If you've ever tried to watch something on Netflix while away from your domestic country, you'll probably already understand one of the reasons why the VPN route to watching has become so popular. A VPN's ability to unblock geo-restricted access has made it an essential bit of software if you're planning a holiday or business trip and want full access to the usual shows and films on Netflix.
And that's not all. A VPN - or Virtual Private Network - also let you access content that you wouldn’t otherwise be able to reach due to your location, such as getting the US Netflix in the UK (with all its extra content). Some countries block Netflix completely, of course – for example, China – and again, you can use one of our top VPN picks to get around this.
Bear in mind, though, that accessing content which shouldn’t be available in your region is something Netflix doesn’t want you to do. Indeed, it is expressly forbidden in Netflix’s terms and conditions of usage, and there’s a constant battle between the streaming solution and VPNs which are circumventing its restrictions. Naturally, you travel down the avenue of VPN content unblocking entirely at your own risk…
How to choose the best Netflix VPN
We've made ExpressVPN the top of our charts in the race for greatest VPN for Netflix. In a crowded market, it's the VPN's speed, security and simplicity that makes Express stand out.
Many VPNs have given up on Netflix unblocking, leading to the infamous proxy error advising you to turn off your VPN when watching Netflix. Fortunately the five VPNs recommended below are regularly tested and confirmed as of January 2019 to be still working for Netflix. While your options for Netflix-compatible VPN providers, there are still a few things to look out for.
Download speeds and server coverage should be your top priorities. Video streaming is an intensive activity, and you’ll need nippy performance levels to avoid suffering at the hands of stuttering footage, particularly when watching HD content (or indeed 4K). Having plenty of servers on offer will mean you’ll be more likely to be able to find that vital fast connection, as well (generally speaking).
- Check out our guide to the best VPN
Privacy and security are important whatever you’re using a VPN for, of course, with a ‘no logs’ policy and good encryption being definite must-haves. Support for mobile devices, and hopefully native clients for iOS/Android, will obviously be handy for watching flicks on the move.
And another good idea is to plump for a provider with a money-back guarantee – that will be useful if things change suddenly, as they can with Netflix, and the particular VPN you’ve gone for ends up getting the cold shoulder from the streaming platform. At least if you can get a refund, you won’t have wasted money (and obviously enough, the longer the duration of the money-back guarantee, the better).
Bearing all that in mind, let’s look at our favorite five VPN solutions for watching Netflix.
Best all-round Netflix VPN
Number of servers: 2000+ | Server locations: 148 | IP addresses: 30,000 | Maximum devices supported: 3
Best Netflix VPN 2019 - Get 3 months free with an annual plan
It's Express's great speeds that enable it to stream in HD and ability to unblock Netflix across an impressive array of devices that make it our number one pick. ExpressVPN currently supports Netflix in the US, UK and Canada. Also, customer support assures us that generally speaking, it should work for many countries besides.
Talking of support, some VPN providers leave you on your own to try every possible server until you find something which works, but not ExpressVPN. If you ever have any problems, open a live chat session on the support site, ask the agent which servers are best for Netflix, and in our experience they’ll immediately point you in the right direction.
Another great feature is ExpressVPN’s MediaStreamer DNS, which unblocks Netflix on devices that don’t support VPNs (like Apple TV, smart TVs and game consoles).
It is a bit more expensive than many rivals, but that said, ExpressVPN does provide an excellent experience for Netflix users and a reassuring 30-day money-back guarantee is available (even if there isn’t a free trial).
Get the best Netflix VPN 2019: $6.67 per month (with 3 months FREE)
You can tell that we really rate Express - it's the VPN we'd choose if we were getting one! And the good news is that TechRadar readers can get a little perk, too. ExpressVPN has agreed to give readers three months extra free when you sign up. Here are its plans and prices in full:
- [$6.67 a month], save 49%, 12-months (plus 3 free) - $99.95
- [$9.99 a month] 6-month - $59.95
- [$12.95 a month] 1-month - $12.95
Most secure VPN for Netflix
Number of servers: 5240 | Server locations: 62 | IP addresses: N/A | Maximum devices supported: 6
Known for its security-first approach, NordVPN is a great VPN for using Netflix. The provider offers fast performance, and in testing it barely affected our download speeds compared to our non-VPN rates. And we don’t just mean with a single server. It got us connected from every US location we tried, no hassles at all. The service also gave us easy access to other services including BBC iPlayer and YouTube.
Besides the United States, NordVPN currently supports Netflix in the UK, the Netherlands, Canada and Japan. Further benefits of the solution include super-strong 2048-bit encryption, DNS leak protection, a kill switch, and an extensive choice of servers. The company has a no-logs policy regarding the user’s online activity.
