The Differences in Regional DVD Players

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The Differences in Regional DVD Players

DVD players are often equipped with regional codes, meaning they can only play DVDs from a specific region. While many DVD players come as region free, many more do not, and in fact, some areas actually have laws stating that DVD players must have a region code in order to be made or sold in the area. The main purpose of the region code in DVD players is to allow filmmakers to control content (such as subtitles or languages), price, and release date across regions. For example, most film release dates in European countries are several days after American and UK release dates.

There are six individual regional DVD players, although there is also a region-free DVD player. Most people should pay very close attention to the region code on a DVD player, especially when purchasing the player online or on eBay. Buyers can choose from a variety of regional DVD players based on their location, their DVD collection, and the DVDs sold in their area.

Why Regional DVD Players?

Regional DVD players are used around the world to control the release and price of DVDs. For example, many film companies release a DVD sooner in its country of origin, and then later release the same DVD in other countries at a higher price. The DVD region code is meant to protect the DVD rights and prevent illegal imports and sales across regional lines. For example, CDs do not normally have regional codes, and countries such as Japan with high-priced native CDs have huge import and illegal sale problems. The regional code on the DVD and the regional code reader in the DVD player are simply meant to prevent this problem from spreading to DVDs. While there is a great deal of controversy about the subject, publishing companies maintain that the codes are in their best interest in order to keep up profits and sales across regions.

Regions of DVD Players

There are six basic DVD regions, each labelled by numbers, and given a colour code so that the region can easily be distinguished on a map or chart. Technically, there are also two informal variations of regional codes, and these are generally included as well, although some informal terms are used on disks. Users can generally determine the regional code of a DVD player by looking at the chart on the back of the box or checking for one of the following codes.



Region 0

Informal term to mean ‘no region’ or ‘all regions’

Region 1

United States, Canada, Bermuda, U.S. Territories

Region 2

Europe (not including Ukraine and Russia), Middle East, Egypt, Japan, South Africa, Swaziland, Lesotho, Greenland, French Overseas

Region 3

Southeast Asia, South Korea, Taiwan, China (Hong Kong, Macau)

Region 4

Mexico, South America, Central America, Caribbean countries, New Zealand, Australia, Papua New Guinea, Oceania

Region 5

Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Afghanistan, Sri Lanka, Ukraine, Russia, Pakistan, South Asia, Mongolia, North Korea, Africa (except Region 2 African Countries)

Region 6


Region 7

For future use, pre-releases in Asia

Region 8

International venues (aircrafts, ships)


All 6 region codes; can play any DVD

Region 0 is most often used to refer to a DVD player that has been either designed as region free, designed to play all regions, or has been modified to play all regions. A multi-region DVD player is suitable for playing multiple region DVDs, for example, any region 2/4 DVD player can play any region four or region two disks.

Some DVDs contain a region code enhanced (RCE) that cannot be played on region-free DVD players. However, since the workaround was as simple as playing a non-RCE disc in the DVD player and then playing the RCE, the code is no longer in use. However, it is still on some previously sold DVDs, such as in older collections. Many DVDs use content scrambling systems (CSS) to support the region codes. The region DVD player works by using software to unscramble the content, and therefore play the DVD. Region 7 coded DVDs are sold for promotional copies only and require special players; therefore, cannot usually be played by regional DVD players. In fact, anyone selling a region 7 DVD is likely to be breaking international copyright laws.

Multi-Region DVD Players

Multi regional DVD players contain one of two things. Most commonly, they have codes for all six regions, meaning that the DVD player can play any coded DVD. However, the other version is a DVD player that simply has no code, and therefore can play anything. While both are popular options, DVD players with the 'All' code are much more common than DVD players with the 'Region 0' code. The latter are more frequently modified outside of manufacturer, and frequently at home or in 'hack' shops that modify electronics.

Most DVD players actually support multiple regions, mainly because the players are made by companies wishing to create and ship electronics as quickly and cost effectively as possible. As a result, most DVD players actually contain the software to switch between regional codes, usually using a complicated process found in the user manual, or the maker’s official website. However, most DVD players have a limit on the number of times the region can be changed (the number is usually five). This is similar to the limit on changing gamestation region codes (which can usually be done from the menu), but that number is usually three. Most buyers can purchase software that detects the number of times that the DVD player region can be changed, and possibly the supported regions as well.

Changing DVD Regions

Changing region players in most DVD players is a little bit complicated, but in some 'smart' players, it can be done from the menu via settings, and then 'region'. Many people also find that cheap DVD players can easily be changed using simple formulas on the remote control. Usually these formulas involve opening the slot, pressing 'Info', and pressing '9' for multi-region. While this does not work on all DVD players, it is a simple way to reprogram many of them. However, for anyone purchasing a new regional DVD player, making any modifications invalidates the product’s warranty.

Region-Free DVD Players

Many DVD players on the market are region free. However, some areas actually mandate that DVDs be created with a region code, so many UK and European DVD players still have a region code. Buyers can read the description when purchasing a DVD player, check the region code, or ask the seller if there is no code listed. Usually, if the DVD player does not state a code, it can be region free. Any DVD player listed as 'Region 0', 'No Region', or even 'All' can be considered as technically region free, because it can play all regional coded DVDs. Some DVDs are also released without a region code, and usually these can be played in any type of DVD player, even one with a specific region code.

Buying Regional DVD Players on eBay

You can choose to purchase a regional, a multi-region, or a region-free DVD player on eBay. Whether you want to make a purchase so that you can play any type of DVD, or you are looking for a DVD player internationally to play DVDs that you may have brought with you from another country, you can find what you are looking for on eBay. With international sales options, a wide range of products, and new and used items, there are thousands of DVD players for you to choose from on the site.

Read the description thoroughly before you make a purchase, especially if you are purchasing a second hand DVD player. You should also ensure that the DVD player is intended for the region you are looking for. You can do this by checking the region code against the chart provided in this guide. Finally, make sure you check the shipping time and rates before making a purchase to know what to expect when ordering the product you have chosen.


DVD players are often sold with CSS content un-scrambling inside in order to create a regional code. Compatible DVDs are sold with compatible codes for the region they are marked with, which means that they can only be played in a similar DVD player. Regional codes are normally created for monetary purposes, allowing producers to publish where, and at what price, they like without worrying about illegal imports and pirated DVDs being sold at a lower price in the area.

DVD players are sometimes sold without regional codes, with multi-regional codes, and other times sold where they can easily have the region changed. Most buyers can select a DVD player based on regional DVDs they want to play, or select a region-free DVD player that can play all DVDs. The differences between regional DVD players are mainly the regional scrambling codes utilised by the player, even though many DVD players come with the ability to play multiple, or all DVDs, although not all at once.

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