Streaming giant Netflix spans more than 190 countries and hosts vast libraries of popular content. We use the term “libraries” because the Netflix content selection is different in every country. It’s also blocked altogether in a few countries, but there is a way to unblock Netflix from anywhere, whether you want to access geo-restricted content or use the service in a banned location.
Key Takeaways: Unblocking Netflix Anywhere
- Netflix content differs by location, and some countries ban it altogether. Schools and workplaces sometimes set up firewalls to prevent Netflix access. Using a VPN is the safest way to unblock Netflix, whatever your situation.
- Those accessing Netflix from restrictive locations would benefit from using a VPN that has developed obfuscation technology to conceal VPN use.
- ExpressVPN and NordVPN are both top-notch paid VPNs for Netflix with 30-day money-back guarantees. Proton VPN is the best free VPN for Netflix.
In short, you need two things to unblock Netflix from anywhere — a Netflix account and a virtual private network (VPN). If you’re just here for some quick info, ExpressVPN is the best provider for unblocking Netflix. If you’d like to learn about other reputable VPN services and how to use a VPN to access any Netflix library in the world, keep reading.
05/25/2023 Facts checked
This article has been rewritten to include an explanation of the ways in which Netflix can be blocked or restricted and why. We’ve also addressed the legalities of using VPNs, and have updated our how-to guide and VPN recommendations.
You can unblock Netflix by using a VPN, which changes your IP address to one in another country or location. In this guide, we share step-by-step instructions on how to do this.
Proton VPN is our top free VPN recommendation, followed by Windscribe. You can use a secure free VPN provider like one of these to unblock your Netflix account for free. Alternatively, you can go for a paid provider (like ExpressVPN or NordVPN) with a 30-day money-back guarantee.
If Netflix is blocked at school or at your workplace, you can unblock it by downloading a VPN and connecting to one of its servers.
Unblock Netflix Abroad: Why Is Content Blocked on Netflix?
There are a few different situations when it comes to blocked or missing Netflix content. Let’s explore these situations in more depth.
Netflix’s content isn’t the same everywhere, which is why, even if Netflix isn’t banned in a country, some content might be missing or different. You might be in the U.S. one day, watching a show on Netflix, then you travel abroad the next day and find that show missing on Netflix in the country you’re in.
This happens because of licensing agreements Netflix makes with studios. Negotiations will result in either a TV show or movie being made widely available or only in select countries. In some cases, another streaming platform has the rights to a movie or show in a certain country, which means Netflix cannot host it.
The popularity of a title is another factor that determines where it is made available. In some cases, content is restricted to just one or two countries. This is what’s known as geoblocking, or regional restrictions.
Entire streaming services can also be geoblocked in specific countries, To give a few examples, Hulu is only available in the U.S. and its territories, and BBC iPlayer is only available in the U.K.
Netflix has recently gotten stricter about VPN use and, as a result, has upped its game when it comes to blocking VPNs. If you fall victim to the dreaded error message, it means that Netflix has detected that you’re using a VPN or proxy server. Your account won’t be blocked, but you will need to stay one step ahead of Netflix with an excellent VPN.
The second scenario is when Netflix is completely banned in a country because of strict censorship. For example, Netflix is not available in China due to the Great Firewall, which is in place to prevent those inside the country from accessing certain foreign websites.
For this reason, foreigners in China often turn to VPNs to help bypass these restrictions and enjoy streaming services they miss from home, like Netflix or YouTube. Netflix is also completely unavailable in Russia, North Korea, Crimea and Syria.
Why Is Netflix Blocked in School or Work?
The most likely reason behind schools and workplaces blocking Netflix is that it’s viewed as a distraction that reduces productivity. Keeping bandwidth usage down is another possible reason.
If you need to get around these blocks, using a VPN is the more secure and reliable way to do so. Let’s dive a bit deeper into how VPNs work to help you access Netflix (and other streaming services) from anywhere.
How Does a VPN Help You Unblock Netflix?
A VPN — or virtual private network — is a type of software that protects your privacy online. When you connect to a VPN server, it creates a tunnel between your device and the server you’re connected to. Your online activity, or data, is then redirected through this tunnel.
The data is encrypted inside the virtual tunnel and your IP address is changed, which makes it look like you’re using the internet from the location your new IP address is in.
For example, if you connect to a server in the United States but are located in the United Kingdom, you will appear as if you are actually in the United States.
How to Unblock Netflix With a VPN
If you’re new to all of this, it can sound intimidating; fortunately, getting and using a VPN with Netflix is something anyone can do in just a few clicks. Here’s a brief tutorial to get you started.
If you want to use obfuscation (for example, if you’re in a restrictive country) you’ll need to make sure the auto-connect feature is enabled on ExpressVPN. To do this, go to menu > options > protocol > automatic, then click “OK.” Finally, reconnect.
- Subscribe to a Reputable VPN Service
Choose the VPN service you want to use (we’ll share the best options farther down) and sign up for a plan. If you’re hesitant to sign up, take a deep breath — many providers, including ExpressVPN, offer money-back guarantees.
- Download Your VPN
When you’ve signed up, you may be prompted to download the VPN immediately. If you can’t see a prompt, have a look around the VPN’s website to locate the download tab. Then, go to the folder you downloaded the VPN to and go through the installation procedure.
- Connect to a Server
Connect to a server in the country with the Netflix library you want to access. For example, if you want to access Netflix USA from Canada, connect to a U.S. server.
- Open Netflix
Open Netflix as usual and search for the show or movie you want to watch. If you have any issues, try the next step.
