Let’s consider a scenario: you’ve just heard of a great TV show – and good news, it’s on Netflix! So, you log on, type your new binge-watch into the search bar, and… It’s not there.
Maybe you spend a few minutes scrolling the list. Perhaps you double-check your information source.
It turns out the source wasn’t wrong. And technically, neither were you.
The show is on Netflix, alright, just not in the United States where you live – it’s only available on the UK’s version of the streaming service.
So how do you watch UK Netflix in the US?
There is an obvious answer. But, before you invest in a summer home in the British countryside, consider another option: a virtual private network (VPN).
How to Watch Netflix UK in the US
Despite how it may sound, you don’t need to be a techie to use a VPN. They’re very straightforward to use.
I’ll explain how a VPN works a little later, but for now, let’s just cover how to get you going with Netflix UK.
Here is the basic step-by-step:
- Choose a VPN My weapon of choice is NordVPN.
- Download and install the VPN on the device you’ll be watching Netflix on.
- Open the VPN
- Choose the server you want to use – in this case you’ll need one based in the United Kingdom.
- Fire up Netflix, find your show, and enjoy!
Before you go through the above steps, make sure to close any Netflix tabs or apps you have open. Trust me, it will save you a lot of head-scratching later, wondering why things are not working.
And yes, you will need to turn off Netflix every time you want to switch countries.
Also, choose your VPN provider carefully. Many don’t work with Netflix, meaning that instead of your show, you’ll see the following:
I will, of course, help guide you in the right direction. A little further down, we’ll look at what, in my experience, are the best VPNs to watch UK Netflix with.
Switching Back to Netflix US
How can you get back to the US Netflix library after watching your UK show?
You have two options. You can either:
- Turn off your VPN.
- Change your location to the US by connecting to an American server.
Option one is quicker and easier. Option two will give you better online privacy and security by keeping you connected to the VPN.
How VPNs Unblock Netflix
In a standard connection, your device sends and receives data straight to/from whoever supplies your internet – your internet service provider (ISP).
When connecting through your ISP, your IP address is on full display to whoever is interested enough to look, including Netflix.
Think of your IP like your physical address. Sort of. It’s not an exact location. But it’s enough for Netflix to tell what country you’re in and limit your viewing library to the local one.
Hence, if you’re in the United States, American Netflix is what you get.
In a VPN connection, your device instead talks to the internet through one of your VPN’s servers. This process changes your IP address and hides your actual physical location.
This way, you can trick websites into thinking you’re somewhere you’re not.
Connect to a British, server and your device gets a UK IP address. As a result, Netflix, and any other site, will treat you like you’re in Great Britain – even if you’re thousands of miles away.
Best VPN to Watch Netflix UK
Before I get to my best VPNs for Netflix UK, allow me to quickly explain what criteria each provider must meet before making the list. Not all are well suited.
First and foremost, the VPN needs to have servers in the UK – the more, the better. Without a British server, you have no chance of fooling Netflix into thinking you’re in the country.
The VPN also needs to work with Netflix – many don’t.
Netflix is well aware of what VPNs can do and tries hard to stop our country-hopping ways by blocking them. It takes a lot of resources to counter Netflix’s efforts, and only a few providers have them.
Finally, nothing ruins movie night like poor video quality and endless buffering. So, unless a VPN offers top-notch server speeds, they’re not worth considering.
With that said, here are my top VPN recommendations for access to Netflix in the UK:
Chances are, if you’ve looked into VPNs before, you’ve run across NordVPN. The service gets mentioned a lot simply because it’s just that good.
NordVPN’s server list is 5232 strong and covers 59 countries. Of those servers, 631 call the United Kingdom home.
Plenty of UK servers gives you plenty of options for access to Netflix and, indeed, most other British streaming services – BBC iPlayer anyone? NordVPN works with Netflix in any other country too.
