If you’re a British expat, out of country holidaymaker or even just an Anglophile (like me), odds are you’re keen on having access to a UK IP address.
Why? Every IP is tied to a geographical location. Any website or online service you use can see it and based on it, figure out where in the world you are.
For a variety of reasons, many UK based websites and services restrict access to anyone not in the country. When you try to connect with an IP address from, say, Spain, they shut the gates.
This is what’s commonly known as geo-blocking.
So, if you’re on vacation and hoping catch the latest episode of Doctor Who on the BBC, you’re sadly out of luck. The same is true if you’d like to access UK Netflix, ITV Hub, or any number of other UK-only sites (and not just entertainment ones either). Unless your IP is UK based, you’re simply not getting through.
So how do you change your IP address to be in the UK? By far the quickest and easiest way is to use a VPN.
Why Use a VPN to Get an IP in the UK
A VPN works by creating an encrypted connection between your device and what’s called a VPN server. The device can be anything from your phone or tablet to a laptop, desktop computer or even a router or smart TV.
The VPN server is really just another computer, managed by the VPN provider. It can be located anywhere in the world (and, at the risk of spoiling where I’m going with this, that’s the key).
The magic happens after you connect your device to the server. You do so through a client app given to you by the VPN service.
From that point onward, all the data you send and receive will go through the server first. And more importantly, your device will now also be using that server’s IP for all external communications.
If the server is located in the UK, it will have a British IP address. And, because your device uses that very same IP, any website or service you access will 100% think you’re UK based as well. Neat (and super handy), isn’t it?
Steps to Getting UK IP Addresses
A VPN is hands down the easiest and most reliable way to get a UK IP address on-demand. And doing so couldn’t be simpler. The steps are as follows.
- Register with a VPN provider with servers in the UK. My preferred service is NordVPN, but many others work great as well. There’s a list that will get you started just a bit further down.
- Download your provider’s client application and install it on your device. All providers will have detailed instructions for your specific platform or operating system.
- Open the client app and sign into the VPN service.
- Choose a server located in the UK and connect to it. Just like that, your device should now have an IP address in Britain. If you’d like to double check, go to https://mylocation.org/ and see what country is displayed as your location.
- Put your feet up. You can now enjoy access to previously blocked UK websites and services.
When you no longer need a IP from the UK, simply disconnect and close the VPN client app. And just repeat the same steps next time you do (minus the registration and installation parts, of course).
Pretty simple. As an aside, similar steps also work for getting an IP in just about any other country in the world.
Picking a VPN Service for the UK
Overall, the process of setting up a VPN and connecting to it to change your IP to the UK is straightforward. Arguably, the hardest and most time-consuming part is choosing which VPN provider to use.
The most important part is, of course, to pick one that offers UK servers. If there are no British servers, there is just no way you’ll be able to spoof a IP address in the UK. Period.
Every provider’s website will tell you what countries they support. If they don’t, or the United Kingdom isn’t listed, move on.
Beyond the availability of a UK server, there are also other factors which should play a role in your decision. They include:
- The VPN you pick should have multiple servers in the UK, not just one. In fact, the more, the better.
As happens with all online services, maintenance or upgrades can sometimes force VPN providers to take servers offline (albeit briefly). Other users will also use the same server as you. If too many people connect at the same time, the server will become overloaded, slow and unusable.
When the VPN provider has multiple British servers, you’ll always have several connection options. You’ll be able to reliably get your UK IP any time, regardless of any external factors.
- Performance absolutely matters. Only the fastest VPNs out there will do. A good reputation for stability is important as well.
Speed is especially critical if you’ll be accessing streaming media geo-restricted to the UK. Your VPN connection must be able to handle the demands of high-quality, high-bandwidth streams. If it doesn’t, it won’t be much use to you.
- A strict no-logging policy and top-notch data encryption are important, especially if you value your online privacy.
Much like your internet service provider, the VPN provider will have a good idea of exactly what you’re doing online and from where. To protect your privacy and security, all your data should be strongly encrypted. The VPN provider also should not be collecting or storing any information about your online activities.
- The VPN client should support every device you use (platforms and operating systems). This also means finding out how many devices you can use at the same time. With some providers, this number may be as few as two. Others may not have any restrictions at all.
The Best VPN to Get a UK IP
Depending on how versed and up to date you are with what VPN services are out there, finding one you like (and one that meets the above criteria) will take some investigating.
