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vpnMentor was established in 2014 to review VPN services and cover privacy-related stories. Today, our team of hundreds of cybersecurity researchers, writers, and editors continues to help readers fight for their online freedom in partnership with Kape Technologies PLC, which also owns the following products: ExpressVPN, CyberGhost, and Private Internet Access which may be ranked and reviewed on this website. The reviews published on vpnMentor are believed to be accurate as of the date of each article, and written according to our strict reviewing standards that prioritize professional and honest examination of the reviewer, taking into account the technical capabilities and qualities of the product together with its commercial value for users. The rankings and reviews we publish may also take into consideration the common ownership mentioned above, and affiliate commissions we earn for purchases through links on our website. We do not review all VPN providers and information is believed to be accurate as of the date of each article.

Countries Where Torrenting is Legal — Updated Guide in 2024

Kelvin Kiogora Fact-checked by Eric Raue Cybersecurity Researcher

Torrenting isn’t usually illegal, but sharing copyrighted material is. Since it’s often difficult to determine the legality of shared files, this leaves torrenting in a legal grey area. Because of this, some countries have laws against torrenting, while others permit it for personal use.

For informational purposes, I created this updated list of countries where torrenting is allowed and where it isn’t. Even if you’re in a country where torrenting is legal, there are many security risks when using a P2P client. So, I have also compiled my list of the top torrenting safety tips.

Important. Using torrents to download copyrighted material is against the law. We at vpnMentor do not encourage or condone torrenting for unlawful purposes. Always verify you have the legal right to download and share a file before torrenting it. Also, familiarize yourself with the latest laws in your country before using P2P networks.

Short on Time? Here Are the Top Countries for Legal Torrenting in 2024

  1. Switzerland — There are no penalties for downloading most content for private use, but you can’t upload. Downloading copyrighted software is also always illegal.
  2. Spain — It’s legal to download copyrighted content that you already own for backup copies, but sharing or using those files for monetary gain is a crime.
  3. Poland — You can download copyright-protected content for personal consumption, but resharing or distributing this content is against the law.

Pro Tip: Use a VPN to Torrent Safely

Even in countries where torrenting is completely legal, using P2P networks exposes you to risks. Torrenting exposes your IP address to other users, which can be used to monitor your online activity, uncover your identity, or target you with cyber-attacks.

To safeguard yourself from these risks, I advise using a VPN when torrenting. A VPN acts as a shield hiding your connection and your IP address. This keeps your location, identity, and online activities private and secure. Some also block malicious URLs, like those that are embedded in ads on some torrent sites.

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Military-Grade Security Features
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Verified to not collect or share data

Editors' Note: Transparency is one of our core values at vpnMentor, so you should know we are in the same ownership group as ExpressVPN. However, this does not affect our review process.

Safest Countries for Legal Torrenting

Where is torrenting permitted

I looked into local online piracy laws to see which countries permit torrenting and which don’t. In some places, like Spain, a few P2P sites are blocked even though downloading is allowed. Most torrenting sources are still available in those countries. Here’s a list of different countries’ stances towards torrenting and piracy.

Important. Although we update this list often, online piracy laws can change quite rapidly. So, it’s important to ensure you are up-to-date with the legalities of torrenting before you begin.
Countries that allow downloading for personal use Countries where downloading content is overlooked Countries where downloading illegal content is fined Countries that have shut down torrenting sites
Switzerland Netherlands Germany Portugal
Spain Canada Japan Italy
Poland Mexico UK Malaysia
Israel Finland China
Romania France USA
Greece UAE Australia
India Russia
Uruguay South Africa
Czech Republic Latvia
Slovakia Spain
Slovenia
Colombia
Brazil
Philippines
Argentina
Iran
Egypt
Denmark
Singapore

Here’s what the above categories mean for you:

  • Downloading is permitted (for personal use). In these countries, there’s nothing wrong with downloading copyright-protected content for your own consumption. For example, you can download a copyrighted movie to watch at home. However, it’s illegal to reuse, broadcast, sell, or redistribute the content. In these countries, avoid seeding anything since it falls under the crime of redistributing content.
  • Downloading content is overlooked. Most countries in this category have laws prohibiting downloading and sharing copyrighted files, but enforcement is weak or nearly non-existent. While this means you’re unlikely to get prosecuted for torrenting, you should still never download anything copyrighted or illegal.
  • Downloading illegal content is fined. These countries have laws against piracy, and they take these laws seriously. If you’re caught downloading illegal content, you could get warnings from your ISP, pay heavy fines, or even face jail time.
  • Countries that have shut down torrenting sites. These aggressively prosecute copyright violators. In some cases (like Spain), they’ve blocked certain torrent hosts, but don’t go after downloaders. In the US, sites like The Pirate Bay, Torrentz2, and YTS have faced seizures and bans even though torrenting legal content is allowed.

