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How To: Use the Zune Pass outside of USA

Microsoft's music subscription service - the Zune Pass - is truely an incredible music subscription service. Unfortunately only officially supported in a few countries so far. The good news is that there is at least one workaround for this issue. If you're really keen to try it out, you can refer to the following steps that will help you resolve this until the Zune Pass is opened up to more countries around the world.

There's lots to know about the Zune functionality within Windows Phone 7 (and on your PC and Xbox 360). Here's the official information from Microsoft's US Zune website.

The key things you need to get full content access is as follows:

  1. Windows Live ID - with location set to U.S.
  2. A Zune Pass
  3. A Windows PC that thinks it's in the U.S.

Because of the complexities of this process - most want bother and won't realise how great the 'Zune Phone' (oh, I mean Windows Phone 7) is when it's working at it's best. However, if you're dead to 'test' out the functionality then I can run you through the 'workarounds'.

Step 1: Setting up a U.S. Windows Live ID

The easiest way to do this is when you're setting up your new Windows Phone 7 handset. When you first power it on you'll be asked whether you wish to use a new or existing Windows Live ID. At this point you can step through the process of setting up a new Windows Live ID. Once you've done that if you visit the 'Marketplace' on your phone you will be asked for your region (and birthdate) - at this point set the region to United States.

Step 2: A Zune Pass

There are two methods that I am aware of:

a) Buy a Zune Pass from an online source - such as Ebay. You will either be sent a code electronically - or physical Zune Pass card via post/courier. Obviously there is usually a cost difference if not shipped electronically.

b) Buy the Zune Pass yourself via Credit Card with to a U.S. address. This sounds a lot harder but it's not in my experience (and it's cheaper). There are a few ways of doing this such as using 'Prepaid' Debit Cards. On one trip to the U.S. I was tempted to buy one for this purpose - however there is an alternative. The method I believe works best is to use a 'Mastercard' (difficult if you don't have one or only have Visa) and enter your billing address as a legitimate physical address in the US. This works quite well however I understand you can't use Microsoft's address. Best if you have a friend in the U.S. - ask permission to use theirs. It seems if you enter a local (non-US) address the Microsoft billing system picks up that you are outside the US and blocks you from registering for a US Zune account.

Step 3: A Windows PC that thinks it's in the U.S.

This is very easy on any Windows PC - just go into regional settings and set your location to "United States"

Next Step - Zune Video and TV outside the US

This is very heavily locked down. In order to access video content you will need a U.S. IP Address to download or stream TV and Movies from the Zune store (on your Windows Phone 7, Zune, Zune client software or Xbox 360).

Side Effects

Making the changes indicated above may have some impact on the way your computer or handset operates. Most of these things can be easily worked around (such as date defaulting to different format). If you have any problems - just reset things back to normal.

Success or Problems?

Please provide feedback on your success or failure with getting your Zune Pass operating - whether you're in Australia, Argentina, Brazil, Canada, China, India, Indonesia, Norway, New Zealand, Singapore, South Africa or wherever - I'm keen to hear some feedback. If you have any problems with the process provided. As it's a while since I tested these steps there is a chance I've missed something. One suggestion if you do get stuck is to setup an VPN to the US (with a provider such as StrongVPN) and then try the process again.

Note: For the latest news, updates, tips and tricks on Zune and Windows Phone 7 be sure to jump on Twitter and follow @paulspain and @WindowsPhoneNZ

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Reader Comments (6)

You should probably keep this to your self... its so easy for things like this to get shut down and all of us who actually use the service will lose the rights. If you do not think it's possible just look what they did to Netflix...
January 3, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterNot good.
cheers for that. i've done this and now find that certain New Zealand apps are unavailable for purchase from the Marketplace. Things like Air NZ mPass app etc.
rock and a hard place.
January 10, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterryan
odd, I'm using a NZ credit card with US WLID, Zune Pass etc and can install AirNZ mpass etc from the US marketplace fine

Do prices appear as US$ in the marketplace on WP7 to you?
January 11, 2011 | Unregistered Commenternathan
Great to know there is a way around, although I will be waiting to see if ZP becomes available officially before attempting this.
February 1, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterdave
Where do you add the MasterCard to your account exactly ? Web, phone, Zune software, Xbox ???

I live in Canada. I was able to add a Canadian credit card to my U.S. account back in 2006. I changed my credit card recently... and now ... I can't add it using the same technique I used in 2006.

also, I did a hard reset on my phone yesterday .... I didn't see this :

"Once you done that if you visit the 'Marketplace' on your phone you will be asked for your region (and birthdate) - at this point set the region to United States"

When you go to the phone settings, what do you have exactly under "Region and language" ?

Zune pass is one thing....i can buy one online like you said...but I absolutely need a credit card to buy apps!!!!

Thanks in advance for your help!
April 13, 2011 | Unregistered Commentererik
No luck here - it will not accept my NZ MasterCard with US address - maybe they've tightened security since this was written.
May 8, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterIvan

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