Let’s talk about why you need an Apple TV VPN. The Apple TV box turns your regular TV into a smart TV with many capabilities. Apple TV+ is Apple’s own streaming service, offering original movies and TV shows. In addition, it has the ability to view a large number of streaming services from around the world, such as Starz, Netflix, MTV Hits, Hulu, CBS, and more.
Getting access to all of these streaming media sources is great – but there’s a problem. Many streaming services are geo-blocked. That is, they are restricted to only being viewed in certain geographic locations. If you try to connect to one of these streaming sites from outside the ‘correct’ geographic region, the service will block you. Fortunately, there’s also a good solution.
With a good VPN for Apple TV, you can easily bypass geographical restrictions and access all media streams, from anywhere in the world. We’ll show you exactly how in this guide.
The phrase “Apple TV VPN” is really a shorthand for the phrase, a VPN that works with Apple TV or Apple TV 4k. You’ll notice I said “works with,” not “is installed on” or anything like that. That’s because there is no way to install a VPN directly on an Apple TV box (as of right now, anyway).
However, you don’t have to install a VPN directly on an Apple TV box to benefit. There’s a simple solution that we will cover below. But first, let’s talk about how you can use a VPN for Apple TV, starting with the best options.
Best VPNs for Apple TV
- NordVPN – Best VPN for Apple TV with the fastest speeds, secure apps, and support for all types of streaming devices (with a 68% off coupon)
- Surfshark – A budget VPN for Apple TV with a larger server network and good apps
- ExpressVPN – Reliable and user-friendly VPN for Apple TV
What is a VPN and how does it work to un-block content with Apple TV?
A VPN (Virtual Private Network) is a system that protects your privacy by creating an encrypted tunnel in the internet. Part of the privacy protection is from hiding your IP address. That’s a big advantage for your online privacy because, among other things, IP addresses contain location information and are tied directly to your devices through your internet service provider.
Geo-blocking systems, such as the ones used by media companies, rely on IP address location data to decide who can access media. A VPN for Apple TV effectively gets you around those blocks.
Top VPN providers have thousands of servers worldwide, each with many different IP addresses. As a VPN subscriber, you can connect to one of those servers. When you do, your online activities appear to be coming from one of that server’s IP addresses. That makes it look like you are located where the VPN server is located, not at your real-world physical location.
If you connect to a VPN server that is located in a geographic region the streaming media service accepts, it will seem to their geo-blocking system that you are located in an acceptable location and give you access to the content you want.
Two reasons you might want to unblock content with a VPN
The ability to unblock content like this can help you in two ways. First, you might be in the United States but want to use your Apple TV or Apple TV 4k to view streaming media from a service like BBC iPlayer, which is located in the United Kingdom.
BBC iPlayer content is geo-restricted to viewers in the UK. If you try to connect directly from your Apple TV, the BBC’s geo-blocking system will tell you where to go. But with a virtual private network for Apple TV, you can connect to a VPN server in the United Kingdom where the BBC iPlayer geo-blocking software will let you pass right by. It’s that easy.
The second way an Apple TV VPN can help you is more or less the reverse of the first. In this case, you are a US citizen with a valid subscription to a US Netflix account. But for vacation, you are staying in Mexico for a few months. You can use your VPN with Apple TV to access American Netflix from Mexico without any problems.
How to use a VPN with Apple TV (3 options)
As we already mentioned above, there is no way to install a VPN directly on your Apple TV device. With that being said, there are still three good ways to use your VPN with Apple TV:
- Use a VPN router and connect your Apple TV to it. This gives you all the benefits of a VPN, including unblocking streaming services by disguising your IP address and also encrypting traffic.
- Use your VPN’s Smart DNS feature on your Apple TV. With this option, you will be able to unblock streaming sites by changing your IP address, but you are not actually using a full VPN. Therefore your traffic is not getting encrypted and anonymized.
- Share a VPN connection with your Apple TV, one of the easiest methods.
