VPN use is widespread both inside Australia and with Australians traveling abroad who want to connect to Aussie TV or protect their online privacy when using unsecured public wifi connections.
Whether you want to hide your online activities from your ISP and hackers, or find the best VPNs for streaming blocked content abroad, we’ve got you covered.
We’ll discuss each of the best VPNs for Australia in detail, but if you don’t want to stick around, here are our top picks:
Best VPN services for Australia:
- NordVPN Our #1 choice VPN for Australia. Best in class on security, with thousands of very fast, secure VPN servers to choose from. Works great with streaming sites like Netflix and includes a 30-day money-back guarantee.
- Surfshark Best budget option for Australia. This quick and easy to use VPN allows any number of connections and unblocks a huge range of services.
- ExpressVPN Servers in 94 countries, all optimized for speed. Offers a wide range of security features and strong unblocking abilities.
- CyberGhost Another low-cost option. Easy-to-use option with blazing fast servers and the ability to unblock Netflix and other streaming sites.
- IPVanish Plenty of fast server locations to choose from, no logs policy, and torrent-friendly.
- Hotspot Shield Good low-cost alternative for Australia. Extremely fast speeds and excellent, unblocking ability.
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Australians can sometimes feel a bit isolated from the rest of the world. Even on the internet, Australia is often the last priority among English-speaking nations when it comes to popular products and services.
That means fewer options and in some cases, no options at all when Australians want to stream a TV show, play a video game or listen to music. The lack of choice can lead to increased piracy of copyrighted material. In December 2016, a federal court in Australia ordered internet service providers to block BitTorrent tracker sites including ThePirateBay, Torrentz, TorrentHound, IsoHunt and SolarMovie.
This unfortunate reality is compounded by the country’s less-than-stellar user data retention laws. Australian telecom companies are required to monitor and record customers’ metadata, including information about their phone calls, texts, emails, and geolocation. This includes Internet Service Providers which the government requires to collect data on their customers.
It should come as no surprise, then, that Australia is a market ripe for VPN providers. A VPN, or virtual private network, encrypts a device’s internet traffic and routes it through an intermediary server in a location of the user’s choosing. This can allow Australians to access blocked content that’s geo-locked in their own country. It can also provide a private tunnel through which to use P2P filesharing applications.
The VPNs in this list also have servers with Australian IP addresses so you can connect to your favorite Aussie TV when abroad in addition to accessing geo-locked content (like US Netflix or BBC) from inside Australia.
We narrowed down our list of the best VPNs for Australia based on the following criteria:
- Network of servers in APAC
- Torrenting allowed
- Capable of unblocking Netflix and other streaming services
- Fast speeds
Best VPNs for Australia
Based on these criteria we’ve compiled a list of the top VPN service providers for Australia:
Money-back guarantee: 30 DAYS
NordVPN is one of the fastest VPNs around, and operates servers in 60 countries with multiple locations in the Asia-Pacific region. This VPN excels at unblocking geo-restricted services and can bypass the Netflix proxy firewall in the US and Australia alike. It keeps zero logs of any kind and is based in Panama, where it is not subject to any data retention laws. NordVPN puts personal privacy first with AES 256-bit encryption and secure VPN servers.
NordVPN also offers special servers optimized for privacy and high-speed downloads, such as ultra-fast streaming, double hop VPN, Tor over VPN, and anti-DDoS.
- Top VPN contender for Australia
- Unblocks foreign Netflix libraries and streams at good speeds
- No compromises on privacy and security features
- Purpose specific servers available (streaming, torrenting, P2P etc.)
- Australian servers give access to Aussie content abroad
- Desktop app takes some getting used to
Read our full review of NordVPN.
Money-back guarantee: 30 DAYS
Surfshark is a smaller provider that’s great for unblocking region-locked content like Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime Video, and BBC iPlayer. It’s the only VPN on this list to allow an unlimited number of devices to connect under a single account. That makes it a great budget option to share with trusted friends and family.
