Although the world is interconnected like never before, there are instances where we can’t access online content because it’s made exclusively for certain regions. This applies to websites, movies, music, TV shows, and many other services.
Such limits on accessibility are referred to as geographical restrictions and are more common than you’d think. So what’s the deal with them, and can we remove geo-blocking?
Thankfully, it’s possible to get around geo-blocking using VPNs (Virtual Private Networks). This software redirects your connection through remote servers, making it look like you’re located elsewhere.
Read on to learn the details and which services work the best at removing geographical restrictions.
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How to bypass geo-blocking with a VPN
Top 3 VPNs for geo-block removal
- The best VPN for getting around geo-blocks9.7
- Geo-bypass VPN with the greatest country9.3
- The cheapest VPN for geo-block removal9.2
What is geo-blocking?
Geo-blocking is the practice of restricting access to content based on geographical location. This is done by companies and governments alike. They do so by checking your IP address (which is used to estimate your location) and acting accordingly.
While this seems unfair, it’s typically done to comply with copyright laws, distribution rights, and other reasons. In short, it’s perfectly legal, and there’s not much you can do about it.
Unless, of course, you have a solid VPN at your disposal. This tool grants you a different IP address by routing your web traffic through servers in different countries. Then your true location is hidden, tricking online services into thinking you’re logging in from elsewhere.
Not only that, but a VPN protects your entire connection with AES-256 encryption. It makes your internet activities unreadable to your ISP (Internet Service Provider) and other snoopers on the local network. Plus, the most secure VPN services can block malicious ads, online trackers, and other cyber threats from damaging your system.
The best VPNs for bypassing geographical restrictions
When you learn about the fundamentals of VPN technology, you realize they inevitably slow your internet connection down. That’s not ideal if you want to change your Netflix region and watch foreign content in UHD.
Luckily, that’s barely noticeable when you choose the fastest VPNs on the market. These providers utilize the latest data-transfer technology to keep everything smooth, efficient, and secure.
However, the VPN service also needs loads of worldwide servers to ensure access to as much exclusive foreign content as possible. Moreover, more servers equals more IP addresses to choose from, a necessity when some services block IPs to reduce VPN use.
We picked three VPNs that fit these requirements and will serve you well when bypassing geographical restrictions. Learn more about them below.
1. NordVPN – the most reliable VPN for removing geo-blocks
24/7 live chat, Email
- Massive array of servers
- Independently-audited no-logs policy
- Solid features for security and privacy
- Only six simultaneous connections
NordVPN is the ultimate VPN for unblocking geographically-restricted content. It has loads of servers across the world and a solid selection of security features. Subscriptions start at $3.39/month, but you can give it a risk-free test run by claiming the 7-day free trial on the Google Play Store.
The service boasts 6000+ servers across 61+ countries. Besides regular locations, you can connect to specialty servers (P2P, obfuscated, Onion over VPN, Double VPN). And if you’re not keen on sharing, consider purchasing a dedicated IP address in either the USA, the UK, Germany, Netherlands, or France.
One of the best things about NordVPN is the well-rounded Threat Protection feature. This tool blocks malicious ads, online trackers, and scans files for viruses. Meanwhile, you can use Meshnet to connect multiple remote devices into the same network for file-sharing or LAN party purposes.
Ensure access to the greatest discounts using a NordVPN coupon code. Plus, you can refund the service, no questions asked, using the 30-day money-back guarantee.
For a deeper investigation of NordVPN, read our NordVPN review.
2. Surfshark VPN – cheap and effective VPN for unblocking foreign content
24/7 live chat, FAQ
- Unlimited device connections
- Blazing-fast connections with WireGuard
- Greatest country variety
- Some features cost extra
Looking for access to as much foreign content as possible? The sign-up for Surfshark VPN for only $2.29/month. The service has the largest selection of countries on top of excellent performance on an unlimited number of devices. Try it out using the 7-day trial on either the Google Play Store or Apple App Store.
