How to use Surfshark Smart DNS to unblock Netflix

Unlock Netflix on devices without a Surfshark app by utilizing Surfshark SmartDNS - a clever solution for devices like Smart TVs lacking third-party marketplaces.

Image: Tomas Mazowski
Updated: January 23, 2024

Surfshark has solidified its name as one of the most secure, fastest, and most efficient VPNs that unblock Netflix. With a browser extension, hundreds of servers, and a respectable number of libraries that the VPN successfully unblocks, Surfshark is an excellent choice for any Netflix user.

However, not every device has a Surfshark application. A lot of devices, particularly Smart TVs, tend not to have a third-party marketplace. This means that you will not be able to use the Surfshark app to unblock Netflix on these devices. Thankfully, though, there’s a solution: Surfshark Smart DNS allows you to unblock Netflix without installing a VPN application.

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What is Surfshark Smart DNS?

Put simply, Surfshark SmartDNS, as the name suggests, is a dynamic DNS service that allows you to unblock US Netflix. The service comes bundled with your Surfshark subscription at no extra charge and it is not a VPN service - it operates in a drastically different manner.

Surfshark SmartDNS

The main difference is that a VPN is a secure connection that takes all your traffic requests, routes them to a specific server, encrypts them, and then uses that IP / server to make all those requests. A DNS service, on the other hand, just masquerades your IP to look like it is from a different country than from where it is originally from.

The Smart DNS service does not allow you to choose the country it will masquerade as, and this is the reason why it only unblocks the US Netflix library (same as ExpressVPN’s MediaStreamer). You will however, be able to use it also with other US based streaming services, like Hulu or Disney+.

It should not be used for security purposes, as your IP can easily be backtracked to your actual location with it.

What Devices Does Surfshark Smart DNS Work With?

Surfshark Smart DNS works with all network-enabled devices. This includes TVs, smartphones, set-top boxes, and any other device that connects to the Internet. A DNS is a vital part of the Internet, and any device that connects to it also allows the DNS to be configured. This allows Smart DNS to operate on seemingly any device with no real restrictions.

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What Netflix Regions Can Surfshark Smart DNS Unblock?

Only the U.S. Netflix library is unblocked with Smart DNS. This is because a DNS service cannot change its server or location. It only masks your own IP and makes Netflix servers believe that you are connecting from the United States.

Surprisingly, though, using a DNS service still results in extremely fast speeds as there’s not a lot of bridging involved. Plus, you won’t need to have a VPN application open in order for it to work.

Here are a few instances where using Surfshark Smart DNS is the right call instead of a VPN:

  • You can’t download the Surfshark application: Having an incompatible device is one of the primary reasons why Surfshark Smart DNS exists in the first place. So, if you own a Smart TV, a Roku, or a set-top box that doesn’t have the VPN application, your only choice is to use SmartDNS.
  • You want to unblock U.S. Netflix: There’s a case to be made for the U.S. library in terms of its content variety. If you don’t want to unblock other libraries and are happy with American Netflix, you can just use Smart DNS instead of downloading the entire application.
  • Don’t mind less security: Your connection is not encrypted when you use Smart DNS. If you are just watching Netflix and aren’t doing anything serious on your device, like accessing sensitive banking information, then you can use Smart DNS.

Smart DNS is not an alternative to a VPN. It does not keep your information safe, and you will not be able to access any other servers or Netflix regions besides the United States. If you want to unlock all the primary Netflix libraries, such as Japan, Germany, and more, you’ll need to use the actual VPN application instead.

How to Unblock Netflix Using Surfshark Smart DNS

You can unblock Netflix using Surfshark Smart DNS by registering your IP on the Surfshark website and then configuring your device’s DNS. Since you can use this service on practically any device, we’re going to go for a device that’s perhaps the hardest to set up Smart DNS on and is also the most common: a Smart TV.

Particularly, we’re going to be using an LG C2 that’s not been getting the best shows as of late, and we want to crank up a notch by unblocking U.S. Netflix on it. This process is subject to change depending on what device you have. However, the steps are identical for any device.

Haven’t registered for SurfShark yet? Well, what are you waiting for? The VPN is currently offering a 30-day money-back guarantee alongside some great discounts. So, if you aren’t happy with the VPN at any point, you can get a complete refund by hitting up their support.

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

Step #1: Activate Smart DNS

Once you have logged in to Surfshark, open their Smart DNS page. Sometimes, you may be asked to be logged in before you proceed. Once you do so, click on the Activate Smart DNS button.

Step #2: Copy Your DNS Address

Surfshark is now generating a DNS address for you. Once that’s done, you’ll be able to see two addresses that you can now use. These addresses are bound to your IP, and you can only use them for one IP at a time. 

This means that while all your devices within a single network can use Smart DNS, your work network and home network cannot use the same Smart DNS address.

Step #3: Head to Your Device’s Network Settings

Now that you’ve got all that sorted head to your device’s Network settings. This will vary depending on what device you have. You can use Smart DNS on both wired and wireless connections. 

Once there, you need to change your DNS to manual. This will allow you to input the IP addresses you just got from Surfshark into your device. You’ll be asked to enter an IP and proceed to enter the first address that you copied from Surfshark.

Some devices ask for an alternative address as well. If that happens, paste over the second address that you copied as well. 

Note: When performing these steps, if your DNS fails to connect, swap the addresses or input the other one and see if it works. Otherwise, head back to your SmartDNS page and click Change IP to ensure Surfshark is detecting the right IP.

Step #4: Connect and Enjoy Unblocked Netflix

If all goes well, you should be able to connect to the Internet normally on that device. Once that’s the case - open up Netflix, and you’ll be pleasantly greeted with an unblocked U.S. Netflix.

But how do you actually check if you’ve unlocked the U.S. version of Netflix? There are two ways to see this:

Open Any Blocked Show: There are a lot of shows that are unblocked in the U.S. Netflix but may not be in your home country. Let’s take Aquaman, for example - a movie that’s available on U.S. Netflix but not anywhere else (Jason Momoa, wowza!). If you are able to search and play the movie, you have successfully unblocked Netflix.

Keep Scrolling Down: When you scroll down on Netflix, you’ll see a Popular tab. Scroll down a bit further, and you’ll see the phrase Popular TV Shows / Movies in the United States. If you see that and not your own region’s name, you’ve unblocked Netflix using Surfshark Smart DNS.

Top Movies on Netflix USA

How Well Does Netflix Run On Surfshark Smart DNS?

On our LG C2, Netflix ran really well on Surfshark Smart DNS. The only issue I ran into was that I had to head into my device’s settings sometimes and reconnect to the DNS. Besides that, streaming was smooth, and there was no buffering or lag whatsoever.

Using SmartDNS, we were also able to successfully unblock Hulu and Disney+ and stream exclusive U.S. content there as well. Overall, using Surfshark Smart DNS is great for devices that do not support the actual VPN application.

However, it is also a great option for individuals who don’t want to connect to a VPN every time and just want to unblock U.S. Netflix as intuitively as possible. If you want to unblock more regions, though, you can take a look at our comprehensive test of Surfshark to learn more.

That’s all you need to know to unblock U.S. Netflix with Surfshark Smart DNS, one of the best VPNs for Netflix. Once again, this is not a VPN, which means that your connection won’t be encrypted or secure. So, make sure that you browse with caution when using this service!

If you want to try Surfshark 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.

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