Performance is also as good as it gets – no other provider can currently match NordVPN’s speeds. And there is, of course, a lot more.
Beyond streaming, NordVPN’s client is loaded with privacy and security features that help keep you anonymous and safe online. They also have one of the best customer service departments in the business.
Oh, and the service comes with a no questions asked 30-day money-back guarantee too. That gives you lots of time to evaluate them yourself, completely risk-free.
- Excellent download and upload speeds
- Large ever-expanding server network
- Great privacy with independently verified no logging policy
- Specialty servers (including double VPN, obfuscated, and Tor over VPN)
- Clean, easy to use client
- Works with Netflix and other streaming services
- Allows torrenting and P2P
- Offers dedicated IP addresses
- No split tunneling feature
- A bit pricey on shorter-term plans
Surfshark is a provider that is well-known for its ability to unblock Netflix. And with servers in 99 countries, the UK being one of them, you’ll have no trouble accessing content from abroad.
Being one of the newer providers to the market, Surfshark runs a state-of-the-art infrastructure and makes use of the latest (and most secure) VPN protocols. That translates to excellent speeds and zero annoying buffering.
Surfshark is also the only VPN here that allows unlimited connections – you’re only limited by the number of screens Netflix lets you have.
But, perhaps best of all, Surfshark is the least expensive top-tier VPN around. Watching UK Netflix out of the US does not get more affordable than this.
- Excellent privacy and security with no logging
- Great server performance
- Unblocks Netflix, BBC, and many others
- Easy to use client
- Unlimited simultaneous connections
- Torrenting support network-wide
- Very inexpensive
- Inconsistent speeds at a few locations
- Fairly slow customer support
With a sizeable network of 9203 servers – including 668 in the UK – CyberGhost is another option we have to unblock British Netflix.
CyberGhost considers streaming geo-blocked content one of its main features. It’s why they’re one of only a handful of providers to offer dedicated, specially optimized streaming servers for many of the world’s top online video sources.
Of course, Netflix makes the list, but so do other excellent British services, like the iPlayer or ITV Hub.
CyberGhost lets you connect up to 7 devices at the same time and offers fast speeds for a trouble-free movie night.
To top it off, the provider has an industry longest 45-day money-back guarantee. That’s a sign of confidence in how good their service is.
- Zero logging for maximum privacy
- Excellent server distribution with over 9200 servers in 91 countries
- Very fast connection speeds
- Works with US Netflix and BBC iPlayer
- Allows P2P torrenting
- Long 45-day money-back guarantee
- Parent company with a questionable reputation
- Convoluted manual OpenVPN setup
- Doesn't work from China
PureVPN’s claims to fame are their impressive server list that covers 74 countries and their uncanny ability to unblock out of market streaming content.
Combine those features with PureVPN’s excellent speed test results, and you have a provider that lets you watch Netflix UK (and plenty of other video services around the world) with ease.
Like CyberGhost, PureVPN also runs dozens of servers optimized for the best streaming experience.
Their simple to use client offers broad support for all types of devices beyond the standard Windows, Mac, iOS, and Android. Android TV even makes the list. And you can connect up to 10 devices at once.
With an affordable price and a generous 31-day refund period, you can’t go wrong with PureVPN for any of your streaming needs.
- Fast speeds
- Big server network (74 countries)
- Unblocks Netflix, iPlayer, and over 70 other streaming services
- Compatible with over 50 devices and platforms
- Independently verified zero log VPN provider
- Dedicated IP option
- Great value
- Apps could use a bit more polish
- Some intermittent connection problems
ExpressVPN does many things well. Among them is giving us reliable access to different Netflix libraries. And with plenty of their 3000+ servers located in the UK, accessing that country’s version of the service is a breeze.
The provider’s fast connection speeds mean you can crank up video quality to Ultra HD and still enjoy a buffering free experience.
ExpressVPN’s client is intuitive and easy to use, with no overly technical options unless you go looking for them.
