Not all internet connections are created equal. Depending on where you’re signing on, you’ll have different experiences due to local regulations and restrictions. Some sites and media that are accessible in one country will be blocked in another country.
And this is true of Netflix, too. Depending on where you’re accessing the service from, you’re going to have access to completely different Netflix libraries. However, if you’re using a VPN, you can mask your traffic’s origin, routing it through servers to make it appear that you’re in another country. Want to have access to your American media library while you’re vacationing in Europe this summer (hello “Ozark”!)? A VPN can help you manipulate which Netflix regions you appear to be in by shuffling around IP addresses.
FYI: Looking to learn more about virtual private networks? Head over to our VPN resource page. You’ll find everything you’re looking for to level-up your VPN knowledge.
But you need to pick the right one. Some streaming services block VPN traffic, so if you’re using old protocols, or the VPN runs an out-of-date server network, you might run into some trouble. Here are our three favorite VPNs for Netflix:
If you’re looking to stream securely from anywhere, it’s hard to find a better option than ExpressVPN. Their network is huge, their speeds are fast, and their security protocols are the next best thing to completely private internet access.
Like we said above, if you want to stream Netflix, ExpressVPN is difficult to beat. When we tested ExpressVPN, we found that they played well with Netflix, Hulu, HBO Max, and other popular media streaming platforms. You can also set up multiple devices using one single subscription, so if you like to stream on the go, ExpressVPN has you covered.
They also have some of the most sophisticated protections in the industry today. ExpressVPN’s network is made up exclusively of RAM-only servers, meaning your data is never written to a hard drive. So once the server is powered off, it’s physically impossible for the provider to save your data. This adds an extra layer of protection and privacy other VPNs can’t touch.
And finally, ExpressVPN has one of the most simple setup processes of any VPN service we’ve encountered in our countless hours of testing. When we say simple, we mean it — all you have to do is click a button and you’re protected. To learn more, and to read about their 30-day money back guarantee, see our ExpressVPN pricing guide.
NordVPN is the perfect marriage of form and function. The user interface is unique, and the list of geographic and advanced protections is impressive. Also — don’t forget that NordVPN will work with Netflix for accessing all kinds of new media content.
One thing that can be frustrating when using a VPN is the decreases in speeds or connection you may experience. If you’re streaming on top of this, it can mean buffering and other interruptions. This is no good. Thankfully, when we performed our speed tests we didn’t notice any significant slowdowns in our latest NordVPN review. With their massive network of nearly 5,000 server locations, your download speeds shouldn’t be impacted, and your connection will always be reliable. Great news if you run a Netflix-heavy household.
NordVPN also offers some of the most robust protections in the industry like server obfuscation, multihop functionality, and other geographic protections that will keep you streaming wherever you’re located — even in some of the most heavily regulated countries in the world. Want to keep up with “Lucifer” while you’re on your business trip to China? No problem.
Now they’re not the cheapest service out there — you can read more about that in our guide to NordVPN’s costs — but when we’re talking about your privacy and security, do you really want to skimp?
While CyberGhost may be lacking in the frills department, it more than makes up for it in solid core functionality, sleek user experience, and the most detailed and complete streaming optimizations we’ve seen.
We could discuss CyberGhost’s robust security features or their user interface (both are really solid, and you can check out our review of CyberGhost VPN for more on that); however, we should just cut to the chase. CyberGhost has some of the best streaming optimizations we’ve seen in the industry — particularly for watching Netflix.
As mentioned, some streaming platforms frown on VPN use and try to block their traffic. To stay ahead of this, CyberGhost offers a list of servers that are constantly tested to ensure they’ll be able to access popular services. And then they take that a step further. CyberGhost offers specific servers that are tuned to access specific streaming platforms in various countries. Want to watch German Comedy Central? What about ESPN in Canada? If you use CyberGhost, you can do that with a few quick clicks.
We also noticed there weren’t any significant slowdowns when we were testing CyberGhost, and we also liked that you could connect up to seven devices with a single subscription. Their month-to-month cost is a little high but if you sign up for longer durations, those prices drop significantly. Read a little more in our CyberGhost pricing guide.
You don’t have to use a VPN when streaming, but it certainly makes the experience more enjoyable. Consider two thoughts before buying a Netflix VPN.
One: If you travel often and want some comforts from back home, catching up on your favorite shows and movies is as simple as flipping a switch. By activating your VPN to route your traffic back through your home country, Netflix thinks you’re physically there, allowing you access to all your favorite familiar media.
