Whether you want on-demand video or live TV streams, you can’t go wrong with an Apple TV. But iTunes content varies widely from country to country, and in some places, you might not be able to use Apple TV at all. If you take your Apple TV out of the country where your iTunes account and payment method are registered, you could quickly run into geographic restrictions on the content you’re allowed to access.
We’ll get into more detail on each VPN provider, but here’s our summary list of the best VPNs for Apple TV:
- NordVPN Our #1 choice for Apple TV. Unblocks all kinds of services, boasts very fast speeds, and comes with a 30-day money-back guarantee.
- Surfshark An affordable VPN that allows unlimited connections. Excellent security and privacy credentials. Works great with Apple TV.
- ExpressVPN High-speed servers in over 90 countries. Provides impressive security offering and strong unblocking capabilities.
- IPVanish A range of fast servers to choose from, no logs, and secure.
- VyprVPN Leads with strong security and fast speeds but does not allow torrenting.
- PrivateVPN Growingly popular service with fast speeds. Could do with more servers.
How to unblock geo-locked content on Apple TV
You can unblock geo-locked content on Apple TV with a VPN. Short for Virtual Private Network, a VPN service encrypts all of a device’s internet traffic and routes it through an intermediary server in a virtual location of the user’s choosing. Unfortunately, Apple TV doesn’t support VPN software, but you can install the VPN on the wifi router that the Apple TV is connected to. More on that below.
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The Best VPNs for Apple TV
We’ve curated a list of the best VPNs for Apple TV 4, 3, and 1 based on the following criteria:
- Servers located in most countries where Apple TV is supported
- High speed and unlimited bandwidth for HD and 4K streams
- Quick and competent customer support if you need help with setup
- Bonus if a pre-flashed VPN router is available for purchase
Money-back guarantee: 30 DAYS
NordVPN has a strong track record of unblocking Netflix, Hulu, HBO Now and Go, Sling TV, Amazon Prime Video, and BBC iPlayer among many others. Just consult the online knowledge base to find out which servers work for which channels. You’ll get a whopping six simultaneous devices for streaming on a single subscription. Over 50 countries are available to connect to, and each server is guarded by strong 256-bit encryption.
NordVPN features an encrypted DNS proxy tool called SmartDNS, which assists in unblocking geo-locked content. This can be used separately from the main VPN service but does require using the VPN app, meaning it can’t be configured by itself on a router. You’ll still need to go through the full VPN setup on a router, instead.
NordVPN sells pre-flashed DD-WRT routers that come pre-configured with all the servers you’ll need to unblock content on your Apple TV. The NordVPN knowledge base also has several detailed tutorials on how to manually set up an existing VPN-compatible router.
- Works well with Apple TV
- Vast server network is great for unblocking most popular streaming content
- Faster than any of its rivals
- Trusted provider that doesn’t skimp on security or privacy features
- Has 24/7 live chat support
- Apps aren’t the most beginner-friendly
BEST VPN FOR APPLE TV:NordVPN is our first choice. A highly-versatile service that works great with Apple TV. Strong security features and accommodates up to 6 devices. Includes a risk-free 30-day money back guarantee.
Read our full NordVPN review.
Money-back guarantee: 30 DAYS
Surfshark offers both a VPN and a smart DNS service as part of its standard subscription. You can either configure the VPN on a router or change your Apple TV’s default DNS servers to those of Surfshark. Although this doesn’t provide the same level of security as the VPN, smart DNS will allow you to unblock Netflix, BBC iPlayer, and Hulu from abroad.
To use the smart DNS service, you must verify your IP address on the Surfshark website while being connected to the same wifi network as your Apple TV.
Surfshark allows users to connect an unlimited number of devices at once, which makes it a great budget option to share among family or roommates. 24/7 live chat support is available.
- Includes a standalone smart DNS service
- Unlimited connected devices
- Generally high speeds
- Plenty fo security features
- Great at unblocking popular streaming sites like Netflix, Hulu, and BBC iPlayer
- Relatively small server network
- Occasional slow server
BEST BUDGET OPTION:Surfshark is inexpensive and lets you connect as many devices as you want. The standalone smart DNS service is compatible with Apple TV, no router setup required! Comes with a 30-day money-back guarantee.
Read our full Surfshark review.
Money-back guarantee: 30 DAYS
ExpressVPN has proven time and again that it can unblock pretty much anything. That includes US and UK Netflix, Hulu, BBC iPlayer, Amazon Prime Video, Sling TV, and HBO Now/Go. Simply ask the 24/7 live chat support which VPN server to connect to for your preferred streaming channel. Over 3,00 servers are littered across 94 countries. ExpressVPN sets the gold standard for both connection speed and security. It always scores well in our speed tests and only uses the strongest encryption parameters, including perfect forward secrecy.
