How to watch Netflix with a VPN

You may or may not be aware that Netflix is one of the biggest streaming services in the world. It’s available in 190 countries worldwide and is only banned in five. However, although Netflix is available in all of these countries, the content available to watch is dictated by which country you’re in.

Some countries like the US and UK have much more content than other countries like Georgia and Panama. And if you’re travelling abroad or away from home, you may want to change your Netflix location to gain access to your home library.

There’s a number of ways to do this, however we think the easiest and most reliably way is with a Virtual Private Network (VPN).

But not all VPNs are created equal, some VPNs work with Netflix, and a lot won’t. You’ll know the one you’ve chosen isn’t working because you’ll run into VPN not working issues and or errors that say, “You seem to be using an unblocker or proxy. Please turn off any of these services and try again.”

The good news is there are VPNs that work reliably with Netflix. This article will explain what a VPN is and how to watch Netflix from any country using one of the best VPNs for Netflix.

How to watch Netflix with a VPN: Quick Guide

To watch Netflix with a VPN, follow these simple steps:

  1. Sign up for a VPN that works reliably with Netflix: We recommend ExpressVPN ($6.67/month)

  2. Download and install the VPN app on your chosen device

  3. Connect to a server in the country where your selected Netflix library is located

  4. Open up the Netflix app or website and watch Netflix from another country

What is a VPN?

When thinking about your online data and what happens to it when visiting apps or websites like Netflix, the easiest way to understand it is it’s like putting mail (your data) in an envelope and sending the mail to a friend (the online service you’re trying to access, Netflix). If someone intercepts the mail and opens it, they can see the information inside.

When you go online, your data travels through numerous networks to reach its destination and if you don’t protect this data, it can be cut off and viewed by others.

A VPN acts as a unique envelope for your data in that it encrypts all of your information into an unreadable code that can only be understood by your computer and the VPN server.

This does two things. First, it allows you to surf the internet privately. Because your data is encrypted, even if someone could intercept it, they won’t be able to read or view the information stored here. Second, it adds a level of security to your online connection. Using a VPN creates a secure tunnel between your device and the internet, making it more difficult for people trying to steal your data from accessing it.

Additionally, a VPN can help bypass geographic restrictions. For example, suppose you’re trying to access a website, streaming service or app that’s only available in a specific location. A VPN can make it look like you’re browsing the internet from that location. This will give you access to geo-blocked content like Netflix libraries from around the world. It does this by changing your IP address.

Every device connected to the internet has a unique identifier called an IP address. This IP address tells the online service you’re visiting, Netflix, where to send the data you’ve requested. However, this poses a bit of a problem in that for this to work, your IP address needs to contain information about your physical location, i.e. it shows which country you’re in.

When you connect to a VPN server, your online data is sent to the VPN before reaching its destination. When you connect to Netflix from your home location, instead of Netflix seeing your home, it sees the location of the VPN server. This will make it look like you’re browsing the internet from that location and give you access to content only available in that location.

What is a good VPN for Netflix?

A good VPN for Netflix needs to be able to do numerous things:

  1. VPN Speed: the best VPNs for Netflix need to be fast. This means they need to have servers and infrastructure that enable them to retain fast internet speeds. If you use a slow VPN, you’ll run into buffering and loading issues when using a VPN with Netflix. We prefer a VPN that has a large network of dedicated servers.
  2. Servers: the best VPNs for Netflix need to have servers all over the world. This will allow you to access any Netflix library that you want, giving you access to even more content.
  3. Security: if a VPN cannot guarantee a 100% secure connection or isn’t a safe VPN then it won’t work well with Netflix. This is because Netflix blocks VPNs. A VPN that isn’t secure is much easier for Netflix to identify and block.
  4. Reliability: the most important feature a VPN needs to have is it needs to be able to get around Netflix’s VPN-blocking techniques. If a VPN cannot do this, your VPN won’t work with Netflix, and you’ll run the common Netflix not working with VPN error “You seem to be using an unblocker or proxy. Please turn off any of these services and try again.”
How to watch Netflix with a VPN

How do we test the best VPNs for Netflix?

