How to Unblock Netflix From Anywhere – 2021 Guide

Updated: 26 September 2021
Updated: 26 September 2021

Justin Oyaro

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In this article we will teach you how to unblock Netflix from outside the US or how to get access to the US Netflix content library.

Unblock Netflix in five minutes.

Simply follow these instructions to unblock Netflix in about five minutes:

  • Click here to get NordVPN
  • Get the NordVPN app or the browser extension
  • Open NordVPN and choose a US server from the map or list
  • Go to Netflix and sign in to your account
  • Enjoy full access to all the US Netflix content

Quick Summary

You can unblock Netflix from outside the USA or access the US Netflix content library by changing your device’s IP address to a USA IP address. You can do this with a VPN, Smart DNS or proxy server.

Below you can find instructions of how to do each.

What’s so special about American Netflix?

Netflix is now available in most countries around the world, but many users outside the U.S. get a raw deal compared with what users within the U.S. get. But what’s so special about American Netflix? While most countries now have more titles available than what they had just a couple of years ago, Netflix USA still has a catalog much bigger than anywhere else.

As a result of copyright agreements, the library of movies and TV shows available for viewing has geographic restrictions. So depending on where you are in the world, you may not be able to see everything you want to see.

Unblock Netflix

How Does Netflix Even Know Where I’m Located?

Netflix can see from which country you’re accessing it (all websites have the ability to do this). All Netflix has to do is check your public IP address. Then it will give you tailored content according to the country it thinks you’re a resident of. These checks are pretty annoying for Americans who’ve signed up for the full service but can’t get access when abroad. It also affects people who don’t live in the U.S. and have to make do with access to less choice of content.

How Can I Access American Netflix Abroad?

Being abroad usually means being out and about to explore, but you still may want to catch an episode or two of your favourite American series at the end of a long day! Sadly, you might have to make other plans if Netflix geo-blocked that series.

Or, it might be the case that the registration country of your IP address isn’t the same as the country you’re in. This, too, can prevent access.

Fortunately, there’s a workaround. To be able to view all the Netflix flicks available in the U.S. while you’re outside the country, you just need to switch your current IP address to an American-registered IP address.

Sound complicated? Well, it’s quite easy. You need to get a VPN (short for Virtual Private Network) that has VPN servers in the U.S. and works with Netflix (not all do).

But what’s a VPN app in the first place? It’s a super-secure network that makes it seem like the device you’re using it on is somewhere else in the world — any place other than where it actually is! So you and your device could be in Bali, for example, and a VPN would make it seem like you’re both in the U.S. (or somewhere else of your choosing).

How do virtual private networks do this? By encoding the data you send and receive through the internet and re-routing it away from your normal ISP to a remote VPN server. This is how a VPN can bypass geo-content filtering.

Recommended reading: What is a VPN and how does it work?

Netflix vs VPN Services

Can VPNs unblock Netflix?

Netflix tries hard to prevent VPN users from viewing their content, and they’re generally pretty good at that. They can detect where you’re located by tracking your public IP address. And in the same way, they can block IP addresses they know belong to VPN services.

VPN companies are well aware that a big part of their user base wants something that works with Netflix, so they have to renew their IP addresses to become unblocked. Then Netflix finds those IPs and blocks them again, and this game of cat and mouse continues ad infinitum.

Boasting many servers with hundreds or thousands of IP addresses, bigger VPN companies have a clear edge over the smaller ones. With the best VPN providers, you can get back to watching your favourite shows in no time. Dedicated support staff are on hand to help you whenever Netflix blocks the IP address you’re using.

One word of caution: Using a VPN or Proxy isn’t allowed by Netflix’s Terms of Use. They discourage VPN use, as they believe doing so won’t offer the best Netflix experience. Fortunately, even if you’re found to be using a VPN, your Netflix account won’t be affected.

Unblocking Netflix is easiest with a VPN.

Further VPN guides we recommend you to check out:

What’s the Best VPN to Use With Netflix?

Obviously, different VPN services specialize in delivering different benefits to their users. Some won’t have too many servers or IP addresses on hand, because these VPNs focus primarily on ultra-secure internet connectivity.

By contrast, others have literally thousands of IP addresses. Because of their high-speed servers optimized for streaming, those IPs stay fresh enough to keep ahead of Netflix.

