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Does NordVPN Work in China

Does NordVPN Work in China? Confirmed & Tested in 2024

China is continuously stepping up its VPN censorship efforts, a move that has made many major VPN services like NordVPN almost unusable there. In this article, we explore whether NordVPN works in China and which alternatives you can use if it doesn’t.

Arthur SabayiSamuel ChapmanIgor Kurtz

Written by Arthur Sabayi (Writer)

Reviewed by Samuel Chapman (Writer, Editor)

Facts checked by Igor Kurtz (Fact-checking editor)

Last Updated: 2024-05-10T20:22:57+00:00

All our content is written fully by humans; we do not publish AI writing. Learn more here.

Key Takeaways: NordVPN China Alternatives

  1. Proton VPN — Best free VPN for China
  2. Mullvad — Reliable obfuscation
  3. Astrill VPN — Most reliable VPN for China, but expensive
Facts & Expert Analysis

Facts & Expert Analysis from the article: 

  • NordVPN does not reliably work in China because the government is increasing VPN censorship.
  • NordVPN refuses to grant the Chinese government backdoor access, which has made it a target.

NordVPN is one of the best VPNs and is known for its reliable security. However, if you’re traveling to China soon and want to maintain outside internet access, you may be asking whether NordVPN works in China.

The short answer is that NordVPN is no longer a reliable VPN service for China. The Chinese government continues to increase its censorship efforts against popular VPNs and has met with great success, neutering both NordVPN and ExpressVPN. It may work one time only to fail the next. Don’t worry, though; we have included alternative VPN apps you can try instead. 

  • 02/05/2024 Facts checked

    Article updated with current information that NordVPN does not reliably work in China.

Does NordVPN Work in China?

NordVPN almost always fails to work in China at the moment.

Why Many VPN Providers Don’t Work in China

The Chinese government developed complicated VPN compliance laws in 2019 that effectively locked out many VPN providers like NordVPN. The government also controls all internet service providers in the country and monitors their IP addresses.

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Though China has not explicitly banned VPNs, one of the requirements it imposes on VPN providers is impossible for any reputable service to comply with. For a VPN service like NordVPN to receive approval in China, it has to grant the government backdoor access, which defeats the entire purpose of a VPN and makes it completely insecure. This is why most VPNs have pulled out of China.

Why You Need Multiple VPNs in China

No VPN works 100% of the time in China, so you need to combine multiple VPNs and switch to another one whenever one stops working. The Great Firewall detects VPN traffic and blocks the IP address you’re connected to. However, blocking a VPN with obfuscation is harder, so we recommend using a VPN that offers obfuscation.

NordVPN & China’s Great Firewall: How Does It Work?

The Great Firewall of China launched in 1998 to monitor and censor every online network in the country. Internet traffic between China and the rest of the world travels through a very small number of fiber optic cables, with limited access points that are easy to control. The Chinese government also controls all the major internet service providers in the country.

IP blocking, whereby routers drop any packet destined for a blocked IP, is the Chinese government’s most effective censorship method. Other techniques include DNS tampering, which involves falsifying responses from DNS servers. Deep packet inspection (DPI) is used to catch proxies that hide forbidden content. This is used against VPNs and is where countermeasures like obfuscation prove useful.

There are ways a VPN can get around this, though it’s never guaranteed. Obfuscation is the most effective, as it masks your VPN connection and passes it off as a regular internet connection to avoid detection. To access NordVPN’s obfuscated servers, change your protocol to OpenVPN (TCP or UDP). At the moment, there are more than 100 obfuscated servers to choose from.

If you go with regular VPN servers that use the NordLynx protocol — which has no obfuscation — you may be able to beat simple censorship methods like IP blocking by continually switching to new servers. If IP blocking persists, change VPNs. VPN use in China is like a game of Whac-A-Mole, where the winner is whoever manages to stay one step ahead.

How to Use NordVPN in China

Setting up NordVPN for China is easy. We list the steps to follow below, though be aware that we can’t guarantee unfettered internet access.

You must download and install NordVPN before traveling to China since the NordVPN website is blocked within the country. If you’re already in China, you can use mirror sites like, or to download the app to your device.

  1. Subscribe to a VPN

    Grab a NordVPN subscription that fits your budget.

    get nordvpn
  2. Download and Install the VPN

    Download and install the NordVPN app that is compatible with the device you intend to use.

    nordvpn download
  3. Launch the VPN and Select the OpenVPN Protocol

    Go to settings once you’ve launched the VPN and switch to the OpenVPN protocol to access obfuscated servers.

    nordvpn protocols
  4. Connect to an Obfuscated Server

    Scroll down the VPN server list in the left panel and tap “obfuscated servers” to connect to the fastest server with obfuscation. You’re now free to use NordVPN without detection.

    nordvpn obfuscated servers

NordVPN Not Working in China? Here Are Some Alternatives

If NordVPN doesn’t work for you, we’ve listed the best VPNs for China that you can try. Here’s a brief breakdown of what makes an ideal substitute.

  1. Proton VPN — Proton VPN offers obfuscation, which is necessary to mask your VPN traffic and avoid being blocked. The VPN has more than 3,000 servers in 70+ countries that can access blocked content from within China. Check out our Proton VPN review for more.
  2. Mullvad — Mullvad VPN offers obfuscation via the WireGuard protocol and through a Shadowsocks feature called v2ray. You also have access to 600+ servers in 40 countries to bypass geo-restrictions in China. Our Mullvad review explains how all its features work.
  3. Astrill VPN — Astrill VPN is one of the few VPNs with consistent success in China thanks to its obfuscation feature, StealthVPN. There are servers in more than 120 cities across 58 countries that allow you to access blocked content in China. Unfortunately, it’s one of the most expensive VPNs out there, as we discuss more in our Astrill VPN review.

Final Thoughts

We can’t guarantee that NordVPN will work in China, which has more to do with China’s censorship efforts than NordVPN’s ability to bypass them. Switching servers, changing protocols and connecting to obfuscated servers can sometimes help bypass these blocks. Alternatives like Proton VPN, Astrill or Mullvad may work better.

Have you been to China and used VPN software that got you onto the free and open internet? How were the connection speeds? Tell us your experiences in the comments below, and keep reading our content for more informative pieces.

FAQ: NordVPN-China alternative

  • You need a VPN in China to access blocked websites like Netflix, Facebook or Google and to protect your online activity from government surveillance.

  • NordVPN isn’t explicitly banned in China, but government rules and heavy censorship make it hard for anyone to use NordVPN in China.

  • Most free VPNs don’t work in China, and we don’t recommend that anyone use them. Most free VPNs lack obfuscation, and some sell user data to third parties. Proton VPN’s free plan is your best choice for a free China VPN.

  • VPN apps are banned in China, with the exception of Chinese and government-approved VPNs, but those are monitored. VPN apps with good security -- like NordVPN -- can work in China unnoticed. However, you can be fined if you’re caught using VPNs in China.
  • Many VPNs just don’t have what it takes to bypass the Great Firewall. However, some VPN providers are dedicated to ensuring users in China can safely connect to the internet, and these VPNs offer great support. You now know that NordVPN works in China, but you can also use ExpressVPN in China.
  • Yes, you can use NordVPN in China, but you need to follow the steps in this guide to ensure you’re secure while doing so. You can use NordVPN’s 30-day money-back guarantee to see for yourself.
  • NordVPN is one of the top choices in our best VPN services for China roundup, so you’re in good hands.
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