Netflix password-sharing: how the crackdown works and what it costs

A phone screen showing an email from Netflix about password sharing
This is the email you may receive from Netflix about sharing your password with those outside your household. (Image credit: Netflix)

The Netflix password-sharing crackdown went into effect in May 2023 in the US, UK and Australia – alongside dozens of other countries worldwide. Despite the initial backlash against the new rules, they seem to have worked as subscriptions have spiked thanks to the clampdown as people decided to get their own account rather than abandon Stranger Things, Bridgerton, and the other best Netflix shows.

Before the crackdown, Netflix said it needed to take a tough stance on password-sharing as it said members sharing accounts were weakening its ability to be one of the best streaming services out there. So with the extra revenue it's getting the service must be better than ever right? Well no; Netflix raised prices yet again and admitted it makes too many bad movies.

What's worse other services are following in its footsteps, with Disney Plus getting its own anti-password sharing rules soon.

If you've been sharing your Netflix account this guide will be a handy tool for deciphering how Netflix will enforce its rules, and what your options are if you're looking to keep sharing your account with a friend or family member.

What are the Netflix password-sharing rules?

Under Netflix’s updated password-sharing rules, it’s fine for multiple people to use and share one account, provided they all live together. So if you’re a family or a friendship group that lives together under the same roof your viewing won't be affected. You can keep sharing your account as one household.

However, if you share a Netflix account as a group but don't all live together, this is no longer allowed. AT least, not for free. 

Under the new restrictions introduced in May 2023, you’ll be asked to set a “primary location”, which Netflix will likely determine based on your device’s IP address (for more on that jump to the  ‘How will Netflix stop password sharing?’ section below). Once this primary location is set, people who don’t live there will have three options.

  • Option 1: abandon Netflix
  • Option 2: sign up and pay for their own private Netflix account 
  • Option 3: pay an additional fee and become an “extra member” to the existing account 

This extra member feature does offer a few benefits. Chief among them is that the fee is cheaper than paying for a standalone Standard or Premium subscription – but it also comes with a few restrictions. 

Firstly, it’s only available if the primary account is subscribed to the Standard or Premium tier. Secondly, a Standard subscription can only have one extra member, while a Premium account can only have two extra members. 

So you can't add unlimited friends and family to any paid account, even if they're willing to stump up as extra members.

Houses of different colors float in bubble that are connected to other other bubbles filled with people and plus signs

You can continue to share Netflix outside of your household if you pay up (Image credit: Netflix)

Where are Netflix’s password-sharing rules being enforced?

Netflix has now rolled out its password-sharing crackdown across most of the regions where its streaming service is available. 

The policy initially started in the likes of Canada and South America, but Netflix now enforces the account-sharing policy in 103 countries, including the US, UK and Australia.

If you're in one of those regions and have a profile (or profiles) on your Netflix account for someone who's outside of your household, there's a good chance that you've already received an email telling you about your options.

You can find out how much it'll cost to add an 'extra member' to your household in the 'how much is Netflix charging for password sharing?' section below.

How will Netflix stop password sharing?

Netflix hasn't explicitly said how it knows if someone using your account is in your household, but some info that's since been removed from its official FAQ gives us a good idea.

Earlier this year, Netflix explained that it will use data such as “IP addresses, device IDs, and account activity from devices signed into the Netflix account” to determine if a Netflix user is part of an account’s household. 

If Netflix determines that the user isn't part of the household – and may be trying to break its password-sharing rules – it will ask them to verify their device. A one-time code will be sent to the account’s registered phone number or email address, and the user will have 15 minutes to input the code or be locked out from Netflix.

For a brief period of time, the rules were slightly different; instead of this verification method, a user would instead need to sign into Netflix from the Household’s associated Wi-Fi connection “at least once every 31 days.” 

Once this deadline passed, you could only regain access by using a temporary seven-day code, by signing up for a new Netflix account, or by setting the device up as an account’s extra member. But Netflix later clarified that these rules were posted in error and were only meant to apply to users in Chile, Costa Rica, and Peru – the only regions at the time that could pay for extra members.

Five red faces all sitting one house with lines connecting them to Netflix on all of their devices

One Netflix account for one Netflix Household (Image credit: Netflix)

Now, the 'Sharing your Netflix account' section of Netflix's Help Center simply explains the rules. It says that "a Netflix account is meant to be shared by people living together in one household", with a household defined as "a collection of the devices connected to the internet at the main place you watch Netflix".

People outside that household will need to sign up for their own account to watch, or buy an 'extra member' slot for your account. By hiding its precise methods for detecting password-sharing, Netflix can alter its methods to prevent them from being circumvented.

