Note 9/11/23: ExpressVPN is currently blocked by BBC iPlayer. When this has happened previously, ExpressVPN unblocks iPlayer again within a few hours to days.
In this article I’ll show what I did when BBC iPlayer stopped working with my VPN back in 2017. Since then, I’ve enjoyed uninterrupted access to BBC iPlayer (from all over the world).
Ok, enough guff, let’s get into it.
Which VPNs work with BBC iPlayer?
|Download Speed||79 Mbps||71 Mbps||27 Mbps||31 Mbps||41 Mbps|
|Price per month||$6.66||$3.79||$2.03||$1.00||$2.19|
We regularly check which VPNs are working with BBC iPlayer. Our last test was on 16th October 2023.
BBC iPlayer not working with VPN: Checklist
- Check if BBC iPlayer works with your VPN on another device
- Connect to a UK Server with a low user count (if possible)
- Clear Cookies and Cache: Remove old location data from your browser/device
- Verify VPN IP Address: Use whatismyip.com to check you have a UK IP
- Disable GPS and/or location services on mobile devices
- VPN Software Update: Make sure your VPN software is the latest version. Try uninstalling and reinstalling
- Switch VPN protocols
- Reach out to your VPN’s customer service for iPlayer-specific recommendations
- Upgrade VPN: If all else fails, consider switching to a known BBC iPlayer-friendly VPN
- I recommend ExpressVPN ($6.66/month) or NordVPN ($3.79/month) for BBC iPlayer
Tip: Sometimes, simply restarting your VPN or changing the server can resolve access issues. If consistent problems arise, it may be time to consider a more reliable VPN service.
Remember, this checklist will only work if BBC iPlayer hasn’t blacklisted your VPN’s IP addresses. And if you’re not using ExpressVPN or NordVPN, there’s a good chance that BBC iPlayer is not working with your VPN because its IP addresses have been blacklisted.
Unfortunately, the BBC doesn’t publish a list of the VPNs it has (successfully banned). But, if you’re seeing one of these messages – “This content is not available in your location.” | “BBC iPlayer only works in the UK. Sorry, it’s due to rights issues.” | “This content doesn’t seem to be working.” – there’s a strong chance BBC iPlayer has blocked your VPN.
BBC iPlayer not working with VPN: Fixes
Total Time: 5 minutes
Check if your VPN works on another device
This is the easiest thing you can do to figure out what you need to do next. If you VPN works with BBC iPlayer on your smartphone, but not your computer, then you know your VPN isn’t the problem. If your VPN does work on one device, jump to Step 3 below.
Contact your VPNs live chat service
This is another easy one. Cycle through your VPN’s available servers. If you only have a few options available to you, go to your VPN’s website and find the Live Chat feature (if they have one) and ask for a specific server number that works with BBC iPlayer. This is the single most effective way to diagnose if your VPN is the problem or not. If they can’t point you towards a server that works with BBC iPlayer then you know, without doubt, that the VPN is the problem.
Delete your cookies
Deleting your cookies can potentially fix VPN issues. Accumulated or corrupted cookies in a browser might interfere with the way websites and online services function, especially when using a VPN. Clearing these cookies removes any old or problematic data, thereby ensuring a cleaner slate for your VPN connection to operate. This can help in establishing a more stable connection and resolving conflicts between the VPN and certain web services like BBC iPlayer
Connect to a different server
If your VPN has suddenly stopped working with BBC iPlayer, it might be because the IP address your VPN has given you has been identified and blocked by the streaming service. Changing to a different server will give you a different IP address, and if that one hasn’t been blocked, your VPN will work with BBC iPlayeragain.
Reinstall or update your VPN
Think of this as the classic “turn it on and off again” tactic. Removing your VPN, and its settings, from your device and starting again is a good way to get the most up-to-date settings configured on your devices without much effort. If you don’t want to reinstall the software, you can always check to see if there’s an update available to download any fixes your service may have introduced.
Switch VPN protocols
VPN protocols are the beating heart of a VPN. They determine how the VPN works. When you use a VPN the protocol is responsible for hiding your data and rerouting it via VPN servers. If BBC iPlayer isn’t working with your VPN, it might be because the protocol you’re using is no longer working with the service. If your VPN allows it, try changing to a different protocol to see if that fixes the issue. Take a look at our VPN protocols article to discover more about which technology might be best for you.
Upgrade your VPN
The best VPNs for BBC iPlayer: Quicklist
ExpressVPN ($6.66/month) is the gold standard of VPNs. With servers in 94 countries and top-tier encryption protocols, it provides users the fastest and most reliable way to unblock streaming services from anywhere in the world.
