Iran is notorious for censorship, and it only gets worse when we talk about online censorship. The Iranian constitution is vague enough to enforce strict censorship laws on both traditional and digital media. In turn, almost half of the top-visited websites worldwide are blocked, including YouTube, Facebook, Netflix, and the list goes on.
VPN is the best way to access censored websites and online services in Iran.
A VPN will be useful not only to beat censorship, but to prevent your ISP (and the government) from spying on you as well. Unfortunately, this also means most VPNs are banned in Iran and don’t work.
To help you out, we have selected some of the best VPNs for Iran. These tools will keep you informed, as well as protected.
NordLynx, OpenVPN, IKEv2
- CyberSec technology designed to block malware
- Double VPN routes your traffic through two separate VPN servers
- Anonymous payment available
- No router app
NordVPN maintains 5400+ servers in 59 different countries, and the number is always expanding. This allows a very speedy connection, which is important if you’re looking for the best VPN for Iran.
Of course, the major NordVPN selling point is its security features. You get next-gen encryption with OpenVPN, IKEv2, and their proprietary NordLynx protocols. Their no logs policy was independently audited by PricewaterhouseCoopers AG – one of the most respected accounting firms in the world. This means that with NordVPN, you can browse in complete secrecy.
Not only will your browsing be more secure, but you will also have many more ways to use the internet. This service removes all restrictions put in place by your ISP. You will be able to use social media and read the free press in no time. It also unblocks Netflix, Disney+, BBC iPlayer, and others.
Although the service doesn’t have a free trial, it does have a 30-day money-back guarantee, so you still can try NordVPN with no risk.
For a deeper investigation of NordVPN, read our NordVPN review.
2. Surfshark VPN
WireGuard, OpenVPN, IKEv2
- CleanWeb blocks ads and malware
- Unlimited simultaneous connections
- Private DNS on each server
- Weak self-help support section
Surfshark is a relatively new provider, but constantly outperforming market leaders means it lands on our best VPN for Iran list. Registered in the British Virgin Islands and far away from surveillance alliances, it provides private browsing no matter where you live.
This is achieved by using unbreakable AES-256 encryption, a reliable kill switch, and powerful anti-censorship features in the form of Camouflage Mode and No Borders Mode. There’s also a selection of tunneling protocols like OpenVPN, IKEv2, and Shadowsocks. No service out there has tighter security.
The speeds are also fast enough to stream Netflix, Hulu, and BBC iPlayer comfortably. Surfshark has an excellent track record of being capable of unblocking sites when many other premium VPNs struggle. This will enable you to overcome strict internet blocks imposed by the government.
You can try Surfshark out for seven days if you download the app on your smartphone from the iOS App Store or Google Play Store, both of which work in Iran.
For a deeper investigation of Surfshark VPN, read our Surfshark VPN review.
OpenVPN, IKEv2, L2TP/IPSec, PPTP
- Great security features
- High-quality network internet capacity
- 7-day free trial
- macOS and iOS apps have fewer features
PrivateVPN may lack some of the features that most of its competitors have, but it has a lot of strengths, too. Despite being a service with one of the smallest server fleets, it offers breakneck connection speeds. This service is worth being on our best VPN for Iran list for this fact alone, but there’s more to it.
The connections aren’t just fast – they’re also very secure. Great security features like IPv6 leak protection, DNS leak protection, and a kill switch are crucial for users in Iran. This line of defense makes sure no one will ever find out which websites you are browsing. This protection is enhanced by Stealth Mode, which hides the fact you’re using a VPN in the first place.
PrivateVPN is also good against geo-blocking. You can use it to watch Netflix, Hulu, and other media streaming platforms. With one subscription, you can protect up to 6 devices. This is great if you need a VPN for your whole household or small business.
The pricing is very reasonable – you can get PrivateVPN for as low as $1.89/month. The service includes 24/7 live chat, so you won’t be left on your own should any problems arise.
For a deeper investigation of PrivateVPN, read our PrivateVPN review.
OpenVPN, IKEv2, L2TP/IPSec, Chameleon
- Strict no-logs policy
- Zero-knowledge VyprDNS service
- A powerful kill switch
- No anonymous payments
VyprVPN recently changed its management and completed an independent audit of its no-logging policy. The review confirmed that no logs of customer data are being kept. You can be sure that VyprVPN will treat your privacy as a priority.
The high level of quality doesn’t end there; the VyprVPN team is one of the few services that maintain their server network without third-party providers. All 700+ servers in 70+ countries are owned by Golden Frog – the company behind VyprVPN.
In addition to offering more or less standard tunneling protocols, VyprVPN also has Chameleon 2.0. This protocol cloaks your data packets under an extra layer, making sure that metadata stays hidden. This disables deep packet inspection and allows the VPN to function in countries like Iran or China.
