How to Access Gmail from China in 2024: Works 100%

Raven Wu
Raven Wu Writer
Updated on: June 15, 2024
Fact Checked by Katarina Glamoslija
Raven Wu Raven Wu
Updated on: June 15, 2024 Writer

Only 3 Steps (Quick + Easy) to Access Gmail from China in 2024:

  • Download and install a VPN. Only a handful of VPNs work in China. ExpressVPN works 100% of the time and is fast, secure, and easy to use.
  • Enable the VPN’s obfuscation tool. You can usually find the option in the settings menu. Note that depending on the obfuscation tool, it may only be available on certain VPN protocols.
  • Connect to a server outside of China. Then log into your Gmail account. You’re all set! You can now send and receive messages on Gmail in China.

If you use Gmail and you’re in China, you’ll find your inbox is unavailable. China bans Gmail, so whether you need it for work-related or personal reasons, you won’t be able to use it.

Fortunately, you can access Gmail in China by using a VPN and save yourself the headache of switching to a different email service provider. A VPN changes your IP address to one that matches your new server location — if you connect to a server that’s in a country that doesn’t ban Gmail, you’ll be able to use it from China.

However, not all VPNs are good for this purpose. China uses sophisticated technology to detect and block certain VPN traffic, and most VPNs don’t have the obfuscation tools necessary to evade it.

After extensive research, I found 3 VPNs that work consistently in China and would allow you to use Gmail there. My favorite of the bunch is ExpressVPN due to its fast speeds.

TRY EXPRESSVPN NOW

Using an unauthorized VPN is illegal in China. There are no reported cases of the government taking legal action against individuals for this reason — it’s only targeted Chinese citizens who set up and sell illegal VPNs. Nevertheless, I advise you to exercise caution when using a VPN in China and follow all rules and regulations in your location.

Editors' Note: ExpressVPN and this site are in the same ownership group.

Why You Can’t Access Gmail in China (& Why You Need a VPN to Access It)

The Chinese government blocked Gmail (and other Google services) as part of its larger effort to control and monitor the internet within its borders. It shuts down any platform that refuses to block services and information that the government doesn’t want its citizens to access on the free and open web.

That’s why the only way to use Gmail in China is with a VPN. Once you connect to a VPN server in another country where Gmail isn’t banned, the VPN assigns you an IP address from that country and lets you use the service in China, and it encrypts your traffic, so the government won’t be able to see what you’re doing online. Keep in mind that you’ll also need to use obfuscation technology since China bans a lot of VPN traffic.

How to Download & Use a VPN for Gmail in China

Windows or macOS Computer

  1. Go to the VPN provider’s website. When you type in the provider’s name in a search engine, the official website should be the first result you see. From there, click on the site and download the app you need for your device. (Make sure you’re getting a VPN that works in China!) If you’re in China and can’t find the website, you should email the provider’s customer support team and ask for a mirrored link.How to Download & Use a VPN for Gmail in China
  2. Choose a plan. Select a subscription plan that suits your needs. Long-term plans usually provide better value.How to Download & Use a VPN for Gmail in China
  3. Enter your payment details. Most VPNs accept credit cards. Some accept PayPal and cryptocurrencies. You may also be asked to provide a valid email address.How to Download & Use a VPN for Gmail in China
  4. Download the app. Then, let the installation wizard guide you through the setup process.How to Download & Use a VPN for Gmail in China
  5. Open the VPN app. Sign into your VPN account. Some VPNs provide you with an activation code or send you sign-in links via email. Most VPNs would ask you to create an account upon purchase.How to Download & Use a VPN for Gmail in China
  6. Set up the VPN app on the rest of your desktop devices. Download and install the app on all devices you use to make sure you secure all of your online connections.How to Download & Use a VPN for Gmail in China
  7. Enable obfuscation and connect to a server. Go to the settings menu to enable the provider’s obfuscation tool (the process will be different depending on the VPN you’re using). Finally, connect to a VPN server outside of China. And that’s it! You can now use Gmail in China on your Windows or macOS device.How to Download & Use a VPN for Gmail in China

How to Access Gmail from China on Any Device

Windows PC or Mac Computer

  1. Choose a VPN that works in China. I recommend ExpressVPN — its support reps confirmed that it works in China 100% of the time, which means you’ll have no problem using Gmail there.
  2. Download and install the VPN. If you can, get the VPN app from the provider’s website before you get to China and then run the installer. The on-screen instructions will guide you through the rest of the process. If you’re already in China and can reach the VPN provider’s site, reach out to its customer support rep to ask for a mirrored link (this is a copy of the VPN provider’s website).
  3. Connect to a VPN server outside of China. You’re all set! You can now use Gmail in China on your PC or Mac computer.

iPhone or iPad

  1. Get a VPN with good obfuscation. I like ExpressVPN because it provides obfuscation on all of its servers and VPN protocols, allowing it to work in China, and has user-friendly apps for iPhones and iPads.
  2. Download and install the VPN app. You can download the VPN app from the App Store before you visit China. Open the app once it’s finished downloading, and the installation wizard will guide you through the setup process. If you’re already in China, ask the VPN’s customer support for a mirrored link.
  3. Connect to a VPN server where Gmail is available. Connecting to a server in a nearby country, like Taiwan, Hong Kong, Singapore, or Japan will get you the fastest speeds.

