A hand pressing a button on a laptop with a Surfshark logo on the screen and the Eiffel Tower and a Torii gate in the background.

Changing your virtual location allows you to stay private online, get better prices for goods and services when shopping on the internet, and overcome oppressive censorship.

A VPN (Virtual Private Network) is one of the best tools for changing your location and IP (Internet Protocol) address. Follow along to learn all about the benefits of a VPN, as well as the Tor browser, proxies, and other ways to change your virtual location.

Table of contents

    Why change your online location and how you can do it

    Changing your IP hides your location online, which makes it much harder to track you. When you use a VPN to change your IP, you also get the added benefit of encryption, which further protects your data.

    Before we dive deep into the details of why and how you can change your IP address, let’s take a quick glance at the key things you need to know:

    Why change my online location?
    Changing your online location improves your privacy because it hides your location from advertisers and bad actors online. It also allows you to overcome restrictions in countries with oppressive internet censorship and can help you get better prices for flights or accommodation.
    How can I change my online location?
    There are quite a few ways to change your online location. Here are some of the most popular ones: Using a VPN; Using a Tor browser; Using a proxy server; Changing your IP address manually. Using a VPN is the most secure one of the lot, as it also encrypts your entire traffic. Some other methods, such as a proxy server or a manual setup, don’t offer encryption at all.
    How do I know if my location has changed?
    To make sure that your IP has changed, you need to check your actual IP before making any changes. Once you use one of the location-changing methods mentioned above, your IP should be different from your actual IP address. If it is, that means your virtual location has changed.
    Does a VPN change my IP?
    Yes, using a VPN changes your IP to a different IP address. Your traffic looks as if it’s coming from the VPN server location rather than your actual location.
    How can I change my VPN location?
    To change your VPN location, you simply need to switch to a server in a different region. When you connect to a different VPN server, your IP changes to match the server location. Here’s how you get the best location-changing experience with a VPN: Choose a VPN where you can choose location from many server options; Download and install the VPN app; Connect to a preferred VPN server; If, after some time, you want to change your VPN location, pick a different server.
    Change your location safely
    Protect your data with a premium VPN

    Does a VPN change my IP?

    A VPN changes your real IP address to that of a VPN server. This makes your traffic look like it’s coming from the location of the VPN server, not your actual physical location. Depending on your VPN service, this IP may rotate every 5 to 10 minutes or stay the same for as long as you’re connected. 

    We’ll dive deeper into this later, but in short, this is how you can change your VPN location:

    1. Choose a reliable VPN; you can get Surfshark with a discount of up to 84%.
    2. Download and install it.
    3. Log in to the app.
    4. Select the server country to connect to.
    5. There you go! Your IP address and location are changed.

    How does a VPN change my IP?

    A VPN routes your traffic through a VPN server to make it look like it’s coming from a different location. Since your data goes through the VPN server before it reaches the internet, any apps or websites you visit see the VPN server’s IP address instead of your actual IP.

    Here’s how a VPN changes your location and IP address:

    • A VPN allows you to choose from a list of VPN servers to connect to. As soon as you connect, your IP changes to that of the VPN server;
    • A VPN creates a tunnel and runs your data through it. This way, your data gets encrypted and stays safe from snoopers;
    • Your data is decrypted when it reaches the VPN server. The server sends your decrypted traffic to the website you’re visiting. As a result, any websites or apps see the VPN server’s IP and location instead of your actual information.  

    Why change my online location and IP address?

    Safety, privacy, and convenience are the main motivators behind changing your location and IP. It shouldn’t be anyone’s business what you’re up to, and you should have a choice of whether or not you want to disclose your location and other sensitive information online.

    To stay private

    Your IP address acts as your internet ID wherever you go. That means that by looking at your IP, a person can tell your general location. Also, websites and third parties may track your online activity. Using a VPN and changing your location can stop them from doing that.

    When you use a VPN, it encrypts your data and changes your IP. By doing this, a VPN prevents advertisers from seeing your shopping habits and hides your activity data from anyone trying to profit from it.

    To stay connected to the web 

    You should be able to surf the web freely. The internet was intended for everyone, but the difference between governmental and institutional policies has led to a divided internet. Search results differ or are removed, and some parts of the web are completely inaccessible based on your location or network. Changing your location with a VPN allows you to surf the entirety of the World Wide Web with freedom. This is particularly useful for users in countries with oppressive internet restrictions. Just connecting to a VPN gives you access to global news or social media platforms, which may otherwise be blocked.

