Using a VPN for Netflix is among the most common reasons people get one in the first place. In fact, our recent survey found that two in five subscribers use their VPN specifically for streaming. But why?
While the software is perhaps most closely associated with staying more secure online, downloading a Netflix VPN is more about getting around geo-restrictions. With hundreds of shows and films restricted from region-to-region, the best Netflix VPN providers (as listed below) allow you to tune into global content and access exclusive shows and movies that you wouldn't ordinarily be able to watch where you live.
As well as unblocking geo-restricted Netflix catalogs, they're also simple to use on a range of platforms - from your laptop and mobile, to smart TVs, consoles and other streaming devices. So it makes sense that Netflix VPNs have become an essential tool for binge watchers everywhere.
Editor's note: Netflix has again stepped up its battle against people trying to utilize VPNs to access foreign Netflix catalogs, going to the extreme of blanket blocking residential IP addresses. This has led to some people not being able to access their Netflix account - via a VPN or not! At the time of writing, some of the below Netflix VPNs may not work as well as they have in the past, but we are continuing to keep an eye on the situation and will update our rankings accordingly.
Today's top 3 best Netflix VPNs:
1. ExpressVPN - #1 best Netflix VPN
In a crowded market, it's the speed, security and simplicity that makes ExpressVPN stand out as the very best out there. In our latest tests it unblocked Netflix 100% of the time - plus, it comes with a no-questions-asked 30 day money back guarantee and you can now get it with 3 months extra free.
2. NordVPN - the biggest name in the business
Chances are, even if you don't know a lot about virtual private networks you may have heard of NordVPN. But it really walks the walk, too, with a fantastic reputation for unblocking geo-restricted streaming services and offering super security smarts if you're planning on streaming on public Wi-Fi.
3. Surfshark VPN - ace VPN for a really low price
If the above are too expensive, look no further than Surfshark. From just $2.49 USD per month it's a fantastic, premium option that's unbelievably simple to use and has become a TechRadar favorite. It offers many of the same features as the other top services for less money.
How to use your Netflix VPN
Using a Netflix VPN means that you can make your laptop, phone, tablet and even your games console or TV streaming device (think Chromecast, Roku, Amazon Fire) appear to be in a completely different country to the one you're really in. So if you're in the US, you'll be able to access shows that are exclusively available on catalogues of the UK, Canada or anywhere else - and vice versa.
It's really easy to do, too. Once you've installed your VPN on to your chosen streaming device and turned it on, you simply choose a server in the country that you want to 'appear'. Netflix will then think it's in that country, and serve up shows and films that are available there.
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. Naturally, you travel down this avenue of content unblocking entirely at your own risk, but we've never ever heard about anybody having their Netflix account suspended for accessing it with a VPN.
The best 5 working Netflix VPNs in 2021:
Best Netflix VPN 2021 - Get 3 months free with an annual plan
ExpressVPN tops our chart of the best Netflix VPNs for an array of important reasons. When we tested ExpressVPN, it unblocked Netflix on every time of asking without difficulty from whatever server we were using. And one of its other major bonuses is that it's incredibly straightforward to install and use, so shouldn't be too daunting for those unfamiliar with VPNs.
Latest: ExpressVPN has been one of the best responders to Netflix's more aggressive approach. At the time of writing (in September 2019), it was successfully unlocking content in the US (using the 'Los Angeles - 3' server), UK, Canada and Australia. That means Express keeps its spot as top of this chart, especially as its customer support is so effective and will help you locate today's best servers.
Regardless of where up do the majority of your Netflix watching - on your laptop, smart TV, mobile, Amazon Fire TV Stick, Roku, another streaming device, or a mix of the lot - ExpressVPN will be available for you to use for secure streaming and the ability to appear in another country altogether. Indeed, its MediaStreamer DNS, unblocks Netflix on devices that don’t immediately support VPNs (like Apple TV, some smart TVs and game consoles).
We test catalogs all around the world when we test for this guide. Generally, Express works well using servers in the US, UK, Canada, Australia and even Japan, the last of which other providers can find tricky.
The consistency of ExpressVPN's speeds is a real asset here, and we've experienced speedy connections even when logging on to servers in faraway corners of the globe. It means you can forget about frustrating buffering when you're watching another just-landed blockbuster or eye-popping nature doc in 4K.
Unblocking Netflix is one thing, but if you're a serious streamer you'll inevitably have a collection of other subscriptions and preferred OD services. Pretty much all we tried with Express (e.g. Amazon Prime Video, BBC iPlayer, YouTube) we got around region blocks in no time.
And Express makes things so darn easy, connecting you automatically to a server it knows will help you unblock Netflix. Some lesser VPN providers leave you on your own to try every possible server until you find something which works - but not ExpressVPN. Plus, 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. It's available 24/7 and is genuinely very helpful.
