Germany has some of the best pro-consumer data protection laws globally, but the 2013 Snowden revelations revealed several reasons why German residents might still want to consider using a VPN to access the internet. The country’s top foreign intelligence agency has cooperated with the NSA in the past, and the government has tried to implement data retention laws.
Germany also has clear-cut rules that make P2P filesharing of copyrighted content illegal. Internet service providers in the country will work with law firms to target torrenters, for example. What’s not so clear is the country’s fair use policy, which would allow limited educational or artistic use of copyrighted material without permission. This is another reason to consider using a Virtual Private Network (VPN).
We provide in-depth details on each of our recommendations below, but if you only have time for a summary, here’s our list of the best VPN providers for Germany:
- NordVPN Our #1 choice for Germany. Veteran provider with over 10-years of experience and one of the largest networks of servers. Great connection speeds. Offers a 30-day money-back guarantee.
- Surfshark Best budget VPN. Highly versatile, with the ability to access lots of streaming sites. Allows unlimited connections.
- ExpressVPN Secure and super-fast servers. No logs kept on browsing activities. Apps are easy to use and secure.
- CyberGhost Great low-cost network with apps that are easy to use, even for beginners. Impressive server speeds.
- IPVanish Apps are remote control friendly which makes this a favorite with Kodi users and torrenters.
- StrongVPN Secure and private service, but may need manual configuration.
A VPN service encrypts all of a device’s traffic and routes it through an intermediary server in a location of the user’s choosing. This prevents public wi-fi hackers, internet service providers, and government agencies from snooping on traffic. It can bypass online censorship allowing you to access the internet without restriction, be it at an office or national level.
Plus, a VPN connection will mask the user’s true IP address, hiding their online identity from websites and apps and unblocking geographically restricted content like Netflix and other media streaming services online.
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Best VPN Providers for Germany
Although many VPN providers are up to the task, not all of them offer a comparable service. To be recognized as one of the best VPNs for Germany, providers need to meet the following criteria (more on these later):
- No usage logs
- Secure protocol(s)
- Strong encryption suite
- Unblocks geo-locked German content
- Speed and stability
- Global network of servers
Here is our list of your best options for a VPN for Germany:
Money-back guarantee: 30 DAYS
It even goes the extra mile by adding in extra features like double VPN, Tor over VPN, anti-DDoS servers, and servers optimized for ultra-fast streaming.
It’s great at accessing geo-locked content, too. You can look up which servers to use for sites like Netflix, BBC iPlayer, and Hulu on its website knowledge base. A single subscription to this VPN service nets you up to six simultaneous high-speed connections.
There are apps for Windows, MacOS, iOS, and Android.
- Veteran provider with over 240 servers throughout Germany
- Unblocks most popular streaming content at HD speeds from abroad
- Encrypts all communications and traffic at all times
- Round-the-clock chat support
- Speeds are faster than any other VPN on the market
- Only able to select a location, not a specific server
BEST VPN FOR GERMANY :NordVPN is our first choice for Germany. Oustanding privacy features, blazing fast speeds, and a six-device limit. Includes a risk-free 30-day money back guarantee.
Read our full NordVPN review.
Money-back guarantee: 30 DAYS
Surfshark might have a low price, but don’t be fooled: this VPN boasts numerous security features and clearly puts your privacy above all else. There’s 256-bit encryption, a kill switch (on all platforms), protection against DNS, WebRTC, and IPv6 leaks, automatic ad-blocking and malware-scanning, and even the option to scramble your traffic. Most importantly, though,Surfshark keeps no logs so details of your activities can’t be revealed, even if requested.
Of course, strong security isn’t all Surfshark has to offer. This service provides high speeds and can easily unblock some of the most stubborn services abroad. This means that even if you’re looking to use Netflix USA or BBC iPlayer while abroad in Germany, you’re unlikely to have any problems. If you do need help, though, you can reach customer support 24/7 via live chat.
Surfshark has Windows, MacOS, Android, iOS, and Linux apps. It can be manually installed on supported routers.
- Prioritizes your security
- Exceptional unblocking ability
- Connect as many devices as you like
- No logs policy
- Fast enough for HD live streaming
- Some servers are faster than others
- Has fewer servers than some of its competitors
Read our full review of Surfshark here.
