Max not working with VPN? Fix it in 5 steps (2023 guide)

Max (formerly known as HBO Max) is designed for US viewers, meaning you can’t officially use it outside America. A VPN can help, allowing you to spoof your location if you’re abroad so you can keep watching. But what if your current VPN isn’t working with Max? Try out list of fixes.

If you’re seeing errors, there’s a chance the VPN server you’re trying to use has been blacklisted by HBO. That means you won’t be able to stream TV shows and movies outside America. Our guide can help you.

At a glance: VPNs that work with Max

Bad VPNs might not work with Max because they fail to hide your location. But the VPNs we talk about below are recommended for TV addicts who want to use the service anywhere.

Note: all of the Max VPNs below offer a 30-day, money-back guarantee.

Why is Max not working with my VPN?

A support page on HBO’s own website explains: “Not in Service Area or VPN Detected. Max is accessible only in the U.S. and certain U.S. territories from your real IP address.”

If your current VPN isn’t working with Max, it’s clearly not doing a very good job of spoofing your location. Some or all of the VPN servers you have available to you through that service may be blacklisted. Swapping to a more reliable VPN will save you some trouble.

In summary:

  • The VPN server you’re using might have been blacklisted by the HBO Max website and/or app
  • Cookies from your browser are telling the streaming site about your real location instead of your disguised location
  • A broken VPN is sharing your IP address with Max, which causes the website to block traffic
Jack - Gadgetmouse writer

“You’ll know right away if your VPN isn’t working because you’ll see a message that says: ‘Max is Not Available in Your Region.’ You need to swap servers or try a different VPN.”

Jack, GadgetMouse writer

How does Max detect my VPN?

Rubbish VPNs don’t do a very good job of hiding your true location, which means Max prevents you from streaming content. When the Max website identifies VPN use, it’ll blacklist the temporary IP address provided by your VPN so you can’t use it again. The worst VPNs do a lousy job of replacing their blacklisted servers.

HBO Max fixes

1. Make sure your VPN is updated

If Max isn’t working with your VPN, make sure you’re using the latest version of your VPN as the developers might have identified an issue and since patched it.

From a PC, double-click on your VPN and then choose the Settings or Options menu. Some VPNs will display a message on the start screen telling you about updates. Here’s an example of what ExpressVPN users see:

An 'Update now' button appearing on ExpressVPN when using Max

Select Update and you’ll be taken to the VPN provider’s website.

If you’re using an Android phone, you need to open the Google Play store, tap your user profile in the top-right corner of the screen and then Manage apps and device. Choose Update or Update all.

On an iPhone, open the Apple App Store and tap your user profile in the top-right corner of the screen.

2. Swap out the server you’re using with Max

In some cases, specific VPN servers can become temporarily unavailable or slower than usual. This will affect your Max profile and prevent you from streaming shows.

The best VPNs offer multiple servers per country. For example, ExpressVPN hosts a ‘UK – Docklands’ server as well as alternatives in East London, London and the Midlands. Cycle between them and see which one works best for you.

Use the 'Current location' button on ExpressVPN to change the server used with Max

We suggest disconnecting from the current server that you’re using.

Steps will vary depending on your VPN, but ExpressVPN users can select the three dots icon to see a list of alternative servers in the same country. You can also favourite the server (use the Star icon) that works best for you.

3. Reach out to support

Our recommended VPN providers all manage support teams that can deal with specific problems you’re dealing with. If Max isn’t working with your VPN, give this a try.

From a computer, head to your VPN provider’s website and find the Support or Contact us pages. Some VPNs offer a live chat service for members. To message VPN providers about HBO Max, see here: ExpressVPN | Ivacy | NordVPN | Atlas VPN | PureVPN

ExpressVPN has a live chat service that you can contact if you have problems with Max

4. Reset your VPN

Restarting your device often works with computer issues and we’ve found that the same goes with VPNs. Whether you’re on a PC, smartphone or tablet, turn it off and on again, then open your VPN again.

If that doesn’t work, delete and reinstall your VPN. Load up your VPN and the Max homepage and see if you manage to bypass the error screen.

5. Speed test your internet

Your VPN issues might be linked to a dodgy internet connection.

