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 get more movies and TV shows, and get the latest films and programmes long before they arrive in Blighty.
There is a way around it, though, if you're willing to break Netflix's terms and conditions (we'll explain more on this below).
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 and the company does have the right to suspend your service. Plus, Netflix has been blocking many VPN services which means you might run into more difficulty accessing US Netflix than you used to. Free VPNs like Hola used to be the most popular way of watching US Netflix in the UK but it is now necessary to pay for a better VPN service if you want to stay connected to US Netflix.
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 broadcasting rights.
Assuming you're happy to proceed, having read all this, here is how you watch US Netflix content on your Apple devices in the UK.
How to use a VPN to watch US Netflix
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.
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 essentially 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.
Watch US Netflix on Mac using NordVPN
NordVPN is our pick of the best VPN service with the most secure connection, good customer service and overall good application.
- Open Firefox and visit NordVPN's website.
- Click Get VPN Now and choose your plan. Create your account and make a payment to complete the sign-up process.
- Install NordVPN on your Mac.
- Open the app and login, then click List.
- Scroll to America and click it to connect.
- Once connected, you should see a green pin on the map and the power icon on the switch at the top of the application should be green too.
- Now browse to Netflix.com and login to access US Netflix and watch as normal.
Can I watch US Netflix on my iPad & iPhone?
Readers often ask us if it's possible to use a VPN on an iPad (or an iPhone). It is! You can find out which apps we would recommend in our best VPN for iPhone and iPad article by clicking here. Signing up to one of the services mentioned above such as NordVPN, ExpressVPN or Buffered will cover your iPhone and iPad too, all you need to do is download your chosen VPN's app on your phone or tablet and login.