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How to Use NordVPN In China (You Must Follow These Steps)

Updated on: September 12, 2023
Fact Checked by Eric Goldstein
Tim Mocan Tim Mocan
Updated on: September 12, 2023

NordVPN no longer works in China, and its support reps don’t recommend trying to use the service in that country — even with the instructions mentioned in this post. So, I recommend getting ExpressVPN instead, which consistently works in China and restrictive countries without any issues.

 NordVPN works in China — but not all of the time. Multiple NordVPN support representatives confirmed they can’t guarantee the service will always work in the country.

However, NordVPN is more likely to work in China if you perform a manual setup. Even though the provider has helpful tutorials, some less tech-savvy users might find the setup confusing. But this article will make the process simple for you so you can access a free and open internet in China.

Try NordVPN in China

DISCLAIMER: This article is only for informative purposes and should not be taken as legal advice. VPN usage in China is a legally gray area, so I strongly recommend researching the local laws of the region you’re in to make sure you don’t risk facing any legal repercussions for using a VPN.

Why Does China Try to Block VPNs?

China uses a firewall, often referred to as The Great Firewall, blocking access to popular online platforms, including news sites, streaming services, Google services, and social media sites like Instagram and Twitter. The Chinese government also conducts mass online surveillance, by tracking users’ online activities, including which sites they browse.

However, VPN technology allows people in China to bypass online censorship and hide their web traffic. This is why the Chinese government aggressively tries to detect and block access to VPNs — it wants total control over the online content its citizens can view.

Luckily, some top VPNs still work in China, including NordVPN. It’s able to work in China because it refreshes the IP addresses for its China-optimized servers very often, which makes it harder for the Chinese government to detect and block those VPN servers — 10+ NordVPN live chat reps confirmed this but also cautioned the VPN won’t work all of the time.

Try NordVPN in China

Is It Legal to Use a VPN in China?

I spent weeks researching this topic, and my conclusion is that this is a gray legal area. Many sources claim that only government-approved VPNs are allowed — though using one would mean the Chinese government could track your VPN traffic. However, I wasn’t able to find information about specific laws that make it illegal to use a non-government-approved VPN.

Many online posts also claim China treats expats and tourists differently than Chinese nationals. Basically, only Chinese nationals are likely to face legal repercussions if they’re caught using non-government-approved VPNs — or if they promote non-approved VPNs on social media sites and messaging apps. I have also seen reports about people being arrested in relation to using VPNs in China — that said, all of those people were operating non-government-approved VPNs.

This is why I recommend researching the local laws before using a VPN in China. It’s the best way to avoid facing legal repercussions if you’re caught using one.

Try NordVPN in China

How to Use NordVPN In China (Step-By-Step Guide)

The only way to use NordVPN in China is to perform a manual setup. I talked with 10+ live chat reps, and they all confirmed you need to use the IKEv2/IPSec protocol and specific servers.

This solution works on iOS, Android, macOS, and Linux, but not on Windows. For Windows users, I instead recommend checking out ExpressVPN, as it consistently works in China and its obfuscation tools are much easier to use.

This tutorial shows you how to perform the manual setup only on Android, but NordVPN provides helpful tutorials for all of the other platforms.

Try NordVPN in China

1. Download the Connection Certificate & Install strongSwan

How to Use NordVPN In China (Step-By-Step Guide)

First, you need to download NordVPN’s IKEv2 connection certificate, which you can get using this link, for the setup process. After that, open the Google Play store and look up the strongSwan VPN client, and then wait for it to finish the installation process.

2. Import the Provider’s IKEv2 Certificate into the strongSwan App

How to Use NordVPN In China (Step-By-Step Guide)

Open strongSwan and tap the three-dot icon in the top right corner. Next, tap on CA Certificates. On the new screen, tap the three-dot icon again and pick Import certificate. Then, select NordVPN’s IKEv2 certificate, which is called root.der. Lastly, tap Import Certificate to confirm.

3. Add the VPN Profile in the strongSwan App

How to Use NordVPN In China (Step-By-Step Guide)

Now, go back to the app’s main screen and tap Add VPN Profile, which is located in the top right corner.