    To get better prices

    By changing your location, you can fight price discrimination. Most internet vendors vary their prices according to your location and the info saved in the form of cookies. A VPN can help you save money and avoid unfair pricing by changing your IP.

    A VPN comes in particularly handy for travelers since flight tickets and accommodation tend to have some of the biggest price differences based on your region and prior activity. 

    How to change your location

    Changing your location on the web typically refers to changing your public IP address. Let’s take a look at some of the most common ways to do it:

    Change your location with a VPN

    Using a VPN is the most convenient way to change your IP address. It is simple, fast, and doesn’t require tech knowledge. Moreover, a premium VPN like Surfshark will provide more privacy and security benefits than any other IP-changing method. 

    Let’s say you need to change and get a UK IP, here’s all you need to do:

    1. Subscribe to a VPN service

    Choose a VPN service and pick a subscription plan that works best for you.

    A screenshot of Surfshark’s pricing page
    1. Download and install the VPN app

    Download and install the VPN app on all your devices. 

    1. Log in to the app
    A screenshot of Surfshark’s login screen

    After installation, open the VPN app and log into your account. 

    1. Connect to a VPN server
    A screenshot of Surfshark’s home screen

    Choose one of Surfshark’s 3200+ servers in 100 countries to connect to.

    Switch your location with Surfshark
    The safest solution to changing your location

    Use a VPN to change your location to a specific country

    The Quick-connect method connects you to the closest available location, but if you want an IP address from a specific country, you’ll need to take a few additional steps:

    1. Log in to the app.
    2. Go to the Locations tab.
    A screenshot of Surfshark’s server location search screen
    1. Find the location (VPN server) you want.
    A screenshot of Surfshark’s server locations in the US
    1. Click on the location to connect to it.
    A screenshot of Surfshark’s server locations in the US with the Chicago location highlighted

    It’s as simple as that! And if your device doesn’t support the app, you can set it up manually or use a VPN router instead.

    Use the Tor Browser

    While it does have some disadvantages, using the Tor browser is still one of the most popular ways to change your IP. On top of changing your virtual location, Tor allows users to access .onion websites. However, it only encrypts browser traffic, leaving all other data unprotected. 

    1. Download and install the Tor Browser.
    A screenshot of the Tor browser website home page
    1. Launch it and click Connect.
    A screenshot of the ‘Connect to Tor’ pop-up
    1. You’re done!

    Quick, right? Unfortunately, it comes with a few downsides:

    • Picking a specific location requires rummaging through the settings;
    • Tor only encrypts traffic that goes through the Tor browser — other apps or searches will not be encrypted; 
    • The Tor Browser is slow.

    Generally speaking, Tor is a great anonymity tool. However, we recommend using a VPN. This way, you won’t have to risk exposing your location via unencrypted data traffic or suffer long loading times.

    Use a proxy server

    The precise steps for setting up a proxy server will depend on your system. We’ll provide the basic steps below, but you might also want to check the specifications for your devices. 

    1. Open your device’s proxy settings.
    2. Enter the address of your proxy server and the port number.
    3. Save the changes.

    That’s it — your location and IP address are changed! Yep, it’s pretty straightforward. Still, proxy servers do not offer encryption, and although your location will be hidden, your data will not benefit from extra security.

    Change the IP address manually

    You can change your IP by hand, but it’s the least secure option since it doesn’t protect you from trackers or encrypt your data traffic.

    Change your location on Windows:

    1. At the Start menu, go to Settings.
    2. Choose Network & Internet.
    3. Choose Properties under your local area connection.
    4. Hit Edit under the IP assignment and choose Manual.
    5. Retry the WireGuard connection method.
    6. Toggle on IPv4, enter your desired IP address, and click Save.

    Change your location on macOS:

    1. Go to the Apple menu (Apple icon at the top left corner).
    2. Choose System Settings (or System Preferences) in the drop-down menu.
    3. Click Network.
    4. The network list should be on the left; pick your network and click Advanced on the right side of the table.
    5. Select the TCP/IP in the upper middle part.  
    6. In the line Configure IPv4, select Manually.
    7. Enter your new IP and click OK.

    Change your location on iOS (iPhone, iPod, iPad):

    1. Go to Settings on your device.
    2. Tap Wi-Fi.
    3. Choose the network you’re connected to.
    4. In the IPv4 section, tap Configure IP.
    5. Pick Manual and enter your desired IP address.