Believe me, though, it’s not as daunting as it may sound. Once you get into the groove of things, it should go pretty fast.
That said, if you’d like a shorter list to start with, these are VPNs which I can confidently recommend as a way of getting a UK IP address.
Of all providers in the market, they have the second largest number of servers in Britain. Currently, that number stands at 421 and goes up on a nearly daily basis (I exaggerate a bit, but new servers do show up with shocking frequency).
NordVPN’s servers are available only at one location in England, though.
Server performance, however, is top notch. In fact, thanks to their recently introduced NordLynx protocol, this is a VPN that is now the fastest of all provider on the market – and by a good margin too. Just take a look at NordVPN’s speed test results. Pretty impressive.
Privacy-wise, NordVPN also scores top marks. They’re based out of Panama, a country where terms like data retention, internet censorship, and surveillance are not in anyone’s vocabulary. To sweeten the deal, Nord also has a strict no logging policy.
A potentially useful feature very few VPNs offer is a static UK IP address. As we’ll see below, PureVPN is another such provider.
There are many benefits to having a dedicated VPN IP address compared to a shared one. The gist is, if you don’t like the idea of having the same address as hundreds of other people or don’t want a different IP every time you connect to a VPN server (both of which happen with shared IPs), this is a feature for you.
Last but not least, NordVPN works like a charm with the BBC’s iPlayer and pretty much all British streaming services. Many other providers tend to struggle. But it seems no matter what the BBC throws at NordVPN, it happily hums along.
- Excellent download and upload speeds
- Large ever-expanding server network
- Great privacy with independently verified no logging policy
- Specialty servers (including double VPN, obfuscated, and Tor over VPN)
- Clean, easy to use client
- Works with Netflix and other streaming services
- Allows torrenting and P2P
- Offers dedicated IP addresses
- No split tunneling feature
- A bit pricey on shorter-term plans
For starters, out of a total of over 6300 CyberGhost servers, 528 are located in the UK. No other VPN has more. All those servers are nicely spread out across three locations.
On the performance front, CyberGhost does very well and can go toe to toe with the best of them. As you can see from my speed test results, the connection is more than fast enough for just about any task. Any VPN provider would be proud to boast those numbers.
Privacy is another one of CyberGhost’s strong points. Simply put, they don’t log a thing.
CyberGhost is based out of Romania. Because of that, some of us may have concerns about data retention and sharing. But Romania is actually surprisingly privacy oriented. There are no government-imposed logging mandates, and the country doesn’t at all play nice with the NSAs, FBIs or GCHQs of the world.
Plus, as I said, CyberGhost logs nothing. So even if someone did come knocking on their door, they simply wouldn’t have anything to share.
- Zero logging for maximum privacy
- Excellent server distribution with over 6300 servers in 90 countries
- Very fast connection speeds
- Works with US Netflix and BBC iPlayer
- Allows P2P torrenting
- Long 45-day money-back guarantee
- Parent company with a questionable reputation
- Convoluted manual OpenVPN setup
- Doesn't work from China
While PureVPN has fewer UK based servers than both CyberGhost and NordVPN, currently 168, those servers are beefier. They have also recently gone through some massive upgrades. Everything from speed to overall reliability has seen a noticeable improvement (on top of what was already pretty impressive performance).
PureVPN’s servers are spread out across four locations in England. They include London, Manchester, Maidenhead, and Gosport.
As mentioned, PureVPN’s server speeds are up there with the best of them. Stream 4K videos, download large files, it doesn’t matter. You will notice very little difference in performance from your regular internet connection.
And on the subject of 4K video, the BBC iPlayer, and indeed all other UK streaming services, work great with PureVPN.
From a privacy stand, PureVPN is not perfect. They still don’t log anything specific you do, like which sites you visit or what you download. They do, however, anonymously keep track of connection timestamps and bandwidth usage (for quality of service reasons).
It’s not a massive deal. You’ll still remain anonymous and safe. But, logging is logging, and they could do better there.
Together with NordVPN, PureVPN is also one of the count-on-one-hand VPN providers to offer a UK static IP address. They also do so for cheaper.
- Huge server network (130 countries)
- Fast speeds
- Unblocks Netflix, iPlayer, and over 70 other streaming services
- Compatible with over 50 devices and platforms
- Independently verified zero log VPN provider
- Dedicated IP option
- Great value
- Apps could use a bit more polish
- Some intermittent connection problems
Other United Kingdom IP Address Benefits
There are many reasons why you might want a UK IP address. As we have already discussed, it’s the only way to watch UK TV abroad. But, there are other less obvious reasons as well.
