How to change your Google Play region to unblock apps

Updated on: 2 July 2020
Updated on:2 July 2020

Google Play Store country blocks

The apps available in the Google Play Store, like most digital stores, will depend on where you live. The choices are not the same for everyone around the world. The reasons why some apps are not available in some countries will vary. Local laws and regulation or copyright issues are the usual reason, but it may be down to the app developer choosing the wrong options when they upload their app.

Most of the time, these restrictions are not a problem. Indeed, most people don’t know this even happens. However, what happens if you need to download your favourite app when you’re travelling abroad, and you find it’s not available? The simple solution is to change the country setting in the Google Play Store back to your home country.

Change Google Play Store Region

Google Play Store thinks I’m in the wrong country

The Google Play Store determines what country you are in using the IP address of the server you use to connect to the internet. It’s entirely possible that the server you are using can be physically in your country but for the country of registration of your IP address to be in a different country. Geo-blocking technology may then prevent you from accessing apps that should be available in your country.

How to change your country in the Google Play Store

If you are lucky, you can simply open the Google Play Store app on your Android device and change the settings. Open the left menu and select the Account option. If the country-switching option is available, you’ll see a Country and profiles entry in this menu. Tap this Country category and choose your new country.

Cannot change Google Play Store country

If you are unlucky, you won’t have the country-switching option available. This restriction leaves two possibilities. You can jump on a plane and fly back to the country that you want to use in your Google Play Store app settings.

A more convenient option is to use a VPN service and connect to a server in the country that you want to use in your Google Play Store app settings. This action sets the IP address of the server you use to connect to the internet to the right country.

Changing the Google Play Store country

So, you’ve decided you need to connect to the Google Play Store via a server located in the right country. You’re going to use a VPN service, or you’ll physically be in that country. Well, there are a couple of crucial things that you need to know before you get started.

  • The Google Play Store will only allow you to change your country once a year in the app. If you decide to change the country, then you’ll have to wait a whole year (yes, the full twelve months) before you can change it again.
  • When you change the country in the app, you have to set up a new payment method in the app. Any balance you had will not be available to use once you’ve changed the country.

One word of caution, bypassing the country-specific controls of the Google Play Store may be against the terms of service and, if spotted, may result in your account being disabled.

Using a VPN to unblock the Google Play Store

What a VPN does is act as a middleman between your device and the Google Play servers and masks your location by running all your internet traffic through the VPN company’s servers in a country of your choice.

So, if you connect to a VPN server from a different country, then the Google Play Store will believe that you are in that country. This option will allow you access to the apps not available in your current country.

Finding a VPN provider

You will first have to find a VPN provider that works with Android and the Google Play Store. Most free VPN’s available will not work because their IP addresses are banned by the Google Play Store to stop people from being able to overcome region restrictions for content.

The best option is to choose a premium VPN provider such as ExpressVPN. This product has thousands of IP addresses that are regularly updated and replaced when banned by services such as Google Play.

ExpressVPN also has an excellent Android app (see our full discussion of the best VPNs for Android here).

It only costs $83.88 for 12 months, which is an excellent price, considering the excellent service they provide.

Install the VPN app

Next, you will have to install the VPN app to your Android device. Once you have signed up a VPN account at the provider’s website, you will receive a link with the app. If you have chosen ExpressVPN (recommended), then the installation will be quick.

After this just launch the app and log in using the credentials you created when you signed up for an account.

Connect your VPN to a remote server

Once launched, the VPN app will present you with a list of locations to which you can establish a secure connection. You will have to choose a country that you know has access to the app you want to download.

Once you have chosen the country that you want, you will have to press “Go” or “Connect” depending on the app you use.

It will then take around 5 seconds to establish the connection and change your Google Play Store region and IP address.

Launch Google Play

After you have set up the VPN, to change your Google Play Store region and IP address you will have to open the Google Play app and press the “Clear Data” and “Force Stop” buttons.

This step is essential as without doing it, the Play Store app may not recognise your changed region and new IP address.

This step is necessary because the app saves all the settings you are currently using the first time you start the app. It won’t check your settings (IP address, location) every time you start up the app. So, even if you have changed your IP to a different country with the VPN app unless you delete your old Play Store settings, it won’t recognise the new IP.

Everything is ready to go

If you have completed all the steps, you can head to the Play Store and search for the app that you want to download. If the app was previously not available in your country, then it should be available now if you have chosen a server and IP address located in a country that has access to that particular app.

If you want to change your Google Play Store region yet again, then you will have to change the VPN server and reset your Google Play settings back.

Remember, you should do all this with a quality VPN such as ExpressVPN because many other VPNs (especially the free ones) have their IPs banned by Google, as Google does not want people to be changing their regions. No matter what country you choose, with ExpressVPN you will have no issues with banned IP addresses.

Written by: Stephen Mash

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Software and Systems Assurance Specialist Based in West Sussex, England, Stephen has worked as an information security and safety assurance consultant since 1997, specialising in risk management for high integrity systems. Prior to that, he developed safety-critical software-based systems for the aerospace industry. He transitioned from consultancy into the role of technical copywriter and editor in 2019, writing and reviewing materials on behalf of a broad spectrum of clients.

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