Due to the oppressive censorship and surveillance imposed by the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, it is vital for citizens to use a VPN. The Taliban uses its power to impose widespread internet blocks, including blocks on social media sites, VoIP services, and news websites.
Whether you want to use the internet free of ISP tracking and government surveillance, circumvent censorship, or access region-locked services unavailable in the country, a VPN for Afghanistan is the best solution. A VPN also secures your data on public wifi, to protect you against tracking and hackers.
In this guide, we have pinpointed VPNs that have strong security features. Our recommendations will give you privacy and freedom of access anywhere in Afghanistan. The VPNs for Afghanistan we selected are fast so that you can watch HD streams, make video calls, play games, or do anything else securely.
If you’re in a rush and don’t have the time to read all of our reviews in-depth, here’s a quick summary of the best VPNs for Afghanistan:
- NordVPN: The best VPN for Afghanistan. A fast and secure VPN that offers value for money, a no logging policy, strong AES encryption, a kill switch, obfuscation, and accessibility in over 60 countries. Includes Tor over VPN for added privacy.
- Surfshark: The best cheap VPN for Afghanistan. An impressive all-rounder that works to access foreign streaming services, and has both obfuscation and a no-borders mode for added privacy.
- ExpressVPN: A veteran in the VPN industry that has a zero logs policy and strong encryption. Kill switch, obfuscated OpenVPN tunnels, DNS leak protection, and servers in 94 countries.
- IPVanish: A US-based VPN with an obfuscation feature called Scramble. No-logs policy, strong AES encryption, a kill switch, and DNS leak protection keep your data secure. Not so great for streaming.
- ProtonVPN: A highly secure and advanced VPN. Based in Switzerland. Has many advanced privacy and security features, including a kill-switch, obfuscation, port forwarding, and split tunneling.
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When picking VPNs for Afghanistan, we considered their dire political situation. For this reason, we only recommended VPNs that have specific security features, such as AES encryption, a kill switch, DNS leak protection, and obfuscation.
Later in this guide, we will provide additional information about our testing methodology, and explain the features you should use to get as much privacy as possible in Afghanistan. Below, you can see some of the criteria we considered when curating this list:
- Server speed and reliability of service
- Strong encryption and obfuscation
- Strict no-logs policy
- Access to censored and region-locked content
- Global server network
- Apps for all popular platforms suitable
- Diskless servers for added protection (top three choices)
- Fully audited service (top three choices)
Best VPNs for Afghanistan
Here’s our list of the best VPNs for Afghanistan:
NordVPN is a market-leading VPN provider based in Panama, a location that puts it well out of reach of invasive jurisdictions such as the USA, the EU, the UK, and the Taliban’s influence in Afghanistan itself.
We chose NordVPN in the top spot because it is easy to use despite having a massive selection of advanced privacy features. Every subscriber gets access to apps for Windows, Mac, iOS, and Android. And they can install and use the VPN on up to 7 devices simultaneously.
The apps come with the OpenVPN protocol with AES-256 encryption, obfuscated servers, a kill switch, DNS leak protection, multi-hop connections for added privacy (Double VPN), and Tor over VPN. The impressive feature set makes it perfect for using the internet privately whether at home, at work, or using public wifi in Afghanistan.
Its Threat Protection feature uses DNS-based filtering to block ads, trackers, and malicious websites known to contain malware. That helps to improve page load times and gives you additional online protection when you surf the web.
Servers are available in over 59 countries, and NordVPN has over 5000 servers in total. It can avoid congestion throughout its network to give you great speeds. It also comes with its proprietary Nordlynx protocol, which is great for streaming Netflix US, for example.
The only caveat is that this VPN has no servers in Afghanistan (nor do our other recommendations). Simply put, the country poses too much risk of VPN servers being raided by the Taliban. As a result, you cannot use NordVPN to get an IP address in Afghanistan.
Other than that, this service excels at accessing Netflix, Hulu, BBC iPlayer, international news sites, and anything else that has been blocked in Afghanistan. You can try it risk-free using its 30-day money-back guarantee, and it provides various mirrors of its site to help you get a subscription if it gets blocked, so contact support if you run into problems.
