When you think of countries where you should use a VPN, Canada rarely (if ever) makes anyone’s list. But, just because netizens of the Great White North tend to enjoy a good amount of online freedom, doesn’t mean VPNs should be ignored.
Outdated Canadian privacy laws, mass online surveillance, and increasingly draconian copyright laws are all strong arguments for VPN use. So is the fact that without a VPN, you’ll always be an easier target for cybercriminals, especially on a public Wi-Fi connection.
Then there is a VPN’s ability to access geo-blocked services normally not accessible to Canadians, like Netflix US, Hulu, or the BBC iPlayer. And it’s a two-way street too. If you’re outside Canada, a VPN is by far the easiest way to watch Canadian content.
With the number of services available in the market, what is the best VPN for Canada is not necessarily obvious. To help, I’ve prepared this quick guide. You’ll not only find out in much greater detail why all Canadians should at least consider a VPN, but also get a better understanding of what to look for and which VPNs check all the right boxes.
Overview of the Best VPNs for Canada
In case you’re already sold on using a VPN and are just wondering which of the many services make a good option for Canada, here are my top five picks.
The top VPN for Canada, NordVPN is an excellent all-rounder. It has an air-tight zero logs policy and multiple privacy features other providers simply don’t offer. With blazing connection speeds, it’s a great service for downloading and streaming too (it unblocks just about any streaming service out there).
Fast server performance, easy to use apps, top-notch privacy and security, and world-wide streaming access is what you get with Surfshark. And it all comes for a low price no other VPN can beat.
CyberGhost is well-known for its ease of use, security, and privacy. It has a big fast network that spans 89 countries, and specialized servers to unblock Netflix and other similar sites. At 45 days, it also has the longest money-back guarantee in the VPN industry.
With excellent speeds and the largest VPN server network around (currently spanning an incredible 129 countries), PureVPN lets you unblock and stream just about anything from anywhere.
Robust encryption and security, quick servers, access to Netflix US, Netflix Canada, and other streaming sites from abroad, and excellent customer support are just a few of the things ExpressVPN brings to the table.
Why Use a VPN in Canada
There are plenty of reasons why Canadians should consider using VPNs – and why many already do. From improved privacy and anonymity and better online security to an unrestricted internet experience, here is an overview of the major drivers of VPN use in Canada.
Canada’s a Charter Member of Five Eyes
At the end of World War 2, Canada joined the intelligence collection and sharing treaty known as Five Eyes. The other members are the US, the UK, Australian, and New Zealand.
The agreement calls for all five countries to hand over data and surveillance information to each other. This sharing happens both by default and upon request. That, unfortunately, puts the privacy of Canadian internet users at the mercy of foreign government intelligence agencies, who can ask for information about online activities for any reason they choose.
General Privacy Concerns
As was revealed a few years ago, the Canadian government runs a globe-spanning mass surveillance system. It monitors activities like file downloads and page views and logs the IP addresses of all internet users they’re watching.
There are no warrants, there is no public disclosure, and there’s very little legal protection for targets. It’s almost like a real-world version of Big Brother from George Orwell’s 1984, and, in Canada, it’s always watching.
It’s not just the government that Canadians need to worry about when they use the internet. The ISPs are just as bad – if not worse – when it comes to user privacy.
A study of the major Canadian ISPs found that many engage in shady data collection and sharing activities with little or no transparency. In some instances, ISPs may even be violating Canada’s privacy laws – which are not all that strict, to begin with.
It’s hard to find many places stricter than the US when it comes to copyright enforcement. But, believe it or not, Canada is one of them.
The recently updated Canadian copyright status gives rights-holders vast powers to go after suspected violators. And, Canadian courts have so far also come down firmly on their side.
For internet users, this means constant fear of copyright trolls or the threat of massive fines for anything that could be seen as an infringement. Take, for example, the case of a Canadian man who was fined over $11,000. Why? He read an article sent to him by a subscriber of a paywalled news site.
Streaming Geo-Restricted Content
Canadians don’t always turn to VPNs out of concern for online privacy. Sometimes, they do it for entertainment.
A VPN is one of the best ways to watch content geographically restricted to other countries. With the right provider, it’s a breeze to access Netflix from any country, the BBC iPlayer, or to stream TV from France, Germany, or any other country.
