If you’re based in the UK and you enjoy watching TV shows on catch-up via the BBC iPlayer, you’ll likely be disappointed to learn that access to content is blocked when you’re abroad. This is because you are required to pay an annual TV license fee to watch BBC content, which is why the broadcaster blocks non-UK IP addresses.
The good news is that you can get around this by installing a reliable VPN (Virtual Private Network). By doing so, regardless of where you are located in the world, the BBC will think that you are based in the UK, so you’ll get unfettered access to the iPlayer.
If you’re a technophobe and the thoughts of setting up a VPN intimidates you, we would suggest reading this Layman’s guide on how to watch BBC iPlayer abroad. We show you everything you need to know to get the iPlayer up and running in minutes, irrespective of where you are located.
How to Watch BBC iPlayer Abroad in 3 Quick Steps:
In a rush? Read our quick guide to watching BBC iPlayer abroad:
1: Install VPN
You'll need to find a reliable VPN provider that offers multiple UK servers at above-average speeds for your streaming.
2: Choose UK IP Address
Once you've chosen a VPN provider, connect to a UK IP address. Make sure you close the BBC iPlayer down before you do.
3: Open BBC iPlayer & Watch
When the VPN connects you to a UK IP address, open the BBC iPlayer up as you normally would. The BBC website will now see a UK IP.
On this Page:
Step 1: Choose a VPN Provider
First and foremost, you’ll need to find a VPN provider that will give you unchartered access to the BBC iPlayer abroad. This needs to be a provider that offers super-fast bandwidth speeds, multiple UK IP servers, and a competitive monthly plan that meets your needs.
Don’t have the time to research a VPN provider yourself? If this is the case, we would suggest considering the merits of one of the following three providers. Each provider offers more than enough bandwidth speed to watch the BBC iPlayer abroad, so we’ve pin-pointed other metrics that might sway your decision.
1. Nord VPN: Best All-Round VPN Provider
Nord VPN is one of the most popular VPN providers active in the online space. It offers the perfect balance between pricing, speed, and security. You'll have access to more than 5,000 individual IP addresses, which includes multiple UK locations. With servers based in more 62 countries, you'll never need to worry about downtime. What we really like about Nord VPN is that you can connect to a UK IP address from multiple devices.
This includes desktop devices, mobile phones, and even a Google Chrome extension. When it comes to pricing, there is quite the disparity depending on how long you wish to sign up for. For example, paying for a 1-year plan at $83.88 amounts to a monthly fee of just $6.99. However, if you simply want to pay for a one-month subscription, this goes up to $11.95.
- Super-fast connection speeds
- More than 5,000 unique IP addresses
- Servers in over 62 countries
- Customer support is a bit hit-and-miss
- Casual monthly subscription a bit expensive at $11.95
2. Express VPN: Best Performing VPN Provider
If your main priority is unfettered access to your favorite BBC TV shows, then it might be worth considering Express VPN. The VPN provider offers some of the fastest and most reliable connection speeds in the space, which is ideal if you're looking to watch content in HD. In fact, if the respective BBC show offers the show in Ultra HD, you shouldn't have any issues if you're connected via Express VPN.
The VPN provider offers more than 30,000 unique IP addresses, including a variety of UK locations. It also has servers located in more than 160 countries, so you'll instantly be moved on to another IP address if a particular server is running slow. You will also have the option of using Express VPN on up to 5 devices, which is perfect if you've got family members that each wants to watch their own shows. In terms of pricing, the VPN provider charges just $6.67 per month. To get this price, you'll need to sign up for a 1-year package.
- One of the fastest and most reliable VPN providers available
- More than 30,000 unique IP addresses
- Servers in over 162 countries
- Required to purchase a 1-year subscription to get the $6.67 monthly price
3. CyberGhost: Cheapest VPN Provider for Long-Term Subscriptions
If you're only looking to use a VPN to watch the BBC iPlayer while you are on a short-term holiday, then CyberGhost might not be for you. However, if you spend the vast majority of your time outside of the UK or you're not from the UK at all, then we would suggest looking at CyberGhost. The reason for this is that you can get your monthly subscription down to just $2.75, on the proviso that you pay for 3-years in advance.
