When I was a kid, I loved to watch martial arts movies with my dad. One of our favorite movies was The Karate Kid. When I heard that Cobra Kai was coming out, original actors and all, I was stoked. I waited patiently for months. But on the show’s release date, I fired up Netflix only to find that I was region locked.
But you know what? I still really wanted to watch the show.
That’s where Virtual Private Networks (VPN for short) come in. VPNs let you bypass region locks on Netflix, on top of providing extra security to your data. But before you go and get yourself a VPN, there are some things you should know.
Table of Content
- Why are some Netflix shows region locked?
- How do I change my Netflix region?
- Is it illegal to change the Netflix region?
- Can I use VPN to access Netflix shows outside my region?
- What Netflix libraries can I access using a VPN?
- Which are the best VPNs for Netflix?
- Does changing region affect the quality of streaming?
Why Are Some Netflix Shows Region Locked?
While Netflix owns the worldwide rights for most Netflix originals, some of the shows on their platform can be region locked for a variety of reasons.
- A show that’s hot in Korea might not get licensed for the US because the higher ups don’t think there’s enough of an audience to justify the fees.
- Or maybe another company has the rights to the show for your region.
- Or there are copyright, royalty and intellectual property regulations specific to your country or region. This isn’t anything unique to Netflix.
Digital products like video games can be region locked too and even physical products like electronics can have prohibitions that prevent the original developer from distributing them in a given country or region.
How Do I Change My Netflix Region?
Very easily actually. You’ll first need to be signed up with an excellent VPN – then follow the steps below. We’ve used ExpressVPN as an example.
Once you connect to ExpressVPN, by default, you will be automatically connected to a location that provides the optimal performance for you, via a function called Smart Location.
But of course, this means that if you’re in the US, it’ll probably connect you to the nearest location within the US itself.
To bypass Netflix’s region lock, you just have to open up ExpressVPN, open up Smart Location and simply select the location you would like to connect to.
For instance, a location in Japan if you’re trying to get at Netflix Japan’s content.
Depending on what device you’re using to access ExpressVPN, you can usually locate the locations by clicking on the three dots “…” icon on the upper right of your screen or monitor.
Once you’re connected to that server – voila!
Just head back to Netflix and start watching shows from that region.
If you want to switch to another region – just repeat the steps above, selecting a new server in the region of your choice. It’s as simple as that.
You can run a similar set of steps for most content streaming services. More resources on that here:
Is It Illegal To Change The Netflix Region?
Okay, so here is where things get interesting. Is it illegal to use a VPN to change the region on your Netflix?
Legally? No, it is NOT illegal. There’s a difference between using a VPN to access your provider’s international catalog versus using a torrent to download copyrighted material without paying for it (ie, stealing). It’s NOT piracy. And as things stand right now, you won’t face criminal charges for doing so, anywhere in the world.
So technically, yes, Netflix can terminate your contract for using a VPN to circumvent its geographic restrictions. But, not only has it never done this, check out what the Netflix Help pages have to say about watching TV shows and movies through a VPN:
Now read what they say in case you get “caught” using a VPN:
So Netflix isn’t against you using a VPN, even if they “catch” you using it.
Can I Use VPN To Access Netflix Shows Outside My Region?
Yup, you can. As explained above, you can use a VPN with Netflix on the Basic, Standard, or Premium plans. But not the Basic with ads plan.
Also, you can only use it for TV shows and movies where Netflix owns the global rights for, such as Squid Game and Stranger Things. As we mentioned earlier, Netflix has the global rights for most of their Netflix originals anyway.
That said, not all VPNs will work with Netflix. That’s why it’s important to get a reputable one.
What Netflix Libraries Can I Access Using A VPN?
How would you feel if you bought a glass of lemonade from me and I only gave you a glass that’s half-empty? Of course you want a full glass because you want your money’s worth. It’s the same thing with Netflix. You paid for it, so you’re expecting their full library of shows.
If you’re in the US, you want to be able to watch the library from Netflix Japan or Netflix India. And if you’re visiting Japan or India, then you want to be able to watch shows from Netflix USA.
You want to get your money’s worth. Using VPNs will let you access those libraries, regardless of your location.
Like we said, while Netflix is okay with you using a VPN in general, they’re not keen on it being used to get around their region locks. In such cases, they’ll display error codes in order to uphold their territorial licensing agreements. But you can bypass this by using credible VPNs like ExpressVPN.
Which Are The Best VPNs For Netflix?
Alas, not all VPNs are created equal. Pick the right VPN and you can explore the digital world in secured safety and anonymity. Pick the wrong one and you’re saddled with a waste of harddisk space and time.
Luckily, if you’re looking for a well written and considered analysis of the top VPNs out there, you can check out this list for the top 7 VPN services.
You get what you pay for, and ExpressVPN’s worth every penny. Overall, it’s pretty much the best VPN out there, with high speed, security and a sleek interface that’s easy to use. It’s been around for awhile and therefore quite trusted.
The downside is, you get what you pay for. While being subscribed won’t break the bank, there’s no denying that it’s at least a little bit pricier compared to other VPNs out there.
Another solid VPN that’s good all around. NordVPN’s got a good reputation, it’s easy to use, the security is good and they have even more servers than ExpressVPN. What’s more, they have an even more reasonable pricing plan. So how come I don’t consider them number one?
Well, it turns out that there’s a bit of a double edged sword to having more servers. Some of those servers might not be as fast as others. I mean, don’t get me wrong, on the whole, their service is fast. But you do have to make sure you don’t connect to a server that happens to be slower.
Finally, we have the new kid on the block. With acceptable speeds and solid performance all around, Surfshark pretty much offer the best pricing available among the top VPN providers. They’ve been around for a little bit but they’re still relatively new. So we can’t be as sure that they’ll be sticking around or be as consistent as the other established VPN providers out there.
Does Changing Netflix Region Affect the Quality of Streaming?
Nah, your stream is going to be fine. There won’t be buffering and you’ll still get your Netflix in HD.
I mean, of course it would also depend on your own internet speeds and whether you’re using a reputable VPN with fast service or not.
I mean, if your top speed is just 128kbps and you’re using a free VPN with a very limited number of servers, then of course, you’re going to encounter some technical issues. But if you have at least half decent internet and you’re using a reputable service, there really shouldn’t be any impact on the quality of your streaming.
That said, if speed is a concern for you, check out which is the fastest VPNs ranked by speed.
The Bottom Line: VPNs unlock a world of content
If you’re using Netflix, then you’re paying for a service. So it only makes sense that you want to get the most out of the service you’re paying for.
You want to be able to watch a show from Japan or Korea, without actually having to travel to Japan or Korea. And you want to do so, in a way that’s both fast and secure. Which is also why we recommend that you use a reputable VPN that does the trick.