Netflix is the top dog when it comes to streaming services, but content is always changing. Movies and shows get added while others are removed as licences expire. This also means that certain shows and movies are only available in select countries – such as Netflix in the US.
That might not seem fair, but there is a solution that allows you to stream anything you like from any Netflix region, so long as you subscribe to the service.
The best way to get US Netflix in the UK is to use a VPN service. They’re really for making your internet connection more secure and private but a side benefit is that they can also make it appear to any website or streaming service that you live in a particular country, even if your real location is thousands of miles away.
Obviously, you’ll need to choose which VPN service to use. One that’s particularly well suited to streaming is ExpressVPN. At the time of writing you can get ExpressVPN with 49% off and three months free.
Another excellent choice is NordVPN which is currently offering 70% off if you sign up for three years.
Using a VPN is amazingly simple: you download the app (many are available for streaming devices such as the Amazon Fire TV Stick, Android TVs and more), enter your login details, choose your virtual location – in this case somewhere in America – and then click on the Connect button.
Once connected, return to the home screen and launch the Netflix app and you’ll find that – almost magically – you now have access to everything in Netflix’s library in the country you chose. (For more detailed instructions, see below.)
You can use the same technique to watch Hulu outside the US and BBC iPlayer when abroad. The only time it’s inadvisable to use a VPN like this is if the streaming service’s terms and conditions specifically state that your account will be terminated with no refund if they detect you’re using a VPN.
You can see more recommendations of which services to subscribe to in our roundup of the best VPNs for streaming video.
You might also find that there’s more available on the UK version of Netflix than you realised. Take a look at our round-up of the best TV shows and best movies on UK Netflix.
Hasn’t Netflix banned VPNs?
For a long time, using a VPN was all you needed to do to watch US Netflix, but the company does its best to block VPNs and proxies, so some might not work for everyone and may stop working in the future.
Netflix announced in early 2016 that it would prevent users from using a VPN or proxy to access content from another region, to “respect and enforce content licensing by geographic location.”
Netflix has been enforcing the ban on many popular VPN services, so they’re having to continually determine workarounds. This means that the services mentioned in this article may temporarily stop working from time to time as Netflix catches up to them – there’s no VPN that can guarantee to always give you US Netflix access.
Netflix doesn’t say that people using VPNs or proxies will have their accounts banned, but only that they will be limited to watching content available in their own country.
This has implications on those using VPNs to ‘virtually cross borders’ and means you access a foreign Netflix service at your own risk – the company is unlikely to ban you or remove your account, but it does have the right to.
How to use a VPN to watch American Netflix
Now you’ve read all the warnings, it’s up to you whether you still want to use a VPN to watch US Netflix.
Assuming you do, the first step is to download a VPN to your computer or device (some are browser plugins rather than apps, but they all work in very similar ways). We’re using NordVPN as an example, but the steps will be similar for any of our recommended VPNs.
First up go to NordVPN’s website (or your VPN of choice) and sign up. In most cases there is a 30-day (or so) money-back guarantee so you can try it out. And you can save a lot on the regular monthly fee by committing to one, two, or even three years up front.
Once you’ve signed up and downloaded and installed the app, you’ll need to launch it on your computer or device.
Once the app is open, you’ll need to connect to the country you’re trying to trick Netflix into thinking you’re in. In this case, you want to choose US. You can do so by navigating to the US on the Map view in NordVPN and choosing a pin in the US, but a simpler method – especially if you’re using a TV remote control – is to click ‘list’ and choose US from there.
After a few moments, you should be connected. You can now launch the Netflix app and you should find that you have access to the US content. If you want to access another country’s Netflix, you can always change the server country that you’re connected to on your VPN.
If you still struggle to get Netflix working, try choosing a different US server. NordVPN has several servers in different US states. It could be that one particular server has been recently blocked and your VPN provider hasn’t quite managed to fix it yet, but the company has technology working in the background that should prevent this from happening.
Using a VPN on a game console or smart TV
While most of the major VPNs now have apps for smartphones and tablets, as well as PCs and Macs, there are probably still some devices you use that aren’t supported, like a game console or smart TV (though some VPNs do support those directly). Don’t worry though, you can still use a VPN to watch foreign Netflix on them too.
One way is enter the settings for your chosen VPN into your home router, which will run all of your internet traffic through the VPN. That means you can appear to browse from the US or another country no matter which device you use – though it also means you can’t easily set specific devices to not use the VPN.
The way to set this up will vary depending on your VPN and your router, but generally you’ll have to go into the web configuration panel of your router from a computer connected to it, and use your login details to connect to your chosen VPN. An easier option is just to buy a Fire TV Stick or another device which natively supports VPNs.
Take a look at the articles below for further instructions on installing a VPN on your chosen device: