How to Use a VPN with Netflix (Beginner’s Guide)
Whether you’re new to Netflix or have had an account for some time, you’ve probably realized by now that you don’t have access to all the titles that are on the site.
Unfortunately, as cool as Netflix is, it’s got a problem – a geo-blocking problem, to be exact. The platform is split into different regional libraries, and not all of them are equal. In fact, data shows that the US, Canadian, and UK libraries have the most titles.
If you think we’re bluffing, you can take a look for yourself by using StreamCatcher from ProPrivacy. It’s an online service that lets you look up Netflix titles to see what countries they’re available in.
Now, if you’re like most people, you probably already googled a solution. And you likely came across dozens of articles telling you to use a VPN to unblock Netflix.
But what does that even mean? And how do VPNs actually help you watch geo-restricted titles on Netflix?
We’ll answer all your questions in this five-minute article.
What Is a VPN?
First things first – what is a VPN actually?
Most online sources will tell you it’s a “service that lets you use a virtual private network over a public network.”
… okay, but what does that even mean?
Basically, a VPN is an online tool you can use to:
- Hide your IP address – Any site you communicate with won’t see your IP. They’ll only see the VPN’s IP address.
- Encrypt your traffic – The VPN will turn your data into gibberish. Hackers, surveillance agencies, and ISPs won’t know you’re communicating with “netflix.com.” They’ll only see stuff like “43H==kgfU&^dajeFHD$FD.”
The “virtual private network over a public network” bit just means you’ll browse the web through a VPN server. Any data you share with the server is completely private because only the VPN and its servers can encrypt and decrypt it.
How Does a VPN Unblock Netflix?
By stopping Netflix from seeing your IP address. Doing that is important because your IP actually reveals a ton of data about you – particularly which country and city you are from. So with it, Netflix will know your geo-location.
Here’s a very simple overview of how the unblocking process works:
- When you use a VPN app to connect to a VPN server, all your connection request start being routed through it.
- When you visit Netflix, the site will think your requests (which contain IPs) are coming from the VPN server.
- As a result, Netflix thinks your traffic is coming from a country that matches the VPN’s IP.
- If that’s a country where the movie or show you want to unblock are available, Netflix will let you watch them.
Essentially, if you connect to a VPN server in the UK, Netflix will redirect you to the UK content library where you can watch titles like It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia or Doctor Who.
How Do You Use a VPN with Netflix?
You’re probably thinking there’s a steep learning curve. You can relax – there’ no need to worry about that. Using a VPN is incredibly simple – you can unblock Netflix with it in just 5 steps:
- First, subscribe to a good Netflix VPN. In our experience, ExpressVPN and CyberGhost VPN have worked wonderfully with this site (CyberGhost VPN in particular since they have dedicated Netflix streaming servers).
- Next, download, install, and run the VPN provider’s app on your device.
- Use the app to connect to a VPN server. NOTE: The server must be in a country where the Netflix title you want to watch is available. For example, if you want to watch Dexter (a US-only show), you need a US VPN server.
- Log into your Netflix account (or subscribe if you don’t already have one).
- And you’re done! Look up the shows or movies you wanted to watch, and have fun binging them!
Can Netflix See You’re Using a VPN?
Yes – there are some obvious signs that give away your VPN usage: the fact that you’re signing in from multiple geographical regions minutes or hours apart, for one. Or that multiple people are signing into their accounts from the IP you’re using.
But Netflix doesn’t really bother with that. Instead, they employ automated scripts to detect and blacklist VPN IP addresses. When they do that, VPN users end up on this page:
The only way a VPN user can avoid the Netflix proxy error is if they use a service that can bypass Netflix’s detection methods. To do that, the provider has to regularly refresh their servers’ IPs. Unfortunately, that’s pretty expensive, so not all VPNs can do it.
If you use ExpressVPN or CyberGhost VPN like we recommended, though, you shouldn’t have this problem. We were always able to unblock Netflix with them.
Will Netflix Ban Your Account If You Use a VPN?
Using a VPN to bypass Netflix’s geo-blocks is technically against their ToS, but Netflix won’t do anything if they catch you doing that. We have never heard of anyone getting their account banned for this. If you did, please let us know.
The only thing that will happen is that you’ll end up on the Netflix proxy error page.
Can a Free VPN Unblock Netflix?
Probably not. Like we just said, VPNs have to constantly refresh their IPs to unblock Netflix. Since that costs money, free VPNs obviously don’t have a sustainable business model that lets them do that.
So you’ll only have intermittent access to Netflix with a free VPN. What’s more, you’ll likely have to put up with slow speeds due to overcrowded servers, buggy apps, capped bandwidths (like 500MB per month), and little to no support.
You’re much, much better off with a paid VPN. If you want to save money, just get long-term plans. The pricing goes as low as $5 per month that way (if not even lower).
Have Other Questions About Using VPNs with Netflix?
If you do, please leave them in the comments below. We’ll do our best to answer them as soon as we can. Also, if you have other information you’d like to add about using Netflix with VPNs, please let us know.