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3 Best FREE VPNs for BBC iPlayer in 2022 (That Really Work)

Kate Hawkins
Last Updated by Kate Hawkins on August 01, 2022

Most free VPNs don’t even have UK servers to access BBC iPlayer from abroad. Others still get blocked by BBC iPlayer — or simply don’t have enough bandwidth or data to finish a full episode.

To save you time and effort, I tested and ranked the best VPNs for BBC iPlayer in 2022 that are either 100% free or you can try risk-fre.. What I found is the 100% free VPNs still have limitations, so it’s worth considering an affordable option like ExpressVPN if you don’t want streaming restrictions.

ExpressVPN has fast speeds and easily accessed BBC iPlayer on all its UK servers. You can even try ExpressVPN with BBC iPlayer risk-free as it’s backed by a 30-day money-back guarantee. It’s quick and easy to get a refund over 24/7 live chat if you don’t like it — I tested it myself and the money returned to my account without issues.

Watch BBC iPlayer with ExpressVPN risk-free

Quick Guide: Best Free VPNs for BBC iPlayer (Updated 2022)

  1. ExpressVPN — Blazing-fast speeds for streaming BBC iPlayer in HD and Ultra HD. Includes a 30-day money-back guarantee. Watch BBC iPlayer with ExpressVPN now!
  2. CyberGhost — Optimized UK server for quick and reliable access to BBC iPlayer, but only free for 45 days.
  3. TunnelBear — Unblocks BBC iPlayer on UK servers, but only offers 500MB of free data per month.

Watch BBC iPlayer with ExpressVPN risk-free

The Best Free VPNs to Watch BBC iPlayer (Tested in August 2022)

1. ExpressVPN — #1 VPN for HD Streaming on BBC iPlayer

Key Features:

  • 4 high-speed servers in the UK for unblocking BBC iPlayer
  • Strict no-logs policy, kill switch, leak protection, and military-grade encryption protects your privacy
  • Also unblocks Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Hulu, Disney+, HBO Max, and DAZN
  • Supports 5 device connections at the same time
  • 24/7 customer service with live chat and email support

ExpressVPN takes the top spot for BBC iPlayer with its reliable UK connections and fast download speeds. Its impressive global network of 3000 servers includes 4 locations in the UK — Docklands, East London, London, and Wembley. During my tests, all 4 of these server locations could access BBC iPlayer without issue.

All of ExpressVPN’s UK servers could connect to BBC iPlayer easily

My speed only slowed down by a tiny 18% from my base of 115Mbps down to 94Mbps. My network was still extremely fast even when I ran speed tests on distant servers, which is ideal if you’re physically located far from the UK or have a slower internet connection.

If you want to watch BBC iPlayer while browsing your local internet, you can set up ExpressVPN’s split tunneling feature. This feature allows you to only connect the BBC iPlayer website or app through to ExpressVPN’s UK server — all your other activities (like reading the news or online shopping) can be routed through your regular internet connection.

ExpressVPN has a dedicated VPN app for Windows, macOS, smartphones, and tablets, so you can set it up with all your streaming devices. If you have a smart TV or game console (like Xbox or PlayStation) that doesn’t support VPNs, you can still watch BBC iPlayer on it with ExpressVPN. Just install ExpressVPN onto your router and all your internet-connected devices will automatically be routed through its servers.

While it’s not free, ExpressVPN is the easily the best VPN for BBC iPlayer in 2022 as it unblocks the streaming platform every time. You can try ExpressVPN with BBC iPlayer risk-free as it’s backed by a 30-day money-back guarantee. If it doesn’t meet your expectations, you can easily get a refund (no questions asked!). I tested the process myself and was surprised by how easy it was. I simply contacted the 24/7 live chat support and the representative arranged my refund in minutes. Best of all, I had the money back in my account in less than a week.

Watch BBC iPlayer with ExpressVPN risk-free

August 2022 Update! ExpressVPN has dropped prices for a limited time to a crazy $6.67 per month for the 1-year plan (you can save up to 49%) + 3 months free! This is a limited offer so be sure to grab it now before it's gone. See more information on this offer here.

2. CyberGhost — Unblock BBC iPlayer on an Optimized UK Streaming Server

Key Features:

  • 3 servers in the UK, plus 1 optimized server specifically for streaming BBC iPlayer
  • Strong privacy policy with AES-256 bit encryption and leak protection to secure your online activity
  • Also works with Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Disney+, HBO Max, and more
  • Connect 7 devices simultaneously
  • 24/7 customer service through live chat and email

CyberGhost has an optimized server specifically for BBC iPlayer, as well as a range of regular UK servers. I was especially impressed with the optimized server — it only took 5 seconds to connect and then I streamed an entire episode of the show Killing Eve. 

CyberGhost’s optimized server connected me to BBC iPlayer easily

CyberGhost regularly updates and maintains this optimized server to guarantee a reliable connection to BBC iPlayer. It’s also very fast and only slowed my network speed by 20% (from 115Mbps to 90Mbps).

