Whether you’re a resident in the UK permanently, here for a holiday, or living here temporarily for work or school, a VPN could be a huge asset to you. It will help you:
- Bypass geo-blocking
- Torrent securely
- Browse the web anonymously
Nowadays, there are hundreds of VPN providers out there all claiming to be the best VPN for the UK. To make things easier for you, we’ve put together our own list based on three simple criteria:
- How affordable the VPN is compared to its utility
- How well it keeps you anonymous and secure
- Whether it operates out of a privacy-friendly country
No time to read? Here are our best VPNs:
- Best security
- Top speeds
- SmartPlay to bypass geo-blocks
- No router app
NordVPN is another solid contender for the best VPN for the UK. Located in sunny Panama, NordVPN isn’t subject to surveillance from the 5, 9, or 14 Eyes, giving it a good foundation for keeping you private.
NordVPN continues its commitment to privacy by offering unique anonymity features. This VPN has two types of kill-switch and a DoubleVPN option that can route your connection through a second server if you ever need twice the privacy. It’s also a great choice for unblocking region-locked content. NordVPN’s specialized SmartPlay technology gives you access to Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, and hundreds of other streaming platforms without hurting performance.
For a deeper investigation of NordVPN, read our NordVPN review.
2. Surfshark VPN
British Virgin Islands (BVI)
- Great security
- Geo-unblcoking with Smart DNS
- Unlimited simultaneous connections
- Weak self-help support section
Surfshark VPN is the cheapest of the top VPNs, yet offers a lot of bang for your buck. Firstly, the service operates from the privacy-friendly location of the British Virgin Islands and has a strict no-logging policy.
This is also one of the fastest VPNs on the market, offering good geo-unblocking ability (including unblocking BBC iPlayer, albeit only via the browser extensions). Users in the UK will appreciate that Surfshark allows torrenting on all servers. Moreover, using this service you can get past the online censorship measures imposed on torrent websites.
Those concerned about their privacy in the UK have nothing to worry about with Surfshark: the service offers military-grade encryption, has no leaks, and boasts a great kill switch feature.
For a deeper investigation of Surfshark VPN, read our Surfshark VPN review.
- Great security
- Decent speeds
- User-friendly apps
- No anonymous payments
Next up is VyprVPN. This mid-priced VPN is based in Switzerland, a country with favorable privacy laws.
This provider offers above-average speeds, which should be enough for most streaming and torrenting needs. Plus, the VyprVPN apps are some of the easiest-to-use VPN clients available, making it a great choice for newbies.
VyprVPN’s best feature is its excellent security. On the privacy side, we found VyprVPN to be leakproof. However, while VyprVPN claim they allow torrenting on their platform, they’ve been known to suspend accounts for copyright infringements.
For a deeper investigation of VyprVPN, read our VyprVPN review.
- Solid security features
- Excellent for streaming
- macOS and iOS apps have fewer features
Like all the VPNs on our list, PrivateVPN has its ups and downs—the first ‘down’ being its jurisdiction. Sweden is a member of the Fourteen Eyes intelligence alliance. On the other hand, its strict no-logs policy means that you shouldn’t be too much concerned about your privacy unless you’re a political activist or a spy.
PrivateVPN carries on its privacy protection with a no-logging policy, a kill switch, and no leaks. But where this service really excels is combining high speed and low prices. You would be hard-pressed to find a better bang-for-the-buck ratio than the one PrivateVPN offers.
PrivateVPN is just as fast or even faster than its competitors. Therefore if you should have no issues streaming Netflix and other content platforms in HD or even UHD (4K) quality.
For a deeper investigation of PrivateVPN, read our PrivateVPN review.
5. Windscribe VPN
- No identifying logs policy
- Works with Netflix & P2P
- Unlimited simultaneous connections
- Complicated refund policy
Windscribe VPN is based in Canada (part of the 5 Eyes), so it’s not the best VPN for the UK if government privacy is your main concern.
However, Windscribe does somewhat redeem itself on the privacy front with all the features you’d expect from a secure VPN: a zero logs policy, no DNS or IP leaks, a kill switch, and super strong encryption. If you want access to the Netflix US library specifically, Windscribe also has you covered there with their special Netflix-compatible server. Plus, its apps are all simple and newbie-friendly.
On the downside, Windscribe isn’t great when it comes to speed. Also, while torrenting is allowed, only certain servers are compatible, which can be a nuisance.