Each of these options has pros and cons, which we will analyze more below.
Note: There is also the option of sharing your VPN connection with an Apple TV from your computer. However, this does not work on Mac OS, and it is pretty complex with Windows. If you want to explore this option, NordVPN has some support guides on the topic here.
1. Turn your router into an Apple TV VPN
If you can install a VPN on your router, it will not only serve as a VPN for Apple TV, but will provide all the other benefits of a VPN to everything else connected to the router. Talk about a win/win situation!
First off, realize that not all routers work with a VPN. It would be a good idea to check out our ultimate guide to VPN routers and see if yours is listed before spending more time on this. The alternative if your router won’t work for this is to invest in one that can support a VPN.
Our two favorite routers
We have tested many different routers over the years. Currently, our two favorite routers for running a VPN are:
The Vilfo router is a very powerful router from the team behind OVPN in Sweden. This router comes loaded with advanced features, a powerful processor for fast speeds, and easy installation with most popular VPNs supported by default. This is hands-down the best VPN-capable router we have tested, backed up by a competent team of professionals in Sweden that give you 24/7 support. Check out our Vilfo review for more info.
The Asus RT-AC2900 is another excellent router that is a lot more affordable than the Vilfo. It provides excellent speeds with a fast processor. And the Asus stock firmware has lots of features, including selective routing and a kill switch.
How to turn your router into a VPN router
Once you have a router that can run a VPN, the next thing is to subscribe to a good VPN service and get it working on your router. While the detailed instructions for every router vary, here are the general steps for running a VPN on your router:
- Go online and find the router manufacturer’s step-by-step instructions for installing a VPN.
- Find the VPN manufacturer’s step-by-step instructions for installing the VPN on a router. Depending on the VPN service, you might even find detailed router setup instructions for your specific device.
- Log in to your router’s administrative interface. Sometimes the login credentials are printed on the bottom of the router. If not, they’ll be somewhere in the documentation.
- In the interface’s VPN section, configure the VPN per instructions.
- Connect your Apple TV to the router if it isn’t already connected.
One thing to keep in mind when using a router like this is processing power. Most consumer-grade routers are underpowered when it comes to handling VPN encryption. This results in slow speeds, which in turn can cause buffering and playback issues with Apple TV. This is one reason we recommend going with either the Vilfo router or the Asus RT-AC2900 — both are fast and work well with VPNs.
2. Smart DNS with Apple TV
Another option for Apple TV is to use your VPN service’s Smart DNS. With this option, you are not using a VPN, but rather a DNS system and proxy service to access geo-restricted content. There are pros and cons to this approach as well. It involves changing your DNS settings to use the SmartDNS service. And while it may work fine for unblocking content, you do not get the security benefits of a VPN.
Note: If you decide to stop using the Smart DNS feature, you will need to change the DNS settings back to their old values.
Detailed instructions for setting up Apple TV will vary with the VPN service you end up using. Each of these three VPNs offers smart DNS you can use with Apple TV:
Example of Smart DNS setup with Apple TV
Let’s walk through a quick example of setting up Smart DNS with Apple TV using our top VPN recommendation – NordVPN. Once you sign up for NordVPN (use the 68% off coupon) then you can follow these steps from NordVPN:
- Whitelist your IP address on your VPN account profile (see this NordVPN support article).
- Then, on your Apple TV, go to General > Network.
- Click on Wi-Fi at the top and then select your network.
- Next, go to Configure DNS > Manual.
- Enter SmartDNS server IP address provided by NordVPN, which is
Primary DNS: 18.104.22.168
Set Secondary DNS (if available): 22.214.171.124
3. Share a VPN connection with your Apple TV
This is the third and final method we’ll examine for using a VPN with Apple TV. In essence, you are taking the following steps:
- Connect your device to NordVPN
- Share your device’s internet connection with Apple TV
The exact steps for doing this can really vary depending on the device you are using. Because sharing your internet from a laptop can be complex (in some situations), one simple method would be to create a mobile hotspot. Here are the basic steps:
- Connect your mobile device to your Wi-Fi network (this will save you from burning up all your mobile data).
