How does Hulu detect VPNs?

A reliable VPN allows you to access Hulu while traveling outside the US. This is perfect if you are going on vacation, traveling for work, studying abroad, or are an expat who has moved abroad. The only caveat is that most VPNs are blocked by Hulu, meaning you must carefully pick a VPN for Hulu. So, how does Hulu detect VPNs? And why are so many VPNs blocked by Hulu?

Hulu is aware that people around the world want to access its service. Due to licensing agreements, Hulu must attempt to thwart these efforts. This is why Hulu works hard to detect VPNs. If Hulu detects that a US IP address belongs to a VPN, it will block it. This ensures people can no longer use that server to watch live US TV or on-demand Hulu shows.

The key takeaway is that to watch Hulu overseas, you must pick a reliable VPN that hasn’t been blocked. This requires a VPN that knows how to avoid being detected by Hulu. Only a few VPNs know how to stay ahead of the Hulu VPN blocks, so it is crucial to subscribe to a reliable Hulu VPN with a proven track record.

If you have already subscribed to a VPN that works with Hulu, you can use our troubleshooting guide to get it up and running. In this guide, we will explain how Hulu detects VPNs so that you can better understand the situation.

What happens if Hulu detects a VPN?

If Hulu detects a VPN, it will block that service to prevent it from working.

If you receive an error message when trying to watch Hulu with a VPN, then the server you are using has already been blocked by Hulu. This will cause you to receive a location error message that says:

“Error 16. Your account is not valid in this region”

This message means you are either outside the US or connected to a VPN server or proxy that has already been blocked. If this happens, you will need to try a different server location or switch to a different VPN service.

If you receive this error message, you can contact your VPN provider to determine whether a specific US server has been optimized for Hulu. Some VPNs have over 100 servers across 20+ cities in the US, and not all those servers work to watch Hulu.

Contacting the VPN’s live chat support will allow the agents to point you to the best server for streaming US TV platforms like Hulu, Netflix, ESPN, Peacock, and HBO Max.

How does Hulu detect VPNs?

Many streaming services have intensified their efforts to block VPNs and proxies. They do this to prevent users from accessing their content libraries from other regions. Hulu and Netflix are leading the way in this crackdown and are now successfully restricting access if they detect any location spoofing or privacy technologies being used.

Streaming services like Hulu employ advanced detection methods to identify and block VPN traffic. Although these measures are increasingly effective, they are not completely foolproof.

Some VPN providers have found ways to maintain access to Hulu for their subscribers. The best VPNs for Hulu continually update their techniques to bypass detection mechanisms, ensuring users can access Hulu from abroad or on restrictive networks, such as at work.

Unfortunately, the specifics of Hulu’s VPN detection methods are proprietary. This tight-lipped approach contributes to Hulu’s success in restricting VPNs and ensures that it is hard for VPNs to figure out how to regain access.

Although Hulu hasn’t disclosed its VPN and proxy blocking methods, and it is impossible to know all its methods definitively, we know most of the VPN blocking techniques used by streaming platforms.

Below, we have included a list of methods used by platforms like Hulu to detect and block VPNs:

1. VPN IP address lists

Various companies have appeared online that make it their business to compile and sell a list of IP addresses and IP address ranges known to belong to proxy services, Smart DNS services, and VPNs.

These companies create a detailed database of VPN IP addresses, which they then sell to organizations like Hulu. These lists give streaming providers the perfect starting point to block VPNs, often blocking all of a VPN’s servers in a single swoop.

2. Shared IP Usage

Streaming services like Hulu have developed automatic systems that can monitor each IP address used by subscribers to log in and stream their accounts.

If multiple Hulu accounts are discovered logging in and streaming from the same IP address (or similar IP addresses), the detection system will flag the IP as a possible VPN server.

Hulu then follows up on these leads, checks for false positives, and adds suspect IP addresses to its blacklist. Once a VPN IP address has been added to the Hulu blacklist, it will no longer work to watch Hulu.

