I can’t say that Netflix is the best streaming service out there, but I would say that it’s damn good for the price you pay for it. Sure, there are movies that I wish were available on Netflix right away. But, to be honest, it has enough titles to keep me discovering new and good stuff on a regular basis.
But the problem with those of us who reside outside the United States is that we can’t access Netflix in the first place. Except for the other countries where Netflix has officially launched, you will have a hard time watching content from Netflix because it simply won’t’ let you in. Just in case you are curious why that is, let me explain.
Feel free to skip to the next section if you already know why Netflix can’t be viewed from your location.
The technical term of Netflix not being available in your country or location is ‘Geo-Restriction.’ It means, whenever you connect to any web server, it can determine your location and serve you the content that is most relevant to your location. Websites can choose to serve different versions of the site based on your location or serve no content at all.
That’s what Netflix does. If you appear to be from a country where Netflix officially hasn’t launched yet, it will tell you that it’s not available in your part of the world yet.
Being from Bangladesh, I don’t assume that’s going to happen anytime. So, we look for alternatives.
How bypassing geo-restrictions works
So, basically, you use some techniques that route your internet traffic from your location via another location. For example, if you’re visiting Netflix from Bangladesh — where Netflix isn’t available, a VPN or DNS service will route your network through a country where Netflix is available. If you choose to route your traffic through the US, your request to connect to Netflix will go through a server that’s located in the US.
That way, when your request to access the content hits Netflix’s servers, Netflix will see that it’s coming from a US location. So, the geo-restriction will not be applied and the content will be served to you.
How VPN or DNS works can be a lengthy and complicated article so I’ll just stop explaining further about this. If you’re curious, you can search on Google to find out how VPN services can be used to access geo-restricted sites.
Accessing Netflix from a non-supported country is a two-step process
For the sake of not losing your mind, I’m dividing the process of enjoying the content from Netflix in two steps. The first step is to actually access Netflix while the second step is to get a subscription and watch all the movies and TV shows you want.
Accessing Netflix – Free
Virtual Private Networks are widely known these days. You get a VPN service and you can pretty much access everything that’s geo-restricted and otherwise wouldn’t be available to you in a direct connection.
There are tons of free and paid VPN services out there. I haven’t tested a lot of them, and I don’t intend to write a comparison of them anytime soon. I’m just going to talk about the ones that I’ve used so far.
For the average people, who would rather get through the process as fast as possible, downloading and installing an extension on your Google Chrome browser is perhaps the easiest way to access Netflix (and other geo-restricted sites). There are tons of free extensions on Chrome Web Store. Two that I’ve used and can vouch for are dotVPN and Hola.
I haven’t used dotVPN a lot, but I did use Hola extensively and I can say that my experience has been satisfactory. You don’t need to register for anything which is the best part. You just go here and add this extension to your Chrome browser.
Then if you visit Netflix.com, and Netflix’s regular “Netflix hasn’t come to this part of the world yet” message shows up, you can click the extension icon on the right side of the browser menu and choose a country you want to route your traffic through. I chose and clicked the US flag and the page reloaded with Netflix’s welcome screen.
That’s all there is to it, really. You’ve successfully installed an extension that routes your traffic to specific sites through the country of your choice. There are many other standalone VPN software out there, but if your intention is to use just Netflix, and you would rather not pay for anything, this is the easiest way to do it.
Remember that by saying ‘not pay for anything’, I mean that not pay to get access to it. You’ll always need to pay Netflix to stream content. But getting access to Netflix in the first place is a whole another story. And that’s the story we’re at right now.
Accessing Netflix everywhere — Paid
The problem with the process above is that you are unable to access Netflix from your mobile phone, smart TV, gaming console, tablet, etc. Yes, there are standalone VPN apps for smartphones, and I didn’t like how some of them worked on my phones. Turning on VPN each time I wanted to view Netflix didn’t seem right.
Moreover, while it’s a good idea to do so, I didn’t want to route all my traffic through VPN. It slows down my internet speed (despite the providers saying that it won’t) and I’d rather not use it until I have to.
The solution I’ve come across is from a service called ibDNS. What they do is they provide you with a set of DNS addresses that you can add to the network settings of pretty much every device out there. When you’ve added those DNS addresses to your devices and your account is active with the service provider, you can access the ‘supported sites’ without having to turn anything on and off.
Allow me to explain it further. With ibDNS’ DNS enabled, when I view Netflix, it routes my traffic through the US allowing me to view Netflix’s content. But at the same time, if I access sites like Facebook or anything else, it’ll be a direct connection and will not be routed through their servers.
Adding DNS addresses to the route
What if, instead of adding the DNS address from ibDNS to every device that I own, I can add it to the device which all the internet traffic at my home goes through? You’re right, that’s the WiFi router. Fortunately, most WiFi routers out there will let you specify a custom set of DNS addresses.
Notably, most routers, in their default firmware, will not let you add a VPN connection/credentials. Which is why I prefer to use a DNS service instead of a VPN service to access Netflix. And Netflix really is the only site that I need to unblock, so it works fine for me.
You can refer to the manual of your router to see where to add the custom DNS addresses. I’m adding screenshots below to show how I added it to my TP-Link MR3420 router.
First of all, head over to ibDNS’s plans page and start the free trial. After the free trial, this service costs $5 per month.
Then log into your router’s configuration page and follow the screenshots below.
You may need to restart the router for the new DNS settings to take effect.
