Netflix is still the biggest streaming platform around – though the competition has gotten pretty hot in recent years. Whether it's originals, newly released movies, or classic TV box sets, there's always something to check out.
There is, however, a catch. Netflix serves up a different buffet of content to people in different countries – and it's all thanks to licensing agreements that the site has to abide by. So, if you're in the US, geo-restrictions mean you can't take a look at the UK library – which can be disheartening if there's a show you’re really eager to watch.
Luckily, a virtual private network (VPN) can help you out. All you need to do is connect to a server in the location of your choice and you'll have full access to its local Netflix offering – meaning it only takes a few clicks to check out what's new in the US, UK, Japan, Australia, and elsewhere.
I'll walk you through the process in this guide, and let you know which of today's best VPNs is my top pick for Netflix.
How to change region on Netflix
Okay, so don't worry if you've never used a VPN before – most of today's top dogs are incredibly user-friendly (even if you have zero experience). Changing your region is nice and simple, too, and here's how you do it:
- First, you'll need an up-to-date Netflix account and subscription.
- A VPN comes next – pick a service with lightning-fast speeds and servers all over the world. If you need a hand making up your mind, our Netflix VPN guide has you covered.
- Then, download the VPN app (and make sure it’s the right one for the device you're using).
- Log in to the app and check out the VPN's server list. Here, you can pick a server in a specific country to unblock its local Netflix library. For US content, choose a server in an American city.
- Click the big 'Connect' button. After a few seconds, you'll be connected to the VPN server.
- All that's left to do is visit or reload Netflix – and you should see content from the location of your choice. Easy-peasy.
How does a VPN change Netflix region?
If the 'how' of this region-switching process all seems a bit complicated – don't worry. Essentially, it all begins with your IP address, which is given to your computer (or phone, tablet, etc.) by your internet service provider (ISP) when you connect to its servers. These servers will be in the same country you're using the internet in, usually.
VPNs have their own fleet of servers, however, and the most awesome providers boast global coverage. You can take your pick of servers just about anywhere, connect to one, and the VPN will route your traffic through the server.
You'll also use the IP address of the VPN server rather than the one your ISP assigned you, and the sites, services, and apps you check out will think you're physically in the same place as the VPN server. This includes Netflix – the site will see your shiny new IP and, subsequently, dish out content local to that country.
Why does Netflix show different content in different regions?
If one streaming service is broadcasting a movie in a certain country, you can pretty much guarantee that it won't be available on Netflix in that same region.
It can seem pretty unfair that folks in some places just don't have access to certain shows and movies, especially when you consider that we all pay a subscription fee, but Netflix doesn't have much choice in the matter. The site has to comply with licensing agreements that tell it where it can (and can't) display certain content.
You can negate these pesky restrictions with a VPN, however, and connect to a server in a country where Netflix has a license to display your favorite TV show – and let the marathon commence.
What if your VPN doesn't work with Netflix?
Let's say that you’ve connected to a VPN server and reloaded Netflix, but you're still seeing the same content you saw before you joined the VPN server. It happens – and Netflix has gotten ridiculously good at blacklisting VPN IP addresses. The site is well aware that people are increasingly turning to VPNs to check out content that, really, shouldn't be available to them – and does its best to put a stop to it.
So, if your VPN isn't working with Netflix, you can try:
- Choosing a different VPN server in the same country. VPNs usually have a selection of servers in the same place – but you might have to try a different city.
- Clear your cookies and reload Netflix.
- Use a different browser to access the site.
- Try switching devices – use a phone or a tablet if yo'’re having trouble with your PC. Doing so can stop GPS data from being cross-referenced with your IP address.
- Make sure your VPN's leak protection is enabled. This will ensure your real IP address isn't leaking identifiable data.
- Reach out to your VPN provider's customer support team to get a recommendation about which server works best with Netflix.
Some VPNs just don’t play well with Netflix, and if you're still having trouble after going through these hacks, you might be subscribed to a subpar service. We've rounded up the best streaming VPNs out there – and I'd recommend picking one of our top 5 for battle-tested reliability.
What VPN is best for changing Netflix region?
NordVPN: my #1 Netflix VPN
NordVPN can switch up your Netflix region, unblock other streaming services, and keep up with HD and 4K content without missing a step. Severs in over 60 countries mean you can bypass geo-restrictions with ease – and NordVPN has easy-to-use apps for just about every device you can imagine.
Check out NordVPN with a 30-day money-back guarantee.
Can I change regions on Netflix without a VPN?
You could try to change your Netflix region with a smart DNS service – but I wouldn't recommend it. VPNs are generally more reliable, and better at getting around Netflix's blocking measures and geo-restrictions.
Is it illegal to change Netflix regions with a VPN?
No, it's not against the law to access Netflix while using a VPN. It is against Netflix's terms and conditions, however, which means that the site could block your account if it spots you using a VPN. I've never heard of this happening, seeing as Netflix has better things to do than ruin your day in particular, but it's worth knowing.
Can I use a free VPN to change Netflix regions?
You can, but you probably won't have a good time.
Free VPNs just aren't as good as beating Netflix VPN bans – particularly as Netflix deploys increasingly crafty ways to sniff out VPN IP addresses. The majority of free VPNs come with restrictions that make streaming rather untenable, too. Think limited bandwidth, fewer servers, and congestion.
To change your Netflix region for free, you'll want to check out the 30-day money-back guarantee of a premium provider. Sure, you'll need to pay for your plan upfront, but you can reclaim your money at the end of the month trial period by canceling your plan – no questions asked.
Can Netflix block my VPN?
Netflix is like a bloodhound tracking the scent of VPN IP addresses – and, chances are, it'll block any IP addresses it sniffs out. This is to enforce licensing agreements that dictate where content can be displayed – and Netflix has cracked down on VPN usage to ensure compliance.
This means that, unfortunately, sometimes a VPN server that unblocked Netflix yesterday can't unblock it today. The Tom's Guide team keeps an eye on which VPNs can reliably access the service, however.
We test and review VPN services in the context of legal recreational uses. For example: 1. Accessing a service from another country (subject to the terms and conditions of that service). 2. Protecting your online security and strengthening your online privacy when abroad. We do not support or condone the illegal or malicious use of VPN services. Consuming pirated content that is paid-for is neither endorsed nor approved by Future Publishing.
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Mo is VPN Editor at Tom's Guide. Day-to-day he oversees VPN, privacy, and cybersecurity content, and also undertakes independent testing of VPN services to ensure his recommendations are accurate and up to date. When he's not getting stuck into the nitty-gritty settings of a VPN you've never heard of, you'll find him working on his Peugeot 205 GTi or watching Peep Show instead of finally putting up those shelves.
- River HartTech Software Editor
And if watch from a real television and not a toy computer or fondleslab, what then?Reply