How I Use Gmail in China in 2024 (despite it being blocked) (2024)

How I Use Gmail in China in 2024 (despite it being blocked)

January 13 | No Comments

How do I use Gmail in China in 2024? If you’re like me, you use Gmail / Google Apps suite for business or for personal email. I love everything about using Gmail except for one thing: all Google apps areblocked in China.

This means that in order for you to use Gmail in China this year, there are a few extra steps you’ll need to take. Allow me to explain my process.

How I Use Gmail in China in 2024 (despite it being blocked) (1)

It doesn’t matter whether you access Gmail on your phone, computer or tablet – in China, you can’t open the webpage or even download your mail from the Google servers using your favorite email client (i.e. Apple Mail, Microsoft Outlook, etc.).

As an expat who has been living and doing business in China for more than 10 years, this censorship is an annoying but persistent part of my life.

I’ve tried using other email services while in China but frankly…

…they all suck.

There’s a reason that Gmail is the top email service provider. Here are answers to the most common questions about Gmail in China and my process for accessing the service despite censorship.

Note: This article contains affiliate links, which means that at no extra cost to you, I may be compensated if you choose to use some of the services listed.

Is Gmail Blocked in China in 2024?

Yes, Gmail is blocked in China.

And it’s not just Gmail; China blocks all Google apps including, YouTube, Blogger, Google Sheets, Google Docs, etc. Anything that is owned and hosted by Google is currently inaccessible in China.

The problems all started in early 2010, when China and Google got in a big fight about censorship. I won’t go into the whole story but it basically boils down to this:

China wanted Google to self-censor its search results…

