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Your IP address is the unique identifier assigned by your internet service provider (ISP) that helps web servers deliver content to you. However, it also carries a lot of information about you, including your location, which can lead to restricted content access in some cases.
Fortunately, if you want to pretend you’re in the U.S. while you’re online, you have several options. In this article, we’ll outline these and offer expert advice on how to get the most from each of them.
Use Tor Browser
Use a proxy server
Best VPNs for U.S. IP addresses
Reasons to use a U.S. IP address
U.S. IP address FAQs
Get a VPN
A virtual private network (VPN) is a service that helps you connect securely and privately to the internet. A VPN essentially routes your connection through an encrypted server, typically in another country. This disguises your location and other personal information that can be gleaned from an IP address.
Many VPNs also have the added benefit of enabling you to choose servers in one of multiple locations. This means you can present your connection as originating from your choice of servers within a given country. This ability makes VPNs ideal for quickly acquiring a U.S. IP address.
How to choose a VPN
The VPN market is saturated with options. Most of these are reputable and will work fairly well. However, due to the nature of the service, VPNs also attract some bad actors and less-than-trustworthy companies. To minimize your risk, you should ensure that the VPN you choose is popular and has been thoroughly vetted for security and privacy.
Here are some key considerations when choosing a VPN:
- Avoid free options. Yes, there are free VPN options on the market. You should almost universally avoid these. At best, they will have extremely strict limits. At worst, they may be selling your data to fund their operation. If you must use one, the best free VPNs tend to be those that also offer a paid upgrade tier.
- Review the provider’s logs policy. VPN providers have access to a lot of potentially sensitive data. After all, when connected, all your online traffic is being routed through the VPN’s servers. Most reputable providers will publicly share their policy for keeping logs and records. We highly recommend choosing a VPN with a no-logs policy.
- Pay attention to performance. Many VPNs these days offer similar speeds to a direct connection, but some are better than others. There will almost always be some performance drop when using a VPN, but it should ideally be minimal.
In general, you can expect to pay around $10-$11 per month for a VPN. This cost can drop dramatically if you opt for an annual subscription rather than month-to-month.
How to use a VPN to get a US IP address
Getting a U.S. IP address with a VPN is simple. Most allow you to select the country and even a specific state or city, you want to use, such as New York or Los Angeles. Nearly all VPNs offer U.S. servers. Simply open your VPN client, choose a server in the U.S., and the VPN software will take care of the rest.
Use Tor Browser
Tor is a piece of software that helps facilitate anonymous communication and online activity by routing internet traffic through a network of relay servers. Tor makes it extremely difficult, if not impossible, to trace the original source of network traffic (though keep in mind that nothing is foolproof).
The Tor Browser bundles this software with a privacy-focused web browser designed to leave as little trace as possible. Tor is free and works well for privacy, with the caveat that performance is absolutely abysmal due to the number of relays your traffic is routed through.
You can set your IP address to a particular country with Tor using the following steps:
- Open your file browser and locate the folder where you installed the Tor browser.
- Navigate to Browser > TorBrowser > Data > Tor.
- Open the torrc file with a text editor. (Text Edit on Mac or Notepad on Windows, for example.)
- Add the following lines to it:
- Save the file and restart Tor.
This setting will persist until you change it, so no need to repeat the process each time you launch the browser.
Use a proxy server
A proxy server (or simply “proxy”) is a server that acts as a gateway or middleman between your device and the wider internet. Proxy servers are similar in principle to VPNs—they sit between you and the website you’re visiting and mask your IP address. The main difference is that proxy servers don’t typically have the other privacy-focused features of a VPN, such as encryption.
To get a U.S. IP address using a proxy, you simply need to choose a proxy service that has U.S.-based servers. The main hurdle here is finding a reputable provider that’s actually affordable—many proxy networks are aimed at users looking for large-scale web scraping and data collection, so the prices can be out of reach for casual users.
Generally, we’d recommend just going with a VPN provider instead. However, if you must use a proxy network, Bright Data and SOAX are two popular (but pricey) options.
Best VPNs for USA IP addresses
There are a ton of VPNs on the market, serving a wide variety of needs. Choosing one can be difficult. However, making the right choice is important because these services deal pretty directly with potentially sensitive personal info.
What to look for in a VPN
- Number and location of servers: VPNs are all about the servers. The more there are, the more choice you have in the specific location of your IP address. More servers also generally means enhanced privacy and fewer service interruptions. If you want a U.S. IP address, you want to make sure there’s at least one server in the U.S.
