March 23, 2023 Update: Despite the BBC’s best efforts at detecting and blocking VPN use, several providers continue to work well with the iPlayer. I last connected yesterday evening with NordVPN (using UK server 1807) to watch last week’s episode of The Apprentice.
As always, I will continue to update this page at least a few times per week with my latest BBC iPlayer VPN use.
As recently as a year ago, watching the BBC iPlayer with a VPN was the most reliable way of accessing the service outside the UK. Today, things no longer seem to be that easy. In fact, the word on the street is that using a VPN for the iPlayer does not work period.
So is the game up? Are those of us outside the UK out of luck?
The answer is not at all. Yes, there have been changes, and things have perhaps become a little more inconvenient. But, using a VPN to watch the BBC iPlayer is as doable as ever. I do it on a nearly daily basis.
Why Is the BBC iPlayer Blocking VPN Access
It’s easy to see why the BBC decided to take action and clamp down on VPN use. The iPlayer has become an amazing success for the corporation not only in the UK but also around the world.
The problem is the iPlayer is a service meant to be used only by residents, individuals who pay for the UK’s mandatory TV license. All those “around the world” viewers were never supposed to happen.
Some data suggest an estimated 60 million people living outside the UK watch the BBC iPlayer with VPNs or other tools that bypass geo-blocking. That’s a whole lot of people, almost as many as live in the UK.
Considering those numbers, it’s understandable why the BBC has actively started taking measures to stop unauthorized access. Besides potential licensing issues, it also costs them a lot of extra money to maintain the iPlayer infrastructure.
If you’re seeing any of the following three messages (with the first being by far most common), the BBC iPlayer is detecting and blocking your VPN:
- BBC iPlayer only works in the UK. Sorry, it’s due to rights issues.
- This content doesn’t seem to be working. Please try again later.
- BBC iPlayer programmes are available to play in the UK only.
How Is the BBC iPlayer Detecting VPN Use
So how does the BBC know you are streaming the iPlayer through a VPN? It all comes down to your IP address and probability.
The BBC iPlayer is meant to be used mostly from home and sometimes from a place of business. Anywhere a valid TV License exists. Most of those locations will have a single external IP, regardless of how many devices are connected to the internet.
Let’s assume a home situation with a family of four where everyone streams content off the BBC iPlayer at the same time. That’s four connections from the same IP address talking to the iPlayer server for several hours each day.
From the BBC’s point of view, that sounds entirely reasonable and is probably a fairly common usage pattern.
Now, what happens if you, I and a several hundred other people access the BBC iPlayer with a VPN server’s IP (servers may have multiple IP addresses, but for simplicity’s sake, let’s assume a single one)?
It’s like we’re all roommates in a single house. It translates to hundreds of connections from the same source hitting the iPlayer server around the clock (since we all likely live in different time zones around the world).
Does that sound like a typical iPlayer usage pattern? Not at all. And it’s something the BBC can easily detect.
Once enough time has passed to gather sufficient data (the BBC needs to be careful not to ban valid users), our VPN IP address is getting blacklisted and blocked from using the iPlayer.
The good news is, VPN providers are well aware of how their IPs are detected and banned by the BBC. Most (but not all) services, after finding out a VPN server IP no longer works, will simply toss it and replace it with a new one that works.
Considering how many VPN customers use them to bypass geo-blocked content like the BBC iPlayer, this makes a lot of sense from a business perspective. The whole process becomes a giant game of whack a mole between the streaming services and the VPN vendors.
The BBC iPlayer VPN Block Workaround
What does this back and forth fight between the BBC and the VPN providers mean for you and me? Three things:
- Connecting to a VPN to watch BBC iPlayer content still works.
- We need to use a VPN that replaces IPs once they’re blocked by the iPlayer – that’s not always the case. Most providers on my recommended VPN list do it. The notable exceptions are PIA, HideMyAss!, and (lately) ExpressVPN.
- Some time can pass between when the BBC detects and blocks a VPN IP address and when the provider changes it. This could be anywhere from a day or two to several weeks. So, a few “bad” ones will always kick around.
The last point is key. When you connect to a VPN, you may get unlucky and be assigned one of the dud IPs detected by the BBC iPlayer and not yet replaced.
To get around this problem, simply disconnect and connect again. It may take a few tries, but you will find an IP that works. If your VPN provider has multiple UK servers, trying a different server can help too.
For example, midway through writing this post, I decided to take a break. I chose to watch something on, appropriately enough, the iPlayer. Using Surfshark, I connected to one of their London servers.
No luck. Dreaded message number one: “BBC iPlayer only works in the UK.” So, I switched to a Manchester server instead and lo and behold, I’m streaming the BBC like its 2015.
The workaround to the “BBC iPlayer not working with a VPN” problem should be as easy as that. As long as you’re using a VPN that detects and swaps out blocked IP addresses, disconnecting and reconnecting will let you watch the iPlayer.
In addition to getting a BBC VPN that will replace its IPs, it’s also a good idea to find one with multiple UK servers. The more, the better. You can take a look at my list of the best UK VPNs to see which providers are leading the way.
Using a Dedicated IP Address
One other thing you can consider is getting a dedicated VPN IP address. For the BBC iPlayer, that address should obviously be in the UK. Several VPNs offer this solution.
A dedicated IP does costs a bit more. For example, PureVPN charges $1.99 per month for this service. NordVPN also has a static IP option, though at just over $5/month, it’s a bit more than PureVPN’s.
What a dedicated address means is you’re no longer sharing a VPN IP with hundreds of other people while you watch BBC iPlayer programming – only a select few (a VPN provider will likely give out the same IP to multiple dedicated IP customers).
While not foolproof, this does make you look much more like a regular household or business (think hotel). It makes the BBC’s job of detecting you’re using a VPN and blocking it that much harder.
My BBC iPlayer VPN Is Still Not Working
There may be times when you can’t get your BBC iPlayer VPN to work no matter how many different IPs and servers you try. Here are the most common reasons why, as well as and how to fix them.
