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How to Unblock YouTube Videos with a VPN

Headshot of Top10VPN.com Site Editor Callum Tennent

Callum oversees how we test and review VPN services. He's a member of the IAPP, and his advice about VPNs has featured in Forbes and the Internet Society. Read full bio

A VPN allows you to stream blocked YouTube videos by changing your location. This means you can bypass censorship blocks by your government, school, or workplace. This in-depth guide shows you how to access YouTube from anywhere and on any device.

How To Unblock YouTube

One billion hours of YouTube videos are watched every day. We take access to YouTube for granted, but not every country has it. Countries like China and Iran ban it.

Even in free democracies YouTube videos can be restricted or censored, particularly on copyright grounds or if you’re at work or school.

We’re all familiar with the error message: “Video unavailable. The uploader has not made this video available in your country.” So how do you get around it?

A VPN works by masking your real IP address and making you appear located in another country, getting around a network firewall in the process.

Doing this allows you to beat YouTube restrictions imposed by your country or network admin. This can relate to copyright or political censorship and is an easy fix to YouTube blocks.

You can unblock Youtube videos in three simple steps:

  1. Sign up to, download, and install a VPN service.
  2. Connect to an available server.
  3. Go to YouTube and start streaming blocked videos.

Read on to discover how you can bypass strict censorship, get around school blocks, and which VPN (or proxy) you should use for each use case.

How to Access YouTube Videos Blocked in Your Country

There are a few reasons why you might need to unblock YouTube:

YouTube Blocked Due to Censorship

Since 2019 there have been 226 major internet shutdowns in 40 countries.

On any given day, countries including India, Indonesia, Pakistan, Sudan, Turkey, and Uganda impose new internet blocks. YouTube is very often the first website to be targeted.

YouTube is actually fully banned in a number of countries. This includes China, Iran, Syria, and Turkmenistan.

In the table and map below we’ve listed the countries that have either blocked YouTube in the past, or are currently blocking it. You may be surprised to see names like Germany and Denmark, showing that internet freedom is never guaranteed.

Map Showing Where YouTube Has Been Banned or Restricted

Red countries currently block YouTube and yellow countries have blocked YouTube in the past.

Whether you’re in a country with a permanent ban or a temporary block, you can beat this by using a good VPN.

Theoretically, any VPN can get around YouTube blocks. YouTube blocks are not as robust as those found on a streaming service like BBC iPlayer.

If you’re in a country like China, use a VPN that regularly beats aggressive web censorship, like:

  1. Astrill VPN: The most reliable VPN at getting around censorship.
    Read our Astrill VPN review.
  2. ExpressVPN: The best overall VPN with majority success in beating blocks.
    Read our ExpressVPN review.
  3. PrivateVPN: A cheap alternative that unblocks YouTube reliably.
    Read our PrivateVPN review.

VPNs Can’t Help with Sitewide Removals

Sometimes YouTube censors content by removing videos entirely from the platform.

This has been a feature of the coronavirus pandemic, as YouTube attempts to squash the spread of misinformation.

Also, following a policy update in 2019, YouTube terminated 25,000 accounts on hate speech grounds and, more famously, President Donald Trump for “inciting violence”.

However, no VPN can get around these blanket bans. These videos are completely taken offline.

Some geoblocks are a matter of copyright and licensing agreements. We’ve all seen the annoying error code that tells us: “The uploader has not made this video unavailable in your country.”

Unlike with China, to get around this it probably isn’t necessary to purchase a VPN. You can get a free VPN and it should work just fine.

Or, you can use a proxy, which you can read more about here.

All you need to do is choose a safe free service, install it, and select the country in which the video is available.

If you can’t access a specific TV show clip, a music video or a movie, launch the VPN and select an appropriate server location. Once connected, YouTube will think you’re in the right country, and play the video.

EXPERT TIP: Use a YouTube region restriction checker to see where certain videos are available or unavailable by copyright laws. This is very useful if you’re looking for a server on which you can watch the video.

However, there are risks with some of the most popular free VPNs, like Hola VPN. Many free VPNs take your data and sell it, and barely offer any privacy protection at all. Some have even been known to install malware and viruses.

We recommend you use any of the below free VPNs, which we’ve verified as safe:

  1. Windscribe Free: The best free VPN in general.
    Read our Windscribe review.
  2. ProtonVPN Free: Unlimited free data, great for YouTube streaming (especially 4K).
    Read our ProtonVPN review.
  3. TunnelBear Free: The best for server locations, ensuring global YouTube access.
    Read our TunnelBear review.

Free VPNs are often limiting; they impose data caps and server restrictions, or refuse access to advanced features.

