BBC iPlayer not working with VPN? Here’s how I FIXED that! (2024)

Trying to watch BBC iPlayer with a VPN but can’t access the streaming platform? You may see “BBC iPlayer only works in the UK. Sorry, it’s due to rights issues.”

It means BBC iPlayer may have blocked the IP address your VPN is using. But don’t fret; there are plenty of ways to get around these blocks.

This guide will show you what to do when you encounter BBC iPlayer now working with VPN. Using the steps below, I’ve enjoyed uninterrupted access to BBC iPlayer (from all over the world).

Note from the author: “I am originally from the UK, but moved to New Zealand (my wife is a Kiwi) in 2017. Since then, I’ve been using VPNs pretty much every day to get my fix of Have I Got News for You on BBC iPlayer, Gogglebox on All 4, and most importantly, listening to TMS when England play cricket (not kidding) as none of these programs are available in New Zealand.

I pay for both ExpressVPN and NordVPN and share my VPN logins with friends and family. I rate both of these VPNs very highly (I’ve tried them all!)

If you have any questions, reach out via the Comments section below or get in touch via the links in my author bio.”

Which VPNs work with BBC iPlayer?

BBC iPlayer
Download Speed79 Mbps71 Mbps27 Mbps31 Mbps41 Mbps
Stream quality⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Price per month$6.66$3.79$2.03$1.00$2.19
BBC iPlayer not working with VPN 2024

BBC iPlayer not working with VPN: Checklist

  1. Check if BBC iPlayer works with your VPN on another device
  2. Connect to a UK Server with a low user count (if possible)
  3. Clear Cookies and Cache: Remove old location data from your browser/device
  4. Verify VPN IP Address: Use to check you have a UK IP
  5. Disable GPS and/or location services on mobile devices
  6. VPN Software Update: Make sure your VPN software is the latest version. Try uninstalling and reinstalling
  7. Switch VPN protocols
  8. Reach out to your VPN’s customer service for iPlayer-specific recommendations
  9. Upgrade VPN: If all else fails, consider switching to a known BBC iPlayer-friendly VPN
  10. I recommend using a good VPN for BBC iPlayer, such as ExpressVPN ($6.66/month) or NordVPN ($3.79/month)

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.

However, BBC iPlayer works with a VPN – you just have to try a few different fixes.

How to fix BBC iPlayer not working with VPN

Total Time: 5 minutes

  1. Check if your VPN works on another device

    BBC iPlayer not working with VPN 2024 - How to fix

    This is the easiest thing you can do to figure out what you need to do next. If your 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.

  2. Contact your VPN’s live chat service

    BBC iplayer not working with vpn

    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.

  3. Delete your cookies

    BBC iplayer not working with vpn

    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

  4. Connect to a different server

    BBC iplayer not working with vpn

    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.

  5. Reinstall or update your VPN

    BBC iplayer not working with 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.

  6. Switch VPN protocols

    BBC iplayer not working with vpn

    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.

  7. Upgrade your VPN

    BBC iplayer not working with vpn

    If all of the above fails, you should consider upgrading to a high-end VPN. I recommend ExpressVPN ($6.66/month) or NordVPN ($3.79/month) for BBC iPlayer. For more information, check out our VPN list below to see which VPN suits your needs and budget.

How to fix BBC iPlayer not working with VPN: Video Guide

BBC detecting VPN? Here’s what you NEED to know

Using a VPN makes it easy to know how to watch BBC iPlayer. However, BBC can detect VPNs with its own blocking techniques.

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 BBC 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. We constantly test VPNs are these always come out on top.

While not just any VPN will work with BBC iPlayer, 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.

Try ExpressVPN risk-free for 30 days! 👀

expressvpn devices list - bbc iplayer not working vpn

Try ExpressVPN risk-free for 30 days and unlock unrestricted access to BBC iPlayer. Whether abroad or at home, ensure consistent, high-quality streaming of BBC iPlayer.

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.

Using a reliable VPN that works with BBC iPlayer (best VPNs for BBC iPlayer) will give you buffer-free access with no interruptions.

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. That’s why you need a good VPN for BBC iPlayer.

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?

Answer: Yes, some VPNs have been consistently successful with BBC iPlayer, like ExpressVPN and NordVPN. They often have a dedicated server or features designed to bypass geo-blocks.

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

1. ExpressVPN 🥇

The fastest and most reliable VPN of 2024

  • Physical servers in 104 countries
  • Brilliant for unblocking streaming services
  • Very high-speed Lightway protocol
  • Available on almost any device
  • Very secure
  • Pricey
  • Only 8 simultaneous devices
  • No addons

Streaming: ExpressVPN excels in unblocking geo-restricted content and works seamlessly with streaming services, even in countries where VPNs are banned. It consistently performed well in tests with Netflix, BBC iPlayer, Hulu, and HBO Max.

