Blu-ray and DVD Region Codes and Video Standards
- Many DVDs and Blu-rays are region-encoded and cannot be played in other countries without region free audio/video equipment
- This simple guide will help you decide if you’ll be able to play a particular release without any problems
The vast majority of DVDs worldwide are encoded in either the NTSC or PAL TV standard. The chief NTSC territories are the US, Canada and countries along the western coast of South America. The PAL format is used in Europe, Australia and practically the rest of the world. Note: NTSC DVDs can be played in PAL countries but PAL DVDs are seldom playable in NTSC countries.
Bear in mind that video encoded in the PAL format plays back at 4% faster than film speed: basically 25 frames per second vs film’s 24fps. This means that in the case of two DVDS containing exactly the same 100 minute film, an NTSC disc will have the same timing, while the PAL disc will have a runtime of 96 minutes.
There are seven main region codes for DVD:
- Region 0/free – no coding or flags 1–6 set; NTSC region 0 DVDs are playable anywhere
- Region 1 – US and Canada
- Region 2 – Europe, Middle East, Japan, South Africa, British Overseas Territories and Dependencies
- Region 3 – Southeast Asia and Hong Kong
- Region 4 – South America, , Australia and New Zealand
- Region 5 – South and Central Asia, Russia, Africa (except South Africa)
- Region 6 – China
Many DVD players nowadays come multi region-capable as standard. If not, most can easily be hacked to be so with no adverse effects whatsoever. In fact, all DVD players are effectively manufactured as multi region; hacking them simply removes the factory-imposed restrictions. Just do a search for the make and model number of your player, along with the words “multi region hack”, and take it from there…
Blu-ray discs do not use either PAL or NTSC coding but rather are in the 1080p (p: pixels, of vertical resolution) worldwide high definition standard. Beware that there are a tiny minority encoded at 1080i50Hz – sometimes called “1080p 25fps” on the sleeve. They’re basically 1080p content at PAL framerates, and can’t be viewed on US or Canadian TVs without a framerate converter built into the player. It will either send out a signal your display can’t show properly, or just default to a black screen.
Some Blu-ray players can be harmlessly modified to become region free too, though in this case it’s then usually necessary to enter a four digit code each time you want to change the region. This is not as annoying as you might think: it only takes seconds and the vast majority of Blu-rays, as much as 70%, are actually region free anyway.
Note that if you live in a non-PAL country, even if you buy a region 0 foreign Blu-ray, any standard definition menu screens and extra features may still be in PAL.
There are four region codes for Blu-ray:
- Region 0/free – no coding, playable anywhere. Note that any standard definition extras will still be in the NTSC or PAL DVD format
- Region A – Alaska, Canada, North and South America, East and Southeast Asia, including Japan
- Region B – Europe, Africa, Southwest Asia, Australia and New Zealand
- Region C – Central and Southern Asia, including China, and Russia