How to Get American Netflix Abroad With a VPN

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article by Sarah T. author
VPNs have long been the workaround to access US Netflix abroad. However, changes to the streaming services policy have put the future of this tactic in jeopardy. So, can you still unblock US Netflix with a VPN? The short answer is yes – if you know what you’re doing.
In this article

The US Netflix library is one of the most coveted content catalogs in the world. With 1,157 TV shows and 4,593 movies, it offers double the entertainment of countries like Australia, the UK, Mexico and most of Europe! With so many great series only available for US subscribers, it’s no surprise that media lovers worldwide are fighting for a way to get access.

Unfortunately, while the disparity in available content is clearly unfair, bypassing geo-blocks could end in trouble. Accessing foreign content catalogs officially counts as copyright infringement.  In the US, the government is continually trying to crack down on piracy, and Netflix is playing an active role in suppressing subverters.

Why are Netflix Libraries Across the Globe Different?

The main problem with Netflix catalogs is that licensing limitations throttle them. When a producer creates a film or show,copyright law dictates they hold the rights to the use and distribution of their work. This means they can choose the most profitable avenue for release in each country. In some parts of this world, this is Netflix; in others, it may be local or niche broadcasting stations. Further than this, some licenses even restrict where the media can be streamed, which is why certain countries have significantly less Netflix content.

These limitations affect users in different ways:

  • If you live outside the US, you will receive less content.
  • If you travel, your access will change depending on the country you’re in.
  • Even if you have a US subscription, you will lose access to numerous shows when you leave the country.
  • It also restricts your ability to watch foreign films.

Fortunately, all these issues can be resolved with one additional piece of software.

VPNs To The Rescue

Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) are already used globally to take back control of our online experience. The software has many purposes, including bypassing geo-blocks and securing your data from potential prying eyes. Once you connect a VPN client, it re-routes your traffic through a secondary server, assigning you a new IP address.
Websites, like Netflix, use these codes to determine your location. By selecting a server that is based abroad, you can fool the algorithm into thinking you’re in that country. This trick can grant you access to any Netflix catalog in the world.
VPNs are the most popular Netflix proxy, as re-assigning your IP address is not the only benefit. There are numerous other security precautions to conceal your identity.

For example:

  • Shared Servers mean the connection can never be linked to one person.
  • Sophisticated Encryption of the initial data tunnel – between your computer and the VPN server – makes your online activity invisible.
  • Complex Protocols work to overcome specific blocks and security holes.

Unfortunately, it’s not enough to know how to use Netflix with a VPN, as not all providers are created equal. As Netflix continues to crack down on proxy service, only the best VPN clients can guarantee access.

What To Look For

Finding a VPN that works with Netflix has become significantly harder in recent years. As more people gravitate to the software, it’s no longer enough to find a cheap provider and watch with ease. Several elements determine whether a VPN provider is genuinely Netflix-capable.

  • Reliable Connection. Downtime will cut out your stream and also leave your data visible.
  • Vast Server Network. To watch US Netflix, your provider needs numerous US servers. International server bases are also useful if you enjoy foreign films.
  • Masking Features. As Netflix continues to find ways to identify VPN traffic, choosing a provider with dedicated features to mask the data packets is essential.
  • Netflix Access. At the time of writing, all our top VPNs were able to access and stream US Netflix shows from overseas.
  • Customer Commitment. While some VPN providers immediately succumbed to the Netflix VPN ban, others worked tirelessly to bypass the problem. These companies have the best chance of promising access indefinitely.
  • Free Trial/Moneyback-Guarantee. To confirm your chosen VPN has Netflix capabilities, trial periods are excellent, as you can experiment with no financial commitment.

The Best VPNs to Access and Unblock US Netflix (That still work)

#1 ExpressVPN – The Ultra Fast VPN Service

ExpressVPN Logo

ExpressVPN ranked as the best VPN for Netflix due to its slick service and ongoing ability to dodge the blocks. As a popular provider, it was targeted early on but has continuously found ways to restore customer access. We found a few reports of ExpressVPN and Netflix not working, but our ongoing tests showed no continuous problems.

Additional features: It has a vast server network, in 94 countries, so you can watch media from across the globe. In our speed tests, ExpressVPN was one of the fastest, and their impressive uptime guarantee promises uninterrupted streaming.

Summary:

  • Large International Server Network
  • Consistently Fast Speeds
  • 99% Uptime Guarantee
  • Netflix Access
  • Responsive Customer Service
  • 30-Day Money-Back Guarantee

Price:

  • $12.95 a month
  • Save 49% with an annual subscription – plus, enjoy three free months and an extended money-back period of 45 days.

Try Now ExpressVPN – Risk Free – 30 Day Money Back Guarantee

For more information on ExpressVPN features, read our extensive ExpressVPN review.

