How to change VPN location

There are lots of reasons why someone might want to change their digital location with a VPN. Perhaps you’ve just arrived in a foreign country and aren’t able to use services like Skype or Zoom to stay in touch with your family. Maybe you’d just like to continue streaming shows that aren’t available in your current location’s Netflix library. You could even be trying to prevent people from using your IP address to find out where you’re actually located.

Luckily, the right VPN can help with all of these situations. It’ll send all of your internet traffic through one of its servers, which makes it seem like you’re in whichever country the server is. Further, VPNs encrypt this data, which stops network administrators, hotspot owners, and oppressive governments from seeing what you get up to online.

How to change location using a VPN

Switching locations with a VPN is far simpler than you might expect. Follow the steps below to change country in a matter of minutes.

Here’s how to change location using a VPN:

  1. Start by signing up for one of the VPNs below (we recommend NordVPN).
  2. Install the VPN app on any device you use regularly. Most providers permit you to connect at least five devices at the same time so don’t worry if there are a few.
  3. Log in and navigate to the server selection screen.
  4. Choose a server in your preferred country. Your provider may also offer specially optimized servers for streaming or avoiding censorship that can help you bypass regional restrictions.
  5. Once connected, your data is encrypted and will appear to be coming from a different location. You can now browse without worrying about anyone discovering where you really are.

WANT TO TRY THE TOP VPN RISK FREE?

NordVPN is offering a fully-featured risk-free 30-day trial if you sign up at this page. You can use the VPN rated #1 for changing regions, free from any restrictions, for a month. This is perfect if you’d like to regain access to your usual services while on a trip abroad.

There are no hidden termsjust contact support within 30 days if you decide NordVPN isn't right for you and you'll get a full refund. Start your NordVPN trial here.

Surely every VPN lets you change location, right? Technically, yes. However, we don’t believe that a new IP address alone is enough protection. That’s why we’ve searched for providers with lots of supported locations, excellent performance, and powerful security and privacy tools built-in. Here’s a quick list of non-negotiable features we used to sort the best from the rest (more on these later):

  • Must offer access to servers in at least 50 countries (though preferably more)
  • Is fast enough to handle day-to-day tasks like streaming
  • Works with plenty of geo-blocked sites and services
  • Uses effectively uncrackable encryption and various other security tools to keep you safe
  • Follows a no-logging policy
  • Offers apps for a wide variety of operating systems and devices

You’ll find a brief rundown of our top VPNs below. If any stand out to you, just scroll down for a more detailed review of each.

Best VPN to change location

  1. NordVPN: Our top VPN for changing location. Boasts very high speeds, an excellent reputation, and a network spanning 60 countries. Works with most streaming services we’ve tested and includes a 30-day money-back guarantee.
    TIP In our testing we found that the cheapest NordVPN plan (Standard) works perfectly.
  2. Surfshark: The best way to switch locations on a budget. A fast, reliable, and cost-effective provider that doesn’t skimp on security features. Allows any number of connections.
  3. IPVanish: A zero-logs provider with exceptionally fast speeds and no connection limit. A strong security focus makes it ideal for torrenting and staying anonymous online.
  4. ExpressVPN: Quick and reliable servers in 94 countries. Great for unblocking region-locked streaming services and improving your online security. No-logs VPN with 24/7 support.
  5. CyberGhost: With 90+ supported locations, task-specific servers, and beginner-friendly apps, this VPN can handle just about anything. Solid speeds and a whopping 7,400 servers.
  6. PrivateVPN: This service goes the extra mile where privacy is concerned. Provides fast speeds, a fantastic set of security tools, a no-logs policy, and access to servers in 60+ countries.
  7. Hotspot Shield: An easy-to-use VPN with specific servers for streaming and gaming, plus general-purpose servers in 80+ countries. Offers steady speeds and around-the-clock support.