Servers: ExpressVPN has a robust network with servers in 104 countries, significantly above the 71-country average. Less than 3% of these servers are virtual, ensuring a reliable and fast physical network.

Privacy: ExpressVPN’s privacy measures include passing independent audits by cybersecurity firms like Cure53 and F-Secure, ensuring a strong level of security and no significant weaknesses in its macOS, Linux, and Windows apps. More details can be found in the audit reports available online.

Price: ExpressVPN offers three payment plans: a 1-month option at $12.95/month, a 6-month option at $9.99/month, and a 12-month option at $6.67/month. Payment methods include major credit cards, PayPal, Bitcoin, and other systems, accommodating a wide range of users.

Speeds: ExpressVPN maintains high download speeds with minimal drop-off, ensuring efficient performance. Tests showed a slight decrease in upload speeds, but download speeds remained fast across various server locations, including the US, UK, and Vietnam.

Download Speeds (Mbps)Upload Speeds (Mbps)
VPN off937.07520.93
ExpressVPN US server824.626.96
ExpressVPN UK server794.953.70
ExpressVPN Vietnam server761.903.81

Read our full ExpressVPN review.

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2. NordVPN 🥈

An excellent, affordable, and fast VPN option for 2024

  • Affordable pricing
  • Effective streaming access
  • Diverse server types
  • Solid speeds
  • Useful add-ons
  • Strong security
  • Limited server locations
  • No virtual servers

Streaming: NordVPN is highly effective for bypassing geo-restrictions on streaming platforms like Netflix and BBC iPlayer. It has shown consistent success in connecting to various streaming services without noticeable issues.

Servers: NordVPN’s server network spans 60 countries. While this is below the average of 71 countries for the top 20 VPNs, its commitment to physical servers ensures faster and more reliable connections.

Privacy: NordVPN’s secure connection and no-logs policy have been verified via three independent audits, including one by Deloitte. The audits have confirmed NordVPN’s adherence to its no-logs policy, ensuring user privacy.

Price: NordVPN offers three pricing plans: Complete, Plus, and Standard. The 2-year plan for the Standard package is priced at $3.19/month, the 1-year plan at $4.99/month, and the monthly plan at $12.99/month. It accepts major credit cards and various payment systems.

Speeds: Below is a table showing the speeds tested for NordVPN. From our tests in New Zealand, NordVPN displayed very good speeds, although slightly behind ExpressVPN, but significantly faster than many other VPNs on the market.

Download Speeds (Mbps)Upload Speeds (Mbps)
No VPN (New Zealand)937.07520.93
NordVPN US server710.906.98
NordVPN UK server531.123.73

Read our full NordVPN review.

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3. PureVPN 🥉

A mid-range VPN that balances performance and price

  • Affordable
  • Unblocks major streaming services
  • Use on up to 10 devices simultaneously
  • Streamlined user interface
  • No log audit verified by KPMG
  • Several free add-ons
  • Buffering on BBC iPlayer at peak times
  • Past concerns with “no log” policy

Streaming: PureVPN has shown improvement in its ability to unblock streaming services. While it initially struggled with BBC iPlayer, its performance improved during less busy times. PureVPN can unblock major streaming services, but it may encounter buffering issues during peak streaming periods.

Servers: PureVPN offers a wide range of servers around the world. Although specific numbers are not provided, PureVPN’s server offerings are robust, allowing users to access various international content.

Privacy: PureVPN has faced criticism in the past for its privacy policies. However, it has recently undergone a no-log audit verified by KPMG in the past 12 months, aiming to reassure users about its commitment to privacy.

Price: PureVPN offers three payment options: a 1-month plan at $10.95/month, a 1-year plan at $3.74/month, and a 2-year plan at $1.96/month. PureVPN accepts all major credit cards, PayPal, and a variety of other digital payment options.

Speeds: Below is a table that gives you an idea of the speed performance you can expect when using PureVPN. The VPN has shown variable download speeds across different streaming servers, with some experiencing significant drop-offs during peak times.

Download Speeds (Mbps)Upload Speeds (Mbps)
No VPN189.44139.82
PureVPN UK Server24.3198.99
PureVPN US Server49.83106.52

Read our full PureVPN review.

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4. Private Internet Access

Affordable and secure VPN with wide device compatibility

  • Affordable pricing plans
  • Unlimited simultaneous devices
  • Extra features like ad blocker and email protection
  • Verified no-log policy
  • Compatible with streaming services like Netflix and Hulu
  • High use of virtual servers
  • Not as fast as top-tier VPNs
  • Lacks proprietary protocol options

Streaming: Private Internet Access works well with streaming services such as Netflix, Hulu, and HBO Max, although it initially faced some difficulties with BBC iPlayer, which were resolved after some fixes.

