Content you can trust

BBC iPlayer Detecting VPN? Here’s how to fix that! (December 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!


BBC iPlayer detecting VPN? Quick fix

Below, I go into detail about how/why BBC iPlayer blocks VPNs. But if you want a quick fix for the BBC iPlayer detecting VPN problem you only need to read this section.

The only thing you NEED to know regarding “iPlayer not working with a VPN” is that the BBC only blocks IP addresses. It doesn’t actually block VPNs. However, if the VPN you use doesn’t refresh its IPs once they’ve been blacklisted by the Beeb, you won’t be able to watch iPlayer.

The fix for this is really simple. You need to use a VPN that plays Cat and Mouse with iPlayer. When an IP is blacklisted, its immediately shut down and replaced with a fresh (undetected) IP.

I suggest using either ExpressVPN (£5.13/month) or PureVPN (£2.30/month) as these are two of the best at playing Cat and Mouse with BBC iPlayer’s blacklist.

iPlayer detecting VPN: How to fix (step-by-step)
  1. Check if your current VPN is blacklisted (see below). If it is, you need to change VPNs
  2. Sign up with a VPN that still works with iPlayer (ExpressVPN or PureVPN)
  3. Download and install the app
  4. Connect to a server in the UK
  5. Watch BBC iPlayer from anywhere in the world

It’s as easy as that.

Does BBC iPlayer still work with VPNs?

Yes.  I watch and listen to content on BBC iPlayer several times a week. And have done since October 2017 when I moved from the UK to New Zealand.

However, not every VPN still works with BBC iPlayer. If you’re trying to connect using TunnelBear, IPVanish, Hotspot Shield, VyprVPN, Windscribe, CyberGhost, Buffered, or Hide My Ass! you will run into problems.

This is because iPlayer started blocking some VPNs from accessing its servers. Continue reading below to find out more.

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 Fire TV Stick article. Where we take you through what steps you need to take to get iPlayer working (with a VPN) on your FireStick again.

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 for when BBC iPlayer is not working with your current VPN, is pretty logical. You need to buy a different VPN. One that’s not been blacklisted by iPlayer and one that gives you access to IP addresses that aren’t blacklisted by BBC iPlayer.

There are two methods.

1. The easiest way is to buy a VPN that’s winning the game of Cat and Mouse against the BBC. ExpressVPN (£5.13/month) and PureVPN (£2.30/month) are the best at this.

2. 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 both ExpressVPN (£5.13/month) and PureVPN (£2.30/month) since March – all the way from New Zealand – and haven’t had any problems streaming BBC iPlayer.

I’ve been using ExpressVPN (£5.13/month) to watch BBC iPlayer since March this year. Other VPNs such as PureVPN (£2.30/month) and NordVPN (£3.02/month) are excellent alternatives if you want to spend a little less on unblocking iPlayer (and US Netflix!). But if you want the very best service, my advice is to go with ExpressVPN.

This is because ExpressVPN is a service that takes a pragmatic approach to unblocking BBC iPlayer and other streaming sites. While other VPNs tempt customers by advertising hundreds of servers in the UK, ExpressVPN relies on its software and infrastructure to manage the problem.

ExpressVPN still has hundreds of servers in the UK – and thousands of servers around the world – but it manages them better than other VPNs.

The ExpressVPN app doesn’t let individual users choose specific servers. Instead, customers must select from just a  handful of locations in the UK (East London, Docklands, Berkshire, London, Kent and Wembley are the current options). From here, the ExpressVPN app does the rest – connecting you to the fastest available server.

This is really important as it keeps individual servers from being overloaded. This hands-on approach from ExpressVPN prevents its 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.

Click here to get ExpressVPN for £5.13/month – Enjoy 3 months free when you sign up for a year!

Have you thought about a Dedicated IP?

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 ($2.49/month) with a dedicated IP (+$1.99/month) since December and haven’t experienced any problems accessing BBC iPlayer. Click here to get dedicated IP from PureVPN (£3.50/month).

Which VPNs still work with BBC iPlayer?

We recommend using one of the four VPN providers below for consistent access to BBC iPlayer. Other VPNs my work periodically, but the three featured below have all been tested and verified. They also provide excellent support.

1. ExpressVPN

Price: £5.13/month

Which VPNs still work with BBC iPlayer - ExpressVPN

ExpressVPN (£5.13/month) is the best VPN you can buy. If you can afford the extra few pounds/dollars a month, you won’t regret it.

