Are VPNs Legal? The Worldwide Guide (2024)

VPNs are banned or heavily restricted in a number of countries worldwide for various reasons. Some of the countries where usage is prohibited or restricted include:

CountryStatus
BelarusIllegal
ChinaLegal with restrictions
EgyptLegal with restrictions
IraqIllegal
North KoreaIllegal
OmanLegal with restrictions
RussiaLegal with restrictions
TurkeyLegal with restrictions
TurkmenistanIllegal
UAELegal with restrictions

Belarus

VPNs are illegal in Belarus. Since 2015, the Belarusian government has aimed to block technology that anonymizes internet usage, such as Tor. Furthermore, the government has blocked messaging apps including Telegram and Signal to suppress dissent and restrict free speech.

In 2018, the Belarusian government required internet service providers to retain data on users’ online activity for a year and provide it to law enforcement agencies upon request. The authorities have also been accused of using sophisticated surveillance techniques to monitor internet traffic, including deep packet inspection (DPI) to detect and block VPN traffic.

China

China has heavily restricted the use of VPNs—but they are legal. Any VPN used in the country must follow local regulations on censorship and backdoor access. They must also be licensed and aligned with government regulations.

If a service does not comply with local laws and rules, it may be blocked, which makes it difficult for Chinese citizens to access quality services. Some services such as NordVPN have an obfuscated server function, so the Chinese government has difficulty detecting that you’re using a VPN.

Still, the government acknowledges that VPNs are useful for business purposes. As a result, China has reached a middle ground between banning VPNs altogether and allowing government-approved services to exist.

Egypt

Egypt allows VPNs with restrictions. Similar to Oman, the government blocks content that violates its moral standards. For example, due to security concerns, voice-over-internet-protocol (VoIP) apps including FaceTime, Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, Skype and Viber are not allowed.

The government has also monitored and censored online activity, making it difficult for individuals to access content that is deemed inappropriate.

Iraq

VPNs are illegal in Iraq. Interestingly, the country’s poor internet infrastructure makes its censorship capabilities subpar compared to China or North Korea. Online content is regulated and authorities have the power to block social media platforms during periods of unrest or school examinations.

North Korea

VPNs are not legal in North Korea. The North Korean government maintains strict control over all internet access and has implemented extensive censorship measures. Citizens are only allowed to access a tightly controlled national intranet known as Kwangmyong. All internet activity is monitored, and any attempt to bypass VPN restrictions is considered a crime.

North Korea’s internet censorship prevents citizens from accessing outside news sources. Allowing North Korean citizens to access blocked content threatens the government’s control. As a result, the North Korean government has implemented harsh penalties for those caught attempting to use VPNs or other circumvention tools.

Oman

Oman is known for its tight government control. ISPs must ban content not aligned with the country’s moral standards, such as p*rnography and drug use. In addition, businesses need explicit permission from the government to use VPNs.

While no specific law banning VPNs exists, the government is known to hack and eliminate content that it deems a threat to national security or public order. Individuals caught using VPNs to access restricted content may face severe penalties, such as fines worth $1,300.

Russia

VPNs are legal in Russia, but their use is somewhat restricted. All VPN services must operate within the “legal framework” approved by the government. According to the law, they must also block access to banned websites and online services. As a result, many VPN providers have withdrawn from the Russian market or have implemented measures to comply with the government’s requirements.

Despite these restrictions, many Russians still use VPNs to access restricted content and communicate securely. They are beneficial for accessing restricted news websites and social media platforms.

Turkey

The Turkish government has been increasingly aggressive in controlling online activity. Registered VPN providers are technically allowed to operate in Turkey. However, the government is known to block content it does not like. Streaming sites and file sharing have been banned due to intellectual property issues. The government also censors significant news platforms and social media sites, including Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and Wikipedia.

Turkmenistan

Due to tight government control, using VPNs in Turkmenistan is illegal. The repressive nation has banned social media services including Facebook, WhatsApp, Twitter, Viber and famous Russian networks such as Odnoklassniki and VKontakte. The government monitors internet traffic and social media activity and occasionally arrests individuals for online content deemed critical of the government.

Authorities have also increased internet pricing to discourage social media use. Users who are caught may face severe consequences for violating the government’s internet censorship laws.

UAE

VPNs are legal in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), but the government heavily regulates them. The government has strict internet censorship laws that aim to block offensive or harmful content such as p*rnography and political dissent. Based on the law, an individual who uses a “fraudulent computer network protocol” to commit a crime may receive a fine or temporary imprisonment.