For a deeper investigation of Windscribe VPN, read our Windscribe VPN review.
6. Perfect Privacy VPN
- Lots of advanced bonus security features
- No logs
- Great variety of payment options
- Outdated interface
Perfect Privacy VPN definitely has a lot of strong points, including a no-logging policy, no leaks, and all the other features you need to keep you anonymous and secure. They even offer a leveled kill switch that lets you decide when your internet connection should terminate if your VPN drops.
However, it’s hard to say that Perfect Privacy is worth its very high price tag. Speeds are consistently average compared to the competitors on this list. On top of that, they only allow torrenting on their premium servers, and we only found one server that worked with Netflix (a Netherlands server). Perhaps the worst downside for newbies is that Perfect Privacy only has apps for Windows and Linux; to use it on your phone or Mac, you’ll need to learn how to set it up manually.
For a deeper investigation of Perfect Privacy VPN, read our Perfect Privacy VPN review.
British Virgin Islands (BVI)
- Bulletproof security
- Super fast
- Perfect for streaming, torrenting, and gaming
- Very expensive
A very popular provider, ExpressVPN starts off on the right foot with its location: the British Virgin Islands, outside the Fourteen Eyes intelligence alliance.
If staying private and secure is your top concern, ExpressVPN has you covered. Alongside using military-grade encryption, they never store any of your sensitive data like IP addresses or traffic logs (this is known as a no-logs policy). ExpressVPN also excels at keeping your data from leaking to third parties. If you’re more interested in using a VPN to access overseas websites, ExpressVPN excels there too. They have Netflix UK and US compatible servers and their super-fast speeds are ideal for streaming in 4K.
The only real downside to ExpressVPN is that it’s quite expensive.
For a deeper investigation of ExpressVPN, read our ExpressVPN review.
Best UK VPN speed comparison
NordVPN is the fastest VPN for the UK. We ran the tests from Europe, connecting to servers in the UK, the US, and Australia. Then we calculated the average download and upload speed of each UK VPN. You can also find the latest data from our in-house speed testing tool.
|1.||NordVPN||214 Mbps||60 Mbps||137 Mbps|
|2.||Surfshark||151 Mbps||56 Mbps||104 Mbps|
|3.||PrivateVPN||70 Mbps||132 Mbps||101 Mbps|
|4.||ExpressVPN||148 Mbps||33 Mbps||91 Mbps|
|5.||VyprVPN||87 Mbps||20 Mbps||54 Mbps|
|6.||Windscribe||36 Mbps||58 Mbps||47 Mbps|
|7.||Perfect Privacy||40 Mbps||51 Mbps||46 Mbps|
Why do you need a VPN in the UK?
Unfortunately, the UK is one of the worst countries when it comes to online privacy. That’s why you need a reliable VPN service to protect yourself and your data.
To start with, it belongs to the Five Eyes intelligence alliance. It means that your data can be shared among the member countries, including those that belong to Nine and Fourteen Eyes. The biggest intelligence partner of the UK is the US – they’ve been working together for decades.
Investigatory Powers Act
What’s more, back in 2016, the Parliament stunned the whole world with the Investigatory Powers Act. According to it, law enforcement can snoop on any citizen because telcos and ISPs must collect ant store user data for one year. There’s even a dedicated search-engine for government officials, namely the police and security agencies.
If that wasn’t enough, this so-called Snoopers Charter allows the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) to view and use data of any person, as long as it’s been collected from a range of devices in a particular location. Additionally, any company that collects data should have an option to decipher it, also informing GCHQ whenever they update their software. Finally, intelligence agencies have the right to hack into any device, meaning that anything you write on WhatsApp should be readily accessible.
Of course, the UK’s intelligence has been collecting information prior to the Investigatory Powers Act. The Investigatory Tribunal ruled that the government has been doing this for 17 days. But now it’s totally legal and probably not going anywhere.
The decline of internet freedom in the UK
According to Freedom House, internet freedom declined in 2017 as the Investigatory Powers Act had a full year in force. Next year, the situation improved a bit because of the High Court’s decision. According to it, the Snoopers Charter doesn’t comply with the EU law and the right to access citizens’ data shouldn’t be given without the approval of a court. However, with the advent of Brexit, this ruling might become obsolete soon.
In 2018, the European Court of Human Rights ruled that the UK’s mass surveillance described in earlier Investigatory Powers Act violated human rights. Things didn’t get better in 2019 when the police ordered one ISP to shut down wifi in some Underground stations to disrupt a peaceful protest. Later, an Online Harms White Paper was released. While it was aimed at illegal online content, this document also discussed which legal content should be tagged as harmful.
