Can I Watch BBC iPlayer in the Netherlands?
This page has been updated in January 2023 to ensure it’s still correct, the method detailed below was retested using NordVPN which still works fine. Here’s the discounted deal that I used – Nord VPN Discount Page.
Watching BBC One and iPlayer Outside the UK
Like many other UK streaming service websites, you’ll find online, there’s a bit of a problem if you want to watch BBC iPlayer outside the UK. Like all the other major broadcasters around the world, they restrict access to their domestic market. So, although the BBC iPlayer site is entirely free of charge, it stops working the minute you step outside the United Kingdom.
How does the BBC Know?
So, what’s going on? How does BBC iPlayer know where you are located? Is there something you can do about it you want to watch the BBC News live or enjoy Match of the Day in the Netherlands for example? Why does a simple, inexpensive service allow you to watch whatever you want from anywhere in the world?
Well, there certainly is, but before we see the options let’s check what happens if you do try and access BBC iPlayer – this is what happens from Rotterdam.
First of all, you’ll actually have trouble even getting to the BBC iPlayer site as you’ll be automatically redirected to the ‘International’ version of the BBC site. This is similar to the domestic version however doesn’t contain any of the media streaming services of the main site. You can visit the BBC iPlayer page directly but if you try and stream any of the programs or TV channels then you’ll see the error message illustrated above.
BBC Sees a Dutch IP Address
What happens is that the moment you try and access the BBC iPlayer site then your IP address is checked. More specifically it checks the location that the IP address is registered from. So, from Rotterdam, Holland you’d obviously have a Netherlands registered address. This means that you’ll be redirected to the international version, great for news and information but no options to watch the BBC programmes we all love.
Geo-blocking happens everywhere!
It’s not just from the Netherlands. This isn’t some evil Brexit inspired sabotage by the BBC, it happens everywhere in the world. To be fair not just by the BBC channels either, virtually every large broadcaster restricts access to their domestic market too including all the stations in the Netherlands too.
This is obviously frustrating for all of those who love channels like BBC One and even if you pay your TV licence are restricted from watching the BBC and other UK channels like ITV Hub from outside the UK. So, are all the live Television stations and archived shows like Fawlty Towers, yes Minister and Doctor Who plus thousands of radio shows denied us from outside the UK?
How Anyone Can Watch British TV in the Netherlands?
So, how’s it done? How can you bypass these geo restrictions and enjoy the wonderful, high-quality BBC iPlayer from anywhere in the world? Well, it’s actually fairly easy to do and in fact thousands (if not millions) of people access the BBC from all over the world by quietly sidestepping these restrictions.
The secret is to take control of your IP address and make sure that when you access BBC iPlayer it sees a British IP address instead of your real one. Now potentially this sounds kind of complicated but in reality, it’s actually quite simple. It used to be done using something called a proxy server, but these no longer work. What you need now is to hide your real IP address by using something called a VPN service which can do just that.
Use a VPN to Watch BBC One Anywhere
Here’s a simple demonstration of how anyone can use VPN services which have servers located in the UK.
Make sure you check the VPN works with the BBC first preferably use one with a money-back-guarantee. Not all VPNs work with the British TV channels and of course you’ll need a fast downloading speed to stream high definition TV.
Enjoy Other British TV Channels too
You’ll be able to watch UK TV anywhere you travel – Netherlands, Germany, USA or the far east as long as the VPN server is British based. As well as being able to watch the BBC you’ll also be able to access any other UK site like Channel 4 and ITV Hub without issues too. All of this is possible using an inexpensive subscription to a VPN provider and your existing internet connection from the Netherlands or wherever!
What are the Best Dutch TV Channels in Netherlands
Here’s a quick rundown of the most popular, all of them are available online in Netherlands too. If you want to watch from outside the Netherlands then simply connect your VPN to a Dutch server instead.
- NPO 1: A popular public broadcaster that offers a wide range of programming, including news, sports, entertainment, and documentaries.
- RTL 4: Great commercial channel for younger audience that focuses on entertainment, with a mix of reality shows, dramas, and comedies.
- SBS 6: Another commercial television channel that offers a variety of programming, including reality shows, dramas, and news programs.
- NPO 2: A public broadcaster that focuses on current affairs, culture, and documentaries.
- RTL 5: A commercial channel that offers a mix of reality shows, dramas, and comedies.
- NPO 3: A public broadcaster that focuses on youth-oriented programming, including documentaries, dramas, and comedies.
- RTL 7: A commercial channel that focuses on sports, including coverage of football and other sports.
- RTL 8: A commercial channel that focuses on Dutch and international dramas, comedies and documentaries.
- Net 5: A commercial channel that offers a mix of dramas, reality shows, comedies and lifestyle programming.
- Veronica: A commercial channel that focuses on entertainment and reality shows, with a mix of dramas, comedies and documentaries.
