Amazon's Fire TV Stick and other Fire TV streaming devices are great for watching Amazon Prime Video, Netflix, Disney+, YouTube and plenty more besides. But you might find you can't access a certain video or service - such as iPlayer - because you're not in the right region.
That's where VPNs come in. They're a bit like a modern version of a region unlock code for a DVD player: they let you watch blocked videos by getting around those annoying geographical restrictions.
Do bear in mind you'll still need a valid subscription to paid services such as Netflix to watch videos not normally available in your location.
The good news is the Fire TV Sticks support VPN connections and - even better - there are now plenty of VPN apps just waiting to be installed.
But before you jump to the instructions below, you need to decide which VPN service to use. We can help there, too, as we've rounded up the best VPN services for the Fire TV. Those are paid-for as well, but there are a few free VPNs you can try.
The trouble with free VPNs - when it comes to unblocking video - is that you'll find either there's no server available in the country you need, or you're only allowed a certain amount of data per day or month, which typically won't be enough for much video.
That's why we recommend choosing a paid-for VPN service for video streaming as they all give you unlimited bandwidth.
The other popular use for a VPN on a Fire TV is to run Kodi as it hides your identity and activity as well as unblocking add-ons. You should be aware that watching content from a country in which you do not live is technically against the terms and conditions of most streaming services and, naturally, we don't condone watching copyrighted content for free when you should be paying for it.
TIP: If you have a first-generation Fire TV Stick you will find a smaller selection of VPN apps as some aren't compatible with the older hardware. You can easily tell if you have an original Fire Stick by its remote control:
How to install a VPN app on a Fire TV
The easiest way is to install an app from the Apps section on the Fire TV.
You can use the links above to sign up for an account at one of these three services if you don't already have an account. Do this on your laptop, PC or even phone as it's much easier than using the on-screen keyboard with the Fire TV remote. Also, some services don't even let you create an account via the Fire TV app: you can only log into an account that is already active.
Creating an account is just a matter of choosing how long to subscribe for (longer means it's cheaper per month) and then entering an email address, payment details and - possibly - a password. The latter depends upon the VPN service: some use an activation code for logging into apps instead of a username and password.
We're using Surfshark here as it's great at unblocking popular streaming services, is affordable and doesn't limit you on how many devices you can connect to the VPN at the same time.
1. Once your account is set up, go to your Fire TV and go to Find (this is the latest interface shown here). If yours still has the old interface, use the search facility in the main menu.
2. Select Search with the remote control and press the select button.
3. You can either use the on-screen keyboard or press the microphone button and say "Surfshark" or "VPN" to find VPN apps. Scroll down to the name of the app - in this case the top result of Surfshark Vpn App - and press select on the remote.
4. Installing the app is as simple as clicking the 'Get' button and waiting for it to change to Open.
5. Select Log In (because you've already created an account).
6. With Surfshark you can either use the Android app and the code shown (the easiest method but not available in the iOS app, unfortunately) or use the manual log in boxes to enter your email adn password using the on-screen keyboard.
7. Once logged in you can select the country that you need to unblock the video you want to watch. For example, if you're trying to watch BBC iPlayer you will need to select UK. For Netflix US, choose a server in the USA. Scroll to the server you want - unless it's marked specifically for streaming, any UK server will do - and press the select button on the remote.
8. The first time you select a country a prompt will ask you for permission to configure the VPN connection. Select OK.
9. You should see that the connection is working (usually by a big green 'Connected' message.
Now you can press the home button on the remote to go back to the Fire TV's main menu. Now launch iPlayer, Netflix, Kodi or whichever app you want to stream from and you should find that videos which were previously blocked. As far as that service is concerned, you're now located in whichever country you chose in the VPN app.
How can I use a VPN service that doesn't have an app?
If you're willing to do some extra legwork, it's possible to use other VPN services with the Fire TV even if they don't offer an app in the store.
One way is to find the Android .apk file for the app you want and side-load it onto the Fire TV Stick. Often you'll find this made available direct from the VPN provider's website, which is the safest place to get it.
The snag is that you might have to create a short link to save having to type in the full URL of the .apk file using the Fire TV's remote control. We recommend tinyurl.com for this. It's free and doesn't ask you to create an account. You'll need to do this on a PC or laptop first.
On your Fire TV, use the search function and search for 'Downloader'. You can install the Downloader app which is necessary to download the .apk file.
Run Downloader and enter the tiny URL you created earlier. The VPN APK file will download and you should see a prompt to install it. After that, it's the same process as before: launch the app, sign in with your details (create an account with the VPN service on your PC or laptop if you haven't already done so).
Just bear in mind that the app is likely to have been designed for a phone screen, not your TV, so may appear sideways.
Pick a server in the country in which you want to stream video, and enable the VPN connection.
With any VPN running, your IP address will show you as being located in the country you’ve selected and you should be able to access all content that’s available there.