Using a UK VPN is a super simple way of keeping your online activity private when living in or visiting Blighty. After all, the UK's Investigatory Powers Act allows some of the world's most invasive government surveillance, and it's a founding member of the notorious Five Eyes Alliance.
Using the best VPN for the UK isn't just for staying private and secure, though. Quality services will allow you to stream content from overseas, and if you're a Brit abroad, watch BBC iPlayer anywhere in the world.
Finding a VPN that ticks all the boxes can be a tough task, though. That's why we've tested just about every worthwhile service on the market from our base in the UK to make sure we can recommend the very best UK VPNs available today.
What makes a great UK VPN?
Security and privacy always come first, so ensure that your chosen service is guaranteed to keep you safe online – we've tested hands-on and verified that all our recommendations here are rock-solid. Excellent connection speeds are also a must-have for most users, and streaming performance is a bonus many will appreciate.
It's worth considering what devices you'll be using your VPN on. For example, if you're an iPhone user, having good performance on iOS will be a must. Thankfully all the providers we've recommended here offer great mobile apps alongside powerful desktop clients.
Topping our list is ExpressVPN (read our full ExpressVPN review for more). It combines slick apps with flawless privacy credentials and streaming performance to provide the best all-round VPN for the UK. However, other providers might take your fancy, so all you need to do is keep scrolling and pick from the very best UK VPN in 2023.
1. ExpressVPN – Unrivalled overall performance
ExpressVPN can do it all – streaming, location spoofing, torrenting and keeping you anonymous online, but what makes it truly great is that it pulls together that power in a simple, intuitive package. Now available with 3 months free, it's the only UK VPN you need.
2. NordVPN – The biggest name works very well in the UK
You might recognise NordVPN from its TV ads and sports sponsorships, but it's not all mouth and no trousers. With excellent encryption and features like Onion over VPN, it's one of the very best ways to secure yourself online.
3. Surfshark – A premium service for a bargain price
It might be priced like it, but Surfshark is no Poundland VPN. In fact, even without its tempting price tag it'd be one to consider, with unlimited connections on one plan, excellent speeds, and top-class content unblocking. The sub-£2-a-month cost is just the icing on the cake.
The best UK VPNs today
ExpressVPN is quite simply the best UK VPN because it provides everything you need in a tidy package. You'll have access to slick mobile apps as well as options for Windows PCs and Macs, and there's excellent 24/7 support in case anything doesn't work as it should
Privacy is a major priority for ExpressVPN, and with any plan you'll be covered by industry-standard 256-bit encryption. You'll also have a good selection of protocols to choose from, meaning you can choose to prioritise speed or security.
ExpressVPN is able to access just about any streaming service you can think of, ranging from BBC iPlayer Netflix, and just about everything else in between. No matter where you are in the world, you won't have to miss out on a thing.
Backing all that up are excellent connection speeds. Connections are virtually unaffected when using UK servers, and remain swift even when connected to farther-flung ones. That's great if you're looking to stream in HD, or torrent large files swiftly.
Get 3 months FREE of the best UK VPN
ExpressVPN is currently offering Tom's Guide readers three free months – that's 15 months for the price of 12. And, in the rare event that it's not for you, you'll also have a 30-day money-back guarantee keeping you safe. Not bad for the best UK VPN.
Possibly the biggest name on the scene, NordVPN is a great choice for those looking for a security-focused UK VPN. Frequently independently audited, the provider has again proved itself to be reliably secure – you can read the full NordVPN review for more info.
Usability is good too, as Nord unblocks most streaming services, most importantly BBC iPlayer. Netflix performance is second to none, and you can rely on Nord to get you streaming what you need.
You'll have access to over 5,500 servers worldwide to choose from, so no matter where you are – or where you want to appear to be – you'll be able to find a good connection.
On desktop Nord's apps are attractive and easy to use, and you'll be able to change a number of settings to tailor your experience. For example, you'll have a choice of protocols and a kill switch to protect you if your VPN connection drops.
Mobile apps are functional too, but the interface is a little clunky. While the map-based location picker works well on the larger screen of a computer, on mobile it can leave even the deftest swiper feeling fat-fingered. In practice, though, that's not a huge issue, as you'll usually just set and forget.
For those who want to both ensure their data is as safe as can be and have access to the world's streaming media, NordVPN is a great choice as a UK VPN.
Head over to the NordVPN website to sign up
In our Surfshark review, we found it to be a seriously good-value proposition for those seeking a balance between price and performance, and available for less than £2/$2.50 a month, it delivers unbeatable value for money while providing a fully-featured UK VPN service.
What stands out about Surfshark is its great streaming power, and it's a great choice if you want to watch UK TV abroad. Unblocking BBC iPlayer along with Netflix and the rest, it performs better than a number of more expensive services. Also, this unlocking ability is clearly advertised on its website, meaning as a business Surfshark should be committed to maintaining users' access to content.
