Whether you’re a UK citizen or you’re just visiting the country, you’ll want to know what your options are for the best VPN in the UK.
Not only is a VPN important for maintaining your privacy and security while you’re online, but it’s also valuable if you want to access UK content when you’re traveling outside the country. Plus, if you want to torrent content in the UK, then the best UK VPN will keep you secure while you’re using a P2P network.
While the United Kingdom is still a fairly strong democracy, particularly when compared to other major world powers, it has introduced laws in the last few years that erode the privacy rights of its citizens. The Investigatory Powers Act of 2016 is a mandatory data retention law that allows for government bodies to access some personal data without a warrant. It also allows for law enforcement to intercept communications without requiring consent or notice.
So, if you’ve been looking for the best VPN for the UK, here’s what you need to know.
The Best VPN for the UK
During our testing, we found that ExpressVPN was the best VPN service in the UK. Based in the British Virgin Islands, ExpressVPN is one of the few no-logs VPNs that have had their claims proven through a third-party audit. Plus, they’ve recently moved to use RAM-only servers, which gives you even more protection if their real-world server locations are compromised. It also offers some of the best speeds around, allowing you to stream overseas Netflix libraries in HD.
Alternatively, NordVPN is a good option for UK VPN users. In terms of price and features, it’s comparable to ExpressVPN, but it’s worth noting that users on a budget can only get the best prices with NordVPN on the longest plans.
If your budget can’t stretch to these premium options, then we recommend using Surfshark. Also based in the British Virgin Islands, Surfshark offers most of the same features as NordVPN and ExpressVPN, but unfortunately, it’s not as fast. However, if you’re not doing anything much heavier than streaming, Surfshark will work just fine.
Properties of a Good VPN for the UK
One of the biggest things you need to consider when you’re buying a VPN when you’re in the UK is whether it’ll fit what you need it to do. As we mentioned earlier, the UK has some specific privacy laws that you need to take into account when you’re looking for the best VPN in the UK.
- Reputable VPN Service
- Strong Privacy Protection
- Reliable Connection to UK Servers While Abroad
- Reliable Connection to Non-UK Servers
- Supports Streaming and Torrenting
- Fair Price
Reputable VPN Service
Making sure a VPN service is reputable is one of the most important things to check as a consumer. Unfortunately, with the growing popularity of VPNs, there are many providers on the market that claim they don’t hold logs when they do, don’t disclose that they’re a whitelisted VPN service, or are even infected with malware.
So, you should check whether a VPN service has been third-party audited and if those results are available for you to read. You should also take the time to look up the name of the provider and double-check that their registered address matches the one stated on their website.
Strong Privacy Protection
You’re buying a VPN because you want to obscure your identity when you’re online, so it’s important that you do your research and make sure that a VPN provider offers a good level of privacy.
With the Investigatory Powers Act putting you at risk from third parties intercepting your data or gathering it from your VPN provider or ISP without your knowledge, it’s vital that you find a VPN that’s verified to hold no logs and offers top of the line security features.
AES-256 bit encryption has quickly become the standard for data encryption, but some still use AES-128 because it typically offers faster speeds. Given that AES-256 would take the fastest known computer billions of years to crack, this is the best option for privacy.
With that in mind, we don’t recommend that you use any VPN provider that’s based in the UK itself.
Reliable Connection to UK Servers While Abroad
One of the many benefits of using a VPN is being able to unblock content that would otherwise only be available in the UK. If you regularly use BBC iPlayer, 4oD, or ITV Hub, then you’ll likely want to be able to watch that content if you go abroad too.
So, it’s important to check what speeds the VPN offers, their server uptime, and whether other users have reported dropouts in service. You can usually find in-depth speed reviews on a VPN provider’s subreddit, which are useful sources of information about how other users find the service.
Reliable Connection to Non-UK Servers
If you’re in the UK, then using a VPN is a great way to get around geo-blocked content. For streaming in HD, you’ll want your VPN to have a reliable connection to non-UK servers. Plus, with the Investigatory Powers Act, torrenters will no doubt want to use a non-UK VPN server to make sure their data isn’t being intercepted or logged.
Thankfully, most VPN providers offer either a free trial or a money-back guarantee so you can take out a monthly plan to test their speeds for yourself. However, to save yourself some money, we recommend looking at ExpressVPN, Surfshark, or Nord VPN as, during our testing, these offered us the best speeds on non-UK servers.
Supports Streaming and Torrenting
With the US having a wider range of streaming services available and a much larger Netflix library, any UK VPN user will want a VPN that can unblock overseas streaming libraries. And, like we mentioned earlier, torrenters will want to use a non-UK server for torrenting, so you’ll want a VPN that’s P2P friendly either on dedicated servers or throughout the whole network.
