How to Access TikTok in Countries That Banned It

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Summary: Using TikTok in Countries Where the App is Banned

TikTok was banned in India because the country believes the app is a threat to its national security and the privacy of its citizens. TikTok is a Chinese-owned company, which has caused concern for people who are worried their information will end up in the hands of the Chinese government.

Many countries are considering censoring or banning the app because of these concerns. Even if you live in a country that has banned TikTok, you can still download the app or access the video-sharing platform via the web. There are three ways to do so:

  1. Use a VPN to change your location and access TikTok on a web browser (mobile or PC).
  2. Change the App Store Location Settings on your iOS device and download the app.
  3. Wipe your phone and then sideload the APK file on your Android device.

Internet Service Providers (ISPs) in banned countries will still block the app and website. So the VPN we recommend using to access TikTok is NordVPN:

Read our full article below to learn more about TikTok bans and how to get around them.

Since June of 2020, the TikTok app has been banned in India. According to the Indian government, the reason for the ban is to protect the data and privacy of its citizens. In the same year, the United States also considered banning the app due to national security concerns.

This article will explain how to use TikTok in India and other countries that have banned or partially restricted access to it. This involves using a VPN and doing a few tweaks on your mobile device. Keep reading below for all the details.


What is TikTok?

Logo TikTokThe TikTok app is a video-sharing social network where users can upload their own videos through their phones. These videos are sorted into different categories for people to browse through and interact with.

TikTok is owned by the Beijing-based internet technology company ByteDance, which was founded in 2012. After merging with Musical.ly in August of 2018, TikTok became available worldwide. It now has offices around the world and has quickly gained popularity, garnering over 1 billion users in less than four years.

Among its users are well-known names like Dwayne Johnson, Will Smith, Kylie Jenner, Jimmy Fallon, and more. The app has also given rise to TikTok celebrities, such as Khabane Lame, Zach King, Loren Gray, and Charli D’Amelio.


Why Are Some Countries Banning TikTok?

India and other countries banned TikTok due to privacy risks and its suspected connections to the Chinese government. The concern comes from the assumed inability of Chinese companies to refuse Communist Party requests for their user data.

While TikTok denies that the data from this app is shared with Chinese authorities, many countries are suspicious of it and have imparted partial or complete bans on the app.

Here’s a list of the current status of countries that have banned TikTok.

LocationBanned StatusReason
IndiaBanned since June 2020Data security threat
RussiaRestricted since Feb 2022War in Ukraine
IndonesiaCensoredInappropriate content
BangladeshCensoredInappropriate content
AustraliaNot currently banned
European UnionNot currently banned
United StatesNot currently banned

Is Tiktok banned in India?

TikTok Logo in front of India on mapTiktok in India was one of 59 Chinese apps that were banned following a border dispute between China and India.

Indian authorities declared the app a danger to the country’s security and integrity on account of the user data it collects.

According to The Economic Times, India’s Ministry of Information Technology made the following statement:

The compilation of these data, its mining and profiling by elements hostile to national security and defense of India, which ultimately impinges upon the sovereignty and integrity of India, is a matter of very deep and immediate concern which requires emergency measures.

With an estimated 120 million users in India, the country was TikTok’s largest foreign market. Not surprisingly, many of these users want to know how to use TikTok in India despite the continued ban. Fortunately, there are workarounds as we will discuss below.

Current status TikTok in India: Banned

Is TikTok banned in Russia?

Most social media apps such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter are banned in Russia but TikTok is still available. Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, TikTok has banned all new and non-Russian content on the app, meaning that Russian users can only see old videos uploaded by Russia-based accounts. However, you can use a VPN to unblock full access to TikTok in Russia.

Current status TikTok in Russia: New uploads and non-Russian content banned

Is TikTok banned in the USA?

TikTok Logo in front of USA on mapIn 2020, President Trump threatened to ban TikTok due to concerns about data mining. The app was banned on US government phones.

However, TikTok stated that all U.S. data is stored in the U.S. and therefore isn’t subject to Chinese law. So, eventually, the app was never banned in the States.