Surfshark's clients are also well thought out, with apps across all devices sharing a similar, stable interface that makes it easy to select your server. It's also easy to find and change settings, which include different protocols and features like 'Double Hop', which routes your traffic through two servers to further obfuscate your location.
For the price it's hard not to recommend Surfshark as a cheap VPN – especially if you're after a UK VPN to help you stream what you want when you're abroad.
Head over to the Surfshark website to sign up
Hugely improved in the past year or so, Proton VPN is a privacy-focused provider that's upped its game and can now really compete with the big guns.
What's most impressive, though, is the fact that Proton VPN is a seriously capable streaming VPN. With access to the UK, US, and Canadian libraries, it's an excellent choice as a Netflix VPN and BBC iPlayer VPN, and also for unblocking Disney+, Prime Video and tons more.
The only issue is that Proton VPN is a little more expensive than some providers, and you need to go with the Plus plan to get all the benefits. However, there's a class-leading free VPN to test out the software, and special offers drop the price significantly.
All in, Proton VPN is a powerful UK VPN, and we highly recommend it.
Sign up now on the Proton VPN website
For streaming and torrenting fans, CyberGhost offers a specialised UK VPN that's very useful, and is used by over 10 million people worldwide.
As you'll discover in our CyberGhost VPN review, the Romania-based provider has a huge range of servers worldwide, virtually guaranteeing users a decent connection wherever they are.
However, one of our favourite features is CyberGhost's filtering system. If you're looking for a server that's best suited to, say, streaming Netflix, you can filter servers to only display those that will deliver the best Netflix experience. Unfortunately, though, in our last round of testing CyberGhost failed to get access to iPlayer, which does make it less ideal for the UK that those above.
Also, CyberGhost's support system isn't nearly as good as ExpressVPN's, and while you won't be left in the lurch if something goes wrong, it's possible it'll take a little longer for any problems to be rectified.
All in all, though, CyberGhost is a great value UK VPN that's good for streaming and only has a couple of minor downsides – it's certainly one to keep in mind.
Head over to the CyberGhost website to sign up
UK VPN FAQs
Are VPNs legal in the UK?
In short, yes – VPNs are totally legal in the UK. There are no laws in place restricting how citizens or visitors use them, but do be aware that any illegal activity undertaken while using a VPN is still illegal.
You may have read some stories about the proposed Online Safety Bill which is rumored to contain restrictions on VPN use, but this is very unlikely to pass. As of today, you can use VPNs freely in the UK.
Why do I need a UK VPN?
There are a few reasons you might want a UK VPN. Firstly, if you're in the UK, you're probably aware that our government can be a little nosy to say the least. If you want to keep your search history and online activity private, a VPN is an essential tool.
Other Brits might just want to have access to overseas streaming media. While we've got iPlayer and the UK library on Netflix, having a VPN can give you access to the world's media, including foreign Netflix and even services like Hulu if you've got a subscription.
Finally, if you're abroad, you might want to hop onto iPlayer, but you'll find that you'll be unable to access it. iPlayer also has some of the strictest VPN blocking tech in the streaming industry, so only the best can bypass this and get you watching abroad. Thankfully, every VPN on this list can do that for you. Now you just have to pick which one to go with.
Can I get a free UK VPN?
Free services can be double-edged swords – while they can offer some of the benefits of a paid-for VPN, they're never the whole package.
One of the best is Proton VPN Free which, although it's still nowhere near as good as the paid product.
While useful for very infrequent use, they're no good for streaming and torrenting, and you'll soon find yourself on the hunt for the best UK VPN – even if it'll cost you a couple of quid a month.
How do UK VPNs unblock Netflix?
Netflix has different libraries for many countries around the world, and these libraries are only accessible to those in that country. This is a problem for holidaymakers, and many others just want to watch shows they’re not ‘allowed’ to.
A VPN can relocate you to any country you want, and the best will do this in a way that’s undetectable by the streaming service. Once you’ve done that, you’re free to watch whatever you want.
Should I use a UK-based VPN?
Seeing as the UK has some of the nosiest online laws in the world – and is a member of the notorious Five Eyes alliance – true privacy nuts are likely to avoid VPNs based in the UK.
While there's not a huge amount anyway, the most well-known UK-based VPN is HideMyAss. HMA doesn't often feature on our roundups of top VPN services, but that's because the competition is just so strong. However, while it's UK-based, it does have a fairly robust no-logging policy, which means that even if the UK government decided to stick their oar in and demand information, HMA wouldn't have anything to hand over.
A no logging policy is especially important for a VPN based in country with stricter data laws – the UK being one of them – so when you're making your decision that should be factored in.
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