The UK offers some of the best free content of any country in the world. Between the BBC serving shows such as Sherlock and MasterChef to UK-exclusive media such as Channel 4, there are a lot of reasons why you’d want to appear as if you’re in the UK. Of course, buying a plane ticket isn’t the only way to stream everything Britain has to offer.
In this guide on how to get a British IP address, we’re going to show you a workaround for accessing all the content the UK has to offer. Over the course of this guide, we’ll also discuss the differences between the different IP address masking methods, as well as the dangers of using a UK IP address.
If all you’re concerned with is streaming, you can skip the reading and check out our best VPN for BBC iPlayer and best VPN for Netflix guides. Virtual private networks are the only real solution for unlocking the exclusive content in the UK, and our picks in those guides will ensure that you’re binging in no time.
How to Get a UK IP Address
The simplest way to get a UK IP address is to use a proxy. A proxy routes your traffic through another server before sending it to the open web, effectively masking your source IP address and location. That said, your connection won’t be secured, and that’s true for even our best free proxy. Though simple detection systems may buy the trick you’re playing, route tracing can identify that you’re using a proxy.
That’s because of a lack of encryption. Your connection only uses the encryption it brings along, meaning the proxy does nothing to help your security. If someone can trace your route through the proxy server, they can identify who you are. Plus, there’s no shortage of malware-filled proxy servers that are only online for the sake of cybercrime.
Our VPN vs. proxy vs. Tor piece does a good job explaining the specifics, but, in short, a proxy is usually the worst solution for obtaining an IP address in another location. A much better solution is a VPN. If you’re unaware how VPNs work, make sure to read our what is a VPN guide.
Put simply, a VPN works like a proxy, passing your traffic through another server before sending it to the open internet. The difference is that your initial connection to the remote server is encrypted, meaning the data is unreadable unless decrypted (read our description of encryption for the details).
That way, a VPN acts like a block that only allows your traffic through. Route tracing can still be used to trace back to the VPN server, but it can’t be used to identify you. Your traffic can move on to the open web, but anyone trying to go through the VPN server the other way can’t see where you’re tunneling from.
That’s more important than it seems. Many streaming platforms have some sort of VPN ban (read our guide on how to beat the Netflix VPN ban). The streaming platform will use a combination of a blacklist and route tracing to try to identify if you’re using a proxy. Though that’s sometimes successful with a VPN, it’s much less likely.
Though our reviewed VPNs include around 50 options to choose from, we’re going to recommend the providers in our best VPN guide that have a presence in the UK and, more importantly, can break into BBC iPlayer.
ExpressVPN has seven locations in the UK, which is the highest number of locations it has in a country outside of the U.S. With the exceptions of Kent and Wembley, all locations support its VPN protocols, too. It’s a perfect choice for a UK IP address, especially if you’re new to VPNs. Learn more in our ExpressVPN review or try it yourself with its 30-day money-back guarantee.
With the exception of HideMyAss (read our HideMyAss review), NordVPN has the greatest number of servers of any VPN we’ve tested. Plus, it allows you to select the individual server you want to use, adding a level of specificity that few providers offer.
It offers around 700 servers in the UK, many of which are specialty servers. One of NordVPN’s best features is its range of specialty servers. In the UK, you get peer-to-peer servers, obfuscated packets, dedicated IP addresses and Double VPN. You can learn more about what each does in our NordVPN review or see how you like it with its 30-day money-back guarantee.
CyberGhost isn’t the fastest VPN around, but it is one of the best. With a solid interface, impressive range of features and low price, it’s the best value option for getting a UK IP address. Its speeds aren’t too bad, either. If you’re looking to, say, stream Netflix in 4K, though, you’ll be better off with ExpressVPN.
With your subscription, you also get access to CyberGhost’s streaming servers. Instead of general servers set aside for streaming, CyberGhost has around 50 locations each optimized for a different platform. In the UK, there are servers for BBC iPlayer and Channel 4. Learn more about those in our CyberGhost review or try it yourself with its 45-day money-back guarantee.
Dangers of Using a UK IP Address
Though Europe as a whole has benefited from the General Data Protection Regulation, the UK isn’t without concern. It adopted the Data Protection Act, which has many of the provisions of GDPR, and though that means companies should handle your data better, it doesn’t mean that they’re not still logging it. Read our best VPN for UK guide for more on this.
Privacy is a key focus when using a VPN, and responsible data collection is still data collection. By using a VPN, you’re encrypting your traffic and masking your IP address, meaning that no company can log your information. As long as you’re using the right privacy tools (read our 99 free tools to protect your privacy guide), you should be incognito online.
There’s the government issue, too. At the time of writing, the UK is considering a UK-wide age block on pornography. Though the specifics haven’t been worked out, it would mean adult websites would require some verification process for accessing content. That could include uploading some form of identification or buying a pass in person to view adult content.
The main concern with that is how that data can be used. If a porn website is logging verification information, that means journalists can potentially find that information and use the access to websites or the preferences of the viewer against them. A VPN gets past that issue, though, so make sure you’re using our best VPN for porn if that’s a worry for you.
The main reason you’d want to get a UK IP address is for streaming, but any other reason you’d need one is fair game, too. A proxy may get you a UK IP address, but it won’t protect you in the process. With a VPN, not only will you appear as though you’re in the UK, you’ll protect your privacy and ensure you can bypass geoblocks.
If streaming is what you’re concerned with, though, be sure to check out our streaming archive. There, you’ll find the ways to watch the latest movies and TV shows online. In many cases, you’ll even be able to watch them for free.
How are you getting a UK IP address? Let us know in the comments below and, as always, thanks for reading.