If you’re trying to watch BBC iPlayer while travelling outside the UK, you’re going to run into errors like this, “BBC iPlayer only works in the UK. Sorry, it’s due to rights issues.”
This error is coming up because the BBC doesn’t have the rights to broadcast its content outside the UK.
The good news is there’s an easy way to get around this issue. All you need is a UK IP address, and the easiest way to get one is with a reliable VPN.
This article will show you how to get a reliable VPN that’ll allow you to watch BBC iPlayer when travelling.
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How to watch BBC iPlayer while travelling: Quick Guide
To watch BBC iPlayer while travelling, follow these simple steps:
Total Time: 2 minutes
Why can’t I watch BBC iPlayer outside the UK?
You can’t watch BBC iPlayer outside the UK because the BBC is blocking your connection.
It does this because it doesn’t have the rights to broadcast its content outside the UK. BBC iPlayer is a UK-based streaming service for UK customers only.
The BBC has made copyright and licensing agreements with its content partners that stipulate it can only show its content in the UK. If it allowed users outside the United Kingdom to access iPlayer’s content, the BBC could be punished with severe financial repercussions.
To prevent this from happening, the BBC blocks anyone outside the UK from accessing its service.
This is why BBC iPlayer isn’t working when you’re travelling.
How does the BBC block my connection?
When you connect to BBC iPlayer, your IP address is sent to the streaming service, where it’s scanned to determine your physical location.
Whenever you go online, your device is given a unique IP address. This IP is used to communicate between your device and the website or app you’re going to, in this case, BBC iPlayer. For this communication to work, your IP address contains information disclosing your physical location.
When the BBC scans your IP address, it can access this information, and if it finds you’re outside the UK, it will block the connection. This is why the “BBC iPlayer only works in the UK. Sorry, it’s due to rights issues” error is coming up.
Can I get around the BBC’s blocks?
To get around these blocks, you need to make BBC iPlayer think you’re watching it from within the UK. Basically, you need a UK IP address.
Now when BBC iPlayer scans your IP, it’ll think you’re in the UK, and you’ll be able to access its content while travelling. It’s that easy!
How do VPNs work?
VPNs give you an anonymous connection, and they allow you to select a location where you want a spoof IP address to be based.
They do this by encrypting all of your online data into an unreadable code, rerouting it through one of their servers (which you can choose), where it is decrypted and sent to a local ISP (internet service provider).
You can select the country where you want your data to be sent. This will give you a spoof IP address from that country.
If you want to watch BBC iPlayer outside the UK, you’ll need a UK IP address. So you’ll want your data to be sent to a VPN server in the UK.
When that happens, not only will you have an anonymous internet connection meaning the BBC cannot determine where you’re based, but you’ll also have an IP address from the UK.
Will any VPN work?
The VPNs that work with BBC iPlayer are the ones that can get around the BBC’s VPN blocking techniques.
The BBC tries to block VPNs because they allow people to watch BBC iPlayer content outside of its broadcast zone (the UK).
The BBC does this using three main techniques:
- The most common technique is to do with the IP addresses that your VPN can provide. VPN providers have more customers than IP addresses; this means that customers are forced to share the same IP addresses. Usually, only a household with a few devices uses the same IP address. When The BBC sees hundreds or even thousands of connections coming through on the same IP address, it knows that it is a VPN and it blocks it.
- The BBC monitors for IP, DNS and WebRTC leaks that can tip the service off you are using a VPN.
- The BBC teams up with GeoIP databases like Maxmind to identify IP addresses. If the IP address your VPN provides is on one of these databases, The BBC will be able to find out where in the world you are connecting to the internet from, and it will block you.
These measures are had for lesser VPNs to get around.
Fortunately, the best VPNs, NordVPN ($3.49/month) or Ivacy ($1.33/month), have measures in place to stay one step ahead of these blocks. When the BBC blocks an IP address provided by these VPNs, NordVPN ($3.49/month) or Ivacy ($1.33/month) will close that IP address and open a new one. This will allow you to watch BBC iPlayer while travelling reliably.
The best VPNs to watch BBC iPlayer while travelling
The BEST VPN of 2021Number of servers: 5,000+ | Speeds: >80% | Bandwidth: Unlimited | IP locations: 62 countries | Devices supported: 6 | Live chat: Yes | 30-day money-back guarantee: Yes NordVPN is the most widely-used VPN in the world. And its 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 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 tunnelling 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.
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The BEST low-cost VPNNumber 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 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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A very reliable and fast VPNNumber 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 ExpressVPN is still one of the best VPNs you can buy. However, we’ve got it ranked in the number three spot for a couple of reasons. First of all, it’s the most expensive VPN on the market. This was understandable when it was also the fastest and most reliable VPN too. But now it’s not. NordVPN is. ExpressVPN has recently been struggling to unblock some big streaming sites – BBC iPlayer and BeIN Sports – too. And importantly, it ALWAYS has servers that are open with major streaming sites such as Netflix, Hulu, Disney+, HBO Max, Amazon Prime Video etc. ExpressVPN is usually very good at playing Cat and Mouse with online streaming sites (apart from BBC iPlayer). 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 prevent its IPs from getting blacklisted for “abnormal” usage in the first place.
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5. CyberGhostNumber of servers: 6,000+ | Speeds: >65% | Bandwidth: Unlimited | IP locations: 200 in 90 countries | Devices supported: 7 | Live chat: Yes | 30-day money-back guarantee: Yes 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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