Android Smartphone or Tablet

  1. Pick a VPN that works consistently in China. Most VPNs don’t work in China at all because the government uses sophisticated technology to detect and block VPN traffic. But ExpressVPN works in China 24/7, so you’ll always be able to use Gmail while in the country.
  2. Download and install the VPN. You can find the app on the Google Play Store. Once it’s downloaded, simply follow the on-screen instructions to complete the setup process. This will only take 2–3 minutes. If you’re in China already and can’t find the VPN app, reach out to the provider’s customer support to get a mirrored link to the site.
  3. Connect to a VPN server outside of China. Then, open the Gmail app. Congratulations! You can now use Gmail in China on your Android phone or tablet!

Best VPNs for Accessing Gmail from China in 2024

Quick summary of the best VPNs for accessing Gmail from China in 2024:

  • 🥇1. ExpressVPN — Best overall VPN for accessing Gmail in China in 2024 (with excellent obfuscation).
  • 🥈2. Private Internet Access — Excellent VPN for using Gmail in China with great security and privacy features.
  • 🥉3. PrivateVPN — Good VPN for beginners (with a simple interface) + has pretty fast speeds.

🥇1. ExpressVPN — Best VPN for Accessing Gmail from China in 2024

Approved by our experts
ExpressVPN
Approved by our experts
Most readers pick ExpressVPN
Servers in countries
105
Key Features
Industry-leading speeds
Number of devices
8
OS compatibility
Money-back guarantee
30 Days
expressvpn.com
Editors' Note: ExpressVPN and this site are in the same ownership group.

ExpressVPN is my top pick for using Gmail in China (and the best VPN for restrictive countries). Its support representatives confirmed that it works in the country, and it has servers in nearby countries where Gmail is available, including Hong Kong, Japan, and Singapore, which is great for getting the fastest possible speeds.

This provider offers excellent obfuscation, which disguises VPN traffic as regular internet traffic, ensuring seamless access to Gmail at all times. I especially like how obfuscation is automatically enabled on all of its servers and all VPN protocols, so you don’t have to change anything and aren’t limited in any way.

ExpressVPN offers several plans that start at $6.67 / month. You get what you pay for — there’s no better VPN out there for accessing Gmail in China. It also comes with a 30-day money-back guarantee, so you can try it out risk-free.

ExpressVPN: Save 49% on the 12-month plan + FREE months!
Get a full 15 months (12 months + 3 free months) at a 49% discount.

Read our full ExpressVPN review

🥈2. Private Internet Access — Great Privacy Features for Using Gmail in China

Servers in countries
91
Key Features
Excellent ad blocker
Number of devices
Unlimited
OS compatibility
Money-back guarantee
30 Days
privateinternetaccess.com
Editors' Note: Private Internet Access and this site are in the same ownership group.

Private Internet Access (PIA) has strong security features for privately using Gmail in China. It offers full leak protection, uses perfect forward secrecy and RAM-only servers, its no-logs policy has been independently audited and also proven multiple times in court, and it regularly releases transparency reports to show it doesn’t share any user data with governments or third parties. Plus, all of its apps are open-source, so anyone can inspect the code for issues.

PIA uses the Shadowsocks protocol for obfuscation, which is very effective at concealing your VPN traffic, so you can access Gmail 24/7. Note that this protocol isn’t available on its iOS app — I recommend getting ExpressVPN if you want to use Gmail in China on your iPhone.

Private Internet Access (PIA) starts at a very affordable $2.03 / month, and it’s one of the cheapest VPNs on the market. All of its plans are backed by a 30-day money-back guarantee.

Private Internet Access: Save 83% on the 24-month plan + FREE months!
You can save 83% if you act right now.

Read our full Private Internet Access review

🥉3. PrivateVPN — Beginner-Friendly VPN for Unblocking Gmail in China

Servers in countries
63
Key Features
Works in restrictive nations
Number of devices
10
OS compatibility
Money-back guarantee
30 Days
privatevpn.com

PrivateVPN is good for using Gmail in China for people new to VPNs. Its app interfaces are very intuitive and easy to navigate — it only took me a few seconds to enable Stealth VPN, which its support reps confirmed works in China, and connect to a server. Plus, I like that it includes a Simple View mode on its desktop apps, which hides most customization features to streamline your experience.

PrivateVPN’s plans start at just $2.00 / month, making it a great budget option for accessing Gmail in China. It backs all subscriptions with a 30-day money-back guarantee.

