With the Iranian government once again cracking down on internet freedom, it’s important to stay safe online. In response to anti-regime protests, hundreds of news websites and social media sites are currently blocked by Iran’s authorities.
Against growing surveillance and data collection, a VPN can keep your private data secure and help you bypass censorship. To help you along, we’ve picked out the best VPNs for Iran:
- ExpressVPN: The best VPN for Iran overall
- NordVPN: High-level security for Iranian users
- CyberGhost: Virtual Iranian servers for an Iran IP
- Private Internet Access (PIA): The biggest server network for a low price
- Surfshark: A cheap option with unlimited connections
Our top choice is ExpressVPN, which still works in Iran, even against the government’s efforts to diminish VPN use. It’s a secure and reliable VPN that consistently bypasses internet restrictions.
With rising unrest in Iran, the safest way to get online is with a VPN (virtual private network). At the moment, Iranian citizens are facing widespread internet outages and extreme censorship.
Hundreds of websites, streaming platforms, and social media services have been banned in an ongoing crackdown on people’s freedom. In response to nationwide protests, surveillance has increased.
A VPN is a necessary tool to protect your online privacy and get access to information. We tested 25+ VPN services to see if they still work in Iran, specifically focusing on security. Below, you can find the top 5 best VPNs for Iran.
VPNs and Iran in 2022: Can I Still Use a VPN in Iran?
We’ve heard from several of our Iranian readers that it can be incredibly hard, if not impossible, to obtain a premium VPN in the country. International payment methods are blocked and VPN websites are inaccessible. There are different ways to go about this:
- Use a free VPN: If you find that you cannot pay for one of the premium VPNs listed below, a free VPN like ProtonVPN or PrivadoVPN can help. Do keep in mind that free VPNs tend to come with limitations.
- Use the Tor browser: Although it’s generally considered slightly less user-friendly than a VPN, the Tor browser can give you full access to the internet in Iran when you cannot get a VPN subscription. We generally recommend using a (free) VPN in combination with Tor.
- Get a premium VPN while abroad: If you know you’re headed to Iran, but aren’t within its borders yet, you can get a VPN subscription to ExpressVPN or one of our other top 5 Iran VPNs now. The moment you’re in Iran, simply activate the VPN (which you’ll already have paid for) and you’ll be able to enjoy internet freedom.
The rest of this article will go into more depth on all of these options.
The 5 Best VPNs for Iran in 2022
Censorship in Iran has been a threat to online freedom for years. But after the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini in September 2022, internet restrictions have reached new heights.
Popular services such as TikTok and Telegram are banned, and it’s nearly impossible to access independent news.
For protesters and activists, it’s important to stay safe in the face of police violence in the streets. Regrettably, the reach of Iran’s Guidance Patrol, or “morality police,” also extends to the internet.
To keep yourself safe, you need a VPN service with end-to-end encryption, DNS leak protection, and an automatic kill switch. These are non-negotiables, especially in a restriction-heavy country like Iran where VPN use is banned.
In the table below, you can compare the most important features of our top 5 best VPNs for Iran.
|Number of servers||3,000+||5,000+||7900+||33,000+||3,200+|
|Locations||94 countries||50 countries||91 countries||78 countries||99 countries|
|Protocols||OpenVPN, IKEv2, L2TP/IPsec, Lightway||OpenVPN, IKEv2, WireGuard||OpenVPN, IKEv2, WireGuard||OpenVPN, WireGuard, L2TP/IPsec, PPTP||OpenVPN, IKEv2, WireGuard|
|Price||From $6.67 a month||From $3.96 a month||From $2.29 a month||From $2.19 a month||From $2.21 a month|
|Purchase||Get ExpressVPN||Get NordVPN||Get CyberGhost||Get PIA||Get Surfshark|
Each of these VPNs has a 30-day money-back guarantee. If you’d like to see even more options for the best VPN for Iran, check out our complete overview of VPN reviews to find what you’re looking for.
1. ExpressVPN: Overall best VPN for Iran
- Lightning-fast speeds and excellent security
- Pay anonymously with cryptocurrency
- Stealth servers for censorship regions like Iran
- Protocols: OpenVPN (recommended), IKEv2, L2TP/IPsec, and Lightway
ExpressVPN is a global phenomenon in the VPN world, and with good reason! With over 3,000 servers across 94 countries, the provider has built a great reputation for itself over the years. ExpressVPN is one of the most secure and reliable VPN providers around. More important, it’s proven to work in censorship-heavy regions like Iran.
