Like most major streaming platforms, Netflix geo-restricts its content. In theory, this means that some shows and movies can only be watched by users in specific countries. However, it’s possible to change your IP address (and from Netflix’s point of view, your location) by connecting to a VPN.
To combat this, Netflix has invested heavily in its VPN-detection measures. As such, many VPNs just won’t work with Netflix, and if you try to use the service, 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.”
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How to watch Netflix with Private Internet Access
New to VPNs? Don’t worry: with the right VPN, using geo-restricted platforms like Netflix abroad is easy:
- Start by signing up for Private Internet Access.
- Download and install the appropriate version for your device (PIA currently offers apps for Windows, MacOS, Linux, Android, and iOS).
- Consult our test results below and decide which Netflix library you’d like to access.
- Connect to one of PIA’s servers in the appropriate region.
- 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 currently offers servers in 34 countries worldwide. To test this service, we connected to a server in each of these countries (clearing our stored cache and cookies after each step), then attempted to use Netflix. We found that while it’s possible to browse regional libraries with any server, in most cases, users will trigger an error when they attempt to watch anything. Like several other VPNs, PIA has focused only on unblocking the most in-demand Netflix libraries, and as such, 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:
|Netflix libraries unblocked||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|
While PIA can unblock a few regional Netflix libraries, it might not be the most reliable way to do so. Company representatives have publicly mentioned that Netflix blacklists PIA’s servers, which might explain why PIA sometimes struggles to unblock catalogs that were previously accessible. PIA also has fairly inconsistent speeds, which means that the quality of your experience is dependent on the server you use and how far away it is, and the time of day.
If you can’t access a version of Netflix that PIA should be able to unblock, customer support may be able to point you to a server which still works. However, you may be better off with a VPN provider which unblocks Netflix more reliably.
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 services that can reliably unblock regional Netflix libraries, 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 unblock could be even higher.
- ExpressVPN: Our top choice for Netflix. ExpressVPN is very fast, highly secure, and privacy-focused. It unblocks over a dozen different Netflix libraries from abroad. ExpressVPN comes with a 30-day money-back guarantee so you can try it risk-free.
- NordVPN: A solid low-cost option, NordVPN provides high-speed servers, exceptionally strong security features, and a no-logs policy. Further, it unblocks some of the most popular Netflix libraries. It also includes a 30-day money-back guarantee.
- CyberGhost: CyberGhost is a fast, affordable VPN capable of unblocking numerous Netflix libraries abroad. It’s secure, privacy-focused, and user-friendly. There’s even a 45-day money-back guarantee, so you have nothing to lose.
- PrivateVPN: PrivateVPN is an excellent choice for Netflix as it keeps no logs, unblocks 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.
- Surfshark: Surfshark is fast, privacy-oriented VPN capable of unblocking 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.
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 in turn lead to low-resolution video and frequent buffering. Further, your chosen service might not have servers in your required country, and there’s no guarantee it will even be able to unblock Netflix in the first place.
These service providers don’t bill the user directly, but they find other ways to make money. For instance, some offer higher speeds or ad-free browsing in exchange for a monthly fee. The problem is that some free VPNs use shady tactics like storing tracking cookies on your device so that they can sell details of your activities to advertisers. VPNs are designed to give you control over who has access to your data, but these providers actively undermine the entire purpose of the technology while claiming to make you safer.
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’ privacy.
Will using a VPN 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 connection than others.
Generally, you can expect to lose about one-third of your speeds 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.
Which shows can I watch abroad with PIA?
Although PIA doesn’t unblock many different Netflix catalogs, it does allow you to access 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