How to unlock Telegram with a VPN

Illustration of a hand holding a smartphone with the Telegram logo on the screen
(Image credit: Pixabay)

Following WhatsApp's revised privacy policy in 2021, countless people have turned to Telegram instead. However, while the app continues to grow in popularity, so does its opposition across the world. This means that a Telegram VPN may well come in handy.

Countries such as Cuba and China have issued total bans while others, like Russia, have brought in temporary blocks. This means that if you find yourself in these regions, logging into one of the best VPN services would be your best bet to access the messaging app. 

That's largely down to a combination of Telegram's privacy-focused features - like secret chats and self-destructing messages - and its liberal approach towards the content shared across its channels and groups. These elements have encouraged many governments to enforce censorship on the platform over the last few years.

The good news is that with a reliable Telegram VPN you'll be able to get around these bans easily. By hiding your real IP address and securing your connection through a different location, the service will allow you to use the app as normal - no matter where you are in the world. Read on to discover all you need to know about bypassing Telegram bans. 

Today's best Telegram VPNs:

1. ExpressVPN - our #1 Telegram VPN (opens in new tab)

1. ExpressVPN - our #1 Telegram VPN (opens in new tab)
Our top-rated VPN service overall, ExpressVPN has an amazing track record in unlocking banned apps and websites. Equipped with some of the best security features and a clean interface across tons of devices, it's a no-brainer. Try it out with its 30-day money back guarantee risk-free trial.

2. NordVPN - great for unblocking (opens in new tab)

2. NordVPN - great for unblocking (opens in new tab)
Perhaps the biggest name in the VPN game, NordVPN is great for eluding any type of geo-restrictions. The provider also offers blazing speeds while keeping you super secure. Its network of over 5,000 servers worldwide  means you'll have plenty of choice.

3. Surfshark (opens in new tab)

3. Surfshark - best budget Telegram VPN (opens in new tab)
Looking to save some bucks on your new Telegram VPN? Then you'll be happy to know that Surfshark really undercuts the rest at less than $2.50 USD per month. However, its dedicated features to bypass censorship - like its NoBorders option - are the ones shining the most here. Definitely one to consider. 

How does a Telegram VPN work?

When you connect to Telegram, the app detects your location by tracking down your IP address. In countries where Telegram is banned, your IP would prevent you from accessing the platform. In this case, your best move will be using a mobile VPN to bypass these blocks.

Short for Virtual Private Network, a Telegram VPN allows you to secure your internet connection through an overseas server. In this way, your Internet Service Provider (ISP) will think that you are in a different location. This makes the service vital for getting around any kind of government censorship. 

VPNs also use encryption protocols to secure your data, boosting your online privacy beyond what Telegram already offers. This prevents your ISPs from tracking your activities, making them virtually anonymous.

Unlock Telegram everywhere in three easy steps

As we have seen, Telegram VPNs are a handy tool to enjoy the service from anywhere across the globe. And, in even better news, they're really easy to use. All you have to do is follow these steps: 

  1. Download a VPN - our number one pick is ExpressVPN.
  2. Connect to a server located in a country where Telegram is available
  3. Start using Telegram like normal!

Infographic showing how a VPN works

(Image credit: ExpressVPN)

Telegram VPN: FAQ

Why do countries ban Telegram?

As mentioned above, accessing Telegram can be quite difficult - if not impossible - depending where you are in the world. That's because many governments are implementing bans to prevent their citizens from using the messaging app. 

The censorship campaign is motivated by diverse reasons, and the blocks can apply to the entire platform or only on specific channels, lasting either long or short-term. 

More authoritarian countries see Telegram as a threat as here the app is mainly used to bypass national censorship and share counter-information among its users. 

The platform has indeed been central for fuelling and coordinating protests in Cuba, Belarus, Thailand and Hong-Kong, for instance. That's why these nations have decided to either completely banned the app (like Cuba), plan to do so (as is threatened in Hong Kong), or censors specific anti-government channels (in Belarus, for example).

But the full use of Telegram has also been restricted, on what many would describe as more liberal countries, over concerns that it might be used in harmful ways. 

These can be extremist groups spreading fake news or web pirates illegally sharing copyrighted content. Take a case in November 2021, for instance, where a Portuguese court ordered Telegram to block a selection of channels that facilitated piracy.

Telegram also agreed to shut down more than 60 channels in Germany while implementing the same norm for the future. These came under increased criticism as far right-wing groups used the platform to organize violent demonstrations against the government’s pandemic policies while spreading misinformation. 

VPN on a mobile phone

(Image credit: Shutterstock)

Is Telegram safe?

Despite Telegram's enormous growth - it now boasts over 500 million active users worldwide - many have expressed concerns about its degree of safety, especially in contrast to that of its main competitors Signal and WhatsApp

One of the most worrying factors is that end-to-end encryption (E2EE) is not offered as default, but it needs to be activated by users via the app's setting.  

There are also concerns over the handling of user data. Telegram's privacy policy states that it "may collect metadata such as your IP address, devices and Telegram apps you've used, history of username changes, etc. If collected, this metadata can be kept for 12 months maximum".

Platform moderators may also check your messages to look out for spam and abuse. In case of anti-terror investigations, Telegram may disclose the suspect IP address and phone number to the relevant authorities. Although, the app commits not to use user data for ad targeting or other commercial purposes.

How to stay safe with Telegram

The abovementioned safety worries could be a further reason to only use the app when you also have a Telegram VPN turned on. Again, this security service protects your privacy by encrypting your data and making your activities anonymous. 

Thanks to a VPN for Telegram you won't just be able to bypass governments bans, but you will also secure even further your online privacy. 

Everything will be as simple as downloading and setting up a new app. With a couple of clicks the privacy shield will lie over your conversations, protecting them from any intrusive eyes - whether it's a snooping ISP, repressive government, Telegram employee, or malicious hacker.

Correction: March 11, 2022

An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated that Telegram offers E2EE only for two types of communications: secret chats and voice calls. 

Chiara Castro
Staff Writer

Chiara is a multimedia journalist, with a special eye for latest trends and issues in cybersecurity. She is a Staff Writer at Future with a focus on VPNs. She mainly writes news and features about data privacy, online censorship and digital rights for TechRadar, Tom's Guide and T3. With a passion for digital storytelling in all its forms, she also loves photography, video making and podcasting. Originally from Milan in Italy, she has been based in Bristol, UK, since 2018.