- Fully featured apps with advanced security features
- Has servers in 59+ countries, but not Afghanistan
- Fast speeds for torrenting, streaming, and gaming
- Independently verified no logging policy
- Diskless servers for added security
- Suffered an attack on a server in Finland in 2018
SUPER SECURE:NordVPN is fast, reliable, and has everything you need to use the internet securely in Afghanistan. We recommend you connect using OpenVPN, and obfuscated servers. It also throws in a free Smart DNS service to access US streams. You can test it using its 30-day money-back guarantee.
Check out our full NordVPN review to find out more.
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Surfshark is perfect if you want something highly versatile at a low price point. The VPN starts at just US$2.30 per month, which makes it the cheapest VPN that is secure enough for users in Afghanistan. Best of all, each subscription comes with an unlimited simultaneous connection allowance, which means you can use it on all your devices and even share your account with friends and family.
Surfshark has apps for all popular devices, and those apps come with DNS leak protection, a choice of protocols (including OpenVPN), obfuscation (Camouflage), a reliable kill switch, and AES-256 encryption. Its No Borders mode provides access in countries that implement VPN blocks. These features will make it possible to bypass online blocks, without your ISP even detecting VPN use.
Servers are available in 100 countries, which is more than any other VPN in this list. This allows you to get an IP address in a huge number of countries around the world. As noted earlier, however, you cannot use any of our recommendations to get an IP address in Afghanistan.
Surfshark works with Hulu, HBO Max, Sling TV, Peacock, DAZN USA, BBC iPlayer, and around a dozen Netflix regions. This makes it a great option for anybody in Afghanistan who wants to stream. Plus, you get a Smart DNS service at no extra cost. It also works for torrenting, making it a great all-rounder.
Live chat support is available around the clock, and the VPN has set up guides for Windows, Mac, iOS, Android, Linux, and routers. An impressive all-rounder that you can test yourself using its 30-day money-back guarantee. It even provides ad blocking and malware filtering to make your experience even better.
- Servers in 100 countries that provide fast speeds
- 30-day money-back guarantee
- Unlimited simultaneous connections
- Works with Netflix US, Hulu, HBO Max, and more
- Ad blocking, tracker blocking, and malware filtering included
- Is much cheaper when you subscribe longer
- Surfshark’s app audit only examined the browser extensions
AMAZING VALUE:Surfshark is perfect for users in Afghanistan who want something reliable but cheap. It is fast thanks to its WireGuard implementation, and it works for streaming many foreign TV services. Lets you connect an unlimited number of devices. 24/7 live chat. Comes with a 30-day money-back guarantee.
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ExpressVPN has been around since 2009, which makes it one of the longer-running VPN providers on the market. We like it for users in Afghanistan because it is both easy to use and packed with the features you need to stay secure.
Apps are available for Windows, Mac, iOS, and Android. Those apps come with a kill switch, OpenVPN with native obfuscation, robust AES-256 encryption, DNS leak protection, and split tunneling (Windows, Mac, Android, and routers). Although it doesn’t have a dedicated GUI app for Linux, it makes browser extensions that you can use to control the VPN. A custom firmware app is compatible with a bunch of popular wifi routers. It also has a solid no-logging policy. Altogether, this makes ExpressVPN a secure option for anybody who wants to bypass restrictions in Afghanistan.
ExpressVPN has servers in 94 countries. These include Turkey, but sadly no servers in Afghanistan or any other country in the Middle East. You can easily access over a dozen Netflix regions, Hulu, HBO Max, ESPN, BBC iPlayer, Disney+, and many other popular international services. It also allows torrenting throughout its network.
Live chat support is available 24/7 for you to get help with setting up or using the VPN, and you can try it yourself risk-free thanks to its 30-day money-back guarantee. The only slight drawback is that it is a bit more expensive than our top choices. However, it is an extremely popular VPN that is well worth the money.
- Fast streaming speeds thanks to its Lightway protocol
- Free Smart DNS service
- Apps for all platforms that are easy for beginners to use
- 24/7 live chat support
- Not so cheap, so use the coupon in our link to get a discount
- Fewer advanced features than NordVPN and Proton VPN
GOOD FOR BEGINNERS:ExpressVPN works well for streaming international services in Afghanistan. Fully audited by a third-party security firm. Diskless servers for added security. No logs policy, and AES encryption. Obfuscation by default when you use OpenVPN. 30-day money-back guarantee.
Here’s our in-depth review of ExpressVPN.