- Open the VPN app on your mobile device and connect to a VPN server.
- Then create a mobile hotspot and connect your Apple TV to that mobile hotspot.
With this method, there is no need for tinkering with Smart DNS settings or messing around with your router. Just make sure you have a good and reliable VPN app on your mobile device, and the rest is easy. We have guides on mobile VPNs here:
The characteristics of the best Apple TV VPNs
Here are the characteristics we looked for when we selected the three VPNs we recommend for Apple TV:
It is essential that the VPN is able to run on a wide range of common router brands and models, with some level of instructions for setting it up that is reasonable for most people. However, this does not mean that the VPN needs to have a dedicated app for the router. It does mean that there must be some way to use the VPN on a router.
Speed – The faster the better
The VPN has to be fast enough to stream HD video. Exactly how fast that is depends on the speed of your internet connection, how far away the streaming service you are going to use is, and other technical factors. The faster your VPN is, the less such factors will matter.
Coverage – How many servers and where they are located
The VPN needs to have a lot of servers (at least a thousand) spread across the major countries in the world. Why so many? Because the streaming services occasionally figure out how to block one or more of a VPN’s servers. Having a huge server network makes it highly unlikely a streaming service will manage to block all of them at once.
Security and privacy
These are general characteristics you want in any VPN. A VPN exists to protect your privacy online, and to do so needs bullet-proof security. The fact that you can also use any of the VPNs in this article to view streaming content is a happy bonus.
And with regular news about data breaches and security threats, having a little more security when you stream online isn’t a bad idea.
Works with Netflix
While it is strictly true that a VPN for Apple TV does not have to support Netflix, it would be hard to justify recommending such a service. At the time of this update, Netflix was having some problems but was still the largest of the streaming media services. Failing to support Netflix just isn’t an option.
Customer support – 24/7 live chat support is a necessity
While the VPNs we recommend are highly reliable, remember that it is a war out there. No matter how good a VPN is, there is always a chance that some natural disaster will knock out part of their network, or the service streaming your favorite will figure out how to block the server you normally use. With high-quality 24/7 live chat customer support, these VPNs have teams that will get your problem fixed fast.
Money back guarantee – sometimes things just don’t work out
The VPNs for Apple TV that we recommend are all excellent products. But that doesn’t guarantee that the first one you try will be right for you. That’s why a good money-back guarantee is so important. Each of the VPNs featured here gives you a full 30 days to test drive their service before locking you into your subscription.
Got all that? Then let’s look at our picks for the best VPNs for Apple TV.
NordVPN for Apple TV – Overall best VPN for Apple TV
|Logs||No logs (audited)|
|Support||24/7 live chat|
NordVPN is our top-ranked VPN service in general, as well as for watching Apple TV. It is the fastest VPN we’ve ever seen, delivering download speeds that other VPNs can’t match thanks to their custom NordLynx VPN protocol. NordLynx combines the WireGuard VPN protocol with a privacy-enhancing Double NAT system. Running on our 500 Mbps fiber optic test rig, NordVPN turned in incredible download speeds of as much as 445 Mbps, as you can see here:
The NordVPN server network
The NordVPN network consists of over 5,700 servers in 60 different countries. All NordVPN servers run in RAM-disk mode, which makes it impossible to store anything on the VPN server. NordVPN is also in the process of rolling out colocated (self-owned) servers in all locations, with high-speed 10 Gbps bandwidth channels.
NordVPN and streaming
NordVPN is great for streaming. Remember those 10 Gbps channels that NordVPN is installing? They serve to prevent network congestion from bogging down your streams while 5G floods the internet (and VPNs) with vast quantities of new mobile data. Aside from being the best VPN for Apple TV, NordVPN also performs well with these services:
- Best VPN for Netflix (15+ Netflix regions supported at all times, including US Netflix)
- BBC iPlayer
- Amazon Prime
- Disney Plus
- HBO Max
- And many other local streaming channels in countries across the planet
More NordVPN features and capabilities
NordVPN also offers lots of excellent privacy and security features. They have completed multiple third-party audits of their infrastructure as well as their compliance with their no-logs policies. Based in privacy-friendly Panama, NordVPN does a great job of protecting user privacy.