The best VPNs for changing your location

Let’s jump right in with our top pick, NordVPN:

1. NordVPN

NordVPN Jul 2024

Apps Available:

  • PC
  • Mac
  • IOS
  • Android
  • Linux
  • Background FireTV

Website:  www.NordVPN.com

Money-back guarantee: 30 DAYS

NordVPN is our #1 choice. It has around 5,000 servers in 60 countries around the world and boasts some of the best streaming ability we’ve seen. In fact, while connected, you can securely access platforms like Netflix, HBO Max, BBC iPlayer, and Disney+. Better still, NordVPN has minimal impact on your internet speeds, so you should be able to watch on all but the slowest connections. Users can connect up to six devices simultaneously.

This provider’s apps are packed with security tools. As well as its own NordLynx protocol that is faster and easier to audit than OpenVPN, there’s leak protection, an app-specific kill switch, and 256-bit encryption. What’s more, NordVPN recently passed its second no-logs audit, proving that it still doesn’t store any data that could identify you. A customer support help desk operates 24/7 and can be reached over email or live chat.

NordVPN has its own iOS, Android, MacOS, Windows, and Linux apps. If you’d like to bypass the six-device limit and secure a whole network, you can manually configure this service to work with supported home routers.

Pros:

  • Operates over 5,000 servers in 60 countries around the globe
  • Speeds are fast enough for HD live streaming
  • Extremely strong on security
  • Verified no-logs policy
  • 24/7 live chat support

Cons:

  • Can’t use NordLynx and obfuscated servers at the same time

Our score:

4.5 out of 5

BEST VPN FOR CHANGING LOCATION:NordVPN is our first choice for changing location. With top-tier speeds and a great set of security features, it’s able to handle just about anything you throw at it. Includes a risk-free 30-day money-back guarantee so you can try it yourself.

Read our full review of NordVPN.

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2. Surfshark

Surfshark

Apps Available:

  • PC
  • Mac
  • IOS
  • Android
  • Linux

Website:  www.Surfshark.com

Money-back guarantee: 30 DAYS

Surfshark is our top budget option. That said, it’d be a mistake to write it off just because of its low price. This provider has roughly 3,200 servers in 65 countries, including some less-common locations such as Algeria and the UAE. Further, it performed extremely well in our most recent speed tests, averaging over 300 Mb/s on a 1 Gb/s connection. As if this wasn’t enough, Surfshark is one of the few VPNs that lets you secure every device you own simultaneously.

It pays close attention to user security too. First off, there’s 256-bit encryption, a kill switch, leak protection, and a NoBorders mode that can slip past country-wide censorship. Surfshark also follows a true no-logs policy. This service isn’t content to stop innovating, though: just recently, it launched its own antivirus software and rewrote its privacy statement to make it easier to read. Having trouble? Staff are ready to help 24/7 over email and live chat.

Surfshark has apps for Windows, Linux, MacOS, Android, and iOS. It’s also possible to install this VPN on certain wi-fi routers, but you’ll have to follow manual setup instructions.

Pros:

  • Low-cost VPN with plenty of server choice
  • Steady speeds and unlimited bandwidth
  • Strong security and privacy credentials
  • No connection limit
  • Customer support on-hand 24/7

Cons:

  • Can be tricky finding a specific option in the menus

Our score:

4.5 out of 5

BEST BUDGET VPN:Surfshark is our budget pick. Despite its low price, it offers exceptional performance and unblocking ability. Further, this no-logs VPN works with all kinds of streaming services. There’s even a 30-day money-back guarantee.

Why not take a look at our complete Surfshark review?

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3. IPVanish

IPVanish

Apps Available:

  • PC
  • Mac
  • IOS
  • Android
  • Linux

Website:  www.IPVanish.com

Money-back guarantee: 30 DAYS

IPVanish has nearly 2,000 servers in more than 60 locations globally, so it’s a quick and reliable way to change your location. Better still, it allows you to connect every device you own at the same time, something very few other services do. While this provider used to lag behind on speed, it has made exceptional progress recently and is now among the fastest we’ve tested.

