What Is The Best VPN For Netflix?
Netflix was founded in 1997 as a simple subscription service in the United States whereby customers could rent movies through the mail. However, Netflix quickly moved into the online space and began streaming both television shows and movies in 2007. Today, over 99% of all Netflix customers access to video content online, and there are Netflix subscribers in more than 180 countries.
In its earliest history, the concept of licensing and broadcast rights was very simple. Netflix bought back catalogs of old television shows and movies and “broadcast” (or delivered) them to customers in the United States. But beginning in 2010, Netflix began expanding to other countries. And for each country in which Netflix operates, there are separate licensing and broadcast deals for each television show and movie.
Netflix today now manages a staggeringly complex series of broadcast rights to their huge catalog of movies and television shows, both those produced by others and those produced by Netflix itself. These broadcast rights are founded on earlier legal foundations that were established before the internet was created. Therefore, a television show or movie’s rights are tied to the country in which the content is “broadcast” (streamed/downloaded), not the country in which the user account is created.
All this works more or less fine if the user is in their home country. But when a Netflix customer is abroad, they might find that they can no longer access their favorite shows. This isn’t because there’s a restriction on their individual account but simply because Netflix is not legally allowed to stream that particular content to anyone in that country.
Netflix “knows” which country you’re in based on your IP address. Every time you log onto the internet, your ISP (internet service provider) will assign you an IP. These IP addresses come in blocks, and there are tables that let you quickly look up which addresses correspond to which geographic location. Netflix uses your IP to determine “where” you are, and this determines which content they can stream to you.
VPNs work by browsing the internet via the VPN’s computer and the VPN’s assigned IP address rather than your own. If the VPN computer (or server) is located in Australia, it will distribute Australian IP addresses to all of its users, and this will make Netflix think that you’re in Australia. This allows users who are abroad to “trick” Netflix thinking that they’re still in their home country and therefore can legally watch all of the same Netflix television shows and movies that they enjoy back home.
Of course, using a VPN to access Netflix “from” a different country can also allow you to access content that you wouldn’t normally be able to watch. For instance, using a VPN server in Japan will let you watch Netflix shows and movies that are only available in Japan, which might include anime or other exclusive content that is unavailable in the United States. For this reason, Netflix has worked to block many VPNs from accessing their content, making it much harder for travelers or people on business abroad to circumvent “silly” country restriction laws to watch television shows and movies that are otherwise available when they are at home.
In this article, we’ll show you how to find a good VPN in order to access Netflix, what it can do for you, and how to get around Netflix’s efforts to block VPN access so that you can enjoy all of Netflix’s catalog regardless of where your computer or device is physically located at the moment.
How VPNs Work
When you connect to the internet “normally,” you’re actually initiating a connect request from your computer or device to the ISP (internet service provider). From there, all traffic is then routed through your ISP. And your ISP will tell every website you visit some basic information about you, including which country you’re in. In the case of Netflix, this means that Netflix will know which country you’re in and prevent you from seeing content that’s not available to Netflix subscribers from that country.
One way you can think of a VPN is like having remote access to a friend’s computer. If you could somehow remotely log onto their computer and then browse the internet, all of the websites that you visit would “see” you as coming from your friend’s computer. Therefore, if you live in the United States, and your friend lives in France, all of the websites that you browse remotely (via your friend’s computer) would think that you’re in France.
A VPN is just a company that offers 24/7/365 access to a “friend’s computer”. You pay them to serve as the middleman between you and the rest of the internet. VPN companies usually have multiple servers (computers) in different countries so that you can choose which country you want to be “coming from” as you browse the internet.
It is this geographic specificity that allows you to watch Netflix’s catalog in one country even while you’re in a different country. Netflix will see you coming from the VPN server in a given country and then serve up content based on that country. Therefore, if you’re in America but connect to a VPN server in Australia, Netflix will think you’re in Australia and serve up their Netflix Australia content accordingly.
Why You Should Use a VPN to Watch Netflix
There are plenty of legitimate reasons for using a VPN to access Netflix:
- To catch up on your favorite shows when you’re abroad.
- To ensure that all of your internet traffic is encrypted.
- To avoid compromising your security when using public Wi-Fi or other insecure internet connections.
- To avoid government surveillance and/or censorship.
- To protect your privacy.
- Ensure a stable, high-speed internet connection.
Most people using a VPN with Netflix want to get around country (geographic) restrictions on content. The most common way that this happens is if you’re traveling abroad on business or vacation, and you can’t get access to your favorite shows or movies on Netflix because of where you are.
