Best VPNs for Iran

For nearly two decades now, the Iranian government has been staging a war against the internet’s content. Since at least 2005, the internet used by Iranians has been heavily guarded by the Ministry of ICT and affiliates. The government blocks content that does not mesh with the tenets of Islam or is seen to have any hint of rebellion.

Since 2011, the Iranian government has announced its intent to build a “halal internet.” This is an intranet built for all Muslims, which is disconnected from the global network and free from all immorality. The Iranian government has made huge strides towards this goal, especially after the Stuxnet virus incident, which set Iran back for a while.

In the past, the government has introduced several measures to control what Iranians are allowed to see. If there was any instability or crisis, the government ordered all ISPs to throttle their user’s speed and block some information sharing websites. While these methods served their purpose, there was a side effect of slowing technological development. To curb this, Iran invested in internet centers. But with conditions, of course. To access the internet at these centers, you’ll have to state some personal information about yourself, and your activity will remain with the center for six months.

Sites that Iran has deemed immoral or rebellious will be blocked. The government has shown it has no qualms about blocking universal apps or social media like Facebook, Twitter, and Telegram. A few weeks ago, a complete internet shutdown was instituted in Iran because of protests over rising fuel prices. Not just a shutdown to international networks, a complete cessation of all means of communications within the country that use the internet.

The Iranian citizenry has been getting around these blocks with the use of VPNs. These VPNs are shared between citizens because the Iranian government has blocked Google and its Playstore. VPNs are now the only way to bypass Iran’s strict regulations and surf the net freely. But, because of Iran’s laws, you must choose a VPN that’s as secure as possible. It’s also essential that you download, install, sign up, and buy a VPN before entering Iran’s territories. This is because Google Playstore has been blocked from Iran, and Iran’s new search engine has nothing like VPNs on it in adherence to censorship laws.

Now, without further ado, these are our top picks for VPNs in Iran.

1. ExpressVPN

Features

  • Number of servers: More than 3,000
  • Speeds: Unlimited
  • Server locations: 160 in 94 countries
  • Maximum devices supported: 5
  • 24 live chat: Yes
  • 30 day money back guarantee: Yes

Pros/Cons

  • Fastest VPN out there
  • Strict no logs policy
  • 256-bit AES encryption
  • Few discounts

ExpressVPN is our best choice for a VPN for Iran. It protects all your web traffic from surveillance with the best-in-class 256-bit AES encryption type and OpenVPN protocol. Users have the option of changing the protocol, but it’s common knowledge that OpenVPN is the safest. And for your time in Iran, you need to be safe while browsing. To further ensure your privacy and security while browsing, we tested ExpressVPN for DNS leaks and didn’t find any.

ExpressVPN is located in the British Virgin Islands, which is a country that doesn’t have any restrictions on the internet or privacy laws. It allows ExpressVPN to maintain its no-logs policy with ease. And to enhance its no-logs policy, ExpressVPN has begun using TrustedServer technology. This technology saves your data on volatile memory (RAM), which is deleted anytime you power off. If any organization asks for any data on any ExpressVPN user, they wouldn’t be able to provide it because they don’t have it.

ExpressVPN also does well at unblocking restricted websites. It unblocks all the well-known streaming services like Netflix, Hulu, HBO, Amazon Prime Video, BBC iPlayer, etc. While it does this, it doesn’t compromise your speed. ExpressVPN’s 3000+ servers work at a high enough speed that you can watch videos in HD. It also supports torrenting and has a split tunneling feature that lets you decide what traffic you’d prefer to send through a VPN and which you’d prefer not to.

ExpressVPN is a premium, reliable service that has apps on all major platforms (Android, Windows, iOS, macOS). It also has browser extensions, apps for some Smart TVs, and apps for routers. If you have any questions, ExpressVPN has an extensive knowledge base and 24/7 customer service available through live chat or email. For all this, ExpressVPN is sold at a slightly higher price than most VPNs with its best plan going for $6.67/month for a year. But it has a 30-day money-back guarantee in case you try it, and it’s not for you.