Servers: PIA has over 35,000 servers in 84 countries, which is above the average of 71 countries. However, 50% of these servers are virtual, impacting reliability compared to VPNs with more physical servers.

Privacy: PIA’s app is open-source, inviting third-party scrutiny and verification. It has also passed an independent no-log policy audit conducted by Deloitte, affirming its commitment to privacy.

Price: PIA offers three subscription options: 1-month at $11.95/month, 1-year at $3.33/month (upfront cost $39.95), and 3-year at $2.03/month (upfront fee $79). Payment methods include credit cards, PayPal, cryptocurrencies, and Amazon payments.

Speeds: Speed tests for PIA showed significant drops in download speeds across various servers. While using WireGuard protocol, speeds were faster than OpenVPN but still slower compared to top-tier VPNs like ExpressVPN.

OpenVPN Download Speeds (Mbps)OpenVPN Upload Speeds (Mbps)WireGuard Download Speeds (Mbps)WireGuard Upload Speeds (Mbps)
VPN off (New Zealand)930516
PIA US server238.527.17300.658.65
PIA UK server2453.77315.787.23
PIA Vietnam server4456.554898.24

Read our full Private Internet Access review.

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5. Surfshark

Affordable and secure VPN with unlimited device policy of 2024

  • Attractive pricing for long-term subscriptions
  • Supports unlimited simultaneous connections
  • Robust security and privacy
  • 24/7 responsive chat support
  • Extensive server network in 100 countries
  • Has trouble with services like Hulu
  • Lacks a unique proprietary protocol
  • App can be overwhelming
  • Not the fastest among competitors

Streaming: Surfshark performs well with most streaming services but faces challenges with some, like Hulu. This could be a drawback for users who heavily rely on VPNs for streaming content from various regions.

Servers: Surfshark boasts a server network in 100 countries, which is well above the average and includes both physical and virtual servers, providing extensive geographic coverage.

Privacy: Surfshark emphasizes its commitment to privacy with successful DNS leak tests and independent security audits by Cure53, ensuring robust online security and privacy. You can find more about their security audits here.

Price: Surfshark offers a 1-month option costing $12.95/month, a 12-month option at $3.99/month, and a 24-month option at $2.49/month. It accepts major credit cards, PayPal, Google Pay, Amazon Pay, and various cryptocurrencies.

Speeds: Below is a table that gives you an idea of the speed performance when using Surfshark. From our tests, we observed decent speeds, suitable for general use, but not the fastest compared to some rivals.

Download Speeds (Mbps)Upload Speeds (Mbps)
No VPN (New Zealand)940.55520.24
Surfshark US server775.96.15
Surfshark UK server587.793.79

Read our full Surfshark review.

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6. CyberGhost

Affordable and secure VPN with extensive server coverage

  • Features NoSpy servers, a Killswitch, and split tunnelling
  • Attractive pricing for long-term subscriptions
  • Over 9,000 servers in 91 countries
  • Independent audit confirms no-logs policy
  • 7-device coverage
  • Not optimal for streaming due to speed issues
  • Majority of servers are virtual
  • Lacks a proprietary protocol

Streaming: CyberGhost allows access to popular streaming services like Netflix, Hulu, and BBC iPlayer. However, users may face slow speeds, leading to buffering and resolution issues, which can be a significant downside for streaming.

Servers: CyberGhost boasts over 9,000 servers in 91 countries, offering a robust server network. However, it’s notable that 54% of these servers are virtual, a factor that can affect performance and reliability.

Privacy: CyberGhost has a no-logs policy that has been independently audited by Deloitte, ensuring user privacy and security. This audit confirms that CyberGhost does not keep records of users’ online activities while using the VPN.

Price: CyberGhost offers three payment options: a 1-month subscription at $12.99/month, a 6-month subscription at $6.99/month, and a 2-year subscription at $2.19/month, which includes an extra two months for free.

Speeds: Speed tests conducted in New Zealand showed significant drops in both download and upload speeds across various servers when using CyberGhost, indicating a performance issue in terms of speed.

Download Speeds (Mbps)Upload Speeds (Mbps)
No VPN (New Zealand)930516
CyberGhost US server192.292.63
CyberGhost UK server139.191.90
CyberGhost Vietnam server232.244.32

Read our full CyberGhost review.