3. Suspicious use

If a user logs into their Hulu account from many different IP addresses on the same day, this could trigger Hulu’s automated VPN detection systems. Connections from multiple countries within a short period or access patterns inconsistent with typical user behavior could allow Hulu to detect and block IPs associated with VPNs.

The important thing to remember is that Hulu keeps records of the IPs subscribers use to log in, and if it detects suspicious use, it may flag IPs suspected of belonging to a VPN and then blacklist them.

This is a primary reason that market-leading VPNs are involved in a game of cat and mouse with streaming services. VPN services that work to access Hulu may suddenly and temporarily lose access, requiring them to update their servers and constantly search for ways to stay ahead of Hulu’s VPN blocks.

4. VPN detection technologies

Streaming services like Hulu have developed advanced VPN detection technologies that constantly monitor for VPNs. These systems analyze traffic patterns, packet configurations, and other indicators that suggest a VPN is being used to hide a user’s location.

VPN detection technologies continuously scan network traffic for characteristics that suggest VPN use. For example, VPNs may introduce higher levels of latency. Anomalies in response times and increased latency receiving packets could be enough to trigger Hulu’s VPN detection systems.

This analysis allows Hulu to identify VPN users even if they use smaller, lesser-known  VPN services – or IP addresses that have not yet been flagged in VPN IP databases. This helps Hulu maintain control over regional content access and serve location errors to subscribers using a VPN.

5. Geolocation mismatch

Streaming providers like Hulu constantly monitor their users’ whereabouts to block as many VPNs as possible. These services use location-tracking methods such as GPS coordinates, IP tracking, DNS requests, and browser cookies to keep tabs on their users.

Hulu’s automated systems have access to all this location data and can compare the location information on file with the geolocation of the user’s IP address when they log in and stream. If the location associated with their account differs significantly from the IP address or location used to stream, the system will flag the IP address as a possible VPN server.

Hulu’s systems follow up on these leads and perform additional analysis to check for false positives. Finally, Hulu will add new;y detected VPN IP addresses to its blacklist, removing access for any users who try to log in using that VPN.

6. IP, DNS and WebRTC leaks

An effective method that Hulu and other streaming providers can use to detect VPNs is monitoring for DNS and WebRTC leaks. A reliable VPN will provide a consistent IP and DNS address without any leaks. Unfortunately, not all VPNs are effective at preventing these types of leaks.

Streaming services can detect momentary leaks by monitoring the connection in real-time. If Hulu notices a different DNS or IP address even for a second – caused by an IP, DNS, or WebRTC leak – it knows that a VPN is being used. This allows Hulu to identify and add that IP address to its blacklist.

Understanding how Hulu detects VPNs through DNS and WebRTC leaks can help users choose a more reliable VPN service that can prevent these leaks. Any VPN that suffers from leaks is easy to detect and is likely to have already been blocked by Hulu, so you must pick a leak-free VPN.

Besides DNS leaks, DNS mismatches could also trigger Hulu’s VPN detection systems. If the user’s IP address does not match the DNS address, this discrepancy could allow Hulu to detect VPN use, leading to the blacklisting of the VPN server.

Can I prevent Hulu from detecting my VPN?

Unfortunately, there is very little that users can do to prevent Hulu from detecting their VPN. Staying ahead of VPN blocks is primarily a job for the VPN provider itself. That said, your chosen VPN may actively bypass Hulu’s blocks using a specific server location. Contact your VPN to find out which US server is optimized for streaming.

Your VPN’s customer support should be able to direct you to the best server. If the VPN you currently have a subscription with can’t direct you to a server (some VPNs refuse to disclose which server works via their customer support for legal reasons), you may need to use trial and error to find a streaming-optimized server.

Of course, if the VPN refuses to tell you which US server location works for streaming Hulu, it is more than likely that it doesn’t work. VPNs blocked by leading streaming providers like Hulu and Netflix don’t always want to admit this is the case in fear of users canceling their accounts.

How can I get my VPN working with Hulu?

Although preventing detection by streaming services is primarily the VPN provider’s job, we have provided a list of things you can do to help your VPN work as well as possible.