The provider sets the bar even higher by allowing its subscribers to utilize its smart DNS proxy service with or without connecting to a VPN. Called MediaStreamer, this service allows you to send DNS requests through a proxy service and unblock geo-locked content without actually connecting to a VPN. This is especially useful for Apple TV owners because the device does support changing the default DNS settings. More on how to set this up below.
If MediaStreamer isn’t enough and you want a full VPN to use with your Apple TV, ExpressVPN also makes its own custom router firmware. If you’ve got a compatible router, you can flash the firmware for free. Or you can purchase a pre-flashed router directly from ExpressVPN. The router firmware is already set up to be used with any ExpressVPN server, and it’s far simpler to operate than the competing DD-WRT and Tomato-based firmware.
- Works seamlessly with Apple TV
- Consistent high speeds for streaming in HD
- Hard to beat on privacy and security
- Unblocks all major streaming services
- Slightly pricier than other options below
- Doesn’t offer much control over advanced functionality
GREAT FOR APPLE TV:ExpressVPN is fast and privacy-conscious. This makes it ideal for streaming Apple TV from abroad. IT even includes a 30-day money-back guarantee.
Read our full ExpressVPN review.
Money-back guarantee: 30 DAYS
IPVanish offers sturdy and fast VPN connections to its owned and operated network of 850 servers spread across more than 60 countries. While it’s not as adept when it comes to unblocking the big American streaming channels like Netflix and Hulu, we do give it a resounding endorsement for Kodi users. A favorite among the Kodi community, IPVanish will work with any Kodi add-on you can throw at it. Check out our tutorial on how to install Kodi on Apple TV to get started.
IPVanish allows five simultaneous connections, uses military-grade encryption, and keeps zero logs of users’ online activity. It uses private DNS servers and has DNS leak protection built in.
If you prefer a router, IPVanish has detailed instructions on how to set up VPNs on common router firmware on its website. If your router isn’t compatible or you’re just not confident in your networking abilities, IPVanish sells pre-flashed DD-WRT routers that come with everything you need already in place.
- Works fine with Apple TV
- Impressive server speeds
- Handles simultaneous connections well
- Not all server locations unblock Netflix
- No true live chat support
PROTECT ALL YOUR DEVICES:IPVanish is a great family choice as it allows unlimited connections. A favourite for Kodi users but look elsewhere if you want to unblock most popular streaming services. 30-day money-back guarantee.
Read our full IPVanish review.
Money-back guarantee: 30 DAYS
VyprVPN is a veteran provider that has beaten the geographic restrictions on international content from Netflix, Hulu, and other popular streaming channels. It’s also a solid option for users in China who need to bypass the Great Firewall. The VPN is not only agile, it’s also a strong performer, featuring high-end encryption and fast download speeds. Our only complaint is that VyprVPN does log your real IP address for 30 days.
The company operates VyprDNS, it’s own private and encrypted DNS service, which assists in unblocking and keeping your browsing habits safe. Unfortunately, subscribers can’t use VyprDNS separately from VyprVPN.
A custom app is available for routers running Tomato firmware. If you’re a DD-WRT user, check out the website for instructions on how to set up OpenVPN. Or if you want to skip the hassle, try one of the pre-flashed routers for sale on Flashrouters.
- No issues with Apple TV during testing
- Unblocks most popular geo-blocked sites
- High-end encryption and streaming speeds
- Cheaper options on this list
- No cryptocurrency payment options
UNLIMITED DATA USAGE:VyprVPN is user friendly. Nice speeds and uptime as all servers are owned by VyprVPN. Not the cheapest option. 30-day money-back guarantee.
Read our full VyprVPN review.
Money-back guarantee: 30 DAYS
PrivateVPN is looking to make a name for itself in the crowded VPN market by offering a fast service that can unblock US Netflix and a wide array of other streaming channels. The server selection is a bit more limited than others on this list, but it more than makes up for that in other ways. Connect up to six devices at the same time on a single account, and enjoy top-of-the-line encryption whenever you connect. PrivateVPN does not log any information about how customers use its service.
PrivateVPN’s website posts tutorials on how to configure the service on a Tomato or DD-WRT router. The company recently switched over to using its own private DNS servers instead of public ones, which is a marked improvement, but they can’t be used separately from the VPN service.
- Decent streaming speeds work a charm with Apple TV
- Unblocks popular streaming sites including US Netflix
- Privacy and security are top-notch
- Other providers have more server selection options
- No live chat
GREAT SPEEDS:PrivateVPN is easy to use. Allows up to 6 devices on the same account. Fast VPN connections but could do with having more servers to choose from. 30-day money-back guarantee.
