Everything You Need to Know About Geoblocking in 2024
- Quick Guide: How to Bypass Geoblocking From Anywhere in 3 Easy Steps
- What Is Geoblocking and What Is It Used For?
- Best VPNs to Bypass Geoblocks From Anywhere in 2024
- ExpressVPN — The Best VPN for Getting Around Geoblocks
- CyberGhost — Beginner-Friendly Apps Allow for Easy Unblocking
- Private Internet Access — A Huge Server Network for Accessing Any Website
- Which Websites Can VPNs Unblock?
- FAQs on Bypassing Geoblocks With a VPN
- Access More Content Now
Geoblocking is a way platforms and websites restrict access to their content and services (mainly videos, shows, movies, or music) based on your location. If you've ever tried to watch a video or access a site only to see it is not available in your current location, then you've come across geoblocking. For example, platforms like Netflix, Hulu, and Pandora use it mostly due to licensing and broadcasting agreements. This goes not just for streaming services and music platforms, but also for banking apps, online shops, or social media sites.
A VPN helps you avoid these limitations by making it appear like you’re somewhere else, i.e. in a location where your chosen website is available. Websites can find out where you are by looking at your IP address, which is essentially your digital fingerprint. But with a VPN, you can connect to a server in a country of your choice, which gives you a matching IP address.
That said, while you can theoretically use a VPN in this way to watch content on streaming platforms outside their supported regions, it’s not recommended. It violates most streaming platforms’ terms and conditions and can even amount to copyright infringement. So it’s best to stick to using a VPN for accessing blocked websites and other services instead.
My team and I have tested 35+ VPN providers to find out which ones can bypass geoblocks reliably. My #1 choice is ExpressVPN because of its lightning-fast speeds, unparalleled unblocking capabilities, and extensive network of servers. It also comes with a 30-day money-back guarantee, so you can try ExpressVPN risk-free.
Quick Guide: How to Bypass Geoblocking From Anywhere in 3 Easy Steps
- Get a VPN. I recommend ExpressVPN because it’s the fastest and most stable option I’ve found for browsing, gaming, or torrenting around the world.
- Connect to a server in a country of your choice. For example, if you’re abroad and want to use your banking app without triggering an alert, choose a server in your home country.
- Head to the website you want. Now you can access your bank, read your favorite sites, listen to music, or play games from around the world.
What Is Geoblocking and What Is It Used For?
Geoblocking is the practice of denying or restricting access to content or service based on your geographical location. It's generally used for limiting access to streaming or music platforms. This happens mostly because of licensing and copyright agreements that the platforms have with content holders.
Also, it’s important to note that there is a difference between geoblocking and censoring content.
Censoring content means that a certain country has put up a firewall that restricts access to websites or apps that they deem illegal or inappropriate. A common example is China with its Great Firewall, which blocks the use of websites (like YouTube) and apps (like WhatsApp) that would otherwise be available there if it wasn't for the firewall. Another example would be the UAE, which blocks porn and gambling sites.
Geoblocking (or geo-restricting), as mentioned before, is based solely on your geographical location and it has no relation to your country limiting access to certain content. For example, BBC iPlayer is only available in the UK, and you are blocked if you try viewing its content from anywhere else. Similarly, you can only watch Sling TV in the US. If you’re from the US and try watching its shows from abroad, you get an error message saying the site isn’t available in your location.
Streaming platforms and websites can pin down your location by tracking your IP address. IP addresses are unique identifiers that are assigned to computers and other devices using the internet. Think of it as your return address. When you want to send mail, you need to give your return address (e.g., the zip code of your hometown). Similarly, your internet-connected device passes its IP address along to the websites you want to visit. Based on your IP address, the sites you go to can determine where you are. That way, some sites can tailor their content based on the location they see from your IP address.
There are 3 major reasons why these platforms use geoblocks (or georestrictions):
- Protecting licensed or copyrighted content. Streaming platforms only own the original content they produce. If they want to provide additional content for their viewers, they need to negotiate a deal with the content’s copyright holder. Each of these deals can have different requirements for how the content can be used and distributed. As a result, streaming services use geoblocking to ensure that they don’t breach the licensing agreements.
