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Did you know Netflix has different content in different countries? It’s true! These foreign libraries are locked to American viewers, but we can show you how to unlock them. You don’t have to let a little thing like geography determine your streaming future. To unlock Netflix, all you need to do is use a VPN. VPNs are popular in part because they make it so easy to access streaming content from all around the world.

Netflix - Web Originals
Netflix – Web Originals

Below, we’ll tell you everything that you need to know about using a VPN to unlock Netflix. Learn everything from how to get Netflix to serve up different streaming catalogs from around the world, to why those catalogs are different in the first place and why VPNs are so good at finding them.

Original vs. Licensed Content

Let’s talk a little about the different types of content Netflix carries. Netflix originals are available in just about any country in the world where you can watch Netflix. If you want to watch the latest season of The Crown, for example, you can do so whether you’re in the Queen’s rainy London or in Megan and Harry’s sunny California neighborhood. That’s because Netflix owns all rights to the majority of its original content in every market in the world.

But what about content Netflix licenses from other sources? That’s where it gets more complicated. A TV show that’s big in Australia might be on Netflix in Australia, but not in the United States or Canada. Maybe the owners of the rights never imagined it being popular in the United States, so they never tried to sell the rights (as Netflix itself points out to frustrated fans, the service can’t buy a TV show or movie license if no one is out there offering it). Or maybe the owners did sell those U.S. streaming rights — to Hulu, or some other Netflix competitor.

This can seem a little complicated, but it’s deceptively simple. All you really need to know is that streaming rights get sold separately in different countries. This is actually a lot like how other sorts of media work, including books: The rights to publish a book can be sold off to different publishers in different countries.

The Best Way to Unlock Netflix: Use a VPN

That begs the question: How do you watch something on Netflix if it’s not available in your country? Well, you can use what’s called a virtual private network, or VPN. A VPN routes your internet traffic through another server, which helps disguise you when you’re browsing the web. Since your internet use seems to be coming from wherever the VPN server is — instead of where you actually are — this can virtually simulate watching Netflix from another country when you’re really in the United States. Learning how to watch Netflix with a VPN is a way to watch your favorite shows without buying the entire series on Amazon or iTunes. That’s a much more expensive option, so investing in a good VPN service is likely to make more sense for you economically.

But unlocking Netflix is far from the only advantage of using VPNs. VPNs offer more privacy and security than a typical Internet connection. If you’re on a public Wi-Fi connection, using a VPN is a great way to protect your personal information. If you’re sick of being targeted by the same local ads over and over, a VPN can offer a way out of that as well.

How to Use Netflix with a VPN

When Netflix makes some content available only in certain countries, that’s known as geo-blocking. Netflix has perfectly understandable reasons for using geo-blocking and disliking VPNs, but that doesn’t mean that their huge user base has to agree. If you’re looking to use a VPN to watch Netflix, you’ve got plenty of company.

Netflix officially states that anyone using a VPN will only be able to watch content that’s available in every single country — which doesn’t amount to much! However, Netflix’s claim isn’t quite true. While Netflix does deliver a limited selection to users on its known list of VPN servers, others have evaded Netflix’s detection. If you choose the right one, you can still get around this restriction.

Check our rankings to find the best VPN for watching Netflix right now.

Then you’ll need to sign up for your chosen VPN. It’s quick and painless. Once you’ve signed up, you’ll need to download and install your chosen VPN’s app.

NordVPN Servers
NordVPN Servers

After that, just choose a server in your preferred country! If you want to watch Netflix Australia, you’d choose Australia, for instance. If that server is blocked when you try to watch Netflix, try again with a different server. Keep at it until you’ve unlocked Netflix, and then enjoy streaming all the content your heart desires.

Why Changing Your Location With a VPN Works

OK, so now you know that it is possible to use a VPN to watch Netflix content from other countries. But how does this work?

In normal circumstances, the IP address tells a site – in this case, Netflix – your location when you open its web page or app. That doesn’t necessarily mean it drops a pin in your exact location, but it can usually get pretty close.

Choosing a Server on the ExpressVPN App
Choosing a Server on the ExpressVPN App

With a VPN, your actual IP address remains hidden, and you reach the internet through a VPN server — which means that Netflix will read your location as wherever that server is. As long as Netflix doesn’t recognize that you’re using a VPN, it will trust the IP address it sees and will let you watch whatever is available to stream in the area you’ve shifted your virtual location too.

Although it’s completely legal to change your location, that doesn’t mean that Netflix likes it. To try to make sure that it’s only streaming what it should in each country, Netflix makes a bit of an effort to spot VPN users. If you use a VPN that Netflix can detect, you might get an error message as a warning message that says “Streaming error” and be asked to turn off your VPN.

If this happens, you can simply try a different VPN server or an entirely new VPN service. If you’re using one of the VPN services that we recommend for Netflix, then you should be able to quickly find a server that lets you watch content that’s typically only available in almost any country you choose. As Netflix finds new ways to detect VPNs, we’re sure VPNs will keep finding new ways to go undetected and unlock Netflix. It’s the circle of life — but if you stick with us, you’ll always know which VPNs work best!

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