How to Fix “Download failed” Error when downloading BBC iPlayer Programs Abroad

Are you fed up with watching “Download Unavailable – Error Code: 3” or “Dash manifest failed” flashing over your screen whenever you try to download programs via a VPN?

Even if your VPN allows you to stream BBC iPlayer, there are chances that you’ll still get these messages. Here are two things you need to know;

  1. Most Free VPNs and BBC iPlayer downloads are not going to work
  2. SurfShark VPN is a good alternative that does work

Following is the ultimate guide on how you can use BBC iPlayer to download programs when you’re not in the UK. Even if you’re not a techie, we promise, it’s a piece of cake!

BBC iPlayer failing to download programs via a VPN? Here is why:

From encrypting your data to spoofing your location, VPNs are the best choice for all. Although some VPNs work best to unblock BBC iPlayer abroad, they fail to download programs when you are outside the UK.

It might get a little irritating when you’re on your way back to the UK and you want to use BBC iPlayer downloads for your device but you see it getting failed.

However, Surfshark has sought out a way to fix Download Failed on BBC Player abroad. Their VPN allows you to easily access BBC iPlayer from anywhere in the world and download your favorite programs with just a clock.

How to Fix “Download failed” Popping Up When Downloading BBC iPlayer Programs Abroad

For downloading programs from BBC iPlayer abroad, I would suggest downloading the latest version of BBC iPlayer Downloads app from the official website. If you already have the app installed then make sure that it’s updated to the latest version.

Now it’s time to fix your IP Address leak. Your IP address gives out your location when you log on to a website or stream online. However, some VPNs are secure enough that BBC is unable to find out your real location. So we suggest that you get a decent VPN and don’t rely on Free ones because those are the worst ones. I used the Surfshark and it worked quite smoothly, but you are free to choose any other paid VPN of your liking.

Want to download BBC iPlayer programs in foreign lands? Set up VPN now!

It might seem a little intimidating to set up a VPN for BBC iPlayer, but there is absolutely no need to worry. Because this guide has got your back.

It literally takes about 5 seconds to download and install your favorite VPN, and connect it to your required location which in this case would be UK. You just need to know what you’re doing.

First things first, you need to get sign-up for SurfShark VPN before you start following the steps. I can only confirm that SurfShark works perfectly when used with BBC iPlayer, even for the downloads, but you can try other VPNs too if you want, you may also try using this Zorro VPN coupon.

Once, you download the VPN, just install it and connect it to any UK location. That’s all!


You’re now all set to watch any BBC iPlayer program that you want and you can also download any program via the BBC iPlayer Downloads app.

If you run into any other problems then check out the following troubleshooting advice.

Having problems downloading programs using BBC iPlayer Downloads?

Try the following steps:

Restart the BBC iPlayer Downloads application

 Completely close the application by pressing the X in the top corner of the window, then reopen it and try downloading the video again.

Check if the video program has expired

The video programme you’re trying to download might have expired already. Downloaded programs have the same expiry as online programs on the website. Check the BBC iPlayer website to see if the episode is still available or if it has expired.

Remove the program and download it again

If your internet connection cuts when you are downloading the program then it could cause issues with the download. So, make sure that you have a consistent connection and redownload the video again.

Check you’re on the latest version of the application

As already mentioned, you need to check if you are using the latest version of BBC iPlayer Downloads application. Click Settings at the top right and then click Check for Updates. If a newer version is available, update the app.

How to fix “Dash manifest failed” error in BBC iPlayer?

Here’s what the BBC iPlayer customer support rep had to say about this error (My comments are in red):

This is an error that we are aware of. Check you’re using the latest version of the BBC iPlayer Downloads application. Open the application, go to Settings, and click Check for Updates. – Always make sure you have the latest Downloads app.

Can you try using an alternative web browser to download? – Try downloading the episode with Mozilla Firefox or Microsoft Edge or any other browser.

We believe this error is related to a small part of the downloaded file not being in the correct format since a Google update. However, it usually pops up when attempting playback of downloads, rather than when you attempt to download a programme. – If this is a Google update problem then you should avoid downloading the program through Google Chrome.

Are you using the latest version of both Firefox and Chrome? – Update your browsers first.

When you uninstalled the downloads app, did you also delete all associated files before reinstalling? – When uninstalling iPlayer Downloads app make sure to delete all the associated files with it.

Try following these steps and see if that helps: First, remove the application (These steps are for Mac)

Go to Applications
Ctrl + click BBC iPlayer Downloads
Select Move to trash

Then, remove the BBC iPlayer Downloads folder
This is located in the Movies folder. The full path location is User > USER-NAME > Movies > “BBC iPlayer Downloads

Go to your folders
Select the User folder
Select your user name
Select the Movies folder
Click on the Preferences folder
Delete BBC iPlayer Downloads

If it was version 1, you may also need to follow these steps to ensure all files associated with version 1 have been removed. This could be the cause of the error.

There are a couple of other folders called BBCiPlayerDownloads that need to be deleted at the following locations, using the same method as above:

User > USER-NAME > Library > Preference > BBCiPlayerDownloads
User > USER-NAME > Library > Application Support > Adobe > AIR > ELS > BBCiPlayerDownloads
If you can’t see the Library folder:

Open the Finder
Choose Go from the menu bar
Choose Go to Folder (or Shift + Cmd + G)
Type ~/Library into the text box and click Go

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9 thoughts on “How to Fix “Download failed” Error when downloading BBC iPlayer Programs Abroad”

  1. Hello Dilawar,

    Sounds nice but it doesn’t work. With Nord-VPN I can watch BBC iPlayer, but not download, from Sweden. With the Surfshark app I can watch but not download. With Surfshark Smart DNS I can neither watch nor download.

    I have followed your steps for Mac, flushed the browser cash and restarted my laptop. I’ve chceked my DNS settings and the IP addresses provided by Surfshark are there. I have tried using either of them, and both, but it just doesn’t work.

    Best wishes,

    • Hey David,

      Have you tried it on any other platform than Mac? Please try it on iOS or Android or Windows to see if it works there, then we’ll at least know if it’s a platform-related issue or something else.

  2. FYI: I just got this reply from Surfshark support chat:

    “Unfortunetly, SmartDNS feature is used to unlock only the US libraries for the streaming providers like Netflix, Hulu and Disney+.”


  3. It’s not working for me neither: I’m getting the DASH manifest failed message and the download doesn’t go on. I’m using Windows 7 64bit, Surfshark VPN, bbc iplayer download 2.12.7

  4. Friday 23 rd April 2021. I have exactly this problem when using the Chrome browser with Windows 7 and PureVPN.
    Everything was working fine until Wednesday 21st April 2021.
    I’ve tried everything ( that I know of ) – reinstalled BBC IPLAYER, Cleared cache, rebooted Laptop, switched off Router to clear its cache & restarted.
    All to no available.
    Strange that one can watch “live streaming” ( except that buffering makes that impractical).


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