Keeping our personal information out of the hands of data thieves and snooping governments is a never-ending battle. If you needed a reminder of that, ransomware attacks are up again this year,1 while our own internet service providers (ISPs) still have the right to pillage our search histories for advertising bucks.2 That’s why I never put so much as a toe in the open waters of the web without a quality virtual private network (VPN) sealing off my internet connection.
Most of my experience testing top VPNs has been in the United States. I usually have plenty of secure server options there, and I can unblock pretty much any content I want on major streaming platforms such as Netflix and YouTube TV. But what if I moved my base of operations south of the border?
In this VPN guide, I set out to answer that question by testing my favorite VPNs in Mexico. (Canada, you’re next!) I looked at three areas in particular: the quality of server coverage, the ability to stream what I wanted, and the degree of internet privacy I could count on. Here are my results.
The VPN Features I Tested in Mexico
VPNs do a lot of things. In my Mexico tests, I focused on the key needs of VPN users living or vacationing in Mexico.
When you connect to a VPN, your devices sidestep your ISP’s servers (which are under constant surveillance) and pass through your VPN’s servers (which are completely private). It’s not just a question of how many servers you have to choose from when you’re considering a VPN in Mexico, but how secure those servers are.
Streaming services offer different content depending on where you live. We call those arbitrary content barriers “geo-restrictions,” and Netflix is particularly heavy-handed in that department. In the U.S., I’ve tested a lot of VPNs to see if they could sneak past Netflix’s VPN dragnets with pretty good results. I wanted to see if I’d have the same luck with my favorite streaming services in Mexico, Latin America’s second biggest VOD market.
Mexico’s online communities are thriving, but the Mexican government has been known to meddle — and worse — in the internet activities of its residents.3 If you’re living in or visiting Mexico, a secure VPN is virtually a requirement. The VPNs that made my Mexico list had to be the best at keeping my data and the data of my family completely secure and private.
If you know anything about VPNs, you’ve probably heard of NordVPN. NordVPN has a reputation for iron-clad security and useful features, but how useful are those features in Mexico? And do NordVPN’s security claims hold up outside the U.S.? Here’s what I found.
What We Like
Outside surveillance alliances
30 servers in Mexico
Strong Apple and Android apps
What We Don’t Like
Allows only three devices per server
Static IP addresses
No phone support in Mexico
Internet privacy is important, but so is online safety. Cybercrime has risen sharply since the pandemic began, and we can get really bent out of shape when we find mysterious Amazon charges on our Visa card. Multihop technology, which routes our internet traffic through two different servers instead of one, is one way VPNs help keep our data extra secure. NordVPN offers multihop technology, but the feature didn’t work in Mexico. On the other hand, I found 30 servers to choose from in Mexico, as well as a few more in Costa Rica. Compared to Surfshark, a close competitor with only four servers in Mexico, that was plenty of coverage. As a result, connecting to secure servers in Mexico was not only possible, but also faster than I expected.
There are plenty of great reasons to use a VPN, but one of my favorites is that some of them allow me to stream any version of Netflix’s programming wherever I happen to be. The trick in this case was getting my VPN to fool Netflix into thinking I was still in the U.S. while I was hanging out in Mexico City. NordVPN’s obfuscated servers would have been nice here, but I didn’t have access to that feature in Mexico. That didn’t seem to matter though. In test after test, NordVPN’s Mexican servers snuck past Netflix’s VPN sentries so I was binge watching “Pain Killer” from the 23rd parallel.
Security and Privacy
NordVPN is headquartered in Panama, just south of Mexico’s southern border. More important, though, is that Panama isn’t a member of Five Eyes, Nine Eyes, or 14 Eyes, the world’s largest and grabbiest data-sharing networks. When I dug a little deeper, I found out that NordVPN owns and operates its servers in its own data centers. That is arguably more important for my day-to-day privacy than Mexico’s data-sharing status. It means I could check my Twitter (excuse me, X) in Mexico securely without having to go through Mexican telecommunications companies, which may have been squeaky clean by the time I visited, but have a complicated history with the Mexican government, journalists pointedly included.4
2. Private Internet Access VPN - VPN with the most servers in Mexico
Private Internet Access is based just across the border from Mexico in Texas, making it the only VPN on my top-five list so far that’s subject to 14 Eyes online surveillance agreements. That might give you cause for concern, but the company has taken extraordinary steps to make sure it logs no identifying data — at least on paper. (More on this below.) But that wasn’t a pressing concern in Mexico City. What I needed ASAP were secure servers to stream the last two episodes of “Mindhunter”! And PIA delivered. Sort of.
What We Like
Strict logging policy
Dynamic IP addresses
127 servers in Mexico
What We Don’t Like
Limited customer support
No split tunneling
Only five simultaneous connections
Private Internet Access maintains a humongous 127 of its over 35,000 servers in Mexico alone — the most of any VPN on this list. More servers means I should have had more choices and better connections when I went online. I didn’t have any trouble connecting in Mexico, but that server number sounded a little high. (It was two and half times as many servers as CyberGhost had in Mexico and four times as many as NordVPN.) After a little poking around, I realized why PIA boasted so many Mexican servers: It uses virtual servers. That isn’t the end of the world, but it means the servers I thought I was connecting to in Mexico could have been anywhere in the world. If you’re curious, my hands-on CyberGhost review goes into more detail about CyberGhost’s server security.
