By now, you probably know that Netflix has a different selection of TV shows and movies in each country it’s active — which is pretty much everywhere. However, a little knowledge is a dangerous thing, so in this article we’ll make sure you’re wise to all the facts surrounding the Netflix VPN ban, which is the biggest obstacle to watching any country’s Netflix from anywhere.
If the system behind Netflix’s VPN block is old news to you, and you just want to know how to beat error code m7111-5059, click the link and find out (hint: it involves signing up to ExpressVPN). If you’d like to know more VPN options besides that stalwart, we also have an article on the best VPN for Netflix, though for convenience’s sake we’ll also recap our picks just below.
However, if you’re more interested in spelunking into the depths of copyright law and other weird lawyerly tricks, stick around as we talk about why so much Netflix content is hidden away.
Best Netflix VPN: Which VPN Works in 2020?
ExpressVPN is our favorite VPN out there, period. It’s secure and easy to use, has a great server network and friendly live chat, and is the fastest VPN, as well. In fact, the only real downside to the VPN is its price, which is quite a bit steeper than the competition. It costs a little more than double its closest competitor, NordVPN, which claims the second position in this ranking, too.
In fact, NordVPN inches closer to the top when it comes to several criteria, so check out our ExpressVPN vs NordVPN comparison for more on that.
The reason we like ExpressVPN so much for Netflix is because no other VPN has quite so many servers around the globe that can get into the streaming service, while also maintaining fantastic speeds.
We’ve been testing ExpressVPN on a weekly basis for years now, and no other VPN service has this many servers able to beat the VPN ban, and also gets “discovered” servers back up so quickly.
As a whole package, ExpressVPN is pretty much impossible to beat, that is if you have a hundred bucks per year to spend on a VPN. If you want to give ExpressVPN a spin before deciding, it has a 30-day money-back guarantee, and if you sign up using this link, you even get three months for free on top of your first year.
- 5 simultaneous connections
- Unlimited bandwidth
- Unblocks Netflix, Amazon and Hulu
- Perfect for torrenting
The only reason NordVPN consistently ranks second to ExpressVPN (except in our best VPN for torrenting roundup) is its speeds. This VPN offers a massive, reliable server network, gets into most streaming services and has great multi-year deals that will save you heaps of money. However, its inconsistent speeds hold it back, though the rollout of WireGuard may remedy that.
When it comes to Netflix, NordVPN is reliable (you’re no slouch even if you do come in second), though not quite as much as ExpressVPN. Messing around with the VPN, we’ve found that you can get into most countries’ versions of Netflix, though you will be switching servers quite often. However, the switch times are lightning fast, so it’s not too much of a burden. Read our guide on how to watch Netflix with NordVPN.
However, all these minor niggles are very easy to live with, considering NordVPN’s pricing. You get three years of service for about $125 — only $25 more than one year with ExpressVPN — which is just dirt cheap. (Only our next entry, CyberGhost, is cheaper.) If you think that’s too much of an investment, though, you get a 30-day refund window to consider your purchase.
If NordVPN’s biggest draw for you is its discounted three-year plan, then CyberGhost may be an even better option. It is by far the most affordable VPN out there if you’re willing to sign up for the long term. Offering three years for just $100, CyberGhost boils down to one-third the cost of ExpressVPN, which we go into detail about in this comparison between the two VPNs.
Being a cheap VPN isn’t CyberGhost’s only strength, either, as you can read in our full review. The VPN offers decent speeds and a very comfortable interface, as well as being able to get into Netflix most of the time.
Unlike ExpressVPN, though, only a minority of CyberGhost’s servers will work. It also doesn’t have the volume of NordVPN, either, so it’s a teensy bit more hit-and-miss than with those VPNs. We have a guide for how to watch Netflix with CyberGhost, though.
However, at that price we figure it’s worth putting up with the very occasional annoyance. Plus, if paying a Benjamin for three years of service isn’t enough of a draw, CyberGhost is also one of the very few top-listed VPN services that has a free trial, meaning you are running exactly zero risk (find out how to use the CyberGhost free trial). On top of that, there’s also a money-back guarantee, so it’s easy to get a CyberGhost refund.
Windscribe is a great VPN for Netflix, though you wouldn’t think it at first because it’s usually touted as the best free VPN. However, if you go a little further than the free plan, you’ll find a powerhouse VPN that will get you into Netflix U.S. without too many problems, and for a decent price, to boot. You can get the details of that in our Windscribe review.
When it comes to Netflix, Windscribe offers dedicated, paid servers called Windflix that do a damn good job of getting past any VPN blocks and at a decent speed, too, so no stuttering or any other nonsense, either. Add to that some top-grade security and you’re good to go.
