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How to Watch BBC iPlayer in USA for Free in May 2024

Last updated: May 20, 2021

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If you are a British expatriate living in the USA, it does not mean that you have to trade in your tea for coffee, or your beloved British TV for American TV.

BBC iPlayer is a popular British entertainment site that delivers media-streaming content to UK-based viewers with no commercial advertising

But if you want to watch your favorite BBC channels while you are in the United States, instead of seeing Doctor Who on your screen, you will find yourself looking at this annoying error message:

BBC iPlayer getting geo restriction error message

BBC iPlayer only works in the UK. Sorry, it’s due to rights issues. In the UK. Heres some advice.”


BBC iPlayer geo error 2

This content doesnt seem to be working. Try again.”

Thankfully, there is a pretty simple workaround that will bypass iPIayer’s geo-restrictions and prevent these frustrating messages from popping onto your screen.

If you want to watch BBC iPlayer in the USA for free, all you have to do is use a VPN. A VPN will trick BBC iPlayer into thinking you are watching from the comfort of your flat in London, even if you are really in your apartment in NYC.

Router with different country flags, cable trying to connect to UK port

Using this method, you can also stream ITV in the USA or Sky Go! But remember — Although a virtual private network is a solution to getting around BBCs geo-blocks, not all VPNs will work at unblocking your content.

Here is a quick overview of the best VPNs to use that will give you a way to watch BBC iPlayer from outside of the UK, every time.

In a Hurry? Here's How to Watch BBC iPlayer in USA

How to Choose the Best VPN to Watch BBC iPlayer Abroad

If you are trying to find the right VPN provider for watching BBC iPlayer outside the UK, the number of choices can be overwhelming. Do you want the one that is the cheapest? Or should you pick the one that is the fastest? How do you know which criteria to prioritize? To find the absolute best VPN for BBC iPlayer, we searched for the following important criteria:

☑️ Able to consistently get around BBC iPlayer geo-blocks, & access other popular streaming sites.
☑️ A sizable server network with several UK servers from which to choose.
☑️ Uses top-notch encryption and security features.
☑️ Has a strict, verified, no-logs policy.
☑️ Has user-friendly, intuitive mobile device and desktop apps.
☑️ Is compatible across multiple platforms.

6 Best VPNs to Watch BBC iPlayer in USA

If you are dying to access BBC iPlayer from outside the UK, you are going to need to use a virtual private network. But, not all VPNs are created equal.

Here are the 6 best VPNs that will unblock BBC iPlayer, and other popular streaming services, from the USA or anywhere outside the UK.

Devices compatible with ExpressVPN

ExpressVPN is our VPN of choice for watching your BBC iPlayer in the USA.

Express has over 3,000 servers in 94 locations around the world, including 4 server locations in the UK, so there will never be a problem finding a reliable connection to watch BBC iPlayer from the USA, or from anywhere outside the UK.

Fast connection speeds are vital for VPN efficacy with any streaming service, and ExpressVPN certainly does not disappoint in this department. ExpressVPN has award-winning speeds and provides unlimited bandwidth to handle endless BBC iPlayer streaming in HD.

If you want a break from watching BBC iPlayer, you can also use ExpressVPN to unblock other geo-restricted content like non-USA Netflix libraries, Hotstar, or even BT Sport in the USA. It is important to note that ExpressVPN’s great Indian servers are excellent to do things like watch Hotstar in UAE.

In terms of security, ExpressVPN uses AES 256-bit military-grade encryption and has a verified no-logs policy, so your online traffic and identity will always remain private and secure.

Budget-wise, ExpressVPN is one of the more expensive VPN services, but there are always deals and promotions, and the small extra expense seems worth it knowing your VPN connection is always going to be reliable, fast, and completely secure.

ExpressVPN is compatible with Mac, Windows, Android, iOS, PlayStation, Xbox, routers, Smart TVs, and other devices, and you can connect up to 5 of these devices at once on the same plan. If you need more than 5 connections, you can connect ExpressVPN to your router. With this connection, all devices connected to your wifi are only counted as 1 user device!

If for some reason you are not pleased, you can opt-out with ExpressVPN’s 30-day money-back guarantee. If you need to ask for a refund or need help with any problem that may arise, ExpressVPN’s 24/7 live-chat customer service will make the process easy and painless.


  • Great streaming speed & connectivity
  • User-friendly apps
  • Great customer support
  • 30-day money-back guarantee
  • Excellent global server coverage
  • Plenty of UK servers
  • Top-notch privacy protections
  • Works well to watch BBC iPlayer in USA


  • More expensive than the other VPNs
  • Only 5 simultaneous connections

2. NordVPN

Devices compatible with NordVPN

NordVPN has a large pool of servers, with over 5,500 servers in 60 countries worldwide, including 1 server location with over 440 servers in the UK — so you will never have trouble finding one that will help you access BBC iPlayer outside the UK.