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IPVanish is a super-fast VPN that is highly popular with Kodi users. The VPN has apps for Windows, Mac, iOS, and Android and those apps come with everything you need to use the internet securely in Afghanistan. This includes a kill switch and DNS leak protection. OpenVPN with solid AES-256 encryption, and XOR obfuscation to make VPN traffic appear like regular HTTPS. This makes it suitable for gaining online privacy in Afghanistan or in any other country around the world.
The biggest drawback is that this VPN is based in the USA, which is the home of the NSA. However, it has a solid no-logs policy and runs on a network of proprietary servers, which means the entire network is controlled in-house and the VPN has no historical usage or connection log data to provide to the government – even if served a warrant.
This caveat aside, IPVanish offers great value for money. You can install it on an unlimited number of devices with a single account, so you can use it on every device you own whether at home or on public wifi. You can also share your account with friends and family.
The VPN works to access Netflix US, and a few other streaming platforms. However, it doesn’t work with Hulu, and it isn’t as good as our other recommendations for accessing international streaming services. So, if streaming is your specific reason for getting a VPN, we would recommend another option.
Live chat support is available 24/7 and you can ask questions via email. You also get a 30-day money-back guarantee, which means you can test it to unblock anything risk-free and still get a refund and compare it to another one of our recommendations.
- Servers in over 50 countries, including 21+ cities in the US
- Preferred by Kodi users
- No-logging policy and solid AES encryption
- XOR obfuscation
- Struggles to access some streaming platforms
- Based in the USA
CONNECT ALL OF YOUR DEVICES:IPVanish is perfect for larger families. Has a large server network in the USA. A favorite among Kodi and Amazon Fire Stick users. Very fast speeds thanks to its WireGuard protocol. Has a 30-day money-back guarantee.
Read our full review of IPVanish to find out more.
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ProtonVPN is a touch more expensive compared to most of our other options. However, it makes it onto our list of the best VPNs for Afghanistan because it is a fantastic option for advanced users who want a techy VPN with more settings.
The VPN was launched by the developers of ProtonMail, which means it is based in Switzerland and has great provenance. This is great in terms of privacy because it means that VPN has a solid no-logging policy and can never be compelled to start logging by the authorities.
Proton VPN has apps for Windows, Mac, iOS, Android, and Linux, Those apps come with a kill switch, OpenVPN with AES-256 encryption, DNS leak protection, obfuscation (Stealth protocol), multi-hop connections, Tor over VPN, and split tunneling. It also includes DNS-based ad blocking and malware filtering.
ProtonVPN is a highly advanced service that is well-suited to anybody in Afghanistan with highly sensitive requirements. So, if you are a human rights activist, a journalist, or simply somebody who intends to regularly bypass government blocks, we strongly recommend that you consider ProtonVPN. It is also great for torrenting thanks to its port forwarding feature.
Live chat support is available on its website for members only, and you can try the service risk-free using its 30-day money-back guarantee. It even works with most of the international streaming services we tested it with, including Netflix US. Just bear in mind that the limited free plan does not work for streaming.
- Fast WireGuard protocol
- Many advanced privacy and security features
- Servers in 67 countries (but not Afghanistan)
- No logging policy and is based in Switzerland
- Harder for beginners to use
- A touch expensive
- Live chat support is for subscribers only
LIMITED FREE PLAN:Lets you connect to servers in the USA, Netherlands, and Japan for free. Perfect to bypass blocks on social media or other services in an emergency. Secure enough to bypass Taliban blocks without worrying. Works for streaming popular services in Afghanistan. 30-day money-back guarantee.
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Afghanistan VPN testing methodology
There are dozens of competing VPNs on the market and it can be very hard for consumers to know which service is better. Many VPNs lie about the level of protection they provide and exaggerate their features to attract users. These aggressive marketing techniques can make it easy for consumers to end up with an inferior service.
At Comparitech, our expert reviewers test the market to find VPNs that are not only suitable for specific use cases (such as for Afghanistan) but that are also well-rounded services with strong security, excellent usability, and decent value for money. To find out how we test VPNs, you can read our in-depth methodology guide. Below, we have included some of the things we looked for when recommending VPNs for Afghanistan:
- Strong privacy features: We only recommended VPNs with a no logging policy, strong AES encryption, a choice of VPN protocols, a kill switch, DNS leak protection, and obfuscation. Check our FAQ section for a detailed explanation of the security features you should use in Afghanistan.