BEST BUDGET CHOICE:Surfshark is inexpensive, secure, and adept at circumventing geo-restrictions from the likes of Netflix, BBC iPlayer, and more. It has no connection limit. Includes a 30-day money-back guarantee.
Money-back guarantee: 30 DAYS
ExpressVPN does not log any traffic content or the source IP of its users. It relies on the OpenVPN protocol by default, and secures it with industry-best encryption, authentication, perfect forward secrecy, and a built-in kill switch. The latter acts as a backup by killing the internet connection should the VPN connection drop.
This VPN provider securely accesses Netflix catalogs from several other countries, as well as other streaming services like Hulu, Amazon Prime and BBC iPlayer. You can chat with the company’s excellent 24/7 live support team to ask which servers work with which services.
Slick, easy-to-use apps are available for Windows, MacOS, iOS, Android, Linux (command-line), and some wifi routers.
- Fast and reliable choice, works flawlessly for Germany
- Can unblock most geo-restricted content at fast speeds
- No traffic logs or personally identifiable information is kept
- 24/7 live chat support staff are on the ball
- Not as cheap as some other services
- Could offer more control over advanced features
BROWSE SECURELY IN GERMANY:ExpressVPN is a privacy-focused provider that also unblocks most major streaming services with ease. Great connection speeds and powerful security features. 30-day money-back guarantee.
Read our full ExpressVPN review.
Money-back guarantee: 45 DAYS
CyberGhost is a Romania-headquartered VPN that’s recently changed hands and ramped up its service in almost every way. The number of servers has exploded to more than 5,700 servers in 111 worldwide locations operating out of 89 countries. This includes over 600 servers in Germany that are capable of unblocking ZDF, ARD, 7TV, German YouTube, Netflix and more.
This VPN provider stores no logs containing personally identifiable information and doesn’t record any of your online activity. 256-bit AES encryption envelops the OpenVPN protocol.
Servers performed well in our speed tests, and the company recently added some locations that work with streaming services like Netflix. You can even choose a VPN server based on the streaming service you wish to unblock.
Apps are available for Windows, MacOS, iOS, Linux, and Android.
- Low-cost provider that operates over 800 servers in Germany
- Their apps are easy to install and use
- Our testing revealed impressive server speeds
- All security features enabled by default
- Doesn’t work in China or the UAE
- Few customizable options
Easy-to-use apps:CyberGhost is easy to use. Great online privacy and security. Reliable in Germany and unblocks most popular streaming sites. 45-day money back guarantee.
Read our full CyberGhost review.
Money-back guarantee: 30 DAYS
IPVanish is one of the few VPN providers to own and operate all 1,000 of its own servers around the world rather than leasing them. This means your data passes through fewer hands, and it does so without traffic or metadata logs. This is an ideal VPN for torrenting and is popular with Kodi users too.
Military-grade encryption and authentication are par for the course. IPVanish isn’t as capable when it comes to streaming Netflix and Hulu, but does make our list of the Best BBC iPlayer VPN options and works for most other streaming sites.
Apps are available for Windows, MacOS, iOS, and Android.
- Operates 40+ fast servers in Germany
- Strong encryption makes apps secure
- Works well with Kodi devices
- Customer support can be a little slow
- Some servers didn’t perform well with Netflix or Hulu during testing
SECURE ALL DEVICES:IPVanish works with any number of connected devices. Great for families and multiple connections. Apps for most platforms. Look elsewhere if you need to watch Netflix or Hulu. 30-day money-back guarantee.
Read our full IPVanish review.
Money-back guarantee: 30 DAYS
StrongVPN maintains a no-logs policy for both traffic contents and metadata. A wide range of protocols are available, OpenVPN among them. Uncrackable 256-bit AES encryption is used by default.
It’s one of the few VPNs working with Hulu and Netflix in a web browser. Support agents are available around the clock to help with any issues. StrongVPN offers unlimited bandwidth and no data caps.
We’re not crazy about the desktop app design, but apps are available for Windows, MacOS, iOS, and Android.
- Performed OK in our German tests
- No logs and decent security in apps
- Unblocks Netflix and many other streaming channels
- Speeds were OK during testing but not great on the whole.