I recommend using the optimized server over CyberGhost’s regular servers. I couldn’t always connect to BBC iPlayer on the regular UK servers without the VPN being detected by the website. When this happened, I just kept randomly switching between servers until I found a working connection. This took a few minutes — if you’re in a rush, it could be faster to speak directly to the customer support team over 24/7 live chat.

You can try CyberGhost for free for 45 days with BBC iPlayer as it has a generous 45-day money-back guarantee. It works just like a free trial — you just have to ask for your money back before the end of the expiry period. The process is easy — I tested it myself and had the customer service agent process my refund in just 3 minutes. I had my money back in my account in 1 week.

Watch BBC iPlayer with CyberGhost for free

August 2022 Update! You can subscribe to CyberGhost for as low as $2.29 per month + get extra 3 months free with the 3-year plan (save up to 83%)! This is a limited offer so grab it now before it's gone. See more information on this offer here.

3. TunnelBear — GhostBear Feature Allows Easy Access to BBC iPlayer From Abroad

Key Features:

  • 1 server location in the UK for watching BBC iPlayer
  • No-logs policy and GhostBear feature keeps your streaming activity private
  • Also works with Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, HBO Max, and Hulu
  • Allows 1 device connection on the free plan
  • Customer support available via email only

TunnelBear is an entirely free VPN for watching BBC iPlayer. It has a feature called GhostBear, which disguises your encrypted VPN traffic as regular internet traffic, so BBC iPlayer can’t tell that you’re using a VPN. When I switched on GhostBear in the Security settings, I could access BBC iPlayer without issue. When I turned GhostBear off, the BBC immediately flagged TunnelBear as a VPN and blocked my access.

Screenshot of TunnelBear connected to a UK server with BBC iPlayer streaming Killing Eve in the background.
TunnelBear’s GhostBear feature provides access to BBC iPlayer

I was pleased to find that TunnelBear’s download speeds were fast. From my network speed of 115Mbps, TunnelBear slowed down by only 30% to 80Mbps. This surprised me as TunnelBear only has 1 UK server — normally this can result in user overcrowding or connection issues.

Unfortunately, you only get 500MB of free data per month. This gives you around 45 minutes of SD streaming, which in most cases isn’t even a full episode. It also took around 15 seconds to establish a VPN connection. This is slower than other VPNs that have almost instant connections.

To create a free TunnelBear account and watch BBC iPlayer, you’ll need a working email to verify the subscription. Fortunately, TunnelBear isn’t supported by ads and its zero-logs policy has been independently verified. You can rest assured your data is private and anonymous while connected.

Watch BBC iPlayer with TunnelBear for free

Warning! None of These Free VPNs Work With BBC iPlayer

The BBC iPlayer is tricky for VPNs to access — and it’s even more difficult for free VPNs. I tested all the popular free VPNs out there and unfortunately, even some of the best didn’t make the cut.

Hotspot Shield

Hotspot Shield’s free plan has 500MB of free day every day (approximately 15GB per month) but unfortunately, you can only connect to 1 virtual server in the US. On the plus side, Hotspot Shield’s US server does work with Netflix and Hulu.

hide.me

hide.me is another top free VPN with 10GB of free data each month and servers in the US, Canada, Germany, and the Netherlands. Unfortunately, the free version doesn’t have any servers in the UK so you can’t watch BBC iPlayer.

ProtonVPN

Aside from powerful encryption and no ads, ProtonVPN offers unlimited data for free. However, you only have access to servers in the US, Japan, and the Netherlands. While these servers do work with streaming platforms like Netflix, you’ll find speeds are very slow and videos take awhile to load.

3 Easy Steps: How to Watch BBC iPlayer From Anywhere

  1. Get a VPN. ExpressVPN works with BBC iPlayer and it has a 30-day money-back guarantee.
  2. Connect to a server in the UK. ExpressVPN has multiple high-speed servers in the UK.
  3. Open BBC iPlayer and start streaming! You’ll need to have a valid UK postcode (like TN27 8AB) if you’re creating a new account.

Watch BBC iPlayer with ExpressVPN risk-free

How I Tested and Ranked the Best Free VPNs for BBC iPlayer

I tested all the leading VPNs on the market against the following criteria and ranked them by how well they performed.

  • Free plan or money-back guarantee — Very few VPNs can unblock BBC iPlayer, so I made sure the best VPNs had a free plan or a money-back guarantee so you can test it out without risking your money.
  • Works with BBC iPlayer — A VPN needs to have at least 1 UK server in order to access BBC iPlayer.
  • Good streaming speeds — You only need 5Mbps to watch BBC iPlayer in HD quality (although keep in mind that your physical distance to the UK will impact your speed).
  • Security and privacy features — At the very least, a free VPN should have strong encryption, leak protection, a kill switch, and a strict no-logs policy to ensure your streaming history can’t be linked back to you.
  • User-friendly VPN apps — I made sure the best free VPNs had straightforward apps for desktop and mobile for a hassle-free streaming experience.

