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BBC iPlayer Detecting VPN? Here’s how to fix that! (October 2018)

Is BBC iPlayer not working with your VPN? Bad news. BBC iPlayer is detecting a VPN and your provider’s IP address is blacklisted. There’s a simple workaround though. Continue reading to learn how to fix that!

How is BBC iPlayer Detecting my VPN?

Until recently, pretty much any VPN was good enough to let you watch BBC iPlayer abroad. However, since late 2017, iPlayer users have experienced issues when using a VPN from overseas.

This is because BBC iPlayer is has started detecting and blacklisting VPNs. The way BBC iPlayer detects VPNs is simple. VPNs have lots of customers and only a handful of servers in the UK. And when too many VPN-users connect to iPlayer at the same time, it’s easy for the BBC to identify IP addresses that are actually VPN servers. The BBC responds by blacklisting these IPs. Which is why you’re now seeing an error message when trying to watch BBC iPlayer through a VPN that once worked. See also: Netflix detecting VPN? Here’s how to fix that!

BBC iPlayer not working with VPN: How to fix

The workaround is pretty logical. You need to buy a VPN that gives you access to IP addresses that aren’t blacklisted by BBC iPlayer.

There are two ways to do this.  You can either buy a VPN that’s winning the game of Cat and Mouse against the BBC. ExpressVPN (£4.80/month) and NordVPN (£2.04/month) are the best at this. Alternatively, you can buy a VPN with a dedicated IP. Dedicated IPs are a more expensive option, but getting one means you won’t be sharing your IP with other customers, so your connection won’t ever get blacklisted.

I’ve been using NordVPN (£2.04/month) since March – all the way from New Zealand – and haven’t had any problems streaming BBC iPlayer.

ExpressVPN takes a pragmatic approach to unblocking BBC iPlayer. While other VPNs tempt customers by advertising hundreds of servers in the UK, ExpressVPN relies on its software and infrastructure to manage the problem. This is because ExpressVPN doesn’t let you choose a specific server. Instead, you select one of two locations in the UK, usually London Docklands and Berkshire. From here, ExpressVPN does the rest. This hands-on approach prevents servers from having too many users. Which, as we explain above, is what causes VPN servers and IPs to get blacklisted in the first place.

NordVPN offers another excellent option. Nord has 480+ servers in the UK and you can connect to whichever one you like. Unless a server is oversubscribed. NordVPN makes these servers unavailable to new connections. The good thing about Nord’s 480+ servers is that they all work with iPlayer. You don’t have to cycle through them in a trial-and-error fashion to find one that works. NordVPN also offers free live chat support on its website. Customers are encouraged to get in contact with a support agent if they’re having any issues connecting to any streaming service.

Click here to get 77% off NordVPN! (£2.04/month)

If you can afford it, another good way to beat iPlayer’s VPN ban (in the long run) is to use a dedicated IP. Using a VPN with a dedicated IP means you won’t be sharing your connection with thousands of other customers – so your connection won’t ever get blacklisted. I’ve also been using PureVPN with a dedicated IP (£3.62/month) since December and haven’t experienced any problems accessing BBC iPlayer. NordVPN has also added dedicated IPs to its list of features, however, it’s more expensive – costing £52/year.

Click here to get dedicated IP from PureVPN (£3.62/month).

Note for Amazon Fire TV Stick users:

If you’re having trouble watching BBC iPlayer via an Amazon Fire TV Stick, don’t panic. You’re not alone. This is a known issue, and all major VPNs are racing for a solution. In the meantime, we suggest taking a look at our VPN not working on Amazon FireStick article. Where we take you through what steps you need to take to get iPlayer working (with a VPN) on your FireStick again.


List of VPNs not working with BBC iPlayer

  • TunnelBear
  • IPVanish
  • Hotspot Shield
  • VyprVPN
  • Windshield
  • CyberGhost

Why does BBC iPlayer block VPNs?

BBC iPlayer not working with VPN

The simple answer is because they’re used by people who are not in the correct location/country to access iPlayer.

As recently as last year, internet users could use any cheap VPN to stream catchup content from any country. This method meant BBC iPlayer, and all of its content was open to anyone in the world with a VPN. Not just the TV License-paying British public.

Great for the end-consumer. Not great for rights holders. This led to the broadcasters (with on-demand content) upgrading their geo-restriction technology.

The way catchup TV providers detect a VPN’s IP address is pretty simple. Broadcasters recognised that VPNs were sharing a small number of IP addresses with their thousands/millions of customers. This meant certain IP addresses were accessing and downloading excessive amounts of data from BBC, Netflix, BT Sport another broadcasters’ servers. And this made the VPN’s IP addresses pretty easy to spot and blacklist.

