5 Best Iran VPN services in 2020

Due to strict censorship in Iran, VPN services are a staple for internet users. A VPN will prevent the government, ISPs, and hackers from snooping on your internet activity. They will also help you to unblock content that is censored by the Iranian state. However, not all VPNs are suitable for the task. In this guide, we recommend five VPNs for Iran and give you some helpful tips on staying secure online both in Iran and other countries that enact high censorship levels. 

 

If you are new to VPNs and online privacy in general, and you want to find out more information on the topic, then take a look at the guides listed below:

  • What is a VPN - In this guide, we cover everything you need to know about VPNs as a beginner, take a look at VPN beginners guide to find out more information.
  • Guide to Online privacy - This guide covers everything about online privacy, so, if you need more information about how to secure online check it out.
  • Secure browsers - Make sure you stay secure on the web with a secure browser, in this guide we list several recommendations for secure browsers.
  • Secure messenger apps- As the Iranian government has blocked telegram along with other messaging apps, you may want some alternatives. In this guide, we list the best-encrypted messenger Apps so you can stay in touch with people securely.

Top 5 VPNs to use in Iran

In the list below, we have called out the attributes that make each of these VPNs the best for Iran. Due to the current situation in the country it is vital you take time to choose a secure service, so if you need any more information about any of the VPNs listed below, either click through to the VPNs website or check out our detailed VPN reviews.

  1. ExpressVPN - A fast VPN | Stealth servers for bypassing blocks | Servers in 94 Countries
  2. Surfshark - Cheap and reliable | Obfuscated servers | Servers in over 60 countries
  3. VyprVPN - Lightning fast | Apps for all platforms | Excellent privacy features
  4. IPVanish - XOR encryption for stealth | Owns own CDN network | No logs | Up to 10 devices at once
  5. AirVPN - VPN over SSL | VPN over Tor | No logs | Tech wizards

For more information, we have looked at our five recommended Iran VPN services in more detail below.

 

The best VPN for Iran

Our experts have listed the best VPNs for Iran below. We have chosen these services because they have fantastic privacy and security features, fast servers, and come at an affordable price. All the services below also offer a VPN free trial or a money-back guarantee so you can try the services for free before committing to a contract. If you want to find more information about the services below, click through to the VPNs website or scroll below the list for a summary of each service.

1. ExpressVPN

ExpressVPN is consistently fast and has stealth servers to help you bypass blocks

  • Pricing

    From $6.67 - $12.95
  • Available on

    • Windows
    • macOS
    • iOS
    • Android
    • Linux
  • Unblocks

    • Netflix
    • iPlayer

ExpressVPN is one of the best VPN for Iran for several reasons. Firstly, it has very strong encryption and an excellent privacy policy. Next, it has all the necessary features to keep your data secure: a kill switch, Domain Name System (DNS) leak protection, and stealth mode (for bypassing government VPN restrictions). Servers are located all over the world and those servers are lightning fast, so perfect for streaming in HD or gaming.

Peer-to-peer (P2P) torrenting is permitted and this VPN will also keep you secure when you are on public WiFi. The software is available for all platforms, can be used on three simultaneous devices, and is extremely easy to use. Finally, ExpressVPN offers a 30-day money-back guarantee so that you can test the service risk-free.

2. Surfshark

Surfshark provides reliability and privacy as well as the obfuscation needed in Iran

  • Pricing

    From $1.94 - $11.95
  • Available on

    • Windows
    • macOS
    • iOS
    • Android
    • Linux
  • Unblocks

    • Netflix
    • iPlayer

Surfshark is based in the British Virgin Islands and it is a great option for anybody living in Iran who wants to bypass censorship and access more content. Servers are located in over 60 countries, which means that you can easily pretend to be elsewhere to access restricted news or services.


What's more, because Surfshark is cheap - it is an extremely affordable way to bypass government restrictions. And, despite offering value for money, this VPN provides all the most important privacy features including a killswitch, DNS leak protection, cloaking, and strong OpenVPN encryption. It also keeps zero logs, which means that you can trust it to keep your data secure at all times. You can give Surfshark a test run thanks to its 30-day money back guarantee.

