How Does Netflix Detect VPN IPs?

There are so many online articles talking about why you need to use a Netflix VPN that VPNs have pretty much become synonymous with Netflix. Sure, it’s cool that you can unblock and discover Netflix’s whole library, but many of those articles fail to mention one fact – not all VPNs can unblock Netflix.

The site actually detects a lot of VPN services. It flags their IPs, and then blacklists them. If users try to use the website with those addresses, they’ll just see the Netflix proxy error.

But how does Netflix know you’re using a VPN IP? And what can you do about it?

Find out in this quick five-minute guide.

How Does Netflix Detect VPN IP Addresses?

VPN IPs aren’t exactly low-key. There are tons of things that give them away:

  • Multiple Netflix users use one single IP to log into different accounts at the same time.
  • They might not match the geo-location of the tracking cookies stored by your browser.
  • The IPs belong to a data center, not a residential ISP.

Netflix could use automated scripts that detect those issues. When they notice them, they can force the site to trigger a redirect to the proxy error page.

But we mostly think they use databases that contain VPN and proxy IPs from geo-location companies like MaxMind and IP2Location. Basically, the site gets access to updated databases each month. Then, the devs use automated scripts to cross-check incoming connection IPs to the IPs in those databases. If Netflix sees a match, it automatically blacklists those addresses, and redirects the people using them to the proxy error page.

DISCLAIMER: We don’t know for a fact that Netflix uses these methods to detect VPN IP addresses. Also, we’re not saying Netflix works with MaxMind or IP2Location. We just offered those companies as examples. If you know other ways Netflix can detect VPNs, please let us know in the comments below.

Can VPNs Evade Netflix’s Detection?

Yes, but it’s not very easy. VPN providers have to keep refreshing their servers’ IPs to stay off Netflix’s radar. To do that, they need to lease new addresses from the data centers or ISPs they work with. Constantly doing that requires a pretty big investment, though, since it’s not cheap.

So, not all VPNs can avoid getting their IPs blacklisted by Netflix, only a few. To find them, we recommend using StreamCatcher from ProPrivacy. It’s an online service that helps you truly discover Netflix’s whole library by showing you which countries specific titles are available in. Also, the tool tells you which VPNs actually unblock Netflix.

We tested the VPNs recommended by the Stream Catcher, and can confirm they work with Netflix without any issues.

Can You Bypass the Netflix Proxy Error?

There are some things you can try. Based on our tests, these tips usually work:

1. Disconnect/Reconnect & Restart the App

It’s as simple as that – just disconnect from the server, wait a few seconds, and connect back to it.

If that doesn’t work, do the same, but shut down the VPN app too. After a few seconds, turn it back on again, and reconnect to the server.

2. Connect to a Different Server

Netflix might have blocked the IP of the server you’re currently using. Just connect to a different one and see if that fixes the problem.

If your provider has dedicated streaming servers that are optimized for Netflix, make sure you use them instead of regular servers. The provider probably configured them to refresh their IPs more often.

3. Make Sure the App Is Up-to-Date

Postponing updates is always easier than running them on the spot. However, an outdated app could use old IPs or suffer bugs that cause Netflix to detect your VPN traffic.

If you’ve been doing that, go ahead and update the client right now.

4. Contact Support

Some providers don’t publicly say which servers work with Netflix. That way, Netflix won’t know which ones they need to block.

So contact the support reps, and ask them which specific server you need to use to unblock Netflix. If they don’t have one, see how long it will take them to get fix the problem. If they can’t give you an estimate, it might be worth switching to a different provider (one that actually works with Netflix, like ExpressVPN).

5. Clear Your Browser’s Cookies & Cache

Since tracking cookies might give away your geo-location, it’s a good idea to clear your browser’s cookies and cache before using Netflix with a VPN.

And while you’re at it, use incognito/private mode too.

6. Get a Dedicated IP Address

With a dedicated IP, you’re the only one using it. Netflix might be less likely to detect that you’re using a VPN that way. If possible, try getting a residential dedicated IP. Those come from legitimate ISPs, not data centers.

Keep in mind you’ll probably have to pay extra for this.

Will Netflix Ban Your Account If You Use a VPN?

No, you don’t need to worry about that. Even if you see the proxy error countless times, Netflix won’t ban your account. True, their Terms of Service make it seem like they’d do that:

Specifically these parts:

  • “You also agree not to: circumvent, remove, alter, deactivate, degrade or thwart any of the content protections in the Netflix service;”
  • “We may terminate or restrict your use of our service if you violate these Terms of Use or are engaged in illegal or fraudulent use of the service.”

But we never heard of Netflix banning anyone for this. They don’t have a reason to do that. After all, Netflix doesn’t necessarily hate VPNs. They just block them to respect the licensing agreements they signed. But their official stance on people using VPNs to unblock titles is this:

“We look forward to offering all of our content everywhere and to consumers being able to enjoy all of Netflix without using a proxy. That’s the goal we will keep pushing towards.”

Know Other Ways Netflix Detects VPNs?

If you do, please mention them in the comments below. Also, if you know which VPNs work and don’t work with Netflix, please tell us about them. Similarly, if you have actionable tips that help you get rid of the Netflix proxy error, let us know.