Good news: IPVanish is as secure as it is versatile. Its apps include 256-bit encryption, DNS and IPv6 leak protection, a kill switch, and the ability to block access to other devices on the network. The latest version also offers WireGuard support, but if you’d prefer to use OpenVPN, you can turn on traffic obfuscation to help evade detection. IPVanish doesn’t keep any logs at all and offers 24/7 customer support over live chat.

IPVanish apps are available for Android, Windows, iOS, and MacOS. If you’d like to use this VPN on your Linux system or network router, you’ll have to configure it manually.

Pros:

  • Has hugely improved its speeds lately
  • Punches above its weight on security
  • Lets you protect all of your devices at once

Cons:

  • Traffic scrambling only works on OpenVPN connections

Our score:

4.5 out of 5

SPEEDY AND SECURE:IPVanish keeps no logs, boasts a solid set of security tools, and has some of the fastest speeds we’ve seen. Not only that, but it has no connection limit. Annual subscribers can take advantage of a 30-day money-back guarantee.

Take a look at the full IPVanish review.

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4. ExpressVPN

ExpressVPN

Apps Available:

  • PC
  • Mac
  • IOS
  • Android
  • Linux

Website:  www.ExpressVPN.com

Money-back guarantee: 30 DAYS

ExpressVPN is a particularly strong choice for anyone looking to change location as it offers more choice than any of its rivals. With around 3,000 servers in 94 countries, you’ll be able to securely access services like Netflix, ITV Hub, and Canal+, wherever you go. This VPN also has its own protocol named Lightway that’s significantly faster than OpenVPN, which is great for data-intensive tasks like torrenting or streaming. Up to five devices can be secured at once.

This service uses 256-bit AES encryption, a kill switch, and protection against DNS and IPv6 leaks to keep your online activities private. It also refuses to store any information that could be used to identify you. That said, you can always pay in Bitcoin if you’re worried about anonymity. Users can choose to let specific apps bypass the VPN too. Free customer support is available over live chat, day and night.

ExpressVPN offers apps for MacOS, iOS, Windows, Android, and Linux systems. Additionally, it’s recently reworked its router firmware so that it’s faster and more reliable. There’s even an interactive setup guide now, so it’s easier than ever to secure your whole home network.

Pros:

  • Has more countries to choose from any other VPN in this list
  • Known for its speed and streaming ability
  • Includes powerful security tools
  • Accepts Bitcoin payments

Cons:

  • Sightly more expensive than some of its competitors

Our score:

4 out of 5

PLENTY OF CHOICE:ExpressVPN has a network that spans over 90 countries, so your options are near limitless when it comes to changing your location. It’s strong on security and perfect for streaming too, plus it comes with a 30-day money-back guarantee.

Check out our comprehensive ExpressVPN review.

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5. CyberGhost

CyberGhost

Apps Available:

  • PC
  • Mac
  • IOS
  • Android
  • Linux

Website:  www.Cyberghost.com

Money-back guarantee: 45 DAYS

CyberGhost users can choose from more than 7,000 servers in 91 countries, including places most other VPNs don’t have a presence like Macau, Sri Lanka, and Qatar. There are also specific servers that are designed for anonymous torrenting, lag-free streaming, and secure browsing. Needless to say, this service is fast enough for all three (although your base speeds have a part to play in this). There’s a seven-connection limit but no bandwidth restrictions whatsoever.

One of the great things about this service is that all of its security tools are enabled by default. There are quite a few, including 256-bit encryption, a kill switch, leak protection, random port connection, and automatic tracker-blocking. CyberGhost doesn’t store any personally identifiable information and as such, can’t reveal what you do online. It’s also recently released a password manager, antivirus, and privacy guard tool, so it clearly has big plans for this industry in the future. Users can get help at any time via live chat or email.

CyberGhost has Windows, MacOS, Linux, Android, and iOS apps. What’s more, you can manually configure this service to work with a wide range of wireless routers.