Unfortunately, some people use VPNs to try and get around country content restrictions. For instance, Star Trek Discovery is broadcast by Netflix in Australia but CBS in the United States. If you’re in America, you’d need a separate subscription to CBS’s streaming service in order to watch Star Trek Discovery, but if you use a VPN with a server in Australia, you could watch Star Trek Discovery via Netflix Australia. Likewise, the release date for some movies on Netflix is different for different countries, so using a VPN could allow you to watch those movies earlier than anyone else in your country.
Netflix is always working to clamp down on VPN access in order to prevent these kinds of things from occurring, so don’t expect any customer support or help from Netflix in using a VPN to circumvent geographical broadcast restrictions.
How to Watch Netflix With a VPN
Before you even think about using a VPN to watch Netflix, you need to be aware that doing so may invalidate your user agreement with Netflix.
In section 4.3 of Netflix’s terms of service (TOS), you will see this text:
You may view 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. The content that may be available to watch will vary by geographic location.
Effectively, this means that Netflix is prohibiting anyone from using a VPN (or another kind of workaround) to watch Netflix from somewhere other than the country where you set up your home account. Furthermore, it specifically forbids trying to connect to Netflix from a country where Netflix does not operate.
That being said, there are lots of good reasons to use a VPN to connect to Netflix such as when you’re on vacation. Since you’re not violating the “viewing Netflix primarily from your home country” rule, you should be all right. But at the end of the day, Netflix could still terminate your account (or access from a particular VPN’s servers) at any time, and there’s really nothing you will be able to do about it.
If you do want to use Netflix with a VPN, here’s how you do it:
- Use your computer or device to log on to the internet in the normal way.
- Connect your VPN (your VPN provider will tell you how to do this).
- Choose a server in the country which has the Netflix catalog that you want to access.
- Log onto Netflix with your Netflix username and password.
- Start streaming video!
Why Netflix Blocks VPNs
In the old days, broadcast rights were very simple. The only way that people could watch a movie was in a theater, and the only way to watch television was when it was broadcast over the air. Therefore, assigning broadcast rights by country assumed that everything broadcast in the United States (for example) would only be seen by people in the United States.
Today, however, the internet is ubiquitous, and any content can be viewed or accessed from just about anywhere on the planet, including Antarctica. So, how does Netflix know whether you’re in the United States or Australia? The answer is that Netflix looks at the IP address (a kind of “unique tag” given to all internet-connected devices) assigned to you by your ISP (internet service provider) to determine where you are. There are tables that anyone can use that show which IP addresses correspond to which country.
Netflix is legally required to only broadcast (or stream) content to users in countries in which Netflix holds the broadcast rights. For instance, Netflix used to own the rights to broadcast Game of Thrones in Australia, but not in the United States (where HBO holds those rights). Therefore, Netflix could legally stream the show to its customers in Australia but not to its customers in the United States.
When you sign up for an account with Netflix, it will be associated with a given country (for example, the United States). The Terms of Service for your Netflix account clearly state that you will only be able to view content that is available in your country. That’s all fine and good when you’re at home, but what about when you’re abroad on business or vacation?
Now, it might seem a bit unfair that you can watch your favorite Netflix show at home with no problem but Netflix will block you from watching that same show when you’re abroad. As a Netflix customer, you’re thinking is “my account lets me watch my favorite shows.” But the way Netflix looks at it is, “your account lets you watch only what is available in the country where you are currently located.” The subtle difference doesn’t matter when you’re at home, but it can prevent you from watching your favorite Netflix shows or movies when you’re overseas.
All of this leaves Netflix in a bit of a gray area. On one hand, they want to serve their customers with their favorite shows and movies, but on the other hand, they may not be able to do so legally if you’re in a country (no matter how temporarily) where Netflix does not hold the broadcast rights. Netflix knows that some of its over 139 million paid customers are going to be overseas at any given time, and those customers probably want to watch their favorite Netflix shows no matter where they might be in the world at the moment.
Therefore, Netflix is duty-bound to respect country broadcast laws, but at the same time, it doesn’t want to crack down too hard on remote access via VPNs. This has resulted in a kind of “cat and mouse” game wherein Netflix blocks some IP addresses belonging to some VPN companies, but not all of them. For users wanting to access Netflix via VPN, the “game” is therefore to find a VPN server in the “right” country that hasn’t yet been blocked by Netflix and is available for streaming Netflix video (which can be data intensive).