- Global server network: Our recommendations all have a wide choice of servers around the globe. This lets you access region-locked or censored services from Afghanistan and allows you to get an IP address in a large choice of countries around the world.
- Apps for all devices: You should be able to use a VPN on every device you own. That is why we recommend VPNS that have apps for Windows, Mac, iOS, Android, and Firestick devices. Extra points for Linux apps, setup guides, router compatibility, and browser extensions.
- Fantastic accessibility: Many VPNs nowadays have been blocked by Netflix, Hulu, BBC iPlayer, HBO Max, ESPN, and other popular services around the world. We test each VPN and try to recommend VPNs that are not only secure – but also great for accessibility.
- Reliable security: We understand that the political situation in Afghanistan is frightening and oppressive. That is why we do our best to recommend top-quality services that have strong encryption. In addition, our top three choices must have diskless servers and have endured third-party audits that verify the security of their platforms.
- Fast speeds: A VPN shouldn’t slow down your internet unnecessarily. That is why we choose VPNs with fast Tier-1 servers capable of a large amount of throughput, with no bandwidth restrictions. They should let you stream, play games, and make video calls without issues.
- Excellent customer service: Not everybody knows how to set up and use a VPN. That is why we consider each service’s customer support. Our recommendations let you get help via email or live chat on their website, and have resources such as setup guides and FAQs.
- Value for money: We check not only for VPNs that are reliable, secure, and fast – but that also represent good value for money. We have found some VPNs for users in Afghanistan that are excellent but also cheap!
Afghanistan VPN FAQs
Can I use a free VPN in Afghanistan?
Although there are some free VPNs available in the market, we strongly recommend against using the vast majority of these in Afghanistan. Studies have revealed that free VPNs often lack encryption, suffer from leaks, they have app vulnerabilities, and even contain tracking libraries and spyware in their apps.
In addition to these security flaws, free VPNs often have dodgy privacy policies that allow them to harvest user data for profiling purposes. Instead of providing you with online privacy, these unscrupulous free VPNs will track everything you do online. This data is then sold to third parties such as marketing companies and data brokers to create a revenue stream.
Due to the political situation in Afghanistan, it is vital that citizens are aware of the dangers of using free VPNs that are advertised in search engines and app stores. These services can and will give you a false sense of security, often without offering any privacy at all. This is extremely dangerous when using a VPN to access content blocked by the Taliban as it could potentially lead to prosecution, incarceration, or even capital punishment.
What features does a VPN need in Afghanistan?
People use VPNs to gain privacy all over the world. However, in most countries bypassing blocks on darling websites, online bookies, pornography, or even news critical of the government will not expose you to the risk of public floggings or capital punishment.
Due to the severity of the political situation in Afghanistan, it is vital for citizens who want to bypass online restrictions to be intimately aware of the dangers involved with accessing anything that has been restricted by the Taliban.
If you do intend to bypass blocks you could be prosecuted, incarcerated, or face violence at the hands of the authorities. These risks become much more poignant when you are an activist, a political dissident, or a member of the LGBT community seeking to interact with like-minded people.
The dangers involved in bypassing internet blocks in Afghanistan are so severe that it would be remiss of us to outright recommend the use of VPNs for doing anything that might get you in trouble with the law. For this reason, we urge everybody to do their own research, to understand the implications, and to be careful about what they choose to do with their VPN, where, and how.
Understanding how a VPN works, and how it should be used in combination with other technologies such as private browsing mode/incognito and privacy-enhancing browser extensions, for example, is also essential for ensuring optimal levels of online privacy.
Besides this, it is important that anybody using a VPN in Afghanistan understands and uses the following features (particularly if you intend to access anything that has been blocked or banned):
- A no logging policy. The VPNs we have recommended never track your source IP address, the IP address of the servers you connect to, or any of the data that passes through their servers. This ensures that there is no paper trail that could be used to figure out what its users did online at a later date.
- Strong encryption. Most VPNs provide a choice of protocols for you to connect with. In Afghanistan, we recommend that you stick to using OpenVPN or WireGuard. Of these two, we suggest OpenVPN for users in Afghanistan because it is the protocol that most commonly lets you add obfuscation for added protection.
