How to Watch UK TV in Canada – Watching BBC iPlayer and UK TV Abroad

Last Updated on November 3, 2023

How to Watch British TV In Canada

This posts simply describes how to watch UK TV in Canada. If you read you’ll discover how to change your IP address from a Canadian one to a British address with very little effort. It’s being posted in response to a plea from a group of my friends who are having a great time studying in Montreal for a year but are missing their favorite British TV programmes which they thought they could watch online.

If you don’t want to read the whole post just grab a subscription for NordVPN which is definitely the best VPN to watch BBC iPlayer (they have a money back guarantee) so you can try it out first –

Check out their latest discounts here.

Why Can’t I Watch British TV Channels ?

There’s many countries where you can see the effects of the increasing use of geo-restrictions on the internet. However it’s usually more evident in countries where there’s long borders and many mutual links. It’s seems strange that your complete online experience can change simply by travelling a few miles across a geographic border but unfortunately that’s the case. So if you sit in the USA and logon to your computer you can watch lots of US TV stations, listen to sites like Pandora and download movies from Hulu. Drive north over the Canadian border and you’ll suddenly lose all that as your Canadian IP address is blocked from all these sites.

How to Watch UK TV in Canada

Of course, the exact same thing happens if you fly over from the UK – your laptop may be full of links and applications to watch all the UK TV stations and streaming services but when you step onto Canadian soil and login they’ll stop working. Of course all this works in the opposite direction too, a Canadian IP address will allow you access to Canada TV shows and web sites. It’s extremely infuriating though, suddenly the global internet is reduced and split up on pointless geographical borders. Instead of a worldwide source of knowledge the web is becoming segregated and compartmentalized based on your physical location.

There are two options, you can accept this state of affairs and watch what you’re ‘supposed’ to. Or you can take back control, and watch whatever you like, whenever you like irrespective of where you happen to be. Before my friends ask yes, that does include watching Match of the Day on a Saturday night in Montreal or enjoy the latest Dr Who when it’s broadcast live.

How to Watch BBC iPlayer in Canada

The scenario is this, you’re somewhere in Canada but want to watch some of the best TV that the BBC has to offer. It shouldn’t really be an issue after all we live in a digitally connected world and the BBC has one of the best media sites on the internet. On the site you can watch any programme it broadcasts over the 9 channels live and also watch them for up to three months from the archive section. For many people in the UK, they don’t watch anything else – the BBC has so much content including drama, science, news, comedy and politics and lots in between. Yet because your IP address is deemed to have a nationality, it will all be blocked. A huge repository of some of the world’s best TV programmes potentially available for free is denied simply because you happen to be in a different country.

Fortunately there is a solution, and it’s a pretty easy one – just watch this brief video for a demonstration.

Watching BBC iPlayer in Canada Using NordVPN

The trick is that although you cannot actually change your IP address, you can hide it using a VPN connection. When you connect to a VPN or proxy server first, any website you visit will only see the IP address of the server not your real address. So if you have access to a VPN service like Identity Cloaker, then you can effectively change your address at will. Simply click on the connect button and the country you want and all your traffic will be routed through that server. Remember it’s a security program primarily so you’re completely hidden and your data protected too. For the BBC you will be asked if you have a TV license, but there are no actually checks of any kind.

So if you choose a UK server, then you will effectively have a British IP address. Whilst connected all the UK TV channels will work perfectly because they will be only aware of the IP address of the VPN server. So not only will you be able to access the BBC iPlayer but you can access the ITV Hub, Channel 4 and Channel 5. You can Watch Match of the Day, the BBC or ITV news at Ten or whatever you like. If you’re missing the Premiership Football you can even sign on to Sky Go and get Sky Sports or the BT media site and watch those live too, although you will still need to subscribe to those services too.

Why Can’t it be Free for me to Watch ITV in Canada ?

Now there is a cost to these services, the VPN providers obviously need to pay support staff, bandwidth and server charges but they’re not excessive. Relative to most countries they’re only a small proportion of the average cable or satellite package. Indeed our favorite service is called NordVPN and is little more than the cost of a coffee and sandwich a month. You get the VPN client and unlimited access to their huge global server network. However there are other advantages to using a service like this beyond just being able to watch British TV online.

