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Watch Netflix outside of the US

netflixjapan

Important Update: our recommended way to watch Netflix outside of the US on your android device is now to use Unblock-US. Our tutorial on how to set it up on your Android device (especialy the mk802 III) can be found here. Our comparison of Unblock-US versus the previously recommended VPN setup can be found here. Note that a VPN might still remain your option of choice if you want to do more than Netflix with it!

Netflix is one of the best “bang for your bucks” TV on demand service in the world. Sadly, it is only accessible from a few countries, and its best offers are available to US residents only.

If you are a US resident, but travel a lot, or simply if you do not live in the US but are a huge fan of US movies and TV shows, you are probably looking for solutions to watch Netflix from outside the US.

I myself live in Japan, and I have been enjoying Netflix from Japan for the past 6 months without an issue. I’ve been doing this on an Android Mini PC (a.k.a Droid stick) named the MK802 (see the review here) which I am using to turn my TV into a smart TV, but I’ve also tested the PC version as well as the PS3 version without an issue.

Disclaimer: This technique will not allow you to access Netflix services for free! You will (of course!) need to subscribe to Netflix regularly, and pay your monthly subscription fee like anybody else. Note however that Netflix has a 1-month free trial offer that might allow you to test if this technique is acceptable for you or not. They will still ask you for a valid Credit Card.

Long story short

The basic idea to access Netflix from Japan or any non us country in the world is to make Netflix believe that you are accessing their service from the US. This is absolutely not illegal, and is done through a system called a VPN (virtual Private Network). The basic idea is that you connect to another computer located in the US, which will itself connect to Netflix, and be used as an “intermediate” between you and Netflix. This sounds complex, but is actually very easy to set up on most modern devices, including Windows and Android computers.

In Details

The first step is to take a subscription to a VPN provider. I have personally been using boxpn.com and I am very happy with their service. I am not affiliated with them in any way, but at about $5 a month they are one of the cheapest ones out there, and provide several entry points in various countries, including several ones in the US. They also have a good reputation of respecting their clients’ privacy and not keeping any logs.

Note that they mention an additional fee for smartphone/tablet support: this is a bit misleading. The default account will work on any one of your devices that supports VPN, what their additional fee offers is a possibility for 2 devices to be connected to the VPN at the same time, which I personally rarely need.

Once you have a subscription to boxpn (or any other VPN provider), they will send you credentials for you to connect to their network: a username, password, as well as the address of their server, the “intermediate” server I mentioned above.

How and where to enter these credentials is described very clearly on their website on this page, with explanations for Windows (including Vista, windows XP, and windows 7), as well as MacOS, iOS (iPad and iPhone), or Android. Basically, this consists in creating a new internet connection (in the VPN section of your OS), enter the credentials (you will usually need to do this only once, then your system remembers them, and connecting to the VPN is only a double click away)

Once you are connected to the VPN, you will be able to access netflix.com, and create an account there. Note that you will probably need to provide a fake address in the US (google is your friend), and of course, your real Credit Card number. Not that Netflix does not seem to check if your credit card is a foreign credit card or not. They also have an option to use Paypal, but it seems Paypal will check if your billing address is in the US, so you might get blocked there… it happened to me.

That’s it! Now that you have a Netflix account, you can enjoy it on your PC, or on your Tablet, as long as these are connected to the VPN. Note that you don’t need to be connected to the VPN constantly. Actually, you should only connect to it whenever you want to access IP restricted services such as Netflix. For regular web browsing, you should always prefer to use your “normal” internet connection. Since a VPN is an “intermediate” between you and the sites you access, it does add some latency to your internet connection (note that this added latency has never seemed to be a problem for me in Japan, but your experience may vary… this is where the 1 month free trial from Netflix will help you… even without that, both Netflix and boxpn subscriptions can be cancelled anytime)

Of course this technique allows you to access other IP-restricted services such as Hulu in the US. since a boxpn subscription gives you access to all of boxpn’s servers in various countries, this can also let you access other countries’s restricted services.

How about the PS3 or the Xbox 360?

The PS3 and the Xbox 360 do not have a “VPN” option in their network settings. Does this mean these devices can’t access Netflix from outside the US? Fear not, there is a solution, and it is relatively easy as well. The idea is simply to set up the VPN settings directly on your router rather than on the PS3 itself (this is, of course, assuming that your PS3 is connected to a Router). Not all routers have VPN settings either, but this can usually be bypassed by installing an improved firmware on the router.

I won’t go into details about this technique for now, but if you are interested, please let me know in the comments below.

Other techniques

There exist other techniques to access Netflix from outside of the US, such as DNS redirection. Sites such as unblock-us offer this, and this even works on the PS3 or the Xbox 360 without the need for a router. I haven’t tried it myself so I can’t vouch for it, but it is less guaranteed to work in the long run with services such as Netflix, as it uses a loophole in the way netflix works (Netflix only checks your IP when the movie starts, but not during the entire streaming session). Feel free to comment if you have ever used a DNS redirection service.

 

15 Responses

  1. Bunk3r

    For the computer as long as you have a full version of chrome browser you can use https://mediahint.com/ and it works pretty good.

  2. Gub

    Just to let you know.
    You don’t have to create a Netflix account with U.S. address.
    You just can create you account with your real address, and connecting trough the VPN will list you the U.S. movies list. =)
    It works for me, my account is from México and I watch U.S. address.
    Meaby you should use fake addres for countries where registration to Netflix are not allowed.

  3. Rolf Gustafsson

    Are there a full implementation of Android 4.0/4.1 Wireless & Network with VPN PPTP, L2TP/IPSec in the MK802? I have come across several Android Mini PC that only have basic WiFi without VPN protocol.

