Can I Watch BBC iPlayer in Spain – Yes and ITV X, Channel 4 Too!

Last Updated on September 13, 2023

You Can Enjoy ITVX, Channel 4 and Watch BBC iPlayer in Spain

You probably know that you can’t normally watch BBC iPlayer in Spain or any of the other UK TV channels over the internet. Many English speaking people discover this fact very quickly after arriving in Spain. In fact it’s the same with all the major UK TV streaming services – none of them work abroad.

Unfortunately every major streaming service – BBC iPlayer, ITV, Channel 4 and Channel 5 all do exactly the same.  However don’t worry, as you may have suspected, there’s a simple method to bypass these blocks. So if you want to watch ITVX in Spain to keep up to date with Downton Abbey or Coronation Street, or just want to enjoy BBC iPlayer abroad read on.

watch BBC in Spain

Why You Can’t Watch the BBC Abroad

The reason you can’t watch BBC One or any of the other UK TV sites is that they’re restricted to the UK.  Each of these sites check your location by looking up where your IP address is registered to. All the major British TV sites only allow access to people physically located in Britain to stream BBC iPlayer. The other TV channels are restricted in the same way – ITV Hub, Channel 4 including all the archives and even live TV are blocked in Spain . They don’t have some high tech surveillance system in place though, they are simply looking up where your IP address is registered.

Geo-Targeting your IP Address

Unfortunately this is how your identity is effectively decided online – by checking the location you’re logging in from. It seems unimportant until you start to see how much of the internet is actually restricted based on your physical location.  A UK TV licence holder would probably presume that they can watch online from anywhere in the world, but unfortunately it’s not true. The moment you leave the United Kingdom and land at somewhere like the Costa Del Sol, your access to UK TV abroad is revoked!

Even expensive subscription channels like Sky Go disappear when you arrive in Spain or anywhere else outside the UK for that matter.  It’s called geo-targeting or geo-blocking and is the same technology which many sites use to determine what you see (or cannot see).


watch UK TV abroad

Use this VPN for Full Access to UK TV From Spain

Not Just Access to Streaming Sites

It’s exactly the same technology that Google uses when you use their search page. Ever wondered how your search queries are always weighted to your location? So if you search for something like electricians or takeaways then you’ll primarily get local ones automatically.

So sometimes of course, geo-targeting is actually very useful. Like in those circumstances where it tailors your results to match your location. However this method is increasingly being used to deny or filter access to resources based on your location too. For instance most of the world’s largest streaming service providers like Netflix Prime Video and TV broadcasters use this to ensure that only certain people can watch their sites.

These Blocks are a Global Issue Not Just UK TV

For example, here’s what happens if I try and watch some of the free shows and TV programmes on ABC  – the American TV network from outside the USA.

bbc in spain

So when I connect ABC looks at my network address, checks where it’s registered  If it isn’t in the USA then I’ll get this message and nothing will work. The same thing happens for French sites, Spanish sites and of course the main subject of this post the BBC.  Basically you won’t be able to watch British TV and will get a similar message when trying to access BBC iPlayer.

Most media sites allow access to their domestic users and then block viewers from all other countries. All the UK channels do this, there are some variations of course, some sites will allow partial free access to domestic users and full access to paying customers. This largely depends on who owns the rights to the television programmes and whether it’s a commercial station or not.

Access to the BBC, ITV and Channel 4

The BBC is a national broadcaster and puts no restrictions on anyone watching from within the UK apart from purchasing a TV license. The only check for online access is a prompt to confirm if you have a TV licence or not, the first time you log on. However there’s no checks or enforcement on this at all i.e. if you just say yes everything will work fine.  However this confirmation is immaterial if it is detected that your connection originates outside the UK as you’ll be blocked and redirected to an international version which has no access UK TV, radio or films.

UK TV Licence
Just Say I Have a TV Licence !

There’s actually no way of purchasing a UK TV licence from outside Britain, so there’s nothing you can do unless you have a residence in the UK.

