Are DVDs Different In The UK?

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Are DVDs Different In The UK?

Whether you are planning on visiting the UK or are buying some DVDs from there it is vitally important to know the differences between DVDs before you make any purchases. In this article we will discuss the different region codes that exist as well as commonly asked questions about UK DVDs. 

In recent years there has been an explosion of popular UK TV shows and that in turn has led to many UK shows being produced on DVD with some of them saying that they are the UK edition. One such show that was incredibly popular is the Downton Abbey series. This series says right across the front of the case that it is the “original UK edition” but what does that even mean? 

DVDs that say they are the original UK edition but are also region 1 just means that the show on the DVD is exactly like it was when it aired in the UK and this normally means each episode is slightly longer. However if you are wondering about DVDs that are made for the UK then those DVDs will be region 2 and they will only play in the UK and other surrounding countries and will not play on DVD players outside of that area. 

A good way to check the region coding for a DVD is to turn it over and look on the back. At the very bottom there will be a little world symbol that will normally have a number on it. That number is what region the DVDs will play in. 

The content which is found on a UK DVD will normally not be different from an American DVD except in the case where it is slightly longer (such as the Downton Abbey DVDs). There is however a high likelihood that a British DVD can't be playable in an American DVD player and vice versa. This is due to regional coding that is on all DVDs. American DVDs are Region One whereas UK DVDs are Region 2. 

Again, you can find the region of a DVD by checking the back of the case or asking the store where you are buying the item from. 

These Region terms might be confusing to many people so we will break that down a little more clearly next. 

How do region codes work?

DVD movies that are released in one region will only play on DVD players which are manufactured for just that region. This is done to prevent the discs from playing in a geographical area which isn't the one where the DVD was made for. Manufacturers do this for a variety of reasons but the main one is so that they can charge higher prices in certain areas of the world and cheaper prices in lower income countries.  

Some DVD movies are not region coded at all and will instead play in any region. Those are known as region free DVDs and will normally have the number 0 on the back or have the word All. If you try to play a DVD of one region in the DVD player of another region then you will probably get this message or something similar- ERROR: Playing Of This Disc Prohibited By Area Limits. For example- If you play a region one USA DVD in a DVD player in region 2 (Europe) then you will get the above message. 

What are the different region codes?

The USA and UK are not the only regions where this kind of coding is regulated. This is a practice that is followed all over the world. There are a lot of different region codes. These are: 

  • Region 1- It includes The United States, Canada, and U.S. territories.
  • Region 2- Europe, Japan, South Africa, Middle East (including the country of Egypt), and Greenland.
  • Region 3- Southeast Asia, East Asia (also including Hong Kong).
  • Region 4- Australia, New Zealand the Pacific Islands, Mexico, Central America, South America, and the Caribbean.
  • Region 5- Eastern Europe, Russia, North Korea, the Indian Subcontinent, Africa, and Mongolia.
  • Region 6- Only China.
  • Region 7- This is reserved for emergency unspecified sort of special use.
  • Region 8- These are special international venues for air and oceanic travel.

You will find that the region number of your DVD or player can be fully determined by looking for a little, standardized globe icon. The region number will be superimposed on it. If the DVD plays in multiple regions then there will be more than one number on that globe. On the contrary, if there's no regional coding then it will say 0 or All there. 

Are DVDs more necessary in the UK?

There is another way DVDs are different in the UK. In a way, they are more necessary there than in the US. If you like British television then you will check for content on popular streaming sites like Netflix, BritBox, and Acorn first. But not everything is available on these sites. As such to see a lot of British TV content you will have to buy DVDs. But since these DVDs are found with Region 2 coding, you won't be able to watch it when you take it back to the US and try to play it on a standard US DVD player. 

So, if you want to watch some of the less common British shows then you will need a region free DVD player to go with your UK DVDs. Having a region free DVD player will reduce your worries a lot. Once you get it, you don't have to worry about region coding ever again and can play all DVDs from all over the globe without any issues. 

What is a region free DVD player?

This kind of DVD player can be found at affordable prices on sites like but they are normally a little more expensive than a DVD player that is region locked.  These players don't come with any kind of region coding. This means that they are fully able to play discs from all over the world. These kinds of players can be very handy if you have to frequently travel a lot and want to carry your DVDs to entertain yourself or if you prefer TV shows that are only made in certain areas of the world. 

Many times, you will find that you will be able to make your existing DVD player region free with a few remote control codes. If not, then you might be able to find a DVD player that can be switched to region free with just code and buy that.

More ways to play DVDs of one region in the DVD player of another region

Just setting the region code of your DVD drive on a computer to the needed region code can solve your problem of playing UK coded DVDs. You will have to perform this procedure while being logged in on a PC as the Administrator or even to any account which has Administrator rights. Also, the DVD of the region which is being selected must be in the DVD drive on your computer to complete the region code setting change. These are the further steps which you will have to follow: 

  • First, click on the start option and then select the option stating Control Panel. While in that Control Panel box, double click on the Performance/Maintenance icon.
  • Once in the Performance and Maintenance window go to the Control Panel option and double-click on the System icon.
  • When you are in the System Properties box, proceed to click on the Hardware option. From there, click on the Device Manager icon.
  • While you are in the Device Manager box, double-click on the DVD/CD ROM drives. While in the DVD's drive's Properties window, select the Region tab.
  • In the Region tab, click on the appropriate region code. Then select the OK option.
  • You have to do this everytime that you change the DVD to one from another region.

Note that it can be changed only up to 4 times, after 4 changes, the region code on the DVD drive  will be set permanently on the last change made. You will not be able to change it any further, so be a little careful while changing the codes the last couple of times. If you do need to input a new region code then the CD/DVD drive will have to be replaced. 


DVDs tend to be something of more importance in the UK and for UK content since their content is not available on many popular streaming sites. But this makes it difficult to take it to the US and enjoy it on standard DVD players there. Yet this problem will be easily solved if you follow the above steps for your computer or buy a region free DVD. 

If you purchased a DVD that was region 1 (for the USA) but on the case it says that it is the UK edition that simply means that the episodes will be slightly longer than the episodes that aired in the USA. As long as there is a number 1 in the region box on the back of the case the set will work just fine with your USA DVD player. 

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