Spoiler: I managed to tune in to “Mindhunter” in Mexico, as well as catch the news back home on YouTube TV. But there was no double-hop tech or obfuscated servers to choose from if my VPN traffic was ever detected. It wasn’t an issue specifically with Mexico, like with NordVPN. PIA just doesn’t offer those features. What did it mean for my VPN experience in Mexico City?
It meant that for the days I was streaming south of the border, PIA had me covered. But I couldn’t guarantee PIA would keep unblocking Netflix, which is good at sussing out crowded VPN servers. If I wanted, I could have bought a dedicated IP, which can foil streaming services easily because they give you a unique IP address. But I didn’t find any Mexico-based IPs on PIA’s list — only U.S. IPs.
The final verdict? I probably would have been fine streaming “Mindhunter” in Mexico with one of PIA’s dedicated IPs, but I wouldn’t have been able to stream Azteca Uno or Canal 5 securely.
Private Internet Access has one of the strictest privacy policies in the business. You can see for yourself.5 In its expanded privacy statement, the company notes that it maintains email addresses, cookie identifiers, and state or territory of origin, but it’s hard to see how it could conduct payment transactions without at least some of that data. More importantly, it backs up its policy with military-grade AES-256 encryption and operates diskless servers. Diskless RAM servers wipe themselves clean upon reboot, so there’s nothing to steal. That was all impressive on paper, but I couldn’t track down any external audits that verified PIA’s security claims.
CyberGhost, a budget alternative to NordVPN, was good at unblocking Netflix and Amazon Prime Video in Mexico with above-average streaming quality. When I went off the beaten track to search for some Mexican films with subtitles, CyberGhost also delivered with specialized peer-to-peer servers and a torrent button built right into the app. Torrenting, which, for the record, is technically illegal north of the border, takes hundreds of devices, links them together in a sort of hive, and zaps files to all of them simultaneously. To access harder-to-find content like Guillermo del Toro’s excellent Spanish-language vampire film “Cronos,” having a torrent-friendly VPN was a definite plus.
CyberGhost has 50 servers in Mexico, which is nearly double the amount NordVPN has south of the border. It was certainly more than I expected, but when I looked a little closer, I found that all the servers were in Mexico City. To put that into perspective, Mexico is 2,000 miles long. If I’d been in the south — say, in Cozumel — that would have been like living in Ohio and using a server in New York City to access the internet. Not ideal, but I found a pretty decent workaround. CyberGhost also has 24 servers in Costa Rica and 25 in Panama, so, all in all, it had me covered in Mexico.
CyberGhost’s torrenting button took me directly to uTorrent and siphoned my Mexican VPN connection through its special torrenting servers. CyberGhost also unblocked Netflix (Mexican and U.S.), Hulu, and ESPN+. My internet speed was slower than what I was used to at home, but I didn’t have any issues with laggy playback.
Security and Privacy
CyberGhost employs AES-256 encryption, a military-grade encryption method that’s used by, well, the military. A closer look at CyberGhost’s privacy statement also revealed that the company is based in Romania, which is outside the reach of the 14 Eyes. So far, so good.
In addition to iron-clad encryption, CyberGhost also ratcheted up my online security in Mexico with a feature called Smart Rules. Smart Rules automated my VPN process, which was just what I needed in the morning before I’d had my first café de olla. As soon as I sat down at the neighborhood café and fired up my laptop, CyberGhost walled off my internet connection from the café router so I could check my bank balance in total privacy. I mention that because it’s really easy to forget to flip on your VPN when you’re in a foreign country — or just out and about — and the consequences can be quick and dire.
Day two of my Mexican sojourn was family day. I’d paid for a monthly PureVPN family plan, and it was time to test it. Quick warning: Month to month, a PureVPN family plan is prohibitively expensive. I paid $39.95 for five users, which is not a cheap VPN by any stretch. If I had been doing it permanently, I would have gone with a two-year plan, which costs a totally reasonable $8.33 per month for 10 devices each. Let’s see how PureVPN helped me stay connected in Mexico.
What We Like
10 simultaneous connections
Outside surveillance alliances
What We Don’t Like
Only six servers in Mexico
No torrenting servers in Mexico
Static IP addresses
Pure VPN gave me a pretty measly six servers to choose from in Mexico. That wasn’t great, and the number fluctuated depending on who you asked. If I’d been staying in Mexico City long-term, I’d probably have considered a VPN with more physical servers in Mexico, such as CyberGhost or NordVPN (see above). But PureVPN’s family plan helped me in another way that was arguably more important than vegging out on American Netflix: It protected my whole family while I was traveling.