3. VyprVPN

VyprVPN is a watertight service that has all the privacy features you need in Iran

  • Pricing

    From $2.50 - $12.95
  • Available on

    • Windows
    • macOS
    • iOS
    • Android
    • Linux
  • Unblocks

    • Netflix
    • iPlayer

VyprVPN is a provider based in Switzerland that has proven itself to be extremely efficient at providing privacy for its users. Not only does it provide strong OpenVPN encryption, but is has a fantastic zero-logs policy that ensures it never holds any connection or usage logs about its subscribers. What's more, this is one of the few VPNs that has proven the effectiveness of its service with a full third party audit of its software and server network.


The apps are available for all platforms, and because they provide high end features like a killswitch, DNS lea protection, and cloaking, you can use this VPN safely to get around government restrictions imposed by Iranian ISPs. VyprVPN can easily bypass all censorship, and this top-of-the-range VPN provider can give you access to sought after content like Netflix US or BBC iPlayer. Finally, VyprVPN provides a 30-day money back guarantee for you to test the service risk free.

4. IPVanish

IPVanish has now added XOR servers to help evade censorship in TIran

  • Pricing

    From $3.70 - $10.00
  • Available on

    • Windows
    • macOS
    • iOS
    • Android
  • Unblocks

    • Netflix

IPVanish is a VPN that provides good value for money. It is fast and fully featured, with a kill switch and DNS leak protection. This VPN is no-frills compared to the ones above. However, the SOCKS5 option can be used to bypass VPN restrictions in Iran. Overall this VPN is great, and will certainly be good for those who want to stream. Finally, it has a seven-day money-back guarantee.

5. AirVPN

AirVPN offers some of the most advanced anti-censorship tech around

  • Pricing

    From $4.64 - $8.05
  • Available on

    • Windows
    • macOS
    • iOS
    • Android
    • Linux

AirVPN has excellent encryption and security. Features such as VPN through Tor and OpenVPN support are just a few reasons why AirVPN is an outstanding VPN service. The ProPrivacy.com Awards are recognized as the industry gold standard for determining outstanding achievement within the VPN sector. At this year's exclusive Las Vegas event, AirVPN won the best VPN for Privacy award. Keep reading this review to find out why AirVPN was crowned Best VPN for Privacy for the second year running!

AirVPN is an Italian VPN provider, which proudly boasts how it was setup by “hacktivists and activists” pays an almost unrivaled concern to maintaining users’ privacy. I will start this review by noting that after using it as my personal VPN service for around two years, I am a bigger fan than ever of AirVPN. It also employs excellent encryption and security measures, and offers fantastic privacy enhancing features (such as VPN over SSL and VPN through Tor). In my experience, AirVPN is also almost certainly the fastest and most stable VPN service I have ever used. 


Warning

The Iranian government is working hard to block VPNs and it could potentially use packet inspection to detect VPN users. Anybody found to be bypassing government blocks to access restricted content or to engage in the ongoing protests could potentially be singled out by the authorities. For this reason, we urge you to exercise extreme caution and to stick to using VPNs that provide all the vital privacy features mentioned in this article.

Iranian Protests

Over the last three years, Iranians have been engaging in regular protests due to growing unrest with the nation's economic situation. From April 2018, and right through 2020, the Iranian general strikes have seen thousands of people protesting against austerity, the high cost of expenses, and inflation in the country. 

During the shopkeepers, truckers, teachers, and Bazaar merchants have all been arrested for engaged in strikes - while protesters have taken to the streets to complain about the nation's economic, political, and social situation. 

The ongoing protests, which have often been met with force by the authorities have led to mass arrests of activists. Protests and strikes have spread throughout the country and have been seen in Sanandaj, Bukan, Saqqez, Marivan, Baneh, Miandoab, Tehran, Isfahan, Mashhad, Tabriz, and Chabahar. Those protests and strikes are heavily motivated by anti-government sentiment and by a stance that has led to chants like "death to oppressors - long live workers".

However, the motivation for the protests has shifted from time to time from purely economic, to anti-government. With antiwar sentiment and dissatisfaction about military force being used against Iranian Kurdistan taking center stage at times.

For protesters who fear being monitored by the government, VPNs and secure messengers have been providing the digital privacy necessary for workers to coordinate strikes and protests without fear of being constantly monitored. 