With VyprVPN, you can effortlessly break through walls of censorship.. You can test VyprVPN for yourself with their generous 30-day money-back guarantee.
For a deeper investigation of VyprVPN, read our VyprVPN review.
OpenVPN, IKEv2, L2TP/IPSec, PPTP, SSTP
- IPv6 leak protection
- Secure P2P
- Unlimited bandwidth
- Weak kill switch
PureVPN maintains a network of 2000+ servers in 140+ countries all over the world. The service has a long list of features that will ensure that your privacy stays safe.
With no extra charge, you get a malware shield, bundled-in DNS filters, and a kill switch. It’s a nice set of features that will help you to stay secure and anonymous. PureVPN has military-grade encryption and a choice of secure tunneling protocols, such as OpenVPN (TCP/UDP), SSTP, and IKEv2.
This service is a great anti-censorship tool, as well as a capable way to bypass geo-blocking. Currently, you can try PureVPN for just $1.32/month.
For a deeper investigation of PureVPN, read our PureVPN review.
Is it safe to use a VPN in Iran?
You should always take extra precautions when using a VPN in highly restrictive countries like Iran. As of writing this article, Iran has all non-government-approved VPNs banned. Needless to say, you should avoid local Iranian VPNs at all cost. The only reason why they can be sold is they will send your data to the government. Always stick to trusted and independently audited providers.
You should be cautious regardless of whether you’re using a VPN – no one can be certain what measures the Iranian government may take to control public discourse.
Why do you need a VPN in Iran?
Last year’s Freedom House ranked Iran at 15 on a scale of 0 (least free) to 100 (most free). Authorities restrict access to most foreign websites, particularly those of the free press, human rights organizations, ethnic and religious groups. Websites are blocked if they oppose the state doctrine on Islam.
In October 2018, it was announced that approximately 75,000 people had been arrested for online activities. In most cases, this has to do more with people who criticize the government online.
Such circumstances make using a VPN essential for accessing free information, as well as for protection.
How to choose a VPN for Iran?
When choosing a VPN for Iran, you should make a very calculated decision. Due to strict censorship, the government’s views on VPNs may become more severe than it already is. Therefore, when choosing the best VPN for Iran, you should look for the following:
- Security: Military-grade AES 256-bit cipher, secure tunneling protocols, and a strict no-logs policy are essential if you’re using a VPN in a restrictive country. The same goes for features like the kill switch, DNS leak protection, and obfuscation technology. Your priority #1 is to be safe, and everything else comes after.
- Anonymous payment options: you should always pay for your VPN subscription using anonymous payment methods, such as gift cards or cryptocurrencies. This is the only way to remain truly anonymous.
- Performance: Having a fast connection is always important. What’s the use of being able to access websites if they’re so slow you can’t handle it?
Some of these suggestions might seem like overkill, but sometimes it’s better to be safe than sorry.
Can I use a free VPN in Iran?
It’s important to note that you generally get what you pay for when opting for a free VPN service. These companies cannot be trusted with your online security and identity.
Since no money is changing hands with this kind of VPN, providers keep their servers online by advertising, which often means your data will be collected and sent to third-parties. This might be especially dangerous if that data gets sold back to the Iranian government.
Additionally, many free VPNs have security holes to be exploited by hackers, so your data is rarely ever safe.
How does Iran censor the internet?
As with the free press, Iran censors free internet access for all its users. This is how the government does it:
- IP and DNS blocking: These are fairly simple measures for restricting “illegal” content on the web. It involves a blacklist of known IPs and keywords (for blocking at the DNS level). This is the first reason why you need a VPN to access the content.
- Deep Packet Inspection (DPI): Designed to block VPN use and filter network communications based on keywords in the content. To circumvent DPI, your VPN will have to have a stealth mode to disguise the VPN traffic.
- Punishments. This is pretty self-explanatory – unauthorized online activities can lead to fines, arrests, and worse.
You can read about all of these methods in detail in our What is internet censorship? article.
What is blocked on the Iranian internet?
Iran is a very connected state. It has approximately 82 million residents and at least 64% of them have internet access. However, all social media websites, international news outlets, and non-state-approved entertainment websites are blocked.
In response to the Iranian fuel protests in 2019, an internet shutdown was sanctioned by the government. This reduced internet traffic to only 5% of normal usage. It’s one of the few cases when restrictions of such scope even occurred. Using a VPN is the only way to circumvent blocks and use the free internet in Iran.
If you’re in Iran, which of these VPNs have you used before? Did we miss any great VPNs for Iran? Let us know in the comments below.