  • Pros: Fastest VPN out there; Strict no logs policy; 256-bit AES encryption
  • Lowest price: $8.12

2. NordVPN

Features

  • Cryptocurrency accepted? Yes
  • Simultaneous connections: 6
  • Dedicated IP-addresses? Yes
  • Servers: 5342 in 58 countries

Pros/Cons

  • Lots of pricing options
  • Netflix support kept up to date
  • 256-bit AES encryption
  • Slow app

NordVPN is another excellent VPN for Iran because this VPN is uncompromising when it comes to securing the privacy of its users. To achieve this security, NordVPN has a few unique features in its arsenal.

NordVPN comes with the standard VPN security features like an automatic kill switch, DNS leak protection, military-grade encryption. But features like Double VPN, Onion over VPN, and obfuscated servers make it stand out from the rest.

DoubleVPN encrypts your data through two servers, giving it two layers of encryption. Onion over VPN is a feature that allows you to take your traffic through Tor servers, which is a special server which adds more layers of encryption to your web traffic. This makes it impossible to crack. Obfuscated servers are a technology explicitly meant for countries that censor the internet. These servers hide your IP address and keep you protected so that you’ll be completely hidden from any eyes that might want to monitor your traffic.

NordVPN does not keep logs and had an audit done last year by PricewaterhouseCoopers AG to prove their no-logs policy. NordVPN’s policy was determined to be accurate, which makes them even more trustworthy. NordVPN has over 5200 servers in 59 countries and unblocks content efficiently. Though taking your traffic through its stronger security features takes some time, we were surprised when NordVPN’s speed only slightly decreased while streaming and using a double VPN. This makes it suitable for Iranians, who need security whenever they access any part of the web.

NordVPN is available on the major platforms, including routers. The pricing for NordVPN’s services is as low as $3.49/month. You can test this VPN out with its 30-day refund policy if you still have doubts.

  • Pros: Lots of pricing options; Netflix support kept up to date; 256-bit AES encryption
  • Lowest price: $2.99

3. Surfshark

Features

  • Free trial? Yes
  • Simultaneous connections: unlimited
  • Ad blocking? Yes
  • Servers: 1000+ in 61 countries

Pros/Cons

  • No footprints
  • Allows torrenting
  • 256-bit AES encryption
  • Not the cheapest around

Surfshark is a steady, heavily secure VPN, even though it’s quite a young one. Although has only been operating for a few years, it already has 1040+ servers in over 61 countries. This provider has dedicated apps for all major platforms and has kept its security features on all of them.

Surfshark uses 256-bit AES encryption, the most durable encryption type with OpenVPN protocol. Apart from that, it also has its version of a double VPN called MutiHop to doubly encrypt your traffic. Its servers are optimized to compensate for the speed loss using a VPN and an extra security feature cause. These servers ensure the user won’t feel the difference in speed when using an additional security feature. Surfshark uses obfuscated servers as well. When a user uses Camouflage mode, it employs these obfuscated servers to make sure that they’re invisible to anyone looking, especially nosy ISPs. Extremely useful for people living in a country where the government censors the internet.

And while you’re browsing, Surfshark clears the way for you by bypassing all restrictions set. This VPN allows you access to any content you want while remaining out of sight of the Iranian authorities.

Surfshark is located in the British Virgin Islands, a very privacy-friendly country, and is not under any obligation to hand over any logs by its country’s laws. All the same, Surfshark was audited by Cure53 to find out whether its strict zero-logs policy was, in fact, correct. According to the report, it was found to be true. This provider never keeps logs of any users’ activities. It also provides 24/7 live chat customer service you can contact if you encounter any problems.

Surfshark does all this for prices that go as low as $1.77/month. They also offer a 30-day refund if you aren’t satisfied with their services.

  • Pros: No footprints; Allows torrenting; 256-bit AES encryption
  • Lowest price: $1.99

4. UltraVPN

Features

  • One click connect? Yes
  • Platforms: Mac, Windows, iOS, Android
  • Bandwidth cap? No
  • Servers: 100+ superfast servers

Pros/Cons

  • Firewall
  • Apps for all devices
  • 256-bit AES encryption
  • Not as many servers as others

UltraVPN is a VPN that’s great for the beginner in Iran. If you have no idea how VPNs work, but you still want to protect your privacy and unblock restricted content, this VPN is a good match.

