Watch BBC iPlayer while travelling 1

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.

See also:

How to watch BBC iPlayer while travelling: Quick Guide

To watch BBC iPlayer while travelling, follow these simple steps:

Total Time: 2 minutes

  1. Create a new account with ExpressVPN ($6.67/month)

  2. Download and install the new VPN app

  3. Select a server in the UK

  4. Watch BBC iPlayer while travelling

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.

Watch BBC iPlayer while travelling 2

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.

Reliable VPNs like ExpressVPN ($6.67/month) or NordVPN ($3.19/month) make this process easy. All you need to do is download one of these VPNs, connect to a UK server, and you’ll be given 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 to make 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.

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.

Watch BBC iPlayer while travelling 3

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: 

  1. 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. 
  2. The BBC monitors for IP, DNS and WebRTC leaks that can tip the service off you are using a VPN.
  3. 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, ExpressVPN ($6.67/month) or NordVPN ($3.19/month), have measures in place to stay one step ahead of these blocks. When the BBC blocks an IP address provided by these VPNs, ExpressVPN ($6.67/month) or NordVPN ($3.19/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

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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Why do I need a VPN to watch BBC outside the UK?

BBC iPlayer is owned and operated by the BBC. The BBC only has the rights to broadcast its content in the UK. It doesn’t have the rights to broadcast internationally.

If you try and access BBC iPlayer outside the UK, the streaming service won’t work because it doesn’t have the rights to broadcast its content in the country you’re in.

If BBC made iPlayer available outside the UK, it would be fined for copyright and licensing breaches. To prevent that from happening, the BBC blocks anyone outside the UK from accessing its service.

These blocks are why you are having issues watching BBC iPlayer while travelling.

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.

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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