It is a bit more expensive than many rivals, but ExpressVPN does provide an excellent experience for Netflix users and a reassuring 30-day money-back guarantee is available if you want to try before you commit fully.
Get the best Netflix VPN with 49% off and 3 months FREE
We've already told you why ExpressVPN is the best, but it's also fantastic value. That's because TechRadar readers get 3 free month added on when you sign up for a one year contract. And don't forget that you can try Express for a month, knowing that you can get a full refund without any issues.
NordVPN is a great option for using Netflix. The provider offers fast performance thanks to its proprietary NordLynx protocol, and in testing it barely affected our speeds - that should mean you won't notice the difference even when streaming HD and 4K content.
And we don’t just mean with a single server. It got us connected from every location we tried, no hassles at all. The service also gave us easy access to other services including BBC iPlayer, Amazon Prime Video, Disney+ and YouTube.
Besides the United States, NordVPN currently supports Netflix in the UK, Canada, Japan, Germany, Australia, India and many more countries around the globe. And if you find yourself struggling, Nord's customised support pages will get you watching your favorite shows and newly added films in no time. Beyond that, the support team is on hand 24/7 and should be able to get you going in no time.
Update: NordVPN is clearly serious about taking on the Netflix outages...from time-to-time we've seen it with a better track record than most. It's consistent when it comes to unlocking UK Netflix goodies, but US, Canada, Australia and Japan have been temperamental.
Further benefits of this service 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 that has been audited by the renowned PricewaterhouseCoopers auditors. All told, these contribute to make NordVPN a premium choice for every use, in addition to Netflix viewing.
NordVPN comes with a 30-day money-back guarantee. With the monthly billing being quite expensive, the multi-year plan offers the best value for money, if you can make that commitment.
In many ways, Surfshark is tailor-made for people wanting to use their VPN mostly for streaming Netflix. It wears its credentials on its sleeve, claiming to unblocks geo-restrictions on the service in sixteen named countries including the US, UK, Germany, Japan, Italy and Australia.
Fortunately, it walks the walk as well as talking the talk - in our testing, we accessed US Netflix from five separate test locations. Each time without any troubles or complication at all.
Update: Much like Nord, Surfshark is best described as temperamental at the moment. For whatever reason, UK exclusives are the easiest to access, while Netflix subscribers can get to US, Canadian and Australian shows with enough trial and error on different servers. Japan-only content is entirely off limits for now.
Because we know that using a VPN for Netflix is one of the most common uses for the software, we test this feature regularly. In the past, we found access to Australia and Japan catalogs worked, but the server speeds got rather slow and made navigating through Netflix's menus pretty painful. But the thing that marks out the best providers is their determination to improve all the time, and just recently Surfshark has been working like a dream with Australian and Japanese Netflix.
For those new to Netflix VPNs, Surfshark has two extra strings to its bow. Firstly, it's sublimely easy to use and not too many services out there have 'friendlier' interfaces (or cooler names!) - indeed, for power-users who have bigger plans for their VPN, Surfshark perhaps lacks a couple of extra features that the competition tote and we think it's high time that it brought in the auditors like ExpressVPN and NordVPN for a full look at its no-logging policy.
But for anybody worrying about yet another pricey bit of software to install, Surfshark has some of the market's best pricing - leading our list of the best overall cheap VPNs - and a 30-day money back guarantee if you just want to dip your toe into the water.
If your major bugbear is buffering (and we really feel you on that one), then Hotspot Shield might actually be your best choice for a Netflix VPN.
That's because of all the premium services on the market right now, Hotspot is right at the top of the list when it comes to fastest VPNs thanks to its custom Catapult Hydra protocol.
So for pure connection speeds, Hotspot is the best around - good news for anybody searching for a useful streaming or torrenting VPN. But it wouldn't be a good Netflix VPN recommendation if it didn't also have some serious unblocking chops. Thankfully, our testing showed that it made light work of getting around Netflix's restrictions, and was similarly effective when trying to access BBC iPlayer, Amazon Prime Video and Disney+.
Update: According to our regular Netflix VPN testing, Hotspot Shield has been one of the few providers to come up trumps for US Netflix - handy if you have a Netflix account and want to catch up with shows like Downton Abbey and The Great British Baking Show. For other countries though, it's a bit of a dud at present.
Another asset of Hotspot Shield's that continually impresses is just how easy it is to use. Whether on desktop or mobiles, navigating around the menus to the features you want is an absolute breeze (although we'd like to see its online support centre made similarly intuitive).
