There are of course few sources of entertainment quite as popular as the media company – Netflix. It’s name has become synonymous with streaming video and entertainment, in fact in some demographics Netflix is becoming a verb. To Netflix, or ‘I just Netflix’d all night’ means that you simply chilled in front of the TV (or PC, laptop or phone) and relaxed. You’re never alone with a Netflix account although if you’ve ever travelled and tried to use it you’ve probably been somewhat shocked.
The reason is that although your Netflix account is meant to be a global one, what you can access is very dependent on your location. So if you’re an American travelling in say Japan and you login to your Netflix account – you’ll be greeted by the Japanese version of the media site. For some people it’s a pleasant surprise and you may find yourself with lots of new movies and TV shows, but generally for a US account holder it’s invariably a disappointment. Simply put, the American version of Netflix is way better than any other and it’s likely you’ll end up missing a lot of your favorite shows when logging in to another country’s variant.
How to Change Netflix Country 2020
So what do you do if you’re stranded away from your preferred version of Netflix? Can you switch back to your favorite or are you stranded? Well fortunately there is a solution to change netflix country although it’s not quite as straight forward as it used to be.
Up until last year, you could easily just use something like a proxy or VPN server to switch to whatever version of Netflix you wanted. Literally millions of people did this and it basically meant you bounced you internet connection off a server in the country you wanted to pretend to be in. So if I sat in Japan and connected to a US based VPN server before I logged into Netflix, it would think I was in the US and I’d get the American version again.
Netflix’s Dastardly Plan
Here’s the problem though, last year Netflix decided that it wouldn’t allow this and came up with a fairly dastardly plan to block people doing this. Suddenly many people found their Netflix VPN not working and received only an error message. What the company did basically decimated all the VPN/TV watching services over night – they blocked access to anyone who didn’t have a residential IP address. This unfortunately included 99% of all the addresses allocated to the servers and virtually all Netflix VPN 2017 servers stopped working with Netflix.
A huge industry of bypassing the Netflix blocks and filters almost vanished overnight. It even blocked people who lived in countries where Netflix wasn’t deployed yet which was even worse because they lost access completely not just locked into their countries version.
Here’s the message you then got when you after the Netflix VPN ban started –
So can I use my Netflix account overseas?
Yes, fortunately the internet normally provides workarounds fairly quickly and now there are a few VPN services which will allow access to US Netflix again. Here’s how to watch Netflix from other countries – just look for a specialist VPN service.
What they have had to do is buy up residential IP addresses to fool Netflix which will only allow these addresses through their filters. There are only a couple of companies how have managed to do this, simply because these addresses are normally only assigned by Internet service providers and can be difficult to find. So if you’re looking for a way to change Netflix country make sure you check or test this works before buying any long term subscription. Lots of companies have conveniently forgot to update their websites and many still claim they work with Netflix still but they don’t
Our friends at Identity Cloaker have upgraded their Network to include residential IP addresses but currently only support US and UK Netflix access – however it’s recently been rather unreliable in this context. So to change Netflix country to the US I’d say your better off with another product. It’s not on the same level security wise but it allows access to all major TV stations online including switching Netflix to the US version.
You can even try out their free trial for 14 days to see how it works.
For travellers, expats and geeks there’s an essential tool which can transform your internet experience. It’s a simple tool which allows you to perform one important function – the ability to control your IP address.
A little background, the IP (Internet Protocol) address is the ‘unique’ network number which is assigned to your device when you connect to the internet. It doesn’t matter if it’s a computer, laptop, tablet, smart TV or even an internet enabled fridge! Every device which access the internet does so through this network identification number.
This is fine, it’s how the internet works after all. This IP address is assigned through whatever service you connect to the internet through – be it an home based ISP, office network, hotel Wifi or maybe your local coffee shop. The address is assigned automatically and enables data to be delivered to your device when you’re connected.
The problem is that this address is completely out of your control, even if you are connecting from home you have no way of directly controlling it. Now this wouldn’t have been a problem in the internet of a decade ago, however nowadays it’s a real issue. Not only are numerous entities logging, monitoring and analysing your web activity – many web sites are actually controlling what you can do online too.
Relaxing with the Zombie Apocalypse
So as I sat down in a rather boring hotel, based on the outskirts of a Dutch Industrial estate last week to enjoy the latest episodes of Z Nation I had something of a surprise! When I fired up my Netflix account on my trusty Samsung laptop I noticed something strange – lots of foreign language shows (in languages I couldn’t understand). Worst still they only had the first series of Z Nation which I’d finished watching about two years ago!!
You see I was being connected to the Dutch version of Netflix. Now when you visit a foreign country, you of course don’t expect them to switch all the TV and radio stations over to suit a US visitor. But this is my Netflix account, on my computer, paid for on a US credit card. Why should I suddenly want to watch the Netherland’s version of the entertainment channel !! I can’t understand half of it anyway.
Surely it’s better to link the user with his home version of Netflix, unless they specify otherwise. Unfortunately that’s not the case, the version of Netflix you receive is linked to the IP address that you connect to. So a American Netflix user who travels a lot is going to get flung around the versions of the world when all he wants to watch is some home grown US Zombie action !