How much is Netflix charging for password sharing?

If you want to keep sharing your Netflix account with someone outside your household, you’ll need to start paying up.

Those on a Standard Netflix account can add one extra member who doesn't live with them, while those you subscribe to Netflix Premium can add two extra members.

Here's the cost of doing that for each new member in the UK, UK and Australia:

Swipe to scroll horizontally
Netflix 'extra member' fees by country
CountryExtra member slot
US$7.99 p/month
UK£4.99 p/month

As you can see, that's nearly the cost of a basic Netflix plan on its own. And that price is per person, so if you want to add two people to a Netflix Premium account you'll have to double the amounts above.

Any extra members you add will have their own account and password, but that extra membership fee is paid by the account holder. Still, while adding extra members is a little pricey – particularly in the US and UK, compared to other regions – it is still cheaper than paying for a Premium tier subscription at $22.99 / £17.99 / AU$22.99.

What if I subscribed through Sky, Virgin or BT?

Many Sky customers receive Netflix as part of their subscription. Some of these users have recently reported receiving notifications about password-sharing as part of the Netflix clampdown, asking them to "confirm this TV is in your Netflix household”.

Sky has responded with a dedicated guide for subscribers facing the issue, where it explains that customers will "only be able to share your Netflix account in one household (location/address)”. The same appears to be true for Virgin and BT users who have Netflix bundled with their TV package.

Watching Netflix on a TV

(Image credit: Tumisu/Pixabay)

The issue for these users is that they can’t take advantage of the extra members option. Sky has confirmed that the feature isn’t available to customers who access Netflix as part of their TV package. So if they want to share with people outside of their household, they’ll need to take out a separate Netflix subscription.

Strangely, primary Sky account holders are still allowed to watch Netflix on their phones, tablets, and laptops when away from their household. The only restriction is that they will need to connect their device(s) to their home Wi-Fi connection once every 30 days. So, in theory, someone using another person’s Netflix account would only need to visit their home once a month to maintain their access.

What if I want to use my Netflix account on holiday?

If your account is associated with a specific Wi-Fi network and you then go away on holiday, you might be worried that you’ll be locked out of Netflix from abroad. 

Thankfully, the streamer has said its new restrictions won’t stop you from accessing your favorite Netflix content while away from home for a limited time.

A young child watching Netflix on their phone while sitting in a makeshift tent in the forest

(Image credit: Shutterstock / Oleksii Synelnykov)

Exactly how it will do this is unclear, though it has previously outlined plans to use its email/phone verification method to grant access, and also a limited-use code that lets you access the service for seven days. 

Those ideas (along with its other public rules) have since been removed from its FAQ, so at the moment we’re not entirely sure what approach it’ll take to make sure you can stay connected to Netflix.

Will Netflix’s rule change stop me from using a VPN?

Over the past few years the best VPNs – or virtual private networks – have skyrocketed in popularity as they let you watch content that’s not available in your region’s version of Netflix. 

When you access a website or online service while your VPN is active, your connection doesn’t head straight to the destination; instead, it first takes a detour through the VPN provider’s encrypted servers. When it does, the VPN is able to disguise your device’s real information (including its IP address) and use the server’s info instead – keeping your data private.

ExpressVPN on a PC, laptop, tablet and phone

If services like ExpressVPN can help you dodge Netflix's password-sharing rules it might ban them (Image credit: ExpressVPN)

However, if Netflix wants to use a device’s info and IP address to verify if users are in a household or not, it might not want them using tools that obscure this data. By using a VPN people who are not actually living together may be able to all connect to the same server and look like they are.

Currently, Netflix says that “you can use a VPN with Netflix on the Basic, Standard, or Premium plans” but there’s no telling if its stance will change if using a VPN does allow users to skirt around its new password-sharing policy. 

Potentially, it’ll just ask VPN users to verify their device every time they access Netflix, but it could take a much more hardline stance against VPN use. We’ll have to wait and see and will update this guide if Netflix’s current stance on VPNs changes.

If you're planning to leave Netflix when password-sharing restrictions are brought in then here are the best Netflix movies you need to watch before you unsubscribe. And if you're thinking about joining one of its rivals then here are the best Disney Plus shows, and the best Prime Video movies that you might want to check out.

Hamish Hector
Senior Staff Writer, News

Hamish is a Senior Staff Writer for TechRadar and you’ll see his name appearing on articles across nearly every topic on the site from smart home deals to speaker reviews to graphics card news and everything in between. He uses his broad range of knowledge to help explain the latest gadgets and if they’re a must-buy or a fad fueled by hype. Though his specialty is writing about everything going on in the world of virtual reality and augmented reality.

With contributions from