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5 Best VPNs for Germany 2016

In our look at the 5 best VPNs for Germany, we see that Germany boasts a largely uncensored internet, and some of the strongest data protection laws in the world. On the face of it then, it seems there might be little need for the privacy that VPN affords, and that Germany would make a good location to base VPN servers. Unfortunately, this is not the case…

It has become obvious over this last year that Germany’s home-grown secret service, the Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND), works hand in glove with the NSA to spy on its own citizens and to then hands any information gleaned over to the NSA, and in October the Bundestag (German parliament) reintroduced mandatory data retention.

Germany has also taken an increasingly aggressive stance towards copyright piracy, and has become a profitable playground for copyright trolls.

All of which means that Germans really do need to protect their privacy using VPN, and that Germany is less than ideal location for VPN services to be based. We will discuss these issues and more, later in this article.

Best VPN for Germany Summary

Disclosure: compensated affiliate: click here for more information

Rank Company Score Price Link

1

ExpressVPN Logo
Read Review10/10
$8.32 / monthVisit Site

2

AirVPN Logo
Read Review9.2/10
$4.82 / monthVisit Site

3

NordVPN Logo
Read Review8.4/10
$5.75 / monthVisit Site

4

VPNArea Logo
Read Review7.6/10
$4.92 / monthVisit Site

5

PrivateInternetAccess Logo
Read Review6.6/10
$3.33 / monthVisit Site
Editor's Choice Award

Winner

ExpressVPN

5/5

Best VPN for Germany

  • ProsPROS
  • 30-day money back guarantee
  • No usage logs
  • Servers in 78 countries
  • 3 simultaneous connections
  • Great customer service
  • ConsCONS
  • Connection logs
  • A bit pricey

ExpressVPN makes a fantastic all-round choice for those in Germany, as it offers a balanced range of services that are perfect for the mainstream VPN user. Performance is top-notch, no usage logs bare kept, and it offers a great ,easy-to-use Windows and OSX client. The fact that ExpressVPN runs servers in 78 countries (including 3 in Germany of course!) should ensure fantastic speeds wherever you are, and ExpressVPN reportedly works well out of China thanks to “stealth” servers located in Hong Kong.

We also like funky the Android and iOS apps, which allow you to securely access the internet while out-and-about, and ExpressVPN offers a very generous 30-day no quibble money back guarantee. 

Additional features: “stealth” servers in Hong Kong.

Choose the bests VPN for Germany!

Visit ExpessVPN »

30-day free trial

2nd place

AirVPN

4.6/5

AirVPN

  • ProsPROS
  • No logs at all
  • VPN through Tor
  • Transparent service
  • Accepts Bitcoin
  • P2P: yes
  • ConsCONS
  • Techyness does put people off
  • Customer support could be better

This excellent Italian VPN service was set up by net neutrality activists and hactivists, a fact that shines through is its attention to privacy and security related detail. It uses ultra-strong AES-256 encryption with 4096-bit RSA key encryption, uses shared IPs, accepts Bitcoins, and offers ‘net transparency’ using detailed real-time server statistics. It also keeps no logs whatsoever, and supports unusual and robust VPN obfuscation technologies such as VPN over Tor (which can allow for truly anonymous VPN use), and VPN through SSH and SSL tunnels. AirVPN has servers located in Germany, plus most nearby countries.

Additional features: Real-time user and server statistics, VPN through SSL and SSH tunnels, perfect forward secrecy, open source client with internet kill switch and DNS leak protection, 3-day free trial, dynamic port forwarding, 3 simultaneous connections.

Visit AirVPN »


3rd place

NordVPN

4.2/5

NordVPN

  • ProsPROS
  • No logs
  • Based in Panama
  • Accepts Bitcoin payment
  • Tor over VPN
  • 2 simultaneous connections
  • ConsCONS
  • Can be very slow

Based in Panama, NordVPN has a ‘no logs at all’ policy, uses 256-bit AES encryption, and accepts anonymous payment using Bitcoin. Although it scores very well in terms of privacy and security, NordVPN is somewhat let down by poor speed performance, which is a shame, as it is otherwise a very good service. NordVPN has servers in Germany and many places nearby.