Windscribe doesn’t offer a refund like most other VPNs, instead relying on its generous free plan to help people get acquainted with the service before they decide on a purchase. Free is always nice, so we recommend you give it a spin.
Last but very much not least on this list is VyprVPN, a veritable old-timer among the best VPNs for Netflix. We’ve been recommending the VPN on and off for years now, as it has had a bumpy journey. Currently, though, VyprVPN is going strong with a revamped interface and friendly customer support (it used to be pretty bad). Read all about these changes in our full review of VyprVPN.
When it comes to Netflix, it’s a solid choice that scores about as well as CyberGhost and Windscribe but doesn’t attain the rarefied air of ExpressVPN and NordVPN.
However, VyprVPN is a great pick for watching Netflix from countries with bad censorship, thanks to its hyper-secure Chameleon protocol. This protocol not only secures your connection but does so without letting on that it is. It’s seriously cool.
VyprVPN used to offer a free trial, but the VPN has recently replaced it with the industry-standard 30-day money-back guarantee. If heightened security while streaming sounds good to you, check out VyprVPN, we’re sure you’ll like it.
Why Does Netflix Block VPNs?
Until about four years ago, Netflix didn’t block people who accessed the service through a VPN. It turns out that there were far too many people unhappy with their country’s Netflix library, who were using VPNs to access American Netflix for its far superior selection of TV shows and movies.
Why the U.S. version of the streaming service was so much better had to do with a maze of legal agreements, as well as the usual bugbear of the digital age: licensing deals. If you look at the homepage of Netflix, you’ll quickly see it offers hundreds — if not thousands — of titles no matter where you are, but only a few of them are made by Netflix itself.
The vast majority of Netflix’s content is made by networks the world over, and it has made deals with content distributors to be able to offer it for streaming to subscribers.
However, the movies and shows on Netflix are distributed by different companies, who may want their content in one country but not another. Making matters worse, sometimes multiple companies own the rights to the same movie or TV show, just in different parts of the world.
As a result, each country in the world — except for China, Syria, Crimea and North Korea, which don’t allow access to the streaming service — has its own Netflix library, which makes for wildly differing offerings depending on where you are.
Netflix and Distributors
When a network produces a show or a studio makes a movie, they make deals about what distributor can show it where — and that’s not always necessarily the same company. For example, the hit show Homeland is produced by Showtime and, as such, is available in the U.S. on its very own streaming site, which you can’t access from anywhere else.
However, Showtime has also made a deal with Netflix to make Homeland available in countries other than the U.S. In Germany, you can watch it just fine on Netflix, while in the States you’d need to hook up to Showtime.
However, it could very well be that, in another European country, Homeland is not available because Showtime has made a separate deal with a local network to air it. It really depends.
Let’s use another example: take The Americans, a taut spy thriller series set in the ‘80s. It originally aired in the States on the FX network. However, FX doesn’t have its own streaming service, so if you want to watch it online from the U.S., you have to go with iTunes or Amazon Prime Video (read our best VPN for Amazon Prime Video piece).
The picture changes, though, in Europe, where several countries have all five seasons of the Jennings’ trial and tribulations on Netflix, no problem. If you’re an American who wants to watch the show and you already have a Netflix subscription, but you don’t want to shell out for another streaming subscription to Amazon, you’re just out of luck.
Best Netflix VPN to Stream Despite the Block
This is where virtual private networks come in. The linked article has all the details, but in short, a VPN allows you to access the internet from a third-party server. This has two main benefits. First, a VPN makes your browsing more secure. More important to streaming, though, a VPN can make you appear as if you’re somewhere else geographically by spoofing your IP address.
Using the same example, a Netflix subscriber from New York City who wants to watch The Americans without signing up to Amazon can do so by connecting to a VPN server in Germany, which has all five seasons in its Netflix library. It’s really as simple as that: open up your VPN, select a server in another country and say “bye-bye geoblock.”
That’s how it should work, at least. The distributors we mentioned earlier most likely don’t care for people undermining their distribution agreements, and they allegedly began forcing Netflix to start blocking VPNs — nobody seems to know exactly why the ban came into effect. Ever since, users have been met with the now infamous Netflix error message.
That said, if a distributor makes a deal with two different streaming services to show a film in different countries, it doesn’t want people to cross over willy-nilly. That’s just bad for business, especially in the age of the streaming wars.
Right now, there are about 15 streaming sites competing with each other, and all of them seem intent on making sure you only watch certain shows on certain sites.
