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Free Netflix VPNs: are they worth downloading and which ones are good?

free Netflix VPN
(Image credit: Giordano Rossoni)

A free Netflix VPN sounds too good to be true – can you really get access to the world's content libraries from your PC or TV without spending a penny? 

What we're going to look at here is if it's possible to get a free VPN for Netflix that rivals the functionality of a paid-for service. We'll be looking at every way to get a free Netflix VPN that will actually works – and then you can choose which one sounds like the best fit for you.

If you want to see the best free Netflix VPNs right away, click the 'Jump To' tab at the top of the page. If you want to learn a little more about how they work and what your options are, just keep scrolling.

How does a free Netflix VPN work?

A VPN – or virtual private network – is a piece of software that encrypts and anonymizes your internet connection by sending it through its own servers. Individuals can use them to browse anonymously and even make themselves appear to be in different countries.

Netflix and other providers deliver different shows and movies to people living in certain countries, and you may find that what you want to watch isn’t available – even if you pay for a subscription. Using a VPN can help you access them, whether you're traveling abroad or just want to explore the world's TV.

However, Netflix actively tries to stop this, and many free Netflix VPNs can’t fool the streaming provider. Using a paid-for service is always more reliable, but some free Netflix VPNs have been known to work. Also, we should mention using a VPN to access restricted content does breach Netflix's terms and conditions, so you'll be doing so at your own risk...

Some providers like ExpressVPN can access Netflix's geo-blocked content without being detected, but they're premium services. However, ExpressVPN does offer a 30-day money-back guarantee that functions like a full free Netflix VPN trial – head over to Express's website to claim that and the three free months eligible for Tom’s Guide readers.

The downsides of free Netflix VPNs

There’s a magical combination of speed, server variety and a large data limit that you need in order to make a great free Netflix VPN – and that’s not to mention having to be able to actually unblock the streaming site to begin with. Sadly, there’s not a free service available that can cover all the bases.

Every free service is limited in some way, but many fall at the first hurdle because they just can't access Netflix. Even the best free security-focused VPN has drawbacks that make watching Netflix for free difficult or even impossible.

However, there are ways to access geo-locked Netflix content with a VPN without paying a penny.

Free Netflix VPN - streaming error

(Image credit: Future)

How can you watch Netflix with a VPN for free?

You’ve got three options. Firstly, you can take a chance with a free Netflix VPN that’s been known to work. While the streaming provider is always updating and blocking more IP addresses associated with VPNs (and free services aren’t kept as up to date as paid ones), some have been known to work. It’s worth a try, as if it doesn’t work you still haven’t lost out. Then, if you’ve used up your data allowance or want a better service, you can upgrade to a paid plan or move on.

Secondly, you can go with a service that offers a VPN free trial. These will give you full access for a short time – and that usually means thousands of servers and unthrottled speeds. You may have to input payment details, but you won’t be charged for the duration, which is usually a matter of days. That’s perfect if you just want to watch a couple of exclusive films over the course of a weekend, or if you want to access what you’re used to when you’re on a short trip abroad.

Thirdly, you can take advantage of the money-back guarantees most providers offer. Ranging from 30 to 45 days, these do require you to make a payment, but you’re guaranteed a refund for any reason within the time period – and with these you can get the very best services without worrying about spending too much cash. 

Out of the three, a money-back guarantee provides you with the most flexibility and will allow you to stream overseas Netflix for a month before cancelling or choosing to pay – plenty of time to trial the service, or give you cover for a mid-length holiday.

FREE NETFLIX VPNS

30-day money-back guarantee + 49% off and 3 free months
If you want the best way to get a free Netflix VPN, we’d suggest trying out ExpressVPN – its 30-day money-back guarantee is generous and, if you choose to, you’ll be refunded no questions asked. However, it’s also our highest-rated VPN, and Tom’s Guide readers can claim three free months as well as 49% off when signing up for 12 months.View Deal

The best free Netflix VPNs

ProtonVPN free Netflix VPN

(Image credit: ProtonVPN)

1. ProtonVPN

Unlimited data is useful – if you can get it working

Unlimited data
Some success accessing Netflix Japan
Throttled speeds

ProtonVPN is an good VPN provider, standing out from the crowd by offering unlimited data for free users. Compared to the likes of Windscribe, TunnelBear and Hotspot Shield that's great news. However, speeds are throttled, so you won't be streaming anything in HD.

ProtonVPN in no way guarantees Netflix access to its free users, and with just three servers available you haven't got a huge choice. Those servers are, however, in excellent Netflix locations – Japan, the Netherlands and the US – and we had some success in accessing Japanese Netflix (but we can't say that'll work for long or for everyone).

While ProtonVPN is one of the best free Netflix VPNs, unfortunately it's simply not reliable. It's definitely worth a shot, especially if you want to access Netflix Japan, but it can't match the speeds and unblocking power of ProtonVPN's paid-for plan – let alone the very best services elsewhere on the market.

Sign up now on ProtonVPN's website

2. Windscribe

Free version has been known to access Netflix

Up to 10Gb monthly limit
Great connection speeds
No guarantee of accessing Netflix

Windscribe's free service is one of the best, and it combines a number of premium features not often seen given away for nothing – a firewall, 10 servers, a choice between IPsec/IKEv2 and OpenVPN, and 10Gb of data available every month.

However, what free users aren't privy to is Windscribe's 'Windflix' servers – connections that are dedicated to giving access to blocked Netflix locations. 

That doesn't mean you'll 100% not be able to access Netflix though, and with 10 servers available you've got a good selection to choose from. Also, seeing as it's totally free to sign up, even if Windscribe can't get you access to Netflix you won't lose out on any money – and it's super-quick to install, too, so it's worth a go.

