Tuning into the BBC iPlayer or Netflix when you're overseas can be a challenge. The solution? A UK IP address
The UK has some of the most incredible content in the world spread across Britain and Ireland. In Britain, shows like Dr Who, Bodyguard, and Planet Earth fill content platforms like Netflix.
And Britain-exclusive content providers (ie, Channel 4, BBC, and so on) are consistently putting out fresh, original, and wholly British TV content. So, if you're someone who likes British television, movies, and media, finding ways to watch all of that content in the US can be... tricky.
If you try to stream it, you'll run into a region-lock that prevents you from even seeing that the content exists. That leaves you with the option of buying it outright (which can be expensive) or to take a turn down a dark alley towards torrenting — which can leave your IP exposed and force you to deal with strikes from your ISP.
Don't worry! All hope isn't lost. You don't need to buy a plane ticket, pay loads of cash, or subject yourself to risky torrents just to watch your favorite show — you just need to get a UK IP address.
So how do you get one? Let's take a look.
Why You Need a British IP Address
Without going into too much detail, copyright law is... strange. Since copyright law isn't universal (ie, every country has its own ‘version'), content creators can sell the rights to their content to unique entities in each country. So, while Netflix owns the rights to Dr Who in the UK, HBO owns those same rights in the US.
VPNs are simple to use, anonymise your data, and give you the flexibility to connect to servers in almost every country
This leads to disparities between content platforms in each country. In order to satisfy those copyright needs, streaming platforms like Netflix only allow IP addresses originating from a country to see the content of that country.
So, the easy answer to "why you need a British IP address" is that it allows you to see British content. But there are also other reasons you may need a British IP. You could be safeguarding your data by trying to appear as if you're from another country. Or you may be trying to score cheap plane tickets using geo-location pricing.
Either way, you need a British IP, right? So how do you get one?
Three Ways to Get a British IP Address
For starters, there is more than one way to get a British IP address. In fact, there are more than three. But these are the three easiest, safest, and most reliable methods — so we'll stick with these.
1. VPN (Best Option)
When it comes to simplicity, security, and speed, a virtual private network (VPN) is the best way to get a British IP address. Over one-quarter of all internet users connect to the internet via a VPN. But how do they work, and how can you use one to get a British IP address?
A VPN enables you to encrypt and ‘tunnel' your connection to a private server. So, let's say that you downloaded the VPN Surfshark. Once you installed the VPN software, you can pick-and-choose your server. If you wanted to watch content in the UK, you would choose a server in Britain. Once you've selected that server, your VPN will encrypt and route all of your traffic to that British server.
A proxy will definitely help you connect to British services with a British IP. Here's the problem — it doesn't mask your IP
So, next time you try to access Netflix, Netflix will assume you're from the UK — not whatever country you're in. VPNs are simple to use, anonymise your data, and give you the flexibility to connect to servers in almost every country.
2. Tor (the weak option)
When it comes to simplicity... Tor isn't your best bet. Onion routers are complicated to set up and utilize. For starters, you can't access Netflix on Tor — it's on the List Of Services Blocking Tor. Also, Tor is really slow. But, let's talk about it anyway.
Tor is an onion router that connects you to the internet using thousands of relay servers to mask your identity. And Tor is REALLY good at that latter part — masking identities. And if you put your end node as a British server, you could definitely appear to have a British IP. Of course, your connection would be slow, and many streaming services block Tor by default. So, it's definitely not the best way to go about streaming content. But if your purposes are outside of streaming, discovering how Tor works and setting up a Tor connection may be an option for you.
3. Proxy (the weakest option)
To be fully honest, a proxy is like a watered-down VPN. Here's the thing — a proxy will definitely help you connect to British services with a British IP. Here's the problem — it doesn't mask your IP. And that can leave you open to lawsuits, prying eyes, and plenty of security vulnerabilities.
Proxies work similarly to VPNs. You connect to a server somewhere else and send your traffic to that server. But that's where the similarities end. VPNs encrypt your entire network while proxies typically only encrypt a specific browser.
