It’s easy for Brits to watch the US Netflix. Here’s how
If you’re a fan of Netflix (the popular TV streaming
service), you’re probably aware just how much
better Netflix is in the US than here in the UK.
Across the pond our American friends pay less for
Netflix (the equivalent of £5.09 instead of £5.99);
gallingly, for that lower cost US Netflix users get
more movies and TV shows, and get the latest films
and programmes long before they arrive in Blighty.
No wonder British Netflix users are so keen to
get the same service as the Americans. But don’t
worry: it’s possible to access the US Netflix service
in the UK. In this feature we show you how to watch
American Netflix shows and other content in the UK
using a range of Apple devices: Mac, iPad, iPhone
and Apple TV. But in each case the principle is
the same: you’ll be using a VPN, or virtual private
network. Don’t worry: we’ll explain what that is,
and how to use one.
Is it legal to watch US
Netflix content in the UK?
All you need to do to watch US Netflix content is
trick Netflix into thinking you are currently in the US.
This is, as it turns out, remarkably easy to do. But at
this point we should point out that this goes against
the terms and conditions you signed up to when you
signed up with Netflix.
The Netflix terms and conditions explicitly state:
“You may view a movie or TV show through the
Netflix service 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 movie or TV show.”
So be warned that this is against the rules. To
our knowledge Netflix doesn’t check for people
using this trick and hasn’t blocked any users from
accessing US Netflix in the UK. (A Quora user claims
to have been told by a member of Netflix customer
support, “we don’t encourage nor recommend the
use of [VPNs], but if you haven’t had any issues
while streaming, it won’t affect anything on your
account as we don’t have an official stand about it”.
Take from that what you will.) But the company does
have the right to suspend your service.
Whether it’s legal or not to use a VPN is more of
a grey area, and varies depending on local laws,
but it’s hard to imagine anyone pursuing a case for
copyright infringement. Indeed, many observers
would argue that Netflix is technically broadcasting
to the US, for which territory it obviously owns the
How to use a VPN
Netflix provides a different service based upon
where you’re currently located. So if you access
Netflix in the US you get American Netflix, while if
you log on to Netflix from the UK you get the British
edition. Netflix monitors your IP (Internet Protocol)
address to determine where you are.
As we mentioned, Netflix has to strike different
deals with the TV companies for each location, and
generally the US edition of Netflix has a far better
selection of movies and TV shows.
The good news is that it’s pretty easy to watch
US Netflix from the UK, because your account is
international. If you ever visit the US you can watch
US Netflix using your UK account. So you just have
to trick Netflix into thinking you’re in the US when
you are actually in the UK.
If you’ve ever been to the US you can sign in to
Netflix using your UK account details, and you’ll
notice that all the new content is available to you.
This is because you in essence have an international
license to use Netflix, but it delivers the content
based on your actual location.
Netflix knows where you are by checking your IP
(Internet Protocol) Address. This is a unique number
that is assigned to your computer when it goes
onto the Internet. The IP address is how the Internet
knows to route which web pages (and other data)
to which computer. You can find your IP address
by opening Safari and typing IP Address into the
Smart Search Field (Google will display your own IP
address above the Google search results).
The trick is to change your IP address so that
Netflix thinks you’re in America. You do this by
signing up with a VPN.
A VPN, or Virtual Private Network, works like a
second internet sitting between you and the larger
internet, your computer connects to the VPN, which
then connects to the internet. You ask it for the
website, it sends the website to you. The VPN itself
can be based anywhere, but you want one that’s
based in the USA. The VPN talks to Netflix, and
Netflix thinks it’s talking to a computer inside the
USA, and the VPN passes the show on to you.
Can you trust VPN companies?
One last thing to bear in mind: the company
running the VPN service theoretically has the
power to intercept your web traffic, so be cautious
about the company you sign up with (as usual
when trust is involved, it’s best to go for a big
name that has something to lose if it gets caught
misbehaving), and remember to switch off the
VPN when you stop using Netflix. You won’t need
it when logging on to your online banking, for
example, and you could suffer badly if the VPN
company turns out to be untrustworthy.
That, then, is how you use a VPN. Sounds
complex? It isn’t really, because there are some
great free services out there that make it easy.
Two in particular come recommended: Hola and
TunnelBear. Let’s look at how these services work.
iPad and iPhone
Use a VPN (Hola) for iPad or iPhone
Hola is one of the main services that people turn
to when wanting to watch US television or access
other US-only services while based in the UK.
When you’re using Mac OS X, Hola is a plug-in for
the Chrome or Firefox web browsers (but not for
Safari, unfortunately). The good news is that Hola is
available for the iPad (and iPhone) in the form of an
app. Here’s how to install Hola on the iPad:
• Download the Hola app from the App Store
• If you already have a Hola account, log in with your
email and password. Alternatively, enter a new
email and password and click Create Account
• The Hola app now walks you through installing the
VPN settings on your iPad (or iPhone). Click OK,
Let’s Do It
• The app switches to Safari, which loads some
settings, then switches automatically to Settings in
the Install Profile section
• Tap Install
• If your iPad has a passcode lock, enter the
• Tap Next, Install, Install and Next
• Tap Done
You have now set up Hola to act as a VPN (virtual
private network) on your iOS device. It will be ready
to steam shows from America to your Netflix app on
the iPhone or iPad.
Use a VPN (TunnelBear) for iPad or iPhone
TunnelBear is another option for watching US
Netflix in the UK. On the Mac, TunnelBear is a
separate app that makes it easy to divert all your
internet traffic through the TunnelBear server. On
the iPad and iPhone, TunnelBear is also an app that
you download from the App Store.
TunnelBear on the Mac works very differently to
Hola on a Mac, but on iOS both services work in a
largely similar manner.
Once you’ve got Hola or TunnelBear set up on your
iPhone or iPad you should be able to watch Netflix
using the Netflix app.
You do this in iOS by turning on the VPN service
in settings. Follow these steps to turn on the VPN:
• Tap Settings and VPN
• Scroll down and check that Hola United States
has a tick next to it. If you do not see Hola
United States you may need to follow the Hola
• Tap the switch next to Not Connected to set it
• Wait for the switch to change from Connecting
Now open the Netflix app. If you’ve done every
right, it should be displaying the content from the
American version of Netflix. Lou Hattersley
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