Skype has become the de facto voice-over-IP (VoIP) service worldwide for making voice and video calls over the internet. It allows anyone in the world to create an account and start making calls to other Skype users for free, and to mobile and landlines for just pennies a minute.
In many countries, however, using Skype is either prohibited or limited. ISPs block access to Skype either at the government’s request or for their own benefit. The reasons vary from country to country. In some places, like Belize, the big telecom operators don’t want competition from over-the-top (OTT) VoIP services like Skype. In others, like Egypt, the government won’t allow Skype to operate because they cannot monitor people’s communications. Finally, some countries make it prohibitively expensive and difficult for Skype to operate. In the UAE for example, Skype has been unable to acquire the proper telecom operator license.
No matter where you are, however, you can always access Skype with the help of a good VPN service. Short for a Virtual Private Network, a VPN encrypts all of a device’s internet traffic and routes it through an intermediary server in an online location of the user’s choosing. The encryption hides the contents of your online activity, and the server masks its destination.
How to unblock Skype with a VPN
If you’re in a place where Skype is blocked, follow these instructions to unblock it with a VPN.
Here’s how to unblock Skype from anywhere with a VPN:
- Sign up for one of the VPNs recommended below. We particularly recommend NordVPN.
- Download and install the VPN app for your device.
- Open the app and select a server in a country where Skype is not blocked.
- Hit the Connect button.
- Wait a few moments for the connection to complete.
- Open Skype and use it as you normally would.
That’s it! You can now use Skype without restrictions through the VPN connection. Make sure to enable your VPN’s leak protection and kill switch to ensure no Skype data escapes the encrypted VPN tunnel.
We go into details on each of the VPN service providers that unblock Skype below, but if you don’t want to read the whole post, below are our top picks.
Best VPNs for Skype:
- NordVPN Our top pick for a Skype VPN. Zero-logs policy and strong security. Unblocks Skype and popular streaming sites. Has tons of server options. 30-day money-back guarantee.
- Surfshark Best low-cost alternative. Doesn’t keep any logs and puts user privacy first. Decent speeds, good unblocking ability.
- ExpressVPN It works in China, UAE and other countries which block Skype. Strong security, no logs, and you can even purchase it anonymously. Fast servers and works on a wide range of devices.
- IPVanish Good connection speeds and privacy features. Also popular with torrenters and Kodi users.
- VyprVPN Boasts strong security and fast speeds. Look elsewhere for torrenting.
- PureVPN Good online security and keep no activity logs.
Your ISP cannot see that you are using Skype when the VPN is enabled, but we do not encourage you to break the law in countries where using a VPN or Skype is illegal.
To narrow down the list of the best VPNs for Skype, we chose the following criteria:
- Fast, stable connections for clear VoIP communications
- Strong encryption
- No logs policy
- Apps for multiple operating systems
Best VPNs for Skype
These are the best VPN service providers for accessing Skype from any country.
Money-back guarantee: 30 DAYS
NordVPN operates servers locations in over 60 countries and allows up to six connected devices at once. Some of those servers are optimized for better stability (anti-DDoS), faster streaming (ultra-fast TV), and improved digital privacy (Tor over VPN, double VPN). Strong encryption is used on all connections and the company plans to improve it further this year. NordVPN maintains a strict zero-logs policy on both traffic and metadata. Apps are available for Windows, Linux, MacOS, Android, and iOS.
- Large server network works great with Skype from almost anywhere
- Provides secure, encrypted connections
- Extremely fast – great for streaming
- Easily unblocks a wide range of geo-locked sites
- 24/7 live chat support on offer
- Desktop app can be awkward to use
BEST VPN FOR SKYPE:NordVPN is our first choice. With a large range of servers and high speeds, this is a good all-rounder option that unblocks Skype and most other VoIP services. Great privacy and security credentials. Offers a risk-free 30-day money back guarantee.
Read our detailed NordVPN Review.
Money-back guarantee: 30 DAYS
Surfshark operates more than 3,200 servers in 60+ countries worldwide. It’s fast enough for most purposes (although there is the occasional slow server) and capable of unblocking Skype from almost anywhere. Your connection is secured with 256-bit AES encryption, protection against WebRTC, DNS, and IPv6 leaks, a no-logs policy, and a kill switch. Surfshark offers a NoBorders mode that lets you bypass country-wide blocking, and it even works in China. Apps are available for Windows, iOS, Android, Linux, and MacOS but it can also be manually configured for use with supported home routers.