Also, proxies don't encrypt your data — which can leave you vulnerable. You should only consider a proxy if you can't afford a VPN (and VPNs are extremely cheap), or you simply need to connect to a British IP quickly and with no concern for safety and your security posture.
Considerations for Gaining a British IP Address
Statistics tell us that most of you will end up using a VPN to get your British IP address. There are easily more than 1,000 different VPN providers. So how do you know which one to choose? Here are three things you should look for:
- Does it have a server in the UK? This may seem obvious, but you have to make sure that the VPN company has a server in the UK. If they don't, you're not getting a British IP — it's that simple. You have to connect to a server in the country you're trying to get an IP from. This goes for any country.
- Does it have good encryption? You should be looking for AES-256 encryption and IKEv2 and TLS protocols from an OpenVPN server. That sentence may seem like an alien language, but it's crucial that you pay attention to the encryption process used by the VPN that you choose.
- Is the VPN reliable? There's a difference between security and reliability. Is the VPN speedy? Are the servers crowded? These are the types of questions you want to look for when you're choosing a VPN.
What Content Can You Unlock With A British IP Address?
Let's go over some of the content exclusive to British IPs through services like BBC iPlayer and Netflix. Remember, all of this content is readily available once you bypass region blocks. Having a British IP address is one of the easiest ways to bypass these blocks.
- BBC 1 (BBC iPlayer)
- BBC 2 (BBC iPlayer)
- BBC 3 (BBC iPlayer)
- BBC 4 (BBC iPlayer)
- Radio 1 (BBC iPlayer)
- CBBC (BBC iPlayer)
- CBeebies (BBC iPlayer)
- Scotland (BBC iPlayer)
- BBC News (BBC iPlayer)
- BBC Alba (BBC iPlayer)
- S4C (BBC iPlayer)
- Dr Who (Netflix in the UK)
- Star Trek Discovery (Netflix in the UK)
- Blackadder (Netflix in the UK)
- Orphan Black (Netflix in the UK)
- Fargo (Netflix in the UK)
- Brooklyn Nine-Nine (Netflix in the UK)
- Hannibal (Netflix in the UK)
- Rick and Morty (Netflix in the UK)
That's nowhere close to an exhaustive list. As you've probably noticed, it's not just British shows. Thousands of American television shows simply aren't available on Netflix in the US due to strange copyright laws. For consumers, this can be a serious headache. Why should people in the UK get to watch content, but not you? It seems a little... unfair, right?
Note: This list doesn't include the hundreds of other streaming services with region-blocked content. There is a massive amount of content available in the UK that is not available in the US.
There are plenty of reasons that someone would need a British IP. For most people, it's to bypass region blocks. Netflix and BBC iPlayer have some juicy content options that are extremely appealing to an American audience. But tapping into all of those shows requires a British IP address. Luckily, you can get a British IP address without flying all the way to the UK.
Twenty five per cent of the internet is already using a VPN. And many of them are using it to bypass region blocks
The three most common methods of getting British IPs are VPNs, Tor, and proxies. Of those, VPNs are the only consistent, safe, secure, and reliable option. Proxies don't provide the encryption protection you need to remain anonymous while browsing, and Tor is on Netflix's list of blocked services.
This leaves you with one option — VPNs. Luckily, you're not alone. Twenty five per cent of the internet is already using a VPN. And many of them are using it to bypass region blocks. You're a hop-and-a-skip away from unlocking the treasure trove of content available in the UK. From Dr Who to Star Trek Discovery and Brooklyn Nine-Nine, there are plenty of US and British shows begging to be consumed. Are you ready to meet the challenge?
Give VPNs a try! What do you have to lose?
Surfshark is a virtual private networking provider, rated 9/10 by VPNPro and described as "a solid multipurpose VPN" by VPNMentor, with servers in London, Glasgow and Manchester. To find out more, visit the Surfshark website