We test VPNs for Netflix over multiple criteria:

  1. We test how secure the VPN is: We do this by running it through DNS leak tests. If the VPN has a DNS leak issue, it has an issue with its security, as internet service providers (ISPs) can still potentially see your online data. The best VPNs don’t come across these sorts of issues.
  2. The number of servers: The best VPNs have thousands of servers around the world. The more servers, the better. Lesser VPNs, especially free VPNs, don’t have many servers meaning there’s less opportunity for you to surf the web anonymously.
  3. Speed: We measure the speed of a VPN by doing speed tests for multiple servers worldwide. We then compare this to our base internet speed with a VPN turned off.
  4. Compatibility with streaming services: A critical use case for VPNs is the ability to access geo-blocked streaming services. Unfortunately, these services try and prevent VPNs from accessing their platforms. The best VPNs have measures in place to get around these blocks. When testing a VPN, we try it with several geo-blocked streaming services. The best VPNs will allow you to watch all the leading streaming services worldwide.
  5. Price: Based on our research, the average cost of the top 20 VPNs is $4.33/month. We use this as a comparison when looking for the best-value VPNs.
  6. Devices: VPNs are usually compatible with more than one device simultaneously. Obviously, the more, the better.

The best VPNs for Netflix

1. ExpressVPN 🥇

Why You Should Use ExpressVPN? It’s the fastest and MOST reliable VPN of 2023

ExpressVPN UK screenshot

Pros

  • ✅ Fast servers
  • ✅ Thousands of IP addresses
  • ✅ 10-simultaneous connections
  • ✅ 24/7 Live Chat
  • ✅ Easy-to-use app
  • ✅ 30-day money-back guarantee

Cons

  • ❌ Expensive
Best VPN list - ExpressVPN

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Number of servers: 3,000+ | Speed: >80% | Bandwidth: Unlimited | IP locations: 160 in 94 countries | Devices supported: 5 | Live chat: Yes | 30-day money-back guarantee: Yes

  • $6.66/month for 15 months
  • $9.99/month for 6 months
  • $12.95/month for 1 month
  • Netflix icon
  • BBC iPlayer icon
  • ESPN icon
  • Hulu icon
  • HBO Max icon
  • Disney icon
  • Amazon Prime Video icon
  • YouTube TV icon
  • Apple TV Plus icon
  • FuboTV icon
  • ShowTime icon
  • Discovery Plus icon
  • ABC icon
  • All 4 icon
  • NowTV icon
  • CBS icon
  • NBC icon
  • Sky Sports icon
  • BT Sport icon

ExpressVPN ($6.66/month) is still the best VPN. And importantly, it ALWAYS has servers that are open with major streaming sites such as Netflix, BBC iPlayer, Hulu, Disney+, HBO Max, Paramount+, Amazon Prime Video, etc.

ExpressVPN is usually very good at playing Cat and Mouse with online streaming sites. Meaning, whenever one of its servers is blacklisted it creates a new one – giving its users a constant stream of servers that aren’t blocked. Needless to say, this is a valuable attribute if you’re looking for a VPN to unblock streaming sites.

Its app is easy-to-use and free to download on pretty much any device you can think of. Mac, Windows, iOS, Android, FireStick, Android TV, Roku, PS4, Xbox, Linux, even Apple TV (with a workaround). It’s got it all covered.

The app is another main reason this VPN is so good at unblocking TV streaming sites (that claim they block VPNs) is that its software takes a pragmatic approach to user management. While other VPNs tempt customers by promising them access to hundreds/thousands of servers in multiple countries, ExpressVPN does things differently.