- Unblocks Skype in countries like China and the UAE
- No connection limit
- Strong security and privacy credentials
- Great at unblocking stubborn services abroad
- Zero-log provider
- Fairly small (but expanding) network
- Some slow speeds
BEST BUDGET VPN:Surfshark places major emphasis on privacy. With a no-logs policy, low price point, and NoBorders feature designed for use in countries with widespread internet blocking, it’s ideal for Skype calls. What’s more, a 30-day money-back guarantee is included.
Read our full review of Surfshark here.
Money-back guarantee: 30 DAYS
ExpressVPN optimizes every one of its servers in all 94 countries it operates in, so you should never have a problem with call quality. The provider uses the highest standards of encryption and authentication, including perfect forward secrecy. It keeps no traffic logs and minimal, non-identifying metadata logs. Well-designed, easy-to-use apps are available for Windows, MacOS, Android, iOS, Linux (command line), and certain wifi routers. ExpressVPN works in countries such as China, the UAE and others where Skype and many VPNs are blocked from working. Great for video conferencing and instant messaging.
ExpressVPN is also a great option for streaming and works with major platforms including Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, BBC iPlayer, Hulu, Disney Plus and many more.
- Superfast and secure connections with no bandwidth or data restrictions
- Servers can unblock just about any popular streaming service
- Live chat support 24/7
- Not the cheapest provider in this list
- Could offer more advanced customization options
ANONYMOUS CALLING:ExpressVPN is a strong choice. Reliably unblocks Skype as well as many other VoIP apps. Top performer with unblocking streaming services. Hard to beat on online privacy and security. There is a 30-day money-back guarantee.
Read our full review of ExpressVPN.
Money-back guarantee: 30 DAYS
IPVanish also owns all of its physical servers worldwide, guaranteeing you speed with unlimited bandwidth and no data caps. It comes packaged with a no-logs policy and military-grade encryption. Users can set how often they want their IP address to change and enable some privacy settings including IPv6 leak protection, DNS leak protection, a kill switch, and traffic obfuscation. Apps are available for Windows, MacOS, Android, and iOS.
- Works well with all major VoIP apps including Skype
- Connections, communications and traffic remain encrypted and private at all times
- Preferred by Kodi and Firestick TV for its remote-friendly apps
- Handles simultaneous internet connections well
- Look elsewhere if you need to use apps in China
UP TO 10 DEVICES:IPVanish has a large network of servers. Generally solid for Skype users, and folks who need the highest standard of digital privacy, but look elsewhere if you want to unblock popular streaming content. 7-day money back guarantee.
Read our full IPVanish Review.
Money-back guarantee: 30 DAYS
VyprVPN owns and operates all of its own servers and network equipment, unlike most other providers who rent out from third parties. That means better privacy and performance, ensuring clear audio and video quality when using Skype. For those concerned about government surveillance, an optional “Chameleon” protocol promises a stealthier connection than what you get with the standard OpenVPN protocol. The company keeps no traffic logs but does store some metadata. Apps are available for Windows, MacOS, Android, and iOS.
- No issues working with Skype during our tests
- Connection speeds are fast and stable
- Excellent security and privacy features
- Great for instant messaging and video conferencing
- Lacking options for advanced configuration
- Slightly slower than rivals
Has an easy set up:VyprVPN is user friendly. Works well with Skype and other popular VoIP services. Good performer but a bit pricey. 30-day money-back guarantee.
Read our full VyprVPN review.
Money-back guarantee: 31 DAYS
PureVPN boasts a huge range of servers across 121 countries. The company uses 128-bit AES encryption, which isn’t as strong as its rivals but it’s plenty strong enough for the vast majority of users. No traffic logs are stored on company servers. Connection speed is excellent and the apps are easy for novice’s to pick up quickly. Apps are available for Windows, MacOS, iOS, Android, and DD-WRT wifi routers.
- Secure and private option for Skype
- Revamped user interface and features
- Unblocks geo-restricted services like US Netflix
- Connections occasionally took up to a minute during testing
- Connection speeds are sometimes unpredictable
- Overcoming the stigma of earlier bad press surrounding privacy
EASY TO USE:PureVPN has a great app. Good for unblocking Skype connections. Offers strong security and privacy settings. It pegs some fast speeds but can have some connection issues. 7-day money-back guarantee.
