For over 70 years, residents of the Republic of Ireland have been able to watch live BBC TV – initially through picking up terrestrial signals spilling over from Northern Ireland and Wales, and later through being covered by the Irish TV licence.
However, watching BBC iPlayer in Ireland is completely different story, and Brits taking a trip to the Emerald Isle will find that the BBC's streaming service is totally unavailable to view – meaning no catch-up on Peaky Blinders, Killing Eve, or brand-new comedies like The Witchfinder.
Here, we'll be running down the steps needed to watch BBC iPlayer in Ireland, and we'll also share where to get access to the BBC's flagship shows if you're a permanent Irish resident.
Tom's Guide is collaborating with TechRadar to look at how our readers use VPNs with different devices so we can improve our content and offer better advice. This survey shouldn't take more than 60 seconds of your time. Thank you for taking part.
How to watch BBC iPlayer in Ireland
In the UK, it's as simple as heading to the BBC iPlayer website, registering a free account, choosing what to watch, and pressing play. However, those in Ireland won't have any access.
Thankfully, there's a quick and easy way around this in the form of the best VPN.
Once you've installed your BBC iPlayer VPN, all you need to do is connect to a UK VPN server, and then head to the BBC iPlayer website as if you were back home in the UK. iPlayer will think you're correctly located, and you'll have access to any and all the shows you love for free.
Be aware that to watch BBC iPlayer you must also be a UK TV licence payer. Access without this is not permitted.
Which VPN is best for watching BBC iPlayer in Ireland?
ExpressVPN is the most reliable VPN for watching UK TV abroad. In our testing it provided full support for iPlayer, as well as ITV Hub, All 4 and My5, Now, Sky Go, and BT TV. With impeccable privacy features backing this up, it's our top-rated VPN overall, and Tom's Guide readers can claim three months free on any 12-month plan. Plus, you can trial the service risk-free with its 30-day money-back guarantee.
Watching iPlayer in Ireland step-by-step
- Sign up to your chosen VPN (we recommend ExpressVPN) and install it on your device
- Open up the VPN app and connect to a UK server
- Open your browser and head to the BBC iPlayer website
- Pick a show to watch
Do I need a TV licence to watch BBC iPlayer in Ireland?
Short answer: Yes.
BBC iPlayer is funded by UK citizens paying for their TV licence, and the rules state that only those that contribute are permitted to watch. This can be frustrating for Brits abroad, though, as while they may pay their licence, BBC iPlayer will be blocked anyway. In this situation, using a streaming VPN to watch iPlayer in Ireland is a perfect solution.
However, for Irish citizens that don't pay the UK TV licence, access to BBC iPlayer is prohibited. Thankfully, though, there are a number of other ways of getting access to BBC content.
How to watch BBC shows in Ireland without iPlayer
Irish residents aren't left entirely out in the cold when it comes to watching BBC TV shows. Of course, live TV has never been an issue – Irish citizens have been able to watch that for years – but for catch-up, a subscription is necessary.
The best way for Irish citizens to get access to BBC shows on-demand is through Sky TV.
With 18 channels including Sky Sports – which shows Premier League, F1, Golf, Cricket, Rugby, NFL and tons more – it's an excellent package, and starting at €30 a month it's decent value.
The best bit, though, is the Sky Go streaming service which hosts BBC and other British shows, and has apps for a huge range of devices including iPhones and iPads, Android, Xbox and PlayStation, Fire TV Sticks and more.
Plus, if you ever head out of the country, you can combine it with ExpressVPN to get access to what you pay for worldwide.
How to watch BBC iPlayer in Ireland on Fire Stick
Thanks to its portability factor, Amazon's Fire TV Stick is the perfect streaming device to travel with – all you need is a power outlet and an HDMI socket.
One of the Fire Stick's biggest draws for travellers, though, is the fact that it's compatible with VPNs, meaning you can watch BBC iPlayer on a big screen anywhere you want – and thankfully the process is super simple. For a full selection of VPNs, check out our guide on Fire Stick VPN services.
To get started, just follow the simple steps below:
- Sign up to a VPN – we recommend ExpressVPN
- Install your VPN's app on your Fire Stick. For all big providers, you'll find this in the Amazon App Store
- Open the app, and connect to a UK server
- Open the BBC iPlayer app, pick something to watch
Is watching BBC iPlayer in Ireland legal?
Again, if you're a UK TV licence payer, using a VPN to watch iPlayer in Ireland is totally above board. However, you will be in breach of this rule if you watch iPlayer (inside or outside the UK) without a TV licence.
However, while you do need a TV licence to watch anything on BBC iPlayer, it's worth noting you don't need one to watch UK TV abroad on other channels' sites like ITV, Channel 4 or Channel 5.