- The VPN protocol used: VPNs use standardized software protocols to ensure compatibility. Some are faster and more secure than others. In general, OpenVPN and especially WireGuard offer the best performance and security.
- The presence of a kill switch: A kill switch is a VPN feature that automatically cuts your internet access if it detects that your device is not connected through the VPN. This helps ensure you can’t be caught off guard and accidentally compromise your privacy.
- A no-logs policy: All the privacy features in the world won’t help if your VPN keeps logs of your activity. Look for a provider that is public about its log-keeping practices—ideally, keeping no logs at all.
- Loads of servers for more connection options
- Works with popular streaming services, including Netflix
- Too many confusing plans
NordVPN is a powerful and popular option with tons of features like split tunneling and a kill switch. It offers excellent speed, as well — important if you’re trying to use your U.S. IP address for Netflix. NordVPN offers more than 5,600 servers in 59 countries. This is an excellent choice if you want a VPN for Netflix or other streaming services like HBO Max and BBC iPlayer.
- Strict no-logs policy with independent audit
- In-house Lightway protocol for more speed and security
- More expensive than NordVPN, Surfshark, and CyberGhost
ExpressVPN boasts more than 3,000 servers in 94 countries, and gives users plenty of options for where to set their IP address. It also offers excellent iOS and Android apps, which may be important for some users. ExpressVPN also offers solid customer support, should you ever need it. Additionally, ExpressVPN has a DNS feature that lets you configure the VPN on your router, smart TV, and other devices that might not naturally support a VPN.
- Easy to use
- A strict no-logs policy that’s been tested in court
- More expensive than NordVPN, Surfshark, and CyberGhost
ProtonVPN is an open-source VPN option with a reputation for security and transparency. It offers nearly 2,000 servers across 67 different countries, as well as all the privacy-focused features you’d expect. It also has some advanced features, including a “stealth protocol” that attempts to disguise the fact that you’re using a VPN.
Reasons to use an American IP address
Most of the reasons why you’d want to use a U.S. IP address revolve around access to content. For example, U.S. Netflix has a different content catalog than the U.K. Netflix, and which you get is based on your IP. Sports streams like those on ESPN may be restricted to particular regions, even within the U.S., so accessing these is another reason to connect to U.S. server locations.
Banks and other financial institutions may block traffic from overseas, so obtaining a U.S. IP address can enable you to access these services as you travel outside of North America. Finally, some countries block or restrict access to the internet. If you’re in one of these locations, a U.S. IP address may help unblock certain sites.
Of course, there are reasons why you might not want a U.S. IP address. The U.S. is part of the international intelligence community known as the Five Eyes alliance, and is legally allowed to collect information on residents as part of the Patriot Act. As such, it may be less secure to use a U.S. IP address in some situations—and you may give up some privacy, as well.
U.S. IP address FAQs
What is a U.S. IP address?
An IP address is a unique identifier that acts a bit like a mailing address for your device. A U.S. IP address is one that is geographically tied to the U.S.
What streaming platforms can I use a VPN with?
VPNs can work with most of the popular streaming services. Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime Video, and Disney+ all work with VPNs to varying degrees.
Which services work with which VPNs, and how well they work, is more complex—most streaming services actively attempt to block VPN connections. VPN providers have to do their best to stay one step ahead, and they could stop working with a provider at any time.
Can I use a free VPN to get a US IP address?
Yes, you can use a free VPN to get a U.S. IP address. Whether you should is another question. We generally recommend avoiding free VPNs entirely.
The reputable free options tend to have limited server selections and strict limits to incentivize you to upgrade to a paid tier, so if you’re using it for streaming or similar activities, you won’t get much mileage out of it. That said, if you just want to appear as if you’re in the U.S., a free option will work.
Is it legal to use a U.S. IP address?
Whether it’s legal to use a U.S. IP address (or use a VPN at all) depends entirely on the laws of the country you’re in. Most countries allow VPNs to be used, provided no illegal activities are being conducted with them.
However, some countries, including North Korea, Russia, China, India, Iran, and Egypt, either outlaw or heavily restrict VPN use. These countries also tend to monitor internet use in general, so using a proxy or other means to obtain a U.S. IP address may still get you in trouble, even if you’re not using a VPN.
If you want to obtain a U.S. IP address—whether for streaming, bypassing content restrictions, or just protecting your privacy—you have several options. However, we recommend a VPN as the best option for most people to get a U.S. IP address.
Learn more about VPNs and see our recommendations for the best VPN services available.