Going abroad on vacation or for work during the COVID-19 pandemic is far from enjoyable, but you can at least relax knowing that, at the end of each day, you can boot up Netflix and enjoy your favorite series with a cold beer or a glass of wine.
At least, that’s what should happen. In reality, what content you get access to varies depending on what country you’re visiting. Unfortunately, some Netflix titles aren’t available in certain places. If you don’t believe us, use this new tool from ProPrivacy to see for yourself. Just look up the name of a Netflix title, and it will tell you which countries it’s available in.
For example, The Office and Shameless (U.S.) can only be watched in the US. Doctor Who and It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia only show up in the UK, and Rick and Morty is available pretty much anywhere, but the US.
That’s the kind of thing that could ruin your trip (like the pandemic didn’t already do enough damage). Is there anything you can do about it?
Yes, actually – we’ll tell you how to unblock the Netflix titles you want in this article. But first, let’s take a look at why you need to do that in the first place.
Why Aren’t Some Netflix Titles Available in Certain Countries?
Because Netflix uses geo-blocking – a content control method that lets the site redirect user connections according to their IP addresses. Here’s a quick look at how it works:
- When you visit Netflix, your device sends connection requests to it through your browser.
- The requests contain your IP address, which tells Netflix what country and city you are from.
- According to the geo-data Netflix receives, it redirects you to the appropriate content library (so the Canadian one if you have a Canadian IP address).
Why Does Netflix Use Geo-Blocks?
They don’t really have a choice – they have to use them.
Because Netflix doesn’t own most of the content you watch. They actually license most of it from third parties. When they do that, they buy licensing rights for certain regions. They often can’t get global rights because the copyright holders choose to sell the rights separately to different TV networks and streaming sites.
For example, Netflix might get the streaming rights to a show for the US and Canada, but not for Italy. A competitor owns the rights for that region, so Netflix has to use geo-blocks to prevent Italian users from watching that content. Otherwise, it’d be a breach of the licensing agreement they signed with the copyright holders.
What about Netflix Originals?
Aren’t they available worldwide since Netflix owns them?
Usually, yes. But there are some exceptions like Lilyhammer or Orange Is the New Black. With those shows, Netflix sold the licensing rights to other TV networks and streaming platforms in some countries. They did that because their service wasn’t available there when they launched the shows.
Now that Netflix is pretty much available worldwide, they can’t stream such shows in those regions – because they don’t own the licensing rights. They need to wait for them to expire, and see if they can buy them back. That’s easier said than done because:
- The current right holders might ask for absurdly high prices.
- Netflix’s data might show that there’s not enough interest in their shows in a specific country. So buying back the rights wouldn’t be a worthwhile investment.
Can You Bypass Netflix’s Geo-Blocks?
The good news is that you can – and it’s surprisingly easy to do that! All you need is a VPN, and you’re good to go.
If you don’t know what that is, it’s an online service that hides your IP address. It does that by routing your traffic through a VPN server that sits between you and Netflix. Basically, your connection will look like this:
Your Device ISP Network VPN Server Netflix
Because of that, Netflix will think your traffic is coming from the VPN server, meaning it will only see the server’s IP address. So all you need to do is use a server that’s in the same country as the content you want to unblock (a US VPN server for US shows).
Plus, VPNs also encrypt your traffic, ensuring nobody can spy on it. That can improve your Netflix experience by stopping bandwidth throttling (could happen if you stay in one accommodation for more than a month).
Also, hackers won’t be able to monitor your traffic anymore. It’s a bit unrelated, yes, but it’s still worth mentioning.
How to Get a Good Netflix VPN
Not every VPN can unblock Netflix. The site can detect VPN IPs and redirect them to the Netflix proxy error page.
The easiest way to find a VPN that works is to use this new tool from ProPrivacy. When you look up a Netflix title, it will recommend the top three VPNs that can actually unblock the platform.
Can You Unblock Netflix with a Proxy?
You can. A proxy works just like a VPN – it hides your IP address by routing your traffic through a server that acts as a middleman between your device and Netflix.
Just make sure you avoid free proxies – they can’t unblock Netflix most of the time, and have really slow speeds.
But if you want extra privacy, stick to VPNs. Unlike them, proxies don’t offer powerful encryption.
Can You Unblock Netflix with Tor?
No – Netflix can detect and block Tor traffic.
Even if you would manage to unblock it, you’d get very slow speeds (we averaged 1-2 Mbps in our tests). Tor encrypts and decrypts your traffic at least three times (very resource-intensive). Plus, there are only around 6,000 servers, and well over two million users (so not enough bandwidth to go around).
What’s Your Experience with Unblocking Netflix while Traveling?
Were you able to do it with a VPN, or did you use other unblocking methods? Did you encounter any issues, or was it all smooth sailing?
Please let us know in the comments below.