Having a Roku opens up a world of possibility for cord-cutters. Popular streaming services like Sling TV, Hulu, and Netflix all have high-quality apps that make it easy to access content anywhere you have a TV and an internet connection.
That means you can take your Roku with you on the go while you travel. The Roku is an increasingly popular device to have for anyone both inside and outside the States. But what happens when you try to get American Netflix on Roku while outside the U.S.?
You get blocked. If you try to connect to Netflix outside of U.S., you’ll only receive a regional version of the service, so you may not be able to access all of the shows and movies you wanted to see.
There is a solution to that problem. A VPN will help unlock American Netflix on Roku so that you can access all of the hit TV shows, movies, and original content Netflix has to offer, anywhere in the world.
However, not all VPNs will do. Many simply won’t work to get you access to the American Netflix content you want through Roku. After testing several VPNs, we’ve found ExpressVPN does work to Get American Netflix on Roku, but you’ll need to follow a few key steps to get it working.
Unfortunately, there are currently no VPN apps available on the Roku. Roku has failed to allow any VPN applications on its app store, meaning you will need to use the alternative method of using a virtual router running your VPN to get access to American Netflix via ExpressVPN.
Let’s explore how to get everything set up and working.
With most devices, you can get ExpressVPN on the device by downloading the associated application. From there, ExpressVPN routes your connection to a private server in the United States, which spoofs your location and allows you to access American Netflix. The Roku is different, however.
There is no VPN app for the Roku, and indeed, there are no VPN services with apps that work to unblock American Netflix on the Roku.
As such, your best solution is to install a VPN on a virtual router, or a physical router if a virtual router fails to work. The physical router process is a bit more demanding and complex – and it would also require you to bring your own router when you travel, which is not likely to be very convenient, so we’ve focused on virtual routers below.
First, however, you will need to create your ExpressVPN account.
How to Setup an ExpressVPN Account
Setting up your ExpressVPN account should only take a few minutes, but you’ll need the account setup before trying to work through final steps (creating a virtual router or setting up a physical router to run your VPN).
Step 1: Choose your plan
First, head over to ExpressVPN and choose a service plan. ExpressVPN offers a free 30-day money-back guarantee for new customers with all of its service plans, so whichever plan you choose, you won’t need to commit if you don’t like the service during that 30-day trial period.
Express VPN Offer – 3 Months Free
Interested in trying out ExpressVPN? You can now get three months of ExpressVPN for free when you purchase an annual plan. If you try it and you don’t like it, don’t stress. There’s a 30-day money back guarantee, no questions asked.
The VPN service provides three options for service plans:
- 6-months (biannual)
- 12 months (annual)
You will get discounts for signing up for a longer subscription term, with a rather steep discount for signing up for a full year.
Step 2: Enter your email address
ExpressVPN requires an email address for signup. If you’re extra security-conscious, you may want to use a throwaway account just for your VPN service. That said, ExpressVPN has a strict no-logs policy and operates in the British Virgin Islands, which allows it some notable protections against outside intrusion on its network and data logs.
Step 3: Select a payment method and complete the signup
You can pay for ExpressVPN using any number of payment methods. The service accepts credit card payments, PayPal, several international online payment services. You can also pay through Bitcoin.
Step 4: Download and setup ExpressVPN app
Once you have your ExpressVPN account created, you will receive your confirmation email and login information. Head to the setup page and login with your credentials.
On that page, you’ll the download links for your device, and the activation code. First, download the correct application and run app installation program.
At the end of the installation, you will need to sign in, and then use the activation code. You only need to enter the activation code once. Afterward, your app will automatically log you in every time, but it won’t automatically connect to a server unless you want it to.
With the app installed and your account official set up, the next step is properly set up your Roku to work with U.S.-based streaming channels.
How to Setup Roku to Receive U.S. Content
Simply having a Roku and connecting to an American VPN server won’t make it work with American Netflix. You also need to setup your Roku account differently. If you purchased your Roku in the U.S., it should already be setup to work with U.S. channels.
However, if you purchased your Roku outside of the U.S., or changed your location settings, you need to follow these steps to get it ready to work with American Netflix.
- Connect to a U.S. server from your ExpressVPN app
- Go to the Roku account setup page
- When you’re asked to choose a country, select United States
- For zip code, enter any 5-digit U.S. zip code
- Now, perform a factory reset on your Roku. To perform a factory reset, press the button on the back of your Roku for 15 seconds
After the reset, sign in with your U.S. account credentials. You should now have access to American channels.
However, you will still need your virtual router set up, so the next several steps are critical to make this whole process work.
Setting Up a Virtual Router with ExpressVPN
In order to install ExpressVPN on a physical router, you will need to alter the firmware of your current router. Doing so is only possible on some routers, so you will need to ensure that your router is supported, should you choose to use a physical router.
Create a Virtual Router
You may also be able to create what’s known as a virtual router, however. If so, this can save you a lot of time, effort, and money. On a Windows PC, you can check to see if your machine can create a virtual router.
