Netflix has been warning us for some time that it will restrict users who share their password and account with others. With a paid password sharing program and increasingly stringent restrictions beginning to roll out in new regions, free Netflix password sharing may soon be a thing of the past. But how will the streamer stop it?
Netflix has made it clear that it wants users to stop sharing their accounts with others because the plethora of people not paying for its content weakens its position as one of the best streaming services. Because these people access the service without paying, they enjoy the best Netflix shows, but they do not support the production of new series or improve the Netflix platform.
However, the change is not popular, with subscribers in parts of Latin and South America unhappy with the new paid password-sharing scheme that was trialled last year. Moreover, it’s not entirely clear when password sharing is okay and when it’s not, or how Netflix will prevent it. We’re here to explain everything we know about how the rules will work, but keep in mind that the rules below are subject to change – because even before launch official FAQ (opens in a new tab) changed three or four times; if this happens, we will update this page as soon as possible to keep you updated.
What is Netflix’s password sharing policy?
According to Netflix’s password sharing policy, multiple people can use and share one account as long as they live together. So if you’re a family or a group of friends who live together in the same house, you’re golden; you can continue to share your account as one household.
However, if you’re part of a group that shares a Netflix account and you don’t all live together, you won’t be able to do this anymore. Well, not for free.
When new restrictions go live in your region, you’ll be prompted to set a “primary location” which Netflix will likely determine based on your device’s IP address (see “How will Netflix stop sharing my password?” below for more information). Once you set this primary location, people who don’t live in it will have three options.
- option 1: abandon Netflix forever
- Option 2: Set up your own private Netflix account
- Option 3: pay an additional fee and become an “additional member” of an existing account
This additional membership feature offers users several benefits – the main one being that the fee is cheaper than paying for a Standard or Premium subscription – but it also comes with a few limitations. First, it is only available to Standard and Premium Tier subscribers. Also, a Standard subscription can only have one extra member while a Premium account can only have two extra members.
Where is the Netflix password sharing policy enforced?
Netflix is tightening its password sharing policy in every region it operates. However, most current efforts seem to focus on countries where users can pay for additional member subaccounts. At the time of writing (February 9, 2023), these are:
- Costa Rica
- New Zealand
If you’re not in one of these regions, you can easily share your Netflix password with people outside of your household, but we expect it won’t be long before you’re forced to stop for free-loading.
How will Netflix stop sharing your password?
At this time, we don’t know exactly how Netflix intends to detect and stop people sharing passwords. All we have to do is the previously available information that has been removed from the official FAQ.
Earlier this year, Netflix made it clear that it would use data such as “IP addresses, device IDs, and account activity from devices logged into a Netflix account” to determine if a Netflix user is part of an account household. If Netflix determined that the user wasn’t part of the household – and might be trying to break the password sharing policy – it would ask them to verify the device. A one-time code will be sent to the account’s registered phone number or email address and the user will have 15 minutes to enter the code or be banned from Netflix.
For a short time, the rules were a bit different; instead of this verification method, the user would be required to log into Netflix from the associated household Wi-Fi connection “at least once every 31 days”. If that deadline passed, access could only be regained with a temporary seven-day code by signing up for a new Netflix account or setting up the device as an additional account member. However, Netflix later clarified that this policy was posted in error and only applied to users in Chile, Costa Rica, and Peru – the only regions at the time that were allowed to pay for additional members.
However, after reverting the policy back to the email/text verification method, the FAQ changed again. If you visit the FAQ at the time of writing (February 9, 2023), you’ll only see this short statement in most regions:
“The Netflix account is intended to be shared by one household (people who live in the same location as the account holder). People who are not in your home will need to sign up for their own account to watch Netflix.”
In countries where you can pay for additional members, such as Canada, you’ll find details on how it works, but that’s the only additional information you get.
When we contacted Netflix to find out why the latest changes to the FAQ were made, we were told that the help center was previously too vague, so information about it has been simplified. The information was certainly confusing – especially when it changed for about a day before the information went back to what it used to be – but hiding the exact rules isn’t much help.