IP Address American Netflix
Which brings me back to my original point, you’re completely at the mercy of these websites unless you are able to control your IP address. Now as stated earlier, it’s impossible to actually change this IP address but you can hide it and display a different one. So although I am always going to connect through a Dutch ISP when in Holland, I can connect through a server in the US and appear to have a US IP address for American Netflix. The methods for doing this have changed over the last few years, unfortunately you can’t use things like US DNS servers or find some UK Netflix DNS code anymore – all these methods are now blocked. So how can you access American Netflix -well here’s how it’s done –
You use a tool to connect through to a network of VPN servers based around the world. So when you visit Netflix for example, then it will only see the IP address of the server you are connecting from. If you select a US server then you will be presented with American Netflix, switch to a Japanese one and you’ll get their version. You can effectively control what you can access.
It also works well for accessing websites which are simply blocked, for example AMC, NBC, ABC and Hulu are not accessible without a US IP address. If you don’t use a VPN you’re going to be restricted to the websites in your current location certainly with regards to media sites.
The VPN also gives you a higher level of security and privacy, when you are connected all your browsing is private and the connection is encrypted so no personal details can be intercepted.
Truthfully there are tons of these services out there, and it can be difficult to decide which one to use. Our personal recommendation is a service called Identity Cloaker – it offers fast access to servers all over the world and is not expensive. It also doesn’t try to lock you into long subscriptions which are difficult to cancel just use and let it expire when you’ve finished.
We’ve covered a lot about the Netflix ban on VPNs and proxies on this site and how slowly it’s being circumvented. There are now a couple of VPNs that allow you to switch between the different version of Netflix irrespective of your location. Which for expats or people who travel a lot is incredibly useful, and means you can choose Netflix region free without being forceably routed to your local version. However there has been one thing missing, up until now no-one has released a Smart DNS system which will work with the new Netflix blocks.
Smart DNS is a relatively new technology which instead of routing your entire internet connection simply routes specific parts when you try and access region locked sites by using specially configured DNS server. For instance if you are in the US and tried to access the BBC iPlayer, the Smart DNS server would route part of your connection through a UK server in order to bypass the UK only region locks. It works very well and because all you need to do is change your DNS server settings is simpler to use on different devices than a VPN.
Here’s what you do on a Windows client, simply change your DNS servers to the Smart DNS server and if you have an active subscription you’ll be able to bypass most region blocks. That’s all you need to do and you could implement in the same way on any media device, smart TV, games console or phone as long as you could specify the DNS servers.
So Which Smart DNS Still Works with Netflix ?
Except unfortunately Smart DNS Netflix was another casualty of the Netflix purge on region locking bypasses and so not only did most Netflix VPN not working the same happened to proxies and DNS servers . If you used one of these Smart DNS servers you would receive exactly the same error message as you would with a proxy as soon as you tried streaming anything. Most of the providers have given up trying to support Netflix, however finally I have found one provider who has fixed the problem and released a Smart DNS solution that works with Netflix!
It’s from a company who I haven’t used for a while but I know has been a Smart DNS/VPN solution provider for many years. The company is called Unblock-US and after a tip off that they were the first to create a DNS based solution that allows you to bypass the Netflix blocks I checked it out this week.
The setup screen is very simple to use – here it is
You basically sign up for an account, change your DNS servers and then select the version of Netflix you require. That’s all there is to it and then you visit Netflix you’ll be redirected to the region you selected. Of course most people will choose the US version which has more content than any other. However it’s useful to have access to the other locations as well because there are certain titles only available on certain regions. Netflix Canada for example has some great documentaries which are not available on any other regions.
I tried the US, Canadian and UK versions and all streamed perfectly. There is also a setting to disable which means you will go to the Netflix locale that you’re actually located in – which is useful for people who just want to use it when they are travelling. So if you’re still wondering which Smart DNS still works with Netflix then look no further….
If you’re quick Unblock-Us even has a free trial at the moment so you can test it out a real Free Smart DNS Netflix solution. You can access the trial through the link below.
It was always quite an anomaly, for several years before Netflix was actually available in Australia – there were over a quarter of a million registered users there. If you tried to access any version of Netflix there, you’d be blocked and told that it wasn’t available there yet. So how come there were hundreds of thousands of Aussie subscribers? Well the simple fact was that all these people got fed up of waiting for Netflix and simply used one of the better VPN services usually located in the USA.
The idea was, you start your VPN service first and connect through to a US based VPN server and then you’d be able to access the US version of Netflix using your subscriber account. Of course, Netflix knew about this – suddenly hundreds of thousands of accounts were created using Aussie based bank accounts and credit cards – but they still paid for the service so nobody really minded much. The same trick was used by millions across the world – either to access Netflix from somewhere it wasn’t launched in or to access a different locale version – until the Netflix VPN ban hit the world, when they banned all VPNs from everywhere!
The Netflix VPN Ban – Why and How?
