The BritBox VPN Problem

Britbox is the latest in innovative new streaming services which for many people represents a treasure trove of British TV programmes from the last few decades.  On it you’ll be sure to find a whole host of old favorites and some very new shows too from the best of the UK TV channels.  Initially there’s shows from the BBC, ITV and Channel 5 however there will be some more additions in the coming few months.  In Spring 2020, Channel 4 and Film 4 will be joining the channel which should add lots more shows and loads of movies too.

At the moment, and unfortunately it’s unlikely to change for a while, Britbox is only available if you’re located in the UK, USA or Canada.  The three versions differ slightly with some people saying that the US version has slightly more content than the other two.  When you connect to the website the site will do a lookup on your IP address to double check that you’re in one of those countries, if you’re not then you’ll be unable to access it.

BritBox VPN

Of course, most of us who have been watching the BBC iPlayer, ITV Player and all the other UK stations from outside the UK for decades thought this wouldn’t be a problem.  All we needed to do is to fire up our trusty NordVPN application, switch to either a UK or US server and everything would work fine.   Unfortunately this isn’t the case, and a VPN alone is not quite enough to watch BritBox from anywhere in the world!

Why your VPN Might Not Work with BritBox

There may be no actual issue with the VPN, for instance NordVPN works fine and it does fool the website.  As such when connected to the right server the Britbox site is perfectly accessible.  The issue actually comes with creating an account, at least when you come to pay for it.   This is where the issue comes as like most streaming services, BritBox will check where your payment method is registered to.  all debit and credit cards have a country of issue identifier which is easily checked.  So if you’re using NordVPN to pretend you’re in the UK this will work fine except when you present a French registered debit card.

Don’t Buy a VPN for Britbox unless you have a UK, US or Canadian Card !!

There’s no simple way around this, you’ll see mentions of pre-paid debit cards and gift cards but it’s not easy to set up.  It’s simple to bypass the IP address checks but the payment method check is much more difficult and I would suspect most people won’t bother.

Here’s some other useful facts if you’re considering either subscribing to Britbox through a VPN or not.

  • There are no Giftcards currently available – this might be a handy workaround the payment issue if they become available.  Get someone with a valid card to buy the subscription for you.
  • UK access from EU temporarily – Britbox say that you can access your UK account for short periods whilst in the EU.   This will probably change when UK leaves the EU though.
  • 30 Day Free trial needs payment details too – unfortunately you have to put in your card details to use the 30 day free trial too.
  • Some VPNs are blocked by BritBox – stick to VPNs like NordVPN which work with the BBC. Test with short trials if unsure.

Is BritBox Worth Subscribing via VPN

Well obviously this depends on what sort of TV programmes you like!  It’s very unclear when will BritBox be available in Europe or places like Australia.   However for anyone who enjoys British TV and drama shows like Downton Abbey then it does seem like incredible value.  There are shows and series which have dozens of episodes and can keep the family entertained for years.  It should be remembered thought that content will move and expire like on any other streaming service although as the BBC and ITV own most of it then this is likely to be quite minimal.

These two companies alone have probably the largest media archives in the world.  The BBC is of course the oldest broadcaster so has some brilliant shows from decades ago.  Whether people will be interested in streaming low resolution archive shows on their UHD screens is difficult to be certain.  The cost is very low and the $6 dollars or so, is a fraction of what some of us used to spend in Blockbuster every weekend! You should remember to include the cost of the VPN as well though if you require one. To be fair though this can be used for lots more too.

I would suggest using your VPN first to access the media sites directly which are of course free. There’s an awful lot on the main media sites too and much of it is more recent than the BritBox content which is more of an archive. You can try out the free 30 day trial first, the subscription is simple to cancel if you’re just happy with the free versions.


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