Current status TikTok in the USA: Not banned

Is TikTok banned in Indonesia?

While TikTok was banned in Indonesia for a week back in 2018, that ban was lifted once the company agreed to censor some of its content. The reason for the ban were concerns about pornography, inappropriate content, and blasphemy.

Current status TikTok in Indonesia: Censored

Is TikTok banned in Bangladesh?

After being banned for a short time in Bangladesh, TikTok is now active again in the country with some censorship in place. This censorship includes the removal of ten videos after objections from the government. Officials from Bangladesh have stated they have no further plans to ban the app.

Current status TikTok in Bangladesh: Censored

Is TikTok banned in Australia?

The government of Australia considered banning the TikTok app in 2020 due to its ties to China. However, it did not implement a ban but cautions citizens about using the app.
Current status TikTok in Australia: Not banned

Is TikTok banned in the European Union?

TikTok Logo in front of European Union on mapAs with Australia, TikTok isn’t banned in the European Union, but it is under scrutiny from data protection groups who started looking into the privacy policy of the app in July of 2020. These concerns from the European Union are the same as those from other nations when it comes to user information and how it’s recorded and used.

Current status TikTok in European Union: Not banned


What is TikTok’s Response to These Concerns?

The company behind TikTok has responded to the questions about data and security by stating that the Chinese government doesn’t have access to the information gathered by the app. The company’s India head, Nikhil Gandhi said the following in a blog post:

We have not shared any information of our users in India with any foreign governments, nor have we used such data in any manner that would compromise the integrity of India. Further, even if we are requested to in the future, we would not do so.

TikTok also called out the Trump administration’s claim that the app is a security threat, claiming that the accusations are unfounded.


How to Use TikTok in a Country That Banned it

Get around censorship iconPreviously existing TikTok users could access their own content in banned countries, provided they had the app installed on their phones before the ban. However, they’ve since reported problems being unable to use old versions without the ability to update to newer versions.

New users can no longer download the TikTok app through traditional app stores in countries where they’re banned. ISPs in those countries have been ordered to block TikTok downloads.

Nonetheless, there are still ways you can use TikTok in India or anywhere else where it’s banned. We’ll start with the easiest way — skipping the app altogether, and using a VPN and browser.

Step by step guide: Download a VPN and access TikTok

Though you won’t be able to use the app itself, accessing the TikTok’s web version is the easiest way.

  1. If you need a pick for using TikTok, we recommend NordVPN.
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  3. Download the VPN software onto your device. NordVPN works on popular operating systems such as Windows, MacOS, Android, and iOS. You can go through the website directly, or through app stores.
  4. Log in to the app and connect to a server where TikTok isn’t banned or censored, such as EU countries, the United States, or Australia.
  5. Once you’ve got your VPN connected to a TikTok-friendly country, just navigate to TikTok’s website. From here you can log into your existing account or sign up for a new one. Just remember you’ll need to do this from a browser like Chrome or Safari, whether on mobile or PC.

How to download and install TikTok on iPhone (or iPad)

People using Apple iOS devices will find it relatively easy to download the TikTok app since they can make some simple tweaks within the App Store. If you have an iPhone or iPad and live in a country that has banned TikTok, you’ll need to follow these steps to get the app working on your phone:

  1. Open the App Store and click on your profile picture on the right of the screen.
  2. Screenshot of iPhone, App Store
  3. Tap your name and email from the account settings.
  4. Screenshot of iPhone, App Store Account settings
  5. Choose “Country/Region” and tap the “Change Country or Region” button.
  6. Screenshot of iPhone, App Store Account settings
  7. Scroll down the different options and choose a country that hasn’t banned the app.
  8. Screenshot of iPhone, Country/Region
  9. Tap on “Agree” for the terms and conditions.
  10. Screenshot of Apple Media Services Terms and Conditions
  11. Select the payment method “None” and enter an address in the country of your choice in the billing address section.
  12. Screenshot of iPhone, App Store Payment method
  13. Tap “Next” and then “Done“.

