Maybe you’re looking to access region-exclusive games, play new titles before they’re released in your country, or access another country’s streaming services from abroad? If so, you might want to consider changing your PlayStation region or using a Virtual Private Network (VPN).
You might already know that streaming services often have different libraries for different countries. However, the PlayStation Store actually works in the exact same way. For example, the Japanese store has a wider range of RPGs, and the US store has additional streaming apps.
It’s worth noting that there are two different ways to access foreign content on a PlayStation console. One gives full, unrestricted access to another country’s PS Store, while another simply tricks apps into granting access to their geo-restricted content. Don’t worry: we’ll walk you through both methods step-by-step.
How to create a PlayStation account for a different region
Here’s the bad news upfront: you can’t just change the region of your existing PSN account. This means you’ll have to create a new account, but bear in mind that PS Store credit cannot be transferred from one user to another. The good news, though, is that creating another PSN account only takes a few minutes. Below, we’ll explain exactly how to do this, using a US account as an example:
- Start by going to the Sony Entertainment Network website.
- Enter an email address that isn’t associated with another PSN account. If you don’t have one, you can quickly create a new email address using a free service like Mail.com.
- Next, fill in your date of birth, and desired password.
- Choose your new PSN region from the dropdown menu. Note: if you pick a non-English region, you might need Google Translate as you move through the process.
- When you’re ready, click the submit button and verify your email.
- You can now set up a new user on your PS3 or PS4, using the account you just created. You’ll be asked to enter your local ZIP or postcode, but any from your chosen state or country will work.
- Skip past all of the social media options. If you’d like to share screenshots or clips, you can send them to your usual account in a message, then upload them to social media from there. This removes the need to create a secondary Facebook or Twitter account.
- Visit the PSN Store and you should find that the required currency has changed to match your chosen location. The text may be in another language, but the layout of the store shouldn’t have changed, so you can make educated guesses as to where your desired content will be.
However, there are still two problems: Netflix and other streaming apps don’t show their foreign libraries, and while you can see another country’s offerings, you can’t actually buy anything. Below, we’ll explain how to fix both of these issues.
How to pay when using another country’s PlayStation Store
As the PlayStation Store only allows you to add funds with a credit card or PayPal account registered in your region, you’ll have to use PlayStation gift cards instead. It’s important to obtain gift cards with the appropriate currency. You cannot use a $50 USD gift card on the Japanese store, for instance.
Various forums recommend creating an Amazon or PayPal account in the desired region using a fictitious billing address, but we strongly advise against this. Not only is this method more complicated, but it can also make things more expensive if your fake address is in a state or country with a sales tax.
Once you’ve acquired a gift card, just go to the PlayStation Store, scroll down to the bottom of the menu on the left-hand side, and click on “Redeem Codes”. Simply enter the voucher code and the funds will be added to your account.
How to unblock geo-restricted content on a PS4 with a VPN
If you’d like to access geo-restricted streaming services on your PS4, you don’t necessarily need a foreign PSN account. Some apps, like Netflix, check your IP address instead of your PSN region to see which country you’re in, and as such, which content you’re allowed to watch. As a result, you can simply unblock these services from abroad by connecting to a VPN.
A VPN routes your web traffic through an encrypted tunnel via an intermediary server in a location of your choice. This means that any outside observers, like your Internet Service Provider (ISP), will be unable to monitor your online activities. Further, VPNs enable you to connect to servers all over the world, and give you a temporary, region-specific IP address. This tricks websites and apps into believing you’re located somewhere different and letting you access them from abroad.
Note: Some apps are only available for download in specific regions and a VPN won’t be able to help there. For example, even while connected to a US server, you be unable to download the Hulu app unless your store region is set to US.
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How to install a VPN on PS4
No PlayStation store currently includes any VPN apps, so the setup process is a little more complex. Instead of installing a VPN directly on the PlayStation, you’ll have to either install it on your router or run an Ethernet cable from your PC to your console.
We’ve written guides to install VPNs on Tomato and DD-WRT routers, but most reputable VPN providers almost have detailed instructions for specific brands and models. Some providers even sell pre-configured routers with their software already installed. These are usually bought from a third party such as FlashRouter.
There are significant advantages to installing a VPN on your router. Firstly, a router only counts as one connection, no matter how many devices are on your network. Additionally, every device that uses that router will be automatically protected and have access to the same range of geo-locked services.
Can I use a free VPN on my PlayStation?
You might be tempted to use a free VPN, but they have several major disadvantages and we advise against them. Firstly, free VPNs usually can’t be installed on a router, which makes them a poor choice for use on PlayStations. Further, these services are far slower than premium VPNs. As a result, you’re likely to experience choppy video, long loading times, and possibly even random disconnection from the VPN. That’s assuming you can actually access geo-blocked platforms, since their restrictions often block free VPN users entirely.
International server networks are particularly expensive to build and maintain, so how can free VPNs afford it? While these services often rely on ads to bring in revenue, that’s far from their only way of making money. Some profit by using tracking cookies to build extensive consumer profiles. These can then be sold to third parties without the user’s knowledge. By acting in this way, free VPNs take away their customers’ control over how their personal data is used.
Unfortunately, there’s no easy way for the layman to tell if they’re using a genuine VPN or merely one of the dozens of malware-carrying apps hiding on the Google Play Store. Equally dangerous are VPNs that appear to work as intended, but don’t actually encrypt web traffic or prevent IPv6 leaks. Your safety isn’t guaranteed with a well-known free VPN either, as we discovered when Hola was caught selling its users’ idle bandwidth to help run a botnet.
Potential problems to look out for
For the most part, you should be able to use your new, region-specific PSN account as if you were actually in your chosen country. However, there are a couple of minor problems that you should be aware of, and we’ll cover these briefly below.
Downloadable content (DLC) for games is region-locked. If you bought a particular game and its DLC via your new account, it should work as intended. However, if one of your other PSN accounts has the game and you buy DLC on your new account (registered under a different region), you won’t be able to access it. This also applies if you bought a hard copy of the game from a region other than the one your new account is registered in.
Not every game will be available in your native language. Many offer the ability to switch subtitle language in the game’s menu, but you’ll have to find the relevant option first, if it’s present at all. This is a particular problem for Japanese titles like the Yakuza series; Japanese is an incredibly complex language, and since localization takes an extremely long time, games usually don’t have English subtitles until their Western release.
What region-exclusive services can I access with a foreign PSN account?
There are dozens of PlayStation games and apps that can only be accessed in specific countries. Below, we’ve listed a few of the more popular offerings you’ll be able to access:
- Hulu (US only)
- VRV (US only)
- CBS All Access (US only)
- NFL (US Only)
- Dragon Quest 3 (Japan only)
- Yakuza Ishin (Japan only)
- NHK on Demand (Japan only)
- U-NEXT (Japan only)
- 7plus (Australia only)
- Foxtel Play (Australia only)
Related: Best VPNs for gaming