If you’re trying to watch BBC iPlayer from the US or elsewhere outside the UK, you’ll find it’s not as simple as logging in and hitting play. It is a frustrating problem, but there is a solution and it is quite simple. In this article, we’ll show you how to watch BBC iPlayer from anywhere in the world.
iPlayer is one of the largest streaming services in the UK, providing a range of high quality television both live and on demand through popular channels including BBC One and CBeebies, radio shows and feature films straight from the BBC, completely ad free.
The sad thing is that it is limited to viewers in the UK and (basically) you can only watch it from the UK. UK TV owners fund the BBC through the license fee, so it makes sense to limit BBC iPlayer to UK viewers.
But what about vacationers and people with homes in two countries? If you paid for it, you may want to watch BBC iPlayer abroad in countries like the US, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Spain, Italy and more.
Hit shows such as Eastenders, Strictly Come Dancing, The Apprentice and more are available to watch live and on demand on BBC iPlayer, and many will regret missing an episode or two while away from the UK.
You need a TV license to watch on-demand content on the iPlayer. Previously you only needed a license to watch TV that was broadcast live, but now the rule change means you have to pay for all iPlayer content. Our sister title Tech Advisor explains everything here: Do I need a TV license?
Getting BBC iPlayer Abroad
Here’s a quick rundown of the steps to follow to access BBC iPlayer on your iPhone, iPad or Mac if you’re outside the UK. This also works on a PC and also on Android devices.
Please note, however, that this is against BBC iPlayer’s terms and conditions; you act at your own risk. You will not be fined or arrested, but your account may be suspended. In practice, even this is unlikely.
- You need a VPN subscription. We recommend NordVPN or Surfshark, but you can find ten great options in our roundup of the best VPNs.
- Download your VPN app of choice on your Mac, iPhone or iPad.
- Choose a server in the UK.
- Browse to BBC iPlayer and log in.
- You should now discover that you can access BBC iPlayer content.
How to watch iPlayer with a VPN
Just as Netflix dominates US traffic, BBC iPlayer dominates in the UK, with up to six percent of all our internet traffic going to the BBC. So you seem to love it. But you can’t watch the BBC when you’re abroad.
When you open the BBC iPlayer app on your iOS device or log into iPlayer on your Mac or PC, your public Internet Protocol (IP) address is checked. This address is a four-part number, such as 22.214.171.124. (A quick way to find yours is to type “IP address” into Google.)
This figure refers to your ISP (Internet Service Provider) or cellular connection, linked to the server that sends you data. Enter the numbers in IP location and you will see where the server is located as well as the host. If this location is not in the UK, BBC iPlayer will refuse to show you content.
To use BBC iPlayer abroad you need to convince the BBC that you are using an IP address in the UK.
Do not worry. This is a lot easier than you think, thanks to VPNs (aka virtual private networks). Instead of connecting directly to iPlayer’s servers, you log into the VPN and it connects to a UK IP address, giving you access to all the iPlayer content you normally would.
As mentioned, this violates BBC iPlayer’s terms and conditions, so you proceed at your own risk.
Here are some of the best VPN services for BBC iPlayer (in our experience). All of these have apps for both Mac and iOS, so you can use them to watch from just about any Apple device.
If you want to watch from Apple’s set-top box, it’s a little trickier, but we’ve got a special guide to using a VPN with the Apple TV that should help.
surf shark: This is the best value VPN on our list and is currently number one on our VPN chart. It works well for BBC iPlayer, but it lacks the dedicated servers offered by NordVPN. Register here.
North VPN: This service offers a complete VPN service at a fair price. Your data is encrypted, so you can surf anywhere worry-free. Not only can you access iPlayer abroad with it, but you can also take advantage of services such as secure online banking on public Wi-Fi hotspots. It offers dedicated servers designed for streaming, so it’s ideal for watching BBC iPlayer. Register here.
ExpressVPN: Another one of our favorite VPN services with top security and privacy features and easy-to-use apps. It’s a little more expensive than NordVPN and Surfshark, but it’s definitely a premium service. Register here.
You may also want to know how to get US Netflix in the UK.