Browser Cache and Cookies
It’s possible that, at some point, you accessed the BBC iPlayer website from outside the UK while not connected to a VPN. Your browser may have stored that information in its cache or as a cookie and is feeding it to the iPlayer.
The solution is simple. Clear your browser’s cookies and cache and try again.
In the world of VPNs, there is something called a DNS leak. If your VPN suffers from one, the BBC iPlayer will know you’re outside the UK, despite having a UK IP address that is not currently blocked. Here is how to diagnose it.
- Connect to your iPlayer VPN.
- Visit https://www.dnsleaktest.com/. Because you now have a UK IP address, that’s what your location should be shown as.
- Run the “Standard” or “Extended” test. Either will do.
- If any of the IPs on the results page are outside the UK, you have a DNS leak.
If your VPN is leaking DNS information, the first step is to contact their support. Any provider should help you fix the issue.
If, for whatever reason, the DNS leak cannot be fixed, unfortunately, it’s time to find a new BBC VPN. There is no other workaround. As long as the leak exists, you’ll be denied access by the iPlayer every single time.
The BBC iPlayer Won the Fight
Sometimes, VPN providers simply give up on their fight with the BBC. Maybe they don’t have the resources. Maybe it’s just not financially viable for them to keep swapping out IPs (doing so does come at a cost).
This has already happened to several VPNs which use to work with the BBC iPlayer, most notably Private Internet Access, TunnelBear, and IPVanish.
If you contact your provider, they will tell you if they currently support the iPlayer (or at least should). If they don’t, your only solution is unfortunately once again to get a different BBC iPlayer VPN.
BBC iPlayer VPNs Work
If you don’t know what’s going on behind the scenes, it’s easy to get discouraged when you first find your VPN is blocked and no longer works with the iPlayer. That’s what the BBC is hoping for, that enough of us throw in the towel and move on.
Yes, things are a little different than they were a few years ago. You need to be slightly more selective with your VPN provider choice. But, if you pick the right one and understand how to use it, watching the BBC iPlayer with a VPN works as well as ever.
You May Also Like:
- The Best VPNs for the UK (These are your best bets for working with the BBC iPlayer)
- Are VPNs Legal in the UK
- Get a UK IP Address in 5 Easy Steps
259 thoughts on “What to Do If Your BBC iPlayer VPN Is Not Working”
The article was written a year ago so I can understand why itdiesnr mention it. But, I’m kind of surprised there are no comments from people about the BBC requiring people to log into an iPlayer account to get access so even if you can connect, you won’t be able to get further without a bona-fide UK address.
Hi John. I didn’t mention anything about it since I didn’t feel that information was necessarily a good fit for what the article talks about. I’m in no way encouraging anyone to do this, but it’s not hard to get a “fake” real UK address (think Google Maps for example).
Hi, I tried to watch Doctor Who last night using IPVanish but only got the ‘you’re outside the UK’ message over and over. I routed it to UK. and deleted browser history just in case, but alas no luck. Any suggestions?
Hi Greg. I spent some time trying to find a clean IPVanish IP this morning and was unable to do so. Looks like they’re still out of commission as far as accessing the BBC iPlayer goes. I have no doubt they’re working on it (they have come back in the past), but short of waiting until the issue is resolved, the only thing I can suggest is getting a one month stopgap subscription with another provider like NordVPN.
Hi Tim. I hope you’ll be able to answer this. I’ve been using ipvanish for nearly 3 years quite happily. However, for the last 10 days I’ve been unable to access the BBC from all their servers. Ipvanish support team has been looking at the issue by trying different servers and redirections, but it still doesn’t work. In their own words, they say they’ve tried several avenues but that the BBC is becoming more aggressive at blocking vpns and has a lot of tools at their disposal to do so. Have you also come across this issue over the last few days? Are there other vpns you would recommend as more proactive in addressing the access issue?
Hi Belén. Yes, I can confirm IPVanish is indeed not currently working very well with the iPlayer. I’m sure they’ll get the issue sorted out sooner rather than later. If other VPNs can do it, so can a well established provider like IPVanish. Of the many services I’m familiar with, NordVPN gets my vote as the most proactive in fixing BBC access issues. When they do go down (and sadly all VPNs do these days), they’ve always come back within a few days at most.
I’m interested that you have Tunnelbear on your recommended list of VPN providers. I haven’t been able to get BBC iPlayer on Tunnelbear for a couple of years, even witching the location services of my iPad off. am I doing something wrong?
Hi Roger. It sounds like you may indeed be doing something wrong. I unfortunately do not have access to an iPad so I can’t give you the exact steps to follow (sorry 🙁 ). TunnelBear does work with the BBC iPlayer (granted, with outages here and there, just like most VPN providers). I last checked them a few weeks ago and was able to find a working IP pretty quickly. Nick and Chris left comments in November confirming TunnelBear was working for them also.
TunnelBear has not been able to access iPlayer for me in several weeks, although I can access all other UK channels/players. I’ve contacted them about this to no avail. Their only advice is to keep disconnecting/reconnecting and clearing cache/history. I’ve done this repeatedly but no go. I’m in serious withdrawal mode!!!
Thank you for the update Tee. I’ll try to keep a closer eye on them to see when they come back.
Vyper VPN no longer works unfortuanately. I’ve switched to Nord.
Although I spend a lot of time in Cyprus, I have a house in the U.K. and pay for a TV licence there. But I am still unable to connect to BBC iPlayer except through a VPN. I seem to have the short end of the BBC stick here!
As my daughter wanted to vote on strictly come dancing and we live in France/Belgium I needed a VPN that would allow this.
Your post was a great help and I installed NordVPN on my iPad, I signed up for a year and initially had no luck with 3 servers. I then saw that in a one year subscription a dedicated vpn list is included! There are a few based in the U.K. and those work like a charm.
Thanks for your great site!
