Is Using Vpn Legal – Using a VPN is completely legal in the US, Canada, the UK and the rest of the world. VPNs are illegal if you live in Belarus, Iraq, North Korea, or Turkmenistan. However, countries like China and Russia have laws that restrict the use of VPNs in certain ways.
VPNs are legal to use in most countries, however, in this guide, we’ll break down where VPNs are allowed and where they aren’t.
Is Using Vpn Legal
Using a VPN is legal in most countries around the world, however, your activities while using a VPN are still governed by the laws of the country you are in.
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Law enforcement may need information stored on your VPN service. After all, illegal activities are still illegal.
Using a VPN may also violate the terms of service of the websites and apps you unblock abroad. For example, while using a VPN with Netflix is not against the law, it may violate their Terms of Service.
DISCLAIMER Although this manual has been carefully reviewed, we are not professional lawyers. If you want to clarify the legality of a VPN or the specific laws of any country, seek professional legal advice.
VPN services are supported in almost every country in the world, including the US, UK, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and most of Europe.
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However, you are still subject to the laws of the country in which you are located, and not the laws of the country from which you routed your Internet connection.
In other words, illegal online activities are illegal when you use a VPN, regardless of the server you’re connected to.
VPN services may provide servers (and IP addresses) in countries where VPNs are prohibited or restricted. For example, ExpressVPN allows users to connect to VPN servers in Belarus and Turkey.
Using these VPN servers is completely legal if you are not physically located in one of the 10 countries mentioned above.
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This is because VPN services sometimes use a virtual server location. These servers are not actually in the country they are labeled.
For example, the Belarusian and Turkish ExpressVPN servers are physically located in the Netherlands, where VPNs are legal.
Once you’ve determined that VPNs are legal in your country, you need to consider other factors that may affect your online security.
These factors include your VPN service’s jurisdiction, logging policy, and security features. Your country’s torrenting laws and digital rights stance are also important, even if using a VPN is legal.
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VPNs are banned in Belarus, Iraq, North Korea and Turkmenistan. The use of VPN services is highly restricted in China, Iran, Oman, Russia, Turkey and the UAE.
The countries in the table below are labeled according to the severity of their VPN laws and restrictions. “Extensive” is the most restrictive level, followed by “moderate” and “small”.
Here is a more detailed list of VPN laws in 10 countries where VPN is illegal or restricted:
Belarus bans virtual private networks, which it sees as a way to undermine the law. In February 2015, the country’s communications ministry banned the use of anonymizers such as VPNs.
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Tor, which provides anonymous communication and access to the dark web, has also been blocked in Belarus since 2016.
It’s still unclear whether the government can really contain the expanding VPN market. At the moment, there is an unspecified penalty for anyone caught using a VPN in Belarus.
VPNs are technically legal in China. However, all VPN services must be approved by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) before they are allowed to operate in the country.
This often involves accepting terms like data logging, which makes a VPN pointless in terms of privacy.
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While there is speculation that China may soon open up its VPN industry to foreign investment, using a VPN “without permission” can result in a fine of up to 15,000 yuan (roughly $2,200).
However, many people still want to use a VPN in China. If this applies to you, read our article on the best VPNs for China, as most VPN apps won’t work.
China, 2010 Google shut down its site in the country due to censorship disputes with the government. Credit: Venn Rights/Alami
The penalty for using a VPN not authorized by the Iranian government is up to a year in prison.
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VPNs have been banned in Iraq since 2014. The government says the ban is to prevent terrorist organizations from influencing the public through social media.
Since 2010, all VPNs have been banned in Oman, except those supported by the Sultanate. These exceptions only apply to corporate VPN services that require consent.
Private use of VPNs is prohibited in Oman to avoid censorship by citizens. Attempting to circumvent these laws is punishable by a $1,300 fine.
Russia has banned unapproved VPNs to prevent access to “illegal content”. Russian ISPs enforce the ban by blocking websites that offer VPN services.
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In September 2021, Roskomnadzor banned ExpressVPN, NordVPN, IPVanish VPN, Hola VPN, KeepSolid VPN Unlimited and Speedify VPN.
The penalty for using an unapproved VPN in Russia is 300,000 rubles ($5,100) for the user and 700,000 rubles ($12,000) for the service provider.
If you’re traveling in Russia and need to use a VPN, we recommend checking out our recommendations for the best VPNs for Russia.
The Turkish government has been restricting the use of VPNs since 2016, justifying the crackdown as necessary to protect national security and “fight terrorism.”
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In 2016, 10 VPN providers were blocked in Turkey, along with the Tor network. Turkish observers have pointed out that it is often people who criticize the government who end up being punished and censored by the authorities.
Istanbul, Turkey. May 15, 2011. Citizens have protested against the government’s decision to introduce content filtering. Credit: Evren Kalinbachak
Turkmenistan banned VPNs in 2015 to censor foreign media. All proxy and VPN services are detected and blocked by Turkmen State Internet Service Provider Turkmennet.
The cost of internet in Turkmen is deliberately inflated so that people don’t use it. A monthly subscription costs $213 for 8Kbps, more than the average monthly salary in the country.
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Using a VPN in Turkmenistan can result in an unspecified fine and a dreaded call by the MNS for a “preventive speech”.
The United Arab Emirates only supports government-approved VPNs. This came into effect in 2012, during the Arab Spring.
The blocking of VoIP services in the UAE was due to economic and political reasons. It wants to encourage local residents to pay (expensive) subscription fees for local telecom services, Etislat and Du.
If the VPN is used to commit a crime in the UAE, the user could be fined between AED 150,000 (about $41,000) and AED 500,000 (about $136,000).
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If you need a VPN before traveling to the UAE, check out our list of recommended UAE VPNs.
Legal throughout India, there have been cases of VPN “blocking” in the northern regions of Kashmir and Jammu.
In August 2019, the Indian government began restricting internet use in Kashmir. It all started with a blackout followed by a whitelist of a small number of websites. Many residents have turned to VPNs to bypass these website blocks.
After a video of separatist leader Syed Ali Shah Gilani surfaced on social media in February 2020, police began cracking down on VPN users.
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Anyone suspected of using the VPN to spread separatist ideals is being called into question. There have been reported cases of soldiers forcing people’s phones to search for VPN apps. If found, they removed the app, confiscated the phone or even beat the owner.
Under Indian law, it is still perfectly legal to use a VPN in Kashmir. Most “offenders” are prosecuted for “social media abuse” instead of using a VPN.
That being said, we recommend exercising caution when using a VPN for Kashmir. It’s not worth the risk as long as the authorities continue to operate under the assumption that anyone who uses a VPN is committing a crime.
The Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) initially set a deadline of June 30, 2020 for citizens to register VPN connections with the government. After that date, all unregistered VPNs were to be blocked.
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This period was then extended to 31 July 2020 and then again to 30 September “for the convenience of businesses and the public”.
Under the PTA, the law is consistent with provisions stating that “any method of communication that is hidden or encrypted” requires proper registration.
It is not clear what the consequences of using an unregistered VPN in Pakistan will be. However, the PTA said in a press release that “measures will only be taken against unauthorized VPNs to stop illegal traffic that is detrimental to the national exchequer.”
Pakistani authorities have previously blocked popular websites such as YouTube, Facebook and Wikipedia. Connections to platforms like Twitter, Periscope and Zoom have also been restricted in the past.
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It remains to be seen how commercial VPN users will be judged once the ruling goes into effect, but we advise caution. We will monitor the situation and update this page as events unfold.
UPDATE: As of October 2022, there was little information from the PTA regarding the VPN ban.
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