How to get BBC iPlayer on the US app store 10

In this article I’ll show you the simplest way to get BBC iPlayer on the US app store.

If you’re living abroad and you want to download BBC iPlayer on your Apple device, you’ll notice that it’s not available on the app store. This can be frustrating if you’re trying to watch your favourite British shows away from home.

Fortunately, there is a simple way to get around this. All you need is a UK iTunes account and a reliable VPN and you’ll be able to download BBC iPlayer on your Apple device in the US or anywhere in the world. 

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How to get BBC iPlayer on the US App Store: Step by step guide

The first thing you’re going to need to do is set up a UK Apple ID account. Follow the steps below to create one if you’re in the US.

Note that once you have BBC iPlayer downloaded on your device, you can change back to your normal region and still use the iPlayer app.

Once you have a UK Apple ID, you need to download a reliable VPN. We recommend ExpressVPN ($6.67/month)

Total Time: 7 minutes

  1. Go into your device settings and tap on your name

    How to get BBC iPlayer on the US app store 1

    This will take you into your Apple ID options.

  2. Tap Media and Purchases

    How to get BBC iPlayer on the US app store 2

    If prompted login to your current Apple ID after tapping Media and Purchases

  3. Sign out of your account

    How to get BBC iPlayer on the US app store 3

    Sign out of your current Apple ID. You’ll need a new one to get BBC iPlayer on the US app store.

  4. Create a new UK Apple ID

    How to get BBC iPlayer on the US app store 4

    Make sure you have a spare email address you can use because you’ll have to verify your email.

  5. Make sure that you change your country/region to the United Kingdom

    How to get BBC iPlayer on the US app store 5

    After you’ve setup your account details, you’ll be asked to select your country/region. In order to get BBC iPlayer this needs to be set to the United Kingdom. You’ll also be asked for an address and a postcode. You can simply google a UK address and use that.

  6. Download BBC iPlayer on the app store

    How to get BBC iPlayer on the US app store 6

    Note that once you have downloaded BBC iPlayer, you can change back to your original account and use the app.

  7. Download ExpressVPN ($6.67/month)

    TouchVPN not working
  8. Connect to a UK server

    Express Uk Server 1

    You need a UK IP address in order to watch BBC iPlayer outside of the UK. ExpressVPN has reliable UK servers that allow you to do this.

  9. Watch BBC iPlayer on your Apple device in the US

    How to get BBC iPlayer on the US app store 11

    You can now watch BBC iPlayer anywhere in the world on your Apple device.

Why do I need a VPN to watch BBC iPlayer on the US app store?

Although you are able to create a UK Apple account and download BBC iPlayer in the US, when you visit the app, you won’t be able to play any of the content. You’ll run into errors saying, “this content is only available in the UK.”

This error is popping up because the BBC doesn’t have the rights to broadcast its content in the US. It only has broadcast rights in the UK.

To avoid licensing and copyright issues, the BBC blocks users from accessing its content outside of the UK. This is why BBC iPlayer isn’t available on the US app store and it’s why you can’t access any of the content on the app.

To get around these blocks you need to trick the BBC into thinking you’re accessing iPlayer from within the UK. To do that you need a UK IP address. The best and easiest way to get one is using a reliable VPN like ExpressVPN ($6.67/month) or Private Internet Access ($2.03/month)

How does the BBC block my connection?

The way the BBC blocks your connection when you’re outside of the UK is all to do with your IP address.

Whenever you connect to the internet your device is allocated a unique IP address. This IP contains information about where you are located when you go online. (Similar to an area code on a landline phone.)

When you connect to BBC iPlayer outside of the UK, the BBC can see you are outside its broadcast zone, and it subsequently blocks you from accessing its content.

How do VPNs work?

There are two things that a VPN does to ensure you can watch BBC iPlayer anywhere in the world.

First, a VPN makes your online presence anonymous. This means the BBC can’t see where in the world you’re located when you go online. VPNs do this using a process called encryption. Encryption turns your online data into an unreadable code which hides your location and your online activity.

Second, a VPN allows you to change the location of your IP address. All you have to do is select a server in a country of your choosing and reliable VPNs like ExpressVPN ($6.67/month) or Private Internet Access ($2.03/month) will provide you with an IP address from that country. The way this works is your encrypted online data is rerouted through the VPNs server and sent to a local internet service provider in the country you choose. This will then give you an IP address in that country.