Many people feel aggrieved about this inability to watch UK TV abroad. The UK holiday makers who pay their license, the expats who have paid for decades, the anglophiles who love the BBC but only have access to expensive inferior copies like Britbox or BBC America. Even the internet only TV services like BBC Four is restricted although you can access some of the radio shows. All of these and many other groups would relish the chance to receive UK TV channels over the internet – specifically for channels like BBC and ITV.

So How Can I Watch BBC in Spain? Plus All the UK Television Channels

So basically in order if you want to know how to watch UK TV in Spain or anywhere outside the UK you need to change your IP address. Unfortunately this isn’t possible whilst remaining connected to the internet. So instead you have to hide your real address and supply one that is based in the United Kingdom. The solution is available for everyone – simply use a VPN (virtual Private network).

With this ability you can forget about paying for cut down versions or patiently awaiting an overpriced BBC iPlayer app for international audiences. Yes you can stream UK TV over the internet without messing around with satellite TV, specially configured set top box systems or illegal internet TV stations.

It sounds complicated but it really isn’t – here’s a video showing the process of using a VPN service to access your favourite entertainment sites.

Just use a VPN service and all your access problems will be solved!

With a British Network Address – Watch All UK TV Channels

So with a UK IP address then you can watch any UK only websites including BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and 5 etc. If you have a Sky account you can use it to watch the Sky Go application online too – you don’t need that expensive satellite TV system honestly.  It’s simple to use, extremely discrete (your connection is completely anonymised) as the primary use of this program is to encrypt your connection to keep it safe from hackers and Identity thieves (oh and the NSA and MI5 snoopers!).

Just bounce your internet connection through a server based in the UK (or whichever country you need) and all the major streaming services will work perfectly. Say goodbye to all the geo restrictions and you can enjoy Coronation Street on the beach or by the pool.

Create Accounts as Required

Most of the UK TV streaming sites will ask you to create an account before you use them. It’s not a problem though and you can use any valid email address to register. They don’t do any other checks other than sometimes asking for your post code, when creating your account. Don’t worry though just use any valid UK postal code then connect through your chosen VPN server and it will work perfectly.

There are lots of these VPN services available on all sorts of platforms. The one demonstrated above is called NordVPN which I personally have used for years, mainly to use BBC iPlayer outside of the UK.  It works on almost every device and has the best connections speeds – essential if you want to stream in HD or above.

You can install on all your devices including phones, tablets and computers. Unlike most VPN services NordVPN has apps for most devices. Each subscription gives access to thousands of IP addresses in countries all over the world. You can install on up to six devices so you an stream and protect your data wherever you go.

If you want to unblock BBC iPlayer, all the UK TV stations and indeed media sites across the world then you absolutely do need a VPN (Virtual Private Network) service. Unfortunately the days of simply using a free proxy from the internet to watch one BBC or BBC Two channel are long gone. The vast majority of media sites are able to and actively block simple proxies. The simple fact is that a proxy server can be detected quite easily and most sites will block access, but they can’t actually detect VPN servers.

Pick the Best VPN and Unlock Everything

Not surprisingly most media sites have made efforts to block these circumvention tools. As mentioned proxies are now virtually useless, and in fact sites like the BBC have also blocked many of the VPN providers too. Although they can’t detect the VPN connection itself, they can identify when too many connections originate from the same source. So those providers who overload their servers in order to slash prices don’t really work. You might see posts online saying that BBC iPlayer not working through VPN services but it’s not actually true. What’s happening is those low quality providers are getting caught and their servers blocked.

Don’t worry though, there are still many VPN services that still work without problem and you don’t need set top boxes, Mag Boxes or the services of a satellite TV installer or anything. Mostly the best VPNs are proper security companies who ensure their servers are not overloaded or detected and connected via decent fibre optic connections. They’re still relatively inexpensive and the best will have lots of servers in different locations. Remember though the BBC needs to be accessed from a UK server!