NordVPN has an ad blocker VPN feature called Threat Protection that blocks ads, trackers, and malware domains. NordVPN apps all include built-in leak protection (kill switch) and secure VPN protocols. They have lots of different specialty servers for different use cases. These include double-VPN servers, Tor-over-VPN, Dedicated IP servers, and obfuscated servers. The obfuscated servers allow you to get through VPN blocks such as when using a VPN for UAE, China, or any restricted network.
All their apps are reliable and easy to use. Their website offers plenty of information to help you use NordVPN on a router (even though they don’t have a dedicated router app) or any other popular device. This also includes computers, phones, tablets, streaming devices like Smart TVs, and even gaming systems. You can get fast help through their 24/7 live chat support system, and they give you a 30-day money-back guarantee as well. It is easy to see how NordVPN made it onto this list as perhaps the best VPN for Apple TV users.
Check out our in-depth review of NordVPN or grab the discount below for the best savings:
Surfshark VPN for Apple TV – A strong challenger for the top spot
|Based in||The Netherlands|
|Support||24/7 live chat|
Surfshark has engineered a rapid rise in the rankings, blowing past hundreds of competitors to claim the #2 spot in our VPN testing and evaluations. It offers secure and user-friendly VPN applications for all major devices and operating systems. With a base in the friendly jurisdiction of the Netherlands and a recent third-party audit of their no-logs policy, Surfshark will keep your data safe.
The Surfshark server network
They currently have 3,200+ servers in 100 countries worldwide, ensuring reliable performance for Apple TV. Like NordVPN, Surfshark supports the WireGuard VPN protocol. In speed tests for our Surfshark vs NordVPN comparison, we found NordVPN to have a slight advantage, although both VPNs were very fast. We were able to get up to 397 Mbps download speeds with Surfshark on US servers.
Surfshark and streaming
Surfshark is also one of the best VPNs for streaming, with support for streaming Netflix content from numerous regions (including US Netflix and UK Netflix), BBC iPlayer, Hulu, Amazon Prime Video, DAZN, HBO Max, and more. And with a large network of fast servers, it also makes a great VPN for gaming or any other activity that requires fast speeds and low latency.
More Surfshark features and capabilities
Part of Surfshark’s appeal is its strong performance and feature set, combined with a very low price and support for an unlimited number of simultaneous connections with one subscription. Most VPNs limit simultaneous connections to between 4 and 6. It is also a cheap VPN at under $3 per month (see the coupon below).
Surfshark also provides different connection options for restricted countries. This is useful if you need a VPN for China, UAE, or other locations. With the ongoing network situation in Russia, it is also a great VPN for Russia.
Surfshark is easy to get up and running on a router. Below is a screenshot from the Asus router admin panel when setting up Surfshark VPN. This is still our top recommendation for an Apple TV VPN — use a VPN router to connect your Apple TV.
If you don’t want to go with the router option, that’s no problem. Like our other best Apple TV VPN recommendations, Surfshark also offers a smart DNS system — and setup is easy.
Going beyond its role as a VPN for Apple TV, Surfshark scores high points in the privacy and security categories. It offers a CleanWeb feature that blocks ads, trackers, and malicious domains from loading on your device. There are MultiHop (Double VPN) servers as well as Dynamic MultiHop servers (Double VPN servers where you specify the servers to be included). Camouflage mode is Surfshark’s name for their obfuscation system, which is automatically applied whenever you use OpenVPN.
Surfshark is rearchitecting the server network to provide a variety of new features that will be rolling out continually. All of this contributed to Surfshark coming out on top in our ExpressVPN vs Surfshark comparison report.