Read our full PrivateVPN review.
VPNs to avoid with Apple TV
Hola is a peer-to-peer proxy service that uses the idle bandwidth on users’ devices to power its network. So instead of connecting to a VPN server owned by the company, you connect to other Hola users’ computers. Likewise, other users connect to your computer when you’re not using it. This has serious privacy and security implications, and Hola itself exploited its users in the past. It once hijacked every user on its network to create a massive botnet and used it to carry out distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks on websites. If that’s not an abuse of user trust, we’re not sure what is.
How to set up a VPN with Apple TV
Because Apple TVs don’t natively support VPN connections, the next best thing is to install the VPN on your home router and then connect the Apple TV to that router’s wi-fi network. How you do this depends on your router’s firmware and level of expertise. You have two main options: a physical router and virtual router.
Apple TV VPN on a physical router
Some routers support VPN connections, and some don’t. You can log into your router dashboard by opening a web browser and typing 192.168.1.1 or 192.168.0.1 and entering your user credentials. If you’re not sure what your credentials are, consult your ISP, router manual, or Google the default username and password for your particular router model.
Once you make it to the dashboard, look around for a way to set up a VPN connection. If none exists, you can potentially replace the firmware with an open-source alternative that does support VPNs. Our two recommendations are DD-WRT and Tomato. We’ve got setup instructions for DD-WRT here. But be warned: you must use the correct version of a firmware that is compatible with your specific router. If done improperly or with incompatible firmware, you could permanently damage the router.
If that sounds intimidating or your router isn’t compatible with Tomato or DD-WRT, consider purchasing a pre-flashed router from your VPN service provider. Pre-flashed VPN routers come configured with all of your VPN providers’ servers right out of the box. From our list above NordVPN, ExpressVPN, and IPVanish all sell pre-configured routers, and NordVPN is probably the best.
Apple TV VPN on a virtual router
Setting up a VPN on a virtual router is much less daunting than doing so on a physical router, but you will need a spare laptop lying around to get it working. A virtual router uses your laptop’s existing hardware to create a wifi hotspot for other nearby devices. By connecting to a VPN and then broadcasting a wifi signal, your Apple TV can share the laptop’s VPN-protected internet connection.
We’ve got tutorials on how to set up a VPN-enabled virtual router on Windows and MacOS.
Another option for Apple TV users who want to unblock geo-locked content is a DNS proxy, or smart DNS. This doesn’t provide the security or online privacy of an encrypted VPN tunnel, but it does work if you just want to unblock certain streaming video content services.
DNS, or domain name system, translates the domain names for apps and websites into server IP addresses. Whenever you open a website in your browser, for example, a DNS request is sent to a DNS server, and that DNS server finds the appropriate IP address for the web server hosting the site. By default, DNS requests are usually sent to your ISP’s servers, which are located in your home country. Many video streaming websites check where DNS requests come from to identify a user’s location.
By forcing your Apple TV to send DNS requests to a different server in another country, the content on these websites can be unblocked. It won’t slow down your connection like a full-on VPN, but it’s not quite as private or foolproof as a VPN, either.
Apple TVs come with built-in support for users who want to hard code their own DNS servers. NordVPN’s SmartDNS or ExpressVPN’s MediaStreamer feature is perfect for this, as it lets you use the VPN service’s DNS servers separately from the VPN itself.
Here’s how to set DNS servers on Apple TV 4 and later:
- On the Main menu, click Settings > Network
- Find your current network. Select Configure DNS > Manual
- Enter the DNS address from MediaStreamer or whatever DNS provider you’re using. It should be a string of numbers and decimals.
- Select Done
- Restart Apple TV
And that’s it! This method works particularly well for bigger players that use CDNs to provide content, including Netflix! But how successful it is depends on your DNS provider. We recommend SmartDNS, which comes at no extra charge with every NordVPN subscription.
Smart DNS proxy on Apple TV 3rd gen or older
Setting up a smart DNS proxy on older models of Apple TV is slightly different than newer models. First, you may need to change your location settings.
- Go to Settings > iTunes Store > Location
- Select United States or whatever country you want to unblock content from
Once that’s done, it’s time to set up the DNS servers.
- Go to Settings > General > Network
- Select your current network interface: Wi-Fi or Ethernet
- Select Configure DNS > Manual
- Enter the DNS address from MediaStreamer or whatever DNS provider you’re using. It should be a string of numbers and decimals. Confirm with Done.
- A restart is required for changes to take effect. Go to Settings > General > Restart.
Note that the smart DNS proxy service you use may require additional steps to register your device’s IP address with the service. The exact setup process varies from service to service but is generally not that difficult; just follow the instructions on your VPN provider’s website.