With ExpressVPN you only have a handful of server locations to choose from. Once you select your location the app takes care of the rest. Assigning you to the fastest available server that’s not oversubscribed. This simple technique is so important, as it keeps ExpressVPN’s servers operating at lightning-fast speeds and prevents its IPs from getting blacklisted for “abnormal” usage in the first place.

Check out our full ExpressVPN review.

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2. NordVPN 🥈

A very quick and trustworthy VPN

NordVPN US screenshot mobile

Pros

  • ✅ Fast servers
  • ✅ No logs
  • ✅ Thousands of IP addresses
  • ✅ 6-simultaneous connections
  • ✅ 30-day money-back guarantee
  • ✅ Easy-to-use app

Cons

  • ❌ No refunds for purchases from iTunes/App store
Best VPN list - NordVPN

Special Offer for you!

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Number of servers: 5,000+ | Speeds: >80% | Bandwidth: Unlimited | IP locations: 62 countries | Devices supported: 6 | Live chat: Yes | 30-day money-back guarantee: Yes

  • $3.49/month for 2 years
  • $6.99/month for 1 year
  • $11.95/month for 1 month
  • Netflix icon
  • BBC iPlayer icon
  • ESPN icon
  • Hulu icon
  • HBO Max icon
  • Disney icon
  • Amazon Prime Video icon
  • YouTube TV icon
  • Apple TV Plus icon
  • FuboTV icon
  • ShowTime icon
  • Discovery Plus icon
  • ABC icon
  • All 4 icon
  • NowTV icon
  • CBS icon
  • NBC icon
  • Sky Sports icon
  • BT Sport icon
  • ITV Hub icon
  • Spark Sport icon
  • CBC Gem icon

NordVPN is the most widely-used VPN in the world. And it’s easy to see why. It’s a polished app that delivers fast connections (more on this later) to a massive network of VPN servers.

It’s the most reliable at unblocking popular streaming services too – US Netflix, Hulu, Disney+, BBC iPlayer, HBO Max, Amazon Prime Video, etc. This is because NordVPN hired a full-time technical team (that’s responsible for monitoring its servers’ connections with popular TV streaming services) and has been aggressively investing in its network of IP addresses in key locations.

Another interesting thing to note is that NordVPN is an industry leader in its development of Nordlynx technology. Nordlynx is built using the WireGuard, a new VPN tunneling protocol designed to outperform current standards (OpenVPN and IPSec). The benefits, according to NordVPN, are dramatically faster transfer speeds while connected to a VPN. My tests – New Zealand to London – confirm that Nordlynx is currently the fastest VPN on the market. However, the difference isn’t dramatic, a few Mbps is all.

Read our NordVPN review.

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3. Private Internet Access

The BEST low-cost VPN for streaming!

Best VPN list - PIA

Pros

  • ✅ Fast and reliable servers
  • ✅ Thousands of IP addresses
  • ✅ 10-simultaneous connections
  • ✅ 24/7 Live Chat
  • ✅ 30-day money-back guarantee

Cons

  • ❌ Only 48 server locations
Best VPN list - PIA

Special Offer for you!

Sign up for a 3-year plan with Private Internet Access and save 83% + 3 months free. That works out at $2.03/month.

Number of servers: 25,000+ | Speed: >75% | Bandwidth: Unlimited | IP locations: 70 in 74 countries | Devices supported: 10 | Live chat: Yes | 30-day money-back guarantee: Yes

  • $2.03/month for 3 years
  • $7.50/month for 6 months
  • $11.99/month for 1 month
  • Netflix icon
  • BBC iPlayer icon
  • ESPN icon
  • Hulu icon
  • HBO Max icon
  • Disney icon
  • Amazon Prime Video icon
  • YouTube TV icon
  • Apple TV Plus icon
  • FuboTV icon
  • ShowTime icon
  • Discovery Plus icon
  • ABC icon
  • All 4 icon
  • NowTV icon
  • CBS icon
  • NBC icon
  • Sky Sports icon
  • BT Sport icon

Private Internet Access is one of the leading no-log VPN services with over 1-million paying customers.