Almost every VPN provider will say on their website if it’s something that they support, but in our observations, NordVPN, ExpressVPN, and Surfshark are the only three VPN providers that live up to their promises of unlocking a wide range of streaming services.
It’s understandable that you’ll want to stick to a budget with your VPN, so you should be aware of how much a good VPN will cost. Unfortunately, there are VPN providers on the market that charge exorbitant fees for a service that’s nowhere near as good as something cheaper. Plus, there are hundreds of free VPN providers that promise the earth but deliver a service that’s packed with ads and malware.
This is another reason why we recommend Surfshark to users on a budget, and NordVPN and ExpressVPN to people who can afford to pay for a more premium service. In our opinion, these three services ask for a fair price for the features they offer.
Best VPNs for the UK
If you’ve been wondering “do I need a VPN in the UK?” then by now, you know the answer is a resounding yes. So, let’s take a look at the top VPNs in the UK.
ExpressVPN is our top pick in our VPN comparison for the UK. While it is one of the more expensive VPN options, in our testing we found that the great levels of privacy and security and the extensive number of other VPN features make it well worth the price.
Not only do you get AES-256 bit encryption as standard, but ExpressVPN’s Network Lock feature protects you from IP or DNS leaks while you’re online, helping to protect you from any third parties snooping on your Internet connection. So, even if the town you live in is targeted by the Investigatory Powers Act, you’re safe from any third parties storing information about your activity.
ExpressVPN is also one of the most reputable VPN providers in the market, having passed a third-party audit conducted by PricewaterhouseCoopers. This verified not only that ExpressVPN’s no logs policy was being adhered to, but also that the TrustedServer feature – where users can select to route their traffic through a RAM-only server – was also working as promised.
For UK VPN users who want to access content while they’re overseas, or want to unlock other streaming services, ExpressVPN can reliably unblock all major Netflix regions, as well as Hulu and Disney+. So, you can make sure you get your money’s worth out of Netflix with ExpressVPN.
NordVPN is another reliable choice for UK VPN users. Based in Panama, NordVPN isn’t required to hold any user logs, and it’s also passed two third-party audits that confirm this. It’s also worth mentioning that NordVPN was specifically started in Panama because it’s one of the best countries in the world for online privacy, which is a great indication that this company stands by its users.
Like ExpressVPN, NordVPN offers AES-256 bit encryption, and even Tor-over-VPN servers for additional security. Plus, for torrenters, there are hundreds of dedicated P2P servers that offer increased speeds for quick, anonymous torrenting. While NordVPN offers the secure OpenVPN and IKEv2 protocols, they also have their own version of WireGuard, which offers vastly improved speed and security.
NordVPN is one of a handful of VPN providers that can reliably unblock BBC iPlayer, making it a great option for expats or UK users overseas. It also reliably unblocks other content libraries like Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime Video, so you don’t have to worry about running out of things to watch. Plus, it’s the best VPN for Fire Stick in the UK, thanks to its native app for the Amazon Fire Stick.
We found that NordVPN’s servers were some of the most reliable currently on the market, and even when we used their Quick Connect feature, we didn’t notice any major speed drops when we connected to US servers from the UK. It was still quick enough to stream content in HD, and the speed difference was barely noticeable when browsing.
Surfshark is our top pick for the best cheap VPN in the UK. Despite being one of the cheapest VPNs on the market, it offers a full suite of security, privacy, and streaming features that easily rival the biggest names.
Along with the popular OpenVPN and IKEv2 protocols, Surfshark also offers the newer WireGuard, which is an open-source protocol that offers enhanced speeds and encryption. Like NordVPN, it also has a suite of Double VPN servers that allow you to route your traffic through multiple servers before it reaches its destination, making it harder to trace your activity.
Surfshark is also one of the few cheap VPNs in the UK that reliably unblock Netflix libraries around the world, making it a great choice for streaming fans. Not only that, but it’s one of the best VPNs for Kodi in the UK, as there are no limits on torrenting.
Surprisingly for a cheap VPN, Surfshark also offers unlimited device connections, which makes it the best VPN for Android in the UK. So, regardless of how many devices you have, you can keep all of them protected from third-party interference with Surfshark.
The one downside of Surfshark is that its servers aren’t as fast or as reliable as NordVPN or ExpressVPN. However, if you’re looking for a UK VPN on a budget, then Surfshark is your best cheap VPN choice.
Hotspot Shield UK
Hotspot Shield is a popular choice with users who need a fast VPN for streaming, but unfortunately, it’s not the most reliable VPN on this list.