If you have subscribed to one of our recommended VPNs for Hulu, our Hulu troubleshooting tips should help you get your VPN working:

  1. Close your VPN app and restart your streaming device
  2. Launch your VPN app and ensure it is up-to-date
  3. Check the VPN server list for a US server that is labeled for “streaming.” Some VPNs list specific servers for use with apps like “Hulu” or “Netflix.”
  4. Contact your VPN’s support to ask them which server is better for Hulu
  5. Try changing to a different VPN protocol such as WireGuard or OpenVPN to see whether that helps
  6. Clear your cookies and cache to ensure trackers left in your browser don’t conflict with the VPN

In addition to our general Hulu troubleshooting guide (linked above), we have some VPN-specific troubleshooting guides for Hulu. Follow one of the links below to get Hulu working with your VPN:

Does Hulu detect free VPNs?

Yes. Hulu’s VPN detection techniques attempt to block as many VPNs as possible, and free VPNs are usually the first to go. Free VPNs only have a few server locations, making it much easier for streaming services like Hulu to spot and block. As a result, we know of no free VPNs that work to access Hulu from abroad or on restricted networks. You will need to pay for a premium VPN to unblock Hulu on vacation.

What happens if you use a VPN with Hulu?

Most VPNs have been blocked by Hulu, so they will cause you to receive a proxy error message. You cannot log in and stream shows with those VPNs.

If you want to watch Hulu with a VPN, you must opt for a VPN that has been thoroughly tested to access Hulu from abroad. You can find the best VPNs for Hulu in our guide. These VPNs will provide you with access to Hulu from anywhere and will provide complete privacy, allowing you to watch Hulu at work or on campus without being tracked.

What VPN can Hulu not detect?

We have thoroughly tested the market and found a few VPNs that Hulu can’t detect. You can find out more in our guide to the best VPNs for Hulu. If you are in a hurry to watch Hulu, we have also included our list of VPNs for Hulu below:

  1. NordVPN: The best VPN for Hulu. Offers fast speeds, strong security features, and a 30-day money-back guarantee for a risk-free trial.
  2. Surfshark: Cost-effective VPN that works to stream. It supports unlimited device connections and includes MultiHop servers for enhanced security.
  3. IPVanish: Known for its quick, reliable service. Works to stream US services like Hulu abroad. Allows unlimited connections and offers 24/7 customer support.
  4. ExpressVPN: Unblocks Hulu from any location, providing fast streaming speeds and robust security features. Their 24/7 customer support is highly responsive.
  5. CyberGhost: Ideal for beginners. Streaming-optimized servers for Hulu are listed in the app. It supports up to 7 simultaneous connections. 45-day refund guarantee.
  6. Private Internet Access: A US-based provider with secure apps that can access Hulu and Netflix. It has servers in over 80 countries and supports up to 10 devices simultaneously.
  7. PrivateVPN: PrivateVPN is a promising new VPN that works effectively with Hulu and other major streaming services. It features user-friendly apps and a strict no-logs policy.
  8. PureVPN: A cheap VPN For Hulu that offers fast speeds for streaming Hulu and other US-based platforms, with a wide array of servers around the globe.
  9. ProtonVPN: Ideal for advanced users, offering robust privacy and security features while easily bypassing Hulu’s VPN blocks. Servers in 85+ countries.


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There are no hidden terms—just 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.

Why is Hulu blocked in Europe?

Due to licensing agreements, Hulu is available exclusively in the US. The service only licenses content for the US region, which means it must monitor every visitor’s IP Address and serve them an error message if they are found to be outside of America.

Unfortunately, these blocks also affect legitimate US subscribers who are on vacation or traveling for work. If you want to watch your account while traveling to Europe, you need a reliable VPN to get a valid US IP address.

Can I watch Hulu in Canada with a VPN?

Yes. As long as you stick to a recommended VPN that has been thoroughly tested, you can log in and stream Hulu from Canada. Our recommendations work to get a US IP address in Canada, making it easy to watch Hulu even if you have crossed the border into Canada.