Why can’t I change my country in Google Play Store?

Many Android users have tried to change their country in the Google Play Store to access apps or content not available in their region, only to find that the option to do so is unavailable. This can be frustrating, especially for those who have moved to a new country and want to switch their Play Store country to match. So why is changing your country restricted in the Google Play Store, and is there any way around it?

Google Play’s Country Restrictions

The main reason changing your country is restricted in the Google Play Store is because of Google’s licensing agreements with app developers and content creators. The availability and pricing of apps, movies, books, and other content in the Play Store varies by country due to differences in local laws, content licensing agreements, and business strategies.

Allowing users to freely switch between countries would make regional restrictions meaningless. For example, someone in a country where a particular app is unavailable or costs more could simply change to another country to download it. This would undermine Google’s content agreements and geographic targeting.

In addition, prices and currencies are tailored on a per-country basis. Being able to switch countries would again allow price exploitation between regions.

Other factors like compatibility, language support, and legal compliance also depend on properly identifying the user’s country. So for practical and commercial reasons, Google needs to maintain restrictions around changing countries in the Play Store.

How Google Determines Your Play Store Country

Google decides your Play Store country using a few different signals:

  • Your device’s IP address – This geolocates you to the country you are currently in.
  • Your Google account country setting – Set when you create your Google account.
  • Billing address on your Google payments profile – The country of your linked credit card, for example.
  • Location services on your device, if enabled.

The Play Store will generally default to the country determined by your IP address. But your Google account country and payments profile info also factors in. This allows Google to verify your country when you make purchases and downloads.

The Limitations of Changing Countries

Although fully switching your Play Store country is restricted, you do have some limited options to change it:

  • Temporary travel country changes – You can temporarily switch to a different Play Store country using a VPN service or by adding a foreign payment method while traveling abroad. However, your country will revert when traveling ends or after a short time period.
  • Moving countries permanently – If you move countries, you can contact Google support to have them change your country. But you’ll need to provide documentation proving you are a permanent resident of the new country.
  • Creating separate accounts – Setting up a second Google account based in another country will let you access that country’s Play Store. But constantly switching accounts is inconvenient.

As you can see, options for changing your Play Store country are very limited unless you are actually traveling or moving. And even then, the process often involves hassles and workarounds. There is no simple setting to freely change countries at will.

Why Changing Countries is So Restricted

A few key reasons explain why Google goes to such lengths to prevent or limit country switching in the Play Store:

  • Licensing issues – As mentioned earlier, apps, books, movies and other content available in one country may not be licensed for distribution in others. Changing countries would allow access to unlicensed content.
  • Pricing discrepancies – Prices are adapted to local currencies and costs in each country. Switching countries could allow price exploitation.
  • Legal and regulatory compliance – Each country has its own laws and regulations that Google must comply with. Allowing users to change countries would make compliance much harder.
  • App functionality – Some apps only work or function properly in certain countries, based on language, currencies, units of measure, and other region-specific variables.
  • Developer preferences – Developers often tailor app availability and access based on countries and regions, which country switching would override.

Essentially, freely changing your Play Store country would undermine the country-specific app ecosystem Google has built, potentially causing legal, commercial and functional problems all around.

Methods for Changing Play Store Country

Despite the restrictions, some workarounds do exist for downloading apps or content available in another country’s Google Play Store. Here are a few options:

Using a VPN

A VPN (virtual private network) can mask your device’s IP address, tricking the Play Store into thinking you are in a different country. To change your Play Store country:

  1. Install and launch a reliable VPN service on your device.
  2. Connect to a server located in your desired country.
  3. Clear the Play Store app cache and data.
  4. Launch the Play Store – you should now see the version for the country you’ve VPNed to.

This method allows temporary access to another country’s Play Store. However, it’s not a complete solution since you still need a valid local payment method for that country to make purchases or downloads.

Using Gift Cards

Gift cards for the Google Play Store make good alternatives to local credit cards or payment methods when switching countries. To use them:

  1. Purchase a Play Store gift card for your desired country, either online or in person if traveling.
  2. Add the gift card to your Google payments profile as a payment method.
  3. Clear the Play Store app data/cache and launch with your VPN connection active.
  4. The gift card will now allow purchases as if you have a local payment method for that country.

