Are VPNs Legal?

Last Updated: January 11, 2022

Are you wondering "Are VPNs legal in my country?" Read on to find out!

Virtual private networks, more commonly known as VPNs, are great for maintaining privacy and evading location-restrictions on the Internet. These powerful tools not only hide your IP address but also encrypt all your traffic to make your online activities anonymous.

Though VPNs provide a plethora of benefits and are generally legal, a number of countries do forbid them from being used. So if you’re looking for information about VPN legality in your country, you’ve come to the right place.

Countries Where VPNs Are Illegal

Are VPNs Legal

However, before we discuss where exactly the use of a VPN is permitted or forbidden, let’s first answer what’s probably the most asked question on the Internet, given the sharp rise in surveillance and censorship efforts…

Are VPNs Legal?

Yes! VPNs are legal in the vast majority of countries around the world, but using it for any kind of illegal activity isn’t allowed. It goes without saying that if you’re up to no good over a VPN, you can and will be prosecuted by law.

So, while a VPN can help protect your online identity and personal data from prying eyes, engaging in illegal activities like selling drugs, spreading malicious software, or engaging in unethical activities like stalking, bullying, hacking or theft of data most probably will get you in serious legal trouble.

Sadly, there are some countries where the use of a VPN is illegal, but that has more to do with them wanting to keep a close eye on the online activities of their citizens and controlling what information they’ve access to.

Which VPNs are Legal to Use?

The legality of VPNs has little to do with the tools themselves but rather how they’re used and from where. These technologies enable you to route your traffic through an intermediary, which isn’t illegal in any way.

If something is illegal without a VPN (like downloading copyrighted content), chances are it will be illegal with it as well. On the other hand, VPNs are banned or restricted in some countries, including Iran, Russia, Turkey, Belarus, and China.

What Can Happen If You Use a VPN Illegally?

Though copyright infringement is illegal in most countries around the world, many people engage in it regardless. They believe they’re unlikely to face legal repercussions for their victimless crime, but that isn’t always the case. There have been instances where people were fined thousands of dollars for copyright violations, whereas some have also been given a prison sentence.

Some countries enforce restrictions on the use of VPN services, but the severity of violations varies from place to place. You could be jailed for using a VPN, or there might be no punishment whatsoever. However, that doesn’t mean one should break the law, as unethical as it may seem.

Other countries block VPN websites and apps, which means they have the technological capabilities to enforce this ban. Using a VPN in countries like these could be risky, so you must exercise caution.

Legitimate Uses of VPN

One common misconception when it comes to VPNs is that they’re only needed by nerds or individuals hiding in their basements and indulging in some sort of unlawful activity. However, nothing could be further from the truth. As with any invention or creation, nothing is inherently bad. It’s just about how people use it.

Here Are Some Popular Uses of a VPN

Secure P2P File Sharing

Protect your original identity from snoopers and stay anonymous while receiving or sharing P2P files on the internet.

Evade Internet Censorship

Get around government censorship of the internet and gain access to blocked services and websites within seconds.

Protection on Public Wi-Fi

Safely use unsecured public Wi-Fi hotspots in restaurants, parks, and cafes on your device via bank-grade encryption.

Better Gaming

Access different servers to play in, buy games before they reach your country, and stop annoying lag and ping issues.

Stream More Content

Access unavailable streaming services like Prime Video, Netflix, Foxtel, and Hulu anywhere by switching your virtual location.

Travel for Less & Securely

Book hotels, flight tickets, and car rentals at the best prices and encrypt your internet connection while traveling overseas.

Bypass Bandwidth Throttling

Hide your online activities from ISPs and enjoy throttle-free gaming, streaming, browsing, and downloading.

Prevent DDoS Attacks

Stop DDoSers from targeting you with powerful DDoS attacks and ultimately making you a part of their botnet.

Unrestricted Crypto Trading

Unlock inaccessible crypto exchanges from anywhere by getting an IP address from a country where they’re available.

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Countries Where VPNs Are Illegal

The following countries frown upon the use of VPNs and have instituted either a partial or complete ban on them:

NORTH KOREA Is VPN Legal in North Korea? No

North Korea has its own intranet for citizens, while true Internet access is only reserved for high-level officials. So VPNs are banned in the country, though foreigners may be permitted to use these tools.