Although it’s not as fast as ExpressVPN, NordVPN delivers consistently good speeds and reliable connections.

NordVPN not only can help you watch BBC iPlayer, but it can also unblock various Netflix libraries, Sky Sports, Hotstar in the USA, and other streaming sites. It has a lot of servers in Europe so you can even watch Rai TV in the US if you want!

Nord has apps for Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, Smart TVs, routers, and Linux, so there should never be a problem finding a device that is compatible.

Its obfuscated servers can bypass firewalls and geographic restrictions, and its double VPN sends your traffic through an extra layer of encryption, ensuring that your Internet traffic is always secure. On top of this, NordVPN has a strict no-logs policy, so your private information will always remain private.

You can connect up to 6 devices simultaneously with a single NordVPN subscription, so your whole family can stream different platforms all at once.

NordVPN has stellar customer service, including 24/7 live-chat support; but if you are still not sold after a few weeks, you can opt out and take advantage of its 30-day money-back guarantee, no sweat!


  • Fast steaming speed
  • Double VPN and obfuscated Servers
  • Cheaper price than ExpressVPN
  • Strong encryption and no logs
  • 30-day money-back guarantee
  • 6 user connections on one plan


  • Slow speed on advanced security
  • Desktop apps can take longer

Devices compatible with Surfshark

Surfshark is a bit smaller, with 1,700 servers in 63 locations worldwide, with more than 3 server locations in the UK, so watching BBC iPlayer outside of the UK will never be an issue. The servers are not as fast as ExpressVPN or NordVPN, but they are still adequate for streaming with hardly any buffering or lag.

While Surfshark will unblock BBC iPlayer, you can also use it with other geo-restricted streaming sites and do things like watch American Netflix in the United Kingdom, access over a dozen other libraries, stream Sky Sports, ITV, CBC, or Hotstar. Furthermore, Surfshark has apps for Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, Xbox, Playstation, and more.

What truly makes Surfshark stand out the most is that it lets you connect an unlimited number of devices to one account simultaneously, so as many people as you want can connect at once!

Like NordVPN and ExpressVPN, Surfshark also offers great customer service and a 30-day money-back guarantee, giving you the chance to use it for a few weeks and then change your mind without penalty. If issues arise, Surfshark offers live-chat customer support. Each time I used this feature, I was connected and speaking with a representative within 30 seconds, and my issue was always resolved professionally.


  • Watch BBC iPlayer without buffering
  • 30-day money-back guarantee
  • Unlimited simultaneous connections
  • Affordable
  • Good privacy and security features


  • Slightly slower speeds
  • Fewer servers

Devices compatible with CyberGhost

CyberGhost has over 6,000 servers in nearly 90 countries around the world. With over 300 servers located in the UK, you should always be able to watch BBC iPlayer in the US with CyberGhost and bypass that annoying proxy error message. It even has servers in Australia so you can even watch Stan in the USA if you wish to!

Though CyberGhost speeds don’t compare to ExpressVPN, or the other of the top 3 VPNs mentioned, its speeds are pretty reliable with only some minor lags here and there.

In addition to unblocking BBC iPlayer, this VPN lets users access Eurosport, Channel 4, and other popular streaming sites.

CyberGhost has a VPN app for Mac, Windows, Android, and iOS, and allows you to connect up to 7 device connections on a single account at once.

Unlike the other VPN services, CyberGhost offers a 45-day money-back guarantee, giving you a bit more time to change your mind about your VPN, if you choose, with no penalty whatsoever.


  • Good streaming speeds
  • Unblocks streaming sites
  • Larger server network
  • No user logs
  • 45-day money-back guarantee
  • Use up to 7 connections at once


  1. Slower long-distance speeds
  2. Won’t work in China

Devices compatible with UltraVPN

Compared to the other VPNs, UltraVPN is among the smallest ones, with around 100 servers spread across 60 countries. Despite this, it is still almost always possible to connect to BBC iPlayer from the USA or anywhere in the world with UltraVPN using its UK servers.

You can easily connect to UltraVPN with apps for Windows, macOS, Android, and iOS. But, the most restrictive of the bunch, an UltraVPN account only allows you to use 3 devices simultaneously, so if more than three people want to connect at once, another of the other VPNs might be a better option.

