10 Countries Where VPNs Are Illegal. Find Out Who Banned VPNs and Why (Updated 2024)

VPNs are legal in most countries. In the US, the UK, and throughout Europe, you can use them without worrying about repercussions. VPNs safeguard online privacy which is important for a free and open society. Unfortunately, not all governments agree with internet freedom. That’s why some countries regulate VPNs, and others downright ban them. 

A VPN masks your IP address and encrypts your internet connection, so you can browse with increased privacy. Activists and journalists often use VPNs to help hide their identity when researching or reporting on dangerous or sensitive issues. You can also use a VPN to unblock websites that a government has censored and get unrestricted access to the internet.                

Some governments place hefty penalties on people who breach anti-VPN laws. Let’s take a look at the legal issues surrounding VPNs and see which countries restrict or outright ban VPNs. 

Bypass censorship and take back your internet freedom with a fast, reliable VPN. Get CyberGhost VPN and try our premium security features risk-free. 

Are VPNs Legal?

The short answer is yes — in most countries. A VPN can help you bypass censorship and surveillance. For this reason, authoritarian governments aren’t always in favor of them. Countries that restrict or ban VPNs include China, Iran, Iraq, and Russia, for example.

So, unless you live in a country with strict censorship laws, you’re probably good to go. Keep reading to learn which countries ban and restrict VPNs. 

Why Do Countries Ban VPNs? 

Governments that ban VPN use often rely on heavy censorship and surveillance to stay in power. They restrict the flow of information to stop citizens from hearing about their wrongdoing. At the same time, they push content that encourages citizens to view them in a positive light. 

To censor criticism about their political systems, governments may oversee local media and monitor citizens online. This is how they keep public opinion in their favor. When you control what people know, you can control how they feel.

For example, Xi Jinping’s CCP puts enormous effort into restricting information in China. The government also pumps untold sums of money into propaganda campaigns. For the most part, this keeps public opinion in his favor. However, recent country-wide protests following the government’s draconian Covid-19 restrictions show the success of its strategies only go so far. 

Authoritarian governments might block foreign news and social media platforms as they can’t fully control what gets published. People can use VPNs to bypass government blocks and access websites and news from other countries. This makes VPNs a threat to authoritarian governments. 

Are VPNs Used For Illegal Activities?

A VPN is a digital Swiss Army knife. You can use it for everything from masking your IP address to staying safe on public networks. A VPN can also help you bypass ISP throttling, so you can enjoy a faster connection when streaming or gaming.

VPNs were designed primarily as a security and privacy tool. Unfortunately this means some people use them to hide criminal activities. For example, hackers might use them to conceal their identity when launching social-engineering or malware attacks. This obviously isn’t good. Some people use VPNs to download illegal torrents or for encrypting conversations to plan terrorist attacks. Again, not good. 

On the other hand, journalists or repressed citizens may use VPNs to conceal their identity and location. They often do this when speaking out against human rights abuses by oppressive regimes. While this may be technically illegal under certain governments, most people would agree it’s not unethical. Journalists often risk prison or even execution when unearthing these abuses, so they need the protection a VPN offers.

CyberGhost VPN is a strong advocate for internet freedom — something we often take for granted in Western countries. We’re more than happy to provide a valuable service to brave journalists and citizens who expose and chip away at unethical practices across the globe.

In short, a VPN is like any other tool. Take a kitchen knife, for example. A deranged person could use it to murder someone, but a skilled surgeon might use it in an emergency to save a life. You and I probably just use it for chopping onions!

How Are VPN Bans Enforced?

The whole purpose of using a VPN is to conceal your identity online. This makes it difficult for law enforcement to catch people using them. If you’re using a VPN in a country that enforces VPN bans, here are three ways you might get caught: 

          • Leaks in the VPN tunnel: A leak in a VPN tunnel could expose your identity to surveillance.
          • Surveillance by your ISP: Governments in some countries force ISPs to spy on and control their customers’ internet access. Your ISP may see if you’re connecting to a VPN server.
          • Physical checks from local law enforcement: If a law enforcement officer takes your phone or computer, they can find out you’re using a VPN. 
          • Disclosure from your VPN provider: Some governments force VPN companies to share user data with them — defeating the purpose much? In those cases, your VPN company could be the cause of your demise. 

CyberGhost VPN has a strict No Logs policy. This means we don’t collect or keep your real IP address or any of your online activity data. You don’t need to worry about us sharing your activity, because we have nothing to share! 

Our VPN systems were independently audited by Deloitte. They paid special attention to our No Logs policy, among other aspects of our operations. 