Surfshark allows P2P file-sharing on all server locations and keeps no logs of your online activity. Encryption is strong, and an automatic kill switch prevents unprotected traffic from leaving your device if the VPN secure connection drops. Live chat support is available 24/7.
Apps (or browser extensions) are available for Windows, MacOS, iOS, Android, and Linux.
- Generally solid speeds
- Fantastic set of security features
- Great at unblocking popular streaming platforms like Netflix, Hulu, and BBC iPlayer
- Allows torrenting and P2P file-sharing
- Unlimited simultaneous connections
- Global server network is smaller than most other VPNs
- Occasional slow server
Read our full Surfshark review.
Money-back guarantee: 30 DAYS
ExpressVPN operates more than 2,000 worldwide servers across 94 countries, with more than 20 in APAC alone. Torrenting is allowed on all servers. It’s consistently performed well in our unblocking tests and our speed tests so is a good option for streaming content. It can unblock both the US and Australian Netflix catalogs in a browser and the Netflix app.
It keeps no traffic logs and is based in the British Virgin Islands, where it is not subject to any user data retention laws. ExpressVPN makes apps for Windows, MacOS, Android, iOS, Linux (command line) and some wifi routers.
- Exceptional for Australian use and accessing Australian content while abroad
- Fast servers are great for high-quality streaming and downloading
- Gets around torrent tracker sites blocks without compromising privacy
- Nullifies mandatory ISP data retention
- Apps have sound digital security and privacy features
- Not as configurable as some power users would like
- Doesn’t come cheap, use a coupon for discounts
Read our full ExpressVPN Review.
Money-back guarantee: 45 DAYS
CyberGhost operates a vast network of more than 6,400 servers, including 104 in Australia and more than 1000 in the US. It has a strong focus on unblocking streaming services like Netflix and Amazon Prime Video. It’s also popular with torrenters and has a dedicated “Torrent Anonymously” option within its apps. Plus, speeds are excellent, making it a great all-rounder. CyberGhost doesn’t log user activity or record IP addresses. Apps are available for Windows, MacOS, Linux, iOS, and Android.
- Operates servers in Australia, great for accessing local content while abroad
- Beginners find their apps easy to set up and use.
- We were impressed by their server speeds during testing
- Solid privacy and security features enabled by default
- Lack of configuration options will frustrate power users
- No dedicated apps for routers
Read our full CyberGhost VPN review.
Money-back guarantee: 30 DAYS
IPVanish operates hundreds of server locations in 60 countries, including 12 in APAC. It owns all of its own physical servers resulting in some of the fastest download speeds available from any VPN. Those speeds cannot be put toward streaming Netflix, however, as IPVanish is currently not able to unblock Netflix. It’s a good option for P2P filesharers. Torrenting traffic is allowed on all servers. The company is based in the US but has a strict no-logging policy.
- Own and operate server locations in Australia
- Impressive speeds and reliable secure connections
- Torrenting is allowed and they keep no internet traffic logs
- Secure unlimited devices
- Look elsewhere if you need to unblock Netflix
- Can’t signup with Bitcoin
- Apps don’t work in China
Read our full IPVanish review.
Money-back guarantee: 45 DAYS
Hotspot Shield has expanded its server network to comprise over 3,200 servers in more than 70 countries, including Australian servers. It has extremely fast speeds and can easily unblock sites like American Netflix in Australia, plus Amazon Prime Video, and Hulu. Hotspot Shield apps come with plenty of security features, including strong encryption, perfect forward secrecy, and leak protection. The service doesn’t log any information that can be used by third parties to identify a user. Apps are available for Android, iOS, MacOS, and Windows.