- Support could benefit from faster response times and more online resources
- Be prepared for some manual configuration
Very RELIABLE:StrongVPN has no data caps. Servers are mostly focused on US online content. Manual configuration can be daunting, but private, secure and reliable once you get it working. 45-day money back guarantee.
Read our full review of StrongVPN.
How to use a VPN in Germany
Never used a VPN before? Not to worry, it’s simple to set up and we’ll walk you through the process below.
Here’s how to use a VPN for Germany:
- Sign up for one of the VPNs recommended above. NordVPN is our top choice.
- Download and install the VPN app for your device.
- Open the app and sign in.
- Select a server location. Use a US server if you want to access US streaming sites, for example.
- Hit the Connect button
- Wait a few seconds for the connection to complete. Your data is not protected but if you still can’t access content outside Germany try clearing your browser’s cache and cookies then reload the web page.
And that’s it! You can now access region-locked content and hide your online activity from your internet service provider. The VPN should remain connected in the background until you turn it off.
VPN testing methodology
Comparitech strives to publish the most accurate and comprehensive VPN reviews and recommendations on the web. To do that, we evaluate dozens of VPNs based on real-world experience, expert analysis, and a battery of tests. When it comes to VPNs for Germany, we specifically look at:
- Security: We assess each VPN’s encryption scheme and stress test it for a variety of data leaks.
- Streaming: We’ve run thousands of real-world tests this year alone to find out which VPNs best unblock region-locked streaming services.
- Speed: We measure connection speeds to VPN servers located around the world.
- Support: We touch base with each VPN’s customer support as secret shoppers to ensure responses are quick and knowledgeable.
You can find out more about how we test VPNs on our methodology page.
VPNs to avoid in Germany
We would recommend avoiding any German VPNs in Germany for the simple fact that the national government has direct jurisdiction over them. In addition to those, stay away from these:
UK-based HideMyAss has logged identifying information in the past that led to the arrest of at least one of its internet users. We don’t recommend VPN providers that log such information to people who value their online privacy.
Hide.me ranks highly in Google results when searching for “Germany VPN”, but it’s free version limits speed to 3Mbit/s and caps data at 2GB. It doesn’t support OpenVPN, and free users are limited to three VPN server locations. The provider’s premium plans aren’t so bad, however, and the service does not store traffic connections logs.
Note the paid version isn’t so bad. Check out our Hide.me review.
ZenVPN doesn’t store logs of the web pages you visit, but it does log your IP address and other information about you and your device. The paid version is limited to 5GB per day.
VPN for Germany FAQ
Can I use a free VPN in Germany?
Free VPNs are very commonplace in the industry and can be tempting, especially if you’re on a tight budget. However, these services come with a host of issues. For one, a free VPN service will typically be slower and less reliable than a paid option.
What’s more, some providers of free services don’t take customer security and privacy as seriously as they claim to. After all, they need to make money somehow, and this is often done through the exploitation of users. A free VPN provider might track user activity and sell profiles to third parties.
Overall, it’s definitely worth a few bucks a month for a paid option.
Can I watch German TV from abroad using a VPN?
Usually, streaming services are only available in specific countries, and they often check your IP address to see if you’re in a supported region or not. This means that Germans who leave the country on vacation might not be able to watch their favorite shows until they return.
Luckily, there is a workaround. When you’re connected to a VPN, region-locked services can’t see your real IP address, only the IP address of the server you’re using. As such, if you use a German VPN server, you should be able to access German streaming platforms like ARD, ProSieben, and ZDF without any issues.
See also: How to get a German IP address
Is torrenting legal in Germany?
Torrenting copyrighted material in Germany is generally considered illegal. Doing so can result in fines and law firms (read: copyright trolls) monitor popular torrents for German IP addresses. The law not only applies to the traditional sort of torrent you get from ThePirateBay or KickassTorrents, but also to apps that leverage torrents to stream video like Popcorn Time and websites containing infringing content like Couchtuner and Project Free TV.
We do not condone or encourage piracy, but we understand some users might want to download copyrighted content from a P2P network for educational or artistic purposes. We support reasonable fair use, but German ISPs and copyright trolls will likely not distinguish between pirates and artists/educators. For this reason, it’s highly recommended that anyone who uses P2P filesharing in Germany connect to a VPN first. Using a VPN service for torrenting will mask your IP address from copyright trolls and encrypt traffic so it cannot be monitored by the ISP.