CyberGhost VPN uses military-grade 256-bit AES encryption to scramble your data. This makes it impossible for snoopers to intercept or comprehend your traffic. This level of encryption along with our secure VPN protocols and DNS leak protection ensures your data doesn’t leak through the VPN tunnel.

Our Kill Switch also protects you from data leaks if your VPN or Wi-Fi connection drops. The Kill Switch cuts your internet traffic until you can reestablish a secure connection with a VPN server.   

10 Countries Where VPNs Are Illegal

1. China

Few governments restrict internet (and general) freedom more than China. The government has a massive budget for domestic surveillance and censorship. That means it’s always cracking down on VPNs. 

VPNs aren’t illegal in China, but the Chinese government has strict rules on VPN use. Officially, it wants you to use specific VPNs licensed by the government. These VPNs are not likely to give you true anonymity and privacy online!

It’s almost impossible to download an independent VPN in China using regular methods. Even if you download a VPN abroad, you may find it doesn’t work in the country.

CyberGhost is one of the few VPNs you can use in China (though we recommend you download our app when you’re outside the country). That way, you can access foreign sites when you’re in China. Bear in mind, if you’re caught, you may be subject to an arbitrary jail sentence of up to 5 years. Although it’s rare for the Chinese government to go after individuals for VPN use. They’re more likely to block the VPN you’re using than send you to jail.

China also doesn’t allow its citizens to access regular social media platforms. It has its own social media infrastructure but it’s censored and regulated by the state. 

Use CyberGhost VPN to avoid internet censorship in China. If you’re traveling to China and want to safely stay connected, CyberGhost VPN has you covered.

2. Russia

Internet freedom in Russia has been in free fall for the past decade and the Russian government isn’t exactly known for being free speech zealots. Following protests in 2012, Russia released a list of banned websites. The list targeted child pornography sites at first, but quickly grew to include ambiguous categories like “violating the established order” and “calling for illegal meetings.” 

If you’re at all familiar with the history of authoritarian regimes, you might recognize this type of arbitrary legal language. In November 2017, Russia banned VPNs, Tor, and proxies — all tools that people can use to avoid surveillance. The government was particularly strict with VPN services that refused to submit user data for government inspection. 

The recent conflict between Russia and Ukraine has led to increased stringency as the government seeks to “protect” its citizens from western influence. According to The Moscow Times, Russia has blocked more than 138,000 websites since the start of the war, leading in a massive uptick in VPN usage across the country. The government has responded by making it even harder to access and use VPNs in the country as a result.

3. North Korea

North Korea is the least free country in the world. According to Yeonmi Park, North Korean defector and YouTuber, citizens aren’t generally permitted to own cars, property, or businesses. 

Everything is technically owned by the state.hey can also be sentenced to death or life in a prison camp for small “offenses” like not properly worshiping their leaders, the Kims who are seen as pseudo-religious figures in addition to heads of state.

Internet censorship isn’t high on the list of problems most North Koreans face. In fact, the vast majority don’t even have access to the internet. Unless you’re an elite vetted by the regime, you’ve probably never set eyes on the Google logo. If you’re lucky enough to have access to a computer, you only have a highly controlled intranet called “Kwangmyong.” So, yes, VPNs are illegal. 

4. Belarus

VPN use isn’t technically illegal by any official law in Belarus, but are banned along with any technology that anonymizes internet activity, including Tor. This also includes private messenger apps like Signal and Telegram, so citizens are hard-pressed to find ways to message privately. What’s interesting to note is the Belarusian constitution actually outlaws censorship.

The Belarusian government isn’t shy about using extreme measures during protests and public unrest. In some cases, it’s even resorted to completely shutting down the internet to prevent citizens organizing protests and spreading information. A dystopian nightmare? Pretty much.

While you can face heavy fines for using a VPN in Belarus, many people still do.

5. Turkmenistan

In a bid to discourage citizens from using Western social media platforms, the Turkmenistan government banned VPNs in 2019. The government took compliance enforcement to the next level by forcing citizens to swear on the Holy Quran that they won’t use VPNs

According to Datareportal, out of the 6.3 million citizens in Turkmenistan, only about 2 million people have internet access. This might be because citizens must apply and be thoroughly vetted before being granted access. 

Citizens do voice concerns about not being able to access anything without a VPN. Despite having to make a forced oath, they still don’t have sufficient freedom to socialize and learn.

