4 Best FREE VPNs for BBC iPlayer in 2024 (That Really Work)
BBC iPlayer is only licensed to broadcast in the UK, so you can’t watch its programs in other countries. This is true even if you opened a BBC iPlayer account in the UK and paid your TV license. You need to be located in the UK and log in to the platform with a local IP address.
But if you still want to use a VPN, many free providers don’t offer servers in the UK. Some are too slow for streaming while others don’t work with iPlayer at all. Many are also dangerous. Though not free, ExpressVPN is the best VPN to watch BBC iPlayer. It has the fastest speeds I’ve seen, multiple UK servers, and industry-standard security features.
Quick Guide: Best VPNs for BBC iPlayer (Tested in 2024)
- ExpressVPN — Lightning-fast speeds and multiple UK servers for streaming BBC iPlayer in UHD.
- CyberGhost — Streaming-optimized UK server to watch BBC iPlayer reliably, but free for only 45 days.
- TunnelBear — UK servers work with BBC iPlayer but limit data to 500MB per month.
- Windscribe — Multiple free UK servers that work with BBC iPlayer, but it doesn’t have the fastest speeds.
Important! I don’t condone copyright infringement or breaking BBC iPlayer’s terms of service. All the recommended VPNs have strict zero-logs policies so they can’t keep track or see your online activities, so it’s up to you to use your VPN responsibly and follow all rules and regulations.
3 Easy Steps: How to Use a VPN to Watch BBC iPlayer
- Subscribe to a VPN. I recommend ExpressVPN as it worked reliably with my BBC iPlayer account.
- Connect to a server in the UK. Pick the closest one to your location in the UK for the best speeds.
- Watch BBC iPlayer. You’ll be able to watch your favorite UK TV shows and movies as usual.
The Best Free VPNs to Watch BBC iPlayer (Tested in 2024)
- 5 high-speed servers in the UK with working IP addresses for BBC iPlayer
- Industry-standard encryption, built-in kill switch, and a strict no-logs policy to keep you safe
- Lets you stream on up to 8 devices simultaneously
- 24/7 customer support via live chat and email
- 30-day money-back guarantee
ExpressVPN is my top choice for streaming BBC iPlayer. It offers an impressive network of 3,000+ servers, including 5 locations in the UK — Docklands, London, East London, Midlands, and Wembley. During my tests from the UK, I found all 5 ExpressVPN locations in the UK had working IP addresses for streaming BBC iPlayer.
While connected to its UK servers, my connection speeds only slowed down by 10% compared to my baseline speed. So, ExpressVPN’s connection speeds were always fast to stream UHD shows on BBC iPlayer completely lag-free.
If you want to use your local internet to watch BBC iPlayer while encrypting all other traffic, you can use ExpressVPN’s split tunneling feature. For example, it lets you connect your banking apps to the internet securely via ExpressVPN while routing your BBC iPlayer traffic through your regular local connection.
- AES 256-bit encryption — Encrypts your traffic to safeguard your online activity.
- TrustedServer Technology — RAM-based servers that are wiped clean of all their data every time they’re turned off.
- No-logs policy — ExpressVPN never stores your browsing information on its servers.
- Built-in kill switch — Disconnects you from the internet to protect your identity if the VPN connection drops.
- Threat Manager — Blocks third-party trackers that can track your online activity and build a profile on you.
Besides working on up to 8 devices at once, ExpressVPN offers native apps for Android TVs, Amazon Fire TV, Windows, and other platforms. Plus, it has a useful smart DNS tool called MediaStreamer. It doesn’t encrypt your connection, but it’ll let you watch BBC iPlayer on devices that aren’t compatible with VPNs like smart TVs and gaming consoles.
ExpressVPN also has extensions for Chrome and Firefox. These are unique because they act as a remote control for the full app and include extra privacy features that the app doesn’t have.
ExpressVPN also offers excellent customer support. Our website offers round-the-clock live chat support and an extensive knowledge base designed to assist you in resolving common issues. Whenever I required assistance, I could easily connect with a support agent within minutes. They offered practical solutions that quickly resolved any challenges I encountered.
While ExpressVPN isn’t completely free, it still provides excellent value for money with its cheapest plan costing $6.67/month. Plus, you can use ExpressVPN to stream BBC iPlayer completely risk-free. It has a 30-day money-back guarantee, and it’s easy to get a refund if you’re unsatisfied with its performance. I requested a refund via live chat to test this guarantee, which was approved in minutes. I had the money refunded to my account during the same week.