- Operates an expansive server network
- Easy-to-use apps for major operating systems
- Very fast speeds for streaming and downloading
- Solid security and privacy
- Few advanced features for power users
- No support for routers or Linux
GREAT LOW COST ALTERNATIVE:Hotspot Shield comes with an appealing price tag and offers everything you need for web browsing, streaming, and downloading. If you’re not satisfied within 45 days, you can get your money back.
Australia VPNs to avoid
One of the biggest motivations for using a VPN is to increase your online security and the privacy of your digital footprint while online. Unfortunately, not all VPNs do this, and some can even inhibit or reduce your privacy.
Israel-based Hola isn’t a traditional VPN in which customers connect to a network of centralized servers owned by the VPN company. Instead, Hola users connect to each other, using other internet users’ idle bandwidth as part of a large peer-to-peer network. Obviously, this comes with some pretty big security and legal concerns. Users could use each other’s internet access for illegal activity, for example. In 2015, Hola used its user’s computers to create a botnet and perform a massive distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack. The abuse of customers’ trust happened entirely without their knowledge.
In 2011, a LulzSec hacker was arrested for his involvement with an attack on the Sony Pictures website. Cody Kretsinger used HideMyAss VPN to conceal his online identity, but the company complied with a court order to hand over evidence that led to his arrest. This occurred despite the company’s pledge not to keep any logs of user activity. HMA says it does not log the contents of its users’ internet traffic, but it does keep detailed metadata logs that include users’ real IP addresses, which was enough to charge Kretsinger with a crime.
Now that the UK has passed the Snooper’s Charter, which requires service providers to maintain detailed logs of what their users do online, UK-based HideMyAss seems like the last service any privacy-conscious person would want to sign up for.
VPN Australia FAQ
Why you should avoid free VPNs?
It might be tempting to use a free VPN instead of a paid one, but we strongly advise against it. With very few exceptions, free VPNs are either incredibly limited or invade your privacy to mine personal data, which is then sold off to third-party advertisers.
Free VPNs often have data caps, bandwidth limits, and even queues. Server selection is limited. Some will inject advertisements into your browser and use tracking cookies to monitor your behavior. This actually reduces your privacy and defeats the purpose of a VPN.
Will a VPN help avoid Australia's data retention law?
A VPN provides a great many privacy protections that we think everyone should take advantage of. This is especially true in Australia where a 2017 report found that in the previous 12 months, cybercrime rates had increased by 15% to 47,000 incidents. However, within the specific context of Australia's 2015 data retention law, they won't do much good.
Google is full of articles claiming that a VPN will prevent ISPs from gathering metadata, but unfortunately that is not true. A VPN hides the contents of your internet traffic and your location from the outside world, but you still have to rely on your ISP's network to get there. Strictly speaking a VPN cannot prevent an ISP from logging your geolocation, device details, and traffic volume.
See also: Australia Freedom House report
Is torrenting illegal in Australia?
Torrenting copyrighted material is a crime in Australia, but there is little enforcement. It’s rare for copyright holders to successfully sue ISPs for torrenters’ identities, whom they can then request remuneration from using a practice called speculative invoicing.
However, there have been attempts to crack down on torrenting with mixed success. A “three-strikes” rule in which ISPs would notify torrenters on behalf of copyright holders was canned in 2016 due to disputes over implementation costs.
In 2016, a federal court in Australia ordered ISPs to block BitTorrent tracker sites including ThePirateBay, Torrentz, TorrentHound, IsoHunt and SolarMovie. This has proven to be somewhat effective as visits from Australia to these sites have dropped by 53%. This doesn't take into account VPN users -- the sites can still be accessed with any of the VPNs we listed above.
In 2017, another 59 pirate sites were added to the list of blocked sites, bringing the total to more than 160.
In late November 2018, the Australian Parliament passed the Copyright Amendment to the Copyright Act. This amendment forces ISPs to block proxy servers and mirror sites---duplicates of censored torrent sites that show up after the original site is blocked---without the need for multiple court orders. Second, the new law will force search engines like Google to remove or demote links to infringing sites, as well as their proxies and mirrors.