6. Iran

The Islamic Republic of Iran has blocked VPNs since 2013. Iran allows the use of government-approved VPNs which are heavily-monitored, but if you use a non-approved VPN you can face up to a year in prison.

Internet restrictions for Iranian citizens were always tight, but recent unrest in the nation has only made things worse. The government implemented a total internet shut down in late 2022 to prevent angry citizens from organizing against the regime. 

The restrictions occurred after a series of mass protests advocating for democracy. Governments worldwide have made official calls for the Iranian regime to lift inhumane restrictions on information flow. 

7. Iraq

The Republic of Iraq has issued a full ban on all VPNs since 2014. No individual or corporate entity may use them with zero exceptions.

In comparison to its neighboring countries, internet surveillance in Iraq is much lower. Unlike China which quickly censors information piece-by-piece and can have “undesirable” or “harmful” content removed within minutes, Iraq tends to place bans on certain apps and services. 

Even though the government prohibits VPN use and uses less sophisticated censorship methods compared to some other countries, being caught and punished is still a very real possibility. 

8. Turkey

The Republic of Turkey has been restricting access to VPNs and the TOR network since 2016.

The government typically uses security-related justifications to issue crackdowns on internet services like VPNs and social media websites. In the case of VPNs, the country stated that it was restricting them in an effort to “fight terrorism.”

It should be noted that Turkey’s attempts at fighting terrorism have led to the arrest and imprisonment of many protestors and journalists over the years. Turkey blocked many specific VPNs. Some VPNs still have some success working within Turkey’s borders, but it’s risky. CyberGhost VPN works on mobile, but desktop apps can be hit or miss.

A WatchDog group within Turkey called Turkey Blocks reports and maps censorship activities undertaken by the Turkish government in real time. According to them, the government has routinely blocked access to social media sites when they feature information on them that they don’t like.

According to Turkey Blocks, the government throttles speed on sites like Twitter and Facebook. This makes them virtually unusable. They’ve also blocked access to instant messaging services like WhatsApp, Skype, and Telegram.

9. Myanmar

In early 2021, Myanmar went through a massive political transformation when the country’s leading democratic party was overthrown by an extremely violent military coup. Since then, the government has introduced severe crackdowns on internet freedom. 

In January 2022, the militia government drafted a law banning VPNs. It also enables them tostop citizens on the street to check their phones for illegal VPNs. The punishment for using a VPN can be up to 3 years in prison. While we can’t verify whether the law was officially set in place, there have been reports of increased arrests for “illegal” VPN use.

10. Pakistan

VPNs are not totally illegal in Pakistan, but they may as well be. If you use a VPN there, you have to begovernment-registered. What’s more, VPN companies have to  share data with the authorities. Yep, that pretty much defeats the whole purpose.

Other Countries With VPN Restrictions

Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, Venezuela, India, Uganda, and several other countries also impose restrictions on VPNs. While governments may cite different reasons for bans, the question of whether governments should have suchpower remains a contentious one.

Get CyberGhost VPN to bypass unethical internet censorship when traveling to countries with harsh restrictions. 

At CyberGhost, we strongly believe everyone should have the right to communicate and learn without the risk of punishment. But bear in mind, if you’re caught illegally using a VPN, it could be problematic.

CyberGhost allows you to connect up to 7 devices. That way, you can share your subscription with loved ones and help them stay safe while browsing the internet. 

Keep Fighting For Internet Freedom

CyberGhost offers a secure and reliable service that provides digital privacy to its users. We make it safer for you to navigate the online world by safeguarding your digital identity and online activity. As leaders in digital privacy, we’re committed to advocating for digital rights. 

We’re happy to provide a service that helps journalists and oppressed citizens avoid surveillance. Our feature-rich VPN offers an automatic Kill Switch and high-grade encryption with advanced protocols. Try CyberGhost VPN risk-free and avoid unethical online censorship.


Why are VPNs not illegal?

Most countries allow VPNs and recognize them as a useful tool for protecting against cyberattacks for both individuals and businesses. They’re a useful tool for protecting your data and allowing you to safely use free Wi-Fi. Even governments use their own bespoke VPNs so employees can work remotely!
However, VPNs are illegal in some countries as certain governments choose to restrict the flow of information. This mostly occurs in countries with oppressive political regimes where governments want to control communication.

Why are VPNs illegal in some countries?

VPNs are often illegal in countries where governments exercise control over what information their citizens can access. This may be for a variety of reasons, including preserving the country’s traditional morality or concealing news that goes against the government’s narrative. 
CyberGhost VPN is your #1 anti-censorship tool. We believe everyone should have free access to the internet. Secure your connection to browse with increased privacy, and connect to our servers in 91 countries to enjoy full internet freedom.

