Like most major streaming platforms, Netflix geo-restricts its content. This means that users in different countries can only watch a limited selection of shows and movies. As a result, people traveling abroad often find themselves unable to watch their favorite shows; unless they use a VPN.
A Virtual Private Network (VPN) provides location spoofing services and online privacy. This lets you securely access Netflix from anywhere. However, very few VPNs work to stream Netflix anymore.
If you try to watch Netflix with most VPNs, you’ll see the following error: “You seem to be using an unblocker or proxy. Please turn off any of these services and try again.” This means that you must pick your VPN provider very carefully.
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How to securely stream Netflix with Private Internet Access
New to VPNs? Don’t worry: with the right VPN, it’s easy to securely access platforms like Netflix abroad:
- Start by signing up for Private Internet Access. If you want the best VPN for Netflix, we actually recommend NordVPN.
- Download and install the appropriate version for your device (PIA currently offers desktop and mobile apps for Windows, MacOS, Linux, Android, and iOS).
- Connect to one of PIA’s VPN server locations in your home country.
- Sign in to Netflix and start streaming. Videos should load without any issues, but if not, try clearing your browser’s cache and cookies, then refresh the page.
Does PIA work with Netflix?
Private Internet Access has servers in 84 countries to let users gain access to censored, restricted, and region-locked content from around the world. To test PIA, we connected to servers in various countries and then attempted to use Netflix in incognito (to prevent cookies and cache affecting our ability to watch a foreign Netflix catalog).
Our tests revealed that while it is possible to access a handful of foreign Netflix libraries, streaming will result in an error message on most servers. Consequently, we can deduce that PIA has focused its energy on providing access to just a few Netflix regions that are in high demand. Unfortunately, this means that the vast majority of its servers will not allow users to stream Netflix abroad.
The table below shows which versions of Netflix we were able to access via PIA servers during this round of testing:
|Supported Netflix libraries||USA, UK, Canada, Netherlands|
|Netflix libraries inaccessible||Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Hungary, India, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, Mexico, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Romania, Singapore, South Africa, Spain, South Africa, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, United Arab Emirates|
As you can see, PIA works with a few regional Netflix libraries. Despite this, it’s not the most reliable way to access Netflix abroad. Company representatives have publicly admitted that Netflix blacklists PIA’s servers and real IP addresses. This explains why PIA can struggle to access Netflix catalogs that were previously available.
PIA is also slower than the very best VPNs for Netflix and is a little inconsistent. This means that even if you succeed in watching your home Netflix library, your experience may be lackluster. We found that streaming quality can be affected by which server you use, how far away it is, and what time of day it is.
If you can’t access a version of Netflix that PIA should work with, it is worth contacting customer support for advice on which server to use. However, if you have not yet subscribed we strongly recommend opting for a VPN provider that works better with Netflix. We found NordVPN to be the most reliable.
Which are the best VPNs for streaming Netflix abroad?
Netflix is one of the world’s most popular streaming platforms and can afford to devote a huge amount of resources to blocking VPN users. This means that VPN providers, especially smaller ones like PIA, often find it difficult to keep up. However, there are a few VPN services that work reliably with Netflix, and we’ve listed the best of these below. It’s worth noting that we tested just 30 different regions, so the number of libraries they can securely access could be even higher.
- NordVPN Our top pick, NordVPN provides high-speed servers, exceptionally strong security features, and a no-logs policy. Further, it works with some of the most popular Netflix libraries. It also includes a 30-day money-back guarantee so you can try it risk-free.
- Surfshark is a low-cost, privacy-oriented VPN that works with several Netflix libraries. Better still, it works in China, has no connection limit, and offers a true no-logging policy. Surfshark plans come with a 30-day money-back guarantee.
- ExpressVPN Another great choice for Netflix. ExpressVPN is very fast, highly secure, and privacy-focused. Provides secure access to over a dozen different Netflix libraries. ExpressVPN comes with a 30-day money-back guarantee.
- PrivateVPN is an excellent choice for Netflix as it keeps no logs, works with most of the Netflix libraries we tested, and offers higher speeds than most other VPNs. PrivateVPN’s 30-day money-back guarantee means there’s no risk whatsoever.
Can’t I just watch Netflix with a free VPN instead?
Free VPNs can be tempting, but they come with several major disadvantages for anyone looking to stream. For example, these services usually don’t have enough servers to accommodate all of their users. This means you’re likely to experience slow speeds, which leads to low-resolution video streaming and frequent buffering. Further, your chosen service might not have servers with local IP addresses in your required country, and there’s no guarantee it will even work with Netflix in the first place.
Finally, there’s no easy way to tell if you’re actually using a legitimate free VPN or just one of the many malware-carrying apps lurking on popular app stores. Your chosen VPN might not be safe even if it doesn’t contain malware: recent research found that 18% of tested apps never encrypted user data at all, and 66% were vulnerable to DNS leaks. Well-known services aren’t necessarily safer, though; back in 2016, Hola was caught selling user bandwidth to help run a botnet.
To stay safe online, we recommend using a VPN with a good reputation and a history of standing up for its customers’ online privacy.
Will using a VPN connection slow down my network speeds?
You can expect a slight reduction in network speed regardless of which VPN you choose. It’s worth noting that your speeds are also influenced by the protocol and type of encryption used, as well as the current server load and its geographical distance from you. However, even before taking these factors into account, some services have more of an impact on your internet connection than others.