Don’t worry this doesn’t have to be a permanent change either. You can simply turn the VPN off and you’ll have your old IP address back.

BBC iPlayer on the US app store

Will any VPN work?

No, not every VPN will work with BBC iPlayer. This is because the BBC uses blocking techniques that prevent VPNs from accessing its service.

The BBC blocks VPNs by monitoring for an abnormal (more than your average household) amount of connections coming from the same IP address. For lesser VPNs, this can be an issue.

Nearly all VPNs have more customers than IP addresses and this can result in customers sharing IP’s. When the BBC sees hundreds of connections coming from the same IP, it knows it’s an IP address that has been provided by a VPN and it blocks it.

Lesser VPNs don’t have measures in place to get around these blocks and eventually the BBC is able to identify all of the IP’s provided by these VPNs and block them.

The good news is, VPNs like ExpressVPN ($6.67/month) or Private Internet Access ($2.03/month) do have measures in place to get around these blocks. When the BBC identifies an IP address provided by 

ExpressVPN ($6.67/month) and Private Internet Access ($2.03/month) these providers will close that IP and open a new one. This cat and mouse game ensures that they stay one step ahead of the BBC’s blocks and it allows you to reliably use BBC iPlayer anywhere in the world.

The Best VPNs to watch BBC iPlayer in the US

1. ExpressVPN 🥇

Why You Should Use ExpressVPN? It’s the fastest and MOST reliable VPN of 2023

ExpressVPN UK screenshot

Pros

  • ✅ Fast servers
  • ✅ Thousands of IP addresses
  • ✅ 10-simultaneous connections
  • ✅ 24/7 Live Chat
  • ✅ Easy-to-use app
  • ✅ 30-day money-back guarantee

Cons

  • ❌ Expensive
Best VPN list - ExpressVPN

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Number of servers: 3,000+ | Speed: >80% | Bandwidth: Unlimited | IP locations: 160 in 94 countries | Devices supported: 5 | Live chat: Yes | 30-day money-back guarantee: Yes

  • $6.66/month for 15 months
  • $9.99/month for 6 months
  • $12.95/month for 1 month
  • Netflix icon
  • BBC iPlayer icon
  • ESPN icon
  • Hulu icon
  • HBO Max icon
  • Disney icon
  • Amazon Prime Video icon
  • YouTube TV icon
  • Apple TV Plus icon
  • FuboTV icon
  • ShowTime icon
  • Discovery Plus icon
  • ABC icon
  • All 4 icon
  • NowTV icon
  • CBS icon
  • NBC icon
  • Sky Sports icon
  • BT Sport icon

ExpressVPN ($6.66/month) is still the best VPN. And importantly, it ALWAYS has servers that are open with major streaming sites such as Netflix, BBC iPlayer, Hulu, Disney+, HBO Max, Paramount+, Amazon Prime Video, etc.

ExpressVPN is usually very good at playing Cat and Mouse with online streaming sites. Meaning, whenever one of its servers is blacklisted it creates a new one – giving its users a constant stream of servers that aren’t blocked. Needless to say, this is a valuable attribute if you’re looking for a VPN to unblock streaming sites.

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 (with a workaround). 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 prevents its IPs from getting blacklisted for “abnormal” usage in the first place.

Check out our full ExpressVPN review.

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2. NordVPN 🥈

A very quick and trustworthy VPN

NordVPN US screenshot mobile

Pros

  • ✅ Fast servers
  • ✅ No logs
  • ✅ Thousands of IP addresses
  • ✅ 6-simultaneous connections
  • ✅ 30-day money-back guarantee
  • ✅ Easy-to-use app

Cons

  • ❌ No refunds for purchases from iTunes/App store
Best VPN list - NordVPN

Special Offer for you!

Sign up for a 3-year plan with Private Internet Access and save 83% + 3 months free. That works out at $2.03/month.

