What’s not to love about the UK? It’s posh, culturally exquisite, and known for being the pinnacle of liberation in modern society.
Yet the recent proposals for regulation and censorship in the UK may put free speech under the thumb of the government. That’s not all, the UK government has a long history of conducting unlawful mass surveillance operations against their citizens.
In this state of affairs, the most effective way to deal with censorship and surveillance is to use the best VPN services.
ExpressVPN is the best VPN for the UK. The provider has all the right features to tackle censorship and surveillance in the UK with a huge server diversity and privacy-enabling features.
6 Best VPNs for the UK in 2021
The following best UK VPNs are some of the services that are highly competent when it comes to escaping state surveillance and censorship in the UK:
1. ExpressVPN – Overall Best VPN for UK
ExpressVPN has 3,000+ servers in over 94 countries, including the UK. In all servers, ExpressVPN uses AES-256 encryption and supports torrenting as well as streaming. As such, it is a powerful VPN for the British, whether it is privacy you are seeking or the ability to bypass restrictions on the web. Owing to these premium features ExpressVPN is the best VPN out there for UK users.
ExpressVPN is also among the very few zero-logging VPNs in the industry. They operate from the British Virgin Islands (BVI) and don’t have to abide by most data retention laws. Since BVI is beyond the jurisdiction that applies to GCHQ, the provider has no obligation to retain user data or hand it over to British agencies. It also features MediaStreamer that can unblock almost all streaming sites without encrypting your online traffic. With ExpressVPN you can unblock Netflix US, Hulu, and also access U.S state local channels in the U.K. It is also one of the few VPNs that still work in Ireland.
Furthermore, the service is slick, super-fast, and offers tons of features that work as advertised. The only downside to this service is that it is relatively expensive, priced at $6.67/mo . Nonetheless, it is worth the money if you’re serious about strengthening your online privacy and attain better internet accessibility, as noted in this ExpressVPN review guide.
- 3,000+ servers in 94+ countries
- Offers excellent 24/7 customer support
- Provides 5 multi-logins
- Fast speeds
- Unblocks Hulu, Netflix, BBC iPlayer, Amazon Prime Video, HBO, and more
- Expensive pricing plans
2. Surfshark – Fastest UK VPN
Surfshark offers UK servers in the cities of London, Manchester, and Glasgow. In total, the provider has 3,200+ servers in 65 countries. Overall, the server network is strong enough to unblock websites both within and outside the UK. You can also rely on Surfshark to unblock torrent websites as well as popular streaming services including Hulu, Netflix, and BBC iPlayer. It is one of the best VPNs to access torrent websites in Denmark and Greece other European countries where strict copyright infringement laws are implemented by the government.
The provider is one fastest VPN in the whole industry. In addition, it comes with tons of features like kill switch, MultiHop, AES-256 encryption, and CleanWeb to keep you safe from relentless GCHQ spying. Not only that, Surfshark is headquartered in the British Virgin Islands and doesn’t keep any logs.
- Efficient 24/7 customer support
- Provides unlimited multi-logins
- 30-day money-back guarantee
- Built-in adblocker, anti-malware, and double VPN feature
- Works with BBC iPlayer, Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime Video, DAZN, and more.
- Occasionally slower speeds
3. NordVPN – Top VPN for UK
NordVPN is offering 580+ servers within the UK. The provider has a large base of 5,500+ total servers distributed in over 59 countries. NordVPN is efficient for watching unblocking restricted streaming apps such as BBC iPlayer, Amazon Prime Video, and more.
Besides servers, NordVPN offers privacy features like Killswitch, and IP leak protection combined with a super easy-to-use interface. Nord also doesn’t log user data and since they operate from Panama, they’re free from most data retention laws. Therefore, you can also torrent with NordVPNsafely. This puts subscribers of the service under a safe haven, far away from the spying glasses of GCHQ and other data-gathering agencies in the UK. This is why NordVPN is still reviewed favorably.
Other than that, NordVPN is super affordable as well, costing $3.71/mo . You can avail NordVPN refund or, you can also give NordVPN a try for free within 30 days of your subscription if you’re not satisfied for any reason.
- Offers 5500+ servers in 59 countries
- 24/7 customer support
- 6 simultaneous connections
- Easy compatibility with Smart TVs and other devices
- Works with Netflix, BBC iPlayer, YouTube TV, Sling TV, Showtime, and more.
