Accessing the Internet freely in Iran is everything but easy. The country is notorious for blocking access to some sites and services, including those you/we most frequently use, such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and so on.
And so both locals and foreigners visiting Iran — cause there are many things to see in the place that used to be Persia — turn to VPNs to bypass filters and other restrictions imposed by the country’s authorities. Said restrictions will not necessarily block access to some sites, they could for instance just throttle Internet speeds — making access to those sites unuseful.
With a VPN, however, you get anonymity which means that the network or ISP you’re connecting to won’t have an idea what you’re doing online. And as a result, you will be able to roam freely throughout the world wide web.
But not all VPNs are up for the task – these are the Best VPNs to use in Iran:
- 5,000+ servers in the network
- Easy to use - install it and forget it
- One license is good for up to 6 devices
- Strict zero-logs policy
- 30-day money-back guarantee
- Chrome extension is just a proxy
- You can't pay with PayPal
Its network includes more than 5,000 servers spread across 60 countries, which directly translates into faster speeds. NordVPN is also very secure, relying on the strong 256-bit encryption combined with secure VPN protocols (OpenVPN, WireGuard, IKEv2/IPSec). But as a user, you get a seamless experience with all this technology "doing its thing" in the background.
NordVPN is well suited to pretty much every task you throw at it — whether it's accessing a banned site from some country that filters out the internet, torrenting, accessing streaming services, or just wanting to keep a low profile on the web. It also doesn't keep any logs.
We highly recommend NordVPN to anyone looking for reliable service.
- Good for both torrenting and streaming
- Works in China
- Solid network with servers in 60+ countries
- Easy to use apps on multiple platforms
- Live chat isn't always available
- Fairly pricey
Whether you need a VPN for watching Netflix shows or downloading files via BitTorrent, Astrill can help you out — all while keeping your identity under the radar. And this is especially true if you live or work in China when the company's stealth protocols will kick in to let you access all the popular sites that are by default blocked by the country's censors.
Astrill's apps are easy to use and available on all popular platforms. Nevertheless, they still manage to provide a host of advanced features tech-savvy folks are used to get. Highly recommended, again, especially if you're looking to bypass the Great Firewall of China.
- Feature-rich yet easy to use
- One of the best VPNs around
- Strong no-logging policy
- Reliable support you can reach 24/7
- Limited number of servers in Africa and the Middle East
- Kinda pricey
ExpressVPN has great desktop apps for Windows and Mac, mobile apps and browser extensions. Also, it is well suited for video streaming services such as Netflix, Hulu, BBC iPlayer and others.
However, what makes it stand out is its ease of use. We can't emphasize this enough. One could tell a lot of time has been spent making sure even the advanced features are easily accessible. And we love it for that. Plus, let's not forget ExpressVPN's speed which tends to leave other services in the dust.
- Fast download and upload speeds
- Works with Netflix, Hulu, BBC iPlayer, etc.
- Great for torrenting
- Advanced privacy features (i.e. Tor over VPN)
- Relatively small number of servers
- There are no browser extensions
- Live chat support is not always available
Specifically, you can rely on PrivateVPN for both torrenting and streaming, without paying a premium. It is, in fact, one of the most affordable options in its league and we love it for that.
Customer support may not be on par with bigger players but it's not like you should experience many problems anyway. You will get the same level of security and privacy as with other services, and a single license will let you run PrivateVPN on up to 6 devices. Pretty cool.
- Works in China
- Many servers in Asia
- Strict zero-logs policy
- Advanced services like VyprVPN Cloud
- No browser extensions
- Torrenting could be better
It manages to bypass restrictions in high-censorship countries and elsewhere by relying on its proprietary Chameleon protocol, which can easily slide under the radar.
VyprVPN is also great for accessing video streaming services such as Netflix, Disney+, Hulu and so on — delivering the true buffer-free experience every single time. It will also work with BitTorrent, and consequently - Kodi.
VyprVPN has a strict zero-logs policy. Period.
Internet censorship in Iran
Out of a population of about 82 million, Iran has an estimated Internet penetration rate of 64 to 69 percent. However, as of 2012 – an average of 27% of Internet sites were blocked at some time, and as of 2013 – almost 50% of the top 500 visited websites worldwide were blocked. This includes all the major social media networks and platforms, such as YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, and Blogger. The blocked sites have a wide range of topics including health, science, sports, news, pornography and shopping.
The Internet in Iran is managed by the General Staff of the Armed Forces of IRI and the Supreme Council of Cyberspace of Iran. The head of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of the Islamic Republic of Iran is elected by the Supreme Leader of Iran.
However, Ayatollah Khamenei and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad post a lot on social networks that have been blocked in Iran such as Facebook and Twitter, and that has made the tourists have traveled to Iran and even the Iranian people more dissatisfied.
The country unveiled the National Information Network (NIN) during the 2019 Iranian protests with the idea to work like the Great Firewall of China, but with stricter monitoring and controlling watchfully of users.
VPNs are hot in Iran
The fact that you can’t access all sites you want in Iran means a ton of business for VPNs and proxy services, and unsurprisingly – the country is doing a lot to stop their usage. With mixed success, we would add.
There was one successful action but it was a very strong response to Iranian fuel protests – in November 2019, the Iranian government imposed a week-long total Internet shutdown. Such a move, obviously, is not sustainable and things are back to “normal” in Iran.
An alternative approach presumed to require the use of Iranian email systems, blocking popular webmail services, inhibiting encryption use by disabling VPNs and HTTPS, and banning externally developed security software.
Another way Iranians can bypass their country’s restrictions is to use the US government-provided proxy server that changes whenever the Iranian government blocks it. However, even the U.S. proxy filters pornographic websites and keywords.
Internet connection throttling
Aside from blocking access to websites, the Iranian government also uses speed throttling as a means of limiting communication. Significant speed drop of Internet communications in the days following the 2009 Iranian presidential election, weeks leading to the 2013 election, and during times of international political upheaval, including during the Arab Spring are examples of such behavior.
In October 2006, the Iranian government ordered all ISPs to limit their download speeds to 128kbit/s for all residential clients and Internet cafes.
As of 2010, most major ISPs in Tehran offer expensive connections that start at 2,190,000 rials/month (around 60 dollars/month) for a 1 Mbit/s connection. And prices were even higher in other cities. Some restrictions for the residential client speed are still in place with the speeds mentioned above “covering” offices and commercial firms.
Luckily, the situation got better in the years afterward, and as of October 2019 a major ISP provided 40Mbit/s Internet with 100GB of data per month, only for 850,000 IRR (about 8 USD).
Yes, you need a VPN for Iran
Whether you want to access popular social media networks, watch movies and TV shows or just keep a low profile on the web – a VPN will help you out.
But not every VPN can bypass Iran’s restrictions. We have tested more VPNs than we care to count, and out of all of them – we selected a few that are presented on this page.
Again, here are the top three contenders: