How to watch BBC iPlayer in the USA

BBC iPlayer logo superimposed on a USA flag
(Image credit: Future)

BBC iPlayer is one of the best streaming sites on the web. With countless hours of BBC-made and licenced content available completely free, it’s a treasure trove for anyone living in the UK.

However, for anyone outside the UK iPlayer is entirely blocked. This is due to both the BBC’s annual licence fee, which British residents must pay to legally access BBC content and live TV, as well as copyright and distribution limitations.

So, if you’re a Brit across the pond for work or a holiday, you may well be feeling bereft of your favorite shows. Don’t worry though – there’s a simple and effective solution. All you need to do is follow our quick and easy guide on how to watch BBC iPlayer in the US.

Watching BBC iPlayer in the USA

To watch BBC iPlayer in the US, all you need is a simple bit of software called a VPN. By connecting to a VPN’s server in another country, you can appear to be located wherever you want. This tricks websites like BBC iPlayer in showing you content that would otherwise be unavailable where you are.

However, sites like iPlayer are savvy to this, and now only the very best BBC iPlayer VPN services are able to access overseas content.

ExpressVPN is our favorite VPN for iPlayer (opens in new tab)

ExpressVPN is our favorite VPN for iPlayer (opens in new tab)
In our hands-on testing, we’ve found ExpressVPN (opens in new tab) to deliver the best BBC iPlayer unblocking performance. However, it’s also super secure, easy to use, and comes with a 30-day money-back guarantee so you can trial it risk-free. 

Claim your three months FREE on a 12-month plan (opens in new tab)

Step 1

Screenshot of ExpressVPN disconnected

(Image credit: Future)

Install and open your VPN app. You may need to accept some permissions if this is the first time you’ve used it. 

Most providers, including ExpressVPN, make installation a very simple process. It shouldn't take you more than a minute.

Step 2

Screenshot of ExpressVPN connected to a UK server

(Image credit: Future)

Since BBC iPlayer is only available for those in the UK, select a UK server. Again, our top pick ExpressVPN makes this process super simple, but just about every good VPN will have at least one UK option. 

Connect to your chosen server. Wait a couple of seconds, and the app will then notify you that you’re connected and ready to go. 

Step 3

Screenshot of ExpressVPN unblocking BBC iPlayer

(Image credit: Future)

Head to the BBC iPlayer website, and log in. You may need to enter a postcode if you haven’t used iPlayer before, but if you’d rather not share your real address, UK postcodes can be found easily online.

Then all you need to do is choose what you’re watching. Sit back, relax, and enjoy!

Can you watch BBC iPlayer in the US on Fire Stick?

Short answer – yes! Because your Amazon Fire TV Stick is an Android-based device, it natively supports VPNs, and if your chosen VPN has an app for the platform it’s super straightforward.

Our top choice ExpressVPN is also our top-rated Fire Stick VPN. All you need to do is download the ExpressVPN app from the app store. Simply sign in with your credentials, connect to a UK server, and then open up the BBC iPlayer app and start watching.

Can you watch BBC iPlayer in the US on Roku?

If you're a Roku user, it's super simple to get set up with BBC iPlayer. All you need to do is download the iPlayer channel, sign in with your free account and get watching.

However, if you want to use a VPN to watch BBC on your Roku outside the UK, you'll have to install a router VPN or set up a virtual router.  This is because Roku devices don't support VPNs themselves. It's a little more complicated than on a desktop or smartphone, but our top choice ExpressVPN (opens in new tab) makes it super easy with simple set-ups and clear walkthroughs.

Is watching BBC iPlayer in the US illegal?

If you’re from the UK and pay your TV licence, using a VPN to circumvent the BBC’s geo-blocking isn’t against the law.

However, if you don’t pay for your TV licence, accessing iPlayer is against the service’s terms and conditions. 

Mo is VPN Editor at Tom's Guide. Day-to-day he oversees VPN, privacy, and cybersecurity content, and also undertakes independent testing of VPN services to ensure his recommendations are accurate and up to date. When he's not getting stuck into the nitty-gritty settings of a VPN you've never heard of, you'll find him working on his Peugeot 205 GTi or watching Peep Show instead of finally putting up those shelves.