- A reliable system-wide kill switch. This VPN feature prevents you from accidentally leaking unprotected data to your ISP. It cuts your internet if the connection to the VPN is lost so that you never have to worry about exposing your web browsing habits to local networks, ISPs, or government agencies. We urge you to remember that not all VPN kill switches are created equally. Some leak for a moment during reconnection, so it is important to stick to recommended services that have a robust system-wide kill switch that will reliably cut your internet until the VPN reconnects.
- DNS leak protection. DNS requests reveal which websites you are asking to visit and provide a way for ISPs and government authorities to track what users are doing online. The most secure VPNs proxy these requests inside the encrypted tunnel and handle them using their own servers. DNS leak protection means that the privacy of your DNS requests is guaranteed by ensuring that they are always locked inside the encrypted tunnel. This gives you peace of mind and means that the VPN is always protecting your privacy.
- Obfuscation. When you use a reliable VPN your browsing habits and data are encrypted to prevent eavesdroppers from tracking you. However, ISPs can still use methods such as deep packet inspection and port analysis to ascertain that a user is hiding their browsing with a VPN. Obfuscation makes traffic appear like regular HTTPS and uses various scrambling methods to prevent ISPs from becoming suspicious. This is important in Afghanistan where the use of a VPN could be enough to make the government suspicious of you.
How does the Taliban impose censorship and surveillance in Afghanistan?
In Afghanistan, the Electronic Crimes Law (2017) criminalizes the sharing of “anti-Islamic” or “anti-government” content. This along with the Regulated Telecommunications Act (2002) allows the authorities to impose censorship for moral, cultural, and religious reasons. It also permits the Afghan Telecommunications Regulatory Authority to block access to content critical of the government and public figures.
To make things worse, ISPs in Afghanistan are tightly controlled by the Taliban. Communications providers must engage in mandatory data retention of browsing histories, metadata, IP and MAC addresses, and communications data for 2 years. This gives the Taliban the ability to closely monitor citizens’ activities online.
What websites are censored online in Afghanistan?
In Afghanistan, the Afghan Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (ATRA) imposes widespread internet censorship for cultural, religious, moral, and political reasons. This results in blocks on any content considered anti-Islamic or anti-government.
Examples of websites and services that have been blacklisted include those that cover religion, politics, adult content, dating, gambling, drugs and alcohol, and websites related to LGBT issues.
The ATRA also blocks news websites, social media platforms and posts, blogs, VoIP services, private messengers, and any other website that criticizes Afghanistan, its history, its politics, or the Taliban.
Will the Taliban shut down the internet in Afghanistan?
When the Taliban retook control of Afghanistan in 2021, there was widespread concern that it might close down the internet. Two years into its authoritarian rule, it has become clear that the Taliban intends to use the internet and social media as a means to control the country’s narrative.
Following years of insurgency, the Taliban has learned to embrace Afghanistan’s increasingly interconnected urban population as it did in 1996. Instead of banning the internet, it is now actively exploiting existing legal frameworks to impose censorship and is leveraging social media to combat dissent and broadcast its official narrative.
As part of its efforts, the Taliban is believed to have set up thousands of fake Twitter and Facebook accounts to spread propaganda and saturate the country with its official narrative. This, combined with censorship and continued pressure against journalists and dissenters, including by use of force, is allowing the Taliban to exert totalitarian control over the nation.
As a result of its novel approach to technology, it seems unlikely that the Taliban will close down the internet altogether. That said, anything that impacts its ability to maintain control over the country could be used as an excuse to install widespread blocks or to impose a complete internet blackout.
How is the Taliban’s regime affecting the country?
According to Amnesty International, the Taliban has caused a massive decline in social freedoms. Women’s rights have declined severely in the country. Human rights organizations have been closed down. Peaceful protesters have been persecuted, and dissenters are subjected to torture. In addition, the imposition of Sharia law has led to public floggings and executions.
In addition to this severe decline in social rights, which includes a lack of access to unbiased news, restrictions on the right to demonstrate publicly, and an inability to participate in public life, the Taliban’s rule has caused an enormous rise in poverty levels. 97% of Afghans now live in poverty compared to 47% in 2020. According to Freedom House, the country has a freedom rating of just 10 out of 100, making it one of the most oppressive and dangerous countries in the world