When restarted, try to visit netflix.com and it should load without any warning message.
Step 2: Stream content from Netflix
So you’ve managed to access Netflix, what now?
You’ll need to sign up first. Netflix has a 30-day free trial system so you will be able to view content without paying for 30 days. It’s especially good for us as we can test if viewing content from Netflix from behind a proxy or VPN is as smooth as we’d like them to be. You have enough time to judge whether Netflix and the things you need to do to get to it are worth it.
Note that when entering your billing information and credit card information, you may need to provide a US zip code just so Netflix will allow you to sign up.
How much does Netflix cost per month?
Netflix itself charges you $9.99 per month.
But I pay a total of $14.98 because I also pay unblock-us.com $4.99 per month for their DNS service. As of December 17, I purchased a lifetime license of ibDNS so I don’t really pay anything extra other than the $9.99 to Netflix. But you should calculate about $15 for yourself if you don’t already have a lifetime license of any smart DNS service.
Of course, I could eliminate their service and use one of the free ways to access Netflix. But the convenience of using the DNS on my router to access Netflix on all of my devices gives me makes the $5 charge worth every cent.
You may not think that you need it. But if you do have multiple devices, trust me, you will want to stream Netflix on at least some of them. (Netflix remembers which episode of which TV show you were watching up to the minute and second so that you can resume from the exact same moment on a different device. It’s insanely helpful.)
How to pay for Netflix?
Good question. You’ll need a credit or debit card that supports international payment gateway. Netflix US will charge you in USD, so it’ll be ideal if your card can be used to make purchases in USD.
Even if your card was issued outside of the US, you’ll likely be able to get through it as long as you provide a US zip code during sign up and your card can actually be used to make international payments online.
A service like Payoneer or Neteller comes in handy if you want a prepaid card that can be used online. I especially like Neteller since you can use it to transfer money to your Neteller account and then use the prepaid card to pay online. If you’re a freelancer working in marketplaces like freelancer.com or upwork.com, you’re probably better off with Payoneer.
An alternative way to pay for Netflix is to get some Netflix gift cards. I was fortunate enough to physically visit the US and get some Netflix gift cards. These are soft of like prepaid cards that can only be used with Netflix. You can redeem the code with Netflix and the amount you’ve paid for the gift card will be added to your Netflix account.
I bought $130 worth of Netflix gift cards so I’m good for at least one year of Netflix subscription. If you’re not going to the US anytime soon, you can grab someone who will, and ask them to buy some Netflix gift cards for you.
Why can’t I get a VPN service and use it on all of my devices?
You most certainly can. I just think it requires a bit too much work to connect to VPN each time.
Can’t I configure my router to use a VPN connection all the time?
You can. But chances are, your router doesn’t support this. DD-WRT is a free firmware for routers that allows you to install it on a number of supported routers and enjoy some additional features including the ability to add a VPN connection. Unfortunately, the process of installing that firmware is time-consuming, confusing, and definitely not easy. Because I have an alternative way, and I don’t need all my traffic to route through VPN, I didn’t bother doing that.
Why don’t you want to route all of your traffic to route through VPN?
It slows the speed down. Yes, many premium VPN service providers say that they don’t throttle the speed down. And they probably don’t. But I have a very slow connection at home and I’ve always noticed that no matter which service I use, the connection becomes a tiny bit slower. I already have a slow connection so I’d rather have all the speed to myself.
The services that I’ve used so far (and would recommend to anybody) are Cloak and VPNUnlimited.
Speaking of speed, will Netflix work in my speed? What if my connection is slow?
This is one of the reasons why I love Netflix. It adopts to your internet speed. When my connection becomes slower, it lowers the resolution, but not to the point where it’s unwatchable.
When a good bit of video has been downloaded while streaming, Netflix attempts to load videos in a higher resolution. It means, in sloppy connection, the resolution constantly changes. But the simple fact that I’m able to stream the content without having to download it is what makes me happy.
If your connection is good enough to stream in full HD, Netflix will definitely stream in HD. If it’s not, Netflix will stream in whatever resolution it thinks is best to continue streaming without hanging up in buffering.
Will it work with my Chromecast?
Unfortunately, no. Chromecast has built-in Google DNS which forces all content to route through Google server. What that means is even if you setup the DNS in your router, Chromecast will still try to load it via Google DNS and, therefore, fail to load the Netflix app because it’ll reveal your real location to Netflix.
So, there is no workaround?
Actually, there is. And it involves a computer. Allow me a few days to write up a post on how to stream Netflix on Chromecast from a non-supported country and you’ll see. The only hint I can give you is this: You’ll always need a WiFi-connected laptop for that to work.
What about Netflix regions?
As if everything wasn’t confused enough, there are regions in Netflix. So, Netflix in Canada may not have the same content (movies and TV shows) that Netflix in US has and vice versa. Various regions have different kinds of content. I personally prefer the US region for no particular reason. But if you want to access a different Netflix region, you can configure that from your DNS service provider’s settings page (e.g., unblock-US.com’s settings page).
Is that all? Maybe. I didn’t intend for this article to be this long; turns out, it did. But I think I’ve covered pretty much all the basics you need to know to access Netflix from a non-supported country.
In all honesty, getting access to Netflix isn’t that difficult. It’s paying for the actual Netflix subscription which can be a bit difficult for folks without a debit or credit card that allows for international payments to take place.
Do you have any questions? Let me know in the comment and I’ll try my best to answer them.