Netflix VPN ban

The Netflix ban on the use of VPNs means that very few will work reliably with Netflix. Netflix can detect some VPN traffic and restrict is. In this technological battle, VPN servers that work today may be blocked tomorrow. This is why you need a VPN service that continually adds new servers and locations to stay one step ahead.

The best VPNs need no technical know-how. Practically anyone can set them up and learn to use them. NordVPN is our favourite. It has great features and is one of the most affordable options, with plans costing from just $8.32 a month.

Moreover, NordVPN’s servers provide fast, throttle-free access to Netflix-streaming. But if you see an error, just visit NordVPN online support. There’s a team dedicated to getting Netflix users back online. NordVPN can reliably unblock Netflix.

After you’ve nailed down the right VPN for your Netflix needs, just sign up for a plan. Then, download the software. The whole process is smooth, and should take you no longer than a few minutes. If you end up choosing NordVPN, toward the bottom of this page you’ll find easy instructions to help you get started!

Most VPNs that don’t work with Netflix are free VPNs. This is because these VPN apps don’t usually update their servers and replace their banned IPs. As such, a free VPN is not recommended for unblocking Netflix. These also don’t work with HD streaming.

How to Fix a Netflix Proxy Error

Netflix Proxy Error

Look familiar? That’s what happens when Netflix detects that you’re using an IP address from a VPN service.

It might be that you just generally use a VPN — with no intention to unblock Netflix and other streaming services. In that case, just disconnect and refresh the page, and you should be able to access your country’s Netflix catalog.

If you’re connected to a VPN to unblock Netflix, you’ll need to disconnect and choose a different server. It might take several attempts before you find one that works.

If none of the available servers work, then you might have a problem. Go to the VPN provider’s website and get in touch with support to see if they can do anything to help. With NordVPN, you can quickly message a live chat support agent on their website to ask which server to select. Every NordVPN subscription comes with a 30-day money-back guarantee, so you can try it risk-free.

You should note that in some cases, Netflix may detect a blocked IP address when you’re not using a VPN at all. This situation is called a false positive and can usually be sorted by switching off your router and waiting 30 seconds before trying again. You may also need to clear your cookies, too.

Using NordVPN With Netflix

NordVPN is one of the very best VPN services available today. They have top-notch customer support, so anytime a server stops working with Netflix, you can be sure they’ll get it up and running again quickly.

All VPNs will reduce your internet speed by some amount, but NordVPN has some of the fastest servers out there, and users rarely notice any difference from their normal connection speeds. This service makes streaming HD content a joyful experience. For optimal results, select the U.S. server closest to your actual location.

NordVPN has options to watch Netflix in all of the following ways:

  • Using a laptop/desktop with the NordVPN app available for Windows, Mac, and Linux
  • Using a smartphone/tablet with the NordVPN apps for iOS and Android
  • Using an Apple TV or a Fire TV Stick streaming media console

They have servers in 32 locations around the U.S. that provide a trouble-free connection to Netflix.

Using a Smart DNS Service

What is a Smart DNS, and how does it work?

A DNS (domain name system) translates domain names to respective internet protocol (IP) addresses. DNS addresses are usually assigned by ISPs (Internet Service Providers). In conjunction with IP addresses, they help identify your geo-location.

A Smart DNS service replaces your default DNS with that of another server. Most Smart DNS providers combine proxy and DNS to provide an efficient service. A Smart DNS redirects your queries through its servers. It doesn’t change your IP address nor encrypt your internet traffic. Nonetheless, some providers may encrypt the DNS queries.

How a Smart DNS unblocks American Netflix

By routing your DNS queries to an American server, the Smart DNS proxy changes your geo-location. Hence, Netflix will think that you are in America as your queries are serviced in America.

Smart DNS providers

You can get a Smart DNS from VPN providers or other providers who offer it as their main service. Common VPN providers with Smart DNS include ExpressVPN, NordVPN, Surfshark, among others. Popular stand-alone Smart DNS providers include Unlocator, UnblockUS, among others.

VPN providers may name their Smart DNS service different names. For instance, NordVPN names its Smart DNS Media streamer.

How to choose the best Smart DNS provider?

There are free and premium Smart DNS providers. However, the free DNS addresses are not recommendable as they fail to work, and some may be slow. Also, the privacy and security of your DNS queries may be at risk.
Here is a checklist on what to consider when choosing a Smart DNS.