Gift cards offer more convenience than temporary VPN workarounds. But they still require upfront costs and don’t provide full access to another country’s Play Store.

Creating Another Google Account

The most thorough option is to set up an entirely new Google account for your desired country. To do this:

  1. Go through the account creation process using a VPN or proxy for the target country.
  2. Provide an address, phone number and payment details for that country.
  3. Once created, you now essentially have a fully functioning account and Play Store access for that country.

While effective, constantly switching accounts can be inconvenient. Maintaining separate accounts also means purchases, app data, and Google services are not unified.

Sideloading Apps

An alternative approach to accessing country-restricted apps is to directly download and sideload the APK files instead of going through the Play Store. This involves:

  • Enabling “Unknown sources” in your Android device’s security settings to allow sideloading.
  • Downloading the APK file for the desired app from a repository site like APKMirror.
  • Installing the APK directly on your device.

However, sideloading bypasses all the Play Store’s safety mechanisms and exposes your device to security risks. You’ll also need to periodically re-sideload apps as they update since you aren’t receiving updates through the Play Store. Overall, sideloading is not recommended for most users or apps.

Is it Possible to Permanently Change Countries?

While Google does technically allow permanent country changes under select circumstances, the process is quite restrictive:

  • You must provide documentation like visa, utility bills, or government IDs proving you have moved to and are a permanent resident of the new country.
  • Google reviewers determine if you meet the requirements for a change based on the documents provided.
  • The country change is not instant – it may take weeks or more for Google to review and process.
  • Your entire Google account and services are affected, not just the Play Store.

Given the restrictions and effects on your entire Google account, permanently changing countries is only warranted if you are actually moving. For short trips or temporary access, the other methods discussed are better options.

What Happens If I Change Countries Unauthorized?

If Google detects you have modified your Play Store country without permission, through technical workarounds or unauthorized methods, there can be account consequences:

  • Your Google account may be suspended for Terms of Service violations.
  • Your access to Google services like Gmail, Drive, Photos, etc is restricted while suspended.
  • Purchases and app downloads from other countries may be blocked or removed.
  • You may not be able to revert back to your original home country.

Essentially, getting caught manipulating your Play Store country can result in your entire Google account being restricted or even banned. So while you may gain temporary access to another country’s apps and content, unauthorized country changes come with real risks.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is it illegal to change countries in the Play Store?

Changing your Play Store country by itself is not illegal. However, techniques like using VPNs or sideloading to bypass regional restrictions may violate Google’s Terms of Service. Accessing licensed content not authorized for your country also essentially makes you a pirate, albeit to a small degree. So while changing countries has few actual legal repercussions, it does involve some ethical gray areas.

Can I change back to my home country after switching?

Yes, you can revert to your home country after a temporary country change – for example, after traveling abroad. However, if you undergo a permanent country change approved by Google, going back to your previous country is more difficult. You’d likely have to contact support and explain why you need to revert your change.

What happens to my purchased apps if I change countries?

Apps and content you’ve already purchased should still be available and accessible even if you switch countries. However, you likely won’t be able to update any purchases made under your previous country. New purchases will need to be made using a local payment method from the new country.

Can I have accounts in multiple countries at once?

Yes, nothing stops you from creating separate Google accounts for different countries. This allows you to switch between accounts and access each country’s Play Store. The downside is that your purchases, data, and Google services will be fragmented across accounts.


Switching your home country in the Google Play Store is intentionally restricted by Google for commercial, legal, and technical reasons. While options like VPNs, gift cards, or new accounts can provide partial workarounds, truly changing countries is difficult without actually moving residences.

For most users wanting to access apps or content not available in their region, temporary access solutions are likely sufficient. Only those permanently relocating to another country need to consider pursuing a full country change with Google’s approval.

At the end of the day, Google Play’s country system attempts to balance developers’ interests in controlling app distribution with users’ desires to access global content. And while imperfect, compromises like gift cards and multiple accounts allow users to achieve some degree of regional freedom within the restrictions.

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