And what about 2020? Well, with the Brexit coming closer, we can only hope that online privacy in the UK won’t continue its decline.
What can you do with a VPN in the UK?
If you’ve read the section above, you probably know that the most important thing that a VPN can do for you is protecting your privacy. When your traffic is encrypted and your IP stays hidden, it becomes a real challenge for the UK government to track you down and snoop on your activities.
At the same time, you can hide from your ISP and bypass its blocks. You may also want to hide your IP when downloading torrents. While P2P is still legal in the UK, you don’t want to get caught with copyrighted content on your device.
What’s more, a VPN is a powerful tool against geo-blocking. Not every streaming platform is available in the UK, and even if it is, that doesn’t your favorite show will be in the library. With a VPN, you can connect to another country and access everything that’s unavailable in your country.
Finally, a VPN will protect you when you’re using public wifi, such as those in the airports. When anyone can connect to a wifi, it becomes a perfect scene for the hackers to act. However, attacking you becomes extremely hard because of encrypted traffic and hidden IP address.
The UK is a member of the largest intelligence alliance, known as Fourteen Eyes. Its members share information about their citizens, so if you move to the US and then to Australia, your profile will be traveling with you.
What’s more, the Investigatory Powers Act orders all ISPs and telecommunication companies to collect and store information about their users for one year. If that wasn’t enough, the government can request access to this data without a court order.
The situation seemed to be getting better when in 2018 the High Court has decided that such surveillance is against the EU law and should be done only with court approval. In the same year, the European Court of Human Rights ruled that the Snoopers Charter violates human rights. Unfortunately, this won’t have a big impact after the UK finishes Brexit in 2021.
Bypass ISP blocks
No matter which UK telco you use, all of them are subject to High Court rulings to block certain content. The rulings are made for all ISPs, so British Telecom (BT), Sky Broadband, Virgin Media, Vodafone, and TalkTalk have no choice but to comply.
Most of the time it’s the illegal streaming and P2P websites. For example, all ISPs block The Pirate Bay, Isohunt, Popcorntime, Putlocker, 123movies, and the like. However, UEFA, FAPL, Matchroom Boxing Ltd, and other live event organizers usually target a number of servers and retain the right to block new ones that pop-up during the season.
Then there are file-sharing court orders. Any copyright holder can ask the court to reveal the identity of a person behind the IP which has been sharing content illegally. Afterward, the user will probably get a letter from the copyright holder, asking to compensate for the losses.
As you can see, ISP blocks and attempts to bypass them without a VPN can result in legal problems.
Hide your activity from ISPs
When you use a VPN, your real IP address is no longer visible to third parties. That means neither your ISP nor your government can see what you do online. Even if they tried, they won’t be able to bypass the military-grade encryption used by VPN services.
This also means that no copyright holder can see what you’re torrenting and ask the court for your name and address. Of course, you are safe only if you’re using a no-logs VPN provider. If the government can’t get your data from the ISP, it most likely will turn to the VPN company. Some of them actually store logs and will give away your contacts without hesitation. Others have their no-logs policy proven in court.
Watch streaming services that aren’t available in the UK
Not all content is available in the UK. That’s because streaming services often don’t hold full rights to their libraries and cannot show them globally. That’s why the US Netflix has around 5,900 movies and TV shows while the UK offers over 6,200. And that doesn’t mean that one show you want to see is available.
This reason why you might struggle to stream your favorite content is geo-blocking. It can affect a particular movie, but it can also make the whole streaming platform unavailable outside the US or another country. In such a case, you won’t get to see the original content that Netflix or HBO creates. Luckily, a VPN can help you out again to access geo-blocked content.
All you need to do is connect to a VPN server in your desired location. You’ll get an IP of that country and will be able to access a geo-blocked resource, tricking it into believing you’re actually somewhere else. Once more, not all VPNs are capable of unblocking every imaginable streaming platform.
Most premium VPNs will at least give you Netflix US, while those good for streaming will add Hulu, Amazon Prime Video, and BBC iPlayer, among others. But since all these platforms are fighting VPNs, you shouldn’t be surprised that your chosen service might still get blocked. In such a case, you should try connecting to another server – chances are its IP hasn’t been blacklisted yet.
Stay safe on public wifi
Just like a public lavatory is less safe than a private one, public wifi is also more dangerous than one without easy access.
