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Surfshark not Working with BBC iPlayer? Here’s what to do

If your Surfshark VPN app isn’t working with BBC iPlayer – don’t worry. It’s usually an easy issue to solve.

In this quick guide, we’ll show you the most common fixes for issues that prevent Surfshark from accessing BBC iPlayer. And if those don’t work, we’ll give you the best alternative VPNs to switch to.

How to Stream BBC iPlayer with Surfshark

First, let’s make sure your Surfshark app is configured correctly for BBC iPlayer. 

Surfshark has apps for many devices that work with BBC iPlayer – including some smart TV brands. 

The setup process is generally the same for all of them:

  1. Sign up for Surfshark. You’ll get a 30-day money-back guarantee to try it risk-free. 
  2. Download the app onto your BBC iPlayer device.
  3. Connect to a server in the UK.
  4. Clear your browser or BBC iPlayer app cache and cookies.
  5. Open the BBC iPlayer app or sign in on your browser. 

That’s it!

Clearing your cache and cookies is crucial in case BBC iPlayer logged your location in a previous session. 

If you can’t access BBC iPlayer now, connect to a different server. Or, keep reading to find alternative VPNs that work with BBC iPlayer if Surfshark is completely blocked. 

How Well Does Surfshark Work with BBC iPlayer?

Surfshark is one of the best VPNs for BBC iPlayer. It uses industry-leading privacy and IP masking tools that can trick even the toughest anti-VPN detection tools. 

Surfshark also has an extensive network of high-speed servers in the UK, so you don’t have to worry about over-crowded servers getting blocked by the streamer. 

Our team has tested Surfshark’s UK servers from Europe, Asia, and Africa and could stream BBC iPlayer in 4K HD with minimum buffering. Surfshark uses the latest server technology and lightweight VPN protocols to ensure a smooth, reliable, and fast connection from anywhere. 

However, like any technology, Surfshark can face some technical glitches and limitations. Let’s explore the most common technical issues for why it’s not working with BBC iPlayer.

Why Isn’t Surfshark Working with BBC iPlayer? 

BBC iPlayer is a UK-only streaming site. Due to its broadcast licenses, you’re not supposed to watch its content outside the country – even if you’re a UK citizen. 

So, it actively blocks anyone outside the UK from accessing its content. 

BBC iPlayer also invests heavily in detecting and blocking VPN servers, because most people use VPNs to access its content outside the UK. If you’re in the UK and using Surfshark to improve your online privacy, BBC iPlayer will still block you. 

The best BBC iPlayer VPNs constantly find ways around these blocks – but it's not easy. They’re in a constant game of cat and mouse with the streamer. 

However, software limitations and technical glitches in Surfshark can contribute to it not working with BBC iPlayer. Here are the most common, and their solutions:

1. BBC iPlayer is reading old location data from your browser or device. Your old location will conflict with your VPN servers – causing an error on the BBC iPlayer app. 

Solution: Clear your cache and cookies, and restart BBC iPlayer.

2. BBC iPlayer has identified and blocked your Surfshark server. It won’t accept connection requests from that server’s IP address. Surfshark has many UK servers, and you can switch to another easily in the app.

Solution: Switch to another server in the UK.

3. BBC iPlayer is using GPS to establish your location. Mobile apps often log your location by reading other apps using GPS – like Google Maps. There is no way for Surfshark to hide this data. 

Solution: Access BBC iPlayer on your mobile device’s browser or use a GPS spoofing app. 

Best Alternative VPNs for Streaming BBC iPlayer

If you’ve tried everything above, and Surfshark still isn’t accessing BBC iPlayer, you might need a new VPN. 

We’ve tested countless VPNs against BBC iPlayer and every other popular streaming site (Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, BBC iPlayer, etc.) and found only five we recommend. 

Take a quick look at them below, or read our complete VPN reviews, to see exactly how every VPN performs in streaming, privacy, security, value, and much more. 


1. NordVPN
Editor's Choice | May 2024

NordVPN is the best VPN for BBC iPlayer – and just about anything else. It offers industry-best security, super-fast connections, and exceptional value.

  • Pricing

    • 24 months + 3 months FREE: $3.69/mth
      70% OFF
    • 12 months: $4.99/mth
      59% OFF
    • 1 month: $11.99/mth
  • Pros

    • Works with the top streaming sites
    • 5,800+ servers in 60+ countries
    • Based in super-secretive Panama
    • One of the fastest VPNs in the world
    • Industry-best security
    • Low-cost plans
  • Cons

    • Switching servers can be slow
    • Small server network in Africa
    • Router setup requires technical knowledge
  • Website

NordVPN is the best-performing VPN for BBC iPlayer. Its massive UK server network delivers buffer-free 4K HD streaming with stable connections on BBC iPlayer and every other streaming site. 

