How to watch UK TV abroad in 4 easy steps

British television is hugely respected, not just in the UK but overseas too.

If you're keen to watch UK TV abroad, we’ve got it covered with easy step-by-step instructions.

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VPNs can be used to watch UK TV from an overseas location, and ExpressVPN is one of the leading brands on the market.

Our VPN expert tried this service in December 2021, and was hugely impressed by the range of available servers across the world, the breadth of 'professional features' and the 'outstanding privacy practices'.

  • ExpressVPN, from £5.48 per month – buy here

Lots of much-loved UK TV shows are available to stream in the US – for example, Peaky Blinders is on Netflix and Love Island is on Hulu – but there's usually a delay for overseas audiences.

On top of that, there’s plenty of sports like Premier League football that non-UK viewers want to watch live (but be aware: you need a UK TV licence to watch live content, no matter where you are).

The simplest way to watch UK TV abroad is to use a VPN.

These handy online tools have boomed in popularity in recent years, and one of the biggest reasons is that they can allow users to access geo-restricted content – and that includes UK TV streaming platforms like BBC iPlayer, ITV Hub and All4.

Read on to find out how to access UK TV abroad, along with our pick of the best VPNs for the job – we’ve tried and tested all of them.

If you want to stream content that’s unavailable in the US, there’s also our pick of the best VPNs for Netflix.

Why can’t I watch UK TV abroad?

Outside of the UK, if you head to any of the nation’s major UK TV streaming platforms – whether that’s BBC’s iPlayer or Channel 4’s All 4 – you’ll be met with essentially the same message each time: this content is not available to watch in your region.

This is largely down to licensing agreements – so while plenty of UK television is free-to-air, that only applies to audiences located in the UK itself.

It's important to note that BBC content isn’t free: you need to pay an annual licence fee. We’ll go into that in more detail later in this article.

The same thing happens with streaming sites like Netflix, by the way – although it’s a service available around the world, each region has its own specific library of content.

This can prove incredibly frustrating – not least with UK viewers who might want to stay up-to-date with their favourite programmes while on holiday overseas.

How to watch UK TV abroad with a VPN

Here’s how to watch UK TV abroad in step-by-step instructions:

  1. Sign up to a VPN like ExpressVPN or NordVPN, and install it on your device.
  2. In that VPN’s user interface, choose a UK server.
  3. Head to the website of the channel you want to watch.
  4. Hit play.

Watching British TV abroad is easy with a VPN, or ‘virtual private network’.

VPNs are online tools that extend private networks across public networks, which offer extra levels of security for users.

In the case of British streaming, a VPN can essentially suggest to a platform that you’re watching from a UK IP address, meaning you won’t encounter any geo-blocking message.

For a more detailed walkthrough, head to our what is a VPN and are they legal explainer.

Watching all your favourite UK channels and shows outside is an easy process once you’ve purchased a VPN.

Which VPN is best for watching UK TV?

We’ve tested a number of leading VPNs, and we found they were all able to access geo-restricted content.

Here’s a complete list of all the VPNs we’ve put to the test.


  • NordVPN, from £2.49 a month – buy here

Our VPN reviewer Alessandro Mascellino tested NordVPN in January 2022, and was hugely impressed by what he found – not for nothing is this one of the leading services on the market.

NordVPN is a brand with one of the most transparent privacy policies out there, along with an interface of servers that's not just in a list but in map form to – for UK TV, you simply need to seek out a UK server.

Read our full NordVPN review


  • ExpressVPN, from £5.37 a month – buy here

ExpressVPN is another major VPN service that is known for its wide range of worldwide servers.

In our review, we point to the 'substantial number of professional features' and the fact that ExpressVPN is based in the privacy-friendly British Virgin Islands. It's a great shout for British streaming abroad.

Read our full ExpressVPN review


  • CyberGhost, from £1.75 a month – buy here

CyberGhost is currently used by 38 million people around the world, and is no doubt incredibly popular because of the value for money it offers.

Its user interface isn't perfect, but it's got a wide range of servers – including UK locations – and we found it offered fast connection speeds too.

Read our full CyberGhost VPN review


  • Surfshark, from £1.87 a month – buy here

Surfshark is another hugely affordable choice of VPN, and one that's helped by a highly user-friendly interface and a great customer support service.

The connection speeds don't quite match some of the others on this list, but it remains a VPN that's fully capable of accessing UK TV content from abroad.

Read our full Surfshark VPN review

PIA (Private Internet Access)

  • PIA, from £1.67 a month – buy here

In his review of PIA (Private Internet Access), our VPN expert described it as 'a valid VPN service with plenty of security features' with an app that's 'minimalistic and easy to use'.

It's also the cheapest that he's tested so far – with one exception (see below).

Read our full PIA VPN review


  • PrivadoVPN, from £0 a month – buy here

Privado is the only VPN we've tested that offers a plan that's completely free – though it only offers connections to 12 locations versus 60 in the paid one-month and 12-month plans.

Our reviewer encountered a few latency issues and there's not yet been a third-party audit to check its privacy policies – but he also praised the streaming speeds being offered, which is ideal if you want to access UK TV.

Read our full PrivadoVPN review

Is watching UK TV abroad legal?

This is something we suggest you pay close attention to, since its varies depending on what and when you’re watching.

As the stipulates, you need a UK TV licence to:

  • Watch shows as they’re being shown on TV on any channel – in other words, when they air
  • Watch or stream shows that are live on a channel or streaming service (ie lots of sport is now available to live stream on Amazon Prime)
  • Download or watch programmes on BBC iPlayer

To summarise: you’ll be fine to stream most on-demand UK TV that isn’t BBC without a licence, providing it’s on-demand rather than live.

However, it’s always worth double-checking first. If in doubt, consult the TV Licensing website.

We do not condone any illegal viewing activity and would never suggest you use a VPN without paying for a licence it's required by law.

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