This VPN is one of the best in the industry at beating streaming sites’ VPN bans. It provides reliable connections with US Netflix, BBC iPlayer, Hulu, HBO Max, Disney+ Amazon Prime Video, etc. It also allows 10 simultaneous devices to be connected to its servers at the same time, so you can share the account with your close friends.

If – for whatever reason – you’re not happy with Private Internet Access, there’s a 24/7 live chat support available to assist you with your problem. PIA also offers the industry-standard 30-day money-back guarantee.

From my tests (from New Zealand) I was able to get download speeds of 70 Mbps while connected to a UK server using the Private Internet Access VPN (my non-VPN speed is 100 Mbps).

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4. Ivacy

A very quick and trustworthy VPN

Ivacy US screenshot mobile

Pros

  • ✅ Fast servers
  • ✅ Thousands of IP addresses
  • ✅ Dedicated streaming servers
  • ✅ 5-simultaneous connections
  • ✅ 30-day money-back guarantee
  • ✅ 24/7 Live Chat

Cons

  • ❌ Only 5 devices
  • ❌ Sometimes runs slow
  • ❌ Occasionally block by streaming sites for several days
Best VPN - Ivacy on Mac

Special Offer for you!

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Number of servers: 1,000+ | Speed: >65% | Bandwidth: Unlimited | IP locations: 275 in 100 countries | Devices supported: 5 | Live chat: Yes | 30-day money-back guarantee: Yes

  • $1.16/month for 5 years
  • $3.50/month for 1 year
  • $9.99/month for 1 month
  • Netflix icon
  • BBC iPlayer icon
  • ESPN icon
  • Hulu icon
  • HBO Max icon
  • Disney icon
  • Amazon Prime Video icon
  • YouTube TV icon
  • Apple TV Plus icon
  • FuboTV icon
  • ShowTime icon
  • Discovery Plus icon
  • ABC icon
  • All 4 icon
  • NowTV icon
  • CBS icon
  • NBC icon
  • Sky Sports icon
  • BT Sport icon
  • ITV Hub icon
  • Spark Sport icon
  • CBC Gem icon

If you’re looking for an excellent VPN, with an even better price tag, Ivacy ($1.16/month) is a great option.

This VPN has all the features you need to stream BBC iPlayer, in HD, from any country in the world. I’ve been testing the app recently on Mac, PC, Android, iOS and FireStick and the results have been impressive – unlocking BBC iPlayer, US Netflix, Hulu, Disney+, HBO Max, Amazon Prime Video, etc. with ease.

The Ivacy app is a little different in regards to its UX (user experience). Instead of just selecting a UK server, you need to select the specific BBC iPlayer server. Don’t worry, this isn’t a bad thing – by connecting to a dedicated BBC iPlayer server, it simply means that you’re connecting to an IP address that Ivacy knows works with BBC iPlayer.

For an extra $1.99/month (£1.74) you can add-on a dedicated IP. This will buy you sole access to an IP address in a country of your choice, meaning you won’t have to share your IP (and speeds) with any other use. I don’t recommend this though, using the regular Ivacy servers is enough 95 per cent of the time.

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5. CyberGhost

A very quick and trustworthy VPN

CyberGhost UK screenshot

Pros

  • ✅ 1-day free trial
  • ✅ Reliable servers
  • ✅ Thousands of IP addresses
  • ✅ 7-simultaneous connections
  • ✅ 30-day money-back guarantee
  • ✅ Easy-to-use app

Cons

  • ❌ Expensive
  • ❌ Average speed scores
CyberGhost
CyberGhost

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Number of servers: 1,000+ | Speed: >65% | Bandwidth: Unlimited | IP locations: 275 in 100 countries | Devices supported: 5 | Live chat: Yes | 30-day money-back guarantee: Yes