Kodi on Apple TV
Kodi can be installed on Apple TV 2, 3 and 4. The free and open-source home theater software requires a bit of work to get up and running, but it can be done. We’ll show you a few different ways to do it in our tutorial on how to install Kodi on Apple TV.
We strongly recommend the use of a VPN whenever using Kodi on any device, be it an Apple TV or some other set-top box. This will prevent your ISP from snooping on your activity and throttling bandwidth. A VPN will also help prevent hackers from carrying out common attacks on the Kodi platform.
Apple TV countries
Apple TV offers the most features and functionality to US users by far. The search function, for instance, will scan over 60 content providers in the US. When in Australia, a distant second, it only scans 10. Siri is also limited to the following countries and languages:
- Australia (English)
- Canada (English, French)
- Germany (German)
- France (French)
- Mexico (Spanish)
- Netherlands (Dutch)
- Norway (Norwegian Bokmål)
- Japan (Japanese)
- Spain (Spanish)
- Sweden (Swedish)
- UK (English)
- US (English, Spanish)
You can find out what apps, features, and content providers are available in your country on the official Apple website.
VPNs for Apple TV FAQ
Can I use a free VPN for Apple TV?
We recommend against using any so-called free VPN for Apple TV. First of all, most free VPN services require you use their apps, so setting one up on a physical router is already out of the question. While you can find configuration files for free OpenVPN servers lying around, they are probably too congested with other free users to use for streaming video. There's quite likely a bandwidth limit or data cap, meaning you'll be spending a lot of time buffering and could get cut off in the middle of a show.
On top of that, free VPN services are notorious for mining users' personal data as it passes through their servers, then selling that information to third-party advertisers. Some inject tracking cookies or advertisements into your web browsers, while others download malware onto your device. Free VPN providers are still out to make a profit, and they do so by selling your privacy to the highest bidder.
Can I have two Apple IDs for different countries?
Yes, you can sign out of your Apple ID and create a new one in another country. You can choose any country when setting up the new account. Note that you'll need a local billing address and form of payment if you want to make any purchases through Apple. Otherwise, you can choose any address in your desired country. You won't have access to anything stored in your other account's iCloud.
Can I use Airplay with a VPN on my Apple TV?
It depends on the VPN. In many cases, you can use Airplay with a VPN on Apple TV without issues. If it doesn't work, check your VPN's settings for an option to allow local networking. Assuming your Apple TV and iPhone/iPad are on the same wi-fi network, this will prevent the VPN from blocking access to local devices like printers, wearables, and, yes, your Apple TV. Some VPNs allow this by default, some make it an option in the settings, and others simply don't allow local network traffic.
Will Netflix work on my Apple TV with a VPN?
Yes, assuming the VPN can also unblock Netflix. Check out our list of the best VPNs for Netflix.
Is it illegal to use a VPN with Apple TV?
No, it is not illegal to use a VPN with Apple TV.
Some streaming services frown upon using VPNs to bypass location restrictions. Doing so might be against their terms of service due to content licensing restrictions, but it’s not against the law. Most streaming services don’t penalize VPN users, though a rare few might suspend or terminate your account if you get caught using a VPN to change your location.
Is AppleTV+ the same as Apple TV?
Apple TV is the physical hardware device made by Apple, similar to a Roku, Chromecast, or Firestick.
Apple TV+ is the subscription streaming service offered by Apple, similar to Netflix, Disney+, or Hulu.
You do not need an Apple TV to use Apple TV+, nor do you need Apple TV+ to use an Apple TV. A VPN can be used with either or both.
Does NordVPN work on all generations of Apple TV?
Apple TV does not support the NordVPN app or any other VPN. Instead, you’ll need to set it up another way:
- Set up NordVPN on your wi-fi router. You’ll need router firmware that supports VPN connections, such as TomatoUSB or DD-WRT. This can be a bit tedious to setup and will require some tech savvy.
- Share another device’s VPN connection with the Apple TV. You can connect your Apple TV to another device, such as a laptop or phone, that does support VPNs. Most laptops can broadcast their own wi-fi signal and most phones support tethering.
- Opt for NordVPN’s smart DNS service instead. You can change your Apple TV’s DNS servers under General > Network > Wi-Fi > Configure DNS > Manual. Smart DNS won’t give you the same security as a VPN, but it does unblock region-locked content.
Does 4K stream without buffering on an Apple TV with a VPN?
Yes, all of the VPNs we recommend should have sufficient bandwidth to stream 4K video. You’ll need at least 25 Mbps of download bandwidth to stream in 4K UHD. Note, however, that your VPN speed might be slower if you’re connecting to a distant or congested server. The Apple TV should be powerful enough to decrypt the video in real-time without stopping to buffer.