It is possible to bypass Netflix regional blocks in order to watch your favorite international TV shows and movies. Here’s how:
- Choose a VPN provider and sign up for a plan.
- Download and install the VPN software.
- Run your VPN software, choose a server from a country where you want to watch Netflix from, and connect to it.
- Open your browser and go to https://www.netflix.com/. You should see the version of the site that corresponds to the location of your VPN server.
- Log in and you can use the site as usual, but now you get to see all the content from the international location instead of your home country’s content.
Netflix has been so successful banning VPNs and proxies, you might think it’s impossible to unblock your favorite streams from abroad. Don’t be fooled–there are still some top-tier VPNs with networks powerful enough to bypass the Netflix block. We’ve tested them out, and below we provide our recommendations on which providers to use and explain how to watch Netflix with a VPN.
It is Possible to Watch Netflix from a Region Different Than Your Own…It Just Takes a Little Work
Nearly 100 million people from all over the world use Netflix to watch TV shows and movies. However, you might have heard that Netflix offers different content in different countries. Even though all users go through the same website, netflix.com, the content which they have access to varies depending on their location.
You’ll have noticed this if you have been traveling abroad and tried to watch something on Netflix – you might not be able to load the video you want because it isn’t available in the region you are. In places like Germany, Spain, and Hong Kong, Netflix users can’t see the original Netflix programs (like House of Cards, for example).
So, many Netflix users turned to a VPN to access content from other countries. If you lived in Germany but wanted to watch a Netflix show that was only available in the US, you just had to fire up your VPN software, connect to a US server, then head to netflix.com and watch without problems.
Recently, though, this has stopped working for many.
So now, if you’re stuck looking for ways to bypass the Netflix VPN ban, we’ve done the research for you. We start by explaining how Netflix blocks VPNs and then show you our top choices to beat the geo-location ban from anywhere in the world.
The problem with using a VPN to unblock Netflix streaming
Netflix cracked down on the use of VPNs. Netflix decided to block attempts to bypass their region-locked content using VPN services, making it more difficult to access Netflix content from other countries. Netflix was pressured into this action by movie copyright holders, as the pricey streaming rights for big movies are sold separately in different countries.
Netflix VPN & catalog access
When Netflix customers use a VPN to watch a movie that is not licensed in their country, copyright holders do not receive payment for their viewing. So there has been pressure on Netflix to prevent users from getting around region locks and making it difficult to change the location on netflix.
There is also the factor of Netflix becoming a content creator as well as a content distributor — now their shows like The Irishman and El Camino or Orange is the New Black are so successful.
A few years ago, Netflix took a more tolerant stance towards privacy and copyright law, but with the rise in importance of its own content, it is becoming stricter around potential piracy issues.
Eventually, Netflix has stated that they want to provide global access to content, so that you can watch all of the content wherever you are in the world.
But achieving this will be a long process of negotiations with copyright holders, so we’re unlikely to see Netflix global any time soon. For now, it is highly likely that Netflix content will remain region locked for the near future.
VPN detection, explained
When users have a VPN enabled and visit the Netflix site, they can browse the content as usual, using the VPN location.
For example, if you connect to a VPN server in the UK and go to netflix.com, you’ll see the UK version of the site and everything appears to be working. But when you select a video to play, you may get a proxy error saying “Whoops, something went wrong… Stream Error”.
Beneath this is a warning that Netflix has detected that you are using an unblocker or a proxy, and you will not be able to play the video. If you see this warning, it means that Netflix has blocked your VPN and you won’t be able to watch your content.
This problem is caused by the sophisticated VPN detection which Netflix uses. At first, the VPN works as the Netflix website sees an IP address in UK, and so it serves the UK version of the site (it reads the country code of the incoming IP address and serves up the relevant version of the site).
However, the Netflix server which hosts the actual video content, rather than the website, uses much stricter detection methods to determine whether a VPN is being used. This prevents you from watching the video, even if you can navigate the site.
RELATED READING: How to Bypass the Netflix Proxy Error
Best VPN options for Netflix
Here’s our list of the best services VPNs that allow you to watch Netflix from anywhere:
As well as having extremely fast servers that are ideal for streaming video, the most reliable VPN provider for accessing Netflix is ExpressVPN. With its huge network of 3,000+ servers in 94 countries worldwide, you’ll easily be able to use ExpressVPN to spoof your location to watch Netflix from places like the US, Canada, and Germany.
You might find that not all servers work with Netflix when you use ExpressVPN, as the VPN detection evolves over time. If you’ve tried a few servers and not found one which is working, you can contact ExpressVPN’s 24/7 customer service and ask them for a recommendation of which server to connect to. They should be able to point you to the server that you need.
ExpressVPN supports plenty of different platforms, including Windows, Mac OS, Linux, Android, Chromebook, Kindle Fire and Firestick, Nook, and many more. The strong 256-bit AES encryption keeps your data safe and the no-logging policy ensures your privacy with ExpressVPN.