Hi Jody. You’re very welcome! I’m glad I was able to help 🙂
I have TunnelBear and the BBC blacklists it about every two weeks. After a couple of days I can use it again. I am an expat and I would happily pay for a BBC licenec. Or I would, except that I am 75 and my licence would be free. Yes, those 60 million expats could be a good source of income to the Beeb, if only they would get their act together and maintain an external register of people who have paid to watch. I just love the famous BBC motto : “Nation shall speak peace unto nation”. Not to me they don’t.
Hi Chris. Thank you for sharing your experience with TunnelBear. I have also found they’re usually pretty quick at getting things going again.
It annoys me greatly that those of us who have been taxpayers for years when living in the uk. I would happily pay the license fee and an additional fee to get UK TV here inCanada. If the Beeb would only realise this and use that money wisely it could stay at the top of the worlds tv entertainment for ever.
Great post! I guess the tax payers income has made the BBC lazy and happy to ignore the potential of revenue from 60 million users! I would happily pay the licence fee for access. I live in Spain. I used HMA which stopped working but I will try from a county other than London.
Thanks for a very informative website Tim!
Totally agree with you mate.
Same problem with my VPN, Astrill. This is a sad day. I would happily pay a monthly fee to access BBC’s library.
Hi, nice article Tim. I don’t feel alone no more 🙂
I live in France and I like to watch UK channels.
AS FilmOnTV stopped being free, I moved on to the VPN solution.
Here is my experience with 3 VPN providers:
*HideMyAss=> worked fine for european TV content (Germany, Ireland) but not for UK channels such as ITV, BBC (bbc was ok sometimes, but IP’s were getting blacklisted too often to my tast). Their app for mac was efficient and their linux app (through the terminal) was also very good.
IPVanish=> The worst of the 3 VPN providers I tried, sometimes very long to connect to the server, and even when connected, the connection was too often poor and very slow. I contacted their IT support, it was a terrible experience, eventhough I included some screenshots and detailed very accurately my issue, they were just not professional and were not answering all my concerns. I clearly would not advise people to try IPVanish, bad service and very bad customer support. Their app for mac was ok but not great because of the bad connections provided by IPVanish. No app for Linux, had to setup the connection manually (why not if the service was ok…). But as there was no linux app, in order to see the server’s list, you had to go on their website. But the problem that on their websiste, you couldn’t jump on a country or location, you just had to browse a server’s list, and you could only sort out the list by alphabetical order. So when you have 30 pages of servers, you can imagine the nightmare. My worst experience overall, bad service, bad support.
*ExpressVPN=> Worked fine for european content but again, trouble with UK channels except bbc if you pick the correct server with TCP protocol (but doesn’t work for Channel4 and ITV for example, no matter what server and protocol). Efficient app for mac and great linux terminal app (very simple to use, very efficient). Connection to the server is very quick, stable and the speed is good. Having said that, I contacted their IT support to see if they had a magical fix for my issue with the UK channels. They didn’t fix my issue, but god they were very dedicated and professional and they tried their best to find a solution for my problem. It didn’t work but it was really pleasant to have a real IT professional talking to me, especially when you start to talk about VPN connection with Linux, it’s great to feel that the IT guy knows the subject very well (which was clearly not the case with IPVanish).
Here I am guys, that’s my experience with 3 VPN providers. So far I can only recommend Express VPN, HideMyAss wasn’t bad too, and IPVanish was terrible.
Hi JB. Thank you for such a detailed write up! It’s always good to read through other people’s experiences.
Hi Tim, thanks for this very helpful post. I live in France and have been using vpn providers for several years – first of all identity cloaker which I found to be a bit hit and miss and not user friendly for a smartphone and then PIA which I’ve been using for the past two years and have been delighted with – until the BBC started blacklisting their UK servers. Funnily enough I’ve found I can access georestricted radio content (five live football commentaires) by going through the app “radio player” instead of the iplayer radio or tunein app. Be that as it may I’m looking for an alternative vpn provider. I’ve also signed up to “unblock us” service which works fine for accessing the iplayer but only when going through a Wi-Fi connection and mainly on my laptop rather than smartphone. Reading your post nordvpn and purevpn would seem to be your recommended vpn providers. Purevpn has a two year subscription plan which costs the same as one year with nordvpn. Can you explain why – is there a catch or is it merely to secure our loyalty for longer? Luke
Hi Luke. Thank you! I’m glad you found the post helpful 🙂 As far as I know, there is no catch. I’ve been with PureVPN for well over two years, meaning I’ve gone through the cycle at least once, and have not run into any issues or unexpected surprises. I doesn’t look like anything other than a marketing strategy.
In fact, NordVPN also offers a two year subscription for pretty much the same price as PureVPN. It’s the plan I’m on. For some reason though, NordVPN doesn’t advertise this option as openly as PureVPN and it’s a little hard to find on their site. In case you’re interested here is a direct link.
I’ve been using the BBC iPlayer for about a year on IPVanish VPN, but since the 27th of October, the BBC iPlayer has not been working on IPVanish VPN. Are there any other VPNs working with the BBC iPlayer? How can you find out with other VPNs?
Hi Brian. There is unfortunately no way to find out whether a VPN works with the BBC iPlayer other than just trying it. And to make matters worse, just because a provider won’t work today doesn’t mean it still won’t tomorrow. I use either PureVPN or NordVPN. Both work quite consistently and when they do go down from time to time (as does every provider), they’re back up and running quickly.
I have been successfully using Express VPN for a couple of years to access BBC-iplayer with no problems. Recently, I am having a recurring prolem, essentially related to video playback.. the following typically happens:
– I use iPad Air, logged via Linksys Wi-fi to an internet Extreme 150″ Mbps service
– I use ExpressVPN, IKEv2 protocol and log onto their UK smart locations , namely ( Berkshire or East London).
– I use an Apple TV device (first generation) to mirror iplayer’s programs to a large TV screen. So far no problems
– Regardless which browser I choose, the problem stated below occurrs regularly.