Is using a VPN for Netflix illegal?

It’s not illegal to watch Netflix with a VPN. We recommend using a VPN to protect your privacy when connected to a public Wi-Fi network. A VPN also lets you take your subscription with you across borders and access Netflix on restricted networks. 
However, if Netflix detects you’re using a VPN, it will block you from watching. Free VPNs often don’t work with Netflix — but CyberGhost does. Our team checks our streaming-optimized servers daily to make sure you can always enjoy your favorite Netflix shows and movies. Enjoy fast, glitch-free streaming at home and on vacation.

What are the consequences of using a VPN in an illegal jurisdiction? 

The consequences of illegal VPN use varies between countries. While certain countries administer a fine, others might imprison you for up to 5 years. North Korea’s penalties are the most severe.  Bypass internet censorship when traveling with CyberGhost VPN.

Leave a comment

رسول حسینی

Posted on 27/01/2023 at 10:09

What to do in Iran for pass of blocking internet
I am confusing and no body able help me


Hi, Ghostie. Please reach out to our 24/7 Customer Support team for assistance with CyberGhost VPN, or any questions you might have about out service. Thank you.

I’m from Iran
And yes many of platforms are banned in Iran but we still using vpns
Well , few vpns are blocked in Iran
I wish I could travel to another country


Hi, Mansour
Thank you for sharing. Stay strong.



Hi Husson. Sorry to hear you’ve encountered issues with our service. Please contact our 24/7 support team through live chat or email, and they’ll assist you on the matter.

Is VPN working in Nepal ?


Hi, Jerome. You shouldn’t have any issues with CyberGhost VPN in Nepal. If you have any other concerns, our 24/7 customer support team is ready to assist you.

Hi there,
I wanted to ask if CyberGhost works in the Philippines?
Thanks and regards


Hi Werner! Yes, our service is available in the Philippines. 🙂

You’re absolutely wrong. I’ve traveled to both Russia and China, and I’ve noticed that many people use virtual private networks to get onto foreign websites.


It depends. If they’re willing to break the law, people will always find ways of circumventing blocks.

What about Egypt? it blocked about 70% of VPN protocols now


I am glad to know that we have a way of enjoying our online activities in peace and without some many people all in your business and lifestyle. I appreciate the alternative of having a life without having being institutionalized like we are convicts and prisoners.


Hi James, thanks for sharing your view here. 🙂

We agree. Privacy is a fundamental right that should be available to everyone both online and offline.

It’s a real shame that many countries around the world fail to recognize that.

HI Most Interesting Re The Countries who BAN VPN

However with all the use of CYBER GHOST vpn – IF the vpn is connected and working — IS IT SAFETY that you get- and NO Country or any Activity is able to be seen .


Hi Moz,

I’m glad you enjoyed the article!

What you say is correct, yes.

As long as CyberGhost VPN is connected and working, your activity is completely hidden from any government, agency and ISP.

One wonders how long before Europe/UK bans VPN’s. I believe the ‘Commission’ has been mulling over the idea for a while now.


Hi Graham,

It will definitely be interesting to see how things develop in the EU and the UK.

While the EU does have regulations opposing geo-blocking as a discriminatory practice, there is also the controversial Article 13 to consider. That suggests they are at least OK with the idea of content being restricted based on a person’s location.

A VPN is a great way of getting around such geo-blocks, so I imagine the idea of banning them arises in discussions now & then. Hopefully they never act on the notion, of course!

My quick response to the above.
Countries banning VPN’s and banning foreign websites, seems to me the government does not want freedom of speech from their own people. The don’t want to hear the truth about their corruption and greed, amongst other stuff they don’t want disclosed. If their government has nothing to hide, then let the people have a say, not giving people the chance to speak freel y, surely comes over as a breach of human rights. In one word, all politicians and goverment’s are ‘Cowards’
Nothing to hide ??, let your people speak !!


Hey Mr C, thanks for the comment!

It definitely seems like a theme that VPNs are generally banned by governments who either want to spy on their citizens or limit the information they have access to. In some cases both. Unfortunately, many people out there have to live under such regimes. I find it mind-blowing, for example, to try and imagine being a North Korean citizen who doesn’t even have a concept of the internet.

In the meantime, what we can do is raise awareness on important issues to do with digital freedom, internet privacy and online security. At least that way, it doesn’t go unchecked. That’s what the Privacy Hub is all about!

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