Save up to 85% on PrivateVPN!
You can save 85% if you act right now.

Read our full PrivateVPN review

Editors' Note: Intego, Private Internet Access, CyberGhost and ExpressVPN are owned by Kape Technologies, our parent company

Quick Comparison Table

VPN Starting Price Obfuscation Number of Countries With Servers Number of Connections Split-Tunneling Money-Back Guarantee
🥇1. ExpressVPN $6.67 / month
(on all servers and protocols)
105 Up to 8 30 days
🥈2. Private Internet Access $2.03 / month
(via Shadowsocks)
91 Unlimited 30 days
🥉3. PrivateVPN $2.00 / month
(via the StealthVPN feature)
63 10 30 days

Editors' Note: Intego, Private Internet Access, CyberGhost and ExpressVPN are owned by Kape Technologies, our parent company

How to Choose the Best VPN for Accessing Gmail from China in 2024

  • Get a VPN that works in China 100% of the time. Most VPNs don’t work consistently in China, but all of the VPNs on my list will let you use Gmail 24/7 in China, so you’ll never miss any important messages.
  • Check for strong privacy and security features. Get a VPN with industry-standard security features, including bank-grade 256-bit AES encryption, a kill switch, which disconnects your internet if your VPN connection drops to prevent accidental data leaks, and a no-logs policy, which means the provider doesn’t log your IP address or your online activities. Top VPNs also protect you against DNS, IPv6, and WebRTC leaks.
  • Test for fast connection speeds. All VPNs reduce your speeds to some extent due to the encryption process and you lose some extra speed for using obfuscation technology when in China. So if you don’t want to wait forever for your Gmail to load in China, you’ll need a really fast VPN, like the ones I recommend.
  • Go for a VPN with servers in nearby countries. Connecting to a nearby location will get you the fastest possible speeds, so you want to get a VPN that has servers in countries like Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore, Taiwan, or South Korea. The VPNs on my list all have servers in countries that are near China.
  • Find a VPN with easy-to-use apps. All of the VPNs I recommend have intuitive apps for all major platforms, so you can check your Gmail on any device — even if you’ve never used a VPN before!
  • Choose a VPN that provides good value. I only recommend VPNs with flexible and affordable plans, that allow a minimum of 5 simultaneous connections, and that come with a money-back guarantee, so you can test out their features risk-free.

Frequently Asked Questions

Does Gmail work in China?

No, Gmail doesn’t work in China because it’s blocked by the government. However, you can get around this restriction by using a VPN (virtual private network). A VPN is a tool that can make it seem as if you’re trying to access Gmail from outside of China, and a good VPN with obfuscation is able to evade the Chinese government’s VPN detection and blocking.

What is an alternative to Gmail in China?

People in China use email service providers like NetEase, QQ Mail, Sina Mail, and Sohu Mail. If you’re visiting China and want to continue using Gmail for work-related or personal reasons, you can only do that by getting yourself a good VPN that works in the country.

I recommend ExpressVPN because it works in China 100% of the time, provides the fastest speeds on the market, has strong privacy and security features, and has easy-to-use apps for Android, iOS, Windows, and macOS.

Is it illegal to use a VPN in China to access Gmail?

The short answer is no. VPNs aren’t illegal to use in China, but the only VPNs that are legal in the country are government-approved VPNs. These VPN providers are required to abide by the government’s censorship policies and provide the government with a backdoor that makes them insecure. Most VPNs refuse to do that, so they’re technically illegal in China.

That said, I haven’t been able to find any reports where the government punished a citizen or a tourist in China for using a non-approved VPN so far. For now, the government only seems to go after Chinese citizens who create and sell unapproved VPNs. Still, I recommend being careful if you plan to use a VPN in China and following all local rules and regulations. I don’t endorse the use of a VPN for illegal purposes.

Are there any free VPNs that work with Gmail in China?

You may have some luck with a couple of free plans, but it’s highly unlikely. The Chinese government employs sophisticated technology to detect and block VPN traffic, and most free VPNs don’t have the necessary obfuscation tools to combat it. Free VPNs also come with various other limitations, such as weak privacy and security, slow speeds, and a lack of options when it comes to server locations. Honestly, it’s much easier and safer to get an affordable paid VPN that works in China.

Best VPNs for Accessing Gmail from China in 2024 — Final Score:

Our Rank
Our Score
Best Deal
1
9.8
save 49%
2
9.6
save 83%
3
8.8
save 85%
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About the Author
Raven Wu
Raven Wu
Writer
Updated on: June 15, 2024

About the Author

Raven Wu is a freelance writer, editor, and translator. He is a strong advocate of internet freedom and is very passionate about technology, and he’s honed his craft by researching and writing about a variety of other topics including education, literature, health, pop culture, and games. Outside of work, he's an amateur novelist and history enthusiast who enjoys hard games, spicy food, and thinking way too hard about everything.