Based in the British Virgin Islands, ExpressVPN has a strict no-log policy, which means none of your private data is logged or stored. Considering the current political climate in Iran, it’s essential that your VPN keeps your data safe. Luckily, ExpressVPN uses the most secure VPN protocols around, including OpenVPN.
ExpressVPN doesn’t have Iranian servers, but the VPN is especially suited for accessing content that is restricted in Iran, including BBC News and social media platforms. The lack of local servers doesn’t go at the expense of your privacy. Thanks to the ExpressVPN stealth servers, internet service providers in Iran won’t be able to detect VPN use.
Ready to check it out? With a 30-day money-back guarantee, ExpressVPN lets you try their product for yourself.
- Very easy to use VPN
- Perfect for anonymous browsing, downloading, and streaming (i.e. Netflix)
- 3000+ servers in 94 countries
2. NordVPN: Premium Iran VPN with double encryption
- Specialized P2P servers
- Top-notch security
- Very affordable plans
- Protocols: OpenVPN (recommended), IKEv2, and WireGuard
NordVPN absolutely deserves its place among the best VPNs for Iran. It offers blazing speeds and a server network of over 5000 servers in 60+ countries. Moreover, it’s a very safe VPN for use in Iran that gives you plenty of value for your money!
Because of its excellent security features, NordVPN is one of the best VPNs for safety in Iran and around the world. It has all the safety features you can expect from a premium VPN, including obfuscated servers, DNS leak protection, and a multi-hop feature known as “Double VPN.” This allows you to route your VPN connection through two servers, adding another layer of anonymity.
When it comes to speed testing of NordVPN, it performs consistently well. Even if you find your internet connection lagging, the VPN has a fantastic split tunneling feature, although we’d advise users in Iran to be very careful with the traffic they choose not to be covered by the secure VPN connection. The software is very easy to use and there are apps available for all major operating systems, as well as Chrome and Firefox browser extensions. If you can’t download the VPN software because the App Store is blocked, you can always set it up manually, instead.
With one NordVPN account, you can have up to six simultaneous connections. It’s also possible to buy your VPN for Iran anonymously using cryptocurrency.
Again, there’s a 30-day money-back guarantee that allows you to test NordVPN for yourself. We also recommend NordVPN as one of the best VPNs for use in Venezuela and other restrictive regimes.
- Excellent protection and a large network of servers
- Nice and pleasing application
- No logs
3. CyberGhost: Secure VPN with virtual servers in Iran
- Easy-to-use and affordable VPN for users in Iran
- Great safety features and 24/7 live chat
- 45-day money-back guarantee
- Protocols: OpenVPN (recommended), IKEv2, and WireGuard
The advantage that CyberGhost holds over other top providers like Surfshark and NordVPN is that it has virtual servers in Iran. This means you can use an Iranian IP address in Iran while still protecting your connection. These IPs are registered in Iran while the physical servers are located in different countries.
CyberGhost is also one of the fastest VPNs you can get for local connections. This is a great benefit when you’re trying to stay up-to-date with fast-developing news updates and live streams in Iran. On top of that, CyberGhost’s speeds make it a great VPN for P2P traffic.
With CyberGhost, your data is secured with reliable, industry-standard encryption and a strict no-logs policy. Protocols include OpenVPN and WireGuard, which are both strong, excellent options. If you’re looking to use a VPN for Iran on your phone or tablet, CyberGhost has well-developed apps for iOS and Android. You can secure up to seven devices simultaneously with one subscription.
All premium safety features are offered, including an automatic kill switch, split tunneling option, and an ad blocker. With its 7,900 servers across 91 countries, CyberGhost also easily connects you to content from around the world. For citizens in Iran, being able to access independent information is essential at the moment.
You get all of this at an extremely affordable price of less than $3 a month for a two-year subscription. It’s a cheap VPN that’s ideal for heavily restricted countries like Iran. There’s even a 45-day money-back guarantee if you change your mind.
- Very user-friendly
- High quality for a low price
- Torrents and Netflix possible
4. Private Internet Access (PIA): Cheap VPN for Iran with a massive server network
- 33,000 servers across 70+ countries
- Very decently priced at a little over $2 a month
- Android app is ioXt-certified
- Protocols: OpenVPN, WireGuard, L2TP/IPsec, and PPTP
Private Internet Access, also known as PIA, is a very affordable VPN for Iran that unblocks content from all around the world. With a huge server network of over 33,000 servers, you’re guaranteed to get around censorship restrictions, but PIA has way more to offer.