Pros:

  • Speedy servers in 90+ countries
  • Suitable for any day-to-day task
  • Comes with a suite of pre-configured security features
  • Offers 24/7 live chat

Cons:

  • Could do with providing more control over advanced features

Our score:

4.5 out of 5

HIGHLY VERSATILE:CyberGhost has one of the largest networks around and even offers special streaming, gaming, and anti-censorship servers. Provides steady speeds, user-friendly apps, and a generous 45-day money-back guarantee.

Interested? Check out the complete CyberGhost review for more info.

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6. PrivateVPN

PrivateVPN

Apps Available:

  • PC
  • Mac
  • IOS
  • Android
  • Linux

Website:  www.PrivateVPN.com

Money-back guarantee: 30 DAYS

PrivateVPN has fewer servers to choose from (around 200 in all) but these cover 60+ countries and provide some of the fastest speeds around. Not only that, but this VPN allows torrenting on any server and effortlessly unblocks popular streaming services such as BBC iPlayer, Amazon Prime Video, and Disney+. It gets better: PrivateVPN recently increased its connection limit and now lets you secure 10 devices at once.

If you’re a privacy-conscious user, you’ll find a lot to like here. PrivateVPN is its own ISP and server host, plus it follows a zero-logs policy. Additionally, its apps come with everything you’d expect including 256-bit encryption, a customizable kill switch, leak protection, and automatic connection options. You can even turn on the stealth mode to bypass web censorship in places like China. Customer support goes offline for a couple of hours daily but is otherwise available around the click.

PrivateVPN offers apps for iOS, MacOS, Android, and Windows. Some routers and Linux distros are supported too, though you’ll have to follow the service’s manual setup instructions.

Pros:

  • Streaming and P2P-friendly
  • Impressive speeds
  • Keeps no logs and offers a wide range of security features

Cons:

  • Small number of servers to choose from
  • Live chat isn’t available 24/7

Our score:

4.5 out of 5

GREAT FOR STREAMING:PrivateVPN is a well-respected service that excels on speed, unblocking ability, and privacy. It has servers in over 60 countries, works in places like China, and includes a 30-day money-back guarantee.

Read our in-depth review of PrivateVPN.

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7. Hotspot Shield

Hotspot Shield

Apps Available:

  • PC
  • Mac
  • IOS
  • Android
  • Linux

Website:  www.Hotspotshield.com

Money-back guarantee: 45 DAYS

Editor’s Note: Hotspot Shield is owned by Pango, Comparitech’s parent company.

Hotspot Shield has a network of around 1,800 servers in over 80 countries. Some of these locations are quite uncommon; you can even get an IP address from Belize, Isle of Man, or Nepal. What’s more, there are specific servers for accessing popular streaming services like Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, and BBC iPlayer. With steady speeds and no bandwidth limit, this novice-friendly VPN is a strong choice for almost any task.

Users can keep their online activities hidden from snoopers thanks to Hotspot Shield’s 256-bit encryption, leak protection, and kill switch. This VPN also has its own anti-censorship protocol named Catapult Hydra, though newer versions of the apps now offer IKEv2 support as well. Hotspot Shield doesn’t store any personally identifiable data once your session is over. If you run into any problems, simply let support know using the 24/7 live chat service.

Hotspot Shield provides apps for MacOS, Windows, Linux, Android, and iOS. Further, this service can be manually installed on most home routers.

Pros:

  • High-speed servers in 80+ countries
  • Offers specially-optimized servers for streaming and gaming
  • Solid set of security and privacy tools

Cons:

  • Doesn’t accept Bitcoin
  • Has had privacy issues in the past

Our score:

4.5 out of 5

EASY TO USE:Hotspot Shield is great for beginners thanks to its user-friendly apps, high speeds, and streaming-optimized servers. Better still, it has servers in more than 80 countries and offers a 45-day money-back guarantee.

Take a look at our full Hotspot Shield review.