So why did Netflix take such a draconian measure after all people weren’t stealing the service, they still paid for a valid subscription simply accessed from another country? The problem lies with the ways that licensing works, all the non-Netflix movies, TV shows and documentaries are individually licensed on a per country basis. So Netflix may have the license to broadcast a particular movie in the US but not in Europe so they have to segregate their services.
Unfortunately this means that the smaller countries often have vastly inferior versions of Netflix despite the subscription being the same worldwide. The companies who own the broadcast rights got fed up with people in different countries simply using a VPN or proxy to bypass these licensing issues and put some pretty heavy pressure on Netflix to block access.
This they have done, now nearly every VPN and proxy service has been blocked from accessing the Netflix service. They instigated a global block on accessing their servers using commercial IP addresses which included 99.9% of all the VPN services – suddenly everyone had to go back to their own regional version of Netflix. Which was ok if you are in the US which has a fantastic selection but not so much if you were perhaps an ex-pat accessing from a small European country.
The Netflix VPN ban on these services was incredibly effective and perhaps shows a model for region locking which other companies may follow. Previously people like the BBC had tried to block VPN services by individually identifying their IP addresses but it never worked for long as they simply be swapped out.
There are still some of the better VPN service which are still working, a small selection of VPN companies like IDC have implemented servers with residential IP addresses to bypass the Netflix VPN block. You can also read about another firm which has managed to get a Smart DNS Netflix solution working too.
Most though have simply given up as these addresses are much more expensive and harder to obtain unless you are a registered ISP. So if you want to access a different version of Netflix you should ask your provider if their service still works with Netflix as the majority don’t.
It’s almost essential nowadays to have access to a VPN or proxy service, not just for the security concerns but because the internet has become a minefield of blocked sites, copyright issues and geo-inspired redirections. A few years ago, you were rarely blocked from any website but now it’s a daily occurrence and if you live outside Europe or North America it can be even worse.
Now there are lots of reasons for these blocks but most of them revolve around copyright and profit maximisation. Sometimes that video or movie is only licensed in a specific country so cannot be broadcast to other locations – a ridiculous notion in the concept of a global network like the internet. However there is an important proposal being tabled by the European Union that could change the way that digital products are sold and distributed across the world.
Basically it is proposing a ruling that ensures the portability of digital products in line with one of the EU’s fundamental ideals of a single market. What that means is that if you buy a service anywhere in Europe you should be able to access your purchase from anywhere. This is clearly not the case at the moment, even to the extent that a British License fee payer loses access to the iPlayer the minute they leave the confines of the UK. They are not alone and virtually every global media service blocks and restricts access based on locations.
This would be fantastic for the consumer and no longer would we need to use a plethora of proxies to access content online. It does get ridiculous sometimes, when you switch from a US VPN like this one minute in order to watch NBC and then to a UK one to watch the BBC. Some days I switch IP addresses a dozen times to avoid various blocks especially if I visit the Far East It’s also getting worse with the BBC who were reasonably relaxed about these circumvention techniques now starting to target and block VPNs in order to maximise their commercial revenue from the new BBC Store.
It’s frustrating to see a service like Netflix delivering vastly different products dependent on your location – the US version of Netflix has thousands more films than most other country variants. Obviously the Media companies are less than impressed mainly because it restricts the level at which they can leverage different markets to maximise their profits. One comment from the leaders of a TV and media lobby –
“Any intervention that undermines the ability to license on an exclusive territorial basis will lead to less investment in new products and reduce the quality and range of content available to consumers.”
John McVay – CE of TV Producers Organisation Pact
There is plenty of opposition from other media organisations of course and whether any proposals can withstand the lobbying remains to be seen. It is still unclear if the changes would permeate to the USA but in all it could be significant change in the way we access digital products and services.
A new surveillance bill giving much stronger powers to various security agencies will be introduced by Theresa May next month. November 4th will see the release of the new Investigatory Powers Bill which will force telecoms and internet service providers to retain their customers web browsing for 12 months. To blunt the complaints from the ISPs, they will be paid to cover the extra costs involved in storing and handling all this data.
The access to this sensitive data will only be granted to police, intelligence agencies, National Crime agency and the HM Revenues and Customs. So in reality it means thousands of people with links to any of these agencies will potentially be able to see what you were doing online over the last year.
The measures are fairly similar to the previous Communications Data Bill(popularly known as the Snoopers Charter) which was blocked by the Liberal Democrats. Again the new bill is far reaching and covering pretty much all web activities from email to web browsing and even Facebook and Twitter. It sounds like there will be no exceptions and all platforms and everyone of us will be included.
Remember they are just proposals.
The justification is of course fairly predictable, terrorism, espionage and criminality. The ISPs are being paid not only to retain your emails, internet usage and other electronic communication but also to organise it and make it easily searchable to the various agencies.
There are of course many people who feel this is an unjustified invasion of privacy – here’s few of my objections.
You only spy on the innocent – people who have something to hide can and do encrypt their communications which won’t be accessible.
Can Governments be trusted with this huge and very personal data – I suggest not.
Is is justifiable to spy on millions of innocent in the small chance they’ll catch the odd ‘stupid’ criminal or terrorist.
Edward Snowden has shown us that security agencies have completely ignored privacy laws to this point, how can we trust them.