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BBC iPlayer is the jewel in the UK's streaming crown. US-based services like Netflix and Amazon Prime Video might offer more big-budget exclusives, but none are as usable, versatile or reliable as our very own iPlayer.

And best of all, it's free. As long as you have a TV licence, that is.

The only downside is that it's restricted to UK viewers, which means no overseas access. In other words, no catching up with EastEnders while you're sunning yourself on your hols.

That's in stark contrast to pay-for services like Netflix, Amazon and Now TV. Under the recent EU portability streaming law, these have to be available elsewhere in Europe using your existing login details. So as long as you're holidaying in the EU, you can still catch all your favourite shows.

Not so with iPlayer. At least, not officially.

Because there is a way around it. It involves using a VPN (Virtual Private Network). Be warned that this violates iPlayer's terms and conditions – you won't be sent to prison, but you could have your account suspended. In other words, follow these steps at your own risk.

Step 1: Choose a VPN

Your first port of call is to choose a VPN. This will let you set up your own little network within the wider frame of the internet. Businesses use VPNs to send information privately, without the risk of being intercepted by hackers. Using one masks your true location, fooling iPlayer into thinking you're in the UK.

They do cost, mind. A year's access can cost around £6 a month.

NordVPN, ExpressVPN, IPVanish and Hidden24 all have good reviews.

Step 2: Download it

Once you've signed up to your VPN, you'll need to download and install it on your device of choice. Most VPNs work on most platforms (PC, Mac, iOS, Android), but it's worth checking yours before you pay.

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Downloading it onto a mobile device will mean you can watch on the go, as long as you have a decent wi-fi connection. Ditto with a laptop, but they're obviously bulkier and harder to lug around than a phone or tablet. The tradeoff for the bigger screen might be worth it though, so it's worth considering.

Step 3: Get started

Now you'll need to log in to your VPN and choose a server based in the UK. Why? It's because the VPN tricks iPlayer into thinking that you're still in Blighty, and hence you're still allowed to watch it.

Step 4: Start watching

Once connected to the VPN, head to the iPlayer website, log in and start watching as normal. You should also be able to use the iPlayer mobile apps on Android and iOS.

And that's it. As we say, using a VPN goes against iPlayer's terms and conditions, so you do so at your own risk.

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Latest comments

  • Dave Beck 8 months ago EU portability streaming law:... Netflix already provide a service if the country has a Netflix service. My UK Netflix account works for US...
  • Robert KołOdziej 8 months ago EU portability streaming law:... Netflix, for example, detects and blocks VPN. Tried it and failed just before Easter when we were abroad....
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