Netflix is available in 190 countries, but offerings vary dramatically around the globe. Thanks to geographic licensing restrictions, some countries have significantly fewer titles to scroll through when trying to find content to binge-watch. Australia, for example, has access to about 2,400 titles, while U.S. subscribers have over 5,000 titles at their disposal.

If you’re not in the U.S., there are ways to get the most out of your subscription by using computer trickery to make it look like your computer is sitting in the U.S. instead of somewhere on the other side of the globe. Proxies and VPNs, or virtual private networks, are both useful tools for unlocking U.S. Netflix.

Netflix says it is working toward making the same content available to everyone, but acknowledges that subscribers outside the U.S. have an incentive to use services that make it look like they’re somewhere they’re not. In the meantime, it is blocking IP addresses associated with proxies and VPN services that are repeat offenders.

UK Netflix has about 3,000 titles, including more BBC and weekly shows.
UK Netflix has about 3,000 titles, including more BBC and weekly shows.

While Netflix may be cracking down on some VPNs and proxies, it isn’t cracking down all that hard. There are still plenty of services to trick Netflix. Proxies are one option, but so far it’s been a lot easier for Netflix to block these. VPNs are a better bet, and have the added bonus of providing some security for all your internet activities.

VPN services route your traffic through a private network, hiding your IP address and helping you browse anonymously. If you pick a private network in the United States, Netflix won’t be able to see what country your traffic actually originates from, and assumes it’s coming from somewhere in the US.

There are several VPN services to choose from: Hotspot Shield, StrongVPN, and TorGuard are all suggestions from Reddit’s /r/NetflixViaVPN. Only Hotspot Shield has a free option, but if you don’t feel like dropping more money, on top of your Netflix subscription, the latest version of Opera’s browser comes with a free VPN built in.

UK Netflix with VPN
Connecting to a VPN in the U.S. from the UK

Once you’ve downloaded a VPN client, or the Opera browser, and selected a network in the United States, you’re good to go! Just log in to your Netflix account for the full gamut of content licensed for the United States. Alternatively, you can select a network in Canada to watch the latest Star Wars movie, which isn’t even available on U.S. Netflix. Until Netflix can offer the same content to everyone, a VPN will help you unlock even more binge-watching fodder.

A VPN unlocks U.S. Netflix (and Justin Timberlake)
A VPN unlocks U.S. Netflix (and Justin Timberlake)

Photos via Screenshot

Kelsey Kennedy is a science journalist from Oregon, now based in New York City. She's written about science, technology, and the environment for Quartz, Undark, and Scienceline.