During out testing, we found that Hotspot Shield was one of the best VPNs in the UK in terms of speed loss when we connected to their servers. You’re always going to lose speed when you connect to a VPN, but with this provider, the speed drop was barely noticeable. That meant that we could easily stream content or torrent without any buffering issues.
Hotspot Shield isn’t a no-logs service, because it does hold information about when you connected to their service and how long you used it for. While it doesn’t store browsing information or your IP address, it does mean this VPN provider holds information that they may be asked to hand over under the Investigatory Powers Act. Plus, this hasn’t been verified by a third-party audit.
With that being said, Hotspot Shield is a decent choice if you’re willing to trade some privacy protection for speed.
Avast VPN UK
Avast is a recognizable name for its antivirus software, which is why its VPN service is becoming increasingly popular. However, compared to some of the other VPNs on this list, the VPN cost in the UK per feature is significantly more than premium providers like ExpressVPN.
In our testing, we found that Avast VPN was reliable in connecting to US Netflix. However, as with many other VPN services, it couldn’t unblock BBC iPlayer, which isn’t great news for UK ex-pats or Brits away from home. Their servers did offer decent speeds, though, and we found that the download speeds were still more than enough for torrenting through their dedicated P2P servers.
The biggest downside with Avast is that, like with Hotspot Shield, Avast stores connection logs. This is a pretty big privacy issue, particularly where the Investigatory Powers Act is concerned, as these logs will be able to show when a user logs on and how long for. They claim that this data is only stored for 30 days, but this hasn’t been certified with a third-party audit.
If you’re already a fan of Avast’s software, then this VPN isn’t a bad option. But, when we tested it against VPN providers at a similar price point, we found that they offered a lot more features, reliability, and security.
Best Free VPNs for the UK
If you’re looking for a free UK VPN, it’s understandable that you might have some concerns about what kind of service you can expect. Just like free versions of any other type of software, you’re probably already expecting there to be invasive ads or significant limitations to what you can do.
In general, we don’t recommend using a free VPN for those reasons. However, the following free VPNs are the best ones available if you’re looking for a free UK VPN.
Saying that, ProtonVPN Free is still extremely limited. You can only use it with one device per account, and you can only access three servers. Plus, unless you upgrade to the premium plan, you can’t use ProtonVPN for streaming or torrenting. The free servers also offer less capacity than the paid ones, meaning you’ll get slower speeds than you might expect with a premium service.
Windscribe Free is extremely limited as a VPN service however. While you can stream and torrent, you’re limited to 10GB of data each month, which is roughly equivalent to streaming Netflix in HD for three hours. So, if you need a VPN for streaming, you’re better off looking for a cheap VPN in the UK, as these will offer unlimited data for your streaming needs.
Cheap VPN UK
Paying for a VPN service can be an expense, particularly if you’re looking to pay for a long-term plan upfront to get the cheapest pay monthly VPN in the UK. However, if you don’t need all the bells and whistles that come with premium VPN services, then a cheap VPN can provide some of the best VPN deals in the UK while also giving you great peace of mind when you’re online.
We recommend using a cheap VPN in the UK rather than a free one, as in our testing, we’ve found them to be infinitely more reliable and privacy-focused. In addition, with a cheap VPN, it’s clear that they’re generating revenue through your subscription payment and not through selling your data, as can be the case with free VPNs.
Namecheap is a domain registry and hosting service that’s recently expanded into providing a cheap, no-frills VPN service. If you’re looking for a cheap UK VPN for streaming and Internet browsing only, then Namecheap VPN is a good budget option.
While it does have its limitations, namely in that it collects connection data and that it can’t unblock BBC iPlayer, it’s a solid contender as a budget VPN service.
At £4.30/month, or a reasonable £49.48 for three years, you don’t need to pay a fortune to protect yourself with a VPN. Price-wise, you’d be paying around that amount for six months of ExpressVPN. So, even if you’re not sure if you’ll use Namecheap VPN for three years, paying for that amount of time can still save you money in the long run.
If you’d prefer to pay monthly, then not only do you get your first month free, but it’s less than half the cost of paying for ExpressVPN monthly. All of this makes Namecheap VPN the cheapest VPN in the UK.
PrivateVPN is only slightly more expensive than Namecheap VPN which, if you consider that they claim to hold absolutely no logs about how you use the VPN or the apps, is well worth the extra cost for peace of mind. Plus, in our testing, we found it reliably unblocks BBC iPlayer, as well as US Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, and Disney+.
PrivateVPN also has extremely reasonable prices, costing only $2.07/month if you sign up for 24 months. Even when this renews at $4.14/month, it’s still far cheaper than more premium options. However, if you’d rather pay monthly, it’s still only $8.10/month and you’re not locked into a longer contract. So, while it’s not as cheap as Namecheap, it’s still a good budget option for people who use their VPN to stream.