assume that you are a foreigner attempting to watch its content in an unlicensed region.
With a VPN, you can get around this problem. Connecting to a UK VPN server that works with iPlayer gives you a valid UK IP address. This means you can login to your usual account and continue watching iPlayer while away.
Can I download the iPlayer app in the US?
Yes. Although the iPlayer app is only officially available in the UK, you can still access it on the Google Play Store or Apple App Store by connecting to a VPN. By connecting to a VPN server in Britain, you will appear to be back home in the UK, and the app store will list the iPlayer app and let you download it as usual.