To check, do the following:
- Open Command Prompt by typing in Windows+S and searching for cmd
- Right click the Command Prompt icon and select Run as administrator
- Enter “netsh wlan show drivers” into the Command Prompt
- If you see “Hosted network supported : Yes”, you’re all set! Your computer can create a virtual router
(If you cannot create a virtual router, check here for more information on setting up a physical router. Alternatively, if you’re on a Mac, you can share your VPN connection from your Mac computer. Click here to find out how to share a Mac VPN connection.)
Now that you know you can create a virtual router, follow these next steps to start the router.
- In the Command Prompt, enter the following: “netsh wlan set hostednetwork mode=allow ssid=NETWORKNAME key=PASSWORD”
- You should name your virtual router, where SSID = A name you choose, and KEY = A password of your choice
- After that’s done, hit Enter
- You should now see the following message:
The hosted network mode has been set to allow.
The SSID of the hosted network has been successfully changed.
The user key passphrase of the hosted network has been successfully changed.
You have now created a virtual router! The final step here will be to start your virtual router. To do so, do the following:
- Type in the following into the Command Prompt: “netsh wlan start hostednetwork”
- If everything works as intended, you should see this message: “The hosted network started.” (If you get a message that the hosted network could not be started, you will need to update your network adapters drivers from Windows.
Finally, you’ll need to share your virtual router so that it’s discoverable on your Roku. To do so, follow these steps:
- Press Windows + R to open the Run command window, then type in the following and hit OK: “ncpa.cpl”
- Open Network Connections and then locate the new connection you created with the name you gave it. It should also indicate that it’s currently running ExpressVPN. Just take note of the connection name here, as you’ll need it in a little bit
- Now, look for the connection with “ExpressVPN Tap Adapter”, right-click on it, and then click on Properties
- Click on the Sharing tab and then check the box for “Allow other network users to connect through this computer’s Internet connection”
- Next, under Home networking connection, select the virtual router connection you created from the drop-down and then hit OK
Connect to ExpressVPN
Your last step is to open up and run your ExpressVPN client. Go into the settings for the app and change the protocol used to OpenVPN (UDP or TCP). Then, connect to the U.S. server of your choice, or the one that an ExpressVPN customer service representative says is the best to use for American Netflix.
Now, any device connected to your new virtual router wifi connection will be connected to the internet through ExpressVPN. Your Roku will now be able to access American Netflix wherever you located!
(Note: To turn off your virtual router, open the Command Prompt, and then type in “netsh wlan stop hostednetwork”. You should get a message in the Command Prompt that the hosted network has stopped.
Connect Your Roku to The Virtual Network
With your ExpressVPN account created, your Roku properly aligned to a U.S. account, and your virtual router in place, you can now connect your Roku and enjoy American Netflix.
Thankfully, the process from here is the same as connecting to any wifi network:
- Open your Roku’s Settings
- Go to Network
- Select Wireless (Wi-Fi)
- On the Choose your network screen, select the virtual router that you created above
Your Roku should now be connected to your virtual router, and should be sharing the VPN connection from your Windows or Mac computer. All that’s left is to enjoy great American Netflix content!
Why Am I Still Getting Blocked from Netflix on ExpressVPN?
If you try to connect to American Netflix through your VPN-connected Roku, you may get a message from Netflix that you’re using a proxy service. If this happens to you, don’t panic!
ExpressVPN and Netflix are still in a battle over geographic content blocking. Because ExpressVPN uses static IP addresses, once enough VPN connections from the same IP address get detected by Netflix, it will block that IP address.
To combat this, ExpressVPN rotates which servers and IP address you should use to bypass Netflix. If you get a blocked message, your best option is to contact ExpressVPN customer service and ask which server you should be using.
You can send the company an email, but that may be a bit too slow. Instead, we recommend going directly to the Live Chat.
Go to the ExpressVPN home page and look at the bottom right of the screen. You should see a green icon that says “Need help? Chat with us!”:
Click it, and you’ll open up the Live Chat window. You won’t be connected to a real customer service agent until you type in a question, however, so simply type in “Which server should I use for American Netflix?”
You’ll then be connected to a customer service agent who will ask for the email address you signed up with. Once your account is verified, the service agent will walk you through getting to the correct VPN server.
Why Are There No VPN Apps on Roku?
One of the biggest gripes many users have with the Roku is the lack of VPN apps.
The primary reason for this is because the Roku uses its own, proprietary app store, and it is extremely restrictive regarding what apps it lets on.
Unlike the Amazon Fire TV, which uses a modified version of Android, or the Apple TV, which gives access to the Apple App Store, the Roku has its own, tightly-controlled store. Different VPN companies could create VPN software for the app, but Roku has yet to allow it.
Most of this restriction is related to geographic content blocking. Because content rights holders sell their content (TV shows, movies, etc.) to different regions at different prices, it allows them to monetize the content even more.
As a result, however, it also means streaming services are bound (often by contract) to restrict access to content if they haven’t purchased the right to stream it to customers in different areas. That’s why you’ll find different content libraries in the American Netflix library other regions, such as Canada and the UK.
VPN services allow you to bypass these content restrictions by creating a private, encrypted tunnel over the internet to a server located in a different country. However, Roku has no real incentive to allow such VPN services on their platform, so for the time being, alternative VPN connection methods will likely be necessary.