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How to watch overseas content with a VPN

How to watch overseas content with a VPN
(Image credit: TUBI)

Whether you’re using an insecure public Wi-Fi or just want to make sure no prying eyes see your online activity, using the best VPN is a great option. A VPN reroutes your connection through a private server, disguising your IP address and protecting your data.

One additional advantage of using a VPN is the ability to browse the internet as it appears in another country, by choosing to reroute your connection to a server overseas. All the top providers offer their users servers all around the world, enabling you to watch Netflix from Canada or BBC iPlayer from Australia without leaving your home.

Since many popular shows and movies are geo-blocked, meaning they are only available in certain countries, using a streaming VPN opens up your streaming options. You can keep up with shows from home while you’re traveling, or explore the globe and see what’s available in other countries.

There are many options, both free and paid, to choose from when it comes to selecting a VPN. Here are some of the factors you’ll want to consider when choosing a VPN for streaming, and how to get going once you've chosen your provider.

Fast connection speeds

Because of the added level of encryption, it’s possible for some VPNs to slow your connection speed. While this might not be a problem for regular internet browsing, you don’t want to sit through endless buffering or low quality when streaming. Look for a fast VPN that has high connection speeds without sacrificing privacy.

Server location

If you want to watch a show that’s only available in a specific country, make sure the VPN has servers in that country for you to connect to. It’s also wise to look for a VPN with multiple servers, because too many people using the same server can slow connection speeds.

If you want to know what shows are available where, check out our guide to US only Netflix shows, which also covers lots of other territories’ libraries.

How to watch overseas content with a VPN

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

Access to unblocked streaming sites

Some streaming sites try to block people using VPNs from accessing their content. The best providers have advanced methods of evading these blocks, such as constantly updating and rotating their available IP addresses.

If you’re looking to watch one streaming site in particular, do some research to see if a specific VPN has had trouble connecting to that website in the past. For example, you can check which VPNs work with Netflix to make sure your chosen provider can get you what you want, from where you want.

Log in to your streaming account

You still need a valid account on the streaming site, even if you are accessing the site through a VPN. We recommend signing in to your streaming service before connecting to your VPN, as while reasons are unclear, we’ve had issues logging with services that perform well otherwise.

It should be noted that some streaming sites have in their Terms and Conditions that your account may be terminated for using a VPN to stream overseas content. While we’ve never heard of this happening – the provider will almost certainly rather have you paying your subscription and maybe using a VPN rather than booting you and losing the revenue – check your user agreement and proceed at your own risk.

Connect to your chosen server

Once you’ve signed up for a VPN and logged in, you’ll need to connect to a server in your chosen country.

Many VPNs offer multiple servers in the same country, but in different cities or regions. For the fastest connection speeds, you should choose the server that’s closest to your geographical location. For example, if you’re located in Vancouver, Canada and want to watch US Netflix with a Netflix VPN, a server located in Seattle may be a better choice than a server located in New York City.

For the same reason, if a show you want to watch from the UK is available both on French Netflix and US Netflix, choose the French option.

However, some providers will let you know which servers work best for which streaming service, so if there’s an auto-select option, we highly recommend going with that as it’s likely to be best optimized for your usage.

Enjoy!

You’ve now unlocked an entire world of content, so get exploring. Connect to a server in South Korea and dive into a new K-drama, or travel virtually to the UK and binge a British mystery series on BBC iPlayer. The possibilities are endless.

Bottom line

Being unable to watch the content you want on a streaming service you pay for just because it’s restricted to a certain country is frustrating.

With the right VPN, it’s easy to unlock the internet and watch content from overseas. We recommend ExpressVPN for their combination of blazing fast speeds, variety of servers, and unblocked access to the most streaming sites. NordVPN and Surfshark are other top choices for VPN streaming as well.

What do we recommend?

ExpressVPN stands out from the competition in terms of price, features, and value. With over 3,000 servers in nearly 100 countries, all the security features necessary, blazing connection speeds, and reliable access to multiple streaming services, ExpressVPN is an excellent choice for those after security with no compromises.

While some users may prefer certain features of other top VPNs, it’s the best overall option for most users – and now Tom’s Guide readers can claim three months absolutely free.View Deal

Sarah James

Sarah James is a freelance writer in Los Angeles. She has written about creativity, culture, and technology for brands like TechRadar, Submittable Content For Creatives, The Billfold, Pittsburgh City Paper, The Toast, and more.