Sign up now on Windscribe's website

The best free trial VPNs for Netflix

Surfshark free Netflix VPN

1. Surfshark

The best cheap VPN also offers a 7-day trial

Full Netflix access for $1.99/mo
Genuine free trial
Excellent apps for all devices
Not hugely configurable

Surfshark is one of our favourite services on the market, not only because it's the best cheap VPN, but also thanks to its genuinely free 7-day trial. It's fast, easy to use and affordable – what more could you want?

It can be a little complex to access Surfshark's free trial, though, so we'll outline what you need to do.

The free trial is only available on mobile, so you'll have to sign up with your phone. Once you've done that, you should be offered a 7-day free trial. Accept that, and then you'll be able to use your account on any device.

However, a better option is taking advantage of Surfshark's 30-day money-back guarantee. While you'll have a pay a small amount upfront, you'll have a full month to get to know the service and work out if it's for you. If it's not, you'll be able to get a full refund no questions asked.

If you want the cheapest way to access over 15 Netflix libraries around the world plus a free trial to boot, Surfshark is the answer.

Sign up now on Surfshark's website

2. NordVPN

Security-focused VPN veteran is free for 7 days

Great Netflix unblocking
Security-focused experience
Good connection speeds
Mobile apps can be awkward

Another excellent option for accessing Netflix for free is security giant NordVPN. Known for its powerful encryption, strong stance on privacy and great usability, it also offers a 7-day free trial in much the same way as Surfshark.

When signing up on mobile you'll be able to nab a free trial which you can then use over all your devices. 

Again, though, it's probably easier and more user-friendly to make the most of the 30-day money-back guarantee. While you will have to pay upfront (you could just go for the shortest plan if you want), you'll have a full month to trial Nord's full VPN service. You might even find that you use it enough to justify the cost.

Sign up now on NordVPN's website

The best free Netflix VPN money-back guarantees

ExpressVPN free Netflix VPN

1. ExpressVPN

The most powerful VPN on the market has money-back guarantee

Top-class Netflix unblocking
Excellent apps
Great customer support
Pay before you try (but you can get it back)

We're going to say it – ExpressVPN is the best provider on the market today. Excellent unblocking power, class-leading security, great support and excellent apps all come together to make a VPN package that's yet to be beaten.

Express also offers a generous 30-day money-back guarantee that means you can take advantage of all its features for a month with no risk (although we wouldn't blame you if you stuck with them afterwards).

During those 30 days you'll have full access to the whole ExpressVPN experience, and be able to unblock pretty much any Netflix library you can find – it tops both our Netflix VPN and our streaming VPN lists for a reason. However, you'll also be able to stay secure online and cover up to five of your devices simultaneously.

If you're after the best free Netflix VPN, look no further than ExpressVPN.

Sign up now on ExpressVPN's website and claim three months free

2. Cyberghost

Streaming VPN offers huge money-back guarantee

Specialised for streaming and torrenting
Massive 45-day guarantee
Tons of servers
Experience is slightly unpolished

CyberGhost rounds off this free Netflix VPN guide with its mega 45-day money-back guarantee – if you think 30 days is too measly, you'll get another 50% here.

As a specialised streaming and torrenting VPN, you're in safe hands if you want to access Netflix libraries from around the world. Also, a CyberGhost feature we really love is its filtering system – when exploring servers, you can choose to see which are best for streaming Netflix or other providers, or even best for torrenting.

However, while you'll have a great selection of servers, the CyberGhost experience isn't quite up to scratch with the rest. It is fairly cheap, though, so if you're willing to make a few sacrifices and want 45 days before having to give over your cash for good, it could be an excellent choice.

Sign up now on the CyberGhost website

Free Netflix VPN FAQ

What can I do with a free Netflix VPN?

No matter whether you've found either a truly free Netflix VPN or gone with a free trial, the biggest thing is that you'll be able to access Netflix libraries from around the world wherever you are.

For example, if you're on holiday or on a business trip, you might want to stay up to date with a show. However, that show might not be available on Netflix in the country you're currently in. 

If you head to your VPN and connect to a server in your home country, you'll be able to watch the shows you usually can back home.

A free Netflix VPN can also be used to explore overseas Netflix libraries. For example, Netflix Japan has tons of anime not available on US Netflix, so if you connect to a Japanese server you'll be able to watch it where ever you are.

Is a free Netflix VPN worth it?

The answer to this depends on what your expectations of a free Netflix VPN are.

If you've found that ProtonVPN or Windscribe work for you, you'll need to be aware of their limitations. Both free services have a limited server selection, so you won't be able to access tons of Netflix libraries. 

Also, connection speeds aren't as fast as paid-for services, so streaming in HD probably won't be an option – even if you have got the data limit to do that.

That's why a truly free Netflix VPN isn't really a realistic proposition – although if you can get it to work for you then by all means make the most of it. However, if you take out a free trial or make the most of a money-back guarantee from a provider who can definitely access Netflix, you'll be able to watch without worry.

Are Netflix VPNs legal?

While not a criminal act, using a VPN to access geo-blocked content does violate Netflix's terms of service. In turn, that means the provider is well within its rights to terminate your account should you use a VPN.

Also, Netflix tries to identify and block VPN servers, with mixed results – that's why many VPNs can't get you watching. The company didn't always do this, but it's now under pressure from Hollywood studios and other content creators to block cross-border streaming. 

We contacted Netflix for further clarification, and were directed to a company blog post from early 2016:

"We have a ways to go before we can offer people the same films and TV series everywhere...In the meantime, we will continue to respect and enforce content licensing by geographic location. ...We look forward to offering all of our content everywhere and to consumers being able to enjoy all of Netflix without using a proxy."

Make of that what you will, and use a VPN to access Netflix at your own risk.