How to Stay Safe While Torrenting

Torrenting, while a legitimate method of file sharing, comes with its risks. Beyond the legal implications of downloading copyrighted content even by accident, there are cybersecurity concerns. Malicious actors often use torrents to distribute malware, and lots of torrent sharing sites have ads that contain harmful URLs.

Here are some steps to avoid these risks and stay safe while torrenting.

  • Use a VPN. A VPN masks your IP address and encrypts your online activity, making you less vulnerable to hackers and snooping on torrenting sites.
  • Opt for reputable torrent sites. Stick to well-known and trusted torrent sites. Many have a community of users who provide feedback on torrent files, which can help you gauge the safety of a download.
  • Check comments and feedback. Before downloading a torrent, read the comments and feedback from other users. They can alert you to potential issues with the file.
  • Use antivirus software. Ensure that you have reliable antivirus software installed and active. Scan files before opening them.
  • Avoid torrents with few seeders. Files with a higher number of seeders are generally more trustworthy, as it means more people have downloaded the file before you.
  • Stay updated. Regularly update your torrent client to its latest version. Outdated software can have vulnerabilities.
  • Beware of executable files. If you're downloading a movie or music, there's no reason for the file to end in.exe or contain programs. Such files are often malware in disguise.
  • Limit uploads. While seeding is necessary for P2P networks to function, it isn’t allowed in all places, even if your download was legal. Disable seeding in your torrent client and use a VPN to avoid exposing your IP address to others.
  • Never download restricted files. Don't download anything copyrighted, even if it’s technically “allowed” in your current country. Not only is it wrong, but it is more likely that malware will be hidden somewhere in the torrent.
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DEAL: Save 49% + 30-day money-back guarantee
Editor's Choice for Security
Our Score: 10.0
High-level encryption keeps you safe online
Verified to not collect or share data

What Are The Consequences of Torrenting Illegally?

In countries that actively prosecute illegal torrenting, rights holders and copyright organizations monitor torrents to find people who are violating copyright. Your ISP can also see your torrenting activities, so they’ll know if you share restricted content.

The consequences vary by country if you’re caught pirating. Here are some common legal consequences and punishments for torrenting illegally:

  • Warning letters. In many countries, the first step is often a warning letter sent by your ISP on behalf of the copyright holder. It typically advises you to cease illegal downloading or face further consequences.
  • Throttling or disconnection. Your ISP might slow down your internet speed or, in extreme cases, terminate your service if they detect repeated copyright infringements. Some ISPs also do this if your P2P activities are using a ton of bandwidth.
  • Fines. Some copyright holders might offer a settlement option, where the accused pays a certain amount to avoid legal proceedings. However, in some cases, individuals have been sued for tens of thousands of dollars for downloading copyrighted content.
  • Legal prosecution. In some jurisdictions, infringements can lead to criminal charges. These could even mean jail time, especially if someone is distributing copyrighted content on a large scale.

Best VPNs for Torrenting in 2024

  1. ExpressVPN — Offers high-speed servers for fast torrent downloads. It also has military-grade encryption and a kill switch to keep your identity, location, and activity private and safe while torrenting.
  2. CyberGhost — Has special torrenting servers optimized for secure P2P. Its strict no-logs policy keeps your torrenting activities private.
  3. Private Internet Access — Has customizable settings and port forwarding to prioritize your speed or security for torrenting.

Editor's Note: We value our relationship with our readers, and we strive to earn your trust through transparency and integrity. We are in the same ownership group as some of the industry-leading products reviewed on this site: Intego, Cyberghost, ExpressVPN, and Private Internet Access. However, this does not affect our review process, as we adhere to a strict testing methodology.

FAQs on Torrenting Legally

Is torrenting illegal in the US?

No, torrenting is not illegal in the US. However, it’s still against the law to download, distribute, or share copyrighted or restricted material. The consequences of illegal torrenting in the US range from civil lawsuits from rights holders to criminal charges for distribution of illegal content.

Does using a VPN make torrenting safe?

VPNs make torrenting much safer even though they don’t remove 100% of the potential dangers. It’s recommended to use a high-quality VPN with robust security features to stay as safe as possible. Many VPNs leak your data, but each provider I tested uses leak protection and military-grade encryption. These prevent third parties from monitoring your activities or using your IP for cyber-attacks.