#2 NordVPN – Optimal Speed and Security Mix

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NordVPN is one of the most privacy-conscious providers we tested. Based in Panama, they are not required to keep any data logs, and they boast a plethora of additional features. The Double VPN diverts your traffic via two servers, and there’s also Tor support. The kill switch and auto-connect ensure you are never online without VPN protection.

Additional features: NordVPN also offers impressive optimized servers; you can choose the streaming option for the best connection available. It’s still possible to watch American Netflix through manual config. However, you may have to search for the faster servers, as speeds varied during out tests.

Summary:

  • 1500+ Servers
  • Good Speeds
  • Optimized Connections
  • Impressive Additional Security Features
  • Strict Zero-Logging
  • Netflix Access

Price:

  • $11.95 per month
  • 30-day money-back guarantee.
  • Save 52% with an annual subscription

Try Now NordVPN – Risk Free – 30 Day Money Back Guarantee

For more information on NordVPN features, read our extensive NordVPN review.

#3 IPVanish – Fair Speed for a Fair Price

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Although IPVanish is not the best Netflix VPN, it still has some worthy features. The speeds are adequate for streaming, and you can use their dedicated servers to get the best connection automatically. The VPN client comes with a kill switch, to cut your internet if the VPN fails.

Additional Features: They also offer DNS protection, which some users have found key in bypassing the Netflix ban. If you are still having trouble gaining access, their live chat feature showed almost instant response times. However, its only open during working hours.

Summary:

  • Sufficient Speeds
  • Dedicated Streaming Servers
  • Additional Security Features
  • Netflix Access
  • Live Chat Support 9am-5pm

Price:

$10.00 per month
$6.49 with an annual subscription

7-day money-back guarantee

Try Now IPVanish – Risk Free – 7 Day Money Back Guarantee

For more information on IPVanish features, read our extensive IPVanish review.

Frequently Asked Questions

How Does Netflix Block VPNs?

The Netflix VPN ban was announced in 2016 and has caused havoc for users ever since. The main problem is that no-one explicitly knows how Netflix in enforcing the blocks, so VPN providers and customers must constantly experiment to stay ahead of the game.

The following are typical; traffic-filtering tactics, which are reportedly utilized in the Netflix VPN block. 

  • Specific IP Blocks: Netflix can block known VPN servers and identify shared IP addresses.
  • Port Blocks: As VPN protocols use specific ports, it’s possible to install a firewall to block those pathways.
  • Deep Packet Inspections (DPI): DPI filters can assess data packet headers to determine whether a VPN protocol has been used.

Netflix Proxy Error – What is it and How You Can Bypass it?

As Netflix employs increasingly sophisticated techniques to ban proxy devices, your VPN will have to bypass several checkpoints before you can start streaming. Many proxy providers can secure access to the US catalog for browsing. However, when you try to play a show or movie not authorized for your country, you will see the notorious proxy error message.

This warning appears if a second round of checks on your traffic reveals that you are hiding your location. While you can still access media that is also in your local catalog, all the extra shows remain blocked.

To get past this secondary filter, try these tactics:

  • Change Your Server. Some providers have dedicated servers for streaming and Netflix. You may have to try a few before you find success.
  • Choose a Different Port. OpenVPN commonly uses 1194 TCP/UDP; try switching to another port for a different type of encryption. For example, HTTPS uses 443 TCP/UDP
  • Contact Customer Support. If neither of the above solutions prove fruitful, contact your provider to see if they have further suggestions.
  • Try a New Provider. Experiment with different VPN clients by taking advantage of the free trial or money-back guarantee.

Which VPNs Don’t Unblock Netflix?

Countless providers have already waved their white flags when it comes to the Netflix VPN ban. Although some companies tried to fight, many found the multinational corporation was too strong for their internal development team. If you’re experimenting with VPNs for Netflix, the following services are not even worth testing:

  • PureVPN
  • Private Internet Access (PIA)
  • CatcusVPN

Can US Armed Forces Stationed Overseas Watch US Netflix?

All across the globe, brave US citizens and their families are stationed. As an acknowledgment of their service, Netflix has removed its geo-blocking restrictions from US Army bases. However, this gesture failed to take into consideration the serving members who have chosen – for whatever reason – to live outside of the stations themselves.

Similarly, since the implication of the VPN ban, an increasing number of military families have reported not being able to access the service at home. These kinks mean that many are once again returning to using personal VPNs. Although Netflix has publicly stated it will overlook the use of proxy software for soldiers overseas, if you live outside of an official station then there’s no way to prove your affiliation.

Can I Stream Netflix with Tor?

Tor (The Onion Router) works similarly to VPNs in some ways. Both route your traffic through alternative servers to hide your original identity. However, instead of just one diversion, Tor splits your traffic over a vast number of servers all around the world. These connection points are voluntary, so enjoy no commercial investment. Alongside this, the complexity of the protocol has led to ongoing issues with speed.