This secure, no-log VPN has a strong focus on privacy. Protocols include OpenVPN and WireGuard, but also PPTP and L2TP/IPsec. On top of that, PIA sports all the necessary safety features you need in Iran, including a built-in kill switch for when your VPN connection drops, an ad blocker, and a useful browser extension.
This provider is one of the cheapest and best VPNs for Iran around. Although the prices may change depending on current deals, PIA offers the cheapest price out of all our top 5 Iran VPN options at the time of writing. If you’d like to stay as anonymous as possible, you can pay for your account using cryptocurrency.
PIA is located in the United States, which is part of the 5 Eyes alliance. This means that Private Internet Access could technically be forced to start monitoring data traffic by a court order. However, PIA is extremely committed to privacy: during our research on PIA, we found that the company processes data on a null drive, which automatically pretends that data it receives doesn’t exist.
If you want to learn more, check out Private Internet Access by clicking the button below.
- Strong focus on privacy and security
- Good price
- Fast and stable servers
5. Surfshark: Affordable VPN for Iran with unlimited connections
- Unlimited connections on a single subscription
- Obfuscated servers (Camouflage Mode)
- Budget VPN that’s very easy to use
- Protocols: OpenVPN, IKEv2, and WireGuard
Surfshark is just as affordable as CyberGhost and Private Internet Access but has the added advantage of allowing unlimited connections on a single subscription. If you want to secure all devices in your household for an affordable price, Surfshark is the best VPN.
With 3200+ servers in 65 countries, Surfshark gives you enough options to circumvent geo-restrictions in Iran. While there are no servers in Iran, Surfshark is one of the best VPNs when it comes to unblocking content. When we tested Surfshark, we managed to access everything from news channels to social media sites, as well as streaming services like Netflix.
Of course, Surfshark also keeps you safe online. It has a strict no-logs policy and supports OpenVPN, IKEv2, and Wireguard encryption protocols, which are all excellent and secure options. Add to that strong military-grade encryption, a kill switch, and DNS leak prevention, and you get complete online security.
For users in Iran, Surfshark offers Camouflage Mode, which disguises your VPN usage as normal internet traffic. If you want even more anonymity, use the MultiHop feature to run a secure connection through two VPN servers. These extra security features make Surfshark one of the best VPNs for use in Iran.
Surfshark can be installed on Windows, macOS, iOS, Android, Linux, Amazon Fire TV, and routers. It also has extensions for Google Chrome and Firefox browsers.
As one of the best budget VPNs, subscriptions with Surfshark are always affordable. There’s also a 30-day money-back guarantee in case you’re not satisfied.
- Very user-friendly and works with Netflix and torrents
- 30-day money-back guarantee. No questions asked!
- Cheap with many extra options
How We Picked the Best VPNs for Iran
When testing VPNs in highly-censored regions like Iran, it’s important to keep several factors in mind to make sure you don’t accidentally compromise your security. In selecting our top 5 best VPNs for Iran, we took the following VPN characteristics into account.
- The VPN should have a strict no-logs policy to ensure that your data is never leaked or shared with other parties. In a country like Iran, you don’t want any VPN logging your activity.
- The VPN should have servers in Iran or neighboring countries to ensure good connection speeds. At the moment, CyberGhost is the only trustworthy VPN with servers in Iran.
- The VPN should be capable of bypassing virtual geographical restrictions enforced by the Iranian government. This will help you access blocked websites, including news, blogs, and social media. VPNs with obfuscated servers or servers that are specifically designed for censorship-heavy regions are most reliable.
- The VPN should have robust security features, including AES 256-bit encryption, a kill switch, and leak protection.
Considering the way Iranian authorities limit people’s access to information, it’s essential to choose a VPN that will protect your privacy and online freedom at all times. This is why we’ve ensured that all the VPNs in this article score highly on these fronts.
Can I Use A Free VPN in Iran?
We don’t recommend the use of a free VPN in Iran. While you might be tempted by the option, keep in mind that free VPNs often come with various limitations.
- Limited servers: it’s unlikely that any free VPN has servers in Iran. Most of the time free providers only offer a few server locations.
- Bandwidth restrictions: most free VPNs will only allow you to use a couple of GBs of VPN traffic per month rather than unlimited bandwidth.