ExpressVPN works on: Windows, macOS, Linux, Chromebook, Android, iOS, Chrome, Firefox, Edge, PlayStation, Xbox, Nintendo Switch, Amazon Fire TV, Amazon Fire TV Stick, Nvidia Shield, Xiaomi Mi Box, Google Chromecast, Roku, Android TVs, smart TVs, routers, and more.
ExpressVPN works with: Netflix, Disney+, Hulu, HBO Max, Amazon Prime Video, Paramount+, Peacock, Discovery+, Showtime, BBC iPlayer, BritBox, Starz, Crunchyroll, fuboTV, Sling TV, DirecTV, YouTube TV, Kodi, and more.
- Offers a streaming-optimized server in the UK with working IP addresses for BBC iPlayer
- Keeps you safe with top-tier encryption and a strict no-logs policy
- Supports up to 7 devices simultaneously
- Offers helpful customer support via 24/7 live chat
- 45-day money-back guarantee
CyberGhost offers a streaming-optimized server specifically for BBC iPlayer and a variety of other UK servers. Its optimized server was especially impressive as it took only a few seconds to connect and then provided lag-free streaming on BBC iPlayer.
Throughout all my tests, CyberGhost’s connection speeds were consistently fast. I tried multiple UK servers, including the streaming-optimized one, and my speeds only dropped 20% compared to base values. So they always remained fast enough for buffer-free HD streaming on BBC iPlayer.
CyberGhost was also recently audited by Deloitte. The firm confirmed that CyberGhost’s server configurations are according to its privacy policies and don’t identify users or pinpoint their activities. Alongside this, the VPN offers various other security features to keep you safe such as:
- AES 256-bit encryption — Industry-standard encryption that encrypts and secures your traffic.
- NoSpy Servers — Servers owned by CyberGhost in Romania, where there aren’t any electronic surveillance laws.
- Strict no-logs policy — Don’t keep logs of your activity on its servers.
- Built-in kill switch — Kill your internet connection if the VPN disconnects to keep any of your identifying information from leaking.
You can use CyberGhost to stream on up to 7 devices at once. Plus, it works on Android TVs, Amazon Fire TV, Roku, Windows, Linux, Android, iOS, and many other platforms. So, you can use this VPN to stream BBC iPlayer on any of your devices without trouble.
Although it’s not free, CyberGhost is among the more affordable VPNs on this list. Not only does it offer affordable monthly plans, but it also provides a large 84% discount for its 2-year + 4 months plan. So, you can subscribe to CyberGhost for as low as $2.03/month.
Of course, there’s also a long 45-day money-back guarantee, meaning you can try CyberGhost to stream BBC iPlayer completely risk-free. I easily had my refund approved via live chat in minutes, and the money was back in my account within 5 days.
CyberGhost works on: Windows, macOS, Linux, Android, iOS, Raspberry Pi, Chrome, Firefox, PlayStation, Xbox, Nintendo Switch, Amazon Fire TV, Amazon Fire TV Stick, Roku, smart TVs, routers, and more.
CyberGhost works with: Netflix, Disney+, Hulu, HBO Max, Amazon Prime Video, Paramount+, Peacock, Discovery+, BBC iPlayer, Canal+, Globo, Crunchyroll, Yle, Foxtel, fuboTV, YouTube TV, Kodi, and more.
- 1 free UK location to watch BBC iPlayer
- Top-grade encryption and no-logs policy to keep your streaming activity private
- Lets you stream on only 1 device at a time
- Customer support is available via email only
- Provides 500MB of data per day
TunnelBear is an excellent free VPN for watching BBC iPlayer. It has 1 free working server in the UK to stream BBC iPlayer. If you want to watch shows at work or on a school network that blocks streaming sites, enable the GhostBear feature to disguise your traffic and watch BBC iPlayer freely.
While testing its speeds, I was impressed with how fast TunnelBear is for a free VPN. I only noticed a drop of roughly 30% compared to my baseline speeds, meaning the connection was always fast enough to watch shows on BBC iPlayer in HD. Having only 1 available server can lead to overcrowding and other issues, but I didn’t experience any of these problems while testing TunnelBear.
Alongside providing great streaming performance, TunnelBear is incredibly secure, with vital features like the following:
- AES 256-bit encryption — Best-in-class encryption to secure your online activity.
