Foreign DVD
Quick & Useful information

Suppose you want to buy a foreign DVD at an international video store in the UK, and are lucky enough to find the one you've been looking everywhere for. You then happily plunk down the appropriate amount of pounds to buy it, bring it back home to the US, and to your horror...the bloody disc doesn't play in your DVD player!

Before you train your dog to poop on the lawn of the British Embassy as you're hurling fish and chips at random diplomats, understand that not all foreign DVDs will play on American DVD players.

Why? Easy. British DVDs spin in the opposite direction.

Just kidding. That's not true (at least I hope not). The reason is because foreign DVDs are formatted in a different Region Code than ours.

Region Code? What's that?

Somewhere on a DVD case or label (one that preferably has not been bootlegged), you'll see one or more of the following symbols:

region code

These symbols tell you the Region Code in which the DVD has been formatted.

Any DVD movie you buy or rent here in the US will be a Region 1 disc. The following are the names of DVD Region Codes and a partial listing of corresponding countries where those discs are formatted to play in:

Region 1: USA, Canada, Bermuda, Cayman Islands, and US Territories.

Region 2: Most countries from the European Union, much of the Middle East, South Africa, Vatican City, Greenland, Lesotho, Georgia (the country, not the state), Macedonia, and others.

Region 3: Taiwan, South Korea, Hong Kong, Macau, most of Southeast Asia

Region 4: Most Caribbean countries (except US Territories), Mexico, South America (except French Guyana), Central America

Region 5: Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, Uzbekistan, Armenia, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, (most other countries in the former USSR that I can't name off the top of my head), Mongolia, North Korea

Region 6: People's Republic of China

Region 7: Open for future use

Region 8: International (in-flight entertainment, cruise ships)

Region Free or Region 0: Sometimes labeled as ALL. Discs made in this format are designed to work in DVD players worldwide.

In many other parts of the world, DVDs for sale are sometimes formatted to play in multiple regions. For instance, many Asian countries such as China and Taiwan commonly sell Region Free discs, and South American countries sell a lot of Region 1 discs as well.

So if you're traveling abroad and want to buy a foreign DVD with the purpose of bringing it back to the US, look for the little symbol to be sure it's either Region 1 or Region Free.

Although Region Free discs should work fine on your DVD player or DVD-ROM drive, my Region Free copy of the of the Indiana Jones trilogy (bought in Thailand) doesn't work in my X-BOX for some reason.

Last time I checked, Region Code standards also apply to video games for X-BOX, X-BOX 360, Playstation (1-3), and other game consoles.

Here's a handy guide on region codes, found at wikipedia.

Article written by: Joe Yang

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