  • Scope of regions it can access: This ensures that you can unblock your desired content and can access Netflix in various countries such as America.
  • Websites it can unblock: Confirm whether it can unblock various websites, including Netflix. You can get this information from the provider’s websites or through customer support.

How is a Smart DNS different from a VPN?

Here is a summary of the main differences:

Aspect Smart DNS VPN
Encryption It does not offer encryption Offers encryption
Speed Fast Slow
Privacy It does not offer privacy May offer privacy
Firewalls Cannot bypass firewalls May bypass firewalls

Let’s take an in-depth look:

Encryption

A VPN secures your online traffic from prying eyes. This is done through various encryption protocols. A Smart DNS, on the other hand, doesn’t offer encryption capabilities. However, some encrypt your DNS queries.

Speed

Smart DNS offers fast connection speeds than VPNs. This is because there’s no encryption overhead in Smart DNS. Additionally, some providers use servers in proximity to the restricted content source. A Smart DNS is also faster than proxy servers.

Privacy

Smart DNS masks your DNS queries but does not hide your IP address. Hence, some websites might be able to probe your IP address. This will expose your digital identity. On the other hand, a VPN hides your IP address via its server’s virtual IP address. This conceals your digital identity and geo-location.

Advantages of Smart DNS

  • Easy configuration.
  • Compatibility with most internet-capable devices.
  • Faster speeds.

Disadvantages of Smart DNS

  • No encryption, thereby less security.
  • It does not bypass firewalls.
  • It might fail to unblock some websites/services.

Using Proxy Servers

A proxy server acts as a middleman. It forwards your browsing requests to the internet, and in the same manner, it returns the results from the internet to you. Through this technique, a proxy server hides your IP address. Websites you access will instead see the proxy servers’ IP address.

How to unblock American Netflix using a Proxy server

To unblock American Netflix, you need to connect to a proxy server located in America. This way, the requests will appear like they are originating from America. Hence, you will be able to bypass the Netflix geo-restrictions.

HTTPS proxies are recommended, but you can throw SSL into the mix if you need encryption.

Advantages of proxy servers

  • Some are faster.
  • Bypasses restrictions without bans.
  • Can offer improved performance.

Disadvantages of proxy servers

  • Proxy servers log your activities.
  • Proxy servers can push malware and ads.
  • They are not compatible with other devices.

Comparison with other unblocking methods

  • Proxy servers are slower than the smart DNS but faster than VPNs.
  • Proxy servers are less secure than VPNs.

Unblocking Netflix with a proxy server often times does not work.

Troubleshooting Netflix Connection Problems

If for any reason you’re having trouble installing the NordVPN app, you’ll need to get your hands on the NordVPN Chrome extension or Firefox extension for your web browser.

But if that doesn’t work and your network still isn’t letting you access Netflix, don’t be too surprised. It’s common for Netflix to block some of the VPN IP addresses. But don’t dismay, because you can try connecting to different servers. Eventually, you’ll find one that works!

If you still have trouble, go to the NordVPN website and navigate to the live chat facility to send a quick message to the support team. They’ll let you know the best server to use so you access Netflix.

Wrap Up

Smart DNS comes in handy when bypassing geo-restrictions. It’s affordable, fast, and easy to set up. However, keep in mind that your privacy is not secure. Lack of encryption makes you prone to prying eyes such as hackers, the government, and other third-party entities.

Proxy servers may sometimes work or not with Netflix. You might also experience slow speeds. Your security and privacy can also be compromised. This is because proxy servers log personally-identifying information.

The best way to unblock Netflix from anywhere is through a reputable VPN. VPNs also increase your online privacy and security.

Additional use cases for VPNs:

FAQ

Is Smart DNS better than VPN?

A Smart DNS is better than a VPN in connection speeds, and it doesn’t get banned easily. VPNs tend to be slow due to the encryption overhead. Most services can also ban VPN connections. Nonetheless, both Smart DNS and VPN will help you bypass geo-restrictions and access Netflix.

Is it illegal to use VPN for Netflix?

No. Bypassing restrictions to access content is not illegal unless explicitly stated. Furthermore, you will be just using a VPN to access a service that you have paid for. It is not like piracy.

Can Netflix ban you for using a VPN, Proxy, or Smart DNS?

No. Netflix will not ban your account for using various methods to bypass geo-restrictions. However, it can ban the methods. This is the reason why some Smart DNS, VPNs, and Proxy servers may not unblock Netflix.

Written by: Stephen Mash

Connect with the author:

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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