Unblocking the BBC iPlayer with a VPN is no easy task. The site is surprisingly good at detecting and blacklisting unblocking tools. If you use the wrong VPN, you’ll see an error message instead of the content you want to watch. BBC iPlayer doesn’t display a proxy error like Netflix. Instead, it will just behave as if you’re connecting to it from outside the UK.

Why is that happening? And how on Earth does BBC iPlayer know you’re using a VPN to unblock it?

We’ll tell you everything you need to know in this guide.

How BBC iPlayer Detects Unblockers


Let’s start out by saying we have no idea what detection method BBC iPlayer actually uses. We’re just speculating here.

With that out of the way, we think that BBC iPlayer is using geo-location services like MaxMind and IP2Location. We’re just giving examples – we’re not saying BBC iPlayer actually works with those companies.

Here’s how it works – those services give BBC iPlayer access to databases that contain VPN and proxy IP addresses. The databases are updated regularly (usually each month), so they always contain up-to-date information about VPN and proxy IPs.

Then, BBC iPlayer uses automated scripts on its site. Those scripts basically tell the website to block connections from IPs that belongs to the VPN and proxy databases.

To avoid that, the VPN provider has to refresh its IP addresses. And it needs to do it faster than the VPN and proxy IP databases get updated.

Other Reasons BBC iPlayer Might See Your Real Location


The geo-location services thing makes the most sense to us. But there are other things BBC iPlayer can do to detect VPNs and proxies:

  • It can configure its site to flag account sign-ins from the same IP address. If BBC iPlayer sees that 100 people are signing into their accounts using one IP address, that usually means they’re using a VPN.
  • It can check your browser’s cookies and cache, and check them against the VPNs’ IP. Sometimes, tracking cookies from countries other than the one the VPN server is in can make BBC iPlayer think you’re using a VPN (it sees an IP from one country and cookies from another country).
  • The site can detect your real location if the VPN you’re using suffers IPv6, DNS, or WebRTC leaks. Traffic leaks (when the VPN connection drops) can also contribute to you seeing the proxy error.

If you know other ways BBC iPlayer might be able to detect VPN usage, please let us know.

How to Find a Good VPN That Can Unblock BBC iPlayer


Like we already said, the VPN should refresh its IPs very often. It should also offer a kill switch (to protect you from traffic leaks) and complete IPv6, DNS, and WebRTC leak protection. Other features like high speeds, lightweight protocols, and unlimited bandwidth are also necessary to ensure you get a great streaming experience.

How do you find such a VPN, though?

Well, you can look up “best VPN for BBC iPlayer” on Google, but it’ll take you some time to go through all the articles. Even if you narrow your search down to three-four VPNs, it’ll still take a few hours to research and compare them to each other.

We have a solution: an in-depth guide from ProPrivacy you can find some of the best VPNs for iPlayer. The guys thoroughly tested all the VPNs on the list to make sure they 100% work with BBC iPlayer.

How to Get Rid of the BBC iPlayer Proxy Error Issue

You might sometimes get the proxy error even if you use a good VPN that works with BBC iPlayer. If that happens, here’s what you can try to fix this problem:

1. Connect to a Different Server


BBC iPlayer might have blocked the IP of the server you’re currently using. Just switch to a different one. If that’s blocked too, keep switching until you no longer experience this issue.

If your VPN has dedicated streaming servers for BBC iPlayer, use them instead. They refresh their IPs more often than regular servers to better avoid detection.

2. Restart the App or Your Device

We can’t really explain how this works, but this solution has sometimes worked for us. First, restart the app. If that doesn’t fix the problem, restart your device.

You can also try reinstalling the VPN app, but we can’t say how effective that method is.

3. Use Incognito/Private Mode

When you use incognito/private mode, your browser doesn’t store tracking cookies anymore. That way, BBC iPlayer can’t see your real location if it analyzes them.

You should always use incognito/private mode when you unblock streaming sites.

4. Use a Dedicated IP Address

With a dedicated IP, you’re the only user. BBC iPlayer is less likely to flag your connection as VPN traffic because it doesn’t detect multiple sign-ins from the IP address you’re using.

Just keep in mind that dedicated IPs will cost extra. The only VPN that offers them for free so far is PrivateVPN. It has dedicated IPs on their UK server. To get it, you just need to use the following connection method: OpenVPN TUN + UDP + 1194.

5. Contact the Support Team


There’s a chance you need to ask the support team which server you have to use to unblock BBC iPlayer. They don’t post that information on their site to make sure those servers don’t get blacklisted.

If they don’t have such a server, it’s still a good idea to contact the support team and ask them what the issue is, what they’re doing to fix it, and when they expect to have BBC iPlayer unblocked again.

Have Other Tips to Offer?

If you know other ways to fix the proxy error on BBC iPlayer, we’d love to hear about them. Also, if you know which VPNs work and don’t work with BBC iPlayer, please let us know.