Therefore, we suspect that part of this change is also an attempt to obfuscate the rules to prevent people from finding ways around them. As part of the email verification method, users would only need to set up a shared email account; while with the “use a specific Wi-Fi connection every 31 days” method, all you need to do is visit your primary account location regularly – if you live nearby, it wouldn’t be a hard question to ask. By hiding the rules, Netflix can change its methods of detecting accounts that break the password-sharing policy without anyone knowing, making it likely easier for the streamer to catch those accounts and get them to pay.
How much does Netflix charge for sharing a password?
If you want to continue sharing your Netflix account, you’ll need to pay, although we currently don’t know how much the extra member feature will cost in each region (specifically US, UK and Australia). This is partly because the price seems to be different every time it triggers.
Here are the prices (per month) in regions where this feature is available:
|Country||Monthly cost (local currency)||Monthly Cost ($/£/AU$)|
|Canada||$7.99||around $6 / £5 / AU$8.60|
|Chile||2,380 Chilean pesos||around $3 / £2.50 / $4.30|
|Costa Rica||$2.99||$2.99, around £2.50/$4.30|
|New Zealand||NZ$7.99||around $5.10 / £4.20 / AU$7.29|
|Peru||7.9 Peruvian sun||around $2 / £1.70 / $3|
|Portugal||€3.99||around $4.30 / £3.50 / $6.20|
|Spain||€5.99||around $6.40 / £5.30 / AU$9.26|
Apparently, Netflix uses factors beyond simple currency conversion to determine how much an additional member costs in each region – otherwise Spain and Portugal would pay the same amount to start with as they both use the euro. This means we’ll have to wait and see how high the additional membership fees are when it rolls out the feature in the US, UK, and Australia. At the moment, we can assume it will cost $7.99 / £7.99 / AU$7.99, but that’s just speculation for now.
While this estimate is more expensive than other regions – and certainly more expensive than providing an account for free – it’s still cheaper than paying for a Premium tier subscription of $19.99 / £15.99 / AU$22.99.
What if I want to use my Netflix account while on vacation?
If your account is tied to a specific Wi-Fi network and then you go on vacation, you may be worried about being banned from Netflix from abroad. Fortunately, the streamer said the upcoming restrictions won’t stop you from accessing your favorite Netflix content while you’re away from home for a limited amount of time.
It’s unclear exactly how it will do this, although it has previously outlined plans to use its email/phone verification method to grant access, as well as a limited-use code that allows access to the service for seven days. These ideas (along with other public policies) have since been removed from the FAQ, so at this point we’re not entirely sure what approach it will take to ensure you can stay connected to Netflix.
Will the Netflix policy change stop me from using a VPN?
Over the past few years, the best VPNs – or Virtual Private Networks – have skyrocketed in popularity as they allow you to watch content that isn’t available on your region’s version of Netflix.
When you access a website or online service while your VPN is active, your connection does not go directly to your destination; instead, it first makes a detour through the VPN provider’s encrypted servers. When this happens, a VPN is able to hide the real information about your device (including its IP address) and use information from the server instead – keeping your data private.
However, if Netflix wants to use device information and IP address to verify that users belong to a household, it may not want them to use tools that hide this data. By using a VPN, people who don’t actually live together can connect to the same server and appear as if they are.
Currently, Netflix says “you can use a VPN with Netflix on Basic, Standard, or Premium plans,” but it’s unclear if its stance will change if using a VPN allows users to circumvent the new password-sharing policy. It will potentially just ask VPN users to verify their device every time they access Netflix, but it could take a much tougher stance on using a VPN. We’ll have to wait and see and update this guide if Netflix’s stance on VPNs changes.
If you plan to leave Netflix when password sharing restrictions are in place, here are the best Netflix movies you need to watch before you cancel your subscription. And if you’re thinking of joining one of its rivals, here are the best Disney Plus shows and the best Prime Video movies you might want to check out.