- Market segmentation. It’s the process of dividing a market into consumer groups with similar needs and wants. For example, some shows on Netflix Japan might not be available on Netflix France because they are deemed irrelevant to French viewers. It can also be used to promote a piece of content. By premiering it in some markets first, the streaming platforms can create a sense of anticipation.
- Price discrimination. It’s the practice of charging different customers different prices for the same product or service. Geoblocking facilitates this by preventing you from signing up for a service in a marketplace of a country where the service is cheaper. For example, if you signed up for Netflix Turkey, you would pay less than for Netflix US.
Why You Need a VPN to Bypass Geoblocks
Some websites employ geoblocks. If they see that your IP is from an unsupported region, they restrict you from viewing their content. A VPN hides your IP address and replaces it with another one from a country of your choosing. That way, it appears as if you are browsing from that region.
However, not all VPNs can get past the sophisticated geoblocking technology. To bypass geo-restrictions, a VPN must have enough IP addresses to go around. However, many low-quality VPNs only have a limited number at their disposal.
As a result, the same IP address can be assigned to multiple users. This can lead to a website getting an unusually high amount of traffic from one IP address. When this happens, the website can easily spot VPN users and block those IP addresses.
To stay competitive in the market, a VPN has to constantly replace blocked IP addresses with new ones. That way, it can prove reliable in unblocking geo-restricted sites. However, not all can keep up. Only premium VPNs have enough resources to do this.
First-rate VPNs also have excellent connection speeds, and plenty of servers worldwide. This lets you use your favorite sites from back home without interruptions while traveling.
After testing numerous VPNs, I found 3 that delivered on all of these fronts. They helped me unblock my banking accounts while I was abroad. Also, their speeds were fast, so I didn’t experience any interruptions.
Best VPNs to Bypass Geoblocks From Anywhere in 2024
Tested February 2024 Try Risk-Free for 30 Days
- Blazing-fast speeds for zero loading time on websites
- Kill switch (Network Lock) that keeps your IP hidden at all times
- AES 256-bit encryption to safeguard your data
- Compatible with: Windows, Mac, iOS, Android, Linux, routers, Apple TV, and more
ExpressVPN has it all: lightning-fast connection speeds, a huge network of servers across the globe, and, most importantly, reliable unblocking capabilities. That way, it easily gets past the VPN-blocking technologies that most sites use, so you can access your country’s content even while traveling.
I was really impressed with ExpressVPN’s speed performances. This is largely due to its proprietary Lightway protocol, which is one of the fastest and most efficient ones at the moment. My initial speed without a VPN was 49 Mbps. I wanted to see how well it performs at long distances, so I chose UK, US, and Tokyo servers to try. When I tested ExpressVPN’s faraway servers, the speeds averaged 45 Mbps, with only about 8% loss. If you use it on servers that are closer to you, your speeds will be even better.
Its server infrastructure is equally impressive, with over 3,000 servers in 105 countries. It's good to have a large network because, if one server can't access a geo-restricted website, you can always fall back on another one. Aside from that, ExpressVPN’s servers are particularly good at unblocking sites because they all use obfuscation technology. That means they can hide the fact you’re using a VPN, which makes bypassing geoblocks easier. I had no issues accessing any of the websites I tried.
ExpressVPN has one drawback: its price. Its subscription is a bit pricey compared to the industry standard, starting from $6.67/month per month. If you come across one of its discounts, though, you can save up to 49%.
Additionally, it is backed by a 30-day money-back guarantee, which means that you can test ExpressVPN risk-free. If you’re not 100% satisfied with it, you can request a full refund, no questions asked. I tested out its refund policy by contacting its customer support through the company’s 24/7 live chat. My money was back within 3 days via PayPal.