Not only do you open up access to UK sites, you can also click on other servers based in different countries. For example a Canadian resident can click on a French server and suddenly open up all sorts of French only Online TV channels. For example enjoy the M6 Replay site which is packed full of French language programmes and shows of the highest quality. It’s also great for keeping up with French and European news if you’re from France or have connections there. Click on a US server and you can access all the US only sites like ABC, NBC, Hulu and literally hundreds of others which are only accessible normally from the USA.

canada bbc access - e.g Montreal

Security via a VPN

For many of us a VPN service is simply an essential internet tool that we use almost everyday.  Not only do they help you bypass the myriad of blocks and filters that are appearing online, they also keep your data and credentials safe. If you frequently use unknown or unsecured wireless connections when travelling then your data is at huge risk. A VPN encrypts everything including all your accounts, logins, emails and passwords protecting them all.

Although not specifically designed this purpose, often the best VPNs for watching TV are those which primarily focus on the security aspect of the services.  Ensuring the connection is private, secure and confidential goes a long way to ensuring that they can’t be blocked either. Speed, security and reliability are as important for security and watching British TV online too!

The best VPNs are fast, secure and extremely easy to use. They offer security and a gateway to servers in countries all across the world.

Is BBC iPlayer Detecting VPN Services?

For years, pretty much any VPN or proxy server would be enough to watch sites like the BBC from Canada. However this has changed greatly in the last few years. Sites like the BBC now actively try and restrict access to people using VPNs, it’s not surprising as literally millions of people access their site from all over the world use them.  Although, they are not able to detect a well configured VPN service directly they can identify when too many connection originate from the same source.

This is the problem with many of the VPN services, they overload servers which are then easy to detect. When a single IP address is being used by thousands of customers who are all streaming from the BBC iPlayer site – it’s fairly obvious that the address is a VPN or proxy server. Keeping the number down on each address is difficult to do and significantly increases the costs to any VPN service. Many simply don’t bother to maintain access which is why the vast majority no longer work with BBC iPlayer.

BBC/ITV Optimized VPN Servers

For the VPN service providers, it costs a huge amount of time and effort to maintain access to sites like the BBC for users outside the UK. One option that makes it more manageable is to focus on maintaining access to specific servers. This significantly reduces the resources required ensuring that specified servers are able to stream easily. A couple of the VPN providers have started doing this now with excellent results from most streaming devices.

Here are the NORDVPN servers optimized for accessing UK Television sites like BBC iPlayerUK# 1840-1847, 1850-1863, 1865, 1869, 1873, 1875-1878, 1880-1881, 1900-1901, 1903-1904, 1911, 1913, 1917, 1919-1920.

Create Accounts on Each Streaming Site

Most of the best UK streaming sites now require that you create an account before watching anything. This is certainly true for the two biggest sites – BBC iPlayer and ITVX but it’s nothing to worry about.

If you don’t have an account already, here’s the important points to remember –

  1. Connect your VPN service to a UK server before starting browser.
  2. You’ll need an email address that works (don’t worry where it’s registered)
  3. You’ll need a UK postcode (any valid one will do)
  4. You may be asked if you have a TV license (say yes there’s no check)
  5. You’ll be asked your age – don’t put too young or you’ll be stuck with kids shows!

There’s nothing to it and the accounts are primarily used to remember your viewing preferences and what you’ve watched. Unlike many Canadian media sites which ask for Cable customer numbers and other details there’s no problem with creating UK accounts. Just ensure your postcode is actually from a real place and follow the instructions – it takes two minutes.

BBC registration page

ITVX registration page

Check Access to Streaming Service

It’s just a matter of selecting a professional secure VPN service which closely monitors the load on each server.  However, there’s only one way to be sure that you can access a particular UK TV streaming site and that’s by trying it out.

My favorite service has been working without interruption to enjoy BBC iPlayer in Canada or anywhere in the world for more than a decade. It also works fine with all the other UK television streaming sites like ITVX (new ITV online channels) and Channels 4 and 5. However importantly, it’s also got a 30 day money back guarantee which allows you to check for yourself. Test it out and you’ll see how well it works.

Check out the Latest NordVPN Discounts Here.