- VigilantBear — TunnelBear’s kill switch disconnects your internet if the VPN connection drops.
- No-logs policy — None of your browsing activity or connection logs are ever stored on TunnelBear’s servers.
TunnelBear currently provides support for multiple operating systems, including Windows, macOS, iOS, Android, and Linux. They also offer browser extensions to enhance your browsing experience. One small drawback is that the free plan restricts streaming to a single device at a time. Additionally, it’s important to be aware that the free version of TunnelBear imposes a daily limit of 500MB, meaning there are limitations on the amount of streaming you can do.
TunnelBear also offers multiple plans you can subscribe to for unlimited data and access to more servers. There are monthly, 1-year, and 3-year plans, and you can get a subscription for as low as $4.17 at a 58% discount. Also, while it doesn’t offer a money-back guarantee, TunnelBear evaluates refunds on a case-by-case basis, so you can still request one if you aren’t satisfied.
TunnelBear works on: Windows, macOS, iOS, Android, Linux, and more.
TunnelBear works with: Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, HBO Max, and more.
4. Windscribe — 2 Free Servers in the UK for Streaming BBC iPlayer
- 2 free working UK servers for BBC iPlayer
- Uses industry-standard encryption to safeguard your online activity
- Lets you stream BBC iPlayer on up to devices at once
- Useful knowledge base and helpful customer support via the ticketing system
- Up to 10GB/month of data
Windscribe is a great choice if you need a reliable free VPN to watch BBC iPlayer locally. The free plan offers various servers, including 2 different servers in the UK. These servers worked without issues when I logged in to my account and streamed BBC iPlayer in the UK.
While it doesn’t provide the fastest speeds, Windscribe’s connection speeds always remain fast enough for lag-free streaming. My connection speeds dropped roughly 42% compared to my baseline values when connected to the UK servers. Despite this drop, there’s never any lag while streaming BBC iPlayer using Windscribe.
Windscribe also offers various features to keep you safe and anonymous online such as:
- AES 256-bit encryption — Top-tier encryption that protects your traffic from any prying eyes.
- No-logs policy — Never keep any of your identifying information on its servers.
- Leak protection — Prevents DNS, IP, and other similar leaks to ensure you stay anonymous online.
Alongside providing 10GB/month of free data, I like that Windscribe’s free plan lets you stream on up to devices simultaneously. Plus, you can stream on a wide variety of platforms, including Fire TV, Windows, Android, iOS, Linux, and more. It’s also one of the best VPNs to watch American Netflix.
Windscribe also offers monthly and yearly paid plans with unlimited data, and you can subscribe for as low as $ 5.75 a month at a 36 % discount. Plus, there’s a “Build a Plan” option that lets you choose specific servers at 1$ each.
You can try Windscribe completely risk-free. Its money-back guarantee is short at only days long and requires that you’ve used less than 10GB on the paid plan. When I requested my refund, it was approved on the same day, and I had my money back in my account 5 days later.
Windscribe works on: Windows, Linux, macOS, iOS, Android, Amazon FireTV, Nvidia Shield, Kodi, routers, and more.
Windscribe works with: Netflix, Hulu, HBO Max, Disney+, Amazon Prime Video, and more.
Easy Comparison Table: 2024’s Best VPNs for BBC iPlayer
30-day money-back guarantee
45-day money-back guarantee
|Up to 10GB/month
Warning! None of These Free VPNs Work With BBC iPlayer
Although you can get up to 15GB/month with Hotspot Shield Free, it only offers 1 free server in the US. So, you can’t use it to stream BBC iPlayer and are better off with another option.
hide.me’s free plan only offers servers in the US, Canada, Germany, and the Netherlands. Unfortunately, it doesn’t offer a free server in the UK, so you can’t watch BBC iPlayer with it.
You get unlimited data with Proton VPN free. However, the free plan only lets you access servers in the US, Netherlands, and Japan, meaning you can’t use it to stream BBC iPlayer.
How I Tested and Ranked the Best 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 — I made sure the VPNs I suggest offer a free plan or a money-back guarantee so you can test them yourself without risking your money.
- Works with BBC iPlayer — I looked for VPNs with at least 1 UK server with working IP addresses for BBC iPlayer.
- Good streaming speeds — I only suggested VPNs that maintain fast speeds while connected. You only need a speed of 5Mbps to watch BBC iPlayer in HD without buffering.
- Security and privacy features — I prioritized VPNs with 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 VPNs I listed offer intuitive desktop and mobile apps for a hassle-free streaming experience.