Watch BBC iPlayer with ExpressVPN risk-free

FAQs: BBC iPlayer and VPNs

How can I watch BBC iPlayer for free?

You can watch BBC iPlayer at no cost with a free VPN. I’ve even tested and ranked the best free VPNs for BBC iPlayer in 2022. However, you’ll find the best VPNs for BBC iPlayer are all low-cost premium VPNs. This is because BBC iPlayer has tough blocks for VPNs to get around. In order to overcome these blocks, a VPN needs to have a frequently updated server network, leak protection, and obfuscated servers.

Only premium VPNs have the resources and technology to invest in overcoming these blocks — but you don’t necessarily have to pay anything to use a premium VPN either. For example,  you can get CyberGhost for free for 45 days with its money-back guarantee. You’ll get unlimited access to all its premium features during this time, including a dedicated UK server specifically configured to unblock BBC iPlayer. Just remember to ask for your money back before the 45 are up and you’ll get a full refund.

Is it legal to watch BBC iPlayer with a VPN?

Before you use a VPN to access BBC iPlayer, I recommend checking the local laws in your country. In most regions, VPNs are legal software but you can’t use it to break any laws (like downloading or sharing copyrighted material).

That said, streaming BBC iPlayer from outside the UK with a VPN is against the Terms of Use. There’s no mention of whether this applies to residents of the UK who are temporarily abroad— during my research, I couldn’t find any evidence of the consequences.

You also need to have a UK TV license if you’re streaming BBC iPlayer content (although you don’t have to provide proof or evidence of the license). My team and I haven’t heard of any legal action to date, but you could potentially face a fine of up to £1,000 or even prison time if you’re caught.

Why does the BBC iPlayer only work in the UK? 

Due to copyright and content rights, BBC TV shows and channels can only be streamed or downloaded from inside the UK. BBC iPlayer will block any IP address that appears outside the UK in order to prevent people from accessing its content from overseas. This is especially annoying if you’re normally a UK resident, but you happen to be overseas for work or a vacation. To avoid lagging behind on your favorite BBC iPlayer program, you can use a VPN a to change your device’s IP address to the UK.

The only catch is that most VPNs don’t work — the BBC iPlayer invests heavily in blocking known IP addresses belonging to VPNs. If you want easy access to BBC iPlayer, I strongly recommend you consider an affordable provider like ExpressVPN. You’ll have unlimited bandwidth and plenty of fast UK servers to choose from. You’re also protected by a 30-day money-back guarantee, so you can try ExpressVPN with BBC iPlayer risk-free. If you find it’s not right for you, you can get a full refund.

Why is my BBC iPlayer not working even with a VPN?

Even the the best VPNs for BBC iPlayer sometimes struggle to access the streaming site. Fortunately, there are a couple of things you can try to overcome these errors.

  • Try a different server in the UK — The server you initially chose may be down for maintenance, or it might already have been detected by BBC iPlayer as a VPN server. Simply switch to a new server in the UK and refresh BBC iPlayer to see if it connects.
  • Reset your internet connection — If your internet connection is too slow to support your VPN, you can refresh the connection and reset your IP address. This can help resolve a slow connection caused by IP issues and allow your VPN to work properly.
  • Make sure your VPN app is updated — Check to see that your VPN is running the latest version and if not, update the app. This could patch any bugs or issues the VPN has and enable a smooth connection to BBC iPlayer.
  • Clear your browser and DNS cache — Your location data can sometimes be stored in your browser’s cookies, which BBC iPlayer can detect and use to block your access. Clearing your browser data removes this information so you can connect to BBC iPlayer easily.
  • Contact customer support — When all else fails, you can reach out to your VPN’s customer support and ask for advice. Most free VPNs take a long time to respond to queries, and some don’t even have customer support available. The free VPNs listed above all have customer support options if you ever have trouble unblocking BBC iPlayer.

Watch BBC iPlayer with ExpressVPN risk-free

Don’t Miss Out on Your Favorite BBC iPlayer Shows

It’s frustrating to miss out on the latest BBC iPlayer shows just because you’re overseas (especially when you’ve rightfully got a UK TV license), but a VPN can connect you to a UK server and gain access to the BBC iPlayer.  After extensive testing, I found ExpressVPN is the top choice for BBC iPlayer. It has excellent speeds for streaming and reliable UK servers, so you can stream without any lag or connection errors.

Best of all, you can watch BBC iPlayer with ExpressVPN risk-free as you’re protected by a 30-day money-back guarantee. If you don’t like it, you can get a full refund with no questions asked. I even made sure the money-back guarantee works by trying it myself — and I got my refund approved in minutes over 24/7 live chat and the money returned to my account in under a week.


The Best VPNs for BBC iPlayer in 2022

Top Choice
ExpressVPN
$6.67 / month Save 48%
CyberGhost VPN
$2.29 / month Save 82%
Private Internet Access
$2.19 / month Save 82%
HMA VPN
$2.99 / month Save 75%
IPVanish VPN
$3.99 / month Save 64%
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