Netflix is the largest video streaming service in the world, and although it first launched in the United States, it now sells subscriptions to customers on all the major continents. But not all Netflix accounts function in the same way.
Due to copyright legislation and other licensing restrictions, Netflix streaming content is tied to specific regions and countries. That means that different parts of the world have access to different Netflix catalogs. For example, customers in Canada may be able to stream certain new release movies, while those titles show as unavailable in other parts of the world. Also keep in mind that the Netflix catalog changes on a regular basis, with movies and television shows being added and removed quite often.
Some Netflix users may assume that the currency they sign up with will determine what library access they have. With Netflix, this is not the case. You can sign up for the streaming service and pay your subscription fee with American dollars (USD), but your catalog access is purely determined by where you are physically located.
So if your computer and smart TV are connected to a wi-fi network in Canada, then you will have access to the Canadian catalog by default. But if you take your tablet or smartphone on vacation to England and connect to the internet there, then your Netflix access will switch to the UK catalog.
Obviously there are advantages to being able to choose which regional Netflix catalog you are using. The American library is one of the largest when it comes to popular Hollywood movies and TV shows. Fortunately there are some ways to connect to American Netflix while located in Canada, and you can discover them below.
Introduction to VPNs
The most common method for connecting to the American Netflix catalog from a computer in Canada is with a virtual private network (VPN) client. A VPN functions as a secure network channel that encrypts all of your data as it passes through your internet service provider (ISP).
With a VPN enabled on your computer, tablet, or smart TV, the device will use a masked IP address that points directly to the server where the VPN service lives. If the VPN server is located within the borders of the United States, it will register as an American IP address and Netflix will display the desired library contents.
When searching the web, you’ll find a range of free and paid VPN solutions. Although the free options may be tempting, be aware that due to the amount of traffic they attract, you will likely experience slow speeds and drops in connectivity. A paid VPN will offer better stability and consistent access to the American Netflix catalog.
Setting Up a VPN on a Device
These days, VPN clients are available for computers (both Windows and Mac) and mobile devices (including iOS and Android). The VPN provider that you choose will give you specific instructions for how to install and configure the VPN connection from your device.
Different VPN providers may use different forms of transmission protocols. The most common ones used today are PPTP (Point-to-Point Tunneling Protocol), L2TP (Layer 2 Tunneling Protocol), and OpenVPN. OpenVPN is considered to be the safest to use, as it offers additional layers of security.
In most cases, you can either install a separate application to run the VPN client, or else set up a manual VPN profile through the device’s network settings menu. If you need to perform the manual setup, simply look for the place to enter the VPN server address and then fill in your username and password. These should match the credentials that you selected when subscribing to the VPN service.
The VPN client will need to be run each time you want to access the United States catalog on Netflix. If your VPN connection fails during the middle of a stream, the content will likely stop and you will see an error from Netflix.
Setting Up a VPN on a Router
If you want to access American Netflix on a smart TV or on multiple devices in the home, you may want to consider setting up a VPN connection on your wi-fi router. This way, you only have to perform a single configuration and then your entire network will be routed through the encrypted channel with an American IP address.
Depending on the model and manufacturer of your wi-fi router, you may be able to set up a VPN connection without any additional hardware. To start, consult the router’s documentation and find out whether it supports VPN configurations. Then log in to the device’s firmware menu and enter the VPN server address and account information.
Every time your router requires a restart, be sure to log in to the hardware’s system menu and double check that the VPN connection is still functioning as desired.
DNS Proxies as an Alternative
All computers and networked devices use the Domain Name System (DNS) to route traffic around the internet between clients and servers. With a DNS proxy, you can change where your own data is routed without having to add a separate VPN to your network.
The only way to use a DNS proxy to watch Netflix content from other regions is to purchase a mobile or desktop application that supports such a feature. These tools will reroute your web traffic to the country of your choice and provide you with an IP address that corresponds to that region.
As with the VPN solution, a DNS proxy will likely slow down your overall network performance, since all internet traffic has to go through the extra step of connecting to a remote region. If you are unsatisfied with the speeds you receive, consider disabling the VPN or DNS proxy anytime that you do not need to use American Netflix.