How to watch UK TV abroad: BBC iPlayer, ITVX, Channel 4 and more

UK TV streaming service logo compilation: BBC iPlayer, ITVX, Channel 4, Now
(Image credit: Future)

The UK arguably has some of the best streaming content in the world, with the BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and more all offering content that's free to stream online anytime. However, if you're away on holiday, you might be wondering how to watch UK TV abroad, and we're here to help.

Whether you want to watch the new season of "Race Across the World" on iPlayer, rewatch "Love Island All Stars" on ITVX (no judgement here), or stay up-to-date with "Married at First Sight Australia" on Channel 4, you'll find it tricky due to something called "geo-blocking".

British streaming services only allow those in the UK to watch, so when you're abroad you'll be geo-blocked and won't be able to tune in – even if you pay for the service, in the cases of Now TV, Sky, or BT TV. 

The only way around this is to either hop on the next flight home, or trick the website into thinking that you're in the UK. We reckon the former's overkill, so here we'll be explaining in full how to watch UK TV abroad.

Brides and grooms of Married at First Sight Australia Season 11

(Image credit: 9Now)

How to watch UK TV abroad

If you're in the UK, watching any British TV streaming service is as simple as heading to the website, logging in, and watching. If you've been trying to watch UK TV abroad, though, you'll have found yourself blocked from streaming. 

Don't lose hope, though – there's an incredibly simple way to get around this. 

By using one of the best VPN services, you can virtually relocate yourself by connecting to a UK VPN server, and then you'll be able to stream any UK TV channel to your heart's content.

A VPN works by changing your IP address and encrypting your internet traffic, but you don't need to be a tech whiz to use one. Our highest-rated VPNs are incredibly simple to install and use, and once you're signed up you can watch UK TV from Spain, Singapore or San Francisco within minutes. 

Which VPN is best for watching UK TV abroad?

NordVPN is the best option

If you're looking to unblock streaming sites, <a href="http://go.nordvpn.net/aff_c?offer_id=564&url_id=10992&aff_id=3013&aff_click_id=hawk-custom-tracking&aff_sub2=hawk-article-url" data-link-merchant="go.nordvpn.net"" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">NordVPN is the best option. In our expert review it managed to unblock every UK streaming service with ease, as well as others like Netflix, Prime Video, and Disney+. It's also super secure, with plenty of extra privacy tools for staying safe online, and it's usually around $3.50 a month.

How to use a VPN to watch UK TV abroad

Whether you're a cybersecurity expert or a total luddite, using a VPN to watch UK TV abroad is super simple.

First of all, you'll need to sign up to and install your VPN. This should take less than a couple of minutes with a provider like NordVPN. Then, when it's up and running, connect to a UK server. 

Once you're connected to the VPN, open up your browser and head to your chosen website, or open its streaming app if you're on mobile. Login or create an account.

Then all you need to do is pick a show, sit back, and enjoy the best of what UK TV has to offer!

Love Island logo

(Image credit: ITV)

Once you've signed up for a VPN, you'll be able to watch any UK TV channel wherever you are. However, there are a couple of things that might make your life even easier during the process.

First of all, connecting to the VPN before you head to your chosen TV channel's website is important. This makes it much less likely for the streaming site to notice you're using a VPN – and while we've never had any issues when using NordVPN, this has been an issue with other providers in the past.

If you haven't already got a login to the streaming service, you'll need to make one. During the process you'll be asked to provide a UK post code. If you don't fancy using your own, post codes are easily found online – using one of them will be absolutely fine.

In the unlikely event that you do have any issues with accessing shows, we'd recommend closing the browser window or app, clearing your cookies for that site, disconnecting and reconnecting your VPN, and repeating the process. 

Finally, if that doesn't resolve the problem, get in contact with your provider's live chat support. If there's a known problem, they'll usually try their best to solve it for you.

How to watch UK TV abroad 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 UK TV 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 NordVPN.
  • 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 your chosen streaming app, pick something to watch
  • Enjoy!

As any Brit will be well aware of, to watch any of the UK's free-to-air channels live you should have a TV licence. The same rules apply when you're abroad, so if you want to watch any live BBC content, ITV, Channel 4, Channel 5, or any other Freeview channel, you need a TV licence.

However, while you do need a TV licence to watch anything on BBC iPlayer, you don't need one to watch catch-up content on other channels.

Mo Harber-Lamond
VPN Editor

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.