UltraVPN offers a 30-day refund guarantee, but it is the only VPN of the group that offers a 7-day free trial with limited servers. If any issues arise, users can live chat with a customer service representative, or contact them 24/7 by toll-free phone number.


  • 7-day free trial
  • 30-day guarantee
  • 24/7 Toll-Free number


  • Smaller network
  • Keeps some logs
  • Slower speeds
  • Only connect 3 users simultaneously

Devices compatible with PIA

Private Internet Access (PIA) has an astonishing 23,000 servers in over 77 countries around the globe. With 4 UK locations and over 1,600 servers in the UK, it should never be too difficult finding a server if you want to stream British content, including BBC iPlayer content, in the USA.

We did find, however, that PIA does not reliably unblock many Netflix libraries, so it gets a few points off of its score for these infractions.

PIA is compatible with Windows, macOS, Android, and iOS, and you can connect up to 10 devices at once, which is higher than most of PIA’s competitors allow. It only takes about 2 minutes to install the app and connect, so you can start streaming BBC iPlayer abroad with PIA right away, if you choose.

You can test PIA using its 30-day money-back guarantee to check that it’s the right choice for you.


  • 10 device connections for family
  • 30-day refund guarantee
  • Over 20,000 servers
  • Military-grade encryption
  • 24/7 live chat support


  • Slower speeds than other options
  • Won’t work in China consistently
  • Based in the privacy-unfriendly USA

Why You Need a VPN to Watch BBC iPlayer in the USA

Whenever you sign onto the Internet, your local IP address is revealed. So, if you want to watch the BBC iPlayer content from anywhere outside of the UK, BBC iPlayer puts up geo-blocks to stop you from accessing BBC News other and geo-restricted content.

With the use of an effective VPN, you can search for, and connect to, a UK server in your desired location — in this case, the UK — which will give you a UK IP address. This will trick BBC iPlayer into thinking that you are connecting to BBC TV shows or streaming content from a permitted location, like Buckingham Palace, while you are actually watching from the USA.

So, with a reliable VPN service, you can literally watch BBC iPlayer anywhere in the world.

Can I Stream BBC iPlayer with a Free VPN?

There are dozens of Free VPNs that all claim to unblock popular geo-blocked streaming services, like the British iPlayer. While you are more than welcome to try each free service, it will likely prove to be a waste of time, since none of them will consistently access BBC iPlayer from abroad.

Free VPN services offer a very limited amount of servers and have fewer resources. So, unlike premium VPN services that constantly work to get around location blocks, free VPN services don’t have the manpower or funding to keep at this.

Also, because free VPN providers tend to have fewer servers, there is likely to be more crowding on their servers in a desirable location, slowing your streaming and increasing the chance of buffering and poor video quality.

Most worrisome, because free VPNs don’t make their money from a subscription fee, they need to get their money elsewhere. Most of these free VPN services make money by selling users’ data logs to surveillance agencies, third parties, and social platforms, thus sacrificing your online privacy.

This is why I always recommend using a reputable paid VPN service to unblock BBC iPlayer from the USA.

Steps to Sign Up for the BBC iPlayer Account

Step 1: Head to BBC iPlayer website and select the “Sign in” option.

BBC iplayer picture arrow showing here to sign in

Step 2: On the next screen, select “Register Now.”

Arrow showing where to register to have a BBC iPlayer account

Step 3: Fill in your personal information, including your name, age, date of birth, email address, and zip code. You will need to choose a British postal code. — You can use EC3A 8BF for London, or M1 2BG for Manchester.

Steps on how to register your own BBC iPlayer account

Step 4: Select the “Register” option.

Register button

Step 5: Verify your email, and you are ready to watch BBC iPlayer abroad.

Confirmation email for BBC iPlayer account.

Note: When you begin to watch iPlayer, you may get an inquiry asking if you have TV license. According to British law, you have to have a TV license in order to watch iPlayer. But, this is more of an honor system. If you check the box to confirm that you have a British TV license, you can immediately get BBC iPlayer from anywhere and start watching UK TV.

List Of Devices Compatible With BBC iPlayer 

If you want to get BBC iPlayer, it is good to note that it is compatible with all major devices, including:

☑️ Windows
☑️ Mac OS
☑️ iOS
☑️ Android
☑️ Apple TV
☑️ Roku
☑️ Firestick
☑️ PS3 and PS4
☑️ Xbox 360 and Xbox One
☑️ Android Smart TV
☑️ Firestick
☑️ Chromecast

Popular BBC iPlayer Shows

BBC iPlayer is a very popular, free British online streaming site that streams UK TV channels, radio shows, and reruns.