IRAQ Is VPN Legal in Iraq? No

For Iraqi citizens, Internet censorship is an inevitable part of their lives. In a bid to stop the extremist militant group ISIS and monitor every Internet user, the government has banned VPNs outright.

BELARUS Is VPN Legal in Belarus? No

Following the footsteps of China and Russia, Belarus has also banned VPNs and Tor as part of their efforts to prevent citizens from using anonymizing tools to access blacklisted websites.

OMAN Is VPN Legal in Oman? No

The government of Oman actively censors the Internet, and while VPNs aren’t exactly illegal for public and private institutions, the use of these services is prohibited for individuals.

CHINA Is VPN Legal in China? No

To prevent citizens from circumventing the Great Firewall, all unauthorized VPNs have been banned in China. In fact, VPN providers have to be officially licensed by the government in order to operate in the country.

TURKMENISTAN Is VPN Legal in Turkmenistan? No

Turkmenistan has only one government-controlled ISP which makes surveillance and blocking an easier exercise. Attempts to use VPNs and proxies to get around Internet censorship in the country are blocked and can lead to serious consequences.

RUSSIA Is VPN Legal in Russia? No

Russia’s new regulations require VPN providers to register with the authorities and block access to blacklisted websites. Moreover, users have to pay hefty fines if they’re caught using non-government sanctioned VPNs.

UNITED ARAB EMIRATES Is VPN Legal in UAE? No

One of the few countries with laws related to VPN usage, the UAE passed a new law that states VPN users could be jailed and fined up to $500,000 if they’re found committing a crime. Institutions, banks, and companies, however, can use VPNs freely.

IRAN Is VPN Legal in Iran? No

Iran has enacted a strict law regarding VPN use which forbids citizens from using VPNs that aren’t government sanctioned. Failure to comply with this law can result in a prison sentence of 91 days or up to one year. Iranian government officials, though, don’t have much regard for their own censorship laws and continue to use these tools.

TURKEY Is VPN Legal in Turkey? No

Since the Internet is heavily censored in Turkey, the use of VPNs to access social media networks like Twitter, WhatsApp, and Facebook is popular amongst citizens. However, Tor along with certain VPN providers are blocked in the country in order to prevent circumvention of government censorship.

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Countries Where VPNs Are Legal

The following countries have no laws that prohibit the use of VPNs and their citizens can use them without having to worry about any legal repercussions:

Wrapping Things Up

Since VPNs are powerful tools that you can use for both good and bad purposes, their legality can be confusing. This, coupled with the fact that every country has slightly different rules on VPN usage, only adds more to the confusion.

In most parts of the world, standard VPN uses are legal. However, it’s always a good idea to check whether or not there are restrictions in your country before engaging in any potentially questionable activities.

Similarly, you must check if you’re not violating any terms of use agreement if you don’t want an account suspension. Lastly, remember: anything that’s illegal without a VPN is illegal with a VPN, as well.

Frequently Asked Questions

Nope. One of the main benefits of a VPN is accessing geo-restricted content from other countries. This enables you to watch Netflix’s US library or stream BBC iPlayer from anywhere in the world. While using a VPN for such purposes is generally legal, it may violate the terms of use of the streaming service, which can result in your account getting closed or restricted.

The use of VPNs is banned in a handful of countries across the world, such as Russia and China. If you connect to a VPN in these places, you could face jail time or hefty fines. Therefore, it’s best to avoid using VPNs in such countries as the risk of legal repercussions is high.

It depends on what your needs are. If you’re concerned about your privacy on the internet, then using a VPN can help. Similarly, if you’re looking to bypass geo-restrictions on streaming services or access censored apps and services, a VPN proves quite useful.

It depends on your jurisdiction. If you’re accessing blocked content on your school or work network, you probably won’t face any legal troubles. In most countries, blocked content can generally be divided into two categories, namely geo-blocked content, and government-blocked illegal content.

It’s typically permissible to access content that falls in the first category, but you may still have to face repercussions like canceled streaming service subscriptions. On the other hand, accessing illegal content blocked by your government is, of course, illegal.

Absolutely not. Nobody can track live, encrypted VPN traffic, including the police. However, they can go to your ISP and request usage or connection logs with a court order. Given that your ISP knows when you’re using a VPN, they can direct the authorities to them.

A warrant canary is basically a statement by VPN providers that they’ve not received any letter, warrant, or subpoena for disclosing private user data. If and when they do, the VPN service has to remove the warrant canary from its site.