Depending on which VPN connection you choose you may lose up to one-third of your internet traffic speed when using a VPN. Netflix recommends a download speed of at least 3 Mbps for streaming standard-definition video, but you’ll need higher speeds for HD and 4K content (around 5 Mbps and 25 Mbps, respectively). As of 2017, the average internet connection speed in the US was around 18 Mbps, but as long as you get 8 Mbps or so, you shouldn’t have any issues streaming Netflix with a VPN.
Our recommended VPNs all have super-fast Tier 1 servers in their network that provide exceptionally fast speeds. This means that you should only experience a negligible drop in speeds when using the VPN. This will not affect your ability to stream on Netflix.
Which shows can I watch abroad with PIA?
Although PIA can’t help you securely access many different Netflix catalogs, it does work with some of the more popular ones. Below, we’ve created a short list of the content you’ll be able to watch from abroad with PIA:
- Russian Doll
- The Umbrella Academy
- The Good Place
- Black Mirror
- Parks and Recreation
- Patriot Act
- The Office
- Blue Planet II
How does Netflix PIA blocking work?
It’s actually pretty simple. Netflix PIA blocking works by detecting when a user is connected to a VPN server and then blocking their access. This is done by looking at the IP address of the user and seeing if it matches with any known VPN servers. If it does, then the user is blocked from accessing Netflix.
There are a few reasons why Netflix may do this. One reason is to prevent users from accessing content that is not licensed in their country. Another reason is to prevent people from using VPNs to get around geographic restrictions on content.
Whatever the reasons, it’s fairly easy to bypass Netflix PIA blocking. All you need to do is find a VPN that changes your IP address to one that’s not on their list.
Private Internet Access & Netflix FAQ
Does Private Internet Access have a kill switch?
You likely already know that VPNs encrypt your traffic. However, if your connection to the VPN is interrupted and you have the kill switch turned off, you’ll just be browsing like you would normally. This could potentially be a real problem if you were in a country like China or the UAE, where internet usage is heavily censored and under surveillance. In contrast, a kill switch would prevent you from browsing until you could reconnect to the VPN.
Like many other providers, Private Internet Access offers a kill switch. However, this one is slightly different, allowing you to choose between three modes (Off, Automatic, and Always) instead of just off or on. The automatic mode only blocks internet traffic if you were disconnected unexpectedly, while the always setting only allows you to browse when connected to the VPN. This is likely overkill for most users, but it’s certainly a nice option to have.
How many devices can I use with PIA?
Most VPNs on the market allow users to connect around five or six devices at once. However, Private Internet Access stands out from the crowd by permitting up to ten simultaneous connections. This should mean that you can secure most, if not all of your devices, although if this still isn’t enough, or if you’d rather ensure every device on your home network is protected automatically, you can manually install PIA on select home routers.
Can I install Private Internet Access on my router?
It’s absolutely possible to install Private Internet Access on an internet router. In fact, this service even provides detailed setup guides to configuring it for use with DD-WRT, Tomato, LEDE, and ASUS-WRT routers, as well as pfSense gateways.
Router VPN installations are a fairly involved process, and there’s plenty that could go wrong. If you’re unsure of what to do, it’s best not to press ahead regardless. Remember: if you’re having problems, you can get help at any time, day or night, thanks to this VPN’s 24/7 live chat help desk.
Does Private Internet Access keep logs?
There’s a pretty clear-cut answer to this in the Private Internet Access knowledge base. It says (emphasis theirs): “NO! PIA absolutely does not keep any logs, of any kind, period.”
Additionally, PIA has a history of looking out for its users’ privacy. After the Russian government seized its servers in the hopes of accessing user activity histories, the provider immediately stopped hosting servers in that country.
The only information that this VPN stores is your name, payment information, and email address (taken during registration). This is saved not to track you, but to allow you to login and have your payments processed by vendors like MasterCard or PayPal.
Why is PIA not working with Netflix consistently?
PIA should be able to securely access a few of the most popular Netflix libraries, but if you're having issues, there could be a few reasons why.
First, it could be that Netflix is using old location data. This could cause problems if it points to a different country than your IP address does. To fix this, simply clear your browser’s cookies and reload the page.
Your device itself may also be giving Netflix hints that you’re using a VPN. For instance, the Netflix apps have been known to use GPS data to cross-reference your location. This could mean you’re able to watch on PC but not on mobile devices. To resolve this, you’ll have to either find a GPS-spoofing app or use a VPN that takes care of this automatically.
Finally, it could be that Netflix has blacklisted the server you’re using. If so, switching to a new server in the same location should help. Failing this, it’s a good idea to get in touch with customer support and ask them if there’s a specific server that still works.
How do I turn off Private Internet Access?
Disconnecting from Private Internet Access is very simple: just click the big green power button on the main page. In the unlikely event that the app has frozen, you can kill it from the task manager, then restart it before disconnecting as normal.
Is Private Internet Access a slow VPN provider for streaming?
Not at all! We have carried out speed tests on dozens of VPNs and found that Private Internet Access is one of the fastest VPNs on the market. It averaged 68 Mbps which is more than fast enough for streaming in high definition and even 4K. Furthermore, this VPN doesn’t engage in bandwidth throttling so there’s no limit as to how much streaming you can do. Overall, PIA is a solid choice for streaming.
Will my ISP know if I’m using PIA?
Your ISP knows if you’re using a VPN because it can see encrypted data is traveling from your device to the VPN server. It sees some basic information such as the IP address of the VPN server and the timestamp of when you connected. However, it can then no longer see the websites you visit or your browser history. In summary, your ISP knows you’re using a VPN but won’t know it’s PIA without investigating further using the VPN IP address it sees.