The Surfshark fleet consists of 3200+ servers across 100+ countries. The entire network runs on RAM-only hardware, providing exceptional user data integrity. Additionally, you can connect to MultiHop servers to reroute your connection through multiple locations.
Surfshark VPN customers should enable CleanWeb to keep their online activities unencumbered by malicious ads and malware-infected websites. Plus, NoBorders Mode will guarantee access to the internet even on the most restrictive networks. Lastly, consider grabbing the Surfshark One package for added antivirus protection and other privacy benefits.
Don’t miss out on huge savings, and use a Surfshark coupon at checkout. And if you’re not happy with the performance of this VPN, the 30-day money-back warranty has you covered.
For a deeper investigation of Surfshark VPN, read our Surfshark VPN review.
3. Atlas VPN – the most affordable VPN for bypassing restrictions
Email, tickets, FAQ
- Good free version
- Limitless connections
- Fast and secure
- No router firmware
The most frugal content connoisseurs should look no further than Atlas VPN. The service costs merely $1.64/month yet grants unlimited simultaneous connections, the WireGuard protocol, and a solid server network. Not ready to commit just yet? Not a problem; just get started with the free plan!
The premium Atlas VPN plan unlocks 1000+ servers in 49+ countries. Meanwhile, the free version has three location options (New York, Los Angeles, and Amsterdam). The costless plan also lacks Streaming servers, which are optimized for unlocking movies and TV shows on Netflix and other video content platforms.
Atlas VPN users can use one account to connect an unlimited number of devices. Supported gadgets include desktop, mobile, Android TV, and Amazon Fire TV. Unfortunately, router support is absent, meaning you’ll need a different VPN for securing obscure devices.
Grab an Atlas VPN coupon for guaranteed access to ridiculous discounts. And don’t forget about the 30-day money-back guarantee if the service lets you down.
For a deeper investigation of Atlas VPN, read our Atlas VPN review.
The most important features for bypassing geo-blocks effectively
Not every VPN can circumvent geographical restrictions effectively. We’ll briefly outline the basic features a virtual private network needs to get around geo-blocking without impeding the user experience.
- Servers across the globe. Unsurprisingly, a VPN should provide a diverse selection of servers to unlock as much global content as possible. Plus, a large number of servers can support a huge user base without negatively impacting performance.
- Fast connectivity. Unblocking foreign content shouldn’t come at the expense of connection speed. Ensure your chosen VPN has swift tunneling protocols, such as WireGuard. Alternatively, check online VPN speed tests to see how certain providers are doing lately.
- Excellent security features. You can kill two birds with one stone by using a VPN to unblock restricted content and protect your typical online escapades. Consider your threat model and pick a service with features against malicious ads, trackers, viruses, and malware.
- Reliable privacy practices. VPNs work by rerouting your connection through servers elsewhere. Under these conditions, the provider could monitor your browsing data and sell it to data brokers. You can be certain that isn’t happening if the service is based in a privacy-respecting country and has conducted an independent audit of its zero-logs policy.
- Solid device compatibility. You’ll likely want to access geo-restricted content on a wide array of devices. However, that’s only possible if the VPN has loads of different dedicated apps and is compatible with routers.
- Reasonable price. In the VPN industry, you get what you pay for. Don’t expect effectiveness with free services. Instead, grab a VPN coupon code and subscribe to the leading providers with excellent discounts.
- 24/7 customer support. Sometimes getting around geo-blocks takes a bit more effort than you initially think. That’s why opting for a VPN with excellent customer support options is vital for easy problem-solving.
How does geo-blocking work?
Geo-restriction technology is used to achieve several purposes:
- Media companies may have different copyright deals in different countries. Therefore, they will often use geo-blocking to restrict access to copyrighted material for users in a particular country,
- Setting different prices for users in different countries,
- Limiting access to content in compliance with national laws,
- Limiting access to content that is deemed irrelevant to foreign users.