- Double encryption gives slower speeds
- Windows app is sluggish
4. PureVPN – Best UK VPN for Streaming
PureVPN offers 168 dedicated servers in the UK. In total, the provider has over 6,500+ servers in over 140+ countries. If you’re visiting outside the UK for a while, you can count on PureVPN’s British servers to bring you access to locally available websites and streaming services like BBC iPlayer.
You may also use PureVPN to gain access to US Netflix if you connect to the American servers. Since the Netflix library is smaller in the UK as compared to the US, this UK VPN can come in very handy for streaming fans.Feature-wise PureVPN is very capable. It offers features like kill switch, split tunneling, DNS and IPv6 leak protection, full P2P support, and a whole slew of other privacy-oriented features. Coupled with its no-logging policy and offshore jurisdiction in Hong Kong, PureVPN is an excellent choice to stay away from GCHQ’s surveillance in the country. It is due to these factors that PureVPN has built a good reputation with positive reviews.
You can get PureVPN for $3.33/mo , which is highly affordable for a VPN of this quality. Users also get a 30-day money-back guarantee and 5 simultaneous connections.
- Provides 6,500+ servers in 140+ countries
- 31-day money-back guarantee
- 256-bit military-grade encryption
- Compatible with various devices and platforms
- Works with BBC iPlayer, Sling TV, Comedy Central, Netflix, and more.
- No ad-blocker
5. CyberGhost – Secure VPN for UK Users
CyberGhost offers 461 servers in the UK. These include servers in the cities of Berkshire, London, and Manchester. On the whole, CyberGhost has a network of 6,600+ servers in 89+ countries. Suffice it to say, getting over restrictions in British cyberspace is no problem with this VPN.
In terms of security features, CyberGhost comes packed with features like OpenVPN, DNS leak protection, location spoofing, and kill switch with all subscription plans. The provider also doesn’t log user data as they operate from the data retention-free jurisdiction of Romania. This makes it beneficial for British users that want to evade the spying antics of their government. These additional security features that CyberGhost offers are very vital for countries like Australia and Pakistan, where the government is involved in continuous mass surveillance. People in Pakistan have no other way to protect their online privacy and data by using the VPNs working in Pakistan.
Speaking of subscription plans, CyberGhost is currently available for $2.25/mo . Users get 45-day money-back guarantee with this plan in addition 7 simultaneous connections. As a result, CyberGhost is a well-received service among reviewers.
- No logs
- 45-day money-back guarantee
- 7 simultaneous connections
- Optimized servers for Netflix, Hulu, BBC iPlayer, and more
- Slow speeds
6. PIA VPN – Best for Torrenting in UK
The provider offers fast and stable connections that are particularly important to enable seamless streaming. The fast speeds also come in handy for torrenting. Advanced features such as DNS secure, automatic kill switch, and IPv6 and WebRTC leak protection keep your identity hidden from UK government agencies.
You can get PIA for $2.69/mo . With 30-day money-back guarantee and 10 simultaneous connections, there are few VPNs as valuable as PIA. This is one of the reasons that makes PIA highly rated among reviewers.
- Unblocks torrenting websites
- Fast speed servers
- Highly affordable
- Supports OpenVPN
- Allows P2P
- 35,912+ servers in 77 countries
- Based in the U.S
- No Live chat support
- Can only unblock some Netflix libraries (US, UK, Canada)
Guidelines for selecting a good VPN in the UK
Before purchasing any VPN service, you should consider a few basic features. To make it easy for you, here are a few pointers you should look out for when choosing any premium VPN service:
VPN protocols are pretty much the most important aspect of any VPN service. After all, they are responsible for keeping your privacy intact. Some of the must-have VPN protocols are OpenVPN, L2TP/IPsec, PPTP, and few others.
Servers are also very crucial for good performance. The more servers you get, the faster your connection is going to be. Besides, having a larger server base means you’ll be able to access a whole range of geo-restricted contents.
Multi connections are an absolute must-have feature as you wouldn’t necessarily want to get different subscriptions for different devices. A premium VPN service allows upwards of 5 simultaneous connections per subscription plan. In the case of Surfshark, you can get unlimited simultaneous connections. Here is a detailed guide to the best VPNs for multiple devices.