– upon playing the desired show, I typically find the video program repeating sentences (along with pictures) on playback. This problem occurs 2-3 time per occurrence, and up to 12
or more times during one hour program.
– I called ExpressVPN helpline and they asked me to check the VPN protocol, switch to another browser etc , nothing worked
– Would you please advice on the likely cause and whether it is okay to install another VPN client on the same iPad
Greeting from Western CANADA
Greetings 🙂 My guess is that this is not ExpressVPN related. It’s looks like some people are having streaming issues on their iPads after last month’s iOS 11 update (there is a thread about it in Apple’s support forum). It sounds pretty similar to what you’re seeing. I don’t have an iPad, but have tried ExpressVPN on a few other platforms (streamed for about 30min each time), and everything ran smoothly.
And yes, it’s perfectly fine to install multiple VPN clients on the same iPad.
Thank you for the clear explanations. I have a BBC licence for my UK property but live abroad. Could I find out my IP address and then use it somehow from abroad?
Hi Bridget. You can find your IP by simply typing “what’s my ip” in the Google search bar. As far as using your IP from abroad you can, but depending on your technical knowledge, it may not be the easiest of things to do. In a nutshell, it involves setting up your own private VPN server on a router or computer you leave behind in the UK whenever you travel, and then using it to connect to the iPlayer. On my (sadly) long list of things to do, I have a task to write a guide on how to do this, but realistically, it’s several months away.
I live in Canada and really just want NordVPN for Iplayer.
I am thinking of using my iPad to stream via airplay. to my Apple TV.
I have a bank account in England and Canada. Should I sign up with NordVPN in England? It is a little more expensive given the exchange rates?
I need to update the iplayer app but I keep getting directed to the Canada App Store which does not have it.
Would NordVPN allow me to download from the UK App Store?
Much thanks the insane amount of work this site must be.
All the best from sunny Kington
Hi Simon. I doesn’t matter much whether you sign up in England or Canada. Almost all VPN providers charge in US dollars, so it’s really just personal preference which currency you choose to convert from. Signing up from England will have no effect on whether or not a VPN works with the BBC iPlayer.
I don’t have an iPhone so unfortunately I can’t comment on a VPN letting you to download from the UK App Store. I can tell you, however, that when I run a VPN on my Android phone, I am unable to access the UK version of Google Play.
Hello (again) Tim. I just posted a comment on the Best VPN comparison page. And better still have now got access to the i player via a different UK server, as you suggested. Result! Thanks for your information, which actually bettered that given by Nord’s chat team who variously said that the i player would be up and running in a) a couple of hours b) a couple of weeks.
I know where to come in future for information (and help) with VPN issues.
My tunnel bear which I pay yearly for suddenly I cannot get in to BBC iPlayer says it can only be played in the uk I have a tv licence and live in the uk but am abroad at present. What do I do.
Hi Linda. It sounds like the BBC may have blacklisted at least some of TunnelBear’s IPs. What you should try is connecting several more times to see if any other IP works. If you’re not doing this already, also clear your browser’s cache, delete any BBC related cookies and run in an Incognito/Private browser window.
If after doing the above you’re still unable to access the iPlayer, you’ll probably just have to wait it out until TunnelBear rotates their IPs to ones that work. They’re usually pretty quick. I would keep trying every few days.
While you wait, you can also consider temporarily get a one month’s subscription with a provider that currently works. NordVPN is the service I tend to recommend. They have a lot of UK servers, a nice variety of IPs, and seem to offer the most consistent access to the BBC iPlayer.
I can confirm that TB is working for iPlayer as of 20 Nov 17. I had to reconnect a couple of times to find a ‘clean’ IP, but it got there in the end.
Thank you for the update Nick!
My thanks too for this helpful page.
I have been using Zenmate for a couple of years and up until the last 48 hours had no trouble with iPlayer. Now it has gone. Interestingly, at first it only got blocked on my desktop Macs, and continued to be available on my iPad, but just tried and now that has gone too.
I have written to Zenmate, found them responsive in the past, so we will see. But I notice you don’t have them on your list, any particular reason.
I am anxious now to ensure that I do not ditch Zenmate and subscribe to a new one, only to find that this gets blocked soon too. Unfortunately only one on your list offers a free trial.
Do you have any thoughts on my comments?
Either way i will report back on what happens with Zenmate. It is very easy to use, I will be sad if I have to ditch it.
You’re very welcome! I’m glad I could help. ZenMate is not currently on my list for the simple reason I haven’t yet had a chance to take a proper look at them. I’ve heard of ZenMate and they seem to be a decent provider, but until I can fully evaluate them myself (which I hope to do sooner rather than later), I can’t comment on their service any further (and hence, can’t include on any of my lists).
If you have successfully used ZenMate to access the iPlayer for a couple of years, it suggests they do swap out their blacklisted IPs. I doubt ZenMate could have flown under the BBC’s radar for that long. Again though, this is purely a guess, and if they do indeed fix their access, it’s tough to know how quickly that happens. With some providers the process only takes a day or two, with others, it may take weeks.
If things are taking a while and you’re reluctant to get another long term subscription somewhere else, I think the best you can do is consider subscribing for just a single month with another provider as a stopgap. NordVPN seems to have things figured out pretty well, and they they too are easy to set up and use. That said, I hope ZenMate gets things sorted and you’re back up and running quickly.
In your penultimate paragraph you write “Here is a list of dedicated IP address VPN services” but you do not give the link.
My only use of VPN is to watch UK television. I do have an agreement with a friend in the UK whereby I pay their TV licence and in return use their postal address. In the last 18 months I have watched BBC in Vanuatu, Bangladesh, Kyrgyzstan and many European countries using StrongVPN. Sometimes I had to change server (they have 7 in the UK) but usually I got through. I have recently also tried NordVPN and as with StrongVPN I sometimes have to change IPN but have always found one that worked.