You don’t have to be a hard-boiled hacker to set up a man-in-the-middle attack and snoop on the unprotected traffic, especially if the network doesn’t use encryption. Another danger is malware – one bug in a piece of software is enough to inject harmful code into your device. Finally, connecting to “Worm Sun Motel” instead of “Warm Sun Motel” wifi and checking your bank account might be the last time you see money in it.
With a VPN, your traffic becomes encrypted and any hacker would have a hard time snooping on your data.
Use torrents anonymously
Even if you find a torrent website in the UK that’s not blocked, you shouldn’t download anything without connecting to a VPN first. As mentioned above, your IP is visible whenever you use P2P. That means that your ISP or the copyright holder can track you down effortlessly.
When you use a VPN for torrenting, your IP becomes invisible to any third-party. Moreover, your encrypted traffic is virtually undecipherable, so even if the ISP knows you’re using a VPN, it can’t tell what you’re doing exactly.
UK VPN FAQ
What is the best free VPN in the UK?
The best free UK VPN is ProtonVPN. It provides excellent security and privacy and has no data or speed limitations. ProtonVPN also doesn’t show any ads and comes with a strict no-logs policy. While it has only three server locations, those should be enough for most users.
However, just like any free VPN for the UK, ProtonVPN has its limitations. For starters, it doesn’t allow neither torrenting nor streaming and these are some of the most popular reasons why people use VPNs in the first place. Furthermore, it allows only one device per account, but this can be solved by creating additional free accounts.
If you really want a free VPN that allows streaming and P2P, your only choice is Atlas VPN. Unfortunately, this applies to mobile apps only. If you need only torrenting, your next option can be Windscribe VPN. However, even though it works on desktop, there’s also a 10 GB/month data limit.
Learn more about the best UK VPNs – they all have their pros and cons. That’s why you might like a service other than our #1-ranked ProtonVPN.
How to watch British TV abroad?
Most national channels are available online, but usually the streams are restricted to the country of origin. That’s why you’ll need a UK IP address to watch British TV while abroad. Doing that is easy if you have a VPN – simply connect to a server in the UK. All of our recommended providers have multiple servers, as seen in the table above.
After obtaining a UK IP, you’ll be able to watch BBC iPlayer, Channel 4, ITV, and other popular British TV channels. These three channels alone give you Coronation Street, Endeavour, Googlebox, Us, The Repair Shop, and Guilt.
Are VPNs legal in UK?
Using a VPN is legal in the UK. However, that doesn’t mean that streaming or downloading copyrighted content suddenly becomes legal too. Furthermore, you should check your VPNs jurisdiction before using it in the UK.
Not only telcos and ISPs are obliged to log user data in the UK – Virtual Private Networks have to do that too and store it for one year. Therefore, you should choose a provider that’s not registered in the UK. Even if it claims to have a strict no-logs policy, there’s always a chance that a court order can change that.
How to get UK IP address
There are plenty of reason why you would need a UK IP address while abroad. For starters, you might have trouble connecting to online banking from abroad – such a connection will probably be blocked.
Also, you won’t be able to watch BBC iPlayer outside of the UK. Furthermore, if you have a Netflix show that’s unavailable in other countries, getting a UK IP is your only chance.
But which of our recommended UK VPNs has the most servers in this country? Well, not all numbers are accurate or available, but the table below should give an idea about the differences among the competitors. As always, don’t forget that more servers doesn’t always translate in better performance.
Best VPNs for the UK – number of servers in the United Kingdom:
|VPN name||Number of servers in the UK||Total number of servers||% of servers in the UK|
The Snooper’s Charter is here to stay, and the UK is not planning to quit the Fourteen Eyes intelligence alliance anytime soon. After the Brexit, nothing that the EU courts have ruled matters. So what does all this mean to the UK citizens in 2020?
You need a good UK VPN to protect your privacy. Otherwise, your traffic data can be transferred to a number of government institutions, along with your IP and real address. And there will be plenty of data to look at because of the one-year-long retention period. When you use a reliable VPN, not only does it hide your IP, it also encrypts your traffic using a military-grade cipher.
These seven VPNs mentioned above are all solid options for the UK, but each of them has its own pros and cons. Hopefully, this information will help you to make an informed decision when choosing a VPN provider in 2020.
If you’re in the UK, which of these VPNs have you used before? Did we miss any great VPNs for the UK? Let us know in the comments below.