Only specific VPN services have been banned in Turkey.
In November 2016, Turkey’s Information and Communication Technologies Authority ordered Turkish ISPs to block access to Tor and several VPNs services including Hotspot Shield, Psiphon, Zenmate, TunnelBear, VyprVPN and ExpressVPN.
The government uses deep packet inspection (DPI) to inspect, identify, and block traffic if it belongs to one of these VPN services.
It can use this to block VPN traffic when it identifies it, but it is nowhere near as effective as China’s Great Firewall.
For this reason, banned VPNs using obfuscation technology usually still work in Turkey despite the bans, including both ExpressVPN and VyprVPN.
Istanbul, Turkey. A group protests Turkey’s introduction of content filtering.
Is it Legal to Use a VPN in Turkey?
It is completely legal to use a VPN in Turkey. Though banned websites are blocked, people are not held legally responsible for attempting to access them using a VPN.
Something to keep in mind, though, is that whatever you do while using a VPN in Turkey is still subject to Turkish law.
This includes Article 301, which legislates prison sentences of up to two years for anyone who “publicly denigrates the Turkish nation”.
This law has been used to actively punish criticism of the Turkish government, its leaders and its actions.
Beyond this, there have been large numbers of arrests in recent years over Twitter comments critical of the government.
If you log onto a Twitter account associated with your real-life name or identity and then start criticising Erdoğan, you could encounter harsh consequences.
Which VPNs Are Banned in Turkey?
Some banned VPNs have the capacity to overcome Turkey’s censorship technologies, but others don’t.
These popular VPN services do not work in Turkey:
- Hotspot Shield
- Private Internet Access
If your VPN isn’t working in Turkey, one possible workaround is to switch to a VPN that offers port forwarding.
OpenVPN connections generally use UDP port 1194, and this can be used to identify it as a VPN connection.
HTTPS traffic, though, generally passes through TCP port 443. If you can get your OpenVPN traffic to pass through this port it is effectively disguised as normal traffic.
You will need a VPN provider whose client includes port forwarding to do this. To learn more about port forwarding, read our list of the best VPNs for torrenting.
How To Download a VPN in Turkey
It can be difficult to download a VPN in Turkey because the government blocks VPN websites.
If you are planning on travelling to Turkey, we recommend downloading a VPN before leaving your home country to guarantee you can use it once you are there.
If you haven’t done this, or you are from Turkey and don’t have access to the open internet, you can use a proxy to access the website of your chosen VPN provider and download their app.
Fortunately, only major VPN services have actually been blocked, so it is generally possible to find a safe download link.
If your chosen VPN provider has been blocked, contact their customer support. The top VPNs for Turkey will usually provide an alternative URL that has not been banned by the censors.