UltraVPN has robust security features with military-grade encryption, automatic kill switch, DNS leak prevention, and hiding your IP address through IP shuffling. It is also fantastic at unblocking data and streaming content through streaming services like Netflix and Hulu. UltraVPN also performed well when we tested its network speeds on different continents.

UltraVPN has dedicated apps for all major platforms, and all apps share the same simplicity in setting them up. Though it has over 100 servers in 55+ countries, you may not want to scroll through them, looking for a server to connect to. Therefore, UltraVPN allows you to connect straight away to the best and closest server so you can start browsing at once. The kill switch is visible on the home screen so you can enable and disable as you like. UltraVPN operates on a strict no-logs policy. It deletes your activities as soon as possible.

If you have any problems, its friendly customer service is there to assist you through 24/7 live chat.

UltraVPN’s most economical plan starts at $3.75 for a year’s subscription, with a 30-day money-back guarantee if you would like to stop using its services.

  • Pros: Firewall; Apps for all devices; 256-bit AES encryption
  • Lowest price: $2.99

5. CyberGhost

Features

  • Connected devices at once: 7
  • One click connect: Yes
  • Automatic kill switch? Yes
  • Servers: 5900 worldwide

Pros/Cons

  • No logs policy
  • 24/7 live chat
  • Apps for mobile devices and routers
  • No free option

CyberGhost is a VPN with an extensive reach, with about 5600 servers in 90 countries. This broad reach gives them an edge both in terms of speed and in unblocking geo-restrictions. CyberGhost’s security doesn’t slack either.

With its automatic kill switch in place, if your connection to the VPN should suddenly drop, your web activity is safe from any prying eyes. Whether it’s the government or your ISP or a data thief, it’ll take years and technology that hasn’t even been created before the encryption can be cracked. When browsing with CyberGhost, your IP address is always hidden, and with a strict zero-logs policy, your traffic is never stored.

CyberGhost tested well when it came to speed, with a negligible difference when connected. It quickly unblocked most websites we tried; Netflix, HBO, Hulu, CBS, BBC iPlayer, etc. Its speed allowed us to watch Netflix in HD with no signs of buffering. CyberGhost has apps for all major platforms and browser extensions for Chrome and Firefox. It also has instructions on how to install it on routers, but even without routers, it allows you to protect seven devices at a time. This is great for families because one account can enable everyone to enjoy online privacy.

CyberGhost makes its argument more convincing by setting its price at a rate of $2.75/month for a three-year coverage. You can test it before you pay with its 7-day free trial. And after you register and pay, you have a 45-day refund period with which to decide if CyberGhost is your choice VPN for Iran.

  • Pros: No logs policy; 24/7 live chat; Apps for mobile devices and routers
  • Lowest price: $2.64

Can you use a free VPN in Iran?

Well, you could, but it’s doubtful that a free VPN will have the resources to bypass all of Iran’s internet censorship. And a free VPN is more likely to have an unstable connection than a paid VPN. Not all free VPNs have kill switches. If you’re using an unstable VPN without a kill switch and it drops suddenly, your IP address and web traffic will be exposed.

The punishment for getting caught using a VPN that’s not registered with the Iranian government is up to 91 days in prison. Though this punishment is hardly enforced, we’re pretty sure you wouldn’t want to risk it. And using a VPN that’s registered with the Iranian government is pretty much the same as browsing without one. You still can’t access sites like Facebook, Twitter, WordPress, etc.

It’s a lot easier to pay $3 – $7 or in this case, 126315 –294735 Iranian rials a month and have your peace of mind while browsing.

In conclusion

We cannot overemphasize the need for a VPN while browsing in Iran, especially if you’re just a visitor and you’re used to places with little or no internet censorship laws. A good VPN allows you to browse as if the internet restrictions aren’t there at all. You can surf the web with the assurance that neither the government nor your ISP can detect your traffic.