I get the impression that most VPN users choose it for privacy. Those of us who watch BBC are for VPN companies a small sub-set. My conclusion is that it is always going to be a battle with the BBC and whoever you sign up with you are likely to have to manually change server from time-to-time.
Hi Ron. Thank you for pointing out the missing link. I’ll be fixing it shortly.
I completely agree with you. It will indeed always be a battle. No matter which provider we pick, the BBC may detect and block any or all of the IPs at any time. What sets apart the better providers from the rest is the number of UK location they offer, the diversity of IP addresses and, of course, how quickly they swap out the bad ones.
I also think you’re right that those of us how use VPNs to watch the BBC iPlayer are a small subset of all users. But we’re also a significant enough subset for at least some VPN providers to continue to enable us to do it (as evidenced by the ongoing IP battle).
Tim, It’s so annoying with this. BBC or UK television should make an extra pay to abroad , and will anyone like to pay for an uk tv agreement abroad?
How do you change IPN
Thanks, I’ll will add strong on and nordvpn to my list. Cyber ghost is not working through to BBC I player.
Hello. I’ve recently signed up with Nord and tried to use iPlayer. It asks for an e-mail address and a few other details. I gave up because I thought even if I use a fake mail addy they can just check if that address has a licence. Am I correct?
Hi Fred. I’m, of course, not encouraging you to do anything unlawful, but based on what I’ve seen, you will be fine with a fake address (though I would say it try to make it a ‘real’ address in that there is an actual structure at it). I was curious about this myself when the BBC implemented the login requirement a few months ago. Even though I don’t use a fake address, I tested it out, and didn’t run into any issues.
Firstly, many thanks for taking the time & effort to put this site up.
My current VPN provider (VPNUK) has stopped working with BBC and so I’m looking for an alternative. So far, no luck. A sales rep at PureVPN told me very honestly that “BBC is not working” at the moment.
One option I’m now considering is to use a UK mobile SIM with good roaming data package. Rather more expensive, but it seems to work at the moment.
Hi Chris. My pleasure! PureVPN does currently work with the BBC. I used it earlier today. Not sure why the sales rep told you it does not. If you do want to try a different provider, NordVPN is also a great choice. Using them to access the BBC has been rock solid for quite a while now.
I’m wondering why Pure and Nord are working for you and not me. Do you think the county of origin has anything to do with it. I am in the United States. Just curious, are you in the US as well.
Hi Mitch. The country of origin shouldn’t have any effect. The whole purpose of using a VPN to access the iPlayer is to hide where you’re actually located. I live in western Canada, but do travel to Seattle several times a month for work. Both PureVPN and NordVPN have been working for me regardless of where I am.
Unfortunately, it’s impossible for me to know why you’re not having any luck with either provider without having a lot more information (and even then, it could be hard to figure out). I think maybe the best I can do is to list out exactly the steps I take when I connect.
I access the iPlayer using Chrome either from my laptop or computer, and that’s the only thing I use that specific browser for. Before I connect to a VPN, I fire up Chrome and clear the cache, cookies and browsing history (go to Settings -> Advanced -> Clear Browsing History, select “the beginning of time” in the dropdown at the top of the dialog and check the first four check boxes). I then quit Chrome and establish a VPN connection. With the VPN connected, I once again start Chrome (my homepage is set to the “New Tab” page), open a new Incognito Window, go to the iPlayer page, and then just follow the regular flow and start watching. I hope this can help you to get up and running. Sorry I can’t be of much more help.
I am intrigued. What exactly is a UK mobile SIM, and how would it work?
Stephen Johnson is dead right about the BBC allowing overseas viewers to ‘buy’ a licence to watch the BBC. I am sure a licence agreement can be set up, to link it with a personal computer, so that only that computer can watch it. The BBC would send a message to the computer, on start-up, which would have to answer with the correct ID, as assigned to it, at the licence stage, to stop people abusing the system. I get well pissed off that I have a UK address with a UK licence, but cannot watch it in Spain, whereas my neighbour, who pays nothing, gets it off the satellite- so ( BBC ) don’t give me that guff about contractual reasons why it is UK restricted. Wake up BBC, you are always bitching about not getting the money you need, but you could double your income at a stroke, by offering this service. And UK government, the same to you, a great soft power tool, with Brexit looming, stop being so stupid !!
So true! I pay my license fee and live abroad for a few months of the year. I am entitled to watch it but the BBC, typical public sector organisation, isn’t bothered about remaining competitive!
Went with NordVPN or your recommendation. Worked great for 2 days. Then stopped. Luckily they have a 30 day money back refund. I am addicted to the BBC now and I don’t know what to do ;-(
Hi Mitch. You and me both with the BBC addiction 🙂 Did you try a few other servers? NordVPN has a ton. I randomly checked several of them just now (servers 19, 31, 89, 77, 132, 155) and went six for six: they all worked with the iPlayer. NordVPN seems to be on the ball when it comes to swapping out blacklisted IPs, so it’s also possible they already rotated the bad ones out.
i use PIA, very happy with it im in the USA so use for BBC, except for the fact that 2 weeks ago iplayer on the BBC stopped working. I read your workaround, but there are only 2 UK servers on PIA, Southampton & London.
I think I need to change VPN Provider, do you know which is the best to access the UK ?
One with the most UK servers?
Hi Tom. If you’re looking to change providers NordVPN could be a good choice. They currently run 103 UK servers on a wide variety of IPs and have a good track record of switching out blacklisted addresses.
I was checking a few unrelated things with NordVPN earlier today and while at it, decided to see if the BBC was working. I tried five different servers and the iPlayer worked fine with every single one (servers 16, 31, 32, 46 and 110 if anyone is keeping score).
Very helpful thanks, Tim
Thanks so much for this information. Windscribe stopped working for me, so I switched to PureVPN and it is working perfectly now.
No problem John. Glad it helped!
I got the BBC one iplayer to work on the second attempt with Tunnel Bear only to then be defeated by the BBC’s new sign in requirement.