Visit NordVPN »


4th place

VPNArea

3.8/5

VPNArea

  • ProsPROS
  • No logs at all
  • Based in Bulgaria (no DRD)
  • 5 simultaneous devices
  • Great Windows client
  • P2P: yes
  • ConsCONS
  • Some teething issues (but it has been a while since I last checked)

VPNArea is a (fairly) new and small Bulgarian company with lots of servers all over the place (including Germany and nearby). It features a 7-day free trial, fantastic connection speeds, and has among the most friendly and helpful support I have come across. The fairly minor issues I encountered with the service were largely due to it being new, but I was generally impressed (and these issues may have been resolved, as it is while since I fully reviewed VPNArea.)

Additional features: great customer service, 7-day money back guarantee.

Visit VPNArea »


5th place

PIA

3.3/5

Private Internet Access

  • ProsPROS
  • No logs
  • Accepts Bitcoin
  • Great OpenVPN encryption
  • Client features kill switch and DNS leak protection
  • P2P: yes
  • ConsCONS
  • No free trial
  • US based company
  • Apple users not so impressed

PIA is based in the US, so is not a provider for the more NSA-phobic out there. However, it keeps no logs, and although optional, its security can be first rate (up to 256-bit AES OpenVPN, SHA-256 hash authentication and 4096-bit RSA handshake). Its desktop software supports multiple security options, a VPN kill switch, DNS leak protection, and port forwarding, and up to 5 simultaneous connections are permitted. Its Android client is almost as good, and PIA boasts excellent connection speeds. We should, however, note that Apple users seem to have a less positive view of this service. As with al the providers listed here, PIA has servers located in Germany (a whopping 63 of them!) and most nearby counties.

Additional features: 5 simultaneous connections, port forwarding, great Android app.

Visit PIA »


VPN issues for Germany

Government surveillance

Despite outrage at the NSA’s methods following Edward Snowden’s revelations in 2013, those same revelations made it clear that the BND is a very close ally of the NSA.  It is little surprise, then, that almost immediately following Snowden’s revelations going public, Chancellor Angela Merkel announced that the BND would be given $100 million (US$133 million) to expand its internet spying program.

In April last year, a parliamentary inquiry concluded that,

Under a 2002 pact between German intelligence (BND) and the NSA, Berlin used its largest electronic eavesdropping facility in Bavaria to monitor email and telephone traffic at the Élysée Palace, the offices of the French president, and of key EU institutions in Brussels including the European commission.

The report increased tensions between Germany and the US, and further revelations about the extent the BND’s spying operations in Europe have fuelled a domestic scandal. This led an embarrassed government to propose reforms (German language) aimed at reining in the BND,

The important thing is that [the reforms] will finally make the Chancellor’s phrase ‘Spying between friends, that’s just not done,’ a reality.

In stark contrast to the UK’s proposed “snoopers’ charter”, these reforms would extend the legal rights German citizens have not to be spied on to all EU citizens. However, not only have these reforms yet to come into force, but it is clear that much of BND’s spying was performed outside of German law.

It should be noted that as a member of the EU, Germany does have very strong privacy laws protecting internet users, and that its Federal Data Protection Act (Bundesdatenschutzgesetz) is among the strongest in the EU. Under this law internet companies are not permitted to collect personal information about customers without their permission. There are also no laws that can force German companies to implement backdoors or submit to a gag order. But…

In October (the same month that it announced plans to extend legal protections against mass surveillance to all EU citizens) the Bundestag voted to reinstate mandatory data retention for communications providers.

This is in defiance of the 2014 European Court of Justice ruling that mass data retention is unconstitutional on human rights grounds. It also overturns the 2010 German High Court ruling against the previous mandatory data retention law on grounds that it was unconstitutional.

All metadata relating to communications must now be stored for 10 weeks by German telecoms and internet companies. This is admittedly much less than in France (12 months), the UK (12 months), and even Switzerland (6 months).

Although “metadata” does not usually include the contents of communications, due to “a glitch” in the law, the contents of text messages are retained in full (German language).

In some countries data retention laws do not apply to VPN services, but as I have been unable to determine if this is the case with Germany, I will assume that they do.

Copyright enforcement

Germany has for some time now ben very hostile to copyright piracy. In 2008 it fully transposed the EU’s IP Enforcement Directive (IPRED) into German law, a widely criticised piece of legislation which criminalises anyone who downloads copyright infringing material, and ensures that copyright holders can seek “remedies” in a way that is not “complicated or costly [to the copyright holder], or entail[s] unreasonable time-limits or unwarranted delays.”

