Advertisement

Sign up for our daily newsletter

Advertisement

How to watch UK TV abroad: Watch BBC, Sky and other streaming services when you travel abroad

Advertisement

Don't miss out on your favourite British TV shows and streaming services when you're travelling abroad

The UK is blessed with a plethora of great TV content from the likes of BBC, Sky, ITV and Channel 4. And that's not including streaming services like Netflix, Disney Plus and Amazon Prime Video – many of which often have a larger catalogue of films and TV shows compared to other countries.

Unfortunately, almost all the above UK-exclusive streaming services - like BBC iPlayer and so on - are blocked if you try to access them from outside the UK. Streaming services use your IP address to determine where you're based. As soon as it determines that you're based outside the UK, the webpage won't open or you'll get a message saying that the service is not available in your country.

To watch free TV services like BBC iPlayer, ITV iPlayer, Channel 4oD and Sky Go, you may need a British TV license and an existing account with the service you're trying to watch. However, in many cases, it's possible to access them even without a TV license and you can always create a free account. Paid services like Sky's Now subsidiary, on the other hand, will ask for your credit card details after you choose a subscription package, so that's also something to bear in mind.

Streaming services like Netflix, Disney Plus and Amazon Prime Video are easier to access from abroad because most of these services are now available worldwide. So, for example, if even if you created a Netflix account in the UK and log in to the service in Spain, you'll still be able to log in. But the only caveat here is that you'll now see the Netflix Spain catalogue instead of the Netflix UK one.

There's an easy way to access the UK catalogue of any of the aforementioned streaming services and UK-based services like BBC iPlayer, ITV iPlayer, Channel 4oD and Sky whenever you travel abroad. To do this, simply choose a good VPN service (like ExpressVPN) change your location within the VPN service to the UK, go to the streaming service you want, and log in using your existing details.

READ NEXT: Best UK streaming service

How to watch UK TV abroad using ExpressVPN

Remember we spoke about streaming services tracking your IP address at the top? A VPN (short for "virtual private network") works by encrypting your entire network connection and spoofing your IP address. Good VPN services - including the ones we mention below - have thousands of servers spread generously across the globe. Before turning on the VPN, you can choose which country's server you want to use. All of the online activity that you do when the VPN is turned on is encrypted and therefore completely anonymous - to the VPN company, hackers and even your ISP - which is why we always recommend using a VPN.

So, if you wanted to watch US Netflix in the UK, for example, you would use a VPN to tunnel your traffic to the US. The same kind of technique works in reverse, too, letting you choose to route your traffic via the UK when you're abroad and access any other local services.

Among all the VPNs we've tested, we rate ExpressVPN the best because it's the only VPN service that worked with all UK streaming services when last reviewed it. It's worth mentioning at this stage that streaming services and VPNs have a constant game of cat-and-mouse where one is trying to outsmart the other. That said, ExpressVPN has always found ways to stay one step ahead of the curve. In fact, their 24/7 customer support will even go so far as to tell you which server to use if you want to watch a specific UK channel from elsewhere.

READ NEXT: Best VPN service


We'll show you how to use ExpressVPN on Windows PC, Android, iOS, Chrome, and Firefox. The service has the fastest speeds and its strict no-logs policy, strong encryption, useful video tutorials and 24/7 customer support only enhance its stellar reputation. You can use it on five devices at the same time, or just install it on your router to access the VPN on all your home devices. ExpressVPN costs just £5 per month and you get three months free when you choose the 12-month plan. The service has a no-questions-asked 30-day money-back guarantee, so you really have nothing to lose by signing up and giving it a whirl.

Buy ExpressVPN now


How to watch UK TV abroad on a PC

Download and install the ExpressVPN PC client. If you don't see UK as your selected location when you open your PC, click the three-dot button, select United Kingdom, select one of the listed locations, then click the power button to turn on the VPN to geo-shift to your chosen location. Your PC will now route all your traffic through the UK.

Next, open up BBC iPlayer or another UK-based streaming service and you'll notice that you'll be able to access all of the content as if you were browsing from the UK. If you can't access it, simply try another location in the United Kingdom, or contact ExpressVPN's 24/7 online customer support who will tell you what you're doing wrong.