The popularity of Netflix has greatly drawn the world’s attention to this phenomenon. But guess what? Even Netflix hates geo-blocking and has been purposely avoiding calls to place harder restrictions on their content. As a result, the platform developed a worldwide user base and is on the verge of becoming a regular noun.
So, how does it function? There are a few ways, but primarily you will have to deal with IP-based and credit card/bank account-based geo-blocking. Let’s take it a step at a time.
IP address blocking
When connected to the internet, each computer has a unique number that it can be identified by. This is called the “IP address” or simply “IP.” It contains four sections and looks like “184.108.40.206” or “220.127.116.11”.
If someone knows your IP, they know more than just a number. In addition, they can likely learn:
- Your internet service provider (ISP)
- Your country of origin
When you access some website or service, it gets your IP address and can use geolocation software to determine where you are. Once this has been determined, the site or service will display content tailored to your location.
Credit card or bank transfer restrictions
While it’s easy to hide your IP address with the advent of VPNs, getting a foreign credit card is no laughing matter. As such, some online services require payment information just to determine your true location.
Thankfully, there are ways of hiding your payment information via virtual cards or anonymous payment methods. But whether a service supports such workarounds is another frustrating question.
Where you will encounter geo-blocking
There’s a good chance you’ll run into geographical restrictions in unexpected places. Let us introduce you to the most common places of coming across geo-blocks.
- Movie and TV show streaming. Newly-released video content is arguably the most common VPN use case. Popular TV shows and movies on streaming platforms like Netflix are frequently geo-restricted because of distribution rights. Luckily, a VPN for streaming can change your Netflix region and deliver video in glorious HD quality.
- Music streaming. Digital music is no exception to the annoying whims of record company distribution deals. Of course, that’s not a problem when you have a VPN for Spotify.
- Video game releases. Video games don’t get released worldwide at the same time. Instead, some regions get early access and the chance to play the game before everyone else. If that seems unfair, consider getting a gaming VPN to unlock games earlier and protect yourself against DDoS attacks.
- Sporting events. Blackouts, broadcast exclusivity, and other nuisances make watching sporting events online a frustrating experience. You can mitigate this frustration using a VPN for streaming sports.
- Websites. Sometimes governments restrict various websites used for information distribution. The list can include news publications, blogs, and social media. Be sure to familiarize yourself with the best ways of unblocking websites anywhere while you have the chance.
VPN can’t remove geo-blocks: potential fixes
The effectiveness of VPN software is well-known, and online services do their best to limit their influence. For example, they ban VPN IP addresses or restrict users with encrypted traffic. Luckily, the best VPN services have their fair share of tools for dealing with these blockades. Plus, there’s no shortage of actions you can take to get everything up and running.
- Check for DNS leaks. On rare occasions, VPNs can fail to hide your IP address effectively. You can check if everything is working properly via websites like dnsleaktest.com
- Switch to another server. IP banning is the most popular and effective way of limiting VPN usage to curb geo-blocking. Thankfully, getting a new one is easy when the VPN service has plenty of servers to choose from. Plus, you can always use a dedicated IP address if you’d like to prevent others from abusing a particular IP.
- Update your VPN software. You should update your apps regularly to stay on top of the ever-changing geographical restriction battlefield.
- Enable Stealth VPN. Bypassing VPN blocks generally requires masking your traffic with sophisticated security-focused protocols. They’re different with each provider but are commonly referred to as Stealth VPN.
Still can’t utilize the VPN to get around geo-blocking? Consider reaching out to customer support or switching to another VPN provider entirely.
Can I use a free VPN to bypass geographical limitations?
You might be tempted to try a free VPN to access exclusive foreign content. It’s possible in some cases, but there are a few caveats.
First off, the best free VPN services aren’t entirely free but are no-cost options of paid providers. That means the costless versions include some limitations to make the premium plan more enticing. Unfortunately, this can include reducing the number of available servers, throttling connection speeds, and providing fewer security features.
