You can watch BBC iPlayer for free in the USA if you use a VPN, however, many VPNs are blocked by the BBC. Read on to see which VPNs work and how to use them.
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, a no-logs policy, and a 30-day money-back guarantee.
- Surfshark A fast, security-conscious VPN that unblocks BBC iPlayer with ease and allows any number of connections. Great security and privacy offering.
- CyberGhost A budget, user-friendly service with pre-configured security options and strong unblocking ability, CyberGhost is ideal for those new to VPNs.
- PrivateVPN This VPN is secure, privacy-conscious, faster than most, and unblocks a wide range of popular streaming services.
- Hotspot Shield: A great all-rounder with excellent speed, security features, and unblocking ability. Great for streaming BBC iPlayer abroad.
- ExpressVPN Fast, reliable, secure, and boasting excellent unblocking capability.
- VyprVPN A log-less, security-oriented VPN with fast speeds and the ability to unblock BBC iPlayer from anywhere.
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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Choosing the right VPN for watching the BBC abroad
With so many different VPN providers all claiming to be the best, it can be difficult to decide which one to use. To find the best VPNs for streaming the BBC in the US, we chose to only recommend services with all of the following characteristics:
- Reliably unblocks BBC iPlayer and similar streaming platforms
- Offers consistently high-speed connections
- Uses strong encryption and includes several other security features
- Doesn’t log any information that could identify you
- Has apps for all of the most popular operating systems
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’s able to bypass even the most stubborn geo-blocking measures, meaning you’ll be able to 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.
NordVPN speed test data
|Average Connection Speed - North America (USA)||111.7 Mbps|
|Average Connection Speed - Europe (UK)||122.3 Mbps|
|Average Connection Speed - Asia (Hong Kong)||112.0 Mbps|
- 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.
Surfshark speed test data
|Average Connection Speed - North America (USA)||170 Mbps|
|Average Connection Speed - Europe (UK)||230 Mbps|
|Average Connection Speed - Asia (Hong Kong)||220 Mbps|
- 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: 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.
CyberGhost speed test data
|Average Connection Speed - North America (USA)||78.7 Mbps|
|Average Connection Speed - Europe (UK)||54.7 Mbps|
|Average Connection Speed - Asia (Hong Kong)||39.3 Mbps|
- Fast, reliable service
- No issues unblocking US 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 unblock the BBC 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 unblocks 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.
PrivateVPN speed test data
|Average Connection Speed - North America (USA)||94 Mbps|
|Average Connection Speed - Europe (UK)||56.7 Mbps|
|Average Connection Speed - Asia (Hong Kong)||61.7 Mbps|
- Unblocks 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: 45 DAYS
Hotspot Shield has a few characteristics that make it ideal for streaming. First, it has more than 1,800 servers in 80 countries (including the UK). Second, it boasts above-average speeds, which means you won’t have to worry about lag or buffering while watching your favorite shows. As well as BBC iPlayer, this service works with Netflix, ITV Hub, and more. Up to five devices can be connected at once.
There’s a lot to like as far as security goes. For instance, this VPN includes 256-bit AES encryption, a kill switch, and automatic wifi protection (which lets the app connect on its own any time you use an unsecured network). There’s also protection against DNS and IPv6 leaks, plus a no-logging policy. 24/7 support is on-hand via live chat and email, should you need it.
Hotspot Shield has apps for Android, iOS, MacOS, Windows, and Linux. You can also manually install it on supported routers.
Hotspot Shield speed test data
|Average Connection Speed - North America (USA)||48 Mbps|
|Average Connection Speed - Europe (UK)||49 Mbps|
|Average Connection Speed - Asia (Hong Kong)||48 Mbps|
- Very fast speeds for streaming HD content
- Unblocks some of the most popular streaming services from abroad
- Includes a wide variety of powerful security features
- Some past privacy concerns
- Doesn’t support any anonymous payment options
SILKY SMOOTH STREAMING:Hotspot Shield is fast enough for 4K streaming, so you shouldn’t have any issues watching BBC live. Further, it includes a powerful security toolkit and comes with a 45-day money-back guarantee.
Read the full Hotspot Shield review.
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 reliably unblock 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.
ExpressVPN speed test data
|Average Connection Speed - North America (USA)||135.7 Mbps|
|Average Connection Speed - Europe (UK)||134 Mbps|
|Average Connection Speed - Asia (Hong Kong)||136 Mbps|
- Unblocks major streaming sites, e.g. Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and ITV Hub
- 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 unblocking ability, plus a 30-day money-back guarantee.
Read our full review of ExpressVPN here
Money-back guarantee: 30 DAYS
VyprVPN currently has more than 700 servers in 64 countries including the UK. This service offers consistently high speeds and can easily unblock popular streaming platforms including Netflix UK, ITV Hub, and of course, BBC iPlayer. Three simultaneous connections are permitted although this increases to five for premium subscribers.
This service uses 256-bit encryption, a kill switch (in desktop apps), perfect forward secrecy, and DNS leak protection by default. It can obfuscate your traffic using its proprietary Chameleon protocol, making it harder to detect that you’re using a VPN. VyprVPN does not log any personal information, making you almost completely anonymous online. Support is available via live chat, 24/7.
VyprVPN provides apps for Blackphone, Android, iOS, Windows, and MacOS. It can be manually installed on Linux devices and select internet routers.
VyprVPN speed test data
|Average Connection Speed - North America (USA)||41 Mbps|
|Average Connection Speed - Europe (UK)||44.3 Mbps|
|Average Connection Speed - Asia (Hong Kong)||47.3 Mbps|
- Excellent security and privacy features
- Fast, reliable connection
- Unblocks most popular geo-blocked sites
- Doesn’t accept Bitcoin
- A little more expensive than some of its rivals
ADVANCED SECURITY:VyprVPN is a security-focused provider with high speeds, strong unblocking potential, and a no-logs policy. It even offers a three-day free trial.
Read our full review of VyprVPN here
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
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.