One thing to watch, though... if it's particularly exclusive content in Canada you're hoping to access with your Netflix VPN, Hotspot seems to struggle somewhat with big drops in its usual lickety-split speeds and the inability from some servers to access anything but Netflix Originals.
One thing that might put you off Hotspot Shield is the fact that it isn't as easy to use various devices as the competition above are. The service readily admits that it doesn't function with gaming consoles, Kindle tablets, non-Android Smart TVs and Windows phones. So if any of those are where you do the majority of your streaming, then you'd better go for one of the other options on this guide.
Otherwise, you can give this Netflix VPN a try for 45 days knowing that you can cancel for a refund within a generous period.
Over on our main best VPN chart, this is a provider that keeps slowly climbing. With the improvements that ProtonVPN keeps making, it's surely only a matter of time before it hits the top five - and that's exactly what has happened here on our dedicated Netflix VPN countdown.
While the likes of CyberGhost, VyprVPN, Private Internet Access and IPVanish (all of which are excellent providers generally) stumble in certain regions when trying to access Netflix exclusives, ProtonVPN joins the elite few services that have a great track record all over the world. Accessing catalogs in the US, UK, Canada and Japan worked like a dream in our most recent testing, while Australian content was unlocked with a bit of fiddling.
Update: ProtonVPN is on the list of VPN providers that currently give access to both US and UK exclusive content on Netflix. Unfortunately, it's still struggling on Canada, Australia and Japan.
Now if you're thinking: "ProtonVPN has a great free VPN, so this is the obvious choice," then you'll need to hold your horses. Netflix unblocking is only available on Proton's premium 'Plus' plan. And we're a little disappointed by the service's device compatibility - it can't join the ranks of our favorite Amazon Fire TV Stick VPN or Apple TV VPN providers, for example.
But with the ability to unblock the likes of Hulu, Disney+, BBC iPlayer and Amazon Prime Video along with Netflix, ProtonVPN is quickly becoming a streamer's best friend.
Best Netflix VPN: FAQ
What is the best Netflix VPN
Topping the lot at the moment is ExpressVPN as the overall best Netflix VPN. Naturally, it unblocked Netflix in different regions every time of asking during our testing and ExpressVPN makes things so easy to do so (with excellent 24/7 live chat support available in the unlikely event things go awry).
It's fast, secure and is available on pretty much every device you can imagine. So use it on your laptop, mobile, smart TV, PlayStation, Xbox or any one of a range of TV streaming devices. One sub allows simultaneous connections on five devices, too, so you can even let friends and family members use it for their global Netflix-streaming needs as well.
How to choose the best Netflix VPN
Many providers have given up on Netflix unblocking, leading to the infamous proxy error advising you to turn off your VPN when watching Netflix. But all five VPNs recommended in this guide work for Netflix.
Connection speeds are a priority, of course - 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 or 4K content. Having plenty of servers on offer will mean you’ll be more likely to be able to find that vital fast connection, as well. And it pays to go for a service with excellent support, just in case you do run into any issues.
Privacy and security are important whatever you’re using a Netflix VPN for, 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 and the particular VPN you’ve gone for ends up getting the cold shoulder. Some countries block Netflix completely – for example, China – and again, you can use one of our top Netflix VPN picks above to get around this.
How and why does Netflix prevent VPN use?
It's very clear... Netflix doesn't want you using your VPN when you stream with the platform. It says as much in its Ts&Cs. And it's understandable, as it needs to protect its rights agreements.
Generally, its engineers will do this by completely blocking the use of Netlflix at a select range of IP addresses that it knows are associated to VPN servers.
But in August 2021, it stepped up the game even further. Netflix went and blocked a whole range of residential IP addresses in an effort to clampdown on the abuse of its TS&Cs. The effect was to seriously curtail the attempts of VPNs to circumnavigate the geo-blocks.
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.
You can check out our pick of the best Netflix series for each region below:
- Best shows on US Netflix
- Best shows on UAE Netflix
- Best shows on UK Netflix
- Best shows on Australian Netflix
And what about the movies? TechRadar has up-to-the-minute 'best of Netflix' guides for the longer format, too:
What can I watch with a Netflix VPN?
Combining your VPN and Netflix means that you can watch shows and films that are exclusive to certain regions - that's usually because their licensed to another streaming service in that country.
A fantastic example if people who want to watch Rick and Morty. In the US, you'll need a service that gives you access to Adult Swim. But down in Australia, every single episode is sitting on Netflix. It's a similar story for Friends, The Office and Fargo - none of which are on US Netflix, but can be accessed using a VPN.
It's beyond the scope of this article to list and update every single show and film that is exclusive to certain regions. Luckily, the site FlixWatch does a pretty good job of that.
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 below if you tried to access Netflix from outside the US 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 US 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.