My favorite TV show when I watch iPlayer is Killing Eve. Here are some more of the best shows to watch on BBC iPlayer from anywhere in the world:

☑️ Bodyguard
☑️ The Salisbury Poisonings
☑️ Scrubs
☑️ Dublin Murders
☑️ His Dark Materials
☑️ Dracula
☑️ Doctor Who
☑️ Normal People
☑️ Peaky Blinders
☑️ Giri/Haji
☑️ Luther
☑️ Killing Eve
☑️ Fleabag
☑️ I May Destroy You
☑️ Great British Bakeoff

BBC iPlayer Channel List

You can watch BBC One, BBC Two, BBC News, and many more channels on BBC iPlayer. Here are some of the channel highlights:

☑️ BBC One
☑️ BBC Two
☑️ BBC Three
☑️ BBC Four
☑️ BBC News
☑️ Cbeebies
☑️ BBC Scotland
☑️ S4C
☑️ BBC Parliament
☑️ BBC Alba
☑️ Radio 1


Is BBC iPlayer available in USA?
Not technically. But there is a way to watch BBC iPlayer in the USA if you use a VPN. With a VPN, you can search for and connect to a UK server, which will change your US IP address to a UK IP address, and give you access to all the BBC TV and media content you desire! If you have a VPN account (we recommend ExpressVPN), and a stable internet connection, you can access this UK TV streaming service from the USA or anywhere in the world.
Is the BBC iPlayer free?
YesBBC iPlayer is free to use. To start streaming BBC iPlayer, you just have to create an account, choose a UK postcode, and select “yes” when it asks if you have a UK TV license. But, if you are connecting from outside of the UK, you will still need to pay for a reputable VPN to grant you access to BBC iPlayer content.
Is it illegal to watch BBC iPlayer abroad?
Watching BBC iPlayer abroad is not illegal. Using a VPN to watch the BBC shows you want to watch is legal, but, you technically need to be covered by a TV Licence if you watch or record programs on TV, or download or watch any BBC programs on iPlayer. It is pretty obvious from this TV license alone that BBC iPlayer does frown upon using a VPN to watch the BBC TV channels in the USA, but frowned upon is different than illegal.
Is it legal to stream BBC iPlayer in the USA?
Yes. It is legal to watch BBC iPlayer in the USA using a VPN. But, you need to be covered by a TV license if you watch or record programs as they’re being shown on TV or live on an online TV service, or download or watch any BBC programs on iPlayer. This applies to any device or provider you use.

Essentially, without a TV license, BBC iPlayer will attempt to stop you from streaming abroad using its advanced VPN-detection features. If iPlayer discovers that you’re using a VPN, you’ll just be asked to turn it off. I have not heard reports of anyone having their account banned for watching this streaming service using a VPN in the USA

How do I bypass BBC iPlayer restrictions?
Yes. It is legal to watch BBC iPlayer in the USA using a VPN. But, you need to be covered by a TV license if you watch or record programs as they’re being shown on TV or live on an online TV service, or download or watch any BBC programs on iPlayer. This applies to any device or provider you use.

Essentially, without a TV license, BBC iPlayer will attempt to stop you from streaming abroad using its advanced VPN-detection features. If iPlayer discovers that you’re using a VPN, you’ll just be asked to turn it off. I have not heard reports of anyone having their account banned for watching this streaming service using a VPN in the USA

Does Smart DNS proxy work with BBC iPlayer?
Yes. If you want to watch UK TV, including BBC iPlayer, from abroad, but aren’t able to install a VPN, you can use the Smart DNS service. Plenty of these are capable of unblocking iPlayer, but it’s important to bear in mind that DNS services don’t usually encrypt your data the way a VPN will. Also, depending on where you want to watch, you will have to manually change your DNS settings any time you want to change location.
What else can I use a VPN for?
A VPN does more than just unblock BBC iPlayer; A virtual private network also unblocks countless other streaming services, including Netflix USHBO, Hulu, Disney+, Prime Video, and more. So, if you are traveling outside of the US and want to watch these shows, a VPN can unblock them for you.

A VPN also secures your Internet connection and encrypts all your traffic, keeping you safe from online threats, hackers, identity theft, and other cyber-crime. When you use a VPN, even your ISP has no way of seeing your activity and identity.

In addition to these uses, a VPN is also a must when it comes to P2P sharing. If you are doing any torrenting, use a VPN.


If you want to watch British TV from abroad in 2021, how to watch your TV favorites is as simple as using a VPN. BBC iPlayer’s geo-restrictions are tough, but the right VPN — while it can’t make you a good English cup of tea — can give you easy access to your shows, no matter where you are in the world.

ExpressVPN is my #1 choice to stream BBC iPlayer.

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