Now that your location in the App Store is updated, you should be able to find and install the TikTok app on your iPhone or iPad as usual. Once you’ve got your app downloaded, you can connect to a VPN server in a non-banned country and log in.

How to download and install TikTok on Android

Install TikTok on Android Mobile Phone

Google took the ban a step further by blocking hardware IDs for the Android OS in the Google Play Store. This means if you want to use the app on an Android phone, you’ll need to first factory reset your device. This reset will wipe your hardware ID.

If you use an Android phone, you can download and install TikTok on your device by getting the official APK file online.

Note that performing a factory reset erases all data and settings from your phone so make sure you have a backup. Then, follow the steps below.

  1. Go to “Settings” > “Security” and look for the option to “Install apps from external sources.”
  2. Screenshots of Android, Settings and More Settings
  3. Tap on Google Chrome or whichever browser you use.
  4. Screenshot of Android, Install apps from external sources
  5. Toggle on the switch for “Allow app installs.”
  6. Screenshot of Android, Allow app installs
  7. Now, open your browser and search for “TikTok APK.” Some reputable sources to find TikTok APK files include:
  8. Once the file is downloaded, open it and follow the on-screen instructions to install the app on your device.

Caution: Be sure to only download APK files from reputable sources such as those mentioned above. APK files are perfectly safe to use, as long as you get them from a reputable source and the file is actually what you’re trying to install.

The only drawback to using an APK file is that you’re downloading a specific version of the app. This means that, if there’s an update for TikTok, you’ll need to search for the latest APK file online to replace your current one rather than being able to update the app directly from the Play Store.

Why is TikTok Banned in Certain Countries?

It’s difficult to tell whether TikTok will remain banned in certain countries because each situation depends on the complicated politics of the region. For instance, the United States considered banning TikTok but this was never implemented. On the other hand, Pakistan has banned TikTok multiple times and then revoked the ban. India seems to be in a different situation and it looks like the ban will continue for the foreseeable future.

Other countries may decide to ban the app as well if they decide it’s a real security risk for its citizens. How long these bans stay in place, will most likely depend on the results of ongoing research and TikTok’s reaction to these concerns.


Best TikTok Alternatives in India

TikTok in India is banned but you may still use a good VPN to access its web application. However, this offers a rather limited experience, which is why you can switch to a full-fledged TikTok alternative. To start with, the most obvious choices are YouTube Shorts and Instagram Reels. Additionally, there are many homegrown short video apps that offer similar features to TikTok. We’ve listed two of the most popular ones available on both Android and iPhone.

MX TakaTak

MX TakaTak LogoMX TakaTak is an Indian video-sharing social app that gained popularity after the TikTok ban. It also doubles up as an incredible video editor, where you can shoot and edit videos online, apply filters, and more. It’s owned by the Bengaluru-based ShareChat.

Moj

Moj App LogoWith over 100 million downloads on the Play Store, Moj is an immensely popular short video app that’s been developed by an Indian company, Mohalla Tech Private Limited.


Best TikTok Alternatives in the United States

Even if your country has not banned TikTok yet, you may be concerned about its privacy practices. You can therefore consider these alternative apps listed below.

Triller

Triller app logoWith Triller, you can create and share videos using different filters and editing tools. Some of the popular uses of Triller include making music videos with their AI editing technology and creating dancing or lip-syncing videos. Triller has over 26 million users around the world with over 120 million downloads.

Lomotif

Lomotif app logoLomotif offers several features that TikTok doesn’t, such as the ability to create slideshows and use hyperlapse on videos. The app also lets you create collages and montages, edit together video clips, and add music. You can edit your videos using the built-in editor and add GIFs, emojis, stickers, and filters. Lomotif also has a community section where you can upload videos and find friends on the app. This app is available on Android and iOS.


What are the Risks of Using TikTok?

Country-wide bans of a seemingly innocent social media app don’t happen without reason. TikTok users face some real risks. These include security vulnerabilities that exist in some versions of the app. While these issues are often patched by TikTok, they do leave your device and the information on it vulnerable until the fix is available.