Is it safe to use a VPN in Iran?

The answer to this question is yes. However, it is very important to make sure you choose the right VPN for Iran. Firstly, it is vital that users don't use cheap local Iranian VPNs: these have been found to be honeypots belonging to the Iranian government. Please stick to VPN providers that are known to protect users' privacy. In addition, it is essential that a good VPN for Iran has certain features:

Important VPN features for Iran

Due to the unnerving political situation in Iran, citizens should exercise extreme caution when using a VPN. All of our recommended services have been carefully selected because they have the vital advanced VPN features necessary to keep your data and identity safe. If you need more information about how to stay secure online take a look at our VPN encryption guide. 

  1. VPN Kill Switch

    A Killswitch is a technology your internet connection if the VPN connection drops out, this is a vital feature if you are using a VPN in a country like Iran. A kill switch works by not allowing any internet traffic to leave your device outside of the VPN tunnel, therefore making it very difficult for the Iranian government to find out what you are doing online. All of the VPNs on this page offer a killswitch with their service.
  2. DNS Leak Protection

    The VPNs in this guide have been tested and they have no DNS leaks. In addition, they provide specific DNS leak protection: so please turn on this feature in order to get the maximum protection from your service.
  3. VPN Obfuscation Technology

    VPN "stealth mode" disguises VPN traffic as regular HTTPS traffic. This stops ISPs from knowing a VPN is being used. Concealing this information stops Iranian VPN users from drawing unnecessary attention to themselves and helps prevent ISPs from slowing your internet speeds.

Why do I need a VPN?

Iran severely restricts access to the Internet. Websites that are considered hostile to Shia Islam or Iran's regime are blocked by ISPs, and since 2013 a huge number of websites and services have been blacklisted.

 The good news is that with a Virtual Private Network (VPN) for Iran, anybody in Iran can pretend to be elsewhere in the world. With a VPN, subscribers can unblock any website they wish - by successfully circumventing government-imposed restrictions.

Iranian censorship

Since the Iranian general strikes and protests broke out in 2018, there have been growing efforts to censor content online. In August 2020, this led to a new law being passed that prohibits hosting companies from servicing websites that are blocked in Iran.  

Due to that new law, any websites containing censored news and information about political and human rights issues—must now host their content on foreign hosting companies.  Since 2013 around 50 percent of 500 most popular websites have been blocked, including YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, and Google Plus. 

Sites blocked by the overreaching government include a surprising mix of topics including health and wellness, science, sport, news, and even shopping. 

The good is that a VPN service can easily allow you to exit Iran's heavily controlled Intranet to access the Internet as it appears elsewhere in the world. Simply connect to a VPN server outside of Iran, and the blocks imposed by the government will disappear. And, as long as you use a secure VPN with obfuscated servers, you do not need to worry about your ISP knowing that you are using circumvention tools. 

Is Telegram blocked in Iran?

Yes, Telegram has been blocked completely for over a year. The government is aware that internet users are coordinating their strikes and protests using private messengers and this has led to the government restricting access to platforms such as Telegram. 

Telegram has been officially blocked by ISPs for over a year now, which means that the only way to download or use Telegram is to install a VPN. It is believed that half of Iran's population - approximately 40 million people - continue to send encrypted messages on the Telegram app by using a VPN to bypass government blocks. 

It is worth noting that despite the government's claims that Telegram blocks cannot be bypassed with a VPN, this is disinformation designed to put people off seeking out a reliable VPN service. 

For anybody having trouble getting hold of Telegram, there are other options on the market, the best of which is Open Whisper's Signal. Signal, Whatsapp, and Telegram all provide encrypted messaging and are all viable options for sending private messages. 

Is it safe to use a VPN in Iran?

Using a VPN in Iran permits subscribers to pretend to be in a different country. However, due to risks involved in accessing illegal content and services, great care must be taken to select a trusted and secure VPN service. But don't worry, we've done the research for you, so let's get started...

How to use a VPN safely

A Virtual Private Network is an online service that lets subscribers conceal their real location. In addition, it protects their data by providing a strong layer of encryption. This stops ISPs, the Iranian government, and hackers, from being able to snoop on what VPN users are doing online.