If you want to give Surfshark a test drive, they have a 30-day money-back guarantee and like the other VPNs profiled here, they offer 24/7 live chat support. This will allow you to get the VPN setup for Apple TV and test the service risk-free. Grab the best savings with the coupon below or check out our Surfshark VPN review for more info.
3. ExpressVPN for Apple TV – A reliable and user-friendly alternative
|Based in||British Virgin Islands|
|Logs||No logs (audited)|
|Support||24/7 live chat|
ExpressVPN has been one of the top-ranked VPNs in the world. It is a great VPN for Apple TV with full support for routers and other devices using a Smart DNS system called MediaStreamer. MediaStreamer works on Apple TV with 4th generation, 5th generation, and tvOS. ExpressVPN even has a dedicated router app for certain router firmware. This makes it easy to use ExpressVPN on a router if you want to pursue that option.
ExpressVPN has always had a reputation for excellent reliability, privacy, and security. Testing their VPN clients is almost boring because they always just work. They also have a sizeable network of 3,000+ servers in 94 countries. If your tastes lean toward more exotic streaming media from less ‘mainstream’ countries, ExpressVPN probably has servers where you need them.
ExpressVPN is strong on security and support. They run all servers in RAM-disk and are an audited no-logs VPN provider. Being based in the British Virgin Islands also helps to keep user data secure, with no mandatory data retention laws.
ExpressVPN also does well in the performance category. It now supports the Lightway protocol, which is a self-developed VPN protocol with many similarities to WireGuard. With Lightway, ExpressVPN now blows away the vast majority of VPN services.
Note: ExpressVPN is not the fastest VPN we tested. NordVPN still came out on top in the ExpressVPN vs NordVPN comparison using the WireGuard protocol.
ExpressVPN is an excellent option for streaming content. They have a VPN for Firestick app and support many types of streaming devices, including Smart TVs. And with support for Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Hulu, Disney Plus, and many other services, it will work well on Apple TV to access lots of content.
The ExpressVPN support team is top notch and is available through their 24/7 live chat support system. You have plenty of time to test the service thanks to their 30-day money-back guarantee. Combine all these factors and it is easy to see why many people think ExpressVPN is a contender for the best VPN for Apple TV.
Check out our ExpressVPN review here.
Now that we have examined the best VPNs for Apple TV, let’s look at some Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs).
Why are there no VPN apps for Apple TV?
Right now, Apple TV simply does not allow any VPN apps on Apple TV devices, and there are no exceptions to this rule. Simply put, Apple has decided to restrict and limit what apps can be used on its devices, and there is nothing that any VPN provider can do about this situation.
Any VPN that claims to have Apple TV support will direct you to use one of the three options we discussed in the beginning of this article:
- Use a VPN router and connect your Apple TV to the router.
- Use your VPN’s Smart DNS system on your Apple TV.
- Share a VPN connection with your Apple TV.
Those are your only options at this time because of the way Apple restricts its devices, unfortunately.
Conclusion: The Best Apple TV VPN Services in 2023
Apple TV is a great system with the ability to turn your regular TV into a Smart TV. You can even use it to display content from all around the world… so long as you are using a good VPN service with a large, reliable server network.
We showed you two different ways to use an Apple TV with a VPN service, either through a VPN router or through your VPN’s smart DNS service. Each of these options comes with pros and cons. And all three of the recommended Apple TV VPNs support both options.
The next step is up to you. If you are ready to start enjoying access to more content through your Apple TV, pick up one of these great VPNs and get started! And remember that every VPN in this guide gives you a full 30-day money-back guarantee, so you have plenty of time to test out the service. If you find it doesn’t meet your expectations, simply cancel for a 100% refund.
As a brief recap, our top VPN recommendation for Apple TV is NordVPN, but Surfshark and ExpressVPN are also good choices. And if you have any other tips or recommendations on using a VPN for Apple TV, then drop a comment below.
This article was last updated on August 23, 2023.