Another concern included the level of access the app needs to function. This includes the iOS 14 clipboard access that was used to flag users copying the same comment to multiple accounts on the same device. However, Apple has since removed the feature and fixed the problem.

Other nations surrounding TikTok include censorship in certain countries, dangerous internet challenges, blocked content, and the vulnerability of children using the app. For more information, you can read our article “The Privacy Risks of TikTok.”


How to Protect Yourself on TikTok

If you’d like to keep using TikTok while staying as safe as possible, there are some settings you can adjust within the app. Here are a few of them:

  • Switch to a private account.
  • Opt-out of personalized data.
  • Enable restricted mode.
  • Change the “allow others to find me” option.
  • Switch all safety settings to “Friends.”

While some of these setting changes come down to personal preference, parents should pay particular attention to these options so as to protect kids on TikTok. Fortunately, in August 2021, TikTok rolled out new privacy controls for teen users. The real-world effectiveness of these controls, however, is still debatable. Moreover, in 2022, TikTok made changes to its privacy policy that prevents users from opting out of personalized ads. The Italian Data Protection Authority has deemed this change unlawful as it does not comply with GDPR.


Conclusion

We hope this article has helped you learn how to use TikTok in India and other countries. In a nutshell, you can download the app through an APK file on Android devices or change your iOS App Store settings.

At the same time, however, it’s important to be mindful of the privacy risks when you use TikTok. Like other third-party apps, it has access to a great deal of data on your phone which is a major red flag. It’s always advisable to control the privacy settings mentioned above to have a safer experience. This is especially important when it comes to keeping children safe online.

Further, you should always use a VPN for greater anonymity and security online. Our top recommendation is NordVPN which offers all the features you need at an unbeatable price. You can also get a free trial before committing to investing in it.

TikTok Bans and How to Get Around Them: Frequently Asked Questions

Read some of our frequently asked questions below to learn more about TikTok and why it’s banned in some countries. Simply click on a question to read the answer.

Yes, you can still download TikTok on your phone by either changing your location settings on your iPhone or downloading the APK file on an Android phone. If you want to access the service, you’ll need a VPN.

TikTok comes with many privacy risks, as do other social media apps that connect you with a large community of users online. If you’re nervous about using TikTok on your phone or have a child interested in using TikTok, you can adjust your settings to protect your privacy.

TikTok is banned in several countries for different reasons. The ban in India is due to the country deciding the app and its data collection pose a threat to users’ and national security.

Other countries are investigating the app because of similar concerns. TikTok is also censored in certain parts of the world, because of videos that promote ideologies and ways of life that go against regulations in those countries.

Some of the best VPNs to use for TikTok include NordVPN, ExpressVPN, and Surfshark. These VPNs are available for your computer, as well as for iOS and Android devices.

Some features you should look for in a VPN provider include a strict no logging policy, a selection of high-quality server locations, responsive customer support, and unlimited bandwidth. Having some sort of money-back guarantee is also a nice option in case the VPN doesn’t work well for you.

Tech writer
Brad is a digital security and marketing specialist with years of hands-on experience working in the industry. He enjoys researching the unblocking and streaming capabilities of VPNs. When he's not working, Brad spends his time with his wife and young daughter. He enjoys reading, playing video games, and baking in his spare time.
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  1. I can’t download tik tok in App Store

    • Have you tried the methods described in our article? If you have an iPhone, you should be able to change your country within the App Store settings. On Android, you can download TikTok via an APK file instead. For more specific instructions, check out these step-by-step guides.

  2. Sorry this doesn’t work. Anyone who had tik Tok installed on their phones before the ban had their device id blocked. So the apk doesn’t work, you’ll only get a network error.

    • Hi Ren! We researched this, and found that doing a hard reset of your phone will help you get around this. This reset will delete get rid of the device ID, after which you can download TikTok using the method mentioned in the article. We’ve updated our main article to include this information.

  3. When I get started to use tiktok.. is always show me network error… What can I do about this…?

    • It depends on the exact error. If you try to connect with a VPN, maybe try a different server. Maybe one of our other readers knows what to do.

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