These are probably the most popular channels, however obviously these could change over time.
BBC Registration and User Accounts
Since 2021, you’ll find that to use the BBC iPlayer to stream video you’ll need a user account. There’s no charge for this and it’s easy to set up but it can worry people who are trying to watch from outside the UK.
It’s quite simple though and only takes a couple of minutes. There’s only a couple of things to remember –
Enable UK VPN Before Registering
Before you visit the registration page here – https://bbc.co.uk/register make sure that you’ve enabled your VPN and connected to a UK server. If you don’t then you won’t be able to register an account at all.
Ensure you have an Email Address
You’ll need a valid email address to create an account. It doesn’t matter where it’s from or anything like that – as long as you can verify the account from it you’ll be fine.
Questions – Age, Postcode
You’ll be asked about age, make sure you put over 13 or your TV choices will be severely restricted. They will also ask for your postcode. There’s no need to worry about this – there’s no address check performed. You just need to ensure that the postcode you enter is a real, valid one that exists. Pick any UK address anywhere and copy the postcode – here’s a few from Manchester – M1 1AF, M1 1AG,M1 1AH
It doesn’t really matter where you pick although the local news will be linked to the area you select.
UK TV License – No Problem
If you’re outside the United Kingdom, then you probably won’t have a British TV license unless you’re on holiday, travelling or possibly an ex-pat. This is because unfortunately you can’t actually buy a UK TV licence outside the UK.
You will be asked if you have a TV license during the registration and often before streaming shows online. If you want to continue watching then you need to say YES I have a UK TV licence! Any other answer will stop the site working.
Again, though it’s nothing to worry about – there’s no check or license number verification. If you say YES then everything will work fine as long as you have a valid UK VPN connection.
Don’t Stop There – Try TV from Different Countries Too
Many of us initially were slightly aggrieved at having to pay for a VPN subscription to watch BBC iPlayer shows. It was especially annoying if you were just travelling and had paid the UK TV licence fee anyway. However, it perhaps to under appreciates the value and usefulness of a connection protected by a virtual private network.
Most of the decent tier 1 VPN providers don’t just supply VPN servers in a couple of different countries. The best ones typically cover dozens of locations all over the world. Indeed, my favourite VPN company NORDVPN has over 5000 servers in 59 different locations across the world including Australia – all of which are accessible through the standard subscription.
Watch US TV, Canadian, German, French TV or Anywhere !
Imagine this means you can adopt any of these locations on any device as your own with just a click of a button. Online you can watch TV sites from most developed countries, if you’re lucky enough to speak more than one language it opens up loads of possibilities. You don’t need to worry about blocks or broadcast rights because you can switch your location whenever needed.
For example, I can only speak English but I’m learning French (and Dutch obviously). So, I often watch familiar shows on the French TV stations online. I just click a French VPN and I can enjoy M6 Play, a large French broadcaster who stream loads of English movies and TV shows online. They’re generally English with French subtitles or sometimes dubbed into French. Either way it’s really useful to help develop vocabulary and learn a new language. I even try and watch the French native shows but usually lose track! So, I can watch French domestic TV from anywhere in the world just using whatever internet connection I happen to be using.
FAQ – Additional
Here’s a few other questions we’ve got to this site in comments, emails etc. Thought we’d add them to this page in case they help anywhere.
How Can I Legally Watch BBC iPlayer Abroad?
There’s no way currently to buy a UK TV license outside the UK so you simply can’t watch if you play by the rules. However, don’t think that bypassing the restrictions is illegal because it isn’t! You’re just breaking the BBC’s terms and conditions for using BBC iPlayer. Mind you so are millions of others including virtually every retired British ex-pat anywhere in the planet!
Are VPNs Illegal ?
Absolutely not ! VPNs are used by millions all over the world every single day to secure their data and internet connection. Being able to bypass geo-blocks is just a rather useful benefit. Most companies install VPNs as standard on their corporate laptops to ensure their user’s details are safe when working over the internet.
The only places where VPNs may be illegal include North Korean and China. However plenty of people still use them there too.
iPlayer with VPN Service – Do They All Work?
Not all VPNs work with BBC iPlayer in 2023, unfortunately. In fact the majority don’t anymore as the BBC now actively try and block this workaround. It’s why it’s important to ensure that your chosen VPN is not blocked.
Can I Watch BBC One Live using NordVPN?
All the BBC channels stream live on BBC iPlayer and you can watch them from the website or install the application. Not all stream 24 hours a day though, for example BBC 2 broadcasts most of the day although the early morning usually consists of a highlights programme.
Can I Stream BBC 2 Live on iPLayer?
Yes, the BBC 2 channel is normally available 24 hours a day and is accessible from the BBC iPlayer home page or channel guide. You must have a BBC account (see above) and a valid UK VPN connection if outside the UK.