What to Look For in a VPN for Streaming Netflix
Because you’re going to be streaming video, you’ll need a good VPN server with a high-speed connection and low latency (or delay). The last thing that you want is to pay for a VPN server and then find out that it’s working too slowly to stream video content properly.
Besides speed, other important considerations for a VPN service include price, the number of devices that can be connected simultaneously, the location of the VPN’s servers (which will determine which country Netflix will think you’re in), any restrictions on data type or volume, and whether you can connect to your VPN via a browser or if you need a dedicated app to do so.
Lastly, of course, using a VPN to log into Netflix won’t work unless that VPN has servers which aren’t being blocked by Netflix. While we have assembled a list of VPNs that are not currently blocked by Netflix, this can change at any moment. Before you pay for a VPN service to connect to Netflix, be sure to find out whether they can even connect to Netflix at all and from the country with the Netflix catalog that you want to access.
While there are some completely free VPN services out there, none of them, at least to our knowledge, allow you to connect to Netflix. Some VPNs offer a free trial or limited time free access to their services, so this might be a good choice if you want to verify that they can indeed access Netflix and test how fast the connection to Netflix is.
Generally, though, you’re going to need to fork out a few bucks in order to stream Netflix via a VPN. Since you’re already paying for a Netflix subscription, you probably don’t want to shell out too much money for a VPN connection on top of that. Most VPN services run between $5 and $15 per month but they may offer lower prices if you sign up for an entire year instead of paying by the month.
Your best bet will probably be to pay for one month of access just to verify that it serves your needs and then sign up for a yearly contract (or longer) in order to take advantage of the lower per-month costs. But if you’re only planning on using a VPN to watch Netflix while on vacation, it’s probably best just to pay for one month of access for when you need it.
Because all data has to be routed via your VPN before it gets to you, this can significantly slow down your internet connection. And since you’ll need a high-speed connection in order to watch video content without any dropping or stuttering, you’ll need a fast VPN in order to watch Netflix.
Netflix estimates that you’ll need about 1 GB per hour for standard definition video and 3 GB per hour for streaming one hour of high-definition video content. This translates to an approximate download speed of 2.2 megabits/second for standard video and 6.6 megabits/second for HD video.
Number of Devices
If you’re not planning on sharing your VPN connection with another device, then this won’t affect you. But if you plan on connecting multiple devices to a VPN at the same time (such as using a laptop to view videos and using a phone to check email, or two different people logging on simultaneously), then you need to make sure that your VPN service offers an adequate number of simultaneous connections.
Some VPNs offer something called “split tunneling” in which some data traffic is routed through the VPN server and some isn’t. This might be a good option if you only want to avoid geo restrictions on Netflix but access the rest of the internet normally.
VPN companies will tell you in which countries their servers are located. For instance, if you want to browse the internet as though you’re in the United States, your VPN company will need to have a server physically located in the United States. Therefore, be sure to find out which country the VPN service operates their servers.
Some VPNs put a cap or limit on how much data can be used in a given time period such as a day. Netflix estimates that you’ll use 1 GB/hour to stream standard video and up to 3 GB/hour to stream high-definition video. Be sure that your VPN plan includes enough data so that you can watch as much Netflix content as you prefer.
Whether you’re connecting to your VPN from a desktop computer or a mobile device, you’ll need some way to sign in and log into your VPN account.
Some VPN providers require you to use a specific app or piece of software in order to connect to their servers. Other VPN providers, however, allow you to sign in and connect via their website or with a browser plugin. Using a browser to log in sometimes be a lot handier, especially if you’re not using your home computer or you don’t want to download and open a separate app/program every time you want to connect to the VPN.
Our List of Recommended VPNs for Netflix
While all of the following VPNs have at least one server that connects to Netflix, keep in mind that this may not be the version of Netflix you’re looking for. For instance, a VPN which offers unblocked access to Netflix America but not Netflix Australia will prevent you from watching your favorite Netflix Australia shows.
Therefore, be sure to thoroughly investigate both whether the VPN in question has a server in your desired country and whether it is (still) unblocked by Netflix. Some VPNs advertise their Netflix circumvention services openly while others do not, so be sure to inquire before signing up for any VPN account.
NordVPN claims to have 5,300 servers in 62 different countries, which gives subscribers lots of options when choosing a new “location.” NordVPN offers great security and reliable, high-speed connections, but it can be a bit pricey.