That said, using a VPN doesn't change the legality of what you're doing. Downloading copyrighted material without permission remains illegal, even if you use a VPN.

What is the best country for torrenting?

The best countries for torrenting are those that allow torrenting for personal use, such as Switzerland, Spain, and Poland. Even within these countries, it’s important to take some precautions to keep yourself safe when torrenting. More importantly, avoid downloading and distributing copyrighted content, as this is illegal in most countries and leaves you criminally liable.

Can I torrent using a free VPN?

You can technically torrent using a free VPN, but they have risks and limitations. To torrent safely, it’s advisable to invest in a reputable paid VPN service that has a proven track record of protecting your data and keeping your torrents private.

Free VPNs typically don’t offer crucial torrenting features, like strong encryption, server choice, speed, or security features as premium VPNs. This could expose you to hackers and snoops. Many also have data limits you’ll quickly exhaust when you torrent large files. In the worst cases, free VPNs have been caught tracking you and selling your data for profit.

Can I torrent safely using Tor browser?

While it’s possible to use the Tor browser for torrenting, I don’t recommend it since it’s very, very slow. If you want to torrent safely and quickly, your best bet is to use a good VPN to protect yourself. These have features specific to torrenting.

While Tor provides anonymity by routing your traffic through multiple nodes, torrent clients can leak your real IP address when you use Tor. This is because the P2P protocol wasn’t designed with the Tor network in mind.

Additionally, Tor is slower than a VPN and the regular internet because it has to route your connection through multiple nodes worldwide. Adding torrenting to this could result in even slower speeds for both you and other users on the network.

How does my ISP know when I am torrenting?

Your ISP can detect torrenting by analyzing your traffic or through deep packet inspection. You can prevent your ISP from seeing your torrenting activities by using a VPN when torrenting. The VPN encrypts your traffic, making it difficult for your ISP to monitor your online activities and see what you’re doing.

Can I torrent without a VPN?

Yes, but it’s not a good idea as it exposes you to various threats. Using a VPN to torrent safely is important so third parties can’t monitor you or exploit your connection. Otherwise, your real IP address will be visible and your downloads will be exposed.

With a VPN, your IP can’t be used to trace your torrenting activities. Other options are to use a Seedbox, which is a private server that hosts files for download. However, this usually costs an added fee and it isn’t as safe as torrenting with a VPN.

Conclusion

Torrenting is legal in most places, and is a handy way to share files fast. However, many torrents are for illegal or restricted files, so downloading or sharing them is against the law. Countries vary widely in their approaches to copyright enforcement. Some have a lenient stance on downloading files for personal use, while others enforce copyright aggressively.

Understanding your country’s torrenting laws is crucial. It’s your responsibility to avoid breaking the law, but you can use my list of countries where torrenting is allowed for a general reference.

Privacy Alert!

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Your IP Address:

Your Location:

Your Internet Provider:

The information above can be used to track you, target you for ads, and monitor what you do online.

VPNs can help you hide this information from websites so that you are protected at all times. We recommend ExpressVPN — the #1 VPN out of over 350 providers we've tested. It has military-grade encryption and privacy features that will ensure your digital security, plus — it's currently offering 49% off.

Visit ExpressVPN

We review vendors based on rigorous testing and research but also take into account your feedback and our affiliate commission with providers. Some providers are owned by our parent company.
Learn more
vpnMentor was established in 2014 to review VPN services and cover privacy-related stories. Today, our team of hundreds of cybersecurity researchers, writers, and editors continues to help readers fight for their online freedom in partnership with Kape Technologies PLC, which also owns the following products: ExpressVPN, CyberGhost, and Private Internet Access which may be ranked and reviewed on this website. The reviews published on vpnMentor are believed to be accurate as of the date of each article, and written according to our strict reviewing standards that prioritize professional and honest examination of the reviewer, taking into account the technical capabilities and qualities of the product together with its commercial value for users. The rankings and reviews we publish may also take into consideration the common ownership mentioned above, and affiliate commissions we earn for purchases through links on our website. We do not review all VPN providers and information is believed to be accurate as of the date of each article.

About the Author

Kelvin is a writer and cyber-safety researcher at vpnMentor, whose expertise in the latest online security tools aids readers in keeping them safe from hackers and online snoops.

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Comments (2)
Susan
25 Jun 2024
25 Jun 2024

You did not mention Ecuador. Please let me know if it's legal. Thanks!

Torrenting in Ecuador is a gray area legally, similar to many countries. It largely depends on what content you are downloading or sharing; using torrents for copyrighted material without permission is generally illegal. For specific legal advice, it's best to consult a local legal expert.

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