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How to use a VPN to change your location

How to use a VPN to change your location
(Image credit: Timo Wielink)

While the best VPNs are primarily known as privacy tools, one of the top VPN uses is to use the service to make yourself appear to be in a location that you’re not. So, if you’re in the US, you could use your VPN to make it seem like you’re in the UK, Japan, South Africa or Russia.

If that sounds like it’d take some heavy lifting on your end to make happen, though, you’d be mistaken – modern VPNs are incredibly easy to use, and make this process possible in just a couple of clicks. So, here’s our complete guide to changing your location with a VPN.

How does a VPN change your location?

A VPN works by routing your traffic through its own servers, encrypting it at the same time. Unlike your ISP, which has a huge amount of servers based in your country, a VPN will usually have smaller banks of servers dotted all over the world – and, usually, the better the VPN, the more servers and server locations you’ll have to choose from.

If you connect to, say, a French server with your VPN, all your traffic will go through that server before heading towards the website you entered in the URL bar. Subsequently, that website will recognize you as a French user, as your traffic is coming from a server in France.

How to use a VPN to change your location

Using a VPN to change location is really simple, but it could be a daunting prospect for someone who hasn’t done it before.

First, you need to sign up to and download a VPN. We strongly recommend ExpressVPN thanks to its great selection of servers and incredible reliability. Once you’ve signed up and have downloaded the application (follow the steps on your provider’s website), you’ll want to open it like any other program you might use.

You’ll probably see a big on/off switch which will connect you to the nearest or fastest server. However, if you want to change location, you’ll have to find your VPN server list. That list is usually very easy to find, though, and once it’s open all you’ll need to do is select which country/server you want to connect to.

Click that, connect, and for all intents and purposes you’re located wherever that server is.

a digital world map with server locations marked with red dots

(Image credit: Martin Sanchez)

Why would you want to change location?

There are a number of reasons why you might want to change your location with a VPN.

The biggest reason is to access different regional streaming libraries on Netflix or Amazon Prime, and also to access geo-blocked streaming services like BBC iPlayer, NBC’s Peacock and Hulu. With the right VPN you’ll be able to watch a whole load more content by switching location and appearing to be in a different country. If that sounds good, it’s definitely worth checking out our Netflix VPN guide, and also our streaming VPN guide.

It’s not just TV and films, though – many sporting events are available in one country yet not in another, or perhaps the price to view is substantially cheaper overseas. In this case, you can set your VPN to whichever country has the best deal on the event and you’ll be able watch it, quite possibly saving you a bit of cash in the process.

However, a less well-known reason to do this is to get better prices on products, especially digital services. Some businesses offer different rates for those in different countries. That means if you take the time to check prices from a number of locations when you’re looking to buy software, you might be able to save a fair bit – possibly making the VPN effectively pay for itself.

Which VPN is best for changing location?

If you’re looking to change location with a VPN, you’ll want a service with a good variety of locations. While NordVPN and CyberGhost have a huge number of servers (5,200 and 6,400 respectively), it’s ExpressVPN that covers the most countries (94), and it still has a massive 3,000 servers under its control.

ExpressVPN is simply the most user-friendly and powerful VPN service available today. With great speeds alongside that huge network, plus extras including a kill switch, split tunneling and a selection of protocols, whatever you want a VPN for it’s almost certainly a great choice. And, with its 30-day money-back guarantee, you’ll be able to test the service before committing.

And now, Tom’s Guide readers can claim three free months, which works out at 15 months for the price of 12. Not a bad deal for our top-rated VPN.View Deal

Mo is eCommerce Editor at Tom's Guide. Day-to-day he oversees privacy and security content, and his product guides help his readers find the best software and products for their needs. When he's not testing VPNs, you'll find him working on his classic car or plugged into a guitar amp.