You’ll now have to fill out several fields:

  • Server — Add the IP address of the VPN server. You can find the IP addresses in NordVPN’s tutorials, but you can also ask the provider’s reps to send them to you.
  • Username and Password — Enter your NordVPN service credentials, which you can find in the NordVPN Account dashboard by logging into your account on the provider’s site.

After that, tap Show advanced settings and add the VPN server’s hostname in the Server identity field — you can find it on the same page where you get the server’s IP address (it’s right next to the server’s IP). When you’re done, tap Save.

4. Connect to the VPN Profile

How to Use NordVPN In China (Step-By-Step Guide)

On the home page, tap the new VPN profile to connect — wait a few seconds until the connection is established. You should now be able to access the web in China without restrictions.

Try NordVPN in China

How to Get NordVPN If You’re Already In China

  1. Use NordVPN’s mirrored links. Mirrored links are exact copies of a website, but they use different addresses, which makes it harder for firewalls to detect and block them. Rather than use, the VPN will use a URL like (this is not a real mirrored link). NordVPN changes its mirrored links very often — to get the latest ones, you need to contact the provider over email, or just ask an overseas friend to get them for you.
  2. Use a free proxy. Proxies change your IP address like a VPN but don’t provide encryption. There’s a small chance the Chinese government isn’t very focused on blocking less-known proxy services, so they might help you get access to NordVPN’s site. You can either use a web proxy (a website that acts like a proxy) or proxy apps from your device’s app store.
  3. Ask an overseas friend for help. If you have a friend who doesn’t live in a restrictive country, ask them to sign up for NordVPN for you. Then, they can send you the IKEv2/IPSec setup instructions and login details. You could pay your friend for the subscription via a bank transfer, PayPal, or cryptocurrencies, all of which work in China.
  4. Use your home country’s SIM card. If you’re traveling through China and using a local SIM card, you won’t be able to access NordVPN’s site because the card’s web access is restricted by the government. If you still have the SIM card from your home country, there’s a better chance of accessing NordVPN’s site since it doesn’t use China’s telecom providers or ISPs and isn’t subjected to government firewalls.
  5. Head to Macau, Hong Kong, or Taiwan. This isn’t the most convenient option, but one of those locations should provide you with unrestricted access to NordVPN’s website. While Chinese online interference and surveillance are an issue in those locations, there’s not as much internet censorship as there is in China.

Try NordVPN in China

NordVPN Alternatives That Work in China

  1. ExpressVPN — ExpressVPN is the best VPN for circumventing censorship in China. It uses obfuscation (hides VPN traffic) and refreshes its server IP addresses extremely fast. It also provides industry-leading security and privacy through an audited no-logs policy and audited apps, advanced security features like full leak protection and RAM-only servers (every server reset wipes all data), and a feature that blocks malicious sites. ExpressVPN also has the fastest speeds on the market, 3,000+ servers in 90+ countries, excellent P2P and streaming support, and covers all plans with a 30-day money-back guarantee.
  2. Private Internet Access (PIA) — PIA consistently works in countries like China because it provides obfuscation via Shadowsocks (an open-source encrypted proxy). It’s really good for torrenting, as it supports P2P downloads on all servers and works with top P2P apps. It also has an audited no-logs policy and open-source apps. Plus, PIA comes with the best VPN ad blocker on the market, has really fast speeds, servers in 80+ countries, great streaming support, and backs every purchase with a 30-day money-back guarantee.
  3. PrivateVPN — PrivateVPN works in China thanks to its Stealth VPN feature, which provides obfuscation. It has minimalistic apps that are really simple to navigate and use, making it an ideal choice for beginners. The VPN also provides strong security, fast speeds, great torrenting and streaming support, and backs its plans with a 30-day money-back guarantee.

Frequently Asked Questions

What should I do if NordVPN doesn’t work in China?

Getting NordVPN to function in China requires a manual setup using the IKEv2/IPSec protocol. While this method is compatible with iOS, Android, macOS, and Linux, it’s unfortunately not available on Windows. Also, keep in mind that NordVPN’s live chat reps have told me that there’s no guarantee the VPN will work in China.