- Reliable servers in 100 countries, including torrenting-optimized locations
- Strong encryption to keep you data and activity private
- 7 simultaneous device connections
- Compatible with: Windows, Mac, iOS, Android, Linux, routers, Apple TV, and more
CyberGhost is one of the easiest VPNs to work with that I’ve ever tested. Installing the app takes a few short minutes, and everything is set up and ready to go right out of the box. Finding the ideal server for you is easy as well — simply search the country you’re looking to access content from, and connect to the relevant result. All servers I tried took just a few seconds to connect to as well.
Its connection speeds were very stable and reliable so I could surf and torrent without interruptions. When I tested CyberGhost’s speed using its UK servers, it averaged around 35Mbps, which means the loss was a little bigger than with ExpressVPN. But I didn’t really notice any slowdown at all. My connection was fast enough to download 2GB of free ebooks in a little over 8 minutes. That’s just 3 minutes slower than with my normal connection.
I was really impressed with CyberGhost’s dedicated IP feature. This means you can get a unique IP address only you can use, which makes the sites harder to detect you’re using a VPN and block you. Even though this is an add-on, I found the price of only a few dollars inexpensive yet useful for avoiding detection.
The cost of CyberGhost’s monthly subscription is a bit on the expensive side, and it comes with a shorter money-back guarantee. Its long-term plans are more affordable, starting from $2.03/month. Additionally, CyberGhost often offers generous discounts, so you can save up to 84% on the subscription cost.
Its long-term plans come with a 45-day money-back guarantee. That gives you enough time to test CyberGhost out properly without worrying about any hidden catches. I wanted to see if its refund procedure was as simple as advertised, so I contacted its customer support through email. The process was easy, and I received the total amount on my account after only 4 days.
- A lot of servers worldwide, so you can unblock content from anywhere
- Unlimited simultaneous device connections
- Customizable automatic kill switch that keeps your connection and personal data secure at all times
- Compatible with: Windows, Mac, iOS, Android, Linux, routers, Apple TV, and more
PIA’s greatest strength is undoubtedly its large network of servers across the globe. It has 29,650 servers in 91 countries. This means that, in case of server downtime, you can always switch to another server and continue browsing your favorite sites.
All the servers I tested easily worked with my banking app when I was away from home. I also tried the VPN out with a number of websites from different countries and had no problem with any of the pages I clicked on. PIA was always able to get past any sophisticated VPN-blocking technologies.
PIA’s speeds were a bit slower than ExpressVPN and CyberGhost. My tests showed that the speed of PIA’s US servers averaged around 32Mbps. Still, I haven’t noticed a big change when torrenting. I tried downloading the same 2GB file with PIA as I did with CyberGhost and it took just under 9 minutes — so not a huge difference.
PIA’s subscription plans are inexpensive overall. There are both short- and long-term options available, and the prices start at $2.03/month. They can even drop by 82% for its longer subscriptions.
It also comes with a 30-day money-back guarantee, so you can try PIA out risk-free. And if you’re unhappy with it for whatever reason, you can claim a full refund. I had no issues getting my refund after about 2 weeks of using it.
Which Websites Can VPNs Unblock?
A good VPN can unblock everything from geo-restricted banking services to social media platforms and news articles that are blocked in a certain country. You have to make sure that your VPN has good server coverage so you can appear as if you’re browsing from the country of your choice. Aside from that, it's important it has solid speeds, so you don't experience lag or freezes. I recommend ExpressVPN because it fits these criteria perfectly.
There are some countries that completely block (or censor) certain websites and apps. On the other hand, some sites are geo-restricted to 1 or more locations, so you can’t access them while traveling abroad. Here’s a list of some of those websites, apps, and platforms:
|Streaming platforms and/or online cable providers:
|YouTube TV, Netflix, Sling TV, Hulu + Live TV, HBO Max, Paramount+, Showtime, Amazon Prime Video, fuboTV, Disney+,
Foreign video services ― RaiPlay, Digi Online, Mediaset, TV4 Play, BBC iPlayer
|Social media platforms:
|Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, TikTok,
|Sports streaming websites:
|Fox Sports Go, ESPN, Live Soccer TV, Cricfree, SonyLiv, CBS Sports
|WhatsApp, Viber, Telegram, Signal, Facebook Messenger
|Tinder, Bumble, Hinge, Grindr
|BetOnline, Bovada, El Royale
|NY Times, WGN, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune
FAQs on Bypassing Geoblocks With a VPN
How can I avoid geoblocking while traveling?