- Security vulnerabilities: free VPNs are not known for their excellent privacy and security features. In Iran, you don’t want to risk your data ending up with third parties, which is a significant risk that comes with a free service.
The biggest risk with using a free VPN is that they may log your data, and then sell it to the authorities. It’s risky, given the current political condition in Iran. We tested several free VPNs, but weren’t satisfied with most of them.
Considering the limitations, it’s safe to say that it’s better to pay for a premium VPN for Iran. However, in the current political climate, it can be difficult, and sometimes impossible, to access a VPN. On top of that, the Iranian government has blocked certain payment options.
Here, a free VPN can be really useful. You can use it to access paid VPN options, for example, or simply to give yourself basic protection when you’re unable to pay for a premium VPN due to blocks. For these reasons, we want to highlight two free VPNs for Iran to try, both of which offer ample protection.
1. ProtonVPN: best free VPN for Iran
If you’re looking for a free VPN with decent security features and unlimited bandwidth, we recommend the free version of ProtonVPN.
With ProtonVPN, you can encrypt your connection and prevent the Iranian government from monitoring your online activity. Unfortunately, it’s not the best VPN for unblocking content, since you can only connect to three server locations on the free plan (Japan, the United States, and the Netherlands). However, if your priority is to keep your data safe from prying eyes, it’s a good option.
ProtonVPN works on Windows, macOS, iOS, and Android, but free users can only have one running connection per account at a time. Want to know what else ProtonVPN offers, including in its premium version? You can read more in our full ProtonVPN review.
2. PrivadoVPN: many security features with a data cap
When it comes to bypassing censorship, the free version of PrivadoVPN offers more options than ProtonVPN. The biggest downside of this provider is that free users only get 10GB of VPN traffic per month.
PrivadoVPN offers fast speeds, zero logs, and access to a server network in 12 cities. You can unblock social media and other blocked sites as well as stream Netflix, YouTube, and other services. Moreover, PrivadoVPN supports P2P file sharing, which is hard to find in other free VPNs.
This VPN comes with necessary safety features, including a kill switch and leak prevention. PrivadoVPN works on Windows, macOS, iOS, Android, and Android TV. For more information on the paid version of this provider, you can have a look at our PrivadoVPN review.
Why Do I Need a VPN in Iran?
At the moment, the internet in Iran is heavily affected by censorship. News websites and social media are frequently blocked for the sake of “national security.” From time to time, the Iranian government also uses internet shutdowns as a tool of oppression in response to protests.
Since anti-regime demonstrations have sparked on social media as much as they have in the streets, with protest hashtags and viral videos, the Iranian Guidance Patrol has started blocking apps that were previously available, such as Instagram and WhatsApp.
Besides these limitations on access to information, Iranian authorities have upped their surveillance tactics to keep people under control. In order to stay safe online and stay informed on current affairs by independent sources, Iranians have taken to online circumvention tools, including proxies and virtual private networks (VPNs).
A VPN encrypts your data traffic and keeps it safe from the prying eyes of authorities. On top of that, you can use a VPN to get access to online content that is otherwise blocked in your region. For users in Iran, it also helps that most premium VPNs have special technology that blocks spyware.
At the moment, the Iranian government is pushing back against VPN use. This can make it challenging to access a VPN provider’s website and download the right software. Scroll down to learn how to deal with this.
Are VPNs Legal in Iran?
No, VPN use is banned in Iran. The recent “Protection Bill” has placed all internet usage and infrastructure under the control of security authorities and armed forces.
The government has made it illegal to use and distribute VPNs and proxy services. On top of that, it forces people to use their legal identities to sign up for online services.
As advocates for internet freedom, we don’t support the criminalization of VPN services. At the same time, we’d like to remind users to stay cautious when purchasing or using a VPN in Iran. To the best of your abilities, remain anonymous while signing up and take safety measures when purchasing your VPN.
How to Set Up a VPN in Iran
Downloading and installing a VPN is pretty straightforward. For each VPN, the steps are more or less the same. Here’s an overview of the installation process:
- Go to your chosen VPN provider’s website and purchase a subscription. Most VPN providers have a sign-up button displayed on the homepage.
- Download the VPN app* for your device from the website.
- Open the downloaded file to install the VPN software. Just follow the instructions on-screen and you’ll be set in a few minutes.
- Open the VPN client and log in using the credentials you used to sign up for a subscription.
- Choose a VPN server from the available list and click the “Connect” button to establish a secure VPN connection.
