Millions of people use Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) to improve their digital privacy and keep their activities hidden from snoopers. However, in a bid to stop people from accessing other countries’ content libraries, Netflix has spent a great deal of effort trying to block VPN users outright. Seeing as the platform no longer displays its famous “You seem to be using an unblocker or proxy” message and often shows seemingly unrelated errors to VPN users, it can sometimes be difficult to tell why you’re running into issues.
That’s where we come in. Our international team frequently tests Netflix with a variety of different VPNs, so we’ve become quite adept at identifying the service’s quirks and finding reliable ways to deal with common errors. The steps we’ve outlined below can help you solve problems such as:
- Not being able to find a TV show or movie that should be available.
- Only having access to Netflix Original content while the VPN is turned on.
- Being redirected to a content library other than the one you’re trying to access.
- Seeing an “Incorrect password. Please try again or you can reset your password” error only when connected to a VPN.
- Netflix showing “Title not available for playback” or “We’re having trouble playing this title right now” messages when you try to play a video.
- Being completely unable to access the Netflix website.
- Long buffering times or an inability to watch at higher resolutions.
How to fix VPN errors and securely access Netflix while traveling
VPNs are fairly simple to use, but when something goes wrong, finding the root cause can take some real trial and error. That said, if you follow the steps laid out below, you should be able to use Netflix while connected without any errors or playback issues.
First things first: choose the right VPN
Because Netflix is such a popular service, every VPN wants to be able to access it. However, most providers lack the resources needed to keep finding workarounds every time the platform improves its VPN-detection methods. Many compromise, and choose a handful of libraries to provide reliable access to. Less scrupulous providers, meanwhile, simply lie and claim to work with streaming services that they have no hope of securely accessing.
We recommend using NordVPN. It has worked consistently with this service for several years and can still provide secure access to a wide range of catalogs including Netflix UK, US, Japan, and Canada. Not only that, but it’s one of the fastest providers we’ve tested, meaning you shouldn’t encounter any buffering or stuttering, even while watching 4K video.
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Clear your cookies
This is a crucial step, and one that you should repeat after any failed attempt to access Netflix. So why is it so important? Netflix periodically checks your IP address, finds your location from it, and saves this data in a cookie. However, old location data can cause a wide range of problems, including Netflix failing to recognize when you’ve traveled from one country to another. Here’s how to clear your cookies on the most popular browsers:
- Firefox: Click Menu icon in the top-right > Settings > Privacy & Security > Manage Data under Cookies and Site Data, type “Netflix”, click Remove All Shown, click Save Changes
- Google Chrome: Click Menu icon in the top-right > Settings > Privacy and security > Site settings > View permissions and data stored across sites > type “Netflix”, click Clear all data
- Microsoft Edge: Menu icon > Settings > Cookies and site permissions > Manage and delete cookies and site data > See all cookies and site data > Type “Netflix”, click Remove all shown
Make sure you’re connected to the right servers
It’s easy to overlook the simple things, so we’d recommend making sure that you’re actually using a server in the correct location. After all, you’re not going to be able to access Netflix US if you’re connected to a British VPN server.
While multi-hop servers are great for privacy, they’re less suitable for streaming, so you might want to try one of the general-use servers instead. Your VPN may even have specific servers designed for using Netflix—if so, these are the obvious choice.
Switch to a different browser
It’s not exactly clear why, but sometimes a VPN that is detected in one browser can use Netflix as normal in another. This might be due to old cookies, as mentioned above, or perhaps even different permissions: Netflix may have access to your GPS location in Chrome but not Firefox, for instance. You may also want to see if you’re able to watch using the mobile app; if so, we know for a fact that the problem isn’t the server you’re using.
Try a few different servers in the same location
If you’re able to play video but are struggling with lag, stuttering, or buffering, you might want to first run a speed test. Netflix requires speeds of at least 5 Mbps for HD video and 25 Mbps for 4K content, and if you can’t meet these, that’s likely what’s causing the problem.
Assuming your base speeds are up to scratch, the next step is to rule out server problems. Luckily, this is easy: just try a couple of other servers in the same country and check whether the speeds are roughly the same as what you were getting before. Note that you’ll usually get the best performance from servers that are close to your physical location.
Turn on your VPN’s stealth mode (if available)
There aren’t many VPNs that can still evade detection and many of the ones that still work offer some form of traffic scrambling or obfuscation. Most commonly, this comes in the form of a stealth mode that you can activate in the settings menu. Some providers instead offer their own protocols (such as NordLynx, Lightway, or Catapult Hydra) that perform this function automatically. Using these might prevent Netflix from realizing that you’re using a VPN at all, allowing you to finally change Netflix region.
Contact customer support
If, after all of this troubleshooting, you’re still unable to access Netflix with the VPN active, your best bet is to get in touch with your VPN’s support team. Most major providers offer free 24/7 support over live chat, so it couldn’t be easier to get help.
Here’s the other great thing about talking to a professional: they deal with questions like this all the time. As such, they’ll be able to tell you whether their service works with your intended Netflix library, which servers to use, and whether a specific combination of settings is required.
In our experience, staff will tell you outright if their VPN just doesn’t work with Netflix. If this happens, don’t panic. You may be able to get a refund, depending on the length of your chosen service’s money-back guarantee. Afterward, simply check out our guide to the best Netflix VPNs to find a suitable alternative.
VPNs and Netflix: Your questions answered
Are there any free VPNs that still work with Netflix?
There are a couple of VPNs that have a free plan and work with Netflix, namely Hotspot Shield and Speedify. However, the vast majority of others won’t work with this platform. Additionally, it’s worth noting that you’ll almost always run into monthly bandwidth caps with free VPNs, which limit both your video quality and how often you can watch. You might even find that the servers capable of securely accessing Netflix are for paying subscribers only.
Is it possible to access my local Netflix library with a VPN active?
There are a couple of ways to browse your local Netflix library while connected to a VPN. The first is to simply choose a VPN server in your home country. You’ll still get all of the privacy benefits this way, and will have full access to all of your usual content.
What if you’re in a more niche situation? Perhaps you’re on vacation and looking to view the local Netflix catalog while accessing streaming services from your home country? Some VPNs offer split tunneling functionality that makes this possible. Simply add Netflix as an exception in your VPN app to ensure that traffic to this website isn’t routed through the VPN server.
Will my Netflix account be banned if I use a VPN?
Although using a VPN to switch Netflix regions isn’t against the law in most places, it goes against the platform’s terms of service. Still, there are no credible reports of any users being banned simply for trying to use Netflix with a VPN active. These are legitimate privacy tools after all.