How to Watch Netflix With a VPN
As many companies have found out before, though, you can’t keep geeks down, and plenty of VPNs started quickly developing their own block-busting techniques. Right now, this whole thing has become a bit of a cat-and-mouse game, where VPNs figure out new ways to cycle IP addresses and Netflix finds new ways to detect them.
How exactly VPNs circumvent these blocks is a little unclear — it likely has to do with regularly cycling IP addresses — but what is very obvious is that some VPN services are better at it than others.
Finding out which VPNs belong in that category is a simple process, but a labor-intensive one: you just try watching content with different VPN servers until the Netflix proxy error goes away. This is where we come in: we’ve reviewed over 60 VPN services to put together our best VPN rankings, and we’ve tested each of them for Netflix access and streaming speed.
We go over our criteria and process in the related articles, but to cut that story short, the best VPNs for Netflix are ExpressVPN and NordVPN, with CyberGhost hot on their heels.
Any of these three VPNs will work with Netflix eventually (the next section will go into the details of that), while also offering a user-friendly interface, efficient customer support through live chat and a money-back guarantee of 30 days in case you don’t like the VPN service.
There are some VPNs you should avoid, though. For one, any VPN service that advertises itself as free and able to get into Netflix is trying to sell your data (though it’s not only free services that do that, as you can read in this review of Avast VPN).
Also be careful of any new VPN services; they generally lack the expertise necessary to become one of the better VPNs for Netflix.
How to Use Netflix With a VPN
First thing first: you can’t change your Netflix region without a VPN; proxies won’t work, and neither will any other method of switching out IP addresses. Your only option is a VPN, and for this example we’ll use ExpressVPN, simply because it’s very easy to use. Note that this is a quick recap; if you want the full guide on how this works, check out our guide on how to watch Netflix with ExpressVPN.
The first thing you want to do is sign up to a VPN. We like ExpressVPN, so we use that service for our examples. Once that’s done, open up the VPN app, pick a location you’d like to access Netflix from and click it to connect.
When you’re connected, go to Netflix, click the show or movie you want, and you should be good. If Netflix is not working right, that means you have a bad VPN server, so you need to switch server locations by going through the above steps again. It’s that simple, and it will stand you in good stead no matter from where you want to stream Netflix.
There you have it: the skinny on the Netflix VPN ban as well as the way to get around it. ExpressVPN is the ticket for anybody looking to thumb their nose at copyright restrictions, though plenty of other VPNs will do the deed, as well.
Do you have any tips on how to watch Netflix in other countries? Or maybe some questions we haven’t answered? Let us know in the comments below and, as always, thank you for reading.
Will Netflix Ban Me for Using a VPN?
No, it will not. We’ve been messing around with VPN services to get around the Netflix VPN block for years now, and we’ve never received a single warning or demand to cease. If you get some kind of email, chances are it’s a scammer trying to get something out of you and has nothing to do with Netflix.
What Do You Mean With “Switch Servers?”
It means going from one VPN server (or IP address) to another within your VPN service. So, say you’re in the UK and want to watch U.S. Netflix through a server in New York, but it’s blocked. You can switch instead to a server location in Washington, D.C., or LA and see if either of those work with Netflix.
Is It Legal to Watch Netflix With a VPN?
Yep. Though you’re officially not supposed to do it, nobody seems too intent on catching perpetrators. This may change in future, but we doubt it.
How Do I Bypass the Netflix VPN Block?
By using a VPN that isn’t detected by Netflix. The best VPNs to pick from are ExpressVPN, NordVPN and CyberGhost, though there are plenty of others that do the trick, as well. Even then, though, the whole process can be kind of hit-and-miss.
What VPNs Are Blocked by Netflix?
Most of them, truth be told. In fact, the number of VPNs that do get past the block is dwarfed by the massive majority of VPNs that get hit with proxy errors when connecting from abroad. VPNs that usually do the trick are ExpressVPN, NordVPN and CyberGhost.
Can Netflix Detect VPNs?
Yes, and with a vengeance. Except for maybe Hulu and Amazon Prime, the Netflix VPN detection system is the best in the business. In fact, only a handful of the best VPNs can get past it, though we’ve done our homework and have some excellent VPN recommendations for you.
Which Free VPN Works With Netflix?
None. Or at least, none of the best free VPNs we’ve tried out work with Netflix, and we’ve tried out pretty much all of them. A sort-of exception is the Windscribe VPN, which has a good free plan and also a paid plan that usually cracks the Netflix block. If you’re looking for a truly free VPN for Netflix, you’re out of luck.