- Once connected, your IP address will change to one assigned by the VPN and you can browse the net anonymously.
* Several of our readers have notified us that the App Store and Google Play Store might be unavailable in (parts of) Iran. If you can’t download the VPN app of your chosen VPN provider as a result of this, you can still use a VPN. You will, however, have to set it up manually. We have detailed guides on how to set up a VPN on iPhone and iPad, as well as how to manually install a VPN on Android.
Your Iran VPN Doesn’t Work? Try This!
The Iranian authorities are fighting back against VPN use. On top of that, they use Deep Packet Inspection software to intercept and block VPN traffic. Here’s what you can do to get around online censorship if your VPN doesn’t work or you can’t access it.
The Tor browser
The Tor browser is an encrypted browser that routes your data traffic through multiple connection points (nodes). As a result, your connection is anonymized. The Tor browser is often used by bloggers, activists, and journalists in areas with internet restrictions and high surveillance.
You can use Tor to browse the web, without the Iranian government being able to trace your activity back to you. You can also use Tor to navigate to the VPN website you’re trying to reach.
The Opera browser has a free, built-in VPN. While the VPN itself is not sufficient to stay completely safe online, you can use Opera VPN to access a premium provider’s website and download a reliable VPN service that way.
Several browser extensions are designed to give you access to blocked content:
Especially for social media content, these extensions can be very useful!
Alternative app stores
Are the Google Play Store and the App Store currently unavailable in Iran? There are a few alternative options you can try:
- Get your VPN download from Softpedia. This platform compiles all sorts of software that is directly available for installation, including VPN downloads. Just scroll down to your preferred VPN and start the installation process.
- Try an alternative App Store, such as TutuApp. This alternative app store has VPNs available for download, including premium ones like NordVPN. However, make sure you only download trustworthy apps, or you might accidentally download malware!
- Try an alternative Google Play Store, like AppBrain. This platform has many VPNs available, from premium ones to free options. Just use the search bar to find what you’re looking for, but make sure you only download trustworthy apps!
If you’d like to see more options for circumventing censorship, check out these 12 ways to bypass internet restrictions.
VPNs to Avoid
Finally, to give you a complete picture of which VPNs are most suitable for Iran, we’ve included a list of VPNs to avoid. Whether it’s due to incompatibilities with major operating systems or vulnerabilities in the software, we want to make sure you know which VPNs to skip.
|VPN Provider||Why You Should Avoid It|
|Speedify VPN||Terrible speeds and questionable logging policy|
|Hola VPN||Logs all your data and is not a real VPN|
|Google One VPN||Expensive and connected to Google (not good for privacy)|
If you’re going to use a VPN in Iran, you’re better off with one of the premium options mentioned at the top of the article.
Internet Censorship in Iran
The Iranian government continues to enforce blocks on news media, social networks, blogging platforms, and messaging apps. While there is an official ban on the use of VPNs and proxy services, the oppressive regime leaves people no choice but to fall back on circumvention tools.
- ExpressVPN: The overall best VPN for Iran
- NordVPN: A premium Iran VPN with excellent security
- CyberGhost: The best VPN with virtual servers in Iran
- Private Internet Access (PIA): The VPN with the largest server network
- Surfshark: A secure VPN with unlimited connections
If you can’t download or install the VPN of your choice, you can always set it up manually or use a different unblocking strategy. The Tor browser, alternative app stores, or special browser extensions might be able to help you out. However, make sure that your safety always comes first!
Got a question about the best VPNs for Iran? Check out our FAQ section below. Just click a question to view the answer.
The best VPN for Iran is CyberGhost because it has the advantage of virtual servers in Iran. This means you can get an Iranian IP address while still being able to access blocked websites like Facebook in Iran. It also has lots of security and privacy features at a super affordable price. Other good options are Surfshark and NordVPN.
PrivadoVPN is one of the best free VPNs that work in Iran and can help you access blocked sites like Facebook, YouTube, and Netflix. It also keeps you safe and does not collect logs.
CyberGhost has 14 virtual servers in Tehran, Iran. This makes it one of the best VPNs for Iran as you can bypass censorship while still having an Iranian IP address. Read our full CyberGhost review for more details.
Yes, Surfshark works well in Iran with high speeds and security. It does not have any servers in Iran but even distant servers offer great speed. At the same time, it boasts great safety and privacy features at an affordable price. Read our full Surfshark review for more details.