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How Does Netflix Detect a VPN (And How to Bypass VPN Block)

How does Netflix Detect VPN

Tons of people use Netflix with a VPN to get access to their favorite shows and movies, especially while traveling abroad. However, not all VPNs work with Netflix, as this site is extremely aggressive when it comes to blocking VPNs. 

If you’d like to know why Netflix blocks VPNs, just follow that link to read our article on that topic. In this guide, we’ll instead focus on how Netflix detects VPNs, and how to bypass VPN blocks by making Netflix stop detecting your VPN connection.

Netflix Detected VPN Proxy Error Message

How Does Netflix Detect a VPN?

Netflix mostly detects VPNs by recognizing and blocking popular VPN IPs and detecting shared VPN IPs. In addition to that, Netflix can also detect VPNs through cookies, DNS leaks, and GPS data. 

Here’s a quick overview of each detection method:

Recognizing Known VPN Provider IP Addresses

Netflix likely enlists a service that tracks and provides information about IP addresses, including which ones are associated with VPNs. Once they know which ones belong to VPNs, they can block them. This becomes a problem when users use a service that doesn’t regularly refresh their IP addresses.

Detecting Shared IP Addresses

When you are using a VPN, you may be using a shared IP address that may be used by quite a few other users. If Netflix sees a lot of traffic coming from the same IP address, they can figure out pretty quickly that it is a VPN and block it. This particular issue becomes a problem for those VPNs that have limited servers and available IP addresses.

Cookies

Cookies are small text files that end up on your device when you access websites. Cookies are used to automate on-site processes to provide you with a more convenient user experience. For example, Netflix uses cookies to automatically log you into your account when you access its site.

While cookies are useful, many of them can actually leak your real location to Netflix when you use a VPN. The site will see that you’re connecting from a country that matches the VPN’s IP address. However, it will also see your device’s cookies, which match your real location. When Netflix detects this issue, it will automatically assume you’re using a VPN, and block you.

DNS Leaks

A DNS (Domain Name System) leak is when your DNS traffic leaks outside the encrypted VPN tunnel. 

Normally, when you access a site, your browser “asks” your ISP’s DNS server for that site’s IP address. However, when you use a VPN to access a website, your browser should communicate with the VPN’s DNS server, not your ISP’s DNS server. Otherwise, your ISP will see your DNS traffic. On top of that, the site you want to access will see that your DNS request is coming from your ISP’s DNS server. So, the website will see where the DNS requests are originating from, namely your real location.

If you access Netflix with a VPN that suffers a DNS leak, Netflix will be able to detect your real location. Because your DNS data won’t match your IP data, Netflix will know you’re using a VPN.

GPS Data

Unlike Netflix’s website, its mobile apps don’t only use your IP address to see your location — the apps also use your phone’s GPS data. However, most VPNs only hide your IP address. So, if you use a VPN with the Netflix mobile app, it will see that your IP address and GPS data don’t match.

For example, let’s say you’re from Germany and use a US VPN server to access the Netflix app on your smartphone. The app will see that your connection request is coming from the US, but it will also see that your phone’s GPS location is in Germany. Due to this mismatch, Netflix will very likely assume you’re using a VPN, and it will block your connection. 

What Happens When Netflix Catches You Using a VPN?

When Netflix detects a VPN connection, it will automatically block it. When that happens, you’ll usually see an error message that says you’re using a proxy service or that Netflix can’t find the page you’re looking for. Here’s an example of a Netflix proxy error:

Netflix Error Message when using a VPN

The only way to get rid of the error messages is to disconnect from the VPN and access Netflix again.

In addition to the proxy error messages, Netflix also does 2 other things when it detects a VPN connection:

  1. It redirects the VPN user to his/her country’s library. For example, let’s say you’re from Spain and use a US VPN server to access Netflix US. If Netflix detects the VPN, it automatically redirects you to Netflix Spain even though you’re connected to a US VPN server.
  2. It doesn’t let you log in. If Netflix detects your VPN connection, it won’t let you log into your account, and will say your login credentials are incorrect. No matter how many times you make sure you enter the right login details, Netflix will keep saying they’re incorrect.

Can Netflix Ban Me for Using a VPN?

Netflix’s terms of service are pretty vague when it comes to VPNs, but they do hint that using a VPN is against the rules. That said, we have never heard of anyone being banned by Netflix for using a VPN. We were also never banned when we were caught using a VPN with Netflix. 

The only thing Netflix will do is display a proxy error message or prevent you from using its platform as long as you’re connected to the VPN.

Is It Illegal to Use a VPN with Netflix?

There are no specific laws out there that make it illegal to use a VPN with Netflix. However, it might be against the law to do this in countries where using a VPN or Netflix is restricted, like China.

How to Bypass Netflix’s VPN Ban

Here’s what you can do to make Netflix stop detecting your VPN connection:

  1. Get a good VPN that refreshes its IPs often.
  2. Connect to a different server. 
  3. Use a different browser. 
  4. Use a dedicated IP address. 
  5. Enable the VPN’s DNS leak protection.
  6. Use Netflix’s site on mobile.

Get a Good VPN That Refreshes Its IPs Often

Some VPNs are better than others when it comes to renewing IP addresses. One way to avoid Netflix from detecting a VPN is to use an IP address that has not yet been identified as a VPN. The best way to accomplish that is to work with a VPN that has a massive number of addresses and is continuously renewing them. Check out the different providers that are suitable for streaming before choosing yours. 