Secure video calls with my 10-year-old on her iPad? Check on both sides of the border. Chatting with my wife snoop-free before bed while she’s on her Samsung? Check. Reading the latest Jason Starr novel on my Kindle? Check again. In other words, what PureVPN didn’t have in server reach, it made up for in user (five) and device (10 each) numbers and platform compatibility.
I spent most of my time testing PureVPN for cross-border connections with the family. I didn’t run into any problems with video quality with the VPN running in the background. As I reported when I tested PureVPN in the U.S., my internet speeds only took a 20 percent hit.
In terms of streaming Netflix, it was hit or miss with PureVPN. I could access American Netflix in Mexico — the VPN was working — but the selection of programs it gave me wasn’t complete. You win some, you lose some. On balance, I’ll take family security over an episode of “Fubar” in Mexico.
Security and Privacy
PureVPN passed all my security tests in Mexico. That wasn’t a surprise, since I had the same results stateside. As an aside, PureVPN gave me a kill switch on my Pixel 7. Not all VPNs offer that security feature on Android devices, which would have dropped my internet connection if my VPN ever cut out unexpectedly. Likewise, DNS leak tests in Mexico City showed the same results I got while testing PureVPN on the East Coast: water-tight connections.
We carefully compile all our lists in order to make sure our reporting and judgments are based on the most accurate information. To ensure that level of quality, we employ a strict methodology involving very specific criteria. We compare, for example, each VPN’s performance, privacy policies, security measures, value, and available features. We test them for data leaks and consider how much customer support they offer.
For a guide like this, my first concern was to find VPN services suited to visitors or residents of Mexico, so server coverage was particularly important. In the end, though, my final assessments were made based on a complete evaluation of all the elements outlined above.
Every VPN I profiled for this guide had multiple servers in Mexico. The more servers you have nearby, the better your odds of finding a fast, secure connection. I also took into consideration the kinds of servers each VPN provider offers in Mexico. Do they have servers designed to outmaneuver streaming platforms? Do they offer dedicated IPs? Could I find special servers just for torrenting? The best VPNs ticked those boxes.
Online security comes down to a few factors. The biggest is data leaks. Leaks make us vulnerable not only to hackers, but also to governments. To ensure I recommended only the safest VPNs, I put every VPN I reviewed to two tests: I first ran a DNS leak check through a website like DNSLeakTest.com, and then I ran a WebRTC leak check. Every VPN on this list was leak-free.
A second major concern is privacy. We want VPNs that not only protect us from hackers, but also that ensure no one can spy on what we’re doing when we’re online. Mexico scores a fairly low 61 percent in online privacy per the report we quoted above from internet watchdog freedomhouse.org. To browse securely there, you need a VPN that doesn’t log data or share it with the feds.
The best VPNs for Mexico, for example, are headquartered in countries outside the Five Eyes, Nine Eyes, and 14 Eyes data-sharing alliances. If not, they take some pretty extraordinary measures to frustrate surveillance, such as maintaining no metadata logs of any kind. Finally, each VPN featured in this guide uses AES-256 encryption, a kill switch, dynamic or dedicated IP addresses, and multihop technology — extra steps for extra security.
Most VPNs on this list unblocked Netflix and other major streaming platforms such as YouTube TV, Amazon Prime Video, Disney+, so I could stream American programming in Mexico without buffering. Equally important, they didn’t slow down my base connection so much that I couldn’t enjoy what I was watching or say hello to my family back home via video chat. Of course, every VPN inevitably slows down a machine. By comparing speeds on a device running a VPN to speeds on the same device when it wasn’t running the software, I could determine fairly accurately how much a VPN slowed it down.
Servers, streaming, and privacy were my top concerns when grading the best VPNs for Mexico, but I also considered other factors. Did my VPN connect automatically when it detected an unknown or unsafe Wi-Fi network? Could I hide my tracks better with a double-hop connection (and sneak past Netflix’s geo-restrictions)? Were the companies’ mobile apps up to the same high standards as their desktop apps? No VPN is the best at everything, and they can’t offer every feature everywhere. That said, the best of the best gave me the extra perks that made my daily online activities in Mexico not just safer, but also more convenient.
You can’t put a price on online safety and privacy, especially when you’re in a foreign country. But I definitely considered the cost when I was choosing my top VPN picks for Mexico. I haven’t gotten too bogged down in costs in this guide, but rest assured that I wasn’t considering any plans that cost more than $8 to $10 per month.
Best VPNs in Mexico FAQs
Still have questions about the best VPNs for Mexico? Check out our answers to some of the most common questions.
Any of the VPNs on the list is a good starting point. Visit our VPN Deals page once you’ve decided. You may be able to score a special discount there. Just don’t wait until you’re in Mexico to purchase a plan.
Yes! We managed to do it with each of our top five VPNs for Mexico. You should be able to do it, too, but it may take a few tries to hit the sweet spot. Streaming platforms like Netflix have their eyes peeled 24/7 for VPNs, and they constantly blacklist servers they suspect may be helping users sneak around their geo-restrictions.