Hi Kate. I’m in no way encouraging you to do this and please do note that doing so is technically illegal, but if you don’t have a TV License you can create a BBC account using a fake name and a real UK address. Again, not encouraging, only saying.
I downloaded a trial version of ibVPN and tried various (about 8) UK servers – doesn’t seem to be working though 🙁
Hey Dave. It’s hard to say with certainty what’s going on. I just tried ibVPN’s Gosport UK server and it was working perfectly fine. You can try clearing cookies (at the very least anything BBC and iPlayer related) and running the browser in Incognito/Private mode. That may fix the problem.
Nice one – I’ll try that! thanks, D
Tunnel bear now not working, for the first time in a few years…
Thanks for posting all this. A few months ago I purchased 1 year subscription to PIA but have generally had problems with connectivity and recently BBC iplayer wont work at all (I now realise why). I downloaded a free trial version of NordVPN and BBC iplayer is working fine. I would be happy to buy a 1 or 2 year subcription for NordVPN if I know that its servers will allow me to connect to BBC iplayer ( i use most often) throughout this period and not just close down and make accessibility difficult/impossible. Can you shed any light on this or is the future of VPN companies transient and long term subscriptions are to be avoided? Thanks
Hi Peter. Unfortunately there are no guarantees. The BBC will continue to ban VPNs regardless of which service they belong to. The question is how quickly those IPs will be replaced. In the case of PIA, they really seem to be dragging their feet this time around. Providers like PureVPN and NordVPN are doing a much better job.
Not committing long term and jumping around different services as needed can certainly be a very valid strategy. Many people use it. Personally I prefer to keep a couple of yearly/2 year subscriptions. I’ve yet to be in a situation where all my provider stopped working with the iPlayer at the same time. And going longer term, even with a few providers, still comes out cheaper than going month to month. Though, the upfront cost is higher. Both ways work. Ultimately it’s which you’re most comfortable with.
If you are considering committing longer term, NordVPN is indeed a good choice. They have a great track record in my books when it comes to replacing IPs. They also have a ton UK servers (currently 103) on a wide variety of IP subnets.
Thanks Tim, for such an informative and easy to follow article.
I live in Australia, and use an Australian based vpn company to access a streaming service in India for streaming video and live sports streams.
I recently acquired a new Windows 10 PC and about a month ago watched a live sports stream on my new PC (and chromecasted to my TV). The live stream was almost flawless and I was thrilled to bits. Then, a couple of days ago and tried to watch another live sports stream and it was completely unwatchable due to buffering. I would say that for every ten minutes I looked at the screen, nine and a half was spent buffering.
Do you have any suggestions as to what could be causing this sudden problem, and how I could fix it? I use an Australian VPN company, via openVPN. After connection to the openVPN platform, and achieve a speed of 10.11 Mbps after connection. Also, I have tried PIA’s Indian server and gotten blocked. Any help gratefully accepted.
Hi Rob. My guess is the streaming service was the problem. Maybe their servers were under particularly heavy load the second day you connected. A 10.11 Mbps connection is more than good enough for streaming. Around 5 Mbps is all that is needed for HD video.
If PIA’s Indian server is blocked, your choices are either to wait until they get new IPs (I have very little experience with VPN-ing to India so I’m not sure how long that would take) or try a different VPN provider. Of the services I’m familiar with NordVPN has the most Indian servers with 3, followed by ExpressVPN with 2.
I am located in Egypt and have accessed iPlayer using a VPN for the last 5 years with no problems until recently. Problems started about 5 months ago when I could just not connect to PIA at all. PIA customer service were not able to shed any light on the matter and I suspect that it is the Egyptian Government blocking PIA? I switched to Express and although that was Ok for a while I am now only able to stream iPlayer ( when the local internet connection is good enough) and not download as I get a ‘download failed message every time I try. This to me is a puzzling anomaly as if my VPN stays connected and allows me to stream iPlayer that means the BBC are not blocking it so why can’t I download? Does anyone have any ideas on this? I share the frustration of other bloggers that the BBC cannot get its act together and allow people overseas to buy their content. As a U.K. Licence payer I find it unbelievable that this commercially inept public enterprise cannot tap into the pockets of their 40 million worldwide audience many of whome would have no objection to coughing up something an saving me some money as the BBC would then be able to reduce the licence fee in due course
Steve in Cairo
Just a heads-up to say that AirVPN has been blacklisted by the Beeb for the last couple of days. Always been good up until then.. Their support teams says thIs:.. ” We’re very sorry, from now on BBC iPlayer is no more accessible from our infrastructure. BBC is probably and progressively restricting access only from IP addresses assigned to UK residential ISPs. We’re sorry, but we can’t do anything about it, because of course we can’t rely on residential lines for a high quality service. We can search for additional IP addresses in UK not yet blocked by BBC, but we’re afraid that that would be only a temporary solution. We’re anyway working on it, although (as you can imagine) we can’t promise anything.” Another one bites the dust.
Hi Dan. Thank you for the heads up about AirVPN. The support response is interesting. I would imagine getting an IP address from a UK residential ISP that also has the infrastructure to provide a high quality service shouldn’t be that difficult. Take BT or Virgin for example. Both are residential ISPs and both also provide presumably reliable broadband connections to businesses. Maybe I’m missing something.
Hi Tim, have tried NordVPN trial today after my iPlayer having been blocked with PIA. If I read the situation well enough, PIA seem to be taking a rather resigned approach … very disappointed after over two years of service and having just renewed less than a couple of months ago for a full year.
Shall be moving on to some other provider, in the situation where people outside the UK cannot legitimately pay for the service which I gladly would !
Have today installed NordVPN on my Tomato router, which router feeds all 3 of my desktop, a Samsung SMART TV and a separate Roku. Strangely (for me) I get iPlayer OK on my Windows Chrome browser, but get the dreaded location problem on both the Samsung TV as well as the Roku. Any ideas why such a thing could happen. All DNS server requests should pass through the router’s static DNS ips which I have set up with NordVPN’s recommended DNSs.