FYI: Interested in seeing how our number one and two choices for streamers stack up head-to-head? Read our ExpressVPN vs. NordVPN comparison guide.
Two: Netflix has different regional media libraries that you can access based on where you’re connecting from, and these libraries can differ significantly due to country restrictions and copyright laws. By utilizing a VPN connection, though, you can access any of these libraries whenever you’d like.
Here’s where things get a little dicey. See, Netflix and other streaming platforms are under a lot of pressure to block VPN traffic that is trying to get around geo-restrictions — movie studios are saying the service is costing them a ton of money. Netflix and others have responded with a kind of begrudging compliance, and an increased focus on blocking VPNs — albeit halfheartedly.
With that in mind, if you’re using an outdated VPN or one that rarely updates its servers, you might run into some trouble connecting to Netflix and other providers. However, if you pick one from the list above, it should be smooth sailing — or smooth streaming?
FYI: Not interested in these services or just want to see what else is out there? Totally understandable! Check out our guide to the 10 best VPNs of 2021.
Other than that, setting up a VPN to stream is super simple. Even the most complicated and feature-heavy VPNs on the market, like VPNSecure, are still extremely easy to use, and you’re not going to need a master’s in network engineering to get them to work.
Short answer: No. It is not illegal to access geo-restricted content via a VPN. While it is technically against some of Netflix’s terms of service, to our knowledge there has never been a case of someone having their account canceled for accessing the service using a VPN.
FYI: VPNs can get a little pricey. Check out our guide to VPN deals and sales to make sure you’re getting the most bang for your buck.
The absolute worst-case scenario is you’ll get an error message telling you to turn off your unblocker or proxy. Once you do that, you’re back to normal. Now that isn’t to say things will always be like this. As VPN use becomes more popular, Netflix and other streaming platforms might start cracking down harder. For now though, there’s nothing to worry about.
The right VPN is a powerful tool. Not only will they help keep you safe and secure, they can also open up the internet beyond geographic borders. In this sense, they’re an extremely important tool, too.
Yes, it’s nice to be able to watch Canadian Netflix on your home’s smart TV in Florida, but it’s more important that people have unfettered access to media and information. Think of people who live in countries with extreme internet regulation censorship. With VPNs getting cheaper and easier to use every day, these folks can pull back the veil and see what they want, beyond what their regimes dictate. And with that, we’ll step down off this soapbox.
When was the last time the VPN provider updated their systems? Do they release patches and upgrades often? If not, you might be out of luck when you try to access Netflix a few weeks or a few months from now. What works today might not work tomorrow, so securing a VPN from a company that’s always updating is definitely a best practice.
Has the VPN provider optimized portions of their network for streaming? Great — they’re probably a good choice. If not though, make sure they specifically say they play well with the streaming platforms you use. If not, you might be out of luck.
The unfortunate reality is that using a VPN will likely slow down your device’s performance — that’s just the nature of the beast. However, decent VPN providers work hard to keep speeds high and connections reliable. This is particularly important for streaming — you need a fast VPN to avoid interruptions.
And what’s all that speed without security? It doesn’t have a whole lot to do with streaming Netflix, but as a rule, you want to pick a VPN that does what it says it’s going to do. Look for the protective features like multi-VPN functionality, server obfuscation, and a kill switch. Ideally, these functions will be confirmed by third-party testing, and so will their logging policy.
Some subscription packages will allow you to connect every single device you own at the same time; others offer a limited number of connections. If you like to stream on the go, consider the former as opposed to the latter.
In the same vein, make sure you’re selecting a service that provides a decent app for your mobile device of choice. You’re most at risk when you’re using your phone to connect to sensitive information on an unsecured network, but adding a VPN to the mix will dramatically improve your security posture.
Which VPN works with Netflix?
There are several VPNs that will work with Netflix, but not all will play nicely with the streaming service. Our favorites are ExpressVPN, NordVPN, and Cyberghost.
Which free VPN works with Netflix?
Unfortunately, we haven’t found a completely free VPN that will unlock Netflix, but several of the VPNs on our list offer free trial periods or money-back guarantees.
Is it illegal to use VPN for Netflix?
No, it’s not illegal to use a VPN to access Netflix; however, the company does frown upon the practice and will make you jump through some hoops to get there.
Which country’s VPN is best for Netflix?
It depends on a variety of factors including where you are located, which Netflix region you’re trying to access, the VPN you’re using, their server loads, and your connection speeds.