On the other hand, some VPNs advertise themselves as completely free with no strings attached. In reality, such services collect your data to offset maintenance costs. Alternatively, they can be completely malicious and infect your device with malware.
It’s best to avoid such risks and opt for premium VPN services. If you’re not ready to invest, consider a VPN with a time-limited free trial. I imagine you won’t mind paying the price once you see how effective the service is.
Other methods of bypassing geo-restrictions
There’s no need to limit yourself to VPNs when circumventing geographical restrictions. However, keep in mind that virtual private networks are the most effective way to do so. Therefore, you should consider these as secondary options if a VPN didn’t fulfill its promise.
1. Proxy service and Smart DNS
The main difference between a proxy and a VPN is that the latter will secure your entire connection. Meanwhile, a proxy works on specific apps, such as your browser or BitTorrent client. Both will hide your real IP, but proxies will usually not encrypt your data.
In essence, a good VPN is more reliable and universal – it will make all of your online activities confidential. That might not be the biggest concern if you’re only interested in streaming geo-blocked content, but you will find it useful in other situations.
Smart DNS is similar to proxy services (or rather, it is a proxy of a different kind). Essentially it lets you use a different DNS (Domain Name Server) than the one provided by your ISP. The main difference between a regular proxy and Smart DNS is that the latter will have just some of your traffic diverted through it. This makes it faster than using a proxy or VPN, but it is also a lot more limited.
2. Tor (The Onion Router)
The Tor browser is another tool that can hide your location on the web. Due to its decentralized nature, Tor makes your IP address much more difficult to trace whenever you interact with web services.
Simply put, it routes your online traffic via multiple relays that are run by volunteers, which makes your geographical location almost untraceable. Best part? Tor is completely free!
That said, the Tor browser has some downsides as well:
- Tor use may be illegal in your country
- Some Tor relays can be blocked by Internet Service Providers
- Your connection speeds can drop drastically when using Tor
Luckily, the first two points can be nullified using a VPN for Tor Browser. Connectivity will decrease even further, but that’s probably better than no access to the world wide web.
Geographical restrictions are pretty common and are showing no signs of stopping. That means there’s no time like the present to grab a VPN for getting around geo-blocks. The best service for this task is NordVPN, with its wide-reaching server network and impressive feature arsenal.
What’s your preferred VPN for circumventing geographical limitations? Does it work reliably? Share your experiences by leaving a comment!
You may also like to read:
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How to bypass NHL blackouts
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How to change Netflix region
How to change your location with a VPN
Is geo-blocking legal?
Geographical restrictions are legal worldwide. The practice is a necessity because of international copyright laws and licensing agreements. Thankfully, a virtual private network can bypass geo-blocks by changing your location.
Is bypassing geo-blocking illegal?
There are no repercussions from authorities for bypassing geographical restrictions in most countries. However, online services can block users who use VPN software to alter their location. Plus, some countries have made VPNs illegal.
Which VPN can bypass geographic restrictions?
NordVPN is the best service for bypassing geographical restrictions. It has over 6000 servers in 61+ countries, giving you plenty of foreign IP addresses to choose from. Plus, you can grab a dedicated IP address to prevent others from getting your IP address flagged.
How do I bypass geo-restrictions without VPN?
Your other two options are proxies or the Tor Browser. The former requires manual setup and will work with only a specific application (e.g., your web browser) rather than your entire online traffic. Meanwhile, the Tor Browser grants slow connection speeds, and you can’t choose your server location.
Can I use a free VPN to bypass geo-blocking?
Yes, a free VPN can technically bypass geographical restrictions. However, these services have a low number of servers, thus severely limiting your options. Plus, you won’t be able to unblock Netflix and other streaming services. If you’re not concerned about that, go with Atlas VPN as a free VPN for getting around geo-blocks.