FAQs: BBC iPlayer and VPNs
How can I watch BBC iPlayer for free?
If you’re in the UK, 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 2024. However, the truly best VPNs for BBC iPlayer are all low-cost premium VPNs because the platform actively blocks VPN IP addresses and VPN traffic.
To overcome these, a VPN needs frequently updated servers, leak protection, and obfuscated servers. Only top premium VPNs have the financial means to provide these advanced features — but you don’t necessarily have to pay anything to use one. For instance, you can get CyberGhost free for 45 days with its money-back guarantee. During this time, you’ll get unlimited access to all its premium features, including a dedicated streaming-optimized UK server for BBC iPlayer.
As long as you ask for a refund before the 45 days are up, you’ll get it without issues. My refund was processed immediately after requesting it via live chat, and I had my money back in a week.
Is it legal to watch BBC iPlayer with a VPN?
Technically yes, but there’s more to it. Before you use a VPN to access BBC iPlayer, it’s important to know that certain countries like China and Russia ban or regulate VPN use, so I recommend checking the local laws in your country. In most regions, VPNs are legal, but you can’t use one to perform illegal activities (like downloading or sharing copyrighted material).
On top of this, having a UK TV license is important if you’re streaming on BBC iPlayer (although you don’t need to provide proof of the license). My team and I haven’t heard of any legal action so far, but you may face a fine of up to £1,000 or even prison time if you’re caught.
Why does BBC iPlayer only work in the UK?
Due to copyright and content rights, you can only stream BBC channels and TV shows inside the UK. BBC iPlayer blocks any IP address outside the UK to prevent people from accessing its content from overseas.
But even if you’re in the UK and only need a VPN to secure your online connections, most VPNs don’t work. This is because BBC iPlayer heavily invests in blocking IP addresses belonging to VPNs.
So, it’s best to use an affordable and reliable provider like ExpressVPN that offers unlimited bandwidth, multiple fast UK servers, and constantly refreshes its IP addresses. Also, you can try ExpressVPN completely risk-free. It’s backed by a 30-day money-back guarantee, so you can test it yourself and get a refund if you’re unsatisfied with its performance.
Why is BBC iPlayer not working with my VPN?
Even the best VPNs for BBC iPlayer can struggle to work with it sometimes. Thankfully, you can try the following fixes to overcome errors:
- Try a different server in the UK — You might have chosen a server that’s been detected by BBC iPlayer. Switch to a different UK server and refresh BBC iPlayer to see if it works.
- Reset your internet connection — Simply restarting your internet will refresh your connection and reset your IP address. This might help you resolve issues and allow your VPN to work properly.
- Make sure your VPN app is updated — Check to see if you’re using the latest version of your VPN app. If it’s not up to date, getting the latest version might fix issues and enable a smooth connection to BBC iPlayer.
- Clear your browser and DNS cache — In some instances, browser cookies might hold onto your location data if you had used your browser while traveling outside the UK. This could lead to limitations in accessing services like BBC iPlayer. Clearing your browser data will eliminate past histories from interfering with your current streaming activities in the UK.
- Contact customer support — If nothing else works, contacting your VPN’s customer support is the best option. While most free VPNs have lackluster or even non-existent customer support, the ones I’ve listed above offer support options if you have trouble.
Can I watch BBC iPlayer with a free proxy?
Maybe, but I don’t recommend it. Free proxies don’t offer the same level of protection as the best free VPNs. Free proxies don’t have proper encryption or no-logs policies and other useful features you need to stay safe online. Plus, they’re often easily blocked by streaming platforms like BBC iPlayer.
Thankfully, there are many affordable monthly VPNs with top-tier security that work reliably with BBC iPlayer while keeping you safe online.
Watch Your Favorite BBC iPlayer Shows Safely
If you have a UK TV license and are located in the UK, you should be able to stream BBC iPlayer safely with a free VPN. Unfortunately, many don’t work or are too slow and cause streaming lags.
However, there are a few reliable ones. After extensive testing, I found that ExpressVPN is best for BBC iPlayer thanks to its superfast speeds, large server variety, and top-grade security.
Best of all, you can watch BBC iPlayer with ExpressVPN risk-free. It’s backed by a 30-day money-back guarantee, so you have a long time to test it yourself and see if it’s right for you. If you’re unsatisfied, you can ask for a refund at any time via the responsive live chat.