However, if you’re already in China, I’ve shortlisted a few options you can try in order to download the VPN. Before I continue, it’s important to note that non-government-approved VPNs are illegal in China, but there have been no public cases of tourists being penalized by the Chinese government. The protection of a VPN, however, does not give you license to commit illegal acts, so please exercise a basic level of caution when using a VPN in China. Try NordVPN now!

How to Get NordVPN to Work in China

3 Ways to Get NordVPN If You’re Already in China

NordVPN’s website does not work in China, but you can still download it onto your devices with my simple solutions below. While you should exercise caution if you decide to use a VPN within China’s borders, you likely won’t be prosecuted for doing so. The common practice is that China fights VPNs by technologically blocking the services, and not by chasing after the people who use them. However, remember that with China, things can change quickly. During my tests, I could only download the app from within China 8 out of 10 times. The only 100% guaranteed way to get NordVPN to work in China is to set it up before you arrive. Download NordVPN risk-free

1. Use an Alternative Domain

NordVPN has alternative domains designed to work in countries where its website does not work – specifically China. Luckily, NordVPN’s team tests these domains regularly to ensure that they work.

2. Download an APK VPN File (Android devices only)

If for some reason my first tip doesn’t work, this is another option you can try – but you’ll need an Android device. To download the APK file to your Android, “sideload” it by downloading it to your computer first. You can find the APK file on NordVPN’s mirror site or by typing in the file link to your address bar (NordVPN’s customer support sent it to me when I enquired about it).

6 Simple Steps to Sideload the NordVPN App

You should be able to download the APK file without using a VPN, but if you have trouble you can ask a friend to download the APK file and send it to you by email. For this step, I simply connected my Android device to my computer by USB cable. I then transferred the APK file from my email to my device’s “Downloads” folder and installed it from there.

3. “Borrow” a VPN

As a last resort, if you know someone in China who uses a VPN, ask if you can connect your device to their personal hotspot. This way, you can use their VPN-protected connection to access the NordVPN website on your device.

What to Do If NordVPN Stops Working in China – 3 Solutions

If you find you can’t connect to NordVPN when you’re in China, there are several steps you can take to fix the issue you’re having. Stay safe online with NordVPN

Stay 100% Secure – Do This Before You Browse

NordVPN keeps you secure with many built-in features (like AES 256-bit encryption and an automatic kill switch), but its obfuscated servers were specifically designed for countries with heavy internet censorship. Unlike regular NordVPN servers, these specialty servers make your internet traffic impossible to interpret. Although NordVPN’s servers can be used while you are in China, they will not be effective at unblocking every site you want to visit. That’s why I recommend always connecting to one of the 450+ obfuscated servers every time you browse.

4 Simple Steps for Connecting to an Obfuscated Server

How does NordVPN work in China?

NordVPN can help you access content and services you paid for in two main ways: staying out of China physically and using a special kind of server. Not one of NordVPN’s 5,800+ servers is located inside China. This means it isn’t a government-approved VPN and it doesn’t have to comply with the government’s regulations. It’s free to disregard China’s data retention requirements and content restrictions, connecting you to servers beyond China’s firewall. NordVPN also uses obfuscated servers, providing an extra layer of encryption to hide your data and your connection type. An obfuscated server disguises your connection, changing its appearance to look like a regular HTTPS connection instead of a VPN. This makes the firewall think your VPN connection is standard internet traffic, letting it pass through without restriction.

Can I use a free VPN in China?

Free is always tempting, but using a free VPN in China is both a risky and frustrating experience. There are some secure free VPNs that are great for casual browsing and streaming but simply can’t access all content or services in China. Paid VPNs make sure they aren’t detected by investing in the server network. Free VPNs don’t have the technology or resources available to reliably get around these blocks.

Why should I use a VPN in China?

Using the internet without a secure VPN makes you subject to government monitoring. If the government deems your activity as a threat, they can confiscate your device or even arrest you. Using a VPN ensures that you can access all your online accounts and websites you would usually have access to at home. Keep in mind that the protection of a VPN doesn’t give you license to commit illegal acts (like downloading copyrighted content), so please exercise a basic level of caution when using a VPN in China. In 2017, China enacted new, stricter laws that increased internet censorship. The new laws require all internet companies operating within China to register with the government, including VPN services. Registered companies must follow all Chinese laws, including following the government’s internet restrictions. This also means they must comply with any government-issued data requests.

It’s complicated. Technically, VPNs aren’t legal unless they are government-approved. However, you risk exposing your private data to the government unless you use a VPN with a strict no-logs policy, military-grade encryption, and other security measures. In my research, I’ve found that fines for using a non-approved VPN apply mostly to Chinese nationals rather than foreign workers or tourists anyway. You can legally use a VPN that is registered with the government, but I wouldn’t recommend it. Using a government-approved VPN won’t protect your online activity or give you access to your home country’s accounts (like Gmail or Netflix). Approved VPN services have to follow government-mandated restrictions, including blocking websites and logging user data – putting your activity and data at risk.

Why does China block websites and services?

The Chinese government restricts access to the internet in the name of protecting citizens from misinformation. While the intention to shield individuals from harmful content is respectable, the restrictions have grown in scope over time. As a result, the use of any website that posts information considered to be “against the government” is forbidden. This could include celebrity rumors, criticism of the government or party leaders, or blog posts written by activists. Many controversial events, like the 1989 Tiananmen Square protest, are censored from the Chinese internet – and any foreign sites that mention them are blocked.

Which websites are blocked in China?

The Chinese government is continually blocking popular websites that people in other countries use freely every day. As the list changes so frequently, there’s no way to tell just how many websites are blocked from public view. Popular sites blocked in China include:

Search Engines – Yahoo and Google (including Google platforms like Google Docs and Google Drive) News providers – NY Times and BBC Messaging sites – Gmail, WhatsApp, and Snapchat Social media – Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter Streaming services – Netflix, YouTube, and Spotify Information providers – Wikipedia and Quora

Will my VPN work on my phone in China?

VPNs don’t generally work well on mobile devices in China. Your smartphone, tablet, or other mobile device uses IPSec encryption with your VPN, and this protocol can be detected. You can get the benefits of NordVPN on your phone by connecting your mobile device to your computer with a hotspot. As long as your computer is connected to a NordVPN server, your phone connection will be protected too.

Can I use other VPNs in China?

Yes, there are a small number of VPNs that currently work in China. During my extensive testing, I found 2 VPN services (other than NordVPN) that reliably bypass China’s Great Firewall: Try the best VPN for China!

Using a VPN in China Keeps You Safe and Unrestricted

With a reliable VPN, you can enjoy internet privacy and freedom. If you’re traveling to China for a holiday or work, you can stay in touch with friends, continue to access your streaming subscriptions, and even catch up on your local news.

In Summary — Top VPNs for China in 2023