Read our full ExpressVPN review.
- Unblocks US Netflix, BBC iPlayer, Hulu and Amazon Prime
- Super fast, reliable connection
- Torrenting/P2P allowed
- Strict no-logging policy
- Live Chat Support.
- Slightly pricier than competition.
Another VPN option for Netflix users is NordVPN. This service is perfect for highly privacy-minded users, thanks to its strong encryption and no-logging policy. NordVPN specializes in getting around region locks, so it has one of the biggest networks of servers with more than 55,800 servers in 59 countries. NordVPN, in fact, has Netflix-optimised servers that don’t require extra configuration to work.
These are particular numbered servers that have been set up specifically to be used for watching Netflix. You can see the exact instructions for watching Netflix on the NordVPN website. According to NordVPN’s information, the servers are currently working with Netflix in the US as well as France, India, Netherlands, Canada, Germany, and Australia.
Read our full NordVPN review.
- SPECIAL OFFER: 3-year plan (75% off - link below)
- 5,400+ servers globally
- Torrenting/P2P explicitly allowed
- Based in Panama
- Customer Service (24/7 Chat).
- Refund processing can take up to 30 days.
Cyberghost managed to reinvent themselves under new ownership. They’ve improved operations greatly by adding a deluge of new servers and location, improved speeds by a long shot and upped the security for all their infrastructure.
The good thing about advertising some 6,300 servers in 89 countries worldwide is that some of these are specifically meant for Netflix streaming — just open up the app and select your preferred server from the streaming menu.
That means you won’t have to contact customer support for working servers or just try random ones every time you bump into a problem.
On top of that, there’s a review feature that allows you to thumb up or down on a server’s IP address which pings the support team if a server has been blocked or not.
From a privacy standpoint, Cyberghost is based in Romania — a country that has no data retention laws, which means you can stream totally private; no logs and no data usage is being leaked.
Read our full CyberGhost review.
- Unblocks US Netflix, BBC iPlayer, YouTube
- Compatible with TOR
- Robust encryption standards
- Zero logs
- 24/7 Live Chat Support.
- Some streaming sites cannot be unblocked.
PrivateVPN is another great solution for unblocking Netflix. They focus strongly on privacy and usability which means it will allow you the comfort of accessing content safe and secure.
PrivateVPN has apps for smartphones, computers and even the firestick — it comes with a super light and quite sleek interface so that everyone can use it no matter how tech-literate they are. Just choose a server and connect. There aren’t a ton of these by the standards of this list of top VPNs, but you still get a generous 150 servers in 60+ countries to choose from.
The service comes with a unique feature that will make watching Netflix extremely easy. By that we mean confirmed servers that work with the service — simply browse the server listing and you’ll see some odd labels saying ?Netflix?, ?Hulu?, ?BBC? and others; voila you’re no more random luck trying to find servers that work with Netflix.
Read our full PrivateVPN review.
Some users complain about StrongVPN not working with Netflix. Our testing revealed that they have specific servers in the US to unblock Netflix US — Miami and Atlanta worked great, but if you encounter issues just email the support team and they will help out with working servers. Their network is indeed robust, numbering more than 650 servers in 20+ countries in total.
The only drawbacks are that we couldn’t use the OpenVPN protocol which is more secure than PPTP (Note: SSTP also worked at the time of writing) and that you cannot unblock Netflix from the app.
The first issue that VPN detection investigates is shared IP addresses. Many VPN providers will use shared IP addresses, so you could be on the same IP address as dozens or even hundreds of other users.
This is advantageous for anonymity, but it is easy for Netflix to see which IP addresses are accessing huge amounts of data, suggesting that they are a VPN shared IP, and to block them.
Anonymity vs sacrificing privacy
One solution to this is to use an individual IP address, which some VPN providers do offer, but this loses the advantage of anonymity offered by a shared IP.
Another problem is that VPN providers will typically buy up IP addresses in large bulk, so they will have a whole lot of servers under similar IP addresses. Once Netflix has discovered that a particular IP address is used by a VPN, it sometimes bulk blocks a whole range of addresses.
This means that users who aren’t even running VPNs can be affected by this issue, as their IP address happens to fall close to a range of VPN IP addresses.
The rules which Netflix uses to detect VPNs are not fully understood, and their VPN detection continues to evolve over time. This has created a situation where many if not most VPNs will no longer work with Netflix.
Even if you are a Netflix customer who only wants to access streaming content from your own country, you still won’t be able to use the service without turning off your VPN and sacrificing your privacy.
Using Netflix’s app vs browser (tested)
A separate complication with watching with a VPN is the two different ways in which you access the Netflix service. As well as banning IP addresses, Netflix also detects VPNs by looking at whether the location of your IP address and your DNS server matches.