- Geo-blocking isn’t restricted to entertainment sites. Depending on where in the world you are, access to your social media and even favorite news site may also be severely limited.
Great Britain doesn’t restrict access to such services. Have the ability to make your IP address be in the UK. Then the next time you travel to China, you’ll still be able to get on Facebook and still be able to read up on the news as seen through the eyes of a western country.
- Don’t get locked out of your financial institutions. A British IP may come in handy in preventing things like a UK-based bank account being blocked when abroad.
Banks and other organizations use IP address location information to guard against illegal or otherwise suspicious online activities. Even legitimate attempts to access your own accounts from abroad could set off red flags.
Often, such red flags trigger nothing more than a simple internal activity review. But sometimes, your account may get locked, and you forced to call in to fix the problem. By keeping your IP address in the United Kingdom, you can potentially save time and a headache or two.
- Safeguard your data and personal information. This is especially relevant when you’re using unsecured or public Wi-Fi hotspots (coffee shops, hotels, airports, etc.)
If you’re in a country not know for strong online security or privacy laws (or know for prolific hackers), this becomes even more vital.
I always like to have the peace of mind my data is safe. When connected to a VPN, no matter where you go, your internet traffic will be automatically encrypted. That encryption will prevent data from falling into the hands of anyone who shouldn’t have access to it.
Why Free VPNs Are Not Ideal
When you start looking into VPNs, you’ll run across any number of free services. Though these are somewhat viable options, approach them with a with some skepticism. Free and paid VPNs are quite different.
Free providers may, in fact, help you get an England IP address. But, as I’m sure we have all found out at some point, in life you often get what you pay for. And that very much applies in this case too.
While free services won’t charge you for using them, they’re still making money in other ways. They have to. Otherwise, who’s paying for all that infrastructure?
How free VPN providers make money is often less than ideal. Many cover their costs by selling information about your browsing habits to advertising firms (i.e. they log and catalog what you do online). Others inject ads straight into your browser while you’re connected to their service. Some do both.
In short, when it comes to free VPN services, you don’t pay with money. You pay with your privacy and personal data instead.
It takes a surprising amount of resources to maintain IP addresses which work with these popular services. Premium VPN providers stay on top of things like this. Free VPN providers do not.
Other Ways to Get a British IP
A VPN is not the only way to get a United Kingdom IP. Other options exist. Those options are not nearly as flexible or reliable, especially if you’re trying to evade geo-restrictions. But, that doesn’t mean there isn’t a time and place for them.
One of the more popular VPN alternatives doesn’t involve getting a UK IP address at all (strictly speaking). It’s called SmartDNS.
SmartDNS can help you evade geo-restrictions by masking where in the world only some of your traffic is coming from.
Once you set it up, the SmartDNS server transparently routes any data necessary to use a blocked site through regions allowed to access it. All other data continue to use your regular internet connection.
These types of services are set up to work with a relatively small subset of websites. They tend to work pretty well, but will generally be much more restrictive than a VPN.
Some of the more popular SmartDNS services include Unlocator, SmartyDNS, and Smart DNS Proxy. A few VPN providers also include SmartDNS as part of their service, the most notable being Invisible Browsing VPN.
SmartDNS services are a variant of internet proxy services, which can also be used to unblock geo-restricted British websites.
A proxy is similar to a VPN in that it routes all of your internet traffic through a server. You get to pick what country that server is located in.
The difference, and it’s an important one, is that proxy servers are almost always unencrypted. You won’t be getting any of the privacy and security benefits that come with using a VPN.
More often than not, proxies are also run by individuals like you and me. That makes them a lot less reliable, both as far as performance and whether or not a proxy you’re using will still be there in a couple of hours.
Making the Choice
Whatever your reason for needing one, a VPN service is hands down your best option to get a UK IP address. They’re reliable, safe, and offer plenty of benefits other methods can’t match.
Take care to pick the right UK VPN service and you’re set. Access to any content will always be at your fingertips.
That should be great news for British expats and everyone else who likes to take advantage of what the UK has to offer online. And you’ll be able to do so from wherever in the world you happen to be.
Best UK IP Address VPN Comparison