NordVPN is also incredibly secure. 

It uses industry-best tools like automatic kill-switches, DNS/IPv6 leak protections, and 256-bit AES encryption (the same standard used by banks, governments, militaries, and spy agencies) to hide your data, location, and identity. Its exclusive NordLynx VPN protocol is the best of its kind, boosting speeds across its network without reducing encryption or other security standards. 

You can install NordVPN on any device you use to watch BBC iPlayer, including iOS, Android, Windows, Mac, Linux, and some smart TVs. Its SmartDNS tool means you can stream on devices that don’t support VPNs natively, like game consoles. 

If Surfshark has stopped working with BBC iPlayer, try NordVPN on its risk-free 30-day money-back guarantee.

ExpressVPN is a premium VPN that offers lightning-fast streaming on BBC iPlayer, reliable connections worldwide, excellent privacy, and much more.

  • Pricing

    • 12 months + 3 months FREE + Backblaze backup: $6.67/mth
      49% OFF
    • 6 months: $9.99/mth
    • 1 month: $12.95/mth
  • Pros

    • 3,000+ servers in over 90 countries
    • Lightning-fast
    • Advanced security
    • Works with top streamers
    • Works in VPN-restricted countries like China and the UAE
  • Cons

    • Only five simultaneous device connections
    • Premium price
    • It doesn’t label servers optimized for streaming
  • Website

ExpressVPN has a massive server network in 90+ countries – including many in the UK. We tested many of them and enjoyed fast, reliable connections from test locations across the globe. 

The provider also offers impenetrable privacy. It uses RAM-only servers that are automatically wiped whenever you end a VPN session. They can also be unplugged in a second, in case ExpressVPN is ever raided! You also get automatic kill-switches, military-grade encryption, and zero-knowledge DNS tools to keep your location, identity, activities, and data hidden at all times. 

ExpressVPN is slightly more expensive than most VPNs, but it's worth it. Especially if you’re in a region overlooked by its competitors – like Sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle East. 

New ExpressVPN users get a risk-free 30-day money-back guarantee. 

CyberGhost is an easy-to-use, low-cost VPN that doesn’t compromise performance, speed, or security. You’ll still enjoy uninterrupted access to your favorite BBC iPlayer shows.

  • Pricing

    • 24 months + 3 months FREE: $2.11/mth
      83% OFF
    • 6 months: $6.99/mth
      42% OFF
    • 1 month: $11.99/mth
  • Pros

    • Beginner-friendly
    • Up to seven simultaneous device connections
    • 9,500+ servers in over 90 countries
    • Easy to configure across multiple devices
    • 45-day money-back guarantee
  • Cons

    • Some servers are not optimized for streaming
    • No stealth mode or obfuscated servers
    • Limited torrenting support
  • Website

CyberGhost has 700+ servers across the UK – and 9,500+ in 90+ countries worldwide. 

While its streaming-dedicated servers offer the best experience, you can use any server in the network to access BBC iPlayer, and it should work. Throughout our tests, we could access BBC iPlayer interruption-free from around the world. 

CyberGhost is also the most beginner-friendly VPN on this list. After installing it on your first device, all your settings are pre-configured across every new install. It’s pretty much identical across every device, so you can install the VPN on every device and gadget in a couple of minutes. 

Just because it's easy to use doesn’t mean CyberGhost has skimped on security or privacy. It uses the latest VPN software to hide your data, location, identity, and internet activities from snooping and tracking. 

You can try CyberGhost out on a generous 45-day money-back guarantee. 

Private Internet Access (PIA) was built for torrenters and P2P fans, but works just as well for BBC iPlayer and other streaming sites.

  • Pricing

    • 24 months + 2 months FREE: $2.19/mth
      82% OFF
    • 6 months: $7.5/mth
      38% OFF
    • 1 month: $11.95/mth
  • Pros

    • 10 simultaneous device connections
    • 20,000+ global servers
    • Incredible customization
    • Excellent for P2P and torrenting
    • Responsive customer support
  • Cons

    • Located in the US
    • Missing some advanced security tools
    • Sometimes difficult to use
    • iOS apps lack some features
  • Website

PIA focuses on providing complete anonymity and fast download times for torrenting and P2P users. This makes it a good choice for accessing UK streaming content outside the country. 

It’s also the most customizable VPN available. You’ll enjoy unrivaled opportunities to change your settings depending on your needs. For example, if you just want to stream BBC iPlayer from far away, you could reduce your encryption and change your VPN protocol to boost your connection speed, while lowering your overall security. 

Newer VPN users might be overwhelmed by all the settings, however. So, if you’re not tech-savvy, stick to easier Surfshark alternatives like NordVPN or ExpressVPN.

