The ability of best VPNs to unblock geo-restricted Netflix content has made them an essential bit of software to couple up with streaming service if you're planning a holiday or business trip - and our dedicated Netflix VPN guide will ensure you find the best service for you.
Netflix has undoubtedly been a game changer in the way that we watch films and TV. But its epic collection of content chops and changes depending on what country you're in.
Using a VPN - or Virtual Private Network - 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. As well as being useful on trips abroad, VPNs also let you access content that you wouldn’t otherwise be able to reach due to your location. For example, getting the US Netflix catalogue in the UK (with all its extra content).
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 the working VPNs for Netflix which are circumventing its restrictions. Naturally, you travel down this avenue of 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 the title of best Netflix VPN, with NordVPN not far behind. In a crowded market, it's the speed, security and simplicity that makes ExpressVPN stand out. And in our latest tests it unblocked Netflix 10 times out of 10 on our sample servers - you can now get it with three months extra free by heading to the provider's website.
Many providers 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 to be still working for Netflix. While all good options as Netflix VPN providers, there are still a few things to look out for.
Download speeds should be your top priority. 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). 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, 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).
Some countries block Netflix completely, of course – for example, China – and again, you can use one of our top Netflix VPN picks to get around this.
The best 5 working Netflix VPNs in 2020:
Best Netflix VPN 2020 - Get 3 months free with an annual plan
When we tested ExpressVPN, it unblocked Netflix on every time of asking without difficulty. And one of its major bonuses is that it's incredibly straightforward to install and use, so shouldn't be too daunting for those unfamiliar with VPNs.
It's the consistency of ExpressVPN's speeds that enable it to stream in HD and ability to unblock Netflix across an impressive array of devices that solidifies its place as number one pick. As you'll read in our ExpressVPN review, it currently supports Netflix in the US, UK and Canada and many more besides.
On that note, 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. It's available 24/7 and is genuinely very helpful.
Another great feature is ExpressVPN’s MediaStreamer DNS, which unblocks Netflix on devices that don’t immediately support VPNs (like Apple TV, smart TVs and game consoles).
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. Plus there's 49% off the normal monthly price.
NordVPN is a great option for using Netflix. The provider offers fast performance, 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 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, 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.
As you'll see from our in-depth NordVPN review, 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 PricewaterhouseCooper 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 15 named countries including the US, 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.
For those new to Virtual Private Networks, 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.
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.
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 6,000+ servers spread across around 90 countries certainly helps. Localized versions of Netflix for France and Germany are also available, and UK Netflix works too.
But more than facts and figures, there's something a little less tangible about why we rate CyberGhost. 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.
Like most other entries on this list, CyberGhost has the other streaming services cracked, too. In our testes, we were able to stream US Amazon Prime Video shows in the UK, as well as Hulu and YouTube TV.
Our only real quibble is that - while not slow as such, our speed tests for CyberGhost came out behind the likes of ExpressVPN and NordVPN.
IPVanish isn't a provider that makes large claims about Netflix in particular, but that doesn't mean it should be counted out. Indeed, the VPN coasted through our Netflix unblocking testing (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.
One quibble we have to mention is that IPVanish fell short when we tried to unblock the UK's BBC iPlayer in the US. So if you're streaming demands don't begin and end at Netflix,
But if that's not a concern, then IPVanish would make a very valiant Virtual Private Network for most users. Indeed, it ranks among our best ranked overall VPNs thanks to its 40,000 shared IPs, over 1,500 servers in 70+ countries, unlimited P2P traffic, and super reliable kill switch.
And the fact that you can now use it across as many devices simultaneously as you wish means that one IPVanish subscription is good to share across your entire family (and probably beyond).
Best Netflix VPN: FAQ
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:
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 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.