On top of cheap pricing, CyberGhost excels in the speed and reliability departments. The provider has 3,700 different servers located across 60 countries. This includes multiple IP addresses, so you'll always have the required bandwidth to watch the iPlayer. Finally, CyberGhost allows you to connect the VPN on up to 7 different devices, which is ideal for larger families living overseas.
- Just $2.75 per month when paying for a 3-year subscription in advance
- More than 3,700 unique IP addresses
- Servers in over 60 countries
- Month-by-month subscriptions costs $12.99
Step 2: Select Your Preferred Device
Most VPN providers give you the option of installing the VPN on multiple devices. This usually includes one of the following:
- Desktop software
- Mobile application (Google Play or Apple Stores only)
- Google Chrome Extension
- Game consoles
- Streaming Devices
All the recommended on this page VPN providers can also be configured on a router level as long as your router is VPN compatible. It allows you to connect all your home devices to the VPN at once rather than installing a VPN client to each one of them separately.
Take note, if you want to watch the BBC iPlayer abroad on a TV, you will need to ‘cast’ your mobile or laptop device. As the device will already be connected to a UK IP address, you shouldn’t have any issues when it comes to watching it on the TV.
Step 3: Pay for Your Subscription
Once you have downloaded the VPN on your preferred device(s), you will then need to pay for your subscription. Choose a plan that best meets your needs. For example, if you are only going away for a short holiday, opt for the shortest plan, but if you’re based overseas as a permanent ex-pat, longer plans will reduce your monthly cost.
In terms of payment, most providers allow you to use a debit or credit card. Some allow you to use an e-wallet like PayPal, and if opting for a mobile application some will offer Google and Apple Pay.
Step 4: Connect to a UK IP Address
Once you have paid for your VPN subscription, you will then need to connect to a UK IP address. Make sure you have the BBC iPlayer closed at this point, as it might look suspicious if you move countries in a matter of seconds!
When you open up your respective VPN software, you’ll see a long list of supported countries. Just click on the UK and wait for the VPN to tell you you’re connected.
Note that sometimes not all UK servers and/or IP addresses unlock iPlayer in which case you will need to contact customer support for further directions.
Step 5: Open BBC iPlayer and Watch Content
When the VPN software has connected you to an IP address, you are then ready to open the BBC iPlayer application or simply head over to its website. Either way, as you now appear to be accessing the iPlayer from the UK, you should experience no issues. Happy viewing!
By reading our guide from start to finish, you should now have solved the conundrum of watching the BBC iPlayer while abroad. As you hopefully now know, the process is super-easy, so you should be able to get your VPN up and running within a matter of minutes.
The good news is that the information that you’ve learned in this guide is applicable to heaps of other requirements. For example, you can use your VPN to watch the US version of Netflix, or access restricted sites when you visit a new location.
Can I get a free VPN to watch BBC iPlayer abroad?
Although free VPN providers do exist, the connection is going to be far too slow to watch the iPlayer uninterrupted. They also might impose data limits or offer limited server locations.
What is the minimum term I can sign up to a VPN?
VPN providers usually offer a minimum subscription term of 1 month..
Can I still download content from the BBC iPlayer when abroad?
You certainly can. Just make sure you are connected to your UK IP address when you start the download. Once the TV show has downloaded to your device, you can watch it offline at any time.
How do I watch the BBC iPlayer with my chosen subtitles?
As the BBC iPlayer is a service offered to UK viewers, you can only add subtitles in English.
Can I watch the BBC iPlayer in HD with a VPN?
As long as you are using a VPN provider that offers super-fast bandwidth speeds, you shouldn't have any issues watching content in HD and in some cases Ultra HD.
How do I watch BBC iPlayer abroad on my TV?
The easiest way is to connect to the iPlayer with a mobile or laptop device via a UK IP address, and then cast the program to your TV. You will, of course, need a compatible smart TV to be able to do this.
Can I use my VPN subscription on multiple devices?
Most VPN providers permit access across multiple devices, which is perfect if you have a larger family.