As is the case with most other public broadcasters in the world, the BBC is quite a big deal in the UK. Most households across the UK have access to the BBC and watch some of its many programmes including EastEnders and BBC News.
With BBC iPlayer, viewers in the UK also have the option to catch up on their favourite BBC shows across a huge number of platforms including Windows PC, macOS computers, Android phones and tablets, iPhone, iPad, smart TVs, streaming boxes, and even game consoles like the PS4 and Xbox One.
The greatest thing about iPlayer is that it offers both live streaming from all the available channels such as BBC One, BBC Two, and BBC News, as well as catch-up videos so that you are never behind on your TV shows.
So can anyone just access BBC iPlayer all the time?
There are certain requirements you need to fill in order to watch BBC iPlayer legally.
First and foremost, BBC is only legally available to UK residents. After all, it is a public broadcaster which is funded by the public through taxes. As such, it would be unreasonable for the network to broadcast its content in other countries as well.
If you are British resident, then you may already know exactly how BBC gets funded: TV licenses. These licenses are charged in most households in the UK, particularly those who have equipment that would allow them to receive and broadcast live TV, such as the programmes played by the BBC.
In fact, BBC updated its terms of service in 2016 to ensure that everyone who used the iPlayer service would also have to pay for a TV license. Then, in May 2017, it was also decided that users would need a (free) account in order to watch any content on iPlayer and most of its apps.
What does this mean for me?
Well, if you are a UK resident who is already paying for a TV license in your household, it really doesn’t mean anything. You will simply have to sign up for an account in the official BBC website and log in with that whenever you want to watch iPlayer in any of your devices.
To sign up for an account, all you need is a name, an email address, and a valid UK postcode. This is where things get kind of tricky. Sometimes, the BBC will check those email addresses against its database of people who have declared that they don’t need a TV license. If they find a match, they will send an inspector to that address.
Of course, pretty much anyone can find a UK address online, type up any random name and email address, and start watching, at least in theory. In practice, BBC iPlayer will only be unlocked to those with a UK IP address. Everyone else will get the same message:
“BBC iPlayer TV programmes are available in the UK only”
So can I bypass BBC iPlayer restrictions and watch anything I want while abroad?
The short answer to that is yes, though it is a bit more complex than usual. You see, what you would usually do in these situations is just fire up any VPN and you would be able to instantly bypass any geographical restrictions put in place by content providers and copyright holders.
However, some providers like the BBC have decided to take the fight to VPN users and block them from watching their content. As such, BBC iPlayer will sometimes understand you are using a VPN and will block your access immediately, giving you the same message as above.
Here’s how to unblock BBC iPlayer and watch it from anywhere in the world
Whether you are located in the USA, France, Italy, Greece, Spain, Germany, Australia, Morocco, Egypt, Norway, or anywhere else in the world right now, you can watch BBC iPlayer with the use of a VPN.
As we mentioned before, BBC will sometimes recognise that you are using a VPN and will not allow you to bypass its content and watch anything you want on iPlayer.
For that reason, we would recommend that you use one of the best VPNs for BBC iPlayer from the table below. We have tested those extensively and found them to work very well for iPlayer.
If they don’t work for you, try changing the server to another UK location. Should that fail, contact the VPN support team immediately as they might be able to do something about it. In case everything else fails, you can always ask for a refund too.
Do not be tempted by any free VPNs that you see online. They are unreliable, slow, non-responsive, and they will generally try to track information about you so that they can sell it to advertisers (they need to make money somehow, after all).
Once you have paid for a valid VPN subscription, you are almost ready:
- If you have a BBC iPlayer account: You don’t need to do anything at this point. Just remember your login credentials for later.
- If you don’t have an account: You need to visit the official BBC registration page and sign up. If you are located in the UK and are already paying for a TV license, just use your real details. If not, then you might be able to use fake ones instead. The easiest thing to do is to visit Doogal Postcode Generator to get a real UK postcode.
To sum up, here’s what you need to watch BBC iPlayer from USA and abroad:
- Get a VPN.
- Set your VPN to a UK server.
- Sign up for a free BBC account.
- Log in with that account to any device you want.
- Start watching iPlayer programming!
The process, as you can see, is fairly easy. If you follow our advice, especially the part about the VPNs, then you should have no problems whatsoever.