NordVPN ($3.19/month) has an expansive network of 5,800+ high-speed servers in 60 countries – making it a great option for anyone looking to unblock popular streaming services, at a more mid-range prince point. An excellent choice.
Private Internet Access ($2.03/month) is the “best of the rest” VPN. It stands out as a solid streaming VPN with a budget price tag. It’s not as reliable, or fast, as ExpressVPN or NordVPN. Making it a more suitable choice for a casual VPN user.
Ivacy ($1.00/month) the price is the selling point here. If you want a VPN that works with major streaming services “most of the time” and don’t mind a bit of buffering during peak periods, Ivacy is fine. But it’s a nowhere near as good as ExpressVPN and NordVPN.
CyberGhost ($2.19/month) is a decent VPN option that offers user-friendly apps and a range of servers worldwide. While it may not lead the pack in all features, it provides a satisfactory balance of privacy, speed, and ease of use.
BBC detecting VPN? Here’s what you NEED to know
The first thing you need to do is check if BBC iPlayer works with your VPN on another device. From my experience, accessing BBC iPlayer with a VPN from a laptop/desktop PC or Mac is the most reliable. If you’re able to access BBC iPlayer from one device, you should be able to access it from all devices.
If iPlayer doesn’t work on any device, then that suggests your VPN is at fault.
I strongly recommend ExpressVPN ($6.66/month) or NordVPN ($3.79/month). Both have excellent uptime statistics with BBC iPlayer and offer risk-free 30-day trials and provide excellent Live Chat support if you run into any trouble.
Note that even the very best VPNs occasionally encounter issues with BBC iPlayer (and other streaming services). While these interruptions are uncommon and brief, it’s a good idea to understand the potential causes and solutions.
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You can always hope and wait for your VPN to release new IP addresses that haven’t been blacklisted by BBC iPlayer. However, the fact that this has happened already means your VPN doesn’t have measures in place to get around these blocks, and inevitably these new IP addresses will be blacklisted as well.
This could result in you wasting money on a subscription to a VPN that isn’t going to work. Also, there’s no telling how long it will take for a VPN to release new IP addresses, as they’re expensive and hard to come by.
The best workaround for when BBC iPlayer is not working with your current VPN is pretty logical. You need to buy a different VPN. One that hasn’t been blacklisted by iPlayer and one that gives you access to IP addresses that aren’t blacklisted either.
If your BBC iPlayer is not working with your VPN, it’s time for a change. Upgrading to a premium VPN is the single best thing you can do to experience buffer-free access to BBC iPlayer from anywhere in the world.
BBC iPlayer not working with VPN: FAQs
Q: Why isn’t BBC iPlayer working with my VPN?
Answer: BBC iPlayer frequently updates its mechanisms to detect and block VPN services. If many users are accessing BBC iPlayer from the same VPN IP addresses, it flags this activity and can block access.
Q: Can I do anything about my current VPN not working with BBC iPlayer?
Answer: Absolutely! First, ensure your VPN is connected to a UK-based server. If that’s already the case, try clearing your browser’s cache and cookies. Occasionally, switching the VPN connection protocol can also help. If all else fails, consider contacting your VPN provider or switching to a more reliable one known for bypassing geo-restrictions effectively.
Q: Are there specific VPNs known to work best with BBC iPlayer?
Q: What should I do if only one of my devices can’t access BBC iPlayer using the VPN?
Answer: If BBC iPlayer works on one device but not another, it likely means there’s a device configuration issue. Check VPN settings on the problematic device, clear its cache, and ensure location services are off (for mobile devices).
Q: Why does BBC iPlayer block VPN services in the first place?
Answer: BBC iPlayer is available only for UK residents due to licensing agreements. To ensure compliance with these agreements and to restrict viewership to the UK, the BBC actively tries to detect and block VPN services that are used to bypass these geographic restrictions.
The VPNs we recommend for BBC iPlayer (2023)
The fastest and most reliable streaming VPN of 2023
- ✔160+ IP addresses in 94+ countries
- ✔5 simultaneous devices
- ✔Live chat support
- ✔Over 3,000 servers
- ✔>80% connection speed
- ✔Unlimited bandwidth
ExpressVPN is a premium choice for streaming BBC iPlayer, renowned for its lightning-fast speeds that ensure a buffer-free viewing experience. It boasts strong encryption and a strict no-logs policy, providing an extra layer of privacy and security for users in the UK.
With a vast network of servers globally, including numerous options in the UK, ExpressVPN consistently bypasses geo-restrictions, allowing seamless access to BBC iPlayer. The VPN also offers 24/7 customer support and a user-friendly interface, making it an excellent choice for both beginners and seasoned VPN users.
