It’s actually a common question – is it possible to get a British IP address when abroad? Yes ! All you need to do is to route your connection through a server based in the United Kingdom. These are usually called proxy or VPN servers and you can find lots of them online.
Every time you access the internet, you’ll be allocated a unique IP address. If it’s from home then you’ll probably be allocated it from your ISP (Internet Service Provider), without it you’ll have no online access. When travelling you may get it from an access point in a coffee shop or hotel, if you’re using your mobile phone it will be assigned from a mobile IP gateway.
In theory that’s all that matters, as long as you are assigned a valid, unique address then you should be able to access the internet. However in practice there’s some slight complications which may well limit or restrict your access. In some ways your IP address is like a passport, they’re certainly not all equal. A passport from a large Western democracy for instance is much easier to travel with than one from a less stable country. A German passport holder has easy, visa free access to around 166 countries across the world, whereas an Afghanistan passport will only allow access to 29 and make travelling in general much more difficult.
The same happens online to some extent, every IP address has a ‘nationality’ and some are much more accessible than others. Many websites for example limit access based on the region you’re originating from. For example many of the web’s most popular sites will limit access based on the region you’re in. So sites like the BBC, ITV and Sky can only be accessed if you have a UK IP address, which means that if you travel outside the UK you’ll instantly be blocked from these sites.
Fortunately there is a simple way around this, which we’ll illustrate first –
How to Get a UK IP Address Abroad
- Find and Sign up with a VPN Service like Identity Cloaker which has lots of UK Servers
- Install or Configure your VPN Program (usually very simple)
- Connect to a UK Based Server (most have servers in different countries)
- Double Check Your new IP address (most VPN software allow this or type ‘what’s my IP address’ into Google.
- Surf with your new UK Nationality and access any UK only sites like the BBC
- Enjoy the security and anonymity a VPN provides
- Disconnect to revert back to your original location
That’s all there is to it really/ While connected to any VPN service, your real IP address will be hidden and only the VPN server address will be visible. So you’ll have a US address with a server based in new York and a UK one if the server is physically located in the UK. It’s a method used by literally millions of people to watch UK television stations like the BBC for instance, anywhere in the world.
Remember there are some slight complications, such as the following points which are worth remembering.
- You may actually get blocked from local sites when connected to the best UK proxy you can buy, most large media sites restrict access to their domestic market.
- Your online experience will be slightly altered – Google for example will provide local results based on the VPN location.
- You are routing your traffic through an extra hop so speed may be affected ( hint choose fast VPN servers not cheap, slow ones).
- Some sites check more than just location, Netflix for instance looks for IP addresses which are classified as residential.
The last point is important and can affect if this method works for you. Although IP addresses are often classified by location, there are also other classifications assigned to IP address ranges. Many sites actually go further than this and check other factors before allowing access, also some sites will track how specific IP addresses are used too.
The use of VPN services is now so common and prevalent for gaining access to geo-restricted sites that sometimes other checks are made too. For example many e-commerce sites check what sort of IP address is connecting to their sites. Ordinary users who are connected through their home computers for instance will all have a ‘residential IP address‘ assigned to their ISP for allocation to their customers. So this is a great check for ensuring the connection is actually from a legitimate UK residential user. The vast majority (95%+) of VPN services will use IP addresses assigned to ‘commercial ranges’ simply because they’re much easier to obtain for a commercial company. So depending on your task, a simple VPN with a commercial address range won’t be enough – it certainly won’t allow you access to the UK version of Netflix for instance.
Benefits of Using a VPN
These shouldn’t be underestimated though as for many people they are an essential service which have lots of uses –
Bypass Country Restrictions
A flexible VPN which lets you choose which country you want to appear to be in truly unlocks your internet connection. Not only can you watch geo-restricted UK content like the BBC, ITV and Channel 4 irrespective of your location. You’ll also be able to switch to a US server and enjoy Hulu, HBO and Pandora, then pick a French server for great media sites like the M6 Replay based in Paris. Basically you can unlock nearly every site simply by clicking on the right country.
Secure Surfing Using Public Wifi
Many people don’t realise how insecure and risky public WiFi sites can be. Many are extremely insecure and offer very little protection and privacy. That might be fine for browsing generic sites, but it’s extremely dangerous to use secure sites like email, online banking and social media sites. Even HTTPS sites are not safe as they can be potentially intercepted if you control the router or access point. a VPN will encrypt all your data including usernames and passwords and protect from man in the middle attacks too.
Some Privacy Online
You may think that your online activity is private and personal to you, but that’s not really the case. Your online activity is monitored by all sorts of organisations including search engines, social media companies and many more. Depending on where you live your government will be monitoring to some extent, and of course your ISP can produce records of everything you do online – sites you visit, videos watched and images downloaded. A properly configured VPN service encrypts your data and hides your online activity.
For personal privacy and accessing the majority of online media sites, a decent VPN service like Identity Cloaker
is all you’ll need. However for many other tasks they won’t really work – often sharing your IP address with loads of others is not suitable either. For specialist tasks like buying from e-commerce stores and running multiple social media accounts, you’ll need to look at other options. This is why companies like Storm Proxies offer things like private residential proxies or those designed specifically for use with Instagram.