It’s a frustration for many internet users that some online content is region locked. This means that some content can only be accessed if you are visiting the website from a particular geographical location – for example, Netflix famously region locks its content so that some shows or movies are only available to watch from particular regions. Other sites use geographical information in order to offer different versions of their site to different customers. The ASOS shopping website, for example, will detect which country you are accessing it from and show you different languages, currency, and available items accordingly.
While this can be helpful, allowing websites to localise content by serving it in the appropriate language, it can also be an annoyance. What if you want to access content from a different region? Or what if you’re an expat and you’d like to see content from your home country, rather than the country in which you currently reside? Users in China are especially familiar with this problem, due to the heavy restrictions on internet use there. Also, many users would like to be able to access content from the UK such watching content on the BBC iPlayer.
Luckily, there is a way to get around region locks by using an IP address from another country. Below we’ll explain what an IP address is and how it can be used to find your location. Then we’ll show you how to get a UK IP address in China using a VPN, and recommend some of our favourite VPN services which you can use.
What Is an IP address?
An Internet Protocol address (or IP address) is a series of numbers corresponding to a particular device which is connected to a network. On your home network, for example, your desktop machine will have one IP address and your phone will have another IP address. These addresses will be similar as the two devices are on the same network, but they will differ by at least one digit. Every device connected to the internet has a unique numerical code which represents it. Most IP addresses you’ll come across are in the IP version 4 format, which looks like this: 193.482.4.1
The purpose of an IP address is to route data to the correct device over a network – think of it like a mailing address, but for your computer. IP addresses include within them information on the country in which the device is located. Particular ranges of IP addresses are assigned to specific countries – for example, IP addresses between 126.96.36.199 and 188.8.131.52 are located within the UK. If you ever need to check which country a particular IP address range corresponds to, you can look up this information on this website: http://lite.ip2location.com/ip-address-ranges-by-country
This means that when you connect to a web site, the site can see your IP address and work out which country you are accessing the site from. The site will then serve you content related to your region and not another. To see this in action, just visit google.com and you’ll see that the site reads your IP address and automatically redirects to your local version of Google – like google.de for Germany or google.fr for France.
What Can You Do with a British IP address?
As you can see, your IP address determines what kind of content you’ll be able to access on the web. Being able to access an IP address from Britain has a number of advantages for users in China:
- Get around the Great Firewall. The heavy restrictions on internet use for Chinese citizens include blocking popular sites like Google, Facebook, and YouTube, plus restricting access to historical information or materials which are critical of the government. Even if you’re just travelling through China, you’ll find that your internet use will be very restricted. If you have an IP address in Britain, however, you can get around these harsh restrictions and access virtually any site you want.
- See UK-only content like BBC iPlayer. People from all over the world like to watch British TV shows, from sci-fi like Doctor Who to high-quality documentaries like Planet Earth. All of these shows are available to watch for free on the BBC iPlayer website at https://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer, but only if you are within the UK. With a British IP address, you’ll be able to watch all the iPlayer content as well as other UK-only content such as the programming on Channel 4 at http://www.channel4.com/.
- Download uncensored games or other media. It’s a frustration if there’s a particular game you want to play which you’ve heard great things about online – but the game isn’t released in your region for weeks or months. Alternatively, some countries heavily censor games to make them less gory or to remove controversial content. If you want to play the full version of games as soon as they’re released, you can use a foreign IP to download the uncensored game straight away.
- Beef up your security and privacy. Whether you live in China or you’re just passing through, cyber security is a major concern. The government is known to monitor internet traffic very closely, and if you want to keep your communications private then you need to be careful. Using a foreign IP will improve your security and protect you from both government spying and from hackers who might try to steal your personal data.
You Can Get a UK IP Address Using a VPN
The easiest way to get a UK IP address is to use a VPN service. A VPN, short for Virtual Private Network, installs a small piece of software onto your device which encrypts all of the data which you send over the internet. This encryption means that even if your connection is intercepted and observed, no one can see what sites you are accessing. Through the VPN software, you choose a server in another country to connect to. You are assigned an IP address for this server, wherever it is located. The encrypted data is sent to this server, where it is decrypted and sent on its way.
As the data is decrypted at the server, the data appears to originate from wherever the server is located. If you are in China and you connect to a VPN server in the UK, it will appear to the sites you access as if you are visiting them from the UK. This means that you’ll see all of the UK content and be able to avoid the restrictions of the Great Firewall.