Read more in our article on the safety and legal aspects of torrenting and what to do if you get caught and see our list of the best torrenting VPN options.
What are Germany's data retention laws?
The German government has pushed for data retention laws to be enforced in recent years. The obligations were suspended in 2017, but if they were put in place, provisions would require all telecommunication and internet service providers to retain user metadata for up to ten weeks. That includes your IP address, when you use a mobile or landline phone, send or receive text messages, download or upload anything, send emails, and browse the web.
This does not include the actual content of internet traffic or phone conversations, however, text messages would be retained in full. Content data, as opposed to metadata, is protected by the German Bundesdatenschutzgesetz (BDSG), a federal data protection act. Germany has no laws requiring firms to implement backdoors or submit to gag orders.
Does Germany engage in internet surveillance?
Germany’s Federal Intelligence Service (BND) is known to have cooperated with the United States National Security Agency (NSA) in spying and surveillance efforts in Germany. In 2014, a BND employee was arrested for handing over secret documents to the NSA, and WikiLeaks later published a trove of leaked documents on the two agencies’ cooperation.
Reports estimate that the BND collects 220 million sets of metadata per day. This metadata contains information about communications that travel over phone, satellite and internet networks. They record who, when, where, and for how long someone communicates.
Is using a VPN in Germany legal?
Yes, it is 100 percent legal to use a VPN in Germany.
Is streaming movies illegal in Germany?
Streaming TV shows, movies, and music in Germany is perfectly legal unless it comes from an unauthorized source who does not have the copyright holder's permission.
How do I access Hulu in Germany?
You can watch Hulu in Germany if you have a valid Hulu account and connect to a VPN server located in the United States. Not all VPNs will work, however, so we recommend you find a VPN on this page that is also on our list of the best VPNs for Hulu.
Why do I need a VPN in Germany?
Using a VPN improves your online privacy and allows access to region-locked content. If you’re in Germany, you can connect to a VPN server in the USA to watch American streaming services like Hulu and HBO Max.
Germany is part of the 14 Eyes intelligence sharing community, so your online activities could be monitored and shared with other countries. A VPN will protect you from that sort of surveillance.
Finally, Germany’s fair use laws might not protect you if you access or copy copyrighted content, even with the best intentions. A VPN hides your downloads, torrents, and IP address.
Will Smart DNS change my location to Germany?
Yes, Smart DNS can change your location to Germany, but has limited use. A better option would be to use a VPN, which will not only change your location but also encrypt your traffic and keep your data secure. Smart DNS is less popular in [currentyear] due to streaming services detecting this technology on a regular basis.
How do I access my home Netflix in Germany?
Netflix is available in Germany, but it might not have the shows or subtitles that you get back home. You can access your home country’s Netflix catalog with a VPN.
All of the VPNs we recommend work with US Netflix, and most of them block a few other countries as well. The UK, France, Brazil, and Canada can often be accessed. Bear in mind that not every country’s Netflix library can be streamed abroad, though, in which case you’ll encounter a proxy error.
How do I unblock Hulu in Germany?
Hulu is only available in the United States and Japan. To unblock Hulu from Germany, you’ll need to connect to a VPN server in the United States or Japan. Hulu blocks many VPNs, so be sure to check our best VPNs for Hulu post for more information. Note that Hulu also requires a US or Japanese form of payment.
Which is the best VPN in Germany to have a Chrome extension?
As you will see from our VPN reviews above, NordVPN is the best VPN for Germany (it’s also the best VPN for Chrome). It offers a Chrome browser extension, allowing you to connect to a VPN server within your Chrome browser. One of the advantages of using a browser extension is that they’re quick and easy to use -- connecting to a server should only take a few seconds. Note that NordVPN also offers a browser extension for Firefox.
Will my ISP know I’m using a VPN in Germany?
An ISP can work out that you're using a VPN when it sees encrypted data traveling to and from a remote server. However, it can’t see much more than this and, depending on your country, likely won’t care that you’re using one either. Your browsing data is hidden and you can browse anonymously as a result. This means that using a VPN is a good way to avoid your ISP from retaining logs and potentially sharing them with authorities upon request.