iPad: How to get a US iTunes account anywhere

Apple is pretty good at offering its products and services in many different countries. The music store has been available outside the US for years, while competitors such as Amazon MP3 still only sell to the US. Unfortunately, not everything is available in every country. Specifically, video content – movies, TV shows and music videos that is – is only available in a few select countries. There is also the odd app that is US only for no real reason. There is however a simple way for those of us who are not in the US to get a US iTunes account and enjoy video purchases and rentals from our own little corner of the world.

Country restrictions are a pain in the main exhaust port that seem to follow all kinds of digital content, as the blatantly stupid (insert content type here) industry is so stuck up with distribution rights and whatnot that in the end piracy is the only way to go for a lot of people. The US is a small market compared to Europe and the rest of the world as a whole, both in terms of the size of the market and in some cases the price, with most things being a lot more expensive in Europe. Unfortunately that doesn’t seem to be enough of an incentive to get the paper work sorted, so we’re left with having to find workarounds for these restrictions. Sometimes that’s hard, but with iTunes it’s actually pretty simple.

All you really need is an American address and a US iTunes gift card. The former you might be able to get from friends or family in the US, or if you’re in Scandinavia you can sign up with Jetcarrier and get a legit US address that way. I wouldn’t recommend using an address that belongs to someone else without their permission, even if it’s for a company, but if all else fails you can find an address and use the zip code/state/city and just invent a street name. Nothing will be shipped to the address anyways, so as long as it’s a legit zip code etc, you’ll be fine.

Next you need a US iTunes gift card. That’s easy to get as there are people who sell those online and simply email you the code so you don’t have to wait for a physical card to arrive with snailmail. Personally I use iTunes Express, a small business that charges a small premium for the gift cards but has great service and fast response times.

When you have your US address and gift code, go to iTunes, make sure you’re logged out and click “redeem”. Follow the process and create a new account in the process. Use the information you have and select to not use another payment option (credit card etc). This option isn’t present during normal sign ups, so that’s what the gift card is for (on top of paying for stuff, of course). Complete the process and you should have a US account for your iPad (or other iOS device).

You can switch between accounts easily both in iTunes on a PC and on the device itself. Apps will mingle and you won’t run into problems having content from several accounts, except for the fact that you have to be signed in to the account you bought an app from to update it or reinstall for free. When your gift card money runs out, all you have to do is buy another and use the redeem feature while logged into your existing US account. Note that gift cards are country-specific, so you can’t use local cards for US accounts.

I know some people would never pay for DRMed video in this day and age – especially with the iPad now being able to play Xvid and all, but it’s a nice feature to have for the rest of us who don’t mind paying for digital content. I find that I use it mostly for TV shows, as it’s nice to be able to get more or less any TV show at a reliable speed directly on the iPad without needing a computer in between. If they could get some sort of “all you can eat” subscription in place, that would be ever better- but I doubt that’ll happen anytime soon. Then there are US-only apps, which I think all would agree it’s nice to be able to get.

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Andreas Ødegård

Andreas Ødegård is more interested in aftermarket (and user created) software and hardware than chasing the latest gadgets and tends to stick with his choice of device for a long time as a result of that. After a five year break from writing, he's back to share this view with the world once again.