BBC Sounds not working with VPN

If you’ve been listening to BBC Sounds outside the UK with a VPN and it’s stopped working, the BBC has figured out you’re using a VPN and has blocked the IP address it has given you.

This has happened because your VPN is no longer able to work reliably with BBC Sounds. It either doesn’t have measures to ensure it works reliably with the radio service or the measures it does have are no longer working.

The good news is there’s a number of fixes you can try to resolve the problem.

This article will explain how to fix BBC Sounds not working with VPN.

See also:

BBC Sounds not working with VPN: Fixes

Follow these fixes in order. If one doesn’t work, move on to the next one until you can listen to BBC Sounds with a VPN again.

  1. Delete Cookies

    Cookies 1

    BBC Sounds uses Cookies to streamline your online experience. Cookies aren’t malicious files, they’re small files used to make your experience better with BBC Sounds. The problem is, these Cookies contain information about your location. 

    BBC Sounds can potentially access this information to determine if you’re using a VPN or not. 

    If the information stored on your Cookies shows a different IP address to the one your VPN has given you, BBC Sounds knows you’re using a VPN and it will block it. 

    A good place to start when trying to fix BBC Sounds not working with VPN is deleting your Cookies. 

  2. Change to a different protocol

    Protocols

    Check to see if your VPN supports multiple VPN protocols.

    VPN protocols are rules that determine how your VPN reroutes your online data through its server.

    How your data is transferred varies depending on what protocol you’re using. Some prioritise speed, while others prioritise security.

    If your VPN has multiple protocols, try one you haven’t used and see if that fixes BBC Sounds not working with VPN.

  3. Try a different UK server with your VPN

    Windscribe UK Servers

    BBC Sounds might not be working with your VPN because the IP address you’ve been given has been blacklisted by your ISP.

    This doesn’t necessarily mean all of your VPNs IP addresses have been identified though.

    Changing to a different server will give you a different IP address and if that one hasn’t been blocked by your ISP, you’ll be able to use BBC Sounds with a VPN again.

  4. Upgrade to a VPN that works reliably with BBC Sounds

    ExpressVPN Rank

    If the above fixes haven’t resolved BBC Sounds not working with VPN, your VPN does not have measures in place to ensure it works reliably with BBC Sounds.

    Because of its lack of measures all of the IP addresses it currently has have been identified by the radio service and blocked.

    To get around this you need to upgrade to a VPN that works reliably with BBC Sounds. 

    This means you need a VPN that has fast UK servers, that can ensure an 100% secure connection and most importantly that has measures in place that allow it to work reliably with BBC Sounds.

    The best VPN for BBC Sounds is ExpressVPN ($6.67/month). It works reliably thanks to it’s fast servers and guaranteed secure connection. If on the off chance an IP address provided by ExpressVPN ($6.67/month) gets blocked by BBC Sounds, it has measures in place to ensure you can still watch the service reliably wherever you are.

    This will allow you to listen to BBC Sounds reliably anywhere in the world.

Why has my VPN stopped working with BBC Sounds?

Your VPN has stopped working with BBC Sounds because the service has managed to identify and block all the IP addresses your VPN can provide.

This has happened because your VPN either doesn’t have measures in place to ensure it works reliably with BBC Sounds, or the measures it does have are no longer working.

BBC Sounds constantly monitors and tries to block IP addresses provided by VPNs

These blocks can be difficult for a VPN to get around, and your VPN is obviously not winning that battle.

Why does BBC Sounds block VPNs?

Although BBC Sounds is available all around the world, not all of its content is available worldwide.

For example, “the Radio 5 live sports extra station, CBeebies Radio, certain sports and music coverage” are not available outside the UK. This is because the BBC doesn’t have the rights to broadcast this content worldwide.

Because a VPN can potential allow you to access content in locations where the BBC doesn’t have the rights to broadcast said content, it could result in the BBC getting fined for copyright infringement.

To stop this from happening the BBC tries to block VPNs from accessing BBC Sounds.

How does BBC Sounds block VPNs?

BBC Sounds blocks VPNs using three main techniques:

1. Online services check for IP, DNS and WebRTC leaks. This is a basic test that good VPNs don’t fail. However, if you’re using a cheap VPN there’s a chance your connection might not be fully watertight. Making it insecure. And detectable.

2. GeoIP databases, such as MaxMind, also verify the IP address you’re connecting from. If your VPN is using an IP address that’s on one of these lists you won’t be able to use BBC Sounds.

3. BBC Sounds also performs its own IP checks. If BBC Sounds detects an abnormal number of simultaneous connections, or internet traffic, coming from the same IP it will blacklist that address too.

BBC Sounds not working with VPN

Does BBC Sounds work with a VPN?

BBC Sounds works with a VPN however you need to use a VPN that can get around the service’s VPN blocks.

Lesser VPNs especially free VPNs struggle to get around these blocks because they have a massive number of customers and they do not have the financial backing to constantly update their list of IP addresses.

The best VPNs for BBC Sounds are ExpressVPN ($6.67/month) or Private Internet Access ($2.03/month) because these VPNs play a game of cat and mouse with the service.

If BBC Sounds manages to identify and block an IP address provided by these VPNs both ExpressVPN ($6.67/month) or Private Internet Access ($2.03/month) will close that IP address and open a new unblocked one.

It sounds simple but it requires a massive amount of backing and infrastructure for a VPN to be able to do this, and most VPNs simply cannot compete.

This cat and mouse game will allow you to watch BBC Sounds reliably anywhere in the world without coming across the same problems you’ve come across with your current VPN.

So if you want to watch BBC Sounds reliably with a VPN, we recommend using ExpressVPN ($6.67/month) or Private Internet Access ($2.03/month).

The best VPNs for BBC Sounds

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 using BBC Sounds with a VPN legal?

Yes, using BBC Sounds with a VPN is perfectly legal, so long as you’re in a country where VPNs are allowed.

VPNs are heavily restricted in these countries: China, Russia, Iran, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, North Korea, Iraq, Belarus, Turkmenistan, Egypt, Eritrea, Seychelles, Suriname, Namibia, Slovenia, Nicaragua and Tajikistan. If you aren’t in one of these countries then using a VPN with BBC Sounds is legal.

However, it’s important to know that using a VPN with BBC Sounds 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 Sounds 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 Sounds being a free 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 service.

This means, although BBC Sounds will try and stop you from accessing its content with a VPN. It won’t ban your account for using one.

Also, BBC Sounds has never banned anyone for using a VPN to access its service.

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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