  • $2.75/month for 3 years
  • $3.69/month for 2 years
  • $5.99/month for 1 year
  • $12.99/month for 1 month
  • Netflix icon
  • BBC iPlayer icon
  • ESPN icon
  • Hulu icon
  • HBO Max icon
  • Disney icon
  • Amazon Prime Video icon
  • YouTube TV icon
  • Apple TV Plus icon
  • FuboTV icon
  • ShowTime icon
  • Discovery Plus icon
  • ABC icon
  • All 4 icon
  • NowTV icon
  • CBS icon
  • NBC icon
  • Sky Sports icon
  • BT Sport icon

CyberGhost is one of the more established VPNs on the market. It has a well-established, and well-tested global network of servers that perform well.

From my tests over the past several months, CyberGhost has no trouble at unblocking major streaming services – US Netflix, BBC iPlayer, Hulu, Disney+, Amazon Prime Video, HBO Max etc. This VPN performed well at maintaining download speeds, well above 65 per cent of my regular (non VPN) ISP speed.

That said, there’s nothing really unique about the service. Which forces you to look at its price-point. And there’s nothing special here. Its short-term $12.99/month price tag puts is well above the industry average of $10.10/month. Similarly, its long-term $2.75/month for 3 years deal isn’t much of a “deal” either.

Oddly, CyberGhost’s most unique feature is its a 1-day, no obligations, free trial. This is an appealing offer to customers who are new to VPNs. However, it’s important to remember that most reputable VPNs will offer customers a 30-day money-back guarantee, so try not to be too seduced by the offer.

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Will any VPN work with Netflix?

VPNs are becoming incredibly popular. Experts suggest one third – of the 5 billion online users – now use a VPN as of 2023.

With this popularity, there has been an influx of VPNs. But unfortunately, not all VPNs are great, and not any VPN will work with Netflix.

The reason for this is because Netflix tries to block VPNs, and a lot of VPNs struggle to get around these blocks. Free VPNs are especially susceptible to Netflix’s blocks.

To get around Netflix’s restrictions, a VPN must have the infrastructure and financial backing to stay one step ahead of the streaming service. Most VPNs simply don’t have this kind of support. This could mean you spend money on a VPN that isn’t going to work with Netflix. 

So, to avoid that, you need to use a VPN that can beat Netflix’s blocks. We recommend ExpressVPN ($6.67/month) or NordVPN ($3.19/month)

Both ExpressVPN ($6.67/month) and NordVPN ($3.19/month) have fast servers worldwide, they each use a proprietary protocol specially designed for speed and security and most importantly, they have measures in place to ensure they remain compatible with Netflix. 

How does Netflix block VPNs?

The good news is Netflix cannot block a VPN in its entirety. However it can block the IP addresses a VPN provides.

It does this using three main techniques:

1. Online services check for IP, DNS and WebRTC leaks. This is a basic test that good VPNs don’t fail. However, if you’re using a cheap VPN, there’s a chance your connection might not be fully watertight. Making it insecure. And detectable.

2. GeoIP databases, such as MaxMind, also verify the IP address you’re connecting from. If your VPN is using an IP address that’s on one of these lists, you won’t be able to use Netflix.

3. Netflix also performs its own IP checks. If Netflix detects an abnormal number of simultaneous connections or internet traffic coming from the same IP, it will blacklist that address too.

Does Netflix still work with a VPN?

Yes, Netflix works with a VPN, however, you need to use a VPN that has measures in place to get around Netflix’s VPN-blocking techniques.

ExpressVPN ($6.67/month) and NordVPN ($3.19/month) are very good at this.

This is because Both ExpressVPN ($6.67/month) and NordVPN ($3.19/month) play a game of cat and mouse with Netflix. 

Netflix is getting pretty good at identifying and blocking IP addresses provided by VPNs. If an IP address provided by ExpressVPN ($6.67/month) or NordVPN ($3.19/month) gets blocked by Netflix, these VPNs will close that IP address and open a new unblocked one.

