Netflix is available for streaming in more than 190 countries these days. But the content varies significantly from country to country depending on local regulations and streaming rights for specific content. That’s why VPNs for Netflix and other streaming services are booming. However, there are particular concerns regarding the legal aspects of using a VPN. Also, not all VPNs are able to unblock Netflix. In this article, we will cover all the aspects of choosing the right VPN for streaming.
Is using a VPN for Netflix legal?
On the one hand, using VPNs is becoming increasingly popular for streaming since you can easily access the otherwise geographically restricted. On the other, many people are concerned about getting banned because they’re watching the shows blocked for this country. But what about traveling then? Am I allowed to stream my favorite shows while abroad? One thing for sure, Netflix doesn’t support or encourage VPN usage. However, it’s important to remember that using VPN is not illegal in any way. What is unlawful – is torrenting copyrighted content. But accessing international video catalogs is not quite the same. And no site can legally prosecute you for using VPNs since no law prohibits their use anywhere in the world.
Technically, Netflix reserves the right to cut any user’s access without further explanation. In its terms and conditions, they have a clause that doesn’t allow users to access content that isn’t available in particular regions.
Here is a quote: “You may view Netflix content primarily within the country in which you have established your account and only in geographic locations where we offer our service and have licensed such content. The content that may be available to watch will vary by geographic location and will change from time to time.”
Netflix ToS 4.3
So the short answer is that it’s not illegal to use a VPN for streaming Netflix, but you can be cut off if Netflix can spot that you’re using one. Even though it is a possibility, Netflix doesn’t actively block users who use VPN. I guess they’d rather put up with VPNs than would lose paying customers.
Why Does Netflix Block You?
From Netflix’s standpoint, they have to ban VPNs simply because they have no streaming rights in many countries for specific content. For example, Friends were on Netflix for some time in the US, but they had to put them down due to a new agreement with content owners, but Netflix still streams Friends in Europe. So when a user is trying to access Friends from the US, Netflix violates their copyrights.
Can Netflix detect a VPN?
There are several ways how Netflix can detect that a user utilizes VPN.
- The most popular and basic way: Cataloguing the known IP-addresses that belong to VPN servers. That’s why there is a higher risk of being blocked when you’re using a free VPN. Free VPNs have a limited amount of IP-addresses, and it’s effortless for a provider to blacklist them. In this case, your connection will get interrupted, and you’ll see an error message.
- Monitoring multiple user connections: If there are hundreds of simultaneous connections from the same IP-address, Netflix catches the drift and automatically assumes a VPN server is involved. You’re likely to get blocked at this level too. The high-quality VPNs dodge both these restrictions easily since they have rotating IP-addresses and other tricks upon their sleeves.
- More sophisticated identification techniques: One of the next-level techniques Netflix uses is DNS server location mismatching. Some VPNs do their job with masking your IP-address and location but fail when it comes to DNS requests disguise. There are free third-party apps that help to identify if your session has any DNS leaks.
Which VPN services can bypass Netflix’s anti-VPN firewall?
Unfortunately, not every VPN can unblock Netflix. Here is our list of VPNs that has proven excellent efficiency when it comes to bypassing the Netflix VPN block:
- NordVPN: Great variety of servers and locations, unique technology “SmartPlay-DNS” to unblock Netflix, they constantly upgrade their infrastructure to keep up with new restrictions from Netflix.
- ExpressVPN: servers in more than 90 countries, protects you against DNS-leaks, provides consistent unblocking, and is considered one of the best providers for streaming thanks to its privacy and high speed.
These providers are also good for unblocking Netflix.
- Private Internet Access.
In general, if you want to pick the right provider for streaming, look for these features:
- Masks your IP-address, has a lot of server locations, and offers rotating IP-addresses.
- It is tested for DNS-leaks
- It has additional features that help to disguise your actual IP-address.
However, keeping up with all the restrictions Netflix launches in their war with VPNs is a costly business, and even if your VPN allows you to get through today doesn’t necessarily mean it will do the same tomorrow.
Can I watch Netflix on my phone with a VPN?
The short answer is yes. You need to make sure that the chosen provider has the app that supports your device. All the providers in our list have applications for pretty much every device out there. The kill switch feature is also important for mobile devices. If your provider offers this feature, it means that your streaming will stop if your connection with the VPN server was interrupted for some reason, and you won’t get caught accessing content that shouldn’t be available for you in the first place.
Is the best VPN for Netflix free?
Usually not. As we’ve mentioned before, it takes a lot of research and development to bypass Netflix’s firewall. R&D = money. So it’s not obvious how and why free VPNs are going to achieve that. So if you choose a free VPN to unblock Netflix, it’s essentially a temporary solution. There is also a risk that free providers will sell your data to the higher bidders the privacy is not guaranteed.
After all, even top VPN providers don’t cost that much. So if it’s not absolutely inevitable, try not to use free VPN providers for Netflix streaming.
How does a free Netflix VPN work?
A free Netflix VPN works the same way as a paid one: it transfers your online traffic through their servers. While doing so, it anonymizes and encrypting your online activity.
Netflix shows different content to users in different countries, so even if you’re paying for the subscription, you can’t access all of Netflix’s content. With the help of a VPN that has servers in many countries, you can access more content. However, Netflix wants to prevent that, and they constantly work to cut the VPN usage on their website, and it gets harder and harder for free VPNs to bypass the site’s restrictions.
How can you watch Netflix with a VPN for free?
Regardless of which VPN you will select, you still need a paid Netflix account to access content available for its viewers.
What makes the best Netflix VPN?
First and foremost, a good VPN should be able to unblock geographically restricted content. It’s more complicated than it seems and involves good IP-masking and DNS requests disguise. VPN providers are also supposed to have a good variety of servers in as many countries as possible. You also need to have great speed to stream the content; otherwise, there is no point in accessing the content at all.
How do I access other countries’ Netflix catalogs?
- Install the chosen VPN app on your device. Usually, there is a trial period with most providers, so you can give it a try before paying for their services.
- Choose a server in a country that has access to the content that you want to watch. Top-notch providers can help you to select the best server in the chosen country.
- Go to your Netflix app. There is nothing else that needs to be done. At this point, the content available to you is going to change according to the country’s availability.
Why does Netflix have different libraries in different countries?
Netflix has different content in different countries because of numerous reasons. Some of them are local censorships (especially in countries with not many internet freedoms like China or religious reasons). But most often, Netflix has agreements with content owners that don’t cover all of the countries. So for them to provide this content without restrictions is illegal and can lead to lengthy disputes.