Many thanks for a great and encouraging post.
Hi Joseph. I believe your problem is due to how NordVPN currently implements their Smart DNS, the technology which allows bypassing geo-blocking by resolving DNS requests at a specific location (the UK in the case of the iPlayer). Smart DNS runs inside NordVPN’s client software, which has the benefit of not requiring configuration. The downside is you do need the client software to make use of it. Your Windows box runs the client, your router does not. As far as I know, extending Smart DNS functionality to non-client devices is something NordVPN will be offering very soon.
I feel less alone reading all the posts, thanks! AirVPN also has stopped working with BBC Iplayer 🙁
Would be happy to pay my vpn subscription to the BBC actually!!
All the best. Lilie from france
Hi Tim, I use a VPN, I also have had a tv licence for over 40 years and live in the U.K.
If I try to access the BBC Iplayer with the VPN in circuit from my home in the UK, I get the same message. about Iplayer is for UK. residents only.
Having written to them several times… their excuse is that the VPN makes it impossible for them to be sure that I am actually in the UK. and not abroad using a VPN.
Hi Roger. Unfortunately that sounds about right. This is something I’ve heard on many occasions from UK residents who wish to use VPNs for very legitimate reasons like additional privacy, security, etc… What the BBC says is true. When you use a VPN it is impossible for them to detect whether or not you’re in the UK, so instead they choose to blanket block all VPNs.
The easiest solutions to your problem are to use either a VPN that stays on top of being banned by the BBC, or to turn it off when you access the iPlayer (which sounds like may not be that convenient). Depending on what you mean by “VPN in circuit”, you may also be able to setup split tunnelling so your BBC traffic does not go through the VPN but all other data does.
Hi Tim, I use PrivateInternetAccess, which is on your list, but the iPlayer has been blocked all week.
Do you have any info on that? Do you know how quick they would replace the address?
Is it worth changing providers? My yearly subscription is nearly up and there seem to be a fair few with more UK options.
Hi Lotte. Yes, as of about a week ago, Private Internet Access is blocked. Unfortunately I don’t know how long it will take them to get clean addresses. If I had to guess, I’d say two to three weeks. But that’s all it is, a guess. Ultimately it’s up to PIA how quickly the address the issue.
If your subscription is up, you could certainly consider going with another provider. PureVPN is who I have been using lately and they’ve been working well. NordVPN is another good choice. The have a massive number of UK servers (103 as I write this), and while I haven’t obviously checked them all, they seem to be on the ball. I randomly picked a couple of servers this evening just to do a spot check (servers 31 and 82), and they both worked just fine.
Thanks for the reply. I joined Vypr VPN which worked for a while, but these days it seems the iplayer website won’t even load when using the VPN. Do you have experience with this?
Still no luck on PIA either…
Hi Lotte. VyprVPN seems to be working fine. I tried it yesterday and had no issues accessing the BBC iPlayer. Maybe your VPN client didn’t connect properly? Or the server it picked was under very heavy load? You can try rebooting your computer/device and connecting again. That may fix the issue.
As far as PIA, yes, they still appear to be blocked and in no hurry to rotate their IPs.
Hi Tim using Private Internet Access and havent been able to get into IPlayer for a few days. There is no link for obtaining a private UK IP address, which may be the best solution. Any recommendations? Thanks
Hi Kim. Private Internet Access does not offer dedicated IPs. For a dedicated UK IP, I would recommend you look at either PureVPN or NordVPN. PureVPN is a little bit cheaper at $1.99 per month vs about $5 per month with NordVPN.
Tim, wondering if anyone else has issues with immediate download failures using the BBC iPlayer Radio and BBC Player? They’d been working like a charm up until this week. Unsure if it has something to do with my VPN (Private Internet Access via London) or with upgrading my iPhone and iPad to iOS 10.3.3.? I tried deleting and reinstalling the apps, to no avail.
Hi Rob. I suspect your issue may have to do with Private Internet Access IPs currently being blacklisted by the BBC. If I recall correctly, unless you’re allowed to use the apps at your location, trying to download them will fail as well.
Hi Tim,I’ve been using Private Internet Access for a while now but recently I’ve been jumping through more and more hoops to access BBC i Player.They finally have managed to stop me tonight though.I assume from the info. that you’ve given that this VPN has been blacklisted also.I changed from London to Southhampton [the only ones available in UK] but no joy.Sigh!..no more BBC for me in New Zealand.I’ll have to shoot myself.
Hi Mark. Yeah, sadly PIA has been blocked and is no longer working with the BBC iPlayer. I’m sure they’ll be back (they have in the past), though it’s hard to say exactly when that will be. If you’re really craving the BBC in the mean time, there are other VPN providers that work.
Take a look at the update at the very top of this post to see what I’m using. You can always consider getting a single month subscription to hold you over until Private Internet Access comes back.
We are with pia vpn worked beautifully last week now getting the dreaded message only for uk from bbc I player we can get channel 4 so we presume it’s bbc I player that have blocked the site ? Any advice much appreciated !
Hi Nicola. Yes, it looks like about a week ago PIA’s UK IPs were indeed blocked by the BBC. In the past they have always come back, though it’s tough to predict how long it will take this time. It could be a week, it could be a month. It’s all in PIA’s hands.
In the mean time, if you don’t want to wait, there are other VPN providers that do work. If you’d like, you can always take a look at my brief update at the top of this page to see who I’m using.
Tim, I’m In Australia and been using cyberghost to access iplayer for the pat 2 months. But yesterday I was blocked. And the default list of popular websites provided by CyberGhost now has BBC missing. Questions: 1. Thoughts on cyberghost? 2. Can I expect cyberghost to solve this with new new UK IP very soon? 3. Best vpn if I’m want access to BBC?
