Are VPNs Legal? – Can You Get into Trouble for Using a VPN?

Miklos Zoltan

By Miklos Zoltan . 15 January 2022

Founder - Privacy Affairs

Justin Oyaro

Fact-Checked this

The legality of VPNs depends on the laws of the land. In most places, VPNs are legal.

In this article, you will learn:

  • Why are VPNs illegal.
  • Places where VPNs are illegal or prohibited.
  • How to choose a safe VPN.

Quick Summary

VPNs offer an excellent way of protecting your security and privacy over the internet. They also enable you to reclaim your online freedom.

In most countries, VPNs are legal since citizens have a right to online privacy. Nonetheless, using a VPN for illegal activities is prohibited in these free countries.

VPNs are illegal in authoritarian states with stringent censorship, and their usage is restricted. VPN connections can also be blocked altogether.

Using a VPN can land you in jail or a hefty fine in some of these states. Other repressive countries require VPNs to have licenses, which is a way the government controls them.

Without further ado, let’s get started!

Are VPNs Legal

Why are VPNs Illegal in Some Places?

VPNs provide a way for people to bypass restrictions, unblock websites and express their freedom of speech and other concerns. This is not good for authoritarian states that seek to tighten control over their citizens.

Thus, VPNs are seen as a threat and making them illegal or banning their usage restores control in these regimes.

Other than oppressive regimes, using a VPN for illegal activities is not allowed even in countries where VPNs are legal.

Illegal activities include using a VPN to commit nationally and internationally recognized crimes, activities that violate the laws of the land, infringing copyrights and cyber-bullying.

You may also experience VPN restrictions in areas where VPNs are legal. Usually, these places include learning institutions and offices, where some sites are blocked for good reasons.

Websites such as social media are seen as distractions. You may use a VPN to unblock the websites, but you might face serious consequences if you are caught.

Related guide: How to unblock YouTube

Where are VPNs Illegal?

VPNs are illegal or partly illegal in authoritarian countries. Notable countries include:

Belarus: Due to the political situation in the country, VPNs, Tor network, and any anonymizing technology are illegal. Services such as Telegram are also blocked. Using either of them can be very dangerous at the given moment.

Related guide: Telegram review

Iraq: To curb the extremist militant groups, Iraq declared VPNs illegal, and users can get punishments if caught. Additionally, social media and other chat apps are also blocked.

North Korea: VPNs are illegal, and the country has banned access to the World Wide Web altogether. Trying to use a VPN in North Korea can land you in jail. Citizens can access content via “Kwangmyong” – North Korea’s internal internet.

Turkey: VPNs are partly illegal. Although they are allowed, the government occasionally blocks VPNs since citizens can use them to unblock social media and other restricted sites and services.

Countries that Restrict VPN Usage

In these countries, VPNs are not illegal but, most overseas providers are blocked. In some countries, domestic VPNs must share user data with the government.

Moreover, using a VPN to access anti-government services and websites or perform illegal activities is prohibited.

Notable countries include:

China: VPNs are not illegal in China; however, the government only allows licensed VPN providers. Unlicensed VPN providers are blocked in the country.

China also uses the Great Firewall to block most VPN connections and restrict access to various websites, including Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, and others.

Egypt: VPNs are not illegal, but the government imposes restrictions on their usage.

For instance, it is illegal to use a VPN to commit a crime, including accessing immoral content, VoIP apps, and anti-government content.

Russia: Most VPNs are banned or blocked to deter citizens from accessing prohibited content. Additionally, VPN providers who do not comply with the state’s law to share users’ information with the government or allow access to “prohibited content” are not welcome.

UAE: VPNs are legal; however, using a VPN to commit a crime or illegal activity can result in fines or jail time.

Accessing anti-government websites, using Skype, WhatsApp, FaceTime, and several other Voice over IP (VoIP) services is considered a crime in the country.

Uganda: VPNs are not illegal, but their usage is restricted.

ISPs block VPN traffic because citizens use VPNs to circumvent the social media tax, which is supposedly cheaper than using a VPN.