Connect to a Different VPN Server

If you can’t access Netflix with a VPN, you can usually solve that problem by connecting to a different VPN server. There’s a chance Netflix blocked the IP of the server you’re using. So, connecting to a different server will provide you with access to a new IP that Netflix maybe hasn’t detected and blocked.

Also, if the VPN has dedicated streaming servers, use them instead of regular VPN servers. Streaming servers usually refresh their IP addresses much faster, so it’s harder for sites like Netflix to detect and block them.

Use a Different Browser

If you use your regular browser to access Netflix with a VPN, your browser’s cookies will likely give away your real location. To solve that issue, we strongly recommend using a separate browser for this. Also, you should use the browser’s incognito/private mode to prevent tracking cookies from leaking your geo-location. 

Use a Dedicated IP Addresses

Some VPNs, including NordVPN, can provide you with a dedicated VPN IP address that only you use. They may be available in the region from which you want to stream content. This will get you around many VPN detection methods. Since no one else uses the address, Netflix will have trouble identifying it as a VPN.

Most VPNs that have dedicated IPs offer them for a small price. If you’re on a very tight budget, however, we recommend trying PrivateVPN since it provides access to dedicated IPs for free.

Enable the VPN’s DNS Leak Protection

Most VPNs come with DNS leak protection enabled by default, but you should still check the VPN’s settings to see if it’s not turned off. If it is, enable it to prevent DNS leaks from revealing your real location to Netflix. 

You can also perform a DNS leak test to see if the VPN is working — here’s how:

  1. Head to ipleak.net. 
  2. The site will display your real IP and DNS addresses — take a screenshot of the results. 
  3. Connect to your VPN. 
  4. Refresh the ipleak.net page. 
  5. Compare the results with your screenshot. If your DNS addresses are still visible, the VPN is leaking them.

Use Netflix’s Site on Mobile

On mobile, we recommend accessing Netflix using your browser apps instead of the Netflix mobile apps. That way, Netflix can’t use GPS data to find your real location when you’re connected to a VPN.

If you insist on using the Netflix mobile app, there is a workaround — but only for Android users. Get a Surfshark subscription, as this VPN has a feature that lets you spoof your GPS data on Android. We tested it multiple times and it always worked with Netflix’ mobile apps.

Best VPNs to Bypass Netflix VPN Detection

1. NordVPN

his provider refreshes its IPs extremely fast, so it can easily avoid getting blocked by Netflix. We ran 20+ leak tests on a single US server, and we always had a different US IP address. In addition to that, NordVPN has 5,000+ servers in 55+ countries, blazing-fast streaming speeds, and easy-to-use apps for all platforms. It’s affordable and backs each purchase with a 30-day money-back guarantee.

Pros:
  • Thousands of lightning-fast servers
  • Unblocks streaming services
  • Fully supports Torrenting and P2P
  • Strict no-logs policy and RAM-disk servers
  • Ad blocker and malware protection features
  • Robust security features and military-grade encryption
  • 24/7 live chat support
  • 30-day money-back guarantee
Cons:
  • Only 6 simultaneous connections
  • No free trial

2. Surfshark

This VPN’s Nexus feature regularly refreshes your IP address while you’re connected to a VPN server. So, it’s difficult for streaming sites like Netflix to block this provider’s servers. Surfshark also allows unlimited connections, so it’s a good pick if everyone in your home needs a good Netflix VPN. With this VPN, you also get 3,200+ servers in 90+ countries, fast speeds, cheap plans, and a 30-day money-back guarantee.

Pros:
  • Very affordable
  • Unlimited simultaneous connections
  • Ad-blocking feature
  • Unblocks streaming platforms
  • Allows split-tunneling and has multi-hop VPN feature
  • No-log policy and strong security features
  • GPS spoofing on Android devices
  • 30-day money-back guarantee
Cons:
  • No free version
  • Does not allow P2P seeding

3. AtlasVPN

This VPN has dedicated streaming servers that refresh their IP addresses very often to avoid detection. In our tests, this VPN always allowed us to access any Netflix library we wanted. Atlas VPN also comes with 700+ servers in 30+ countries, unlimited connections, strong security, and intuitive apps. It has a free plan, but it doesn’t come with streaming support. Fortunately, its paid plans are very affordable and there’s a 30-day money-back guarantee.

Pros:
  • Very affordable plans and it has a free version
  • Fast Speeds
  • Unlimited device support
  • WireGuard protocol and strong security features
  • Torrenting-friendly
  • Unblocks streaming services
  • 30-day money-back guarantee
Cons:
  • No Linux app
  • Based in the US
  • Not so many servers

Conclusion

The good news is that VPNs are aware of Netflix’s effort to block their connections. The best VPNs are continually working on the problem and even offering tips and advice on connecting to the content you want.

RatingVPNWebsite
4.8/5NordVPN logo Visit NordVPN!
4.6/5 Visit Surfshark!
4.5/5Atlas VPN Logo Visit AtlasVPN!
4.4/5PrivateVPN logo horizontal Visit PrivateVPN!
4.4/5ExpressVPN Logo Visit ExpressVPN!
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