If you use your web browser to watch Netflix and you have a VPN installed, then the VPN provider will be able to route your traffic via a DNS server that they have provided. This way, your traffic and your DNS server match and you do not trigger the proxy error.
RELATED READING: How to Get a U.S. IP Address from Anywhere
When you use Netflix in an app for your Android or iOS device, however, this does not always work. Apps can override the DNS settings on your device and force your device to use the default ISP name server.
This means that when your VPN service is turned on, the location of the traffic passing through the server does not match the DNS server, and so the Netflix streaming app can detect VPN use.
In this case, you’ll trigger the proxy error.
Many VPN providers have not yet been able to resolve this issue to allow users to watch Netflix through an app. However, the VPNs that we have selected below have found a way around this issue to make it work.
Install a VPN on your router to access unlimited Netflix streaming
An alternative strategy to manage this problem is to install your VPN software directly onto your router rather than onto your individual devices. This way, any traffic which is sent through your router (i.e. any traffic originating from your home network) will be automatically encrypted.
Once you have installed your VPN software onto your router, you’ll need to configure your settings to forward DNS queries to the DNS servers provided by your VPN. Now, you can watch Netflix on any device – even through an app – without triggering the proxy error.
You can find instructions on how to install VPN software onto your router and how to configure your DNS settings on your VPN provider’s website.
How do you use Netflix with a VPN?
Once you’ve chosen a VPN provider and signed up for a plan, then using your VPN with Netflix is simple. Start off by downloading and installing the VPN software from your chosen provider.
When you run the software for the first time, you’ll see a list of servers in different countries that you can connect to. Find one that is in the country where you want to watch Netflix from and connect to it.
Is my VPN working?
You can check whether your VPN is working by going to https://whatismyipaddress.com/. This site will tell you your current IP address, and show the location of that address on a map. Make sure that the IP address matches with the location that you wish to access Netflix from.
Now you can open up your browser and go to https://www.netflix.com/. You should see the version of the site that corresponds to the location of your VPN server. So, if you picked a server in the UK, you should see the UK version of Netflix. Log in and you can use the site as usual, but now you get to see all the UK content instead of your home country’s content.
You can use this method to access Netflix from all over the world. Some of the most popular versions of Netflix are those in the US, Canada, and the UK, as these have lots of content that is missing from other countries like Austria, Germany, Switzerland, Spain, Hong Kong, and Turkey.
Bypass Netflix region locks with a VPN
Netflix has set out on a mission to make bypassing their region locks on content more and more difficult over the last year or two, and they’ve succeeded in locking out many VPN users.
Whilst it may be understandable that they need to enforce strict rules about region locking from the copyright holders who provide their content, it is highly controversial that they are also blocking access to those customers who want to use a VPN in order to protect their privacy.
Parting words – The future of VPN use and Netflix
Eventually, Netflix aims to make all of its content available globally, but for now, we are stuck with region locking.
If you want to access Netflix content from other countries, however, this is still possible. You can use either of the two VPN providers that we recommended here – ExpressVPN and NordVPN – to bypass Netflix region locks.
Using VPNs is your best option to access Netflix for now
VPN detection will continue to grow more sophisticated, so you might need to ask for guidance to find the specific servers which you can connect to in order to access Netflix, but as things stand these two are the most reliable options for VPNs to access Netflix.
Have you tried to get around the Netflix region locks? Do you use either of the VPNs which we recommended, or is there another which you prefer? Let us know your tips in the comments below!
Netflix Unblocking: Quick FAQ
- Which VPNs work with Netflix?
We’ve done more than 5,000 tests on 45+ VPNs and came up with those that WORK and are able to unblock Netflix. They are: ExpressVPN, NordVPN, CyberGhost, PrivateVPN, and StrongVPN.
- Is using a VPN with Netflix, illegal?
Since Netflix doesn’t know if a VPN is “being used for legitimate purposes”, they block VPN usage for their users. But that doesn’t mean you will be doing anything illegal by using one. There is no law against using a VPN to watch Netflix.
- Why do I need a VPN with Netflix?
A VPN is more than a tool to fool apps and websites into thinking your location is somewhere else than it is. We recommend using a VPN, because it’s in your best interest when it comes to privacy.
- Why Netflix doesn’t work with a VPN?
Because you’re not using the right VPN. Our research on 45+ VPNs reveals that only a select few services are able to actually unblock Netflix viewing.
- How to unblock Netflix VPN?
Using a VPN with Netflix is easy. Just sign up for a recommended VPN service from our list and then follow their instructions for setting everything up.
If you need a VPN for a short while when traveling for example, you can get our top ranked VPN free of charge. ExpressVPN includes a 30-day money-back guarantee. You will need to pay for the subscription, that’s a fact, but it allows full access for 30 days and then you cancel for a full refund. Their no-questions-asked cancellation policy lives up to its name.