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Methodology: How we chose the best VPNs for switching location

Changing your location is one of the core functions of a VPN, so you might be surprised to learn that some are better at it than others. There are providers that only offer a handful of locations to choose from, for example, and others that struggle to maintain a consistent connection. When identifying the best VPNs to change location, we looked at the following key areas:

  • Number of locations: Most major providers have servers in around 60 countries. More is always better since it’s less likely you’ll have to rely on a server that’s far away. Also, supporting more locations theoretically gives you access to a wider range of content.
  • Server choice: You can change location with a single server elsewhere in the world. However, if this goes down for maintenance, you’re out of luck. We prioritize VPNs with lots of servers and are especially fond of those that have some specially optimized for streaming.
  • Performance: We perform regular speed tests to help us monitor which services are the fastest and how each provider has improved over time. All of the VPNs above are fast enough for day-to-day tasks and work with popular geo-blocked streaming platforms.
  • Security and privacy: To make our list, VPNs must offer 256-bit encryption, leak protection, a no-logs policy, and a kill switch. Naturally, we prefer those that go further by including custom protocols, anti-tracking features, and split tunneling functionality.  
  • Ease of use: Digital security should be available to everyone. That’s why we only recommend services that are simple, uncluttered, and beginner-friendly. If there’s 24/7 live chat and a help section that can guide you through any issues, even better.
  • Pricing: We make sure VPNs are priced fairly by comparing their functionality to that of other providers around the same price point. What’s more, we’ll hunt down the best available deals and let you know about any money-back guarantees so that you never have to pay more than the absolute minimum.

This is just one small part of our testing. If you’d like to learn more, check out our guide to Comparitech’s VPN testing process.

Using a VPN to switch location: FAQs

Can I change location with a free VPN?

This really depends on which service you use and where you’re located. Some providers only let free users connect to American servers, for instance, which isn’t much help if you’re already in the US.

Even assuming you are able to connect to a second location, you’ll almost always have a monthly bandwidth cap to contend with, plus slow speeds caused by thousands of other people trying to do the same thing you are. In short, free VPNs might be a quick way to switch locations, but can’t be counted on to do it consistently.

Are VPNs legal in my country?

VPNs are fully legal in most of the world. Even in the remaining handful of countries, these services usually aren’t banned outright; instead, citizens are asked to use specific providers. One major exception is Iraq, where using any VPN is a crime.

Of course, this doesn’t mean that VPN users have a license to commit crimes freely. Quite the opposite: in some regions, attempting to hide your identity while doing illegal things online could be considered an aggravating factor. As long as you’re only using your VPN for everyday tasks, though, you should be fine.

Disclaimer: while we have thoroughly researched this topic, we are technology experts, not lawyers. As such, nothing we’ve said above should be considered legal advice. 

Does the VPN server location I choose matter?

The location of your chosen server has a huge impact in terms of performance. Firstly, it determines where websites will think you’re browsing from, which limits the kind of content that is available. For instance, a US server will allow me to access American platforms like Sling TV but will prevent me from using Britain’s BBC iPlayer.

The second thing to consider is that usually, the farther away your server is from you, the slower your speeds will be. This can cause problems for travelers hoping to continue using their regular services while on vacation, since slow connections can lead to lag while streaming live TV or playing online games. Still, unless you’re trying to access a region-locked service, simply switching to a closer server should resolve the issue.

What is the difference between a physical and virtual VPN server?

Some VPN providers offer access to virtual servers in locations where it’d be too costly or dangerous to maintain a physical server. While a physical server is actually held in a rack somewhere in your chosen country, virtual servers are hosted on computers elsewhere in the world, and simply pretend to be in their respective locations.

Functionally, you’ll see no difference between virtual and physical servers. The only thing to note is that virtual servers can make it difficult to tell which country’s data-protection laws apply to you. As long as your provider follows a no-logs policy, though, your online activities can’t be revealed, so there really isn’t anything to worry about.