    • admin

      In general, those that “don’t” have the implementation are actually only missing the link to the option in the network options. A free App such as “VPN Menu” solved the issue for me on an MK802 clone.

      On the MK802 III, I didn’t have the issue at all, since the “VPN” option was here from the start.

  4. jweck

    Nice tutorial, cheers! Instead of the VPN (and avoid the overhead on the streams) I’m using the DNS changer unblock-us. They currently offer a free trial. Works like a charm for me and is configured in a couple of seconds.

    Hope this helps.

    -jweck

    • admin

      Thanks jweck. Many people have suggested unblock-us as a very good alternative to a VPN for the specific use of Netflix. We’ll give it a try!

    • Eric

      I agree about the DNS solution. DNS is faster and I believe that it’s better than VPN for content streaming. I am using UnoDNS which is similar to Unblock-us.

  5. […] droid mini pc or your droid stick. Although Netflix is only available ion a few countries, check here our article on how to watch Netflix outside of the US!  Nowadays, your TV is not smart unless it […]

  6. Mexxxi

    “I haven’t tried it myself so I can’t vouch for it, but it is less guaranteed to work in the long run with services such as Netflix”

    I don’t know why the author actually judges DNS redirection while he never used it and clearly lacks understanding how it works. Anyway, I’ve been using all kinds of methods to access Netflix from outside its legal distribution zones: proxies, VPNs and special DNS servers and the latter clearly take the cake.

    “…as it uses a loophole in the way netflix works (Netflix only checks your IP when the movie starts, but not during the entire streaming session).”

    So? If the check passes the first time, why would it fail during the movie? The DNS server can be contacted for hours on end without the user actually seeing a difference.

    Streaming Netflix over a VPN is the inferior method since the download speed is bottlenecked by the speed of the VPN. Thanks to Netflix’ automatic bitrate adjustment, this can also lower the quality of the video tremendously. Even if you’re able to stream HD, for their new Super HD your VPN would need to be able to serve the even higher bitrate AND use an ISP that has a contract with Netflix to actually being allowed to receive these high res streams. Plus you usually need extra software (including an additional driver that can cause all kinds of problems) and whatnot, adding needless complexity.

    Using a special DNS-server is a lot more handy: all you need to enjoy Netflix on your comp or all devices is to add the DNS to your router or hosts-file. Since it only answers the location checks, you’re streaming speed is only limited by your line speed. And the best thing is: There are plenty of totally free DNS-servers out there that enable Netflix, Hulu and tons of other US-based sites for the price of investing 5 minutes into Google.

    Besides, with the DNS method you can limit the DNS redirection to the sites you need it for. When you connect to the VPN ALL the traffic is routed through it, especially if it’s set up in the router. Why would you want to send your logins, credit card information, private email and chats over the servers of a VPN company that doesn’t need them and could do who knows what with that data? Yes, you wrote one should deactivate the VPN, but doing that is quite a hassle, especially if you realize a minute later that you’d like to watch something else. You also need to close other programs that utilize the VPN in the meantime, for example mail clients, or else you may end up receiving tons of “blocked sign in attempt” mails from gmail for trying to sign in with a different IP than usual. That can go as far as them blocking your account until you actually re-validate by going through a lengthy questionnaire…

    No such problem with DNS here. Just set it up and leave it alone. Unless someone likes to pay extra for additional security risks and the extra hassle, DNS redirection is the way to go.

    “This is absolutely not illegal, and is done through a system called a VPN (virtual Private Network).”

    Netflix hasn’t imposed country blocks out of spite. It’s legally bound to do so, because the contracts with the owners of the intellectual property it uses are only valid for certain regions. Circumventing these methods is clearly in violation of Netflix’ intention and of the underlying contracts. Just because you’re technically able to fool Netflix into thinking that you’re eligible to receive the video stream, doesn’t mean that it’s actually legal.

    • admin

      What I meant about DNS redirection is that nothing tells you that Netflix won’t start checking your IP every minute or so while streaming the movie, which would break the system. A VPN is much more resilient than that.

      Services like Unblock-US have to do lots of reverse-engineer work to understand where/when IP checks are performed, and this means their compatibility changes with time. Netflix support could break anytime.

      We’ll have a look at Unblock-US though, many people have been recommending it. IT is worth mentioning I use the VPN for much more use cases than Netflix, and that DNS redirection would not fit all my use cases

  7. Gino

    Is it possible to get more detail how can I get Netflix on my PS3 ?

    Thx,
    G.

  8. Elle

    I used Unblock-Us and it works well on those things it works with but it’s limited… Ex. I could watch American Netflix on my Xbox but still couldn’t get other services there to come up because it still was looking at my IP. I also had Netflix continually failing to load while I was with them and it stopped once I cancelled. I am now searching for a high speed VPN that will work well with Xbox.

    • admin

      In addition to unblock-us, I use BoxPN for when unblock-us is not working. It does the job, however for services where both unblock-us and boxpn work, unblock-us is much faster. Because of the way VPN vs unblock-us work, you won’t find a vpn that’s faster than unblock-us, but unblock us also comes with the limitations that it is limited to some specific services, while a vpn will work everywhere.

  9. Don

    I used unotelly dns for two months in my xbox watching netflix which was great. and then suddenly one day it stopped working. netflix won’t launch n return mostly r2003 error. I tried all sorts of methods suggested in the xbox n netflix help columns, didn’t work but the same dns worked in my pc. So now I haver to watch netflix on my pc. It worked from may to june 2013 in xbox n stopped working in july 2013. I live in asia.

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