Accessing US Netflix in Canada

I’m not sure if you’re like me -but I wish for more TV shows and movies than the Canadian Netflix allows.  I”d love to access US Netlflix.  So I did some digging the  and found out that the way Netflix works, is if you can make your computer or device look like it’s in the US you will be able to access us Netflix.

What does that mean?

When you connect to the internet at home, your internet provider assigns you an IP address. Just like your house an address that identifies it for mail, your internet connection has one too.

Your router provided by the internet provider also gives you IP addresses internal to your house so each computer or device connected to the internet has an internal address (not unlike us saying each room has a name to identify it – bedroom, bathroom, etc…).

For instance you could have a computer IP address of 192.168.1.12  (i.e. like a room in a house is called the bathroom) and your whole house could have an internet IP address of  112.162.124.135 (i.e. like a house being 122 Someway Ave).  Those addresses identify devices or locations.

Your internet IP address for your whole house can actually be used to identify your location.  To learn your IP address go to google and type in “What is my IP”.   To find your location, go to google and type in “Where am I”.  Google will use the IP address to find out where you are.

So that is the geeky background.  Here’s why it’s important.   For US Netflix  it needs to see an internet IP address that is located in the United States.  On mobile devices  (phones, tablets, computers) US Netflix will load on a Canadian account when they see a United States IP address on that device (So things like Apple TV are excluded from this option).  So all you need to do is find a way to give your computer a US IP address and you can access US Netflix.  Yes I know… that’s why you’re reading this – but I thought the background might help you understand how and why this works!

There are a number of ways of getting a US IP address. The way that works for me is I create a VPN (Virtual Private Network) tunnel to a server in the United States.  Most devices and computers allow a VPN.  Essentially a VPN provides a secure encrypted (unable to be read by anyone in between your device and the one it’s talking too) connection to another place on the internet.  Why I like VPN is it works both for US Netflix, but also on my devices to secure my connection and data when I’m surfing at a library or coffee shop.  All you do is turn on your VPN on the device you are using and it will give you that secure connection.

The VPN I use is Witopia PPTP VPN service. There are others and I’m going to look at some in the next month as I explore options again since my year subscription is up.   To sign up for a year with a reputable VPN provider  the price seems to be $40-50/year.  To me that’s $3-4 a month for a larger amount of content on Netflix).

One VPN provider I’m considering is Strong VPN.  There are free options, but I like the professional handling the paid services offer along with support.

Here are links to both those providers:
Witopia PPTP VPN service  (you’ll want the PersonalVPN Basic) 

Strong VPN 

To describe setting up the VPN might be burdensome as each company has their own settings, which are well documented.  I will say you want a specific VPN server address.  I initially I had pptp.witopia.net which didn’t work – somehow the US sites could tell it wasn’t from the States..  When I got specific and made sure my VPN server (the setup will ask for it) was pptp.sea.witopia.net (Telling it to get IP address from Seattle, Washington rather than just USA) it connected the VPN perfectly allowing me to access US content.

Here are some of the VPN setup instructions:

Witopia Instructions

Strong VPN Instructions

Once it’s setup –  to turn on the vpn you look on the task/menu bar for your computer and click the appropriate icon.  On an iphone you go into settings and set the vpn switch to on.  It’s that simple.  Then you open your browser and log into Netflix.

image of Mac VPN icon on taskbar 

image of iOS vpn switch 

What I recommend is you use two browsers.  Say Google Chrome for accessing Netflix Canada when not connected to the VPN and maybe Firefox for accessing Netflix US on the VPN.  That way there’s no caching or connection issues.  I’ve found that I have to clear out browser settings if I login to Netflix Canada, then connect VPN and want to access Netflix US.  On the iphone or ipad you may need to ensure the app is not open first (double click home button, hold finder on icon till it wiggles then click the x).

This approach also helps you access any US content including Hulu and US Network sites so you can see US tv episodes and streaming video online.

Hope this helps!  Let me know if you have any questions! IF this is still too geeky and the links don’t help – let me know specific questions and I’ll try to help!