There are two main reasons to use a VPN in Iran:

  1. To protect your digital privacy
  2. To access the uncensored web without fear of being persecuted

By connecting to a VPN server located outside of Iran, users can conceal their real Internet Protocol (IP) address. As soon as a user connects to a server, they appear to actually be in that country - and the internet behaves as if they were overseas. This allows them to access all the websites and services that are usually blocked by the government.

This has two effects: it permits people living in Iran to evade censorship - giving them access to websites that contain porn, dating services, and many other things that are blocked in Iran. In addition, it allows people to access geo-restricted services from foreign countries, for example, you can unblock YouTube videos restricted in Iran as well as access Netflix content from all over the world.

A VPN's encryption also stops landlords, workplaces, and universities (as well as Internet Service Providers and the government), from being able to tell what VPN users are doing online. This leaves VPN users free to visit any websites they want without fear of being discovered.

Written by: Ray Walsh

Digital privacy expert with 5 years experience testing and reviewing VPNs. He's been quoted in The Express, The Times, The Washington Post, The Register, CNET & many more. 

20 Comments

m.b
on November 24, 2019
Reply
hi I'm from Iran.they shut off the internet. We could only connect to the Internet through vpn by adding a proxy. Unfortunately, most Iranians are not able to purchase non-Iranian pages (Because of the sanctions). Please introduce secure free software.
danny
on March 12, 2019
Reply
uh... but Iranians don't have any way to buy those vpns , that means no paypal or anything else like it .... yeah it sucks here ...
arzhang
on July 25, 2018
Reply
sorry but iranians have not anyway to purchase out of their country by internet, so they could not use any of this vpns they just can use free versions.
https://cdn.proprivacy.com/storage/images/proprivacy/02/ray-walshjpeg-avatar-image-default-1png-avatar-ima-7df05c2bafe5e85cb7cb582cd8351a9bpng-avatar-image-default-minpng-avatar_image-small.png
Ray Walsh replied to arzhang
on August 2, 2018
Reply
So use a free VPN that you mention to then visit one of these! I don't understand the problem, can you elaborate?
Koorosh replied to Ray Walsh
on December 5, 2019
Reply
In Iran we don't have access to any of the global payment services and that means we can pay nothing for nothing globally! In other words non of the mentioned VPNs can be used in Iran
https://cdn.proprivacy.com/storage/images/proprivacy/02/member-dougjpg-avatar-image-default-1png-avatar-image-default-minpng-avatar_image-small.png
Douglas Crawford replied to Koorosh
on December 9, 2019
Reply
Hi Koorosh, All the VPN services listed here accept payment in cryptocurrencies, which should help.
Mimi
on July 8, 2018
Reply
Unfortunately, there is always a big gap between what some of the reports and review articles present and the actual reality and users experience! After reading the reviews by well-known sources, I subscribed to ExpressVPN for three years. I had, however, repeated problems and worst than, their customer service was inefficient, late to respond, and at times unfriendly. So, I canceled and switched to Nord VPN. With Nord VPN, I realized that ExpressVPN was certainly faster and had easier download and installation process! However, I had problems connecting to my bank and Amazon.com. They mentioned that they have problem with Amazon in US and they are working on it. However, it was finally resolved by suggesting the use of specific servers. Their customer service is definitely better than ExpressVPN! Unfortunately, Nord VPN mentioned that: “… in order to properly connect using macOS in restricted areas [mean Iran, china…] you would have to enable the Obfuscated Servers feature in our application's settings. However, this feature is only available if you are using OpenVPN version” not IKEv2 version. They also added that: “…our application for iOS devices does not work in restricted areas, so you would have to use the manual connection method. Here is a guide on how to set it up: http://support.nordvpn.com/#/path/1153001402” Could you please tell me if this is also the case with ExpressVPN? Many thanks in advance!
https://cdn.proprivacy.com/storage/images/proprivacy/02/member-dougjpg-avatar-image-default-1png-avatar-image-default-minpng-avatar_image-small.png
Douglas Crawford replied to Mimi
on July 9, 2018
Reply
Hi Mimi, Not that I am aware of, although you can always contact ExpressVPN's 24/7 live chat to confirm. Note that even with NordVPN, it only requires downloading the older OpenVPN Mac client or followings its iOS instructions.
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