Disconnect from your wi-fi network, then reconnect and try your VPN once again. You can also go a step further and restart your internet router. Speeds of 5-10Mbps should be enough, but you might prefer over 20Mbps if you’re streaming or gaming.

Run an internet speed test to see if a poor connection is affecting Max

Run a free download speed tool and compare the results alongside your ISP’s ‘minimum guaranteed speed’ promise. Contact your ISP if your connection is unstable outside of VPN use.

More Max fixes:

Did you clear cache and cookies from your internet browser? On Google Chrome, go to Settings > Privacy and security > Clear browsing data. On Safari, go to Settings > Privacy > Manage Website Data.

Have you got the correct VPN username and password? Double-check your login credentials. If you can’t remember your details, choose the ‘Forgot’ option on your VPN provider’s website so you get a reset link sent to your inbox.

Are the VPN servers you’re trying actually active? If you can’t connect to a server, your provider might be experiencing an outage. The best providers are transparent about this and actively update their server status online. Check the server status of our recommended providers here: ExpressVPN | Ivacy | NordVPN | Atlas VPN | PureVPN

Is your firewall blocking your VPN or the HBO Max website?

If you’re experiencing issues on desktop, make sure your VPN is mentioned in the ‘Allow’ list. On Windows, head to open Windows Security > Allow an app through the firewall. On Mac, try System Settings > Network > Firewall.

Check your firewall settings to allow your VPN provider and therefore Max

Does your web browser need an update?

Your browser might be incompatible with your VPN. Assuming you’ve updated your VPN, check your browser as well. On Chrome, for example, you would go to Settings > About Chrome.

Are you pushing your VPN to its limits?

If you’re streaming, gaming and using social media at the same time, your VPN might struggle to keep up. We suggest you close a couple of apps to test if doing so has a noticeable impact.

➡️ Download our free VPN troubleshooting tips poster ⬅️

Free VPNs for Max

If you’re on a budget, free VPNs can be tempting. But our experts suggest you avoid them even if Max isn’t working with your VPN.

Free VPNs for Max might sell your data for money since they do not charge a regular, monthly fee. Connecting to a VPN server might take a long time and your connection could drop without warning.

Top, paid-for VPNs have servers all over the world, letting you access websites and apps. On the other hand, free VPNs often provide coverage for a very limited number of countries.

If you’re considering the benefits of a VPN, see our guide: Do I need a VPN?

The best VPNs for Max in 2023


Watch The Outsider on Max from anywhere using ExpressVPN
🌎 Number of servers worldwide160 in 94 countries
📈 Bandwidth allowanceUnlimited
🗣️ 24/7 live chat serviceYes
📱 Number of devices supported at once5

If the VPN you’re using at the moment just refuses to work, then it’s time to switch over to ExpressVPN. You won’t have to stare at annoying error messages on the Max website if you’re protected by this tried and tested VPN.

ExpressVPN does a great job of replacing its blacklisted servers. That means that, even if HBO temporarily disables incoming connections from ExpressVPN, the VPN will have a replacement server up and running ASAP. To access your account, all you need to do is open up ExpressVPN, connect to a US-based server and go from there.

ExpressVPN keeps your real IP address hidden, so websites won’t know you’re accessing content from abroad. Every ExpressVPN member can enjoy servers in over 90 countries around the world.

  • Keeps your information private and secure
  • Compatible with phones, tablets, laptops and routers
  • A VPN built for speed
Try ExpressVPN with our discount


    Watch The OC on Max from anywhere using Ivacy
    🌎 Number of servers worldwide5,700 in 100+ locations
    📈 Bandwidth allowanceUnlimited
    🗣️ 24/7 live chat serviceYes
    📱 Number of devices supported at once10

    Ivacy is a great pick if you want to enjoy Max while you’re travelling. This is one of the most popular, affordable VPNs around, thanks in part to its battle against blacklisted servers. The cheapest Ivacy subscription will only set you back $2.45 per month.

    This trusted VPN will effectively hide your real location so you can use all of HBO’s features, even if you’ve roamed outside the US. Use our exclusive link below and you get instant access to over 1,000 VPNs servers across the world. A single membership to Ivacy also means you can protect up to 10 gadgets at a time.