Similarly, anyone abroad can use a VPN to watch Canadian Netflix or stream the nation’s television broadcasters. A little Hockey Night in Canada action, perhaps?
Getting a Canadian IP Address
Streaming services and TV stations are not alone in using location as a way of controlling access. It’s not unheard of for other sites, like banks or other financial institutions, do so as well.
If you’re a Canadian dealing with such a site, turning to a VPN and always having a Canadian IP address handy is a good idea. It will let you stay connected to your accounts and other important business no matter where in the world you are.
Are VPNs Legal in Canada?
Yes, using a VPN is legal in Canada. Anyone in the country can do so for any of the reasons mentioned above. Those include better internet privacy, preventing surveillance, and accessing various websites and online services. There are no government laws or regulations barring VPNs on either the federal or provincial and territorial levels.
Beyond personal use, VPNs also can be and often are used by Canadian remote workers, journalists, and government employees for countless work-related activities.
That all said, even though regulations don’t prevent you from using a VPN in Canada, you shouldn’t use one to do anything illegal. Whatever you do online is still your responsibility. If caught breaking the law, you can be held legally accountable, virtual private network or not.
What to Look For in a VPN for Canada
When choosing a Canadian VPN, there are several features any provider worth considering should have. While some of these are not critical, the more of these boxes a VPN checks, the better.
The features to look for include:
Multiple Canadian Servers
Regardless of whether you’re using a VPN from inside Canada or trying to access Canadian services from abroad, the more servers a provider has in the country, the better.
A good number of servers allows for proper network load balance. That ultimately translates to less congestion and better download and streaming speeds for you.
Also, pay attention to the number of Canadian locations you can connect to. This is especially important for big countries like Canada.
For top performance, you want VPN servers as physically close to you as possible. The best VPNs will have data centers in multiple Canadian cities – two or more in the east (typically Montreal and Toronto) and at least one in the west (usually Vancouver).
Servers in Other Countries
No matter how you plan to use your VPN, it’s a good idea to pick one with a server list that includes as many countries outside Canada as possible.
Plenty of options means lots of flexibility for you. You’ll not only be able to use sites and services in more places but will also have better access to countries that give you the best online privacy and personal data safety.
A No Logging Policy
Another critical aspect of a VPN is how it handles your information. Ideally, choose a no-logging policy provider – that means zero data kept about if and when you connected to the service, where you connected from, and what online activity you took part in.
Only if your VPN doesn’t log can you be sure they won’t have something to hand over to a third party (even law enforcement) should they ever come knocking.
Try to lean towards a VPN that operates out of a jurisdiction with strong privacy laws that shield your data and personal information. Places like Panama, Cyprus, Sweden, or Switzerland are good options (though there are others too).
Canada is, unfortunately, not the best choice here. But, if, despite that, you insist on using a VPN based in Canada, then a no-logging policy is an absolute must.
To download large files, stream high-quality content, or even load most websites in a reasonable amount of time, you need a fast internet connection. Because a VPN is an extra – and potentially limiting – layer that sits on top of your regular connection, it too needs to offer good speeds.
While there are plenty of fast VPNs to choose from, there are even more with sub-par performance. Always go for speed – without it, you’ll have a limited and very frustrating internet experience every time you connect.
VPN protection is almost always a must when using BitTorrent and other P2P services. That said, not all providers allow that type of traffic, and some only do so on a select few servers.
If you use peer-to-peer networks, pay attention to a provider’s policies on the subject. Also, pick a VPN that allows P2P traffic on as much of its server network as possible. That way, you can torrent without fear of copyright trolls – a known issue in Canada.
Ability to Unblock Geo-Restricted Content
Because of various licensing agreements, many sites and services (think Netflix) are not big fans of us using a VPN to get around their geo-restrictions. They do their absolute best to block VPNs – and, for the most part, they’re successful.
As a result, most providers won’t work with out of market streaming services. But, a handful does make an effort to keep access to such sites. VPNs that work with Netflix, for example, while few and far between, do exist.
So, if you’re going to use your VPN to watch geo-blocked content, be it in Canada or abroad, double-check first if the provider gets you the access you want. Not every VPN website states this information clearly. If you’re not sure, a quick chat with customer support will get you an answer.