Number of servers: 5,000+ | Speeds: >80% | Bandwidth: Unlimited | IP locations: 62 countries | Devices supported: 6 | Live chat: Yes | 30-day money-back guarantee: Yes

  • $3.49/month for 2 years
  • $6.99/month for 1 year
  • $11.95/month for 1 month
  • Netflix icon
  • BBC iPlayer icon
  • ESPN icon
  • Hulu icon
  • HBO Max icon
  • Disney icon
  • Amazon Prime Video icon
  • YouTube TV icon
  • Apple TV Plus icon
  • FuboTV icon
  • ShowTime icon
  • Discovery Plus icon
  • ABC icon
  • All 4 icon
  • NowTV icon
  • CBS icon
  • NBC icon
  • Sky Sports icon
  • BT Sport icon
  • ITV Hub icon
  • Spark Sport icon
  • CBC Gem icon

NordVPN is the most widely-used VPN in the world. And it’s easy to see why. It’s a polished app that delivers fast connections (more on this later) to a massive network of VPN servers.

It’s the most reliable at unblocking popular streaming services too – US Netflix, Hulu, Disney+, BBC iPlayer, HBO Max, Amazon Prime Video, etc. This is because NordVPN hired a full-time technical team (that’s responsible for monitoring its servers’ connections with popular TV streaming services) and has been aggressively investing in its network of IP addresses in key locations.

Another interesting thing to note is that NordVPN is an industry leader in its development of Nordlynx technology. Nordlynx is built using the WireGuard, a new VPN tunneling protocol designed to outperform current standards (OpenVPN and IPSec). The benefits, according to NordVPN, are dramatically faster transfer speeds while connected to a VPN. My tests – New Zealand to London – confirm that Nordlynx is currently the fastest VPN on the market. However, the difference isn’t dramatic, a few Mbps is all.

Read our NordVPN review.

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3. Private Internet Access

The BEST low-cost VPN for streaming!

Best VPN list - PIA

Pros

  • ✅ Fast and reliable servers
  • ✅ Thousands of IP addresses
  • ✅ 10-simultaneous connections
  • ✅ 24/7 Live Chat
  • ✅ 30-day money-back guarantee

Cons

  • ❌ Only 48 server locations
Best VPN list - PIA

Special Offer for you!

Sign up for a 3-year plan with Private Internet Access and save 83% + 3 months free. That works out at $2.03/month.

Number of servers: 25,000+ | Speed: >75% | Bandwidth: Unlimited | IP locations: 70 in 74 countries | Devices supported: 10 | Live chat: Yes | 30-day money-back guarantee: Yes

  • $2.03/month for 3 years
  • $7.50/month for 6 months
  • $11.99/month for 1 month
  • Netflix icon
  • BBC iPlayer icon
  • ESPN icon
  • Hulu icon
  • HBO Max icon
  • Disney icon
  • Amazon Prime Video icon
  • YouTube TV icon
  • Apple TV Plus icon
  • FuboTV icon
  • ShowTime icon
  • Discovery Plus icon
  • ABC icon
  • All 4 icon
  • NowTV icon
  • CBS icon
  • NBC icon
  • Sky Sports icon
  • BT Sport icon

Private Internet Access is one of the leading no-log VPN services with over 1-million paying customers.

This VPN is one of the best in the industry at beating streaming sites’ VPN bans. It provides reliable connections with US Netflix, BBC iPlayer, Hulu, HBO Max, Disney+ Amazon Prime Video, etc. It also allows 10 simultaneous devices to be connected to its servers at the same time, so you can share the account with your close friends.

If – for whatever reason – you’re not happy with Private Internet Access, there’s a 24/7 live chat support available to assist you with your problem. PIA also offers the industry-standard 30-day money-back guarantee.

From my tests (from New Zealand) I was able to get download speeds of 70 Mbps while connected to a UK server using the Private Internet Access VPN (my non-VPN speed is 100 Mbps).

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4. Ivacy

A very quick and trustworthy VPN

Ivacy US screenshot mobile

Pros

  • ✅ Fast servers
  • ✅ Thousands of IP addresses
  • ✅ Dedicated streaming servers
  • ✅ 5-simultaneous connections
  • ✅ 30-day money-back guarantee
  • ✅ 24/7 Live Chat

Cons

  • ❌ Only 5 devices
  • ❌ Sometimes runs slow
  • ❌ Occasionally block by streaming sites for several days
Best VPN - Ivacy on Mac

Special Offer for you!

