DVD Playback Regions - DVD Regions Explained

The commercial DVD video player specification dictates that DVD players must be coded to play discs that contain the region code for the country in which they were sold. By law, all new DVD players shipped in the USA are set to Region 1. It is not legal for the manufacturer to provide any means of changing the region code to allow the use of other region's discs.

All DVD players and PC's with DVD must implement Region Coding. It is however, quite legal for you to own a Region Free DVD player as it is legal for you modify your player to be Region Free.

Ultimately, Region Coding was developed at the behest of the major Hollywood movie companies in order to control the release of films around the world. In theory, the use of Region Coding would prevent a US DVD movie from playing on a European DVD player thus enabling titles to be distributed in different parts of the world at different times. The player will refuse to play discs that are not coded for the same region as player's region.

Regional codes are entirely optional for the disc manufacturer. Discs without codes - Region 0, Region Free or All Region, will play on any player in any country. The Region Code is not an encryption system, it is just one byte of information on the disc that the player checks.

DVD Playback Regions

Consequently, the world was divided up into six distinct areas called DVD Regions. There are six main regions plus two others reserved for specialised use. The map below shows how the world has been DVD regionalised.

DVD Regions Expalined - DVD Playback Regions Map

DVD REGION

COUNTRIES

Region 1

U.S., Canada, U.S. Territories

Region 2

United Kingdom, Europe, South Africa, Japan, and Middle East

Region 3

Hong Kong, Southeast Asia and East Asia

Region 4

Australia, New Zealand, Pacific Islands, Caribbean, Central America, Mexico, South America

Region 5

Former Soviet Union, Indian subcontinent, Africa, North Korea, and Mongolia

Region 6

China

Region 7

Reserved for future use

Region 8

International Venues such as Aircraft & Cruise Ships

Region 0, Region Free or All Region DVD

There is also one other 'Region' which technically is not really a 'Region' at all. That so called region is Region 0 (zero). This is used, albeit wrongly, to designate that a DVD disc is not Region Locked at all. In other words, it is Region Free or All Region.

It is a common misconception that because a DVD disc is Region Free, it will play on any player in any country. Whilst this is true to a certain extent, the actual video format of the disc also needs to be taken into account. For example, the video standard in the USA is NTSC, and the video standard in Europe is PAL. Consequently, a Region Free PAL DVD from Europe would not be able to be viewed on a standard USA NTSC television.

For a further breakdown of Worldwide DVD Regions and video formats on a country by country basis, check out our Worldwide DVD and Video Standards pages.

Solutions

If you want to be able to play DVD's from any DVD Region you not only require a Region Free DVD Player but also the means to be able to view that DVD in either PAL or NTSC video format.

There are a number of DVD players on the market that can be made Region Free just by entering a key sequence from the remote control. Furthermore, a number of players also have built in video converters although they are rarely advertised as having these facilities. Check out our Region Free Player Reviews for more information and links to suppliers.