How We Evaluate VPN Services
When it comes to choosing a VPN service, you should remember that not all VPNs will work in China. The Chinese government has announced plans to restrict the use of VPNs in 2018, and the methods of detecting VPN use are becoming more sophisticated. This means that you need to choose a VPN service which will work specifically in China in order to get a UK IP address.
You should especially avoid free VPN services as many of these have been found to have poor security, to sell on their users’ data, or to misuse users’ devices to stage DDoS attacks. It’s worth paying a little bit of money each month for a paid VPN that will keep you secure and let you avoid Chinese internet restrictions.
We’ve rounded up a list of the best VPN services to use to get a UK IP address in China. In addition to whether or not the VPN works in China, we also considered the following factors:
- Many servers in different countries, so you can get an IP address in other countries like the US, Canada, Sweden, or Germany as well as in the UK
- Fast connection speeds, so that your internet browsing isn’t slowed down
- Good security, including strong encryption and a no logging policy to protect your privacy
- Software which is easy to use and supports all of the common operating systems
Our Recommended VPNs
We considered all of these factors and chose the following VPNs as best to use to get a UK IP address in China:
ExpressVPN is a favourite of users from around the world. It’s well known for having lightning-fast connection speeds which leave other VPNs in the dust. It has a massive network of servers located in 145 cities in 94 countries including the UK, so you can easily get a UK IP address.
ExpressVPN is perfect for users in China as it has special ‘stealth servers’ located in Hong Kong which can get around the Great Firewall and hide the fact that a VPN is being used. It has the strong 256-bit AES encryption that you need to keep you safe, and the company has a no logging policy to protect your privacy. The software supports both new and older versions of Windows (from XP to Windows 10) as well as Mac OS, Linux, and Android.
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NordVPN is also an excellent choice for Chinese users, as they specialise in getting around region locks. They have a huge network of 1070 servers in 60 countries including the UK, so you can get your UK IP address. The network is reliable and has strong privacy including solid encryption and a no logging policy, so you can get around the Great Firewall safely. The specialised servers use double encryption, onion routing, and anti-DDoS servers to ensure your privacy.
As a bonus, NordVPN is one of the few VPNs which still works with Netflix. If you want a VPN for use in China and in other locations which you travel to which has consistent access to UK content including BBC iPlayer and Netflix, NordVPN is ideal.
The NordVPN software is available for Windows, Mac OS, Linux, iOS, Chrome OS, Android, and Windows Phone.
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VyprVPN is a top choice for a VPN to use in China thanks to their Chameleon security protocol. This protocol adds an extra layer of encryption to protect against deep packet inspection, which is used in China to detect whether a VPN is being used. VyprVPN gets around this inspection by encrypting the origin and destination of data packets as well as their contents
The VyprVPN network has more than 700 servers in 70 countries including the UK, so you can easily get a UK IP address. The software can be installed on Windows, Mac, Android, and iOS.
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IPVanish is a service which prioritises your privacy and aims to protect you from prying eyes of all kinds, whether it’s your ISP or your government who are trying to observe your internet use. As well as strong encryption and the no logging policy that you’d expect, IPVanish also has extra security measures like DNS leak protection and a kill switch to prevent you from accidentally sending information over an unsecured connection.
The network of over 850 servers in more than 60 different countries includes lots of servers in the UK to let you access UK content. The connections are extremely fast, and the software supports Windows 7, 8, and 10, plus Mac OS, Linux, and Android. There are no bandwidth caps or other limitations, so you can browse freely and know that you can get around internet restrictions and be sure that you’re protected.
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StrongVPN is popular with Chinese users because it is reliable within China, but it’s not one of the well-known big names in VPN like ExpressVPN. This means that it’s less likely to be the target of VPN crackdowns by the Chinese government. You still get all the security features you’d expect, like 256-bit encryption and a no-logging guarantee.
The server network is smaller than other providers, with 475 servers over 24 countries, but this still includes plenty of servers in the UK so you’ll be able to get around restrictions and watch UK-only content. The software supports Windows, Mac OS, iOS, Android, and Linux.
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If you’re based in or travelling through China, you’ll absolutely want to get a VPN in order to be able to access sites like Facebook and YouTube and to keep yourself safe from outside observation. With a VPN you can get an IP address in another country, such as the UK. With this UK IP address, you can access content like the BBC iPlayer and you can view the UK version of websites.
We’ve shared recommendations for five VPN services that you can use to get a UK IP address in China. Any of these five can be used to keep you safe and let you access the content that you want.
Which method do you use for getting a UK IP address in China? Let us know in the comments below.