There's no need to extol the virtues of Amazon's Fire TV Stick. That's been done a million times before. But although it's perfect for popping in your suitcase and using on business trips or holidays abroad, you might find you can't access iPlayer or certain Netflix shows at your destination.
Similarly, when at home some content might be blocked because it's only available in a different region, but a VPN will get around these restrictions.
Getting a VPN up and running on your Fire TV is surprisingly simple - the biggest decision is which VPN service to use. (We can help there, too, as we've rounded up the best VPN services for the Fire TV. Handy, eh?)
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 by using the software mentioned here.
If you have a first-generation Fire TV Stick you will find a smaller selection as some apps aren't compatible with the older hardware. You can easily tell if you have an original Fire Stick by its remote control:
Can I use a free VPN?
You can certainly try. But you'll find that either there's no server available in the country you need, or the connection is too slow, or the amount of free bandwidth - the amount of data you can stream over the VPN connection - is too limited for video.
That's why we recommend choosing a paid-for VPN service for video streaming.
How to install a VPN on 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 a hassle to use the on-screen keyboard with the Fire TV remote. And some services don't let you create an account via the Fire TV app: you can only log into an account that is already set up.
Then, use the search facility in the main Fire TV menu and enter 'VPN' in the search box.
Press the select button on the remote to choose an app.
Installing the app of your chosen service is as simple as clicking the 'Get' button and waiting for it to change to Open.
When you launch the VPN app, enter your login details. Select the country or server you want to use and look for a button to enable the VPN. Once the connection is established you should get visual confirmation. At that point you can go back to the main menu and launch Netflix, Kodi or look for the Amazon video you want and begin streaming.
As far as that service is concerned, you're now located in whichever country you chose in your 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.
Do I need to change the country on my Fire TV Stick?
This will depend on the method you're using. If you've installed an app, you shouldn't need to change the country. However, if you want to check out Amazon Prime Video's offering in, say, the US and you're in the UK, you may need to.
First, make sure that the Amazon account via which you watch Prime Video is set to the country in which the content is available (or that you want to browse). So, if you live in the UK and want to watch US content, change your account to US.
Use a web browser to go to www.amazon.co.uk, sign in and then click on the Your Account link at the top-right.
Now scroll down to the Digital Content section and click the first link: Manage your Content and Devices.
Click on the Settings tab (to the right near the top) and then on the Change button next to Current country.
You can’t simply change the country setting to United States and click Update, though. You’ll need to enter a valid address and zip code.
Head back to Amazon Video on your Fire TV and hopefully the videos you want to watch should now be available.