    Change your location on Android:

    1. Go to your Android settings.
    2. Tap Wireless and go to Wi-Fi.
    3. Tap and hold the Wi-Fi network you’re connected to at the moment.
    4. Tap Modify Network and go to the Advanced options.
    5. Change the address in the IP settings from DHCP to Static.

    We advise using a VPN as your location changer because changing your IP manually doesn’t offer the security or privacy that a VPN does. A VPN encrypts your data traffic, so even if someone manages to hack your connection, they’d have no way of understanding your data.

    Unplug your router

    Unplugging your router is an easy (even if inconsistent) way to get a new IP address. Once you plug it back in, your internet provider’s DHCP (Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol) server may assign a new IP address to your router.

    However, you may need to keep your router unplugged for several minutes or even hours, depending on your IP lease time. Also, your ISP (Internet Service Provider) could assign you the same IP address you had before.

    This method is inconsistent and doesn’t provide the same privacy level as a VPN. Even if you manage to change your IP by unplugging your router, you’ll always get a new IP from the same region.

    How do I know if my location has changed?

    It’s a good idea to check your virtual location to see if your IP-changing method works as intended. An easy way to do this is to use an IP address detection tool.

    After changing your IP, your virtual location should be different from your actual location. For example, if you’re connected to a VPN, but your IP address still comes from your actual location, the VPN service may not be working properly. In this case, you should consider switching to a more reliable provider

    With a well-working VPN, your IP address location should immediately change to that of the VPN server rather than your actual whereabouts. Some services or websites may use your DNS address or WebRTC data to get your location data, but a good VPN also takes care of that. 

    Choose a location-changing method that keeps you safe

    Whether you want to protect your privacy or get around restrictive firewalls, the best option is to change your real IP address and location using a VPN. On this note, Surfshark provides an easy-to-use, safe, and cost-effective option for changing your IP location.

    Start hiding your location now
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    How do I change my VPN location for free? 

    You can change your VPN location for free by using a free VPN service. But just because you can doesn’t mean that you should

    Free VPNs might change your IP location, but they rarely, if ever, have the resources to actually protect you online. Over 25 million user records were leaked by free VPNs in 2022 alone. Needless to say, using a free VPN is a huge security risk, while a reliable premium VPN can keep you safe and private.

    How often does a VPN change the IP address?

    With Surfshark’s Nexus technology, your IP address will be rotated every five to ten minutes. However, you have to turn on the IP rotator manually. To do so, follow these steps:

    1. Open the Surfshark VPN app.
    2. Click Settings on the left side of the screen.
    3. Choose the VPN settings tab.
    4. Toggle the Rotating IP feature under the Advanced settings.

    Otherwise, if you don’t use this feature (or if you use another VPN provider), your IP will change every time you connect to a VPN.

    Will I get a different IP every time I connect to a VPN?

    Most likely, yes, you will get a different IP address whenever you connect to a VPN. To those wondering how a VPN can give you the same IP, here’s the answer — only a certain number of IP addresses are assigned to specific servers, so there’s a chance you might get the same IP.

    If you don’t want the IP to change every time, you can connect to the same static IP server every time or get a dedicated IP.

    Is it illegal to change your location with a VPN?

    No, unless you live in a country where VPN use is illegal in general. Still, keep in mind that although it’s not illegal, it might be against the Terms and Conditions of the services you use.

    Disclaimer: Please note that using Surfshark services for any illegal activities is strictly forbidden and violates our Terms of Service. Make sure that any use of Surfshark services for your particular activities conforms to all relevant laws and regulations, including those of any service providers and websites you access using Surfshark.

    Is it safe to change a VPN?

    It’s the same as asking if a VPN is safe to use. It depends on what type of VPN you’re using — the act is safe, but the provider may not be. So check out VPN providers’ policies, their prior history, and how they handle your data.

    Can a VPN change a cell phone location?

    A VPN will change your IP, but it can’t change your cell phone’s location because cell phone towers and mobile carriers will still detect your location. Cell phone communication is based on radio waves, and VPNs can’t encrypt radio waves. Yet.

    Can a VPN change your city location?

    A VPN can change your location to another city if your VPN provider has servers in the particular city you want to connect to. For example, Surfshark has servers in 22 major cities in the US, allowing you to choose which one you want to connect to instead of just offering the US as a single location option.

    How can I change my IP with a VPN?

    Your IP changes automatically whenever you connect to a VPN. That’s because a VPN routes your traffic through a server before sending it to the website or app you’re using. As a result, your actual IP address is replaced by the VPN server’s IP address.