There's a free 7-day trial, and NordVPN comes with a 30-day money-back guarantee. With the monthly billing being quite expensive, the 3-year plan offers the best value for money, if you can make that commitment. The packages available are:
Easy-to-use way to watch Netflix
Number of servers: 3,100+ | Server locations: 60+ | IP addresses: N/A | Maximum devices supported: 7
Despite its Romania/Germany-based headquarters, we've found CyberGhost to be a great candidate to unlock Netflix content far and wide - Netflix US in particular is guaranteed with its streaming-friendly US servers. Its 3,100+ servers spread across 60 countries certainly helps. Localized versions of Netflix for France and Germany are also available, and UK Netflix works too, but you'll need a UK Netflix account.
But more than facts and figures, there's something a little less tangible about why we rate Cyber Ghost. It's the general user experience that we really rate, with splendid apps present for Windows, Mac, iOS and Android that are an absolute doddle to operate. You won't spend ages trying to second guess how to get cracking. The app automatically connects to the best server and opens a browser window at the target site. It really couldn't be easier.
CyberGhost doesn't have the same levels of live support that other VPNs in this list have, but it's versatility on other services means that it really earns its place in our top five.
Strong and speedy VPN
Number of servers: 1,100+ | Server locations: 60+ | IP addresses: 40,000+ | Maximum devices supported: 10
To be quite honest, there isn't anything that special that makes IPVanish stand out to recommend it as the ideal Netflix VPN. And yet we're still happy to add it to our list based on the just how much we like the provider generally. It comes in as second place on our overall list.
So why do we like it so much? We'll let the numbers do the talking to start...more than 40,000 shared IPs, over 1,100 servers in 60+ countries, unlimited P2P traffic, and a 7-day money-back guarantee. Very attractive stuff indeed. And the fact that you can use it across 10 devices simultaneously means that one IPVanish subscription is good to share across your entire family (and probably beyond).
Again, it isn't a provider that can make large claims about Netflix in particular. But our tests showed that it unlocked US Netflix without issue (according to the support, best servers would be Dallas, Los Angeles or Las Vegas). And there's genuine 24/7 support available if you run in to any roadblocks along the way
A good mix of speed and security
Number of servers: 700+ | Server locations: 70+ | IP addresses: 200,000+ | Maximum devices supported: 3-5
VyprVPN certainly supports Netflix in the US, and a representative of the company assured us that it should work with all countries. This provider offers excellent speeds, particularly when it comes to download rates, which is obviously great for streaming.
And efforts on the security front are also commendable, with multiple protocols supported including OpenVPN, L2TP/IPsec, PPTP and Chameleon (VyprVPN’s own tailored solution). There’s a NAT Firewall for additional security, too. Privacy-wise, there was some session logging, but as of late November 2018, the provider became a No-Log VPN, which means no data is logged or shared, including session logs.
While some VPNs take a vague “maybe it’ll work, maybe it won’t” to website unblocking, VyprVPN does its best to help out with detailed guides for accessing Netflix (and many other services). And it works, too, with the service giving us access to US Netflix from every server we tried. There is a free 3-day trial if you want to test the provider, and that’s useful since there are no refunds given under any circumstances.
- Basic: $9.95 monthly or $3.75 per month billed annually
- Premium: $12.95 monthly or $5.00 per month billed annually
Why Netflix has regional restrictions
The reason why Netflix catalogs differ country to country is simple: copyright law. Movie studios have different contracts in different countries, so it’s possible that one series may be available in one country but not in another.
And then you have to deal with local broadcasting rights, where some countries may have the rights to some shows and therefore don’t permit them to be accessed on Netflix. House of Cards in Hong Kong is a great example—because a local TV network has the rights to the Netflix show, it’s not available online.
It’s no surprise that America has the best Netflix library. With the majority of original content coming out of the States, it makes sense that more series would be available there. In fact, the U.S. Netflix library has nearly 1,000 more shows than its UK cousin. Again, great if you’re in the States, but not so much if you’re in the UK.
How to bypass the Netflix VPN proxy error
Netflix has invested big bucks in detecting and blocking VPNs, and users can attest that servers that work with Netflix one day may not work the next. You’ve likely seen the infamous “Streaming Error” message if you tried to access Netflix from outside the U.S. with a VPN:
Netflix has been systematically finding and blacklisting suspected VPN IP addresses. And while the past few years have been an ongoing battle between VPNs and Netflix restrictions, VPNs are now setting up specific server locations intended to be used with Netflix.
How some providers overcome the Netflix VPN ban
Every IP address is associated with a country code, which Netflix then uses to either reroute or block network access. As the majority of VPN providers have multiple servers in cities and countries around the world, hopping from location to location is essentially the only way to stream the U.S. Netflix library abroad. It’s a tab cumbersome, but it works.
Be aware that not every server will work – it’s best to contact the provider’s customer assistance to see which servers are working on a particular date. ExpressVPN, for example, has been one of the leading providers to stay one step ahead of the Netflix VPN ban.
The company (along with a handful of other VPN providers) has been working overtime to acquire new IP addresses, which they can then cycle out whenever an older address is no longer working. As soon as Netflix detects and subsequently blocks a specific IP, the VPN then switches to another IP and encourages customers to use that specific location to stream.
Is Netflix better than Amazon Prime Video? Watch our comparison video below