Scrutinizing providers for each of these features may seem daunting. But, you’ll be surprised how quickly you can get it done. And it’s time well spent too, avoiding potential disappointment and frustration later on.
As an aside, all VPN providers I recommend on this page as good choices for Canada check all the above boxes. So, you can always look into them first. Any one of them could be a good fit for you.
Best VPNs for Canada
You now know what to look for in a VPN for Canada. Below are what I believe to be some of the best choices around.
NordVPN calls Panama home and has a strict and third-party audited zero-logging policy. It also offer plenty of privacy features like a double VPN, obfuscated servers, and TOR over VPN. That is all great news for those of us seeking anonymity.
Their server list includes over 5000 servers in 59 countries, with a heavy presence of 478 Canadian servers in Montreal, Toronto, and Vancouver. It’s a very fast network too – in fact, currently the fastest there is.
NordVPN also does an uncanny job of unblocking geo-blocked content, including Netflix, in just about every country on the planet. And P2P is allowed everywhere.
Client support is easy to get in touch with 24/7 over email or chat, and if you’re on the fence, you get a long 30-day money back guarantee to make sure this provider is exactly what you need.
- Excellent download and upload speeds
- Large ever-expanding server network
- Great privacy with independently verified no logging policy
- Specialty servers (including double VPN, obfuscated, and Tor over VPN)
- Clean, easy to use client
- Works with Netflix and other streaming services
- Allows torrenting and P2P
- Offers dedicated IP addresses
- No split tunneling feature
- A bit pricey on shorter-term plans
Based out of the British Virgin Islands – a country with zero data retention laws – Surfshark doesn’t monitor, track, or store anything about what you do online.
They have slightly fewer server locations than their peers, but over 3200 servers in 65 is still nothing to sneeze at. Canada is well represented with a good number of servers in Montreal, Toronto, and Vancouver.
Surfshark’s client is feature-packed – an ad blocker, a kill switch, DNS leak protection, double VPN configurations, and a special VPN camouflage mode all make the list. They’re also the only provider to offer unlimited simultaneous connections.
To top it all off, Surfshark is the least expensive provider on this list – and even moreso if you’re able to take advantage of a sale. No other VPN offers Canadians so much for so little.
- Excellent privacy and security with no logging
- Great server performance
- Unblocks Netflix, BBC, and many others
- Easy to use client
- Unlimited simultaneous connections
- Torrenting support network-wide
- Very inexpensive
- Inconsistent speeds at a few locations
- Fairly slow customer support
CyberGhost is based in Romania – an excellent jurisdiction for a VPN – and keeps no logs.
They’re also one of the not so many VPNs that devote significant resources to maintain streaming access, with multiple servers dedicated to specific services. P2P is, of course, also supported across almost their entire network.
CyberGhost can make an excellent choice for VPN users, in or out of Canada. And considering how inexpensive the service is – especially if a coupon code is available – combined with a best in industry 45-day money back guarantee, you just can’t go wrong.
- Zero logging for maximum privacy
- Excellent server distribution with over 6900 servers in 89 countries
- Very fast connection speeds
- Works with US Netflix and BBC iPlayer
- Allows P2P torrenting
- Long 45-day money-back guarantee
- Parent company with a questionable reputation
- Convoluted manual OpenVPN setup
- Doesn't work from China
Their claim to fame is a massive network of servers that spans an amazing 129 countries. No other VPN provider comes close. They also, of course, run plenty of servers in Canada with data centers in Montreal, Quebec City, and Vancouver.
PureVPN’s other claim to fame is their ability to get around content geo-blocks. In fact, they run dedicated servers for nearly 70 channels from countries all over the world, including Canadian broadcasters CTV and RDS. And their excellent speed test results mean streaming at even the highest quality settings with no annoying pixelation or buffering.
PureVPN is also P2P friendly, keeps no logs, and offers plenty of features in a client app that is supported on over 50 platforms and devices.
Priced super competitively, PureVPN gives you a 31-day no-hassle money-back guarantee – plenty of time to try them out.
