Can I use Roku to watch Netflix in another country? Officially the answer is “no,” but unofficially….

Even though you’re traveling to get away, we do enjoy some comforts of home when on an international trip. 

One of the challenges of being abroad is when you do have some downtime, you don’t often have the comforts of home you can lean on. To keep oneself busy in your hotel room: you can read a book, peruse social media, play free slot games on our mobile phones, or reach for the remote to watch a little telly. 

If you turn on the TV, all it does is remind you that you’re in a non-English speaking country. It sounds counterintuitive to sit in your room on a vacation, but sometimes it’s nice to relax in your nice hotel room.

Having the option to be able to pull up your favorite Netflix or Hulu show on the hotel’s TV would be a nice way to feel comfortable.

Enter Roku and other streaming devices

Wait a minute, now that I think about it — maybe I can bring my shows with me to Mexico, Thailand, Japan or France.

Roku is a device that allows you to stream from a host of different entertainment apps directly to your tv. There are different levels of Roku devices, including the premiere, which is a step up from the most basic Roku express. Have a look at the different devices to see which one is best for your situation. There is no subscription for Roku once you’ve purchased the hardware, but it does allow you to tap into channels that do require a subscription, like Netflix and Hulu. Searching for content is easy, as you can search through Roku and it will pull up results from any streaming service that matches.

Roku and other streaming devices make it easy to bring your TV content with you and they’re simple to setup. To do so when traveling, is have a TV with HDMI and wifi. So in theory you can bring your Roku, plug it into the outlet and TV, connect it to the hotel’s wireless internet and you should be able to stream whatever you have a subscription to, right?

Will Roku allow me to watch my favorite shows when I travel?

Unfortunately, nothing is that easy. Different countries have different ways of accessing television shows and movies and moving across a border could mean you no longer can watch your favorite binge-worthy content. Not to mention the biggest barrier is that when connecting to a wifi network in another country, that IP address is recognized as non-US and Roku will block content that is not supposed to be accessible in a different country due to legal stuff: copyrights, licensing agreements, trademarks, and among other contractual limitations.

This link shows you all the countries where Roku accounts are supported. An issue here is that many streaming services geo-block content, so you might have issues in actually watching them.

The problem is your Roku is tied to the country where the account is set up so if you move with your US-registered device, it will still show US shows and movies.

How to use Roku in other countries

So if you’re staying in Singapore for business, that hotel’s IP address will tell Roku it’s in Singapore and you’ll be blocked. Meaning you won’t be able to watch Netflix or Disney Plus or Hulu or Amazon Prime Video, but there’s a way to get around that; it just takes some technical savvy.

There are ways to show your IP address is originating in the United States even if you’re in say, Germany. You can do this by setting up a VPN on your router.

Use Roku internationally with a virtual VPN

That’s all well and good if you have access to the router at the hotel, but sometimes you won’t and if you do, sometimes your hotel router won’t support VPNs.

If that’s the case, then you can set up a virtual VPN on your computer then share your Wi-Fi connection. Basically you’re laundering the hotel’s Wi-Fi through your computer. It’s not the most straightforward method, but it’s also not rocket science if you know the basics. Here are the steps

  1. Choose a reputable VPN software
  2. Register/Sign up for that VPN service
  3. Open up your VPN
  4. Set up a VPN connection (in the US)
  5. Share your Wi-Fi network.

The first four steps are computer-neutral, but sharing your wireless network requires different steps on the PC vs. a MAC. Go to this TechRadar article for those specific steps.

Now that your Wi-Fi hotspot is activated through your computer, you can now easily connect your Roku device to your personal Wi-Fi hotspot. And since the Roku is connected to the hotspot, they’ll recognize it as a US-based IP and you should be able to access all your services and channels as you would back home.

Roku, VPNs and using it while traveling internationally

Roku has disallowed for VPNs to be used directly on the device because legally, they can’t allow you to watch a Netflix show in Argentina if that’s not apart of the agreement between the two companies.

By using your computer, you can use that VPN to change your IP address to a US-based one in order to get the channels you want and access to your streaming services.

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