For the purpose of watching YouTube, though, they can be a great tool. Especially if you’re only interested in watching a video blocked on copyright grounds every now and again.

How to Watch Blocked YouTube Videos at School

a laptop screen with youtube logo is padlocked and a woman is walking towards it with a set of keys

A VPN is the most effective solution to get around school bans on all devices, including school computers, laptops, or Chromebooks.

But we caution against potentially unsafe free VPNs. The last thing you want is to inject malware onto your school device.

Not many websites tell you this, but it’s important to know that even with the best VPN your school might know you’re using a VPN. This is because the WiFi admin can see encrypted packages being sent to the school server from a specific device, even if they don’t know the contents of the package.

Although VPNs are the simplest and quickest way to unblock YouTube, if you want to avoid detection entirely there are other methods to unblocking YouTube, including:

1. Unblock YouTube by Using the Website IP Address

Many school networks only block certain domain name URLs for websites and not the underlying IP addresses. This means if you know a website’s IP address you can enter it manually into your browser and view the blocked website.

It’s worth knowing that the domain name of a website (Top10VPN.com, for example), is not the same as the IP address that directs your traffic. Although the URL is blocked, the website IP address is not.

EXPERT TIP: To find a website’s IP address you can open the Command Prompt and then type tracert followed by the domain name, i.e. tracert top10vpn.com.

2. Use Google Translate to Beat School Blocks

It’s very rare that a school blocks Google Translate because of its usefulness in education settings. You can actually use this to your advantage and get around school YouTube blocks.Here’s how you do it:

  1. First translate into a foreign language a search term you would otherwise type into YouTube, such as “study music.” We’re using German as an example.

    English to German Google Translation of Study Music

    Translate your YouTube search term using Google Translate.

  2. Now, copy the phrase and paste it into Google. Scroll the results and you can see the option to translate into English video links to YouTube.

    Google Search Result of Translated Search Term

    Search your translated phrase in Google and find the YouTube results.

  3. Select ‘Translate this page’ and you’ll be directed to what is technically a Google Translate site and not YouTube and therefore get around the school block while still accessing the video.

    YouTube videos are available through Google Translate.

This neat workaround should work with any search term you want to search for.

3. Directly Download YouTube Videos onto Your Device

It’s possible to download YouTube videos directly onto your device without even beating your school firewall.

All you have to do is copy the YouTube video URL from search results and paste it into a YouTube video downloader website. There are many of these websites available online.

YouTube video links can be directly downloaded.

YouTube video links can be directly downloaded.

This allows you to download a file directly onto your device that you can watch offline.

The downside of this workaround is that you have to know the specific video you want to watch. It’s also more time consuming.

EXPERT TIP: Although many websites claim it, adjusting your URL slightly will not unblock YouTube at school.

What’s the Best VPN for YouTube?

The truth is that most VPNs unblock YouTube.

But the very best VPNs for YouTube have lots of global servers, fast speeds, and easy to use apps. This way you can connect to countries across the globe, avoid annoying buffering, and use the technology with zero problems, even if you’re a beginner.

If you’re in a country with strict internet censorship, a free VPN won’t cut it. You need robust encryption, watertight privacy, and obfuscation tools. Even in free speech countries, these features are great if you don’t want YouTube or Google tracking every video you watch.

EXPERT TIP: It’s good practice to watch YouTube in incognito or private browsing mode with your VPN running to stop your searches being associated with your Google account.

On top of that, you’ll need to consider what devices you like to watch YouTube on. Some VPNs are available on desktop computers as well as phones, tablets, smart TVs and Chromebook. Others, however, might be limited to mobile or desktop.

For example, if you’re fond of streaming YouTube from your Fire TV Stick, it’s worth getting a VPN that has a quality app for this (many don’t).

If you like to watch YouTube on your phone on your way to work, on your laptop at your desk, and then on your sofa at home with the Fire TV Stick over the course of a day, it’s worth getting a premium VPN that allows up to five simultaneous devices running the VPN under one account.

Free VPNs, on the other hand, can be limiting due to single device restrictions.

In order to cover all your device needs and protect your YouTube privacy, we recommend:

  1. ExpressVPN: The best overall VPN, good at beating censorship, streaming YouTube from anywhere, and protecting your search history with a no logs privacy policy.
    Read our ExpressVPN review.
  2. NordVPN: A super fast, no logs VPN with thousands of global servers and many extra features. Read our NordVPN review.
  3. Surfshark: A budget alternative that offers robust privacy, excellent streaming capabilities, and unlimited simultaneous devices. Read our Surfshark review.

Can I Use a Proxy for YouTube?

Yes, you can use a proxy to unblock YouTube.

YouTube restrictions are much easier to bypass than premium streaming services like Netflix or BBC iPlayer. A simple proxy often does the job.