Picture your IP address as your home’s internet connection. Normal behaviour would look something like 2-6 users accessing the internet at any given time. That’s a maximum of 2-6 users accessing BBC iPlayer’s servers at the same time. VPNs share UK IP address with thousands of customers which makes the level of content downloaded from the same IP address abnormal. And more importantly, easy for the BBC to spot and blacklist.

See also: How to listen to BBC Radio abroad.

TunnelBear/IPVanish not working with BBC iPlayer?

Until recently, TunnelBear and IPVanish were two of the most popular VPNs used to access BBC iPlayer. However, TunnelBear and IPVanish users will now notice that the VPN is not working with iPlayer anymore.

Worse still, they not fighting the ban. Which means customers who bought lengthy subscriptions to these VPNs to watch BBC iPlayer abroad and now left stranded. Unfortunately, there’s nothing these customers can do. Their only option is to switch to one of the VPNs featured above.

The good news from iPlayer’s VPN ban is that it’s helped customers realise which VPNs are the real deal. The likes of NordVPN, ExpressVPN and PureVPN all have employed dedicated technical teams to fight the BBC (and Netflix) VPN ban. They all have teams that are monitoring their server’s connections around the clock. And if they notice any problems they get to work on a fix immediately.

How to create a BBC iPlayer account?

The BBC now requires users to sign in to watch iPlayer. The service is still free for to access for anyone within the UK – meaning all you need is a VPN that’s still working with iPlayer (still).

Registering for a BBC iPlayer account is about the easiest thing you can do online. You only need an email address and UK postcode. Neither needs to be legitimate. You can even use a random postcode if you don’t want the BBC to collect data about you personally.

To sign up go to and enter a valid; Email, DoB, UK Postcode, and select your Gender.

That’s it.

Read next: How to watch ITV Hub abroad.

  • dc

    I do have a real uk address, and at that address I pay for the full BBC license fee. When I am holiday abroad I like to be able watch the BBC news by downloading it. I was using purevpn to do this but it has now stopped working. Is there a solution to this problem ?

    • David Court

      Hi dc. PureVPN with a dedicated IP should be all you need. Have you spoken to their support team via the Live Chat feature on the website?

      • Simon Clark

        They told me their dedicated IPs are only in require postcodes to register…thats not too good that london is the only option…more chance of doubling up on existing used postcodes

        • David Court

          Hi Simon. I use a PureVPN dedicated IP with a Post Code (with a full TV license) that’s not from London. The Post Code you use to register for iPlayer with doesn’t need to match your IP location – it just needs to be from within the UK.

  • Vadim Linev

    Hi Dave, thanks for the useful article!
    I am trying to set iPlayer up on an Android media player (Mecool), VPN works fine, so I can watch programs in a browser, but then BBC web site does not allow me to download iPlayer app. It says that this device is not supported. My guess is that it’s because this media player does not provide proper DRM support. Netflix for example allows only lower resolution video for such devices. Any suggestion on this? Would it be reasonable to expect it to work on other Android devices?

    • David Court

      Hi Vadim. Glad my article helped. Annoying that your device isn’t supported by iPlayer. That’s still part of the problem with Android, I guess. When a manufacturer makes something that’s too different (from the mainstream) not all apps will be supported.

      As far as I know, BBC iPlayer works on most Android devices. It might be a little different for streaming devices though. The Amazon Firestick is a good option. And it’s cheap. You might need register to the Firestick as UK account to download iPlayer from the correct app store. Does that make sense?

      • Vadim Linev

        Thanks for a quick reply Dave!
        Cool, so it should work on other Android devices, so I’d better try on some other device. Or a Firestick. I tried to download right from the BBC website, not a Google store, so looks like it’s not a country of registration thing, but rather they were not happy about something on the device itself.

        • David Court

          Yes, BBC iPlayer works fine on the Firestick. However, you can’t download programs on it either. You can only stream them via the app (I think). If you have an Android phone or tablet, you can download the programs and watch them offline for up to a month, I think. But that’s only via the app too.

  • Net4U unblocks BBC iPlayer in most countries. Always best to use a VPN provider that switches IP sockets constantly to combat blocking.

  • Tyler Knight

    BBC iPlayer works fine with NordVPN. Had some issues with Netflix about a week ago, but it was resolved almost instantly when I contacted support. I think probably the amount of servers Nord has and the frequency of new servers being added is the biggest pain in the arse for BBC and Netflix.

  • notselc

    You have to update your article BBC iPlayer mate all the UK IP address have been blocked

  • Max Pell

    I’m quite a long paying subscriber of Private Internet Access, although it’s blocked on BBC iPlayer, this should be added to your list of “List of VPNs not working with BBC iPlayer”. I probably will be thinking of switching.