If you try the setup and it doesn’t work, I recommend using a different VPN like ExpressVPN. All of its apps consistently work in China, it secures your data with industry-leading security and privacy features, maintains the fastest speeds on the market, and comes with excellent streaming and torrenting support.

Can I use NordVPN on iOS and Android in China?

Yes, but you need to perform a manual setup to get access to the VPN in China. Fortunately, the provider has helpful tutorials, so the setup process is pretty simple. That said, multiple NordVPN support reps confirmed that the manual setup method isn’t guaranteed to work 100% of the time in China.

An alternative is to use a different VPN. I recommend ExpressVPN because its iOS and Android apps consistently work in China, the apps are easy to use, they have high-end security features, and provide lightning-fast speeds.

Can I use hotel Wi-Fi to access NordVPN’s site in China?

Probably not. I found a couple of sources online that suggest using hotel internet works, but most articles indicate that hotels in China tend to enforce the government-imposed restrictions.

If you need access to NordVPN in China, I recommend trying other methods like using mirrored links, a free proxy, or asking an overseas friend to help you out.

Can I use Shadowsocks to connect to NordVPN in China?

No, NordVPN does not support Shadowsocks connections, as confirmed by its support representatives. I also personally tested a manual Shadowsocks connection to a NordVPN server, and unfortunately, it did not work.

If you’re interested in using Shadowsocks with a VPN, I recommend Private Internet Access — it comes with built-in Shadowsocks obfuscation, and it also consistently works in China.

Does NordVPN have servers in China?

No. To use NordVPN in China, you need to set up a manual connection that only works with specific server locations — there are some nearby servers in Japan, but the other servers are located in the US and the UK.

If this doesn’t work for you, I instead recommend trying ExpressVPN — it consistently works in China and lets you bypass the government’s firewall by connecting to nearby countries, including Hong Kong, Japan, South Korea, Macau, the Philippines, and Taiwan.

How do I install NordVPN if I’m already in China?

To install NordVPN in China, there are a few things you can try. The best way is to use NordVPN’s mirrored links, which are alternative URLs provided by NordVPN. Alternatively, try a free proxy service, which may still be unblocked in China, or ask a friend outside of a restrictive country to sign up and send you the VPN setup details.

If you’re using a local Chinese SIM card, switch back to your home country’s SIM to possibly avoid governmental web restrictions. Lastly, if you’re in the vicinity, visiting Macau, Hong Kong, or Taiwan may provide more accessible internet access to download NordVPN.

Can I access NordVPN’s website from China?

Unfortunately, access to NordVPN’s website from mainland China is typically blocked due to the country’s internet censorship policies. China’s Great Firewall, a sophisticated system of internet censorship, restricts access to many foreign websites — including most VPN services. However, you may still be able to access NordVPN’s website using a proxy, mirrored link, or additional methods.

Does NordVPN have a free plan?

NordVPN doesn’t have a free plan. However, it does offer a 30-day money-back guarantee, so you have 30 days to test the service and all of its features before deciding if it’s right for you. If you’re not impressed by NordVPN, you’ll get your money back if you request a refund within the 30-day timeframe.

If you’re looking for a free VPN, there are some decent options. However, I recommend sticking with an affordable premium VPN like NordVPN or one of these alternatives since free VPNs usually don’t work in restrictive countries like China, don’t have great security or privacy, come with buggy apps, and more.

Other Premium VPNs That Also Work In China in 2023:

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About the Author
Tim Mocan
Tim Mocan
QA Editor
Updated on: September 12, 2023

About the Author

Tim Mocan is a QA Editor at SafetyDetectives. He has 5+ years of experience researching and writing about cybersecurity topics, and he specializes in VPNs. Prior to joining SafetyDetectives, he worked as a contributor for other VPN review websites and as a content writer for several VPN providers. Throughout his freelance writing career, he has also covered other niches, including SEO, digital marketing, customer loyalty, home improvement, and health and rehab. Outside of work, Tim loves to spend his time traveling, playing video games, binging anime, and using VPNs (yes, really!).