How to Use NordVPN SmartDNS to Unblock Netflix

NordVPN's SmartDNS service is ideal for accessing US content on platforms like Netflix, Hulu, and Disney+. Find out how it works here.

Image: Tomas Mazowski
Updated: February 8, 2024

NordVPN’s testament to security alongside their impressive 6,000 VPN servers worldwide has made them one of the best VPNs to use for unblocking Netflix.

The VPN supports multiple platforms, ranging from Windows to mobile platforms like iOS and Android. However, Smart TVs, set-top boxes, and older devices tend not to have the ability to install external applications, which means you can’t run NordVPN directly on them.

Because of this, NordVPN comes with SmartDNS, a handy feature included in your subscription, allowing you to unblock Netflix on all devices, regardless of whether it supports installing a NordVPN application or not.

Try NordVPN Now » 30-day money-back guarantee.

What is NordVPN SmartDNS?

NordVPN is a dynamic DNS service that allows you to mask your location. It comes included with your VPN subscription and is integrated into NordVPN SmartPlay. This means that you don’t need to pay anything extra to be able to use SmartDNS.

But keep in mind that a SmartDNS is not a VPN; it only allows you to access US Netflix and doesn’t encrypt your information. A VPN encrypts your IP and data such that no one is able to identify where you are actually from - which is a stark difference between the two services.

Because of this, a DNS service is only going to unblock services from a particular country, in this case, the US. Thankfully, though, you’ll be able to access all US regional services, such as unblocked Netflix, Hulu, and Disney+. We do not recommend using a SmartDNS as an alternative to a VPN, as it does not protect your information.

What Devices Does NordVPN Work With?

NordVPN works with any device that can connect to the Internet. This means that you can use it with your SmartTV, set-top box, mobile phone, or any network-enabled device. DNS resolution is an integral part of the Internet. 

Therefore, any device that can connect to the Internet allows you to configure your DNS settings, which means that you can use NordVPN SmartDNS on whatever device you please.

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What Region of Netflix Does NordVPN SmartDNS Unlock?

NordVPN SmartDNS only unblocks the US Netflix. A DNS service does not allow you to switch your servers within countries like a VPN does. It only forwards your requests to a specific server (this one being in the US) to emulate the fact that you are connecting from the US.

Surprisingly, a DNS tends to be faster than a VPN because you aren’t waiting on a server to route your entire traffic and encrypt it. Moreover, it does not require you to install an application. But it isn’t all roses - here are some disadvantages of using a DNS service like SmartDNS instead of opting for a VPN:

  • Cannot Access Other Countries: The primary disadvantage of using SmartDNS is that you can only unblock US Netflix. If you are from the US, there isn’t much use for you using SmartDNS.
  • Traffic Is Not Encrypted: If, for some reason, you want to keep your Netflix watching sessions private - a SmartDNS won’t be able to do that as there is no encryption on it whatsoever.
  • Requires Time to Set Up: A VPN just requires you to install the application, and you are on your way. With a DNS, you’ll need to do some manual configuration before you can start using SmartDNS.

With that said, if you are someone who wishes to access US Netflix on a device that does not support NordVPN, such as a Smart TV, SmartDNS makes a lot of sense and is a great way to watch unrestricted content.

However, if you want to unlock all the primary Netflix libraries, like Germany, Japan, the UK, and more - you’ll need to use the NordVPN application instead.

Try NordVPN Now » 30-day money-back guarantee.

How to Unblock Netflix Using NordVPN SmartDNS

You can unblock Netflix using NordVPN SmartDNS by enabling SmartDNS in your NordVPN dashboard, activating it, and then setting up the DNS configuration on your device. 

As we’ve mentioned, you can set this up on any device. We’ll be using an LG Smart TV, more accurately, an LG C2, in order to show you how you can unblock Netflix on it.

If you haven’t already, you can always register for a 30-day money-back guarantee offer for NordVPN that allows you to test whether SmartDNS works with your device before you opt for the cheaper annual subscription. If you aren’t satisfied with it at any point in time, you can always refund your order by talking to their excellent customer support.

Try NordVPN Now » 30-day money-back guarantee.

Step #1: Enable SmartDNS and Wait

To enable SmartDNS, head to your NordVPN account dashboard. After doing so, click on Enable. You will now be shown your actual IP with the ability to Activate SmartDNS. Now, your device status will be taken to Pending, where you’ll have to wait for a few minutes.

You’ll have to wait a bit after selecting the Activate SmartDNS button

Step #2: Change your Device’s Network Settings

After waiting for a couple of minutes (up to 15 in some cases), refresh your browser’s tab. If you see two new IPs appear on the SmartDNS section, SmartDNS has been successfully activated and you can move onto configuring your device.

Go to your device’s Network settings. This setting will change depending on what device you have.

Head to the Network settings of your device. This will differ depending on what actual device you have. But you’ll be able to use SmartDNS on any wireless or wired network with no difference in terms of configuration between the two.

Your DNS will automatically be configured. Change that to manual, allowing you to add the IP address that you just got from NordVPN. Once copied, you’ll be able to type in DNS Server IP #1 and DNS Server IP #2. Some devices label this as Primary and Secondary DNS as well.

If, for some reason - your device does not connect to the DNS, we recommend swapping the addresses and seeing if that works. If it doesn’t, check your IP address on the dashboard to make sure it matches your public IP

Step #3: Open Up Unblocked Netflix

If you are met with a successful prompt on your device, it means that your SmartDNS is working. All you need to do now is enjoy your unblocked U.S. Netflix. This begs the question, though, how do you find out if you have actually unblocked it? Here are two ways to find out:

Scrolling Down to the Popular list

When you open Netflix, the service takes a look at your location and recommends content based on where you are connected from. To check if you have unblocked Netflix, scroll down till you see the Popular TV Shows / Movies phrase.

Top Movies on Netflix USA

If you see the United States after it, it means that you have unblocked Netflix using NordVPN SmartDNS. If you see your own region’s name or don’t see the list at all, try moving to the next step and see if that works.

Try Streaming a Blocked Show

The best way to find out whether U.S. Netflix has been unblocked is to open a regionally exclusive show. Let’s use our website to find an example - in this case, NCIS, which should only be available on American Netflix. 

Now, if you are able to find the movie / TV show, that’s a great start. Moreover, if you are able to open the movie and play it, that means you have unblocked Netflix successfully. 

Is NordVPN SmartDNS Worth it for Netflix?

Yes, NordVPN SmartDNS is great for Netflix. If you use a Smart TV, you may have to re-connect to the DNS a few times for Netflix to be able to work. But there are absolutely no streaming or buffering issues, given that your Internet works well enough.

After you have connected to the DNS, you’ll easily be able to use applications like Disney+ alongside US Netflix, allowing you to stream exclusive content. If you are from the US and have moved abroad, it also is an excellent option since you technically don’t need the VPN for anything else other than being able to access unblocked content.

Before you go ham with SmartDNS, though, make sure you use it safely, as it does not offer the security and privacy of the actual NordVPN application.

If you want to try NordVPN for free, take advantage of their 30-day trial period. Sign up for a regular subscription, and within the first 30 days, you can contact customer service, cancel your plan (no questions asked), and receive a full refund.

Try NordVPN Now » 30-day money-back guarantee.

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