Read our full ExpressVPN review.
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An incredibly fast and trustworthy VPN
- ✔Over 5,000 servers worldwide
- ✔6 simultaneous devices
- ✔Reliable customer service
- ✔Fast NordLynx protocol
- ✔Cybersec ad and tracker blocker
- ✔Easy to use interface
NordVPN is highly regarded for its exceptional security features, including double VPN and onion over VPN, making it a secure choice for accessing BBC iPlayer. Its extensive network of over 5,000 servers worldwide, with plenty of servers in the UK, ensures reliable access to BBC iPlayer.
NordVPN also offers impressive connection speeds, which is crucial for streaming high-definition content without interruption. The VPN’s dedicated IP option is a significant advantage for consistent access, and its intuitive interface makes it user-friendly for all levels of users.
Read our full NordVPN review.
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An affordable, reliable VPN
- ✔35,000 servers worldwide
- ✔Unlimited simultaneous devices
- ✔24/7 chat support
- ✔Servers in over 80 countries
- ✔MACE ad blocker included
- ✔Supports multiple protocols
Private Internet Access provides a robust VPN service with a strong emphasis on privacy, featuring advanced encryption and a strict no-logs policy. Its large network of servers, including a significant presence in the UK, makes it a reliable choice for accessing BBC iPlayer.
PIA supports simultaneous connections on multiple devices, making it a versatile option for families or individuals with multiple devices. The VPN also offers customizable security settings, allowing users to tailor their experience according to their privacy needs while streaming on BBC iPlayer.
Read our full Private Internet Access review.
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A trustworthy and affordable VPN
- ✔5700+ servers worldwide
- ✔10 simultaneous devices
- ✔24/7 customer support
- ✔Dedicated IP address option
- ✔Available on all major platforms
- ✔Great price
Ivacy offers a budget-friendly VPN solution without compromising on essential features for streaming BBC iPlayer. It provides dedicated streaming servers, including those optimised for the UK, ensuring reliable access to BBC iPlayer content. Ivacy stands out for its high-speed connections and strong encryption, which are essential for a smooth streaming experience.
The VPN also includes a kill switch and split tunneling features, enhancing its functionality and security. Its user-friendly interface and 24/7 customer support make Ivacy a great option for users new to VPNs.
Read our full Ivacy review.
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A solid VPN package
- ✔Deloitte verified no logs policy
- ✔Servers in 91 countries
- ✔7 simulatenous devices
- ✔Proprietary NoSpy servers
- ✔Multiple protocol options
- ✔Split tunneling support
CyberGhost is known for its user-friendly interface and excellent streaming capabilities, making it a great choice for BBC iPlayer. It has a wide range of servers dedicated to streaming, including optimised servers for the UK, which facilitate easy and consistent access to BBC iPlayer.
CyberGhost offers strong encryption and an automatic kill switch, ensuring user data remains secure. The VPN also boasts high-speed connections for a seamless streaming experience. With its straightforward setup and dedicated profiles for different streaming services, CyberGhost is ideal for users who prioritise ease of use and efficient streaming.
Read our full CyberGhost review.
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How do I get around BBC iPlayer VPN blocks?
To get around BBC iPlayer’s VPN blocks you need to use a VPN that has measure to get around the methods the BBC uses to block VPNs. Essentially you need a BBC iPlayer VPN.
The best VPNs for BBC iPlayer have measures in place to ensure all of their IP addresses cannot be identified and blocked by the BBC.
Lesser VPNs struggle to get around these blocks, however the best VPNs play a game of cat and mouse with BBC iPlayer.
This will allow you to get around BBC iPlayer’s VPN blocking techniques.
How to create a BBC iPlayer account?
The BBC now requires users to sign in to watch iPlayer. The service is still free 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 https://account.bbc.com/register? and enter a valid; Email, DoB, UK Postcode, and select your gender.
BBC iPlayer download failed using VPN?
If you’re seeing “Download unavailable – Error Code: 3” or “Dash manifest failed”? when trying to download iPlayer programmes using a VPN, take a look at our How to download BBC iPlayer programmes abroad article to learn more and fix the issue.
Why is it happening with all VPNs? Good question. I contacted ExpressVPN, NordVPN and CyberGhost to find out why this is happening and their responses were largely the same. Each VPN provider explained that their servers were set up for streaming content, rather than downloading it to a device. I can confirm – as of September 2023 – that you can download programs using ExpressVPN ($6.66/month).
Why does BBC iPlayer block VPNs?