If you pay by the month, it’ll cost you around $11, but if you sign up for a three-year contract, that price will go down to around $3 per month.
Based in the United States, LiquidVPN currently has just four server locations that are not blocked by Netflix: the United States, Canada, the UK, and the Netherlands. LiquidVPN boasts about their connections to Netflix right on their home page, so it’s pretty clear that they embrace customers who want to get around Netflix’s geo restrictions.
Speeds can be a bit slower than some others (around 19 megabits/second), but it’s more than serviceable for streaming Netflix. LiquidVPN is known for having very good customer service as well. Monthly plans begin at around $7/month and include up to two simultaneous connections. Their more expensive plans offer up to eight simultaneous connections. You’ll also need to use LiquidVPN’s software in order to connect.
VPNArea is based in Bulgaria but their main computer systems are in Switzerland, and the company has servers in 70 different countries. VPNArea has great speed with between 70-90 megabits/per second downloading depending on which server you’re using.
VPNArea can be a bit pricey as their per-month cost is $9.90. If you sign up for a full year, that cost goes down to $4.92 per month. All subscriptions allow you up to six simultaneous connections. You’ll need to use their proprietary app/software to log in.
If you’re looking for an entry price level VPN to connect to Netflix, Surfshark is a great place to start. SurfShark is based in Panama but they have servers in the United States, the UK, Canada, South Africa, and South Korea, all of which can be used to connect to Netflix.
For some reason, SurfShark seems to work better with Windows and Android than it does with Apple devices, although the company is working on equalizing access for all devices and operating systems.
Prices start at $11.95 on a per-month basis and go down to $1.99 per month for longer-term contracts.
VyprnVPN is based in Switzerland and has servers in over 70 countries, and the company claims that all of them can be used to connect to Netflix, although only their USA servers were tested for this article. Connection speeds are quite good, and VyprVPN also offers additional security features like using a NAT firewall.
VyprVPN offers free, three-day trials, which is plenty of time to test out their services. On a per-month basis, VyprVN costs $9.95 but this price can go down to $5/month for longer-term contracts.
StrongVPN has over 650 servers, but only servers in three countries (United States, Canada, and the Netherlands) are able to easily and reliably connect to Netflix. Strong VPN works well with just about any device or computer OS, including game consoles.
Strong VPN offers good download speeds, but their cost on a per-month basis ($10) is nearly double that of longer-term contracts (which can be low as $5.83/month), so Strong VPN is probably not a good choice if you only need a VPN for a short period of time.
Although the homepage is in Haiti (.ht), VPN.ht is actually based in Hong Kong. It is very popular in Asia because it offers strong privacy protection and access to content that is blocked on the Chinese mainland, including Netflix. The company offers no speed or data restrictions and is one of the few VPN companies that openly encourage their users to seed torrents and engage in other high data usage activities.
Even if you’re not in Asia, VPN.ht can be a very good choice. They offer servers in the United States, the UK, Canada, and the Netherlands that can be used to connect to Netflix and servers in an additional 25+ countries for other services. Connection to VPN.ht can be done via a browser.
VPN.ht offers very competitive pricing, either $4.99 on a per-month basis (and you get the first month for just $1, a great way to try it and see if you like it) and as low as $3.33 per month for longer-term contracts.
VPNs to Avoid With Netflix
While the following VPNs might be useful in other contexts, our research has shown that they do not work well with or outright prohibit streaming Netflix.
There are thousands of VPN companies out there, but here are the ones that we know actively block any connection to Netflix or are too unreliable/slow for streaming video:
- Hola VPN
- Hotspot Shield
- Ra4w VPN
- Hide My IP
- Avast Secureline VPN
- Private Tunnel
- Celo VPN
- Kaspersky Secure Connection
- Hoxx VPN
- F-Secure Freedome
Note: VPN companies are always changing their policies, IP addresses, and servers, so be sure to check with each VPN company for up-to-date information on their compatibility with Netflix.
Whether you’re traveling abroad and want to catch up on your favorite Netflix shows back home or simply want to access the complete Netflix catalog available to subscribers around the world, using a high-speed, reliable VPN is the best way to make sure that you never miss a single episode. Do your research, test out a potential VPN’s connectivity and speed when streaming Netflix, and take advantage of any free trial periods before committing to a paid VPN subscription.
Once you’ve got everything set up and in place, you can enjoy Netflix and its enormous catalog of groundbreaking television shows and movies no matter where you are the planet.