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7. Ivacy VPN

A straightforward and affordable VPN, ideal for beginners

  • Great price
  • $1/month 5-year deal
  • Subscription includes password manager
  • Streaming service specific IP addresses
  • Secure VPN service
  • Slower speeds
  • No 3rd Party audits
  • Low number of country server locations
  • Not many addons

Streaming: Ivacy VPN offers reliable access to major streaming services like US Netflix, BBC iPlayer, Hulu, and MAX. However, it’s slower than competitors such as ExpressVPN and NordVPN, which might be a drawback for users seeking the fastest streaming experience.

Servers: Ivacy has a global network of 6,500 servers, but it only covers 62 countries. This is below the average of 73 countries for top VPNs. Additionally, it wasn’t very open about the distribution between its physical and virtual servers.

Privacy: Ivacy maintains a strict no-logs policy, ensuring that your online activities are not recorded or monitored. However, unlike ExpressVPN, Ivacy’s audits are not readily available to the public, making it less transparent in comparison.

Price: Ivacy has three payment options: a 1-month plan costing $9.95/month, a 12-month plan at $3.99/month, and a 5-year plan at $1.00/month. It accepts all major credit cards, PayPal, Bitcoin, Coingate, BitPay, and various other payment systems.

Speeds: Ivacy’s speed performance showed a noticeable reduction in download and upload speeds when connected to its servers. From the tests, there was a significant speed drop when using Ivacy’s virtual server for India, impacting streaming and web browsing.

Download Speeds (Mbps)Upload Speeds (Mbps)
No VPN (New Zealand)939.78519.86
Ivacy US server445.205.65
Ivacy UK server693.293.53

Read our full Ivacy VPN review.

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How do I get around BBC iPlayer VPN blocks?

There are pros and cons of using a VPN with BBC iPlayer, and one of the latter is having to put up with 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.

If an IP address provided by the best VPNs for BBC iPlayer get blocked by the streaming service, these VPNs will close that IP address and open a new unblocked one for you to use.

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.

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.

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 create a BBC iPlayer account in order to watch all of its 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. Let’s break down which protocol should 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. 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 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.

If you’re outside these countries and are using a VPN, Using a VPN with BBC iPlayer is legal. However, it’s important to know that using a VPN with BBC iPlayer may breach the service’s terms of use. Still, it’s safe to use a VPN with BBC iPlayer.

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 are fewer restrictions when it comes to using a VPN with the streaming service.

This means that BBC iPlayer will try to 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.

David Court
David is a professional journalist. He's been reviewing lifestyle and technology products since 2007. His CV boasts a series of high-profile websites that he's previously edited and managed. These sites include,,, and is his new project.


  1. Hi there – I have also used Express VPN for several years, but it hasn’t worked for BBC iplayer for nearly a month now and they just can’t seem to fix it. Any suggestions? I wish the BBC would just let us pay for an overseas subscription!

    • Hi Robyn,

      Have you tried contacting ExpressVPN via the site’s LiveChat feature? They’re usually very helpful and have always helped me find a server that works.


  2. Thanks for the iplayer workaround on Firestick. I’ve used ExpressVPN for 2 years with no issues apart from an occasional blip which was quickly resolved.
    I recently changed my internet provider (I’m in Portugal) and thought this may have been the reason iplayer suddenly refused to work. However, I was still able to use it on my phone and laptop so presumably that isn’t the problem. I’d tried everything I could think of, clearing cache etc. but no joy. There’s no DNS leak either that I can see so I had no idea what to do until I found your article, so it’s obviously the firestick.
    Any idea if this is any closer to being resolved? Firefox has got around it but it’s painful to use!

    • Hi Gill,

      All VPNs struggle the most with the FireStick – it’s made by a video streaming service (Amazon) so it’s designed to be difficult to spoof.

      If you’re still having issues, the best thing you can do is watch BBC iPlayer on your laptop (via a VPN) and connect your laptop to your TV via an HDMI lead – these only cost a couple of quid on Amazon. This will give you the best connection/speed.


  3. update dor May 22 2019, totally free yoga vpn has been working brilliantly for months, just now blocked by iplayer, itv hub, 4player. Express VPN was good, blocked about 6 months ago.

  4. well that worked until yesterday.. i have been using Express VPN for a while – last week BBC iplayer noticed I was not in the UK (in NZ in fact) but express VPN managed to help me with that – however today I have been asked for my TV licence – which I clearly not have… so I think that it is with BBC Iplayer for now.. sad really as some of the shows I watch are not in NZ at all or 2-3 years later… really dumb.. if you have an idea how to get around that – I’d be happy hear it:-)

  5. 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.

  6. 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?

    • 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?

      • 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.

        • 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.

  7. 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 ?

    • 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?

      • 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

        • 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.


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