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iPad apps and books in the UK: How to make yourself American

You can beg, borrow or buy an iPad from US and bring it here, but how can you use it? Check out our handy guide to getting the goodies for your iPad

Flora Graham
4 min read

Normally we'd rather choke on a well-buttered crumpet than become more American, but now we've got our hands on an iPad, our craving for apps and other goodies means we're suddenly more than happy to become a Yankee poodle.

Because the iPad isn't available in the UK until May, you can't buy iPad apps or books from the UK iTunes store. You could just put UK iPhone apps on to the iPad by connecting it to iTunes on your computer with a USB cable, and they'll work -- but they're made for a smaller screen, so they don't look as good on your iPad.

But never fear, because you don't have to put on ten stone and talk louder to impersonate an American. We've got all the tips to set up a Yankee ID, all for free, without a US credit card.

Be aware that using the US iTunes store outside "the United States, its territories, and possessions" breaks the store's terms and conditions, and you'll have to take responsibility for that when your heart is weighed against a feather.

Update: Thanks to the commenters who pointed out that some iPad apps are available on the UK iTunes store on your PC, which you can side-load onto the iPad over USB. They're a bit harder to find, because there's no dedicated iPad area of the UK iTunes store, so try searching for what you want. You'll still need a US account to get the full selection on your PC, or download apps directly onto the iPad.

Do this before you activate your iPad.

Open iTunes and log out of your account. To go to the US iTunes store, go all the way to the bottom of the home page and click the flag to switch countries, or just click this handy iTunes link.

Select the App Store from the menu across the top of the screen and find a free iPhone or iPad app. Click to download it and a dialogue box will open to prompt you for your username and password -- click the Create New Account button. Follow the instructions, and when you get to the payment page, after the options for various credit cards and PayPal, select the radio button labelled None. Finish up with a valid US address -- Google is your friend here -- and voila! Your US iTunes account is ready to roll.

Like the iPhone, you have to activate the iPad by connecting it to iTunes on your computer with a USB cable. Now that you're logged in as a 'murcan, connect your iPad and activate it. Without a US credit card or PayPal account, you'll only be able to get free apps, though. 

You can now download apps from the US app store directly on to the iPad, or connect it to your computer to side-load apps from the UK store and the US store.

You can only be logged into one country's store at a time on your computer, but all the apps you download stay in iTunes so you can put them on the iPad whenever you want.

Now that you're in, start perusing the iPad apps on offer. The iBooks app (iTunes link), for example, is Apple's ebook store. You'll still have to stick to freebies without a payment method on your iTunes account, but there are a few great classics that are available for free.

iBooks isn't the only ebook jellybean in the box, our newly American friend. There's also an Amazon Kindle app (iTunes link), which is also free -- and Amazon isn't as picky about the nationality of its customers. Just pop over to the US Amazon Web site and set up an account using your British details.

You can shop in the American Kindle store from the app on your iPad with your US Amazon account, and use that to buy books galore.

So you've got free iPad apps from the US store, paid iPhone apps and content from the UK store that you can transfer over USB, and Kindle books on your iPad. But what if you want some paid iPad apps? You'll need some US iTunes credit.

You could move to the US, get a credit card, get married and settle down. But emigrating is hard -- so try buying an iTunes gift card or email gift certificate instead.

If you're popping over the pond for a holiday, you can buy gift cards at countless shops in the US. If not, there are plenty of Web sites offering US iTunes cards and credit to British buyers, as well as a booming eBay business. This market is full of scammers however, so beware who you're dealing with -- check their eBay feedback and reviews.

Or why not simply befriend an American? Try hanging out in Covent Garden on weekday afternoons and chatting up loud couples with matching backpacks. Once they get home, ask them to send you some gift credit in iTunes, and pay them back using PayPal. Man, we love the Internet.