No logs are the whole essence of any VPN service. You would want to look for a provider that doesn’t log your data. Typically it is impossible, however, there are few that log less to nothing of your private information.
Make sure that your VPN provider headquarters is also not located in countries that are part of the 14-Eyes alliance because if it is then they must be following some data retention practices. Countries like Sweden, Germany, Italy, and Spain are not ideal when it comes to hosting a VPN provider headquartered. If you are living in a country that is part of the 14-Eyes alliance like for example, Sweden, we suggest you protect yourself with the best VPN for Sweden.
Payment modes are just as crucial as protocols or logging policies. You would want to consider a VPN provider that supports anonymous payments like cryptocurrencies. After all, the less information you give out about yourself the safer you are.
Kill switch is also a must-have feature in any VPN service. This feature can protect your IP address from leaking in case your VPN connection drops. If yours doesn’t offer one just don’t get it.
Free VPNs That Work in the United Kingdom
While I generally only recommend using paid VPNs, there are a few free VPN for the UK that I’m personally okay with. The only issue you’re going to face is obviously limited bandwidths. For more information, see this article about free VPN services.
If you don’t feel like spending money, you can choose a free UK VPN from below:
- Urban VPN
Do keep in mind that free VPNs offer a limited amount of servers that are overcrowded with users, thus leading to extremely slow speeds. Also, there is so much traffic on these servers that it becomes easier for geo-restricted sites to identify VPN servers and block them. Meaning, you cannot use such VPNs to access geo-restricted sites in the UK like Hulu, HBO, CBS, YouTube TV, and more.
Second, free services don’t offer good encryption, and often track your online activities and sell your data to third-party advertisers. As Daniel Markuson, Digital Privacy Expert at NordVPN says, “There is no such thing as a free lunch. If a user does not pay for a service, there must be an alternative price to be paid. And, very often, it’s privacy.”
Therefore, we recommend users take advantage of VPNs with Free Trials or money-back guarantees of premium VPNs. For example, ExpressVPN offers a 30-day money-back guarantee so you can use it free of cost for 30 days and cancel anytime.
Why VPN is a Must in the UK
The UK government has been giving several reasons for British citizens to gravitate towards VPN services. VPN is a great tool to prevent your ISP, government agencies, and websites to track your online activities. Here are some of the reasons why you need a VPN in the UK:
1. Online Privacy and Anonymity
As I said earlier, the UK is now no longer a safe place for internet users. In fact, it is far from anything but safe. Ever since the United Kingdom passed the Investigatory Powers Act 2016 aka the Snooper’s charter, investigative agencies have been pounding down on unsuspecting internet users.
Well, unlike a routine investigation that requires a warrant, Snooper’s charter allows unprecedented access to all sorts of confidential data, all without the need of a warrant.
If you’re wondering about what information can the government track, then buckle up I’m gonna give you a rundown of just a few:
- Online Chats
- Browsing history
- Social media
- Online transactions
Now I don’t know about you guys but this seriously freaks me out every time I’m in the UK. And that’s not all, I have barely scratched the surface.
This is the biggest reason why I never travel without the best UK VPN. Because who knows, who might be watching you right now?
2. Safe Torrenting
The UK has strict anti-piracy laws and many of these websites remain banned in the country. A similar situation is faced by the people of Argentina as well. VPNs can help you gain access to these torrent websites. More importantly, these services enhance your security and ensure that your identity remains hidden from authorities that might be snooping in on your online activities.
Using VPNs has become even more important considering the increasing penalties for piracy in the UK as those found guilty may be jailed for up to 10 years in the worst-case scenario. Therefore, British citizens should use VPNs as an insurance policy against the possibility of running into legal troubles.
To our Argentinia readers, check out Best VPNs to access torrent websites in Argentina.
Disclaimer: We do not encourage nor condone the use of VPNs for illegal activities, including copyright infringement.
3. Blocked websites and services
Even though the UK doesn’t block websites as aggressively as some middle eastern countries, there are actually quite a few websites and services blocked in the United Kingdom.
