View Full Version : Will an American VHS tape work in britain?

02-12-2000, 08:58 PM
I recently found out that american dvd's won't play in Britain, is this also true for VHS tapes? If so, is there any way to put somthing on an american VHS tape onto a tape that would work in Britain?

02-12-2000, 09:07 PM
American video systems use the NTSC standard, and will not work in most international video players. You can have your video converted to the British standard (I think it's PAL) at certain video stores, I think.

SanibelMan - My Homepage (http://members.macconnect.com/~jonkleinow/)
"All right. Have it your own way. Road to hell paved with unbought stuffed dogs. Not my fault."

02-12-2000, 10:53 PM
Many Indian (South Asian) grocery stores will be able to help.

Hail Ants
02-12-2000, 11:13 PM
To clarify a bit:

It isn't the physical tape cassette that's different, it's the VCRs. Any VHS cassette will work in any VHS VCR, however the VCRs can only record or play in their home system format (NTSC, PAL, SECAM etc.)

Although a blank VHS cassette might say NTSC on it, it will work fine in any VHS machine (except that the amount of recording time may be different in PAL or SECAM.)

02-12-2000, 11:52 PM
Also, there are some VCRs with built-in converters. These can play both NTSC and PAL recordings, but it may only output one of the two (i.e. can only connect to one type of TV). You might look for them in stores that cater to foreign customers.

02-13-2000, 11:06 AM
A DVD? I don't see why it would not play on a Brit computer. They usually have international languages on them anyway.

People here are talking about VHS, thats not the same thing.

02-13-2000, 11:10 AM
I think that some of the newer VCRs on sale here (Britain) have a PAL/NTSC convertor switch which will allow you to play CHS tapes from either format.

02-13-2000, 11:33 AM
It's not so much about British vs American DVDs, it's to do with the region settings.

The following section should explain it much more clearly than I ever could...the quote is from the DVD FAQ (http://videodiscovery.com/vdyweb/dvd/dvdfaq.html).

Motion picture studios want to control the home release of movies in different countries because theater releases aren't simultaneous (a movie may come out on video in the U.S. when it's just hitting screens in Europe). Also, studios sell distribution rights to different foreign distributors and would like to guarantee an exclusive market. Therefore they have required that the DVD standard include codes that can be used to prevent playback of certain discs in certain geographical regions. Each player is given a code for the region in which it's sold. The player will refuse to play discs that are not allowed in that region. This means that discs bought in one country may not play on players bought in another country.

Regional codes are entirely optional for the maker of a disc. Discs without codes will play on any player in any country. It's not an encryption system, it's just one byte of information on the disc that the player checks. Some studios originally announced that only their new releases will have regional codes, but so far almost all releases play in only one region. Region codes are a permanent part of the disc, they won't "unlock" after a period of time.

There are 8 regions (also called "locales"). Players and discs are identified by the region number superimposed on a world globe. If a disc plays in more than one region it will have more than one number on the globe.
1: U.S., Canada, U.S. Territories
2: Japan, Europe, South Africa, Middle East (including Egypt)
3: Southeast Asia, East Asia (including Hong Kong)
4: Australia, New Zealand, Pacific Islands, Central America, Mexico, South America, Caribbean
5: Eastern Europe (Former Soviet Union), Indian Subcontinent, Africa (also North Korea, Mongolia)
6: China
7: Reserved
8: Special international venues (airplanes, cruise ships, etc.)

Some players can be modified to play discs regardless of their regional codes. This usually voids the warranty, but is probably not illegal. Some discs, such as those from Buena Vista/Touchstone/Miramax, MGM/Universal, and Polygram contain program code that checks for the proper region. These "smart discs" won't play on code-free players that have their region set to 0, but they can be played on code-switchable players that allow you to change the region using the remote control.

I never touched him, ref, honest!

02-13-2000, 03:14 PM
Any American VHS tape needs to fill out the appropriate paperwork and gain a permit before working within the UK. I'd consult an immigration office for details.

"I guess one person can make a difference, although most of the time they probably shouldn't."

02-13-2000, 05:19 PM
I bought a VHS video from the UK, then discovered it was in the PAL format and wouldn't work on my VCR. I never knew there were at least 3 video formats. Anyway, I got it converted so I was able to use it.

02-13-2000, 07:27 PM
My VCR plays both NTSC and PAL, and all of the currently available (for the last five years) VCRs here have that ability. I would've assumed that in the UK they would be the same. No switches, no convertors, just an in-built ability.

However, in the US, NTSC players cannot play PAL. For some dumb reason.


The Legend Of PigeonMan (http://hotkey.net.au/~guanolad/pigeonman/)
- Shadow of the Pigeon -
Weirdo of the Night

Tapioca Dextrin
02-13-2000, 08:18 PM
Like everyone else is saying, yes, a US tape will play in a recent UK VHS machine, although you will only get a mono sound signal.
If you are having problems with the DVDs, then it's easy to get the player fixed. To find somehere that will fix a machine just type something like "multi-region DVD" into a search engine, or go to a decent local independent HiFi dealer - it's a very common practice and quite legal.

Tapioca Dextrin
02-13-2000, 08:21 PM
Like everyone else is saying, yes, a US tape will play in a recent UK VHS machine, although you will only get a mono sound signal.
If you are having problems with the DVDs, then it's easy to get the player fixed. To find somehere that will fix a machine just type something like "multi-region DVD" into a search engine, or go to a decent local independent HiFi dealer - it's a very common practice and quite legal. :D

I once lost my corkscrew and had to live on food and water for several days
(W.C. Fields)

02-13-2000, 10:49 PM
Sure, if you can find anyone working in Britain to tape. :D
Sorry, chaps. Couldn't resist.

I only know two things;
I know what I need to know
I know what I want to know
Mangeorge, 2000

02-14-2000, 11:10 AM
Wait a moment. If you have a NTSC tv, vcr & vhs video in Britian, itll work just fine.

I used to have a tv that came with a PAL/nTsc switch.

John W. Kennedy
02-14-2000, 03:31 PM
Bottom line:

VHS is mechanically and electronically the same everywhere, but the TV signal recorded on the VHS varies. The USA uses NTSC, the UK uses PAL. Therefore, they won't work without a conversion.

Fortunately, dual-mode NTSC/PAL players are common in Britain. They're rare in the USA, though (the easiest way to find one seems to be to go to your nearest big city and find a really sleazy, disgusting porn shop).

John W. Kennedy
"Compact is becoming contract; man only earns and pays."
-- Charles Williams

Send questions for Cecil Adams to: [email protected]

Send comments about this website to:

Terms of Use / Privacy Policy

Advertise on the Straight Dope!
(Your direct line to thousands of the smartest, hippest people on the planet, plus a few total dipsticks.)

Copyright 2018 STM Reader, LLC.

Best Topics: geometric growth equation dividing percentages greek swear words western duels lupe valez fuchikoma vs tachikoma bourne novel saint francesca baboon vs chimp ir mirror animals with clothes o'grady's potato chips au bon pain pronounce star trek voyager cast camel filters new pack how to dig a grave del taco fish taco recipe novels set in germany howard hughes senate hearings gay bar in nj how long can a closet rod be without support i shot a man in reno left or right ear piercing for guys what does dutch oven mean in slang how does a grenade kill