How to watch BBC iPlayer abroad

If you’re trying to watch BBC iPlayer abroad, the streaming service won’t work. This is because the BBC doesn’t have the rights to broadcast its content outside of the UK.

Although you’ll be able to access the iPlayer website and see all of the content, when you try and stream anything, you’ll run into an error saying “BBC iPlayer only works in the UK. Sorry, it’s due to rights issues.”

This can be frustrating if you’re trying to watch your favourite UK shows, but don’t panic. There’s an easy way to get around these problems.

In this article I will explain how to watch BBC iPlayer abroad.

See also:

How to watch BBC iPlayer abroad: Quick Guide

To watch BBC iPlayer abroad, all you need to do is follow these simple steps:

Total Time: 2 minutes

  1. Sign up with ExpressVPN ($6.67/month)

  2. Download and install the app

  3. Connect to a server in the UK

  4. Open BBC iPlayer and watch from anywhere in the world

Why can’t I use BBC iPlayer abroad?

The BBC, like any major television network, is subject to licencing laws that restrict it to broadcasting content only in its local territory. This means, in theory, you should only be able to access BBC content when you’re in Britain.

The way the BBC (and every other network with catch-up TV services) enforces this rule with its internet-based content is by restricting access to foreign IP addresses.

Note that IP addresses are similar to international phone dialling codes. Each country has its own unique range of IP addresses, and this lets services like BBC iPlayer know where users attempt to access its content from.

When you connect to BBC iPlayer abroad, you’re given an IP address from the country you’re in. BBC iPlayer scans this IP when you connect to its service and if it finds you’re outside the UK, it blocks the connection.

How to watch BBC iPlayer abroad

How can I watch BBC iPlayer abroad?

To watch BBC iPlayer abroad you need to make it look like you’re accessing the service from within the UK.

To do that you need to change your IP address to a UK IP address.

The easiest way to get a UK IP address is with a reliable VPN like ExpressVPN ($6.67/month) or NordVPN ($3.19/month). These VPNs will make your online presence anonymous, so the BBC can’t figure out what country you’re in when connecting to its service. They also allow you to select a country where you want your IP address to be based.

Simply download ExpressVPN ($6.67/month) or NordVPN ($3.19/month), connect to a UK server and you’ll be given a UK IP address.

This will allow you to watch BBC iPlayer anywhere in the world.

How does a VPN work?

VPNs (virtual private networks) allow users to spoof their location. VPNs work by sending encrypted data over a worldwide network of private servers.

A server is essentially a high-powered computer with an internet connection that decrypts customer data packets and sends them to local ISPs.

The returned data packets are re-encrypted and relayed back to the VPN user, wherever they are in the world, and the data is decrypted. This process allows VPN customers to access a specific country’s internet from anywhere in the world.

Will any VPN work when trying to watch BBC iPlayer abroad?

BBC iPlayer has started detecting and blocking IP addresses that come from VPNs. This means you can’t just use any VPN for the task.

You need one that stays one step ahead of the BBC’s bans.

We recommend ExpressVPN ($6.67/month) or NordVPN ($3.19/month) as both of these VPNs have reliable UK servers and they both stay ahead of the BBC’s VPN blocking techniques.

When an IP address provided by ExpressVPN ($6.67/month) or NordVPN ($3.19/month) gets blocked by the BBC, these VPNs will close that IP address and open a new unblocked one. This will allow you to reliably watch BBC iPlayer anywhere in the world.

Not all VPNs do this, and it could potentially mean you may waste money on a VPN that won’t work.

I’ve been using both ExpressVPN ($6.67/month) or NordVPN ($3.19/month) to watch BBC iPlayer reliably all over the world, and I’ve never had any issues with them.

Take a look at our ‘BBC iPlayer not working with VPN’ article to find out more.

How to watch BBC iPlayer abroad

How to get the BBC iPlayer app outside the UK

It can be a bit tricky getting the BBC iPlayer app outside the UK. The process changes based on what your device you’re trying to do it on, and what country you’re in.

The easiest way to watch BBC iPlayer abroad is by visiting the website while connected to a UK server on a VPN like ExpressVPN ($6.67/month) or NordVPN ($3.19/month). But if you want to download the app, we list how to do it below.

Apple Devices:

To get the BBC iPlayer app on Apple devices, the first thing you need to do is gain access to the UK version of the Apple App Store. To do that you need to create a UK based Apple account.

This is easy you can follow this step-by-step guide to get the BBC iPlayer app outside the UK.

Simply downloading the BBC iPlayer app won’t give you access to the content though. Once you’ve downloaded the app, you need to download ExpressVPN ($6.67/month) or NordVPN ($3.19/month) and connect to a UK server.

You’ll now be able to watch the BBC iPlayer app on your Apple device.

Android Devices:

If you’re outside the UK, you’ll notice BBC iPlayer isn’t on the Google Play Store.

To get the BBC iPlayer app on Android devices you need to download and install the BBC iPlayer APK file. You can get it here. An APK file is an Android Package Kit. Basically, it’s a file containing all the elements an app needs to install correctly on an Android device.

After installing the BBC iPlayer app via the APK file, you need to download ExpressVPN ($6.67/month) or NordVPN ($3.19/month) and connect to a UK server.

Now you’ll be able to open BBC iPlayer on your Android device and watch its content anywhere in the world.

The best VPNs to watch BBC iPlayer abroad

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

Special Offer for you!

Get 3 extra months free when you sign up for a 12-month ExpressVPN plan. That’s 15 months in total for the price of 12.

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.

Special Offer for you

(30-day money-back guarantee)


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.

SPECIAL OFFER – SAVE 70%!

(30-day money-back guarantee)


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).

Special Offer – Save 83%

(30-day money-back guarantee)


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!

Sign up for Ivacy and enjoy a 7-day trial with no strings attached

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.

Special Offer – 7-day FREE trial!

(30-day money-back guarantee)


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

SPECIAL OFFER – 1-DAY FREE TRIAL

Take advantage of CyberGhost’s 1-day FREE TRIAL!

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.

SPECIAL OFFER – 1-DAY FREE TRIAL

(30-day money-back guarantee)


How to create a BBC iPlayer account outside the UK

If you don’t already have a BBC iPlayer account, don’t panic, making one outside the UK is easy.

To create a BBC iPlayer account while abroad you need to connect to a UK server on ExpressVPN ($6.67/month) or NordVPN ($3.19/month).

Once you’re connected, visit BBC iPlayer – Home and select, create account.

To create a BBC iPlayer account, you need a working email address and a UK postcode. To get a UK postcode simply visit this website and select one.

And that’s it. You’ll have a BBC iPlayer account outside the UK.

Free vs Paid-for VPNs

There are two types of VPNs. Free and paid for.

Free VPNs come with data caps, throttled connection speeds and blocked access to the fastest servers. Paying for a VPN will lift these restrictions, giving customers unlimited data, unthrottled transfer speeds and access to the fastest servers in the selected city/country of choice.

If you want to watch BBC iPlayer reliably, without stuttering or connection issues, you need a VPN like ExpressVPN ($6.67/month) or NordVPN ($3.19/month).

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.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here