The first thing you need to know about this VPN is that it’s fast. Really fast! It consistently tops our independent VPN speed tests, with blazingly fast download/upload speeds. And importantly, it ALWAYS has servers that are open with major streaming sites such as Netflix, Amazon, HBO Go and BBC iPlayer.

This is partly because ExpressVPN is one of the best services at playing Cat and Mouse with online streaming sites. Whenever one of its servers is blacklisted it creates a new one. Giving users a constant stream of servers that work with iPlayer.

Its app is easy-to-use and free to download on pretty much any device you can think of. Mac, Windows, iOS, Android, FireStick, Android TV, Roku, PS4, Xbox, Linux, even Apple TV. It’s got it all covered.

The app is another main reason this VPN is so good at unblocking TV streaming sites (that claim they block VPNs) is that its software takes a pragmatic approach to user management. While other VPNs tempt customers by promising them access to hundreds/thousands of servers in multiple countries, ExpressVPN does things differently.

With ExpressVPN you only have a handful of server locations to choose from. Once you select your location the app takes care of the rest. Assigning you to the fastest available server that’s not oversubscribed. This simple technique is so important, as it keeps ExpressVPN’s servers operating at lightning-fast speeds and prevent its IPs from getting blacklisted for “abnormal” usage in the first place.

ExpressVPN is a little more expensive than the other VPNs on this list that still work with online streaming sites. But if you can afford it, it’s totally worth it.

Get ExpressVPN (£5.13/month)…enjoy 3-months free when you sign up 12-months!)

2. PureVPN

Price: £2.49/month

Which VPNs still work with BBC iPlayer - PureVPN

Another of our favourite services is PureVPN (£2.30/month). And if you can afford to pay an extra $1.99/month for a dedicated IP, you’ll be buying guaranteed access to iPlayer 24/7 as you’re the only user who will be connecting to iPlayer, which means it won’t get blocked for abnormal behaviour. The 24-month subscription (with a dedicated IP), the monthly price still works out cheaper than some of its closest rivals.

However, the standard package is good enough. The app (Windows, Mac, iOS and Android) works slightly differently from its rivals. It’s unique because it lets you filter server by ‘Purpose’ and then connects you to the best server for the job. Here, for example, you would select your purpose as BBC iPlayer Streaming, and then let PureVPN do the rest.

On the rare occasion when this method doesn’t work, you’re encouraged to get in touch with a PureVPN agent via the website’s Live Chat service. Where they’ll fix the problem and get you watching BBC iPlayer again asap.

Get PureVPN (£2.30/month).

3. NordVPN

Price: £3.02/month

Which VPNs still work with BBC iPlayer - NordVPN

NordVPN is one of best VPNs for streaming BBC iPlayer abroad.

NordVPN employs a full-time technical team that’s responsible for monitoring its servers connections with popular TV streaming services. BBC iPlayer is included in its watchlist (so is US Netflix). This team constantly works on staying one-step ahead of iPlayer, ensuring that it’s servers/IPs don’t get blacklisted in the first place. And if there ever is a problem, they work on creating a fix asap. Nord also offers customers access to 500+ servers in the UK and 24/7 free technical support via its website’s Live Chat feature.

I’ve been using NordVPN to watch BBC iPlayer, from New Zealand, since March and haven’t experienced any downtime with the service.

Get NordVPN (£3.02/month)

4. Ivacy

Price: £1.74/month

BBC iPlayer detecting VPN - Ivacy

If you’re looking for an excellent VPN, with an even better price tag, Ivacy (£1.74/month) is a great option.

This VPN has all the features you need to stream BBC iPlayer, in HD, from any country in the world. I’ve been testing the app recently on Mac, PC, Android, iOS and FireStick and the results have been impressive – unlocking BBC iPlayer, US/UK Netflix, 4oD etc with ease.

For an extra $1.99/month (£1.55) you can add-on a dedicated IP. This will buy you sole access to an IP address in a country of your choice, meaning you won’t have to share your IP (and speeds) with any other use.

Get Ivacy for £1.74/month

List of VPNs not working with BBC iPlayer

  • TunnelBear
  • IPVanish
  • Hotspot Shield
  • VyprVPN
  • Windscribe
  • CyberGhost
  • Buffered
  • Hide My Ass!

Why does BBC iPlayer block VPNs?

BBC iPlayer Detecting VPN 2018

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.

  • 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.