Are VPNs Legal? The Worldwide Guide (2024)

FAQs

Are VPNs legal everywhere? ›

VPNs are completely legal in almost all countries. In countries where they are restricted, possible punishments for using a VPN include fines or imprisonment. However, it is exceedingly rare to hear about punishments for VPN use, unless the user is doing something dubious or illegal online.

Is it illegal to use a VPN from another country? ›

In general, you won't get in trouble for using a VPN as long as you don't do anything illegal while using it. That said, some countries, such as Belarus, Iraq, and North Korea, have banned the use of VPNs.

Is using a VPN for Netflix illegal? ›

While it is technically against Netflix's terms of service to use a VPN, there is no clear legal precedent establishing that this constitutes copyright infringement. No Netflix subscriber has ever been sued or prosecuted solely for using a VPN to access streaming content.

Why is using VPN illegal? ›

While no specific law banning VPNs exists, the government is known to hack and eliminate content that it deems a threat to national security or public order. Individuals caught using VPNs to access restricted content may face severe penalties, such as fines worth $1,300.

Can you get banned for using VPN? ›

Yes, a VPN can be banned. Governments and corporations implement VPN restrictions for reasons that range from enforcing internet censorship to protecting internal networks.

Why did China ban VPN? ›

VPNs are outlawed in China because they allow users to jump the “Great Firewall” and securely connect to the internet outside the country while blocking their IP address. Rob Binns, a journalist with Techopedia, said China's increasingly strict censorship policies may explain the rise in VPN usage there.

What is the safest country to use a VPN? ›

5Which countries are best for VPN server locations? Switzerland, Iceland, Estonia, Canada, Singapore, Spain, the UK, Panama, Romania, and Germany are considered the best countries for VPN server locations due to strong privacy laws, advanced internet infrastructure, and minimal content restrictions.

Can you be tracked if you use VPN? ›

Can you be tracked with a VPN? You can't be tracked using a VPN because it encrypts your data. As a result, your ISP or bad actors can't get any information out of your traffic. They only see the VPN server's IP address, while your real IP and online activities stay hidden.

Is bypassing geo blocking illegal? ›

Is bypassing geoblocking legal? It all depends on the country, the law, and the content in question. As far as we know, bypassing streaming geoblocking isn't illegal but may go against the service's terms and conditions. However, if you're bypassing geoblocking to access illegal content, this can still be a crime.

Does a VPN hide the country you are in? ›

Overall, a good VPN will properly encrypt your data and hide your real IP address, location, and internet activity.

Is it illegal to use a VPN for Amazon Prime? ›

It isn't illegal to use a VPN to change your location or circumvent geo-restrictions. However, by accessing geo-restricted content, you may be breaking the terms and service agreement of the streaming platform. This could result in restrictions from the streaming provider.

What happens if Netflix finds out you're using a VPN? ›

If it sees that you're using a VPN IP address, it will limit its library to only shows and movies over which it has a global license. That means instead of unlocking new shows, your library may become limited.

Why did Netflix block VPN? ›

In short, Netflix bans VPN connections because they don't have the rights to air certain content in many countries. So when a subscriber uses a Netflix VPN to watch a show that isn't typically available in their region, Netflix is in violation of their copyright agreement.

Why does Netflix say I'm using VPN but I'm not? ›

If the country doesn't match your location, it means your device or network has a VPN turned on. Try turning it off, then try Netflix again. For help turning a VPN off, contact your VPN provider. Netflix Customer Service can't help with turning a VPN off because the steps are different for each VPN app or service.

Can you use a VPN anywhere? ›

Yes! A VPN allows you to access your favorite sites and services from anywhere in the world. If you're traveling to a country where you think a site might be blocked, sign up to ExpressVPN before you leave to ensure you can get onto all your social media and messaging apps wherever you are.

Can VPNs be traced? ›

No. Your data is encrypted, so your ISP can't see its contents. This includes DNS requests, which are sent through the VPN tunnel and resolved by the VPN provider. Your ISP can see the IP address of the VPN server you're connected to, but it can't see any connections made after that.

Is it suspicious to have a VPN? ›

If you're using a trustworthy VPN service, your browsing activities become illegible to snoopers. However, this doesn't mean a VPN user is entirely untraceable online. Internet service providers (ISPs), websites, and even governments can determine whether you're using a VPN.

Why do criminals use VPNs? ›

In addition to masking their IP address and bypassing security systems, hackers also use VPNs for other malicious purposes. One such purpose is to launch a distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack. This type of attack floods a targeted system with traffic, overwhelming its resources and causing it to crash.

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