Although illegal downloaders are very unlikely to face criminal charges, the legal climate is favorable to copyright holders taking civil action (claims for damages) against those accused of copyright theft.

The result is an alarming rise in “speculative invoicing,” where individuals accused of copyright piracy are sent letters demanding a cash settlement in return for avoiding legal prosecution. Here at BestVPN we have heard from a number of worried readers in Germany who have received such letters.

We therefore strongly urge readers in Germany who P2P download to protect themselves using VPN, connected servers in a nearby “P2P-friendly” country such as Switzerland, the Netherlands, Luxembourg or Romania.

In addition to opening up citizens to prosecution by copyright holders, Germany has joined other EU countries (most notably the UK) in their drive to censor websites deemed to facilitate copyright piracy. In November the German Supreme Court made a landmark decision that ISPs can be required to block domains at the request of copyright holders.

Censorship

Other than over copyright issues, censorship in Germany is very light, and most notably relates to Germany’s past. Almost any mention of the Nazis, denial of the holocaust, and any material deemed to constitute “hate speech” is illegal in Germany, and this is enforced on the internet by the removal of such material from Google search results (in 2006 the Verein zur Förderung eines Deutschen Forschungsnetzes also banned some IPs).

The government has, however, admitted that it has no way to police content hosted outside Germany. This ban, while in our view entirely justified in the face far right extremism in the country, can lead to some odd situations, such as the blocking of Wolfenstein 3D, a game which features shooting Nazi soldiers.

Attempts to make child pornography illegal provoked intense debate over the state’s role in censorship, and in 2011 the Access Impediment Act, which was never implemented, was repealed altogether.

Not exactly censorship, but thanks to an on-going dispute between YouTube and the German performing rights organization GEMA (over GEMA wanting to charge 12 euro cents per streamed video, a price Google considers ‘prohibitive’), many music videos of artists on major labels, as well as many videos containing background music, have been unavailable in Germany since the end of March 2009.

Conclusion

Despite strong privacy laws, Germany is generally considered “bad” when it comes to government surveillance. Those concerned about privacy should therefore always use a good no logs VPN service based outside of Germany, and connect to servers located in places with no data retention laws that apply to VPN providers. Thanks to its aggressive stance towards copyright infringement, and the easy playing field given to copyright trolls, the same advice applies to downloaders (which includes Popcorn Time users).

Best VPNs for Germany Summary

Disclosure: compensated affiliate: click here for more information

Rank Company Score Price Link

1

ExpressVPN Logo
Read Review10/10
$8.32 / monthVisit Site

2

AirVPN Logo
Read Review9.2/10
$4.82 / monthVisit Site

3

NordVPN Logo
Read Review8.4/10
$5.75 / monthVisit Site

4

VPNArea Logo
Read Review7.6/10
$4.92 / monthVisit Site

5

PrivateInternetAccess Logo
Read Review6.6/10
$3.33 / monthVisit Site

Douglas Crawford I am a freelance writer, technology enthusiast, and lover of life who enjoys spinning words and sharing knowledge for a living. Find me on Google+

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4 responses to “5 Best VPNs for Germany 2016

  1. Nord have MANY servers in Germany which are labeled as secure for P2P purposes. They are always lightly loaded which leaves me a bit suspicious but Nord say they are quite OK for P2P. The definition of P2P however is another issue. One downloads such as Linux and Ubuntu via P2P and this is certainly legal so the question really becomes, are Nords servers labeled as OK for P2P suitable for .torrenting of, say, movies or tv programs which by some definitions are not legal.

    1. Hi Nord User,

      VPN companies tend to be very sensitive to the copyright situation in countries in which they operate, and by saying that users can download on its servers, NordVPN is undertaking to protect them when they do so. If a company says it’s ok to download on its servers then it is almost certainly safe to do so. That said, if I lived in Germany I would download via Swiss servers, just to be on the safe side.

    1. Hi Midnighter,

      Hide.me, although based in Malaysia, has a very strong user base in Germany, and according to BestVPN’s own review (not written by myself) is an excellent provider (as are all the ones listed above). The fact that Hide.me is not on this list should not be taken as any criticism of what I understand to be a very good service.

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