In fact, all major ISPs like BT Group, EE, Sky Broadband, Talk Talk and Virgin Media are constantly blocking websites, especially those associated with torrenting. Likewise, the court has ordered FAPL and broadcasting companies to put a stop to fully-loaded streaming devices, including Kodi. What this means is that Kodi users in Britain can no longer watch their favorite TV shows, movies or other content online.
Watch British TV Outside the UK with a VPN
To watch British TV outside the UK, you need a VPN to get a British IP address. British shows, dramas, and cinema have a huge following across the whole globe. Unfortunately, some of the most popular over-the-top streaming British streaming channels such as BBC’s iPlayer, Channel 4, and ITV Hub remain inaccessible outside the UK.
- How to watch BBC iPlayer abroad with a VPN
- How to watch Channel 4 abroad with a VPN
- How to watch ITV Hub abroad with a VPN
- How to watch Sky Go abroad
In order to access these services within the UK, you will need to have a UK IP address. Here’s how you can obtain a UK IP address overseas with a VPN:
- Subscribe to a VPN service with servers in the UK (We recommend using ExpressVPN)
- Download and install the VPN app on your system/device.
- Launch the VPN app and enter your login credentials.
- After successfully signing in, connect to a UK server.
- Access the app or website of your favorite British streaming service to gain access overseas
Internet Freedom in the UK
The British have a bad history with privacy and internet freedom. In November 2016, the British parliament introduced the Investigatory Power Act, also known as the “Snooper Charter.” It basically grants the British intelligence agencies access to all user data and is “unmatched by any other country in western Europe or even the US,” says The Guardian.
NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden also tweeted: “The UK has just legalized the most extreme surveillance in the history of western democracy. It goes further than many autocracies.” This act forces local Internet Service Providers and telecom firms to store user data including online activities and browsing histories and then hand over the data to the government agencies via a search engine called the request filter.
Intelligence agencies have complete access to this data without any judicial oversight – meaning that the government can target any particular group and it will not be subjected to scrutiny. But, that’s not it. The British intelligence agencies have been collecting user data unlawfully prior to this bill. The Snooper Charter in 2016 just legalized the process and granted far more access to agencies than before.
Therefore, to protect themselves against this Snooper Charter, users in the UK need to use a VPN. In light of this charter, you can say that there is no internet freedom in the UK, and with time we will see it dwindle in the years to come if this charter continues.
Is Using a UK-based VPN a Good Option in the UK?
There are a number of UK-based VPNs in the UK, and you must be wondering, “are UK-based VPNs safe to use inside the UK?” Well, the answer to that question is No. If you value your online privacy, then using a UK-based VPN is not a good option.
The United Kingdom is an active member of the 5 Eyes Alliance that dedicates ISPs as well as VPN services to log user’s online activity and store it for 12-months or more. This data is then handed over to the British intelligence agencies when requested. Therefore, UK-based VPNs store user’s online activity and that goes against the user’s right to privacy.
Yes, it is perfectly legal to use a VPN in the UK. You can use a VPN in the UK to protect your online privacy and security. The VPNs mentioned in this guide are great when it comes to protecting your privacy. However, if you use a VPN to engage in illegal activities like downloading copyright infringement then you may find yourself in trouble with the British authorities.
Some of the best VPNs for streaming in the UK are ExpressVPN, Surfshark, and NordVPN. These VPNs have a wide server network with multiple servers in all major locations so you can enjoy all international content in the UK. With a VPN you can also stream Hulu, HBO, Comedy Central, Showtime, and more in the UK.
The average cost of a Virtual Private Network in the UK is around $2- $5 USD which is around £1.45 – 3.63 per month. However, the cost varies from VPN to VPN and it also depends upon the extra features and protocols you want. For example, if you need a dedicated IP address, you will have to pay extra.
Similarly, VPNs offer various subscription plans ranging from monthly plans to yearly plans. Most of the time, the longer the plan, the cheaper it gets.
Best British VPN: Wrapping Up!
If you want to avoid the UK’s rather authoritarian and intrusive online policies, then a reliable VPN is an absolute must. ExpressVPN is the best VPN for the United Kingdom as it protects users from spying agencies with its no-logging policy and strong encryption protocols. It is also well-equipped to deal with increasing censorship in the UK.
Leave a comment below and join the discussion about UK’s worsening online privacy situation and if you’re looking for discounts, check out our VPN Deals and discounts for 2021.