Did you know Netflix has about 191 different media libraries? Yes, that’s right: one for every country where the streaming service is available.
Sure, if you’re in the US, you’ll get more content than in any other country… But you have to be in the US if you want to access your Netflix US account. If you travel abroad, you’ll be redirected to the regional Netflix version of the country you’re in. This is where a VPN for Netflix saves the day.
But just what is the deal with the Netflix block, and how do you get around it? Keep reading to find out!
What is the Netflix Block and Why Does it Exist?
Believe it or not, but there isn’t just one type of Netflix block – there are actually two: the geolocation block and the proxy server/VPN block.
We’ll explain both of them here.
The Netflix geolocation block (geoblock for short) has been around the longest. This is how Netflix limits the content you’re able to view based on your location.
Geoblocking basically works like this: a company generates or sources a database that tells them where IP addresses are physically located.
(IP addresses – or Internet Protocol addresses – are logical number addresses that identify servers, websites, and even computers.)
If the company limits what you can access based on your location, then this database will tell their servers what information to display.
But why does Netflix have a geoblock in the first place?
Well, it all has to do with copyright laws. Most of the movies and series in your Netflix library weren’t created by Netflix, but by other distributors.
These distributors – like Universal Studios, for example – often have “exclusive distribution deals” with different networks in different countries.
Obviously, if a local network has exclusive distribution rights to a movie or a show in their country, the distributor can’t give those same rights to Netflix.
Which means you’ll have to pay for a subscription to that local network if you want to access that content.
VPN and Proxy Server Block
It can quickly become super expensive trying to keep up with all the exclusivity deals just so you can continue watching your favorite shows and movies.
So for years, people were using proxy servers or a VPN (Virtual Private Network – we’ll explain this in the next section) to get around the Netflix geoblock.
By doing this, you could access the Netflix US library even if you were in the UK, for example.
But that all changed in 2016 when Netflix announced it was going to start using proxy detection technology.
Nobody was happy about this, not even Netflix, who’s still trying to change the industry standard toward global distribution rights rather than local exclusivity deals.
Global distribution rights are still a long ways away, though. Distribution companies were crying foul over the fact their distribution partners were losing money when Netflix members used a VPN to get around the geoblocks.
The less money the local networks make, the less incentive they have to pay for exclusive distribution rights, which ends up costing the distribution company too.
Which brings us back to Netflix introducing the VPN ban.
Once Netflix identifies an IP address as belonging to a proxy server or VPN company, it goes onto the blacklist. This means you can’t access Netflix’s content through that IP anymore.
The idea is forcing members into using their regular internet connection so Netflix can enforce their geoblock.
Countries like China, which have draconian censorship laws, do the same thing – a comparison Netflix obviously doesn’t like.
What’s a VPN?
A Virtual Private Network (VPN) is a type of service you can use to change your IP address and encrypt the information you send and receive online.
What this does is hide your physical location and protect you from certain online threats.
Those threats include your Internet Service Provider (ISP), who collects information about what you do online and shares it with others, like the government or third-parties wanting to sell stuff to you.
Basically, if you want to keep your personal information private and get around geoblocks and other types of online censorship, you need a VPN service.
We can’t think of a single person on the planet who wouldn’t benefit from one.
How to Get Around the Netflix Block Using a VPN
Because a VPN will change your IP address, you can connect to a server in another country and pretend that’s where you are. This automatically helps you get around the Netflix geoblock.
But what about the VPN block?
True, this has made a lot of VPN providers give up on trying to unblock Netflix. However, there are some who can still help you, usually because they have special streaming servers and/or replace blacklisted IP addresses with new ones.
The VPN providers we found to work best with Netflix are:
You can read more about them in our guide on The Best Netflix VPNs, or click links above to read our full review on each provider.
Here’s how you can use any one of them to unblock Netflix:
- Choose a VPN provider and pay for a subscription
- Install the VPN app (they all have installation guides and live chat support if you need help)
- Open the VPN app and connect to a server located in the Netflix region you want to access (some providers will show you which servers work, but you can also ask support if you aren’t sure)
- Once connected to the VPN, you can log into Netflix and start enjoying your favorite shows and movies again
That’s it! With the right VPN provider, it really is that simple.