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Number of servers: 1,000+ | Speed: >65% | Bandwidth: Unlimited | IP locations: 275 in 100 countries | Devices supported: 5 | Live chat: Yes | 30-day money-back guarantee: Yes

  • $1.16/month for 5 years
  • $3.50/month for 1 year
  • $9.99/month for 1 month
  • Netflix icon
  • BBC iPlayer icon
  • ESPN icon
  • Hulu icon
  • HBO Max icon
  • Disney icon
  • Amazon Prime Video icon
  • YouTube TV icon
  • Apple TV Plus icon
  • FuboTV icon
  • ShowTime icon
  • Discovery Plus icon
  • ABC icon
  • All 4 icon
  • NowTV icon
  • CBS icon
  • NBC icon
  • Sky Sports icon
  • BT Sport icon
  • ITV Hub icon
  • Spark Sport icon
  • CBC Gem icon

If you’re looking for an excellent VPN, with an even better price tag, Ivacy ($1.16/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 Netflix, Hulu, Disney+, HBO Max, Amazon Prime Video, etc. with ease.

The Ivacy app is a little different in regards to its UX (user experience). Instead of just selecting a UK server, you need to select the specific BBC iPlayer server. Don’t worry, this isn’t a bad thing – by connecting to a dedicated BBC iPlayer server, it simply means that you’re connecting to an IP address that Ivacy knows works with BBC iPlayer.

For an extra $1.99/month (£1.74) 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. I don’t recommend this though, using the regular Ivacy servers is enough 95 per cent of the time.

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5. CyberGhost

A very quick and trustworthy VPN

CyberGhost UK screenshot

Pros

  • ✅ 1-day free trial
  • ✅ Reliable servers
  • ✅ Thousands of IP addresses
  • ✅ 7-simultaneous connections
  • ✅ 30-day money-back guarantee
  • ✅ Easy-to-use app

Cons

  • ❌ Expensive
  • ❌ Average speed scores
CyberGhost
CyberGhost

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Number of servers: 1,000+ | Speed: >65% | Bandwidth: Unlimited | IP locations: 275 in 100 countries | Devices supported: 5 | Live chat: Yes | 30-day money-back guarantee: Yes

  • $2.75/month for 3 years
  • $3.69/month for 2 years
  • $5.99/month for 1 year
  • $12.99/month for 1 month
  • Netflix icon
  • BBC iPlayer icon
  • ESPN icon
  • Hulu icon
  • HBO Max icon
  • Disney icon
  • Amazon Prime Video icon
  • YouTube TV icon
  • Apple TV Plus icon
  • FuboTV icon
  • ShowTime icon
  • Discovery Plus icon
  • ABC icon
  • All 4 icon
  • NowTV icon
  • CBS icon
  • NBC icon
  • Sky Sports icon
  • BT Sport icon

CyberGhost is one of the more established VPNs on the market. It has a well-established, and well-tested global network of servers that perform well.

From my tests over the past several months, CyberGhost has no trouble at unblocking major streaming services – US Netflix, BBC iPlayer, Hulu, Disney+, Amazon Prime Video, HBO Max etc. This VPN performed well at maintaining download speeds, well above 65 per cent of my regular (non VPN) ISP speed.

That said, there’s nothing really unique about the service. Which forces you to look at its price-point. And there’s nothing special here. Its short-term $12.99/month price tag puts is well above the industry average of $10.10/month. Similarly, its long-term $2.75/month for 3 years deal isn’t much of a “deal” either.

Oddly, CyberGhost’s most unique feature is its a 1-day, no obligations, free trial. This is an appealing offer to customers who are new to VPNs. However, it’s important to remember that most reputable VPNs will offer customers a 30-day money-back guarantee, so try not to be too seduced by the offer.

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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.

If you’re outside these countries and are using a VPN, you’re legally allowed to do so. However, it’s important to know that using a VPN with BBC iPlayer may breach the service’s terms of use.

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.

For more information you can check out article answering Is streaming with a VPN legal?

Patch Bowen
Patch Bowen is an accomplished technology journalist with a solid academic foundation, holding a degree from Auckland University. His expertise spans across a range of tech topics, with a notable focus on product reviews, industry trends, and the impact of technology on society. With his work featured on major New Zealand websites like Stuff.co.nz, thebit.nz, and The Press, Patch has established himself as a credible voice in technology media. His articles are known for their detailed analysis and practical insights, particularly in making complex technological concepts understandable for a broad audience. At ReviewsFire, Patch is renowned for his thorough evaluations and clear, informative writing style. He has a knack for identifying and explaining the nuances of the latest gadgets and digital trends, earning him a reputation as a trusted source for tech advice and information.

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