PIA also lacks some advanced features compared to top streaming VPNs. And while its 20,000+ global servers are impressive, they’re mostly virtual servers, and may not work with BBC iPlayer. 

Use PIA’s 30-day money-back guarantee to test it out risk-free.

Proton VPN is the only free VPN we recommend for BBC iPlayer. It doesn’t restrict your usage too much and delivers reliable connections. But the paid plan is much better.

  • Pricing

    • 24 months: $4.49/mth
      56% OFF
    • 12 months: $4.99/mth
      51% OFF
    • 1 month: $9.99/mth
    • Free trial: $0/mth
  • Pros

    • Impressive free plan
    • Servers in the UK (on paid plan)
    • 2,800+ global servers in 68+ countries
    • Easy to use
    • “VPN Accelerator” tool
  • Cons

    • Lacks advanced features
    • Doesn’t work with Netflix
    • Expensive paid plan
    • Limited customer support

Proton VPN’s free plan doesn’t limit your bandwidth, offers robust security and privacy, and doesn’t bombard you with ads. This all makes one of the best free VPNs available. 

However, the free plan doesn’t have servers in the UK, so you’ll need to upgrade to the paid plan. 

The paid version has servers in the UK and 67+ other countries (2,800+ servers in total). While this is a relatively small network, its patented “VPN accelerator” protocol speeds up your connection over long distances, so you can still get buffer-free streaming on BBC iPlayer from far away.

We tested the paid version of Proton VPN with BBC iPlayer from numerous locations, including Europe, Asia, and Africa. It performed well, but finding a server that worked often took a few attempts. 

Proton VPN’s paid plan is also quite expensive, especially considering it’s missing advanced features you get from VPNs like Surfshark and NordVPN.

Try ProtonVPN’s paid plan’s 30-day money-back guarantee to see how it compares to top BBC iPlayer VPNs.

Do Free VPNs Work with BBC iPlayer?

Most free VPNs don’t work with BBC iPlayer because the streamer easily catches their limited UK servers. 

However, that’s just one of many reasons we don’t recommend free VPNs. There are many more, including: 

1. Limited server locations. Most have servers in two to three countries that quickly get crowded with other free users and detected by streamers. 

2. Too slow for BBC iPlayer. They either can’t deliver fast connections or throttle you, so you eventually upgrade to a paid plan. 

3. Bombard you with ads. They’re intrusive, irritating, and could be carrying malware.

4. Sell your information to advertisers and data brokers. Your privacy will be compromised, and you might get malware and trackers installed on your device.

Plenty of cheap VPNs work with BBC iPlayer without compromising your safety or delivering a bad experience. 

Save yourself a lot of headaches and avoid free VPNs altogether. 

How We Tested Surfshark and Others With BBC iPlayer

Over the last few years, we’ve tested hundreds (maybe thousands) of VPNs. We’ve developed strict criteria to check their performance across various metrics – not just streaming BBC iPlayer. 

You can use our criteria to decide on the right VPN for you, which include:

  • Server network: The best VPNs have thousands of servers in countries across the globe, including many locations in the UK. 
  • Connection speeds: We’ve only recommended VPNs fast enough to stream BBC iPlayer in HD, regardless of your location. 
  • Access to content: We checked every VPN against BBC iPlayer, Amazon Prime Video, Netflix, and other popular streamers. 
  • Security: Top VPNs use the latest cybersecurity to shield your data and device, including automatic kill-switches, 256-bit AES encryption, and DNS leak protections.
  • Privacy: Our top VPNs provide extra privacy tools like IP address masking, anti-tracking tools, and ad blockers that hide your location, activities, data, and identity. 
  • Value: The best VPNs offer affordable, fixed subscription plans with generous money-back guarantees to test them risk-free. 
  • Easy to use: Just because VPNs are a complicated technology, they shouldn’t be difficult to use. Our favorite VPNs are all very beginner-friendly. 
  • Customer support: Look for VPNs that offer 24/7 live chat, comprehensive video tutorials and troubleshooting guides, and active user communities. 

Read our complete VPN review process to see the full list of criteria and use it to guide you when choosing a VPN for BBC iPlayer – or anything else. 



Surfshark isn’t the only VPN that’s sometimes blocked by BBC iPlayer. The broadcaster is constantly developing methods to restrict VPN use on its streaming site. 

But don’t worry. VPNs are always finding ways around them.

If Surfshark isn’t working on your BBC iPlayer account, try the quick fixes suggested in this guide. If you still can’t get access, you might need an alternative BBC iPlayer VPN, like NordVPN or ExpressVPN.

Or read our top VPN reviews to find out which is best for you.

Written by: Conor Walsh

Conor is a tech writer with professional paranoia. He's passionate about privacy, and when not writing about it, can be found trying to get far away from his phone and any other technology, enjoying some live music, outdoorsy stuff, or a good (physical) book.


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