If you're a fan of streaming TV shows and movies on Netflix, you're probably aware that there's a lot of content on the US version of the service that isn't available to watch in the UK. Across the pond our American friends get different movies and TV shows, and often get films and programmes long before they arrive in Blighty.
If you try to log in to US Netflix in the UK, you'll find that many shows will say something like "this title isn't available in your location," when you try to watch them. 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).
Here, we show you how to change the country on your Netflix account, to help you access American Netflix from the UK on your Mac, iPad or iPhone. If you're on a PC or Android phone, visit our sister site Tech Advisor's guide to accessing US Netflix on a PC. This method also works the other way round, and can let you access any Netflix library from any country or region in the world.
How to watch US Netflix on Mac
If you're just here for a quick answer, here it is. But be sure to read on to find out more about whether or not it is legal to watch US Netflix in the UK, and how a VPN works.
NordVPN is our pick of the best VPN service with the most secure connection, good customer service and overall good application, but the procedure will be similar for most VPNs. We also recommend ExpressVPN, PureVPN, CyberGhost and Surfshark among our top five.
Here, we're using NordVPN as the example, but any of the VPNs listed above will work in a very similar way.
- Open your browser 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.
How to watch US Netflix on iPad or iPhone
You can also use a similar method to watch American Netflix on your iOS device. You can find out which apps we would recommend in our best VPN for iPhone and best VPN for iPad guides. Signing up to one of the services mentioned such as NordVPN or ExpressVPN 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.
We have a separate article that explains how to use a VPN on an iPhone here.
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 it's important to note that this goes against the terms and conditions you signed up to when you made a Netflix account.
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 strongly recommended 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.
How using a VPN works
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.
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.