- Huge server network (129 countries)
- Fast speeds
- Unblocks Netflix, iPlayer, and over 70 other streaming services
- Compatible with over 50 devices and platforms
- Independently verified zero log VPN provider
- Dedicated IP option
- Great value
- Apps could use a bit more polish
- Some intermittent connection problems
Incorporated in the privacy-friendly British Virgin Islands, ExpressVPN is a strict no-logging VPN. It comes with some of the most advanced security features and standards available, including 4096-bit RSA keys, SHA256 authentication, and 256-bit encryption.
With servers optimized for speed, ExpressVPN is the perfect solution for anyone that likes to stream high-definition video or use P2P file sharing – the latter is available network-wide.
And speaking of the network, ExpressVPN’s server list is extensive, with 3000+ servers in 95 countries and 148 locations. Three of those locations are the cities of Montreal, Toronto, and Vancouver.
If there is a downside to ExpressVPN is that they’re a little more expensive (be sure to take advantage of any current discounts). That said, considering how good this service is, I think it’s money well invested. And there is, of course, a 30-day money-back guarantee, giving you lots of time to make a final call.
- A feature-rich and intuitive client
- Strong back-end technology
- Plenty of servers and server locations
- Fast and consistent connection speeds
- Works with US Netflix
- Top-notch customer support
- Some aggregated logging
- Not the cheapest
How to Get the Best VPN Speeds in Canada
For the best online experience possible when using a VPN – both in Canada and anywhere else in the world – there are two big things to consider.
First, use a VPN that has stellar speed test results. All the providers I’ve listed above meet that criteria.
Next, you should try connecting to a server as physically close to you as possible. It reduces the distance your data needs to travel. That’s why it’s important to pick a provider with plenty of locations both in Canada and in any other country you want to access – it gives you VPN connection options close by.
So, for example, if you would like to stream the CBC from Europe, choose a location on the east coast of Canada. Connecting to a Vancouver server will add thousands of unnecessary kilometers to your data’s journey.
Even if you follow the above advice, you may still sometimes find yourself with a slow connection. If that’s the case, there are several other things you can try to speed up your VPN.
Canadian Surveillance Law Details
Earlier, I touched on the sub-par internet privacy situation in Canada. Here are more details on the laws that make investing in a VPN a pretty good idea.
- Copyright Modernization Act (Bill C-11) – Passed in 2011, this sweeping overhaul of Canadian copyright law gives rights-holders unprecedented enforcement options. It also forces the hand of search engines and ISPs to act as copyright enforcers. Ultimately, it violates user privacy in the name of big corporate interests.
- Antiterrorism Act of 2015 (Bill C-51) – This law makes possible one of the most widespread systems of warrantless mass surveillance of any western nation. It grants unprecedented legal authority to Canadian government agencies and lets them monitor just about anything that passes over the internet – with little oversight and restrictions.
- Protecting Canadians from Online Crimes Act – This 2014 law passed as part of a governmental effort to stop the spread of cyberbullying. Unfortunately, that’s not all it accomplished. It gave Canadian authorities the right to access online user data, phone records, and any other digital assets they wish by claiming to have “reasonable grounds for suspicion.” It also grants immunity from lawsuits to ISPs that hand over user data, even if they have no legal grounds to do so.
Using a Free VPN for Canada
Using a free VPN service in Canada, even for occasional use, is, unfortunately, not the best option. Free providers continue to have a terrible reputation for not protecting their users. And sometimes, they even unnecessarily put them in harm’s way.
The problem with free VPNs is that they’re exactly that – free. It takes a good amount of money and resources to run a VPN. Since free providers don’t have subscription fees to rely on, they turn to tactics like ad injection and selling user data and online activity history.
To prevent their networks from getting overwhelmed, they also typically have significant speed and bandwidth restrictions.
And we haven’t even touched on the fact that many free VPN apps – at one point a whopping 38% on the Google Play store – contain malware.
In my opinion, free VPN services are simply not worth the risk, especially with ultra-affordable options like Surfshark in the market.
From government data collection and questionable ISP privacy practices to a legal system that can punish you for even perceived copyright infractions, there are a ton of reasons to use a VPN in Canada.
A VPN is also an excellent way to keep in touch with home when abroad or to access the many online entertainment options the Great White North and other countries have to offer.
Whatever your reasons for wanting a VPN for Canada, you now know how to find the best of the best. You also have a list of the five top providers to look into as a starting point (most of them have big sales on right now too).
Start using a VPN and get the online freedom, security, and privacy we all deserve.