While some users have found it possible to access Netflix with Tor, the pressure it puts on the servers results in a severe slow-down for other users. Due to the open and co-operative nature of Tor, most sources dissuade you from using it as a Netflix proxy for the sake of the community.

More often than not, Tor is not fast enough to stream anyway, establishing a VPN as the superior tool to unblock US Netflix.

Which is Better – SmartDNS or VPN?

As Netflix targets VPNs, more users are opting to explore SmartDNS options. While both tactics allow you to gain access to blocked content, their service has some significant differences.

  • VPNs work by accessing an alternative server in the US, changing your IP address and encrypting your data. While it does slow the connection somewhat, it offers invaluable security.
  • Smart DNS does not change your IP or use any encryption. Instead, when you send a DNS request to Netflix, your local server will contact a DNS server in America, before accessing the streaming site. Your traffic then appears to be coming from the US.

Although SmartDNS may seem like a simpler solution, the lack of additional security leaves your identity visible. If you are planning to infringe copyright restrictions, then this added protection is essential to keep your activity private.

Can I Use a Free VPN to Access US Netflix?

It may seem sensible to opt for a free VPN for Netflix, but the likelihood of finding a service that works is low. Free providers do not have the finances to invest in ongoing development to bypass the increasingly complicated blocks. If you do manage to stream, the limited bandwidth and lower speeds make for a frustrating viewing experience. Plus, the connection is more likely to drop with free VPNs, so the show will constantly be interrupted.

There have also been reports of free VPN providers selling the connection-logs of their customer to generate more revenue. If you’re conscious of your privacy, the risk is not worth taking.

Choose a VPN and Watch US Netflix Abroad

It’s still possible to find a VPN to access US Netflix, even with the increasing blocks. The streaming service will never impose a universal ban, so users must simply continue to roll with the punches.

Once you know how to use Netflix with VPN, it’s merely a case of finding the best provider for you!

17 comments
James A. says:

NordVPN’s kill switch works great. Just make sure you have a stable internet connection or it will drop alot.

Nicolas M. says:

I’m in China and its been hit and miss with VyprVPN. But so far no problems with police so that’s great. Will keep you posted.

Robert G. says:

Which VPN is best to block the government while watching?

Alice says:

Using ExpressVPN right now at my hostel. Glad I can get at Netflix but speed sometimes lags. Overall happy.

Mitchell H says:

ExpressVPN is working as I write this! Anyone tried the other ones?

Juan Lopez says:

Just want to reiterate the importance of NOT USING TOR to access Netflix. It’s a volunteer run network that relies completely on fair usage and a likeminded community. As more and more VPNs have been banned, the Tor network has seen an increase in users attempting to stream Netflix. Not only is it selfish, but it puts the entire network in jeopardy.

I repeat: DO NOT TRY TO ACCESS NETFLIX USING TOR

T. Ryan says:

IPVanish does NOT let you into Netflix. just tried it and no joy. Not sure about the rest!

Philippa says:

Hi. Very good article, nicely written. I was just wondering whether there was a way to know whether a VPN will grant Netflix access before you purchase it. It seems like an awful lot of money, only to find that it doesn’t work?

Kayla says:

What if I live in the US and don’t travel much abroad? Is there a reason for me to use a VPN for Netflix?

Pete says:

I never even thought about these restrictions until I started having to travel for work. VPNs are worth it to me!

Becca says:

It’s really upsetting to me that Netflix does not adequately consider military families that live off base. They should be able to prove their status on sign up.

Josh says:

Is there a site I can go to to look at the different movies and shows offered on different countries’ Netflix subscriptions so I can decide if I want to use a VPN?

Ken says:

Unlike the last McGenius that commented, I think Safari is a superior browser to the others. You don’t have to worry about all the tracking like you do from Chrome overlords. Use ExpressVPN and you’ll be fine.

Andy says:

VyprVPN is going to be your best bet to get around Netflix bans because they have an insane number of IP addresses. Their speed is awesome too and yes you can stream in 4K like they claim. Don’t waste your time with the others.

Marty says:

So does the free version of Windscribe allow you to access Netflix or not? When you say limited features, what do you mean? Is it limited as in number of servers or limited such as only 500 megs of data a month? Knowing the limitations would be helpful.

Bill says:

Wow, that’s a lot of good information. I’m going to bookmark this site for future reference. My company is getting ready to send two coworkers and I overseas for a month in June and we need a VPN that will get around blocks to Netflix or anything really. I’ll let my boss know our options. Thanks!

Ethan says:

I’ve used ExpressVPN and NordVPN to get to Netflix while traveling. If I had to pick, I’d lean slightly towards ExpressVPN because they seem to have a better spread of servers. Speeds are about the same really. I’ll probably stick with them unless they get blocked or something.