    • Offers effective malware protection
    • Unlimited bandwidth
    • Optimized servers for high-speed downloads
    Try Ivacy with our discount


    Watch True Blood on Max from anywhere using NordVPN
    🌎 Number of servers worldwide5,200+ in 59 countries
    📈 Bandwidth allowanceUnlimited
    🗣️ 24/7 live chat serviceYes
    📱 Number of devices supported at once6

    Here’s another VPN for your shortlist if you want to use Max while you’re travelling. NordVPN has servers all over the world and all of them are protected by military-grade encryption. That means they’re extremely secure and you can connect without handing over your personal data to companies that shouldn’t own it.

    If you run into trouble while getting to grips with NordVPN, you can make use of the live chat feature for a helping hand.

    • Protect yourself and friends without buying multiple accounts
    • Just pick a server and connect
    • Secure your online traffic with leading-edge encryption
    Try NordVPN with our discount

    Atlas VPN

    Watch True Blood on Max from anywhere using Atlas VPN
    🌎 Number of servers worldwide
    📈 Bandwidth allowance
    Does not limit bandwidth per user
    🗣️ 24/7 live chat service
    📱 Number of devices supported at once

    Atlas VPN currently offers access to over 750 servers around the world. Clicking the ‘Connect’ button will automatically pick the ideal server for you according to your distance, download speed and latency. Then, you can start watching Max wherever you are in the world. It’s also worth noting that Atlas VPN supports unlimited devices and works on both desktop and mobile.

    As an added benefit, Atlas VPN members get access to a 24-hour live support service. That means that, if you encounter a technical problem or have any questions, you can reach out to a real person and get the situation sorted. Give Atlas VPN a try if Max isn’t working with your VPN.

    Try Atlas VPN with our discount


    Watch Band of Brothers on Max from anywhere using PureVPN
    🌎 Number of servers worldwide6,500+ in over 78 countries
    📈 Bandwidth allowanceDoes not limit bandwidth per user
    🗣️ 24/7 live chat serviceYes
    📱 Number of devices supported at once10

    If your current VPN doesn’t work with Max, it’s time to treat yourself to a better alternative. PureVPN is a great example, being powerful enough to unlock geo-locked websites so you can enjoy them without a hassle. You’ll be able to log in to your Max account even if you’re in a country where it doesn’t usually work.

    PureVPN also works with ITV Hub, Hulu and Amazon Prime. There are around 2,000 secure PureVPN servers based in over 130 different countries.

    • Instant, unrestricted access to your favourite shows
    • Military-grade encryption keeps you anonymous
    • A global network of VPN servers
    Try PureVPN with our discount

    How to use Max with a VPN

    1. Pick one of our suggested VPNs – we’ll use ExpressVPN for this example.
    2. Once you’ve created your ExpressVPN account, sign in.
    3. From your device, download and open the ExpressVPN app and select a server based in the United States.
    4. Once you’re connected, load up Max.
    5. Log in to your Max account and enjoy.
    Unlock Max using an American VPN server

    FAQs: Streaming with Max

    Is HBO Max available in the UK?

    Without a VPN, you can’t use Max if you’re based in the UK – the service is specifically designed for an audience in the US. If you want to enjoy streaming shows on Max from anywhere, you’ll need to use a VPN to disguise your location. In other words, you need to trick the website and app into thinking you’re based in the US.

    How much is HBO Max?

    The price you pay for your membership varies depending on package. As things stand, you can pick from the following options:

    • Ad-lite plan – $9.99 a month / $99.99 a year
    • Ad-free plan – $15.99 a month / $149.99 a year
    • Ultimate ad-free plan – $19.99 a month / $199.99 a year

    Why is HBO Max not available in the UK?

    In the UK, Sky and HBO have a deal in place that means HBO shows are only found on Sky Atlantic, an alternative paid-for service. If you want to tune in to HBO shows, you’ll need to sign up for Sky Atlantic. Keep an eye out for time-sensitive deals to ensure you get good value for money.

    Prices and information correct at time of publication. Please note that we might earn affiliate commission when you select a retailer link. For more details, please review our affiliate policy.

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