This is also a VPN that does privacy and security very well. ExpressVPN is a zero-log provider, uses strong 256-bit AES encryption, and runs multiple secure protocols.
While ExpressVPN is, unfortunately, the most expensive option on this list, they often run very decent sales. That said, even at full price, this is still a provider with which you get your money’s worth.
- A feature-rich and intuitive client
- Strong back-end technology
- Plenty of servers and server locations
- Fast and consistent connection speeds
- Works with US Netflix
- Top-notch customer support
- Some aggregated logging
- Not the cheapest
Netflix US vs. Netflix UK
Now that I’ve covered how to access the Netflix UK library, let’s talk a little about how the two versions differ.
The US has an extensive list of movies and series, no one will argue that. With 5819 titles to choose from, including favorites like Silence of the Lambs, several 007 films, and a copious amount of cooking shows, there is plenty to watch.
Numbers-wise, the UK library is similar in size with 4106 movies and 2203 series. But just because the numbers are similar doesn’t mean the tiles are.
While there is a fair amount of cross-over, the UK has a lot of unique programming.
For example, only Netflix UK offers many classic British sci-fi TV shows, including Doctor Who and Red Dwarf. The same goes for comedy series like Mr. Bean.
So, even though American Netflix is great, adding access to the UK library will make it that much better.
Why Netflix Blocks Some Content
Programming on Netflix is split into two categories. Netflix originals and content from other producers.
In the second category, Netflix has to secure the rights to stream shows and movies. Producers usually sell licensing to the highest bidder in each country.
If there’s a show you’re not finding on Netflix, the chances are high that they didn’t manage to secure those rights.
It would be a breach of copyright for Netflix to stream programming it’s not allowed to. So, they simply block off the content to specific regions and track their users’ IP addresses to determine what they can legally show them.
The Legality of Using VPNs to Unblock Netflix
Using a VPN in the US is 100% legal. What you choose to do with one, however, is another story.
As a general rule, anything illegal you can do without a VPN is still unlawful with one. Thankfully, accessing Netflix UK over a VPN does not fall into that category. It may be a moral issue, but it is not against the law.
No one wants to break copyright, so Netflix has to try to and stop you from accessing out of market content. They regularly ban every VPN server they know about (though top providers like NordVPN still manage to stay one step ahead).
But Netflix won’t punish you for region hopping. You are, after all, a paying customer. And it seems that as long as Netflix puts in enough effort to stop the practice, the copyright holders are satisfied.
So, is using a virtual private network with Netflix illegal? No.
Is it frowned upon? Yes. But I doubt you’ll get in trouble for it – no one ever has.
Using Free VPNs With UK Netflix
With a VPN, you tend to get what you pay for.
Pay VPN providers can afford to keep their server network working with Netflix. They have the resources to build in countermeasures to Netflix’ blocking efforts and quickly swap out server IPs if they stop working.
Free VPNs cannot afford to do the same. So, much more often than not, you’ll find them unable to get around geo restrictions and not working with Netflix.
Whatever little money free providers do make goes to just keeping their infrastructure up and running, not fighting battles with a streaming service.
But it’s the way free VPN services make their money is my biggest beef with them.
When using one, expect to be bombarded with ads. But, also expect them to sell your browsing habits and personal information to the highest bidder – not cool.
Considering that the best VPNs in the market all cost less than a cup of coffee, even if free VPNs did unblock Netflix, using them is just not worth it.
While Netflix US has an excellent library, it does lack in British content. So, if it’s the latter you’re after, getting on to Netflix UK is a must.
And the only feasible way of doing that is by investing in a good VPN.
Any of the providers mentioned above will serve you well. But, for the best experience watching Netflix UK from the US, my go-to NordVPN is where it’s at.
Between their large server network, excellent performance, affordable pricing, helpful customer support, and a no questions asked 30-day money-back guarantee, you simply can’t go wrong.