How to change location and IP address with a VPN

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Although the primary use of a VPN for many is online security and anonymity, lots of people download them thanks to their ability to change location of the IP address of your laptop, mobile, tablet and even your entire router, to somewhere entirely different.

And why would they want to do that? Maybe it's to get around the blocks that some offices and countries put on social media sites and apps like Facebook, WhatsApp and Instagram. And another popular use-case is to watch overseas Netflix catalogs and stream foreign sport.

In internet slang, this process is often called ‘geo-spoofing’, but don’t worry – geek lingo aside, it’s very straightforward and we’re going to show you the easiest way to change location with a VPN.

The best VPN in the world right now is ExpressVPN (opens in new tab)

The best VPN in the world right now is ExpressVPN (opens in new tab)
Of the hundreds of VPNs that we have reviewed, ExpressVPN tops the lot. Its pure speed and watertight security are a great start, and then there's the sheer amount of global servers it has and adaptability to tons of devices and streaming boxes.

It also comes with a 30-day money back guarantee and if you use the following link, you can claim 3 months FREE and a year of unlimited secure cloud backup from Backblaze with an annual plan.

Why would I want to change location of my IP address?

The most popular reason to change location is to access region-locked content. For instance, some of the best Netflix US shows aren’t available to the streaming service’s subscribers in the rest of the world, while BBC iPlayer is similarly blocked for anybody outside the UK.

And then there may be certain sporting events you want to see that simply aren't being broadcast where you live. If streaming is your main concern for using a VPN make sure you check our dedicated guides to the best Netflix VPN and streaming VPNs.

Masking your true IP address is also a great way to stay more anonymous and, by definition, secure when you're online. In basic terms, they prevent the online activities you partake in from being known to the prying eyes of your internet service provider and even your government. Of course, the end-to-end encrypted tunnels they use don't hurt, either! You can read more about this in our more detailed explanation of how does a VPN work.

ExpressVPN app interface on mobile

(Image credit: ExpressVPN)
(opens in new tab)

How to change location on phone, laptop and more

Believe it or not, this is actually the easy bit. Simply scroll below and follow the easy steps to change location with a VPN:

  1. Find and download a reliable VPN  – or simply head straight to ExpressVPN (opens in new tab)
  2. Open the download package and install it on your computer
  3. Once everything is ready, open the VPN application
  4. Log-in with your details, follow any welcome prompts, and you should soon be offered a list of VPNs to connect to
  5. Pick the country you want your computer to change location and click the appropriate button – the screenshot above shows how this looks on ExpressVPN
  6. That’s it – it may take a few seconds, but your chosen VPN’s servers will do the grunt work for you and give you a new IP address

The steps above are based on a macOS computer, but you'll be able to follow a similar process on other desktop operating systems and will also find VPN apps available for Android and iOS mobile devices. The very best software will make this nice and easy for you, that's why we like providers such as ExpressVPN and NordVPN so much.

You can make things even easier for yourself by installing a VPN extension in your browser. As it’s the internet’s most popular browser, we’ve tried and tested all the best Chrome VPN extensions.

What else are VPNs useful for?

Plenty! Some countries censor popular websites entirely – China’s outright ban on Facebook and Twitter being one of the better known examples - that's why our best VPN for China guide is pretty useful.

Or aside from the streaming and app accessing, there's also the security concern -  you may not want search engines logging your online activity. The data gleaned from such tracking helps advertisers target you with what they consider to be relevant content across multiple platforms. The list of VPN uses seems to go on and on!

Adam was formerly the Content Director of Subscriptions and Services at Future, meaning that he oversaw many of the articles TechRadar produces about antivirus software, VPN, TV streaming, broadband and mobile phone contracts - from buying guides and deals news, to industry interest pieces and reviews. Leading and developing a great team, Adam also dusted off his keyboard to write articles for the likes of TechRadar, T3 and Tom's Guide.