You can easily avoid geoblocking while traveling by using a VPN. If a site you use back home isn't available where you are now, you can just connect to a server in your home country to regain access. That way, you'll appear as if you're home and the site won’t block you.
Can I use Tor, proxy servers, or Smart DNS to unblock georestricted content?
It’s possible. However, these 3 methods do not work as well as a VPN. Only a top-class VPN can access geoblocked content and protect your privacy at the same time.
Tor, short for The Onion Router, is a publicly available software designed for maintaining private communication on the internet. It functions by directing your internet connection through a sequence of nodes before reaching its final destination, such as a website. As a result, websites find it challenging to ascertain your precise location.
However, using Tor to unblock content may end up being slower than normal. This is due to the process of sending traffic through all of the nodes, which slows down the speed of information processed. With that in mind, it’s not ideal for quick browsing — especially on sites with videos or lots of images.
In addition to this, you can only access Tor through its own browser, and the setup can be complicated.
Top VPNs, like ExpressVPN, allow you to use Tor with a VPN (known as “Tor over VPN”) in order to achieve added security and privacy protection.
- Proxy servers
A proxy is a "middle-man" between you and the website you want to access. It handles all of your requests in order to make your browsing activity appear as if it's actually coming from the proxy server's IP address.
However, unlike VPNs, there is no guarantee of privacy when using a proxy server. Once your data leaves your network and goes through the proxy server, it could be intercepted before ever reaching its intended destination.
- Smart DNS
Smart DNS works like a proxy service. It doesn't protect your data, but it will allow you to appear as if you're browsing from another country.
However, since it doesn’t encrypt your traffic, it offers less security than a VPN.
Can free VPN bypass geoblocks?
It’s very unlikely. To begin with, free VPNs are rarely able to bypass the sophisticated VPN-blocking technologies that most websites use. Instead, it’s best to get a premium VPN that comes backed by a money-back guarantee, so you know you’ll have reliable access to everything you want to browse. If you find it’s not for you, you can easily get a full refund.
Unfortunately, free VPNs simply do not have enough resources to add new IPs at the rate they are being blocked, so many of their IP addresses are already blocklisted. Their connection speeds are usually slow, and the servers are overcrowded too. So, if you somehow manage to bypass the geoblocks imposed by some sites, you’ll still have a long wait to load the pages.
Even if you didn’t mind all the loading times and server dropouts, free services also often cap the data you can use. You probably won't be able to finish reading the day’s news before it runs out.
What’s more, free VPNs have server locations in only a small number of countries. This makes them highly unlikely to access foreign sites.
And lastly, they might sell your data to third parties, making them highly unsafe.
Access More Content Now
Geoblocking prevents you from accessing certain websites or services based on your location. It is a practice employed by lots of different sites for a variety of reasons.
The good news is that a VPN can change your virtual location and make you appear as if you're somewhere else.
I recommend using ExpressVPN because of its unparalleled unblocking capabilities, excellent speeds, and server infrastructure worldwide. This allows you to access all the sites you want, so you can enjoy all the content even while traveling.
Additionally, ExpressVPN is backed by a 30-day money-back guarantee, so you can see for yourself how well it works, completely risk-free.
To summarize, the best VPNs for bypassing geoblocks are…
Your data is exposed to the websites you visit!
Your IP Address:
Your Internet Provider:
The information above can be used to track you, target you for ads, and monitor what you do online.
VPNs can help you hide this information from websites so that you are protected at all times. We recommend ExpressVPN — the #1 VPN out of over 350 providers we've tested. It has military-grade encryption and privacy features that will ensure your digital security, plus — it's currently offering 49% off.