Can you use your DIRECTV equipment in other countries?

Going on a trip? Canada, Mexico, and the Caribbean await. But once you get done sightseeing, you might want to settle in for some television. Maybe the local fare’s not for you… so what do you do? Internet service may be too expensive due to roaming charges. Here’s an idea: bring your home DVR with you, connect a dish to it and watch US TV. There’s only one problem: it doesn’t work.

There are so many problems with this it’s hard to know where to start. First of all there’s the issue of satellite coverage. US satellite companies are bound by law to only cover the US with as little overlap as possible into other countries. Even if everything else were to fall into place, you probably couldn’t get reception unless you were under 100 miles from the US.

So, you say, just bring your DVR with you. Forget live programming. If you are in a country where the TVs are relatively similar (like Canada) this would work for a few days. However, without the ability to check in via phone line or internet, and without a satellite line, the receiver would soon lose its authorizations and become unusable until you returned it back home. This is done on purpose to make sure that there is no piracy going on.

One more thing to consider… it’s illegal. You could be stopped at the border going in or out with any electronic device not designed to operate in a foreign country. It’s pretty unlikely that the border patrol is going to bust you for an unlicensed DVR, but fear of getting caught isn’t really the issue here. The issue is that it is against the law and at some level that has to mean something.

Let’s take a look at another scenario. Can you use US satellite equipment in other countries? Can you buy it here and take it there? This is something that we’re frequently asked at Solid Signal, and sadly the answer is also no.

DIRECTV operates in many countries in the Western Hemisphere under the DIRECTV and SKY+ names. In several of these countries they even use extremely similar equipment. Cover up the branding on a SKY+ LHR22 DVR and you’d be hard pressed to say it wasn’t a DIRECTV HR22, for example. However, there are differences and they’re not just regulatory. Every country has its own satellite licenses and while DIRECTV is able to use some of its US capacity for Latin America, the receivers, dishes, and other hardware have to be designed for it. There isn’t a “universal” receiver. Parts like splitters that have no real electronics can be shared but that’s about it.

Also, as we said it is illegal. We can’t sell DIRECTV service or offer DIRECTV parts to customers outside the US. So as much as we hate to turn away the business, if you’re looking for a permanent satellite installation outside the US, please find a local dealer.

About the Author

Stuart Sweet
Stuart Sweet is the editor-in-chief of The Solid Signal Blog and a "master plumber" at Signal Group, LLC. He is the author of over 9,000 articles and longform tutorials including many posted here. Reach him by clicking on "Contact the Editor" at the bottom of this page.