How to watch UK TV abroad on your phone or tablet

If you want to watch UK TV from your phone or tablet, then you'll need to install the separate ExpressVPN app from the Google Play Store or Apple App Store. Don't worry, one VPN subscription can be used on five devices at the same time. Log in to the app using your ExpressVPN account details when prompted, then connect to a UK location in the same way you did on your PC - by tapping the three-dot button. Once connected, you'll be able to access all of your UK websites and streaming services.

How to watch UK TV abroad in your browser

ExpressVPN also has extensions for Chrome and Firefox. To install it, click the three lines at the top left of the PC client, click Options in the menu that appears, then click the Browsers tab, then click the Get Browser Extension button. You'll be directed to the relevant extension page from where you can install it on your default browser. Follow the onscreen prompts to install it, then open the browser extension, click Choose Location, select United Kingdom and choose one of the available options. You can now visit any UK website to access its content.

We haven't had any problems using ExpressVPN. However, if you encounter a problem or just want general help about how to use to set up or use the service, then head to ExpressVPN page and click the green Live Chat button at the bottom right to speak to someone who will instantly answer your question. They will even tell you which location is the best one to use to access a specific website, or watch a particular movie, or TV series. If neither of these work, it's also the place where you can ask for your money back.

Buy ExpressVPN now


Other VPN services that let you watch UK TV abroad

Even though there are many VPN services, not all of them let you watch UK TV abroad. Two other VPN services that we can confidently say unblock most (but not all) UK TV and streaming websites are NordVPN and Surfshark VPN. Both VPN services are cheaper than ExpressVPN, though not necessarily as fast, based on our latest test results. However, if you have a good internet connection (at least 50MBPS), this shouldn't be a problem.

NordVPN: Our second-best VPN shares many of the same features as ExpressVPN, including thousands of servers spread generously across the globe, an independent audit, usage on six devices at the same time, 24/7 customer support policy and a 30-day moneyback guarantee. Its PC client has a nice map-based interface, from which you can choose the UK, then simply browse the web as you would normally to access the best content that UK TV has to offer.

Buy NordVPN now


Surfshark VPN: Surfshark VPN is one of the newer VPNs on the block, but it's also the cheapest and one subscription covers unlimited devices - something that none of our other top VPNs offer. Following a recent update, Surfshark now lets you access a variety of British streaming services, including BBC iPlayer, Sky Go and even Disney Plus UK when you're outside the country.

Buy Surfshark VPN now


How to watch UK TV abroad: Live TV

To watch live UK TV from anywhere in the world using your web browser, without installing any software or browser plugins, simply head to TVPlayer. This useful website lets you instantly live stream a variety of different free-to-air channels, including BBC One, BBC Two, BBC News and CBBC, ITV1, Channel 4, E4, Channel 5 and a host of other Freeview channels.

You can try the service for free by creating an account, but if you like it, then it's worth subscribing to the Premium service because doing this unlocks many different features, including no adverts, HD broadcasts, catch up TV, the ability to stream on any two devices simultaneously, and even stream content from your device to your TV using a Chromecast.

The premium service costs £6.99 per month or £69.90 per year and the latter plan gives you two months free. Both plans give you unlimited access to over 25 Premium channels, apart from all the free-to-air channels. This is much cheaper than watching TV at home because - as you may have heard by now - the annual UK TV License fee is now £157.50.

Another website that provides similar functionality is FilmonTV. This works using flash video embedding but it also has a mobile site for tuning in on a tablet or smartphone. Unfortunately, broadcasts are only available for free in standard definition, and the legality of paying to watch in HD is shady at best. Picture and sound quality isn't fantastic either, but it certainly beats missing an important football match or news bulletin.

It's a shame that FilmOn TV only has a limited selection of channels, which means you'll have to look elsewhere for TV broadcasts. But if you're able to install a plugin or two there's nothing stopping you from using familiar websites like iPlayer, 4OD and ITV Player.


Read more

Tutorials