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How to watch UK TV abroad: BBC iPlayer, ITV Hub, All 4 and more

BBC iPlayer, ITV Hub, All 4 and Now logos tiled
(Image credit: Future)

As the world opens up, Brits are venturing abroad again, but while you're in sunnier climes there's a slight hitch you might come across – no access to UK TV!

Whether you want to catch the new RuPaul's Drag Race UK on iPlayer, binge last year's Love Island on ITV Hub (no judgement here), or stay up-to-date with Celebrity Hunted on All 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.

Martin Freeman starring in The Responder

(Image credit: BBC)

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?

ExpressVPN is the most reliable VPN

ExpressVPN is the most reliable VPN for watching UK TV abroad. In our testing it provided full support for iPlayer, ITV Hub, All 4 and My5, as well as paid platforms like 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.

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 ExpressVPN. 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 ExpressVPN, 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 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 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.

What is the best VPN for watching UK TV abroad?

our #1 choice is ExpressVPN

If you're looking to watch UK TV abroad, a VPN is essential – and our #1 choice is ExpressVPN. With searing speeds and easy-to-use apps that work on tons of devices like Fire Stick and routers, as well as desktop and mobile, it's the perfect solution for accessing blocked content. Plus, you'll have 30 days to test the service before you commit.

Try the best UK VPN risk-free for 30 days

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.