Netflix is one of the most popular streaming services in the world today. Top-class series, exciting movies and funny comedy shows are only a small part of the huge range of products. So it’s time to take a closer look at Netflix.
In my experience, you can watch Netflix with a VPN, which gives you some significant advantages. Not to give too much away: A larger Netflix product line is just one of them.
In this article you can read about the exact advantages of a VPN for Netflix, how to circumvent geoblocking and which free and paid providers I recommend.
In short: Netflix with a VPN has many advantages
You get a lot out of watching Netflix with a VPN. You can bypass geoblocking and also access the much larger American range of streaming services from other countries. Plus, you can enjoy the full range of content while traveling and don’t have to sacrifice content. You see: The advantages are really practical.
I recommend you to use a good and reliable VPN like ExpressVPN which is also highly recommended on this VPN expert portal. In my tests the provider was absolutely convincing. It works flawlessly and offers you all the above mentioned advantages for a good price.
Why can you bypass geoblocking with a VPN
If you take a closer look at Netflix, you will quickly come across the topic of geoblocking. Especially before travelling to a non-EU country, you should take a closer look at it if you want to be able to use Netflix while on holiday or at home.
What is Geoblocking?
Geoblocking is an important topic not only in connection with Netflix, but also with other streaming services such as Amazon Video, Sky Go or Spotify. Simply explained, geoblocking is the process of determining your location so that you can only access certain content.
You may have heard that Netflix is not just Netflix. Each country has a specific range of movies, series, shows, etc. But that assortment varies from country to country. In Germany for instance you cannot stream the same content as in Thailand.
If Netflix wants to broadcast a content, let’s say a movie, it has to buy the licensing rights for it. However, these must be purchased separately for each country. So it can happen that Netflix has the American license rights for a film, but does not buy e.g. the German license rights. The film may then only be shown in the USA and not in Germany.
To implement this, many streaming services use geoblocking. They want to protect themselves from the high penalties that can be imposed for breaches of licensing rights.
The whole thing works like this: You open Netflix and your IP address will give you an approximate location. Assuming you are in Berlin. Then Netflix will only display content that is allowed to be shown in your country.
Movies for which Netflix only has the American license rights will not be shown to you at all. Even if you enter the title in the Netflix search, you will not find it. So with Geoblocking, Netflix prevents you from streaming content that is not allowed to be shown at your location.
How does a VPN work?
VPN stands for Virtual Private Network. A VPN client is used to establish an encrypted connection to a VPN server. Once you have installed and activated a VPN on your mobile phone, laptop or tablet, you can surf the net via this special connection.
The advantage is that you make your IP address unrecognizable. This makes it impossible for authorities to trace the IP address back to you. This is also useful for certain services like Netflix. With the help of a VPN you can also circumvent geo restrictions.
This means you don’t surf with your real IP address, but with that of a VPN server. For this reason many users use a VPN for streaming.
What does this have to do with Netflix? Very simple: You can connect to servers from different countries via a VPN. An American server, for example. Then you surf with an American IP address and Netflix assumes that you are in the USA.
Netflix will then show you the American product range. So you can trick geoblocking and enjoy American Netflix even though you are in Germany.
Is it legal to use a VPN with Netflix?
Before I answer the question of whether VPNs are legal for Netflix, I would like to point out that I am not a lawyer. I am very familiar with technology and am also good at research, but I am not a lawyer.
The use of a VPN is legal for now. It depends on what you’re using it for. Many universities, for example, use VPNs so that students can access the university servers from home. Of course there is nothing illegal about that.
If you use a VPN to bypass geoblocking, you are in a grey area in Germany. You can commit a “copyright infringement in the form of an illegal circumvention of an effective technical protection measure”.
The problem with this is that it is difficult to prove that such a copyright infringement was actually committed. Netflix is of course also aware of the problem and tries to proceed against VPNs with clever protective measures.
Can I see Netflix abroad?
If you regularly watch Netflix at home (like most people around me), you may ask yourself, “Can you watch Netflix anywhere? Whether you can stream Netflix abroad as usual depends on your destination.
Within the EU you can use Netflix in the same way as in Germany. Please note that Switzerland is not part of the EU and the UK is not part of the EU anymore. In 2018, the EU passed the Portability Act.
I must say that in my opinion, problems with Netflix occur relatively rarely. In most cases the streaming service works without problems.
But sometimes it happens that something does not work. If no error message appears, I would recommend these 3 tips:
- Wait. Maybe Netflix has a problem. You can check it on a troubleshooter page or simply ask your friends if someone is having problems.
- Update your software: Maybe your web browser or app isn’t up to date.
- Delete cookies: Sometimes certain cookies block access to Netflix. Delete your cookies and try again.
However, Netflix may not work and an error message may appear on your screen. This is not a reason to cancel Netflix. This much can be said: There are many different error codes on Netflix. You can find out what they are and how to fix them in my article about Netflix problems.
Some errors are related to the VPN provider you are using. To avoid having to deal with such error codes in the first place, you need a VPN that can reliably bypass geoblocking.