The best way to listen to UK radio abroad is via the internet, which could mean streaming the radio on a laptop or smartphone or using a standalone internet radio. It’s also possible to listen to the BBC World Service via shortwave in some parts of the world.
Unfortunately, listening to UK radio via AM, FM and DAB/DAB+ generally isn’t possible abroad. Read on for a more detailed exploration of how to listen to British radio stations from outside the country.
Via the internet
If you have access to the internet, listening to the radio online is the easiest option. You have a choice of different ways to access UK radio:
Via a streaming service
Websites such as TuneIn.com allow you to listen to most UK radio stations from anywhere in the world. TuneIn is free and you don’t need to download any software, though there are apps available.
You can find UK national networks to listen to on TuneIn here.
Via an app
Several radio apps are available, which make it easy to listen to UK radio on your smartphone. One of the best is Radioplayer, which is available for both Apple and Android devices. Radioplayer is a UK-based service and works as a partnership between commercial radio stations in the BBC to offer an easy way to listen to UK radio online.
Via BBC iPlayer
BBC iPlayer radio can be used abroad. You can also download most BBC podcasts abroad, but some might not be available due to rights restrictions. At the moment you can’t watch TV on iPlayer abroad, but you can listen to the radio. If you use the iPlayer app you should download it before the country, as sometimes there are restrictions on downloading it abroad.
Using an internet radio
One easy way to listen to UK radio stations abroad (or foreign stations in the UK) is to use an internet radio. This looks just like a regular radio (and often comes with FM and DAB/DAB+), but it connects to the internet allowing you to easily listen to 20,000+ stations from across the globe, including national and local stations from the UK.
Internet radios are usually relatively large, so you might not want to take on a short trip, but they make a good choice if you’re living abroad and want to keep up with UK radio.
See our roundup of the best internet radios here.
On shortwave radio
Shortwave radio can travel large distances and is difficult to censor, which helps explain why it’s used by the BBC to transmit the World Service. The World Service hasn’t been available in Europe on shortwave since 2008, but it’s still available in some parts of Africa, Asia and the Middle East. You can see the current short wave frequencies on the BBC’s website here.
On AM/FM radio
If you’re travelling somewhere physically close to the UK such as Northern France, Belgium and the Netherlands, you might be able to pick up a UK radio station or two, but the reception will probably be very poor. Apart from that you won’t be able to receive British radio on AM or FM abroad. However, your radio will still work and will pick up stations from the country you’re travelling in.
On DAB/DAB+ radio
DAB radios only pick up stations broadcasting from within the country you’re in, so you won’t be able to pick up UK stations on DAB from abroad. Your DAB radio will still work, and will pick up stations from the country you’re travelling in if that country uses DAB radio. See the Wikipedia page on which countries use DAB radio here.