Illustration of two people choosing between a VPN and a proxy.

Proxies can be just as effective at unblocking YouTube videos.

A proxy gets around firewalls by visiting the website on your behalf and relaying the content back to you. You never actually visit the website and so the block never takes effect.

Proxies can be a quick and useful tool if your YouTube needs are less demanding and privacy is less of a concern to you. That’s because they don’t provide the same level of privacy and reliability as a VPN. Proxies don’t encrypt data like a VPN does.

This allows ISPs, school network administrators, and governments to see what videos you watch even with a proxy. These proxies might also be logging and selling your data, too. For this reason, they’re not as safe or private.

A VPN is by far the safest, most effective, and most reliable way to unblock YouTube. But if you’re looking to unblock a single video or two at home, a proxy can be a quick and useful alternative. There are many free proxy servers and browser extensions available online, such as KProxy, Ultrasurf, ProxTube, and Whoer.

Many VPN companies also offer a proxy browser extension as part of their premium package. But some also offer good quality browser extensions that are completely free.

To get around YouTube blocks with a free proxy, we recommend installing browser extensions from any of the following VPN providers:

These are all free and available to add to Chrome or Firefox browsers instantly with no registration required. They’re a quick and easy way to unblock YouTue and they’re from trustworthy VPN companies, so there’s no risk involved.

Why are YouTube videos blocked and unavailable?

YouTube videos are blocked for these reasons:

  • In most cases videos are blocked due to copyright licensing or the uploader not making the video available in your country.
  • As a video-sharing platform, many authoritarian governments have decided that it would be convenient to control the spread of information by banning, or restricting, YouTube.
  • Even in free countries, many videos are blocked or censored due to the sensitive nature of the material, usually related to sexuallty explicit or violent content. In the UK, for example, you need to verify your age before watching certain videos.
  • Companies and school administrators use firewalls to ensure maximum productivity. They will also block sites like Facebook and Spotify, which seems unfair if you find music to assist in work and learning.

How Can I Watch YouTube TV?

YouTube TV is an US exclusive streaming service that allows you to stream sports, TV shows, and movies from over 85 networks.

If you already have a YouTubeTV account a VPN will enable you to continue streaming content while you’re abroad.

However, if you’re not based in the US and want the benefits of YouTube TV, you’ll also need a payment method registered in the US and a zip code before you can sign up.

Can a VPN Unblock YouTube Premium (YouTube Red)?

YouTube has a premium service called YouTube Premium (formerly known as YouTube Red). This service costs $11.99 and provides ad-free, offline access to YouTube and YouTube Music.

It is available in most countries but not all of them. You can find the full list of available countries here.

If you live outside these countries and still want the benefits of YouTube Premium, you can use a VPN to register.

However, as with YouTube TV, this isn’t as simple as connecting to a server and unblocking a video. You’ll need to have a payment method linked to one of these countries available, either a credit card or PayPal account.

Can YouTube Detect VPNs?

Even if YouTube can detect VPNs, it doesn’t seem to care much as most VPNs work almost all the time to unblock the video platform.

It’s another story when it comes to the premium YouTube TV, though. It uses an algorithm to track IP addresses and detect VPNs. This is why you might get an error message that reads: “YouTube TV VPN Proxy Server Detected.”

So while YouTube can detect VPNs when it comes to its premium services it doesn’t care as much when it comes to unblocking georestricted content that is otherwise free.

Unblocking YouTube is entirely legal in the vast majority of countries across the world.

There are, however, a few countries that have made using VPNs illegal, whether it’s for YouTube or anything else.

These countries include:

  • Belarus (banned since 2015)
  • Iraq (banned since 2014)
  • North Korea (operates national intranet)
  • Turkmenistan (banned since 2015)

Outside of these countries it’s legal to unblock YouTube. Even in China where YouTube is banned and VPNs are restricted, it’s not illegal to unblock it.

As well as that, there is nothing specific in the YouTube terms of service that says you cannot use a VPN or proxy.

One section forbids you to “circumvent, disable, fraudulently engage, or otherwise interfere with the service,” but it’s highly unlikely this can be used to justify kicking you off the service. We’ve never known a case of someone being penalized for using a YouTube VPN.

Unblocking YouTube at school or work is not illegal, either. But there’s no guarantee that you won’t get told off for doing it if discovered. Network administrators can detect the use of VPNs even if they don’t know what websites you’re visiting.

Additional research by David Hughes

About the Author


  • Headshot of Top10VPN.com Site Editor Callum Tennent

    Callum Tennent

    Callum oversees how we test and review VPN services. He's a member of the IAPP, and his advice about VPNs has featured in Forbes and the Internet Society. Read full bio