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This VPN trick will let you watch your Netflix shows while you're traveling

You can access your home Netflix library from anywhere with a VPN. Here's what you need to do.

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CNET / Mark Serrels

Are you traveling overseas, or temporarily outside your home country for any reason? If you're looking to watch your favorite Netflix content while away from home, you may find that it's not available where you're traveling. 

This can be frustrating, especially when you're a paying Netflix subscriber. But the reality is that, due to licensing agreements with copyright holders, Netflix can only deliver certain content in certain countries. This means when you're outside of your home country you may be blocked from watching the shows and movies you want to see.     

Read more: Best VPN service of 2022

With the help of a virtual private network, you can watch all the Netflix content you want to. Using Netflix with a VPN can make it look like you're at home even when you're traveling overseas. Here's how to do it, with one caveat.

While Netflix does make certain efforts to block VPN use on its platform, the streaming provider doesn't appear to be aggressively blocking limited VPN use. Regardless, you should always consider Netflix's terms of use because terms can change at any time and the company can terminate your account if it detects abuse. We do not encourage people to violate their user agreements.  

How to use Netflix internationally with a VPN

  1. Subscribe to a VPN service. Not all VPNs will be up to the task of unblocking Netflix, but a top VPN service like ExpressVPN or Surfshark should be able to consistently unblock it while traveling abroad. Before you subscribe, however, make sure that VPN use is legal in the country you're traveling to.  

  2. Download the VPN software to your computer or device. The download and installation process will be just like downloading any other app.

  3. Connect to a VPN server in your home country. If you're from the US, and want to access your home Netflix catalog from overseas, you'll need to connect to a server located in the US. If you're from the UK, then connect to a server in the UK to access that catalog -- and so on down the line, for any country from which Netflix offers service. Simply click on the corresponding country in your VPN app to connect to a server located in that country and you're good to go.

  4. Launch Netflix. Head over to Netflix on your computer or device as you normally would and you should be able to watch all the titles you're used to watching at home. If you're having issues or are getting an error message, try connecting to a different server from your country or contact your VPN provider's customer support.

How does this work?

This works because, when you connect to a VPN server, your IP address changes to the address of the VPN server you're connecting through. Your real IP address and physical location are hidden from Netflix in the process. Netflix, for all intents and purposes, will therefore register your location as the location of the VPN server you're connecting through and will deliver the content it makes available in that country. 

We can't guarantee that it will work for you 100% of the time, though, because Netflix does its best to block known VPN IP addresses and uses other methods to preclude its customers from using VPNs to unblock geographically restricted content on its site. But most mainstream VPNs -- especially our top picks -- are usually reliably capable of providing access to Netflix.

Read more: 5 best VPNs for your smart TV

In any case, remember to only try this in geographic regions where Netflix offers its service and, as per the company's Terms of Use, "have licensed such content." 

Also, keep in mind that while it isn't necessarily illegal to use a VPN to thwart geo-blocking (unless using a VPN is illegal in your country), Netflix could still potentially suspend or terminate your account if it determines you've violated its terms of service. So proceed at your own risk. That said, we haven't heard of any reports of people's accounts being terminated for using a VPN to unblock Netflix content.