Venezuela: VPNs are legal in Venezuela; however, the government blocks some VPN sites in its bid to clamp down on internet freedom and rights to free speech.

Related guide: Best VPN for Venezuela

How Some Countries Restrict VPN Usage

To restrict VPN usage, most countries sought repressive methods and ISPs to implement VPN blocks. These methods include:

  • Jailtime or hefty fines if you are caught using a VPN.
  • VPN providers need a license to operate. This is a way of ensuring the VPN providers share user data with the government. Thus, no-log VPNs won’t operate in such countries since they have nothing to share with the authorities.
  • Using VPN blocking techniques such as deep packet inspection (DPI). This is a powerful technique that can detect and block VPN traffic. It can also be configured to block incoming or outgoing traffic from specific services such as social media. ISPs mostly implement it in conjunction with the government.

How to Choose a Safe VPN:

Besides impeccable security and privacy, you must consider other VPN aspects if you want to use a good VPN in authoritarian regimes.

Mostly, these aspects add an extra layer of security, privacy, and they help you bypass blocks and restrictions.

They are as follows:

  • Favorable jurisdiction: A VPN’s jurisdiction determines how it operates. You should choose a jurisdiction with strong privacy laws. A good jurisdiction doesn’t have mandatory data retention laws requiring VPNs to log user data. The jurisdiction should also not be a member of the surveillance alliances (5/9/14 eyes).
  • No-logs: In conjunction with a good jurisdiction, you should consider a VPN provider that implements a proven strict no-log policy. With a no-log policy, the VPN won’t have anything to give if the authorities ask. Choose VPN providers that have been audited externally by reputable companies such as the Big 4 firms.
  • Security and privacy-oriented features: These features add an extra layer of security and make sure your VPN connection is always secure. No one will be able to pry on your online traffic. They include leak protection, kill switch, double VPN, Onion over VPN and other cybersecurity implementations (blocking ads and trackers).
  • Obfuscation/VPN scrambling: These features conceal your VPN traffic. They reshape the VPN traffic and make it look like normal HTTPS traffic. HTTPS is rarely blocked, and hence you can bypass VPN blocking techniques, including DPI.
  • Customer support: You should consider a VPN provider with 24/7 customer support. This is essential as you will readily get help concerning the VPN or how to bypass new restrictions in some countries.
  • Money-back guarantee: If you are trying to access content in countries where VPNs are illegal or restricted, at least make sure you have the right VPN for the job. You can test VPNs before fully committing to a subscription. This is possible via the money-back guarantee policy – if the VPN doesn’t work, you get your money back.

Wrap Up

A VPN is an excellent tool for safeguarding your online privacy and security. You can use a VPN in most places globally, except in autocratic regimes where VPNs are illegal. VPN usage can also be restricted in some countries or various institutions.

Additionally, to be on the safe side regarding the laws of the land, don’t use a VPN for illegal activities.

Frequently Asked Questions

Some people found answers to these questions helpful

Is it legal to unblock content using a VPN?

It is permissible to use a VPN to unblock restricted content unless when clearly stated it is not. Ensure you know the laws of the land in accordance with VPN usage. Accessing legally blocked content or illegal content can have serious consequences.


Can I be tracked while using a VPN?

With a no-log VPN, your online footsteps are invisible. A VPN uses powerful encryption to keep your online traffic and connections safe from prying eyes. Your ISP, interested third parties, and even the authorities won’t know what you are doing online.


Is using a VPN illegal for unblocking Netflix?

No. Although unblocking Netflix catalogs worldwide breaches their terms of use, Netflix has not banned or suspended involved accounts. Instead, Netflix blocks VPN connections, and it is getting better each day.


Is using a VPN illegal for torrenting?

No. Using a VPN to torrent content is not illegal. However, torrenting is usually frowned upon since it creates an avenue for exchanging pirated illegal content. Even if you are torrenting allowed content, your connection can be blocked.


Which VPNs are legal to use?

The laws of the land heavily determine VPN usage. In most countries, all VPNs are legal to use, and you have the liberty to choose the VPN provider that will protect your online privacy and security.


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