- Try a Different Server (Optional)
If you experience any problems (i.e. error message, your Netflix library doesn’t change, etc.), try connecting to a different server in the same country, then refresh the page. ExpressVPN has a vast selection of VPN servers, especially in the U.S.
The 3 Best VPNs for Unblocking Netflix
If you plan to use a VPN to unblock Netflix, especially in restrictive locations, you should choose a provider with top-notch security and obfuscation technology. Here are some VPN providers well worth considering for accessing Netflix libraries. All these VPNs offer obfuscation to mask VPN use.
- Consistently unlocks Netflix
- Offers obfuscation tech
- Easy user experience
Whatever streaming service you want to access, you can count on ExpressVPN to get the job done with no hassle. Of all the services we regularly use to watch Netflix, we find ExpressVPN to be the most secure, consistent and easy to use. Moreover, its vast server network means you’re spoiled for choice in terms of the Netflix libraries you can connect to.
Unfortunately, ExpressVPN’s excellent performance comes at a cost; quite simply, it’s one of the most expensive VPN providers. However, it is the best VPN overall as well as the best Netflix VPN, so you might want to try it out with its 30-day money-back guarantee. If you’re still not convinced, cast an eye over our full ExpressVPN review.
- Top average speeds
- Obfuscation technology
- Affordable two-year plans
- Confusing mobile interface
NordVPN comes in at a close second place in our top VPN for Netflix recommendations, and only narrowly misses the top spot. NordVPN’s long-term plans are affordable, and its speeds are the best on average, just ahead of ExpressVPN and Surfshark. Fast speeds are one of the most important features a good streaming VPN should have, in addition to excellent security and ease of use.
One area in which NordVPN falls short is its mobile app user interface experience. Though we think the desktop app is great, the world map aesthetic on mobile makes you wish you’d paid more attention in geography class.
Learn more about the pros and cons of NordVPN in our full NordVPN review and, if you want to give it a go, sign up for a plan to enjoy the 30-day money-back guarantee.
- Unlimited GB
- Unlimited GB
3. Proton VPN
- Free plan with unlimited data
- Offers obfuscation tools
- Easy to use
- Limited free server locations
If you’d like to try out a reputable free service with Netflix, Swiss-based Proton VPN is our top free VPN recommendation, thanks to its generous unlimited data allowance. Proton VPN also has decent speeds, is very easy to use and works well with major streaming services like Netflix.
However, the free plan doesn’t give you full access to the service; you only get servers in three locations, which are the U.S., Netherlands and Japan. If you want access to more servers, you can choose from both short- and long-term plans. Just a quick hint — long-term plans are cheaper. Get the full lowdown in our Proton VPN Review.
Other VPN Benefits
VPNs make sure nobody, including internet service providers, snoopers, hackers and even the government, can see your online activity or get hold of personal data. In brief, your new IP address virtually frees you, letting you access blocked streaming services and websites no matter where you are.
Your data is kept safe by important security features like IP and DNS leak protection, and some VPNs go a step further with obfuscation technology, which masks the fact that the VPN is in use at all.
Though all decent VPNs prevent your data from being traced back to you specifically, even by governments, obfuscation provides an extra layer of reassurance and makes things easier for users in especially restrictive countries.
Is Using a VPN to Unblock Netflix Legal?
In most countries, including the U.S., U.K. and Canada to name but a few, it is not illegal to use a VPN, whether with Netflix or any other website. Sure, it’s against Netflix’s terms of service, but Netflix will not ban your account because you use a VPN.
You could still get the Netflix proxy error message if Netflix detects VPN use, but that’s as far as it goes. Just try switching to another server or, if the problem persists, get a VPN that’s better at unblocking Netflix.
Using a VPN is only illegal in a few restrictive locations — North Korea, Belarus, Turkmenistan, Oman and Iraq, to be precise — but it’s not illegal in the majority of countries. Check out our post “Are VPNs Legal?” for more information.
In some countries, including China, Turkey, the UAE, the Russian Federation, Uganda, Egypt, India and Iran, VPN use is not illegal, but is restricted to providers that the government has approved. In short, this isn’t good because it means the government may be able to view your online activity.
Unblocking Netflix in Restrictive Countries
If you’re planning a trip to one of the countries in which VPNs are illegal or restricted, you’ll need to be careful and only go for a reputable VPN with obfuscated servers, like ExpressVPN and NordVPN, to make sure your online activity remains private.
Bear in mind that you’ll typically need to enable obfuscated servers manually. For example, on NordVPN, you simply go to the server list and select “obfuscated servers.” ExpressVPN, on the other hand, automatically enables obfuscation if you use the auto-connect feature.
Can I Use a Free VPN to Unblock Netflix for Free?
Contrary to what many may think, not every free VPN is a scam. Some, like Proton VPN and Windscribe, are very secure and reliable services. You just have to be careful when it comes to choosing a free VPN, but you can certainly use one to unblock Netflix.
However, take note that this won’t get you Netflix for free; you’ll still have to pay for a Netflix subscription. The free VPN just allows you to access Netflix and change libraries without paying for a VPN service.
Moreover, free VPN plans are always limited in some way, whether that’s a limited data allowance or the number of countries you can connect to. If you want to explore a wider selection of Netflix libraries, or you stream frequently, you’d be better off getting a paid plan.
With Netflix content changing all the time and varying by country, and some countries becoming more and more restrictive, equipping yourself with an excellent VPN is key to being able to explore Netflix freely and securely.
Those in restrictive locations would do best with a VPN that employs obfuscation (masking) technology, like the VPNs recommended in this post.
Having read this guide, are you ready to explore more Netflix libraries with a VPN? Do you have any experience using a VPN from a restrictive country? Please share your experience in the comments, and thanks for reading.