Watch ITVX in Spain Too

If you use a VPN to access the BBC iPlayer then you might as  well create an ITV account too.  Using the VPN to be access a BBC ITV Player gives you double the benefits!  The same servers will allow you access to ITV’s site in exactly the same way as the BBC. Simply enable the VPN, connect to a VPN server in the UK and create an account. You only need to do this once, afterwards you can log in automatically. Remember you’ll always need to connect to a UK VPN server first if you’re outside the UK.  bbc itv player

There is a premium version which you can pay to get rid of the advertisements. It’s not very expensive but I’m not sure if it’s worth the expense. You will need a UK bank account or credit card to subscribe though. The ordinary version is perfectly acceptable though and the advertisements are not too bad.

Try Watching Channel 4 in Spain

You might not have previously watched Channel 4 but it’s well worth trying out. Again the website – All 4 is completely free to use as long as you register. The site does have adverts within the programs as it’s technically a commercial TV channel. They’re not too intrusive though, if you install an ad blocker you’ll have problems using the site.

There’s some great shows in their archive including some brilliant comedies like the wonderful Derry Girls.

We Recommend Nord VPN for Watching BBC iPlayer and ITV Hub in Spain

So here’s our favourite – a VPN service used across the world by millions of people. Importantly though they have special servers optimized for use with UK Televisions sites like the BBC. These have been working for over ten years for people to watch UK TV in Spain without the need for a satellite dish. If you’re on a business trip or a short holiday then just use the shorter subscriptions

It’s perfect to watch the BBC in Spain in 2023

NordVPN Latest Discounts

It’s easily the most reliable VPN for accessing BBC iPlayer and probably the most secure. If you want to use different devices, stream on your phone etc then it’s definitely the market leader – NordVPN.

8 thoughts on “Can I Watch BBC iPlayer in Spain – Yes and ITV X, Channel 4 Too!”

  1. Thanks for this, I want to install on my smartphone and iPad and watch the BBC from the costa del sol. Would this work for me, I’m not that technical but am pretty good on my Smartphone? Should I go for Identity Cloaker or the other VPN you mentioned. I do have some problems with streaming speeds at my home if that’s relevant.

    • HI Shaw, Either would work, Identity Cloaker is fast and reliable but the software is a PC version. You can enable your VPN manually on other devices and it’s not hard to do but you don’t get any of the main security features, they’re tech advisor will help you if you get stuck.

      However if you’re going to use on mobile devices a lot, then NordVPN may be a better option. They have apps for all devices and you can install them directly. Make sure you use the BBC optimized servers though as some others are often blocked by the BBC.

  2. If I use a VPN on my phone will the internet traffic count against my data allowance? I would mainly use at home of through a wifi hotspot.

    • yes it will count against your normal data allowance, a VPN will use whatever connection you have available. Better to stream through an ordinary connection through your internet service provider if possible.

  3. So will it let me watch the Rugby Semi Finals on this weekend? Just to clarify these are on in October 2019 and on ITV not BBC1? I’m in Tenerife and have a laptop which appears to have a Spanish IP address. Thx

    • Hi Craig, Yes it will definitely work!!! what I normally advise people to do is to try the ten day trial first to make sure it works ok. Lots of the VPNs try and railroad you into 3 year subscriptions with super cheap deals before you’ve tested them properly !! The trial is enough for you to get it working quickly and test it out plus it will cover the final too.

        So get the trial.

      1. Install Identity Cloaker.
      2. Click on a UK server.
      3. Visit the ITV HUb Sign up page - (put in a UK postcode).

      Then you can enjoy all the archived Rugby matches and be ready for the live matches (come on Wales)
      Give me a shout here if you have any problems.

  4. So could I watch the BBC Olympic coverage from Rio with this? Slight complication, only have access to a work laptop which I don’t want to install anything on – any suggestions?

    • Yep no problem, either watch the recorded stuff on BBC iPlayer or to watch it live just go to the BBC website after you’ve connected to a UK server. It works on most platforms – for a work laptop just copy the mobile version from the members area, you can run this directly from a USB stick it does’t install anything and works the same.


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