Hi Dave. I haven’t yet had a chance to play around with Cyberghost much (it’s on my list), but overall I have heard good things. Since I have not really used it, it’s also hard for me to say, based on past experience, how quickly if at all they will replace the blacklisted IPs. If I had to guess, I’d say they will do it sooner rather than later, possibly within a couple of weeks. But, that is just a guess. If I was you I would just contact their support and straight out ask them about it. Sorry I couldn’t be of more help.
As far as the best VPN to access the BBC with, both PureVPN and NordVPN have been working well for me lately.
Hi Tim, great article, I’m using Nord VPN which has been fantastic since I signed up 3 months ago, but unfortunately I can’t get on to iplayer from about a week ago. Have tried all their different UK servers, deleting iplayer cookies and also have the most updated version of Nord VPN. Have you had any success with them recently or are NordVPN a lost cause for the moment? Any advice?
Hi Kevin. In my experience, NordVPN is definitely one of the better providers out there. I quickly tried connecting just now and the iPlayer is working fine. It’s been three days since you’ve posted, so it could be that NordVPN already fixed things. FYI, I connected using their United Kingdom #31 server (randomly picked it based on low server load) using Chrome in Incognito mode with all cookies erased.
Since 3 days BBC is blocking VyprVPN aswell. Or are there VyprVPN users whom has no problems? Many Thanks
Hello Tim, Enjoyed reading your blog: It has given me a little hope. ( I am an expat living in Italy, and have been watching BBCiplayer for a number of years. My VPN is Anchor Hotspot. I have been ‘blocked’ since the beginning of this month) I will try changing my address, and if this does not work will even try another VPN. Would love to hear your comments.
Hi Peter. What you said is exactly what I would do as well. I’m not too familiar with Anchor Hotspot, so I can’t comment on how quickly, if at all, they fix these issues when they come up. You can try contacting their support and see what they say.
Definitely don’t lose hope though 🙂 At any given time there are several VPN providers which do work with the iPlayer. When in doubt, you can always come back to this post to see which service I’m currently using (I have a quick update at the very top of the page).
I always used Unotellyand until this morning it’s been working perfectly. Just signed up for ExpressVPN and that’s not working with iplayer either. Hoping someone can help me, I need my BBC!
Hi Celena. Your BBC craving is understandable 🙂 I’m using PureVPN these days and it’s been working well. Invisible Browsing VPN is another good choice.
ExpressVPN seems to be working one day then not the next. Is PureVPN working most of the time?
I have to prefix this answer with “past performance is not an indicator of future results” since it’s impossible to know what will happen tomorrow, but yes, PureVPN has been working very consistent for me lately.
Tech support at ibvpn says that iplayer is working again. Might give them a go. Hmmm decisions…IB is certainly cheaper…
Confirmed. ibVPN is indeed once again working. Thank you for the heads up! Much appreciated. PureVPN continues to work fine as well.
Thanks for the update Tim, will be watching this page for further news. Might give Purevpn a go.
I signed up to ibVPN, worked for a bit but now not letting me watch iPlayer. Any thoughts please?
Hi Rob. Please see my reply to will’s comment here. Quick summary: ibVPN recently stopped working, they’re fixing the problem (ETA unknown), and if you need to watch something now (I know the feeling :), there are alternatives.
How’s IBVPN treating you at the moment Tim. I came across this article yesterday, downloaded the free trial of ibvpn but have had no luck with any of the UK servers (including Gosport) when trying to access iplayer. Support chat say they are working on the problem but can not say when it might be fixed.
Looks like ibVPN’s IPs have indeed been blacklisted by the BBC. I tried all 13 of their UK servers multiple times this morning with no luck. It’s a shame since they have been super reliable up until this point (i.e. always worked on the first connection attempt). That said, I have zero doubt they’ll be back soon. I talked to support as well and got the same answer as you, so they’re aware and working on it.
In the mean time, I was able to connect using Pure VPN. Got it going pretty quickly. It only took me a couple of tries to get a good IP. PIA< worked as well, but took many more connection attempts (though ultimately it is just luck of the draw).
Could you still use it on August 6th because mine stopped working on that date.
Hi Jenny. I assume you’re talking about Invisible Browsing VPN? If so, please see my response to a similar comment here.
Hi Tim so could you recommend a VPN..I have been using Hola and no BBC for the last 4 days. I also watch a lot of ITV and Channel 4 which seem to be fine..but after reading some other posts about Hola I don’t feel very secure using it now. I am not a techi and have no idea how these things work or why but I just want to be able to watch my favourite Brit TV..can you help.
Hi Susan. For the past few months I have been using Invisible Browsing VPN and their UK Gosport server. It’s been very reliable and always works on the first connection attempt. Ultimately, you never know when any given VPN server (or at least some of the server’s IPs) will stop working. But in my experience, sooner or later they all come back.
Hi, Been using Witopia fine until nowe but Iplayer is blocked – thinking of changing ot one of those you recommend, but as i have previously registered with BBC will i need to re–register using different name, address etc?
Hi Geoff. No, you shouldn’t have to. Just because an IP you watched from has been blacklisted, doesn’t mean you have. Many people who live in the UK and pay the TV license fees (i.e. are legally entitled to access the iPlayer) choose to use a VPN for privacy reasons. They have a right to do so and it’s not something the BBC should punish them for.
BBC hasn’t been accessible using any HMA since 20 July. I wonder if they’re now automatically blocking commercial IP addresses?
Hi Rupert. The BBC may just have blacklisted a new batch of HMA IPs. To the best of my knowledge, other VPN providers work. Just earlier today I connected without any issues using ibVPN. I wouldn’t be surprised if HMA swaps those bad IPs out sooner rather than later.
Hi Will. Personally, I stay clear of Hola. A couple of years ago, a group of coders and security researchers discovered some pretty serious security issues with it. It’s hard to know for sure whether those issues have since been fixed, and with so many other VPN choices out there, I don’t see a reason to take the risk with Hola.
it has worked fine for about 2 years, just this past month its been acting strange