Comparitech does not condone or encourage piracy. Please stick to legal torrents.
Is using a VPN in Australia to access U.S. Netflix legal?
No, it is not against the law to access US Netflix from Australia with a VPN.
"You may view Netflix content primarily within the country in which you have established your account and only in geographic locations where we offer our service and have licensed such content. The content that may be available to watch will vary by geographic location and will change from time to time."
Netflix enforces this rule by blocking connections from most VPN providers, but it does not penalize users who attempt to watch through a VPN. We’ve not witnessed Netflix banning, suspending, or taking legal action against VPN users beyond simply blocking streams.
What are the best Australia streaming TV channels?
Here are some streaming services in Australia you can access from Australia:
- Netflix Australia
- 10Play (Network 10)
- Kayo (live sports)
- Amazon Prime Video
- Foxtel Now
- CBS 10 All Access
- Hayu (reality TV)
- Apple TV+
Is it illegal to go on the deep web in Australia?
No, it is not illegal to access the deep web or darknet in Australia. Check out our article on how to access the deep web and dark net safely and privately.
Will using a VPN improve my privacy when using social media?
To some degree, yes. A VPN hides your IP address from the social network and prevents third parties such as your ISP from monitoring your social media activity.
But social networks will still require you to log in to your account, so a VPN won’t hide your identity. Many social media sites also place tracking cookies on your device, which VPNs have no effect on.
Can identity theft be stopped by using a VPN?
Identity theft is a broad term used to describe a wide range of crimes, so a VPN can help but is not a silver bullet to preventing identity theft. A VPN protects data in transit, so if the identity thief is lying in wait on your wi-fi network, for example, then a VPN can prevent them from stealing your information.
But identity theft can occur under many different circumstances, so a VPN cannot protect you from every scenario. It won’t stop data breaches, phishing attempts, or thieves from digging through discarded documents in your garbage.
Which cities in Australia do NordVPN have servers?
NordVPN operates servers in Adelaide, Brisbane, Melbourne, Perth, and Sydney.
Which VPN is best for watching Aussie rules footy?
The cheapest way to watch Australian Rules Football (a.k.a. Aussie rules footy) online is Kayo, a sports streaming service in Australia. NordVPN has plenty of servers in Australia that can unblock Kayo. Prices for Kayo start at AU$25 per month for streaming on two devices.
You can also check out WatchAFL.com to stream AFL Premiership games from abroad, but it’s more expensive with monthly subscriptions starting at US$33 per month. If you’re outside of Australia, you won’t need a VPN, but viewers in Australia will need to connect to a VPN in another country to use WatchAFL.com.
It would probably be cheaper to subscribe to NordVPN and Kayo than to just pay for WatchAFL.com.
Can I watch British TV in Australia?
Yes! By connecting to a VPN server in the UK using one of the recommended services above, you can access BBC iPlayer, All 4, ITV, Sky Go, and much more British content.
How do I get American Netflix on my smart TV in Australia?
Smart TVs typically don’t support VPNs. So there are a few alternatives:
- Install the VPN on your wi-fi router, or purchase a pre-configured VPN router. ExpressVPN is our favorite option for this thanks to its custom VPN firmware. Any device you connect to the router will use the VPN.
- Use a laptop or phone as a VPN-enabled wi-fi hotspot. By connecting your phone or laptop to the VPN, then tethering your smart TV to that device, you can route your TV’s internet connection through the VPN. More on how to set up VPN-protected wi-fi hotspots from a laptop here.
- Use a smart DNS proxy. Although they don’t support VPNs, many smart TVs do allow customers to set custom DNS servers. For example, ExpressVPN gives all subscribers access to its MediaStreamer DNS service. This doesn’t have all the protections of a VPN, but it does unblock Netflix and other streaming services.
See also: How to get an Australian IP address