This simple measure will allow you to watch Netflix reliably with a VPN.

Is watching Netflix with a VPN legal?

In most countries, using a VPN is legal. There are only a handful of countries (spot the authoritarianism link) where using a VPN is illegal; these are China, Russia, Iran, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, North Korea, Iraq, Belarus, Turkmenistan, Egypt, Eritrea, Seychelles, Suriname, Namibia, Slovenia, Nicaragua and Tajikistan.

If you’re outside these countries and are using a VPN, you’re legally allowed to do so. However, it’s important to know that using a VPN with some streaming services may breach that service’s terms of use.

If you subscribe to a streaming service, you automatically accept its terms of use. If we look at Netflix’s terms of use, it states, “You may access the Netflix content primarily within the country in which you have established your account and only in geographic locations where we offer our service and have licensed such content.” And “You also agree not to circumvent, remove, alter, deactivate, degrade or thwart any of the content protections in the Netflix service; use any robot, spider, scraper or other automated means to access the Netflix service… We may terminate or restrict your use of our service if you violate these Terms of Use or are engaged in illegal or fraudulent use of the service.”

This means, Netflix can stop your subscription and ban you from the streaming service if you try to access its content with a VPN turned on.

However, given the wide-spread use of VPNs, plus the many legitimate and legal use cases for VPNs, it’s fair to suggest that banning customers for using a VPN would be a heavy-handed and financially costly policy for Netflix (and other streaming services) to enforce.

If you’re trying to watch Netflix in a region where it does not traditionally operate or you’re trying to change the location of the Netflix library, you risk having your account banned. In theory. However, as the best VPNs for Netflix use military-grade encryption, it is impossible for Netflix to trace where you’re physically accessing its content from.

There’s one final thing to note on the subject: Netflix has never banned anyone for using a VPN to access its service.

Will a free VPN work with Netflix?

Free VPNs are attractive choices when trying to secure your online connection or watch Netflix in a different location. However, there are a number of reasons why we don’t recommend using a free VPN with Netflix.

  1. Limited Security: Free VPNs often aren’t as secure as other VPNs. They don’t usually have strong encryption protocols, and some free VPNs have even been found logging user data. This means the VPN is collecting your online data and, in some cases, selling it to third parties. This compromises your online privacy and goes against the main reason for using a VPN in the first place.
  2. Feature restrictions: If you’re using a free VPN, you’ll probably come across limitations in regard to the features. There may be a limit on the number of servers you can access, there are often limits on the amount of data you can use with the VPN, and there have even been examples of reductions in speed. This can hamper the online experience and make streaming content or downloading files with the VPN difficult.
  3. Lack of customer support: VPNs can sometimes be tricky to navigate, and the best VPNs often have customer support to assist you when you’re having trouble. Free VPNs very rarely have customer support options.
  4. Limited server locations: If you’re using a VPN to watch a streaming service, it’s better to have more servers worldwide. Free VPNs often have severe limitations in regard to how many servers they have available. This can make it more difficult to access specific content.

But if you can’t afford a premium VPN, you can take a look at what we consider the best free VPNs for Netflix. However, it’s important to know that you’ll still probably run into the same issues even with these VPNs.

Patch Bowen
Patch Bowen is an accomplished technology journalist with a solid academic foundation, holding a degree from Auckland University. His expertise spans across a range of tech topics, with a notable focus on product reviews, industry trends, and the impact of technology on society. With his work featured on major New Zealand websites like Stuff.co.nz, thebit.nz, and The Press, Patch has established himself as a credible voice in technology media. His articles are known for their detailed analysis and practical insights, particularly in making complex technological concepts understandable for a broad audience. At ReviewsFire, Patch is renowned for his thorough evaluations and clear, informative writing style. He has a knack for identifying and explaining the nuances of the latest gadgets and digital trends, earning him a reputation as a trusted source for tech advice and information.

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