Read our in-depth PureVPN Review.
China users: don’t use TOM Skype
If you live in China and go to the Microsoft website to download Skype without a VPN, you’ll have a good chance to end up with TOM Skype. While it looks more or less the same, TOM Skype is a China-compliant version of Skype that allows Chinese authorities to independently spy on and censor conversations.
Instead, connect to a VPN and download the international version that Chinese authorities can’t crack, at least not without Skype’s explicit permission and assistance.
Tip: Many VPNs are blocked in China. We maintain a list of working China VPN services.
VPN for Skype FAQ
What countries is Skype blocked in?
Skype is banned nationwide in the following countries: Guyana, Kuwait, Libya, North Korea, Oman, Qatar, and the UAE.
Skype is regionally limited, banned by certain ISPs, or periodically blocked in these countries: Bahrain, Belize, Brazil, several Carribean countries, China, Cuba, Egypt, Iran, Jordan, Malaysia, Mexico, Morocco, Myanmar, Pakistan, Paraguay, Panama, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Syria, Thailand, Tunisia, Turkey, Vietnam, Russia, Venezuela, and Yemen
Read more: Best VPNs for UAE and Dubai and the legal position on VPN use.
Will using a VPN with Skype prevent government surveillance?
Skype calls and messages are encrypted, but not end-to-end. The service uses strong 256-bit AES encryption and unbreakable 2,048-encryption keys. Instant messages are sent using either TLS or AES encryption. The only thing that's not encrypted is the part of a mobile or landline call that travels over ordinary phone networks (PSTN).
However, despite that encryption, reports have surfaced suggesting certain governments listen to Skype users' conversations.
In 2013, Edward Snowden revealed that the NSA had widespread access to voice and video calls on the service which were presumed to be encrypted. Even before Skype was acquired by Microsoft, Snowden showed the company was working with the NSA. Since it was acquired in 2011, the amount of information being collected has tripled and now includes video.
We now know that American, Russian, and Chinese officials can eavesdrop on Skype conversations. While the exact method isn't abundantly clear, we have a pretty good idea of how it works. Normally, when you call or message someone on Skype, that data is encrypted using a session key randomly generated on your computer. That key is sent to the recipient so that only they can decrypt it.
When a government authority requests, however, Skype can covertly switch the session key on your device for one generated on Skype's servers. When the voice, video, and message data passes through Skype's servers, they can then intercept it and decrypt it for the authority to see.
So, will a VPN protect you from this? Probably not, to be frank. It's not clear what Microsoft's procedure is on this. If you connect to a VPN and change your IP address to a country that's not Russia, the US, or China, then it's possible you would be exempt from being spied on. But it's also just as likely that Microsoft will hand over information on demand no matter where you are located.
If you want to use Skype, your data must pass through Microsoft's servers without VPN encryption at some point. There's simply no avoiding this. If this is a deal-breaker, try an alternative VoIP service.
Note that this tactic is probably not used on a mass scale for bulk data gathering. It would most likely happen on an individual, case-by-case basis only when requested by authorities.
Can’t I use a free VPN provider where Skype is banned?
Free VPNs typically don't offer sufficient bandwidth for voice and video calls. Paid providers give users access to fast servers that won't diminish call quality or interrupt calls to buffer.
Furthermore, free VPNs are not to be trusted. They often monitor users' activity while using the VPN and sell data collected to third-party advertisers. They impose bandwidth limits and data caps, and many are even known to carry malware.
For Skype users, paid VPNs are far superior.
Does Skype work in China?
Skype is intermittently blocked in China, including Skype's website and its actual service. Users report being able to use Skype in China without a VPN, though it is unreliable. A VPN will ensure you can call and chat on Skype without restrictions, and without worrying about government spying.
How to make Skype faster?
Skype call quality and reliability depends largely on your available bandwidth. If your calls are of low quality or are frequently interrupted for buffering, then your first step should be to increase bandwidth.
You can improve bandwidth by disabling downloads on any devices in your home, including streams and system updates, so that Skype has more bandwidth to work with. Turn off any apps or devices that Skype is sharing bandwidth yet.
All of the VPNs we recommend should give you sufficient bandwidth, but it will help to choose a server located near either yourself or the recipient of your call. This will reduce the time it takes for data to travel between you and the other party.