BBC iPlayer is one of the most coveted streaming services for VPN users globally. Its allure? It’s free to use, it’s ad-free and it’ packed with high-quality content. All users need to do is With a simple account creation and a robust VPN, viewers unlock a realm of premium content.
However, questions about the ethics and legality of VPN access to BBC iPlayer persist. The platform is primarily crafted for UK TV License Fee contributors. Yet, the borderless nature of the internet meant BBC iPlayer’s “free-to-air” model was bound to attract non-UK users.
A pressing concern for BBC iPlayer is its policy which restricts bona fide UK TV License Fee payers while abroad. For context, the EU’s Content Portability regulation mandates pay-TV providers to ensure accessibility for traveling subscribers. Although Brexit severed the BBC’s ties with this EU stipulation, the law still mirrors the evolving consensus on global streaming access.
The crux, it seems, lies in the BBC’s broadcasting agreements. Vigilance against VPNs safeguards their investment in content rights. Should BBC iPlayer turn a blind eye to VPNs, its potential reach expands, offering everyone 4K, ad-free content. Such unregulated access, especially during premier events, poses a financial threat to global broadcasters, jeopardising revenues linked to broadcast rights, paid subscriptions, or advertising.
Which VPN Protocol works best for BBC iPlayer?
BBC iPlayer, like many other streaming services, is continually improving its measures to detect and block VPNs, making the optimal choice of VPN protocol a shifting target. However, as of my last update in January 2022, let’s break down which protocol might work best:
- OpenVPN – This has been a consistent performer for bypassing geoblocks. Its strength lies in its versatility and strong encryption, which is often adept at circumventing such restrictions.
- For BBC iPlayer: OpenVPN is frequently recommended. While it’s not always the fastest option, its balance of speed and security makes it a good choice for streaming in high definition. However, its popularity also means it’s on the radar of streaming services, and it can sometimes get detected.
- L2TP/IPsec – This protocol is reliable and widely supported. But, because of its strong encryption (which sometimes results in a slightly slower speed), it’s not always the first choice for streaming.
- For BBC iPlayer: It can work, but isn’t the top choice. Some users might experience buffering or lower quality streams due to the decreased speeds.
- PPTP – Being one of the oldest protocols, PPTP offers decent speeds, but its outdated security measures make it less reliable for bypassing modern geoblocks.
- For BBC iPlayer: It’s not the most effective choice. The combination of weaker security and its well-known status makes it easier for BBC iPlayer to detect and block.
- IKEv2/IPsec – This is agile, making it great for mobile devices. Its ability to quickly re-establish a lost connection ensures less buffering, especially when switching between Wi-Fi and mobile data.
- For BBC iPlayer: It’s a viable option, especially for those on mobile devices. Its swift reconnection ability ensures consistent streaming.
- WireGuard – Being a newer protocol, WireGuard boasts modern encryption techniques and high speeds. It’s gaining traction for its performance and security.
- For BBC iPlayer: It holds promise. As it’s relatively new, it might not be as easily detected as some of the older, more established protocols. However, its adoption rate is still growing, so not all VPN services offer it yet.
VPN Protocol – tl;dr
For BBC iPlayer, OpenVPN and IKEv2/IPsec are typically the front runners. WireGuard is an emerging favourite, but its availability might be limited based on the VPN provider. Always keep in mind that streaming services update their blocking measures, so the most effective protocol today might face challenges tomorrow. It’s always a good practice to have multiple protocols at your disposal and switch as needed. Also, VPN providers that frequently update their server IP addresses and invest in bypassing geoblocks tend to be more reliable for services like BBC iPlayer.
Is watching BBC iPlayer with a VPN legal?
There are only a handful of countries (spot the authoritarianism link) where using a VPN is illegal; these are: China, Russia, Iran, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, North Korea, Iraq, Belarus, Turkmenistan, Egypt, Eritrea, Seychelles, Suriname, Namibia, Slovenia, Nicaragua and Tajikistan.
In here it states: “You need to be covered by a TV Licence to watch or record live TV programmes on any channel, or to watch or download BBC programmes on iPlayer when you’re in the UK, the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man. If you’re outside these areas you need to check if your country has its own TV licensing scheme.”
What this means is if you’re accessing BBC iPlayer in a location that doesn’t have a TV licensing scheme with a VPN, then the BBC is within its rights to ban/block your connection or account.
However, with BBC iPlayer being a free streaming service that doesn’t require any sort of subscription, you aren’t obliged to accept a contractual agreement meaning there’s less restrictions when it comes to using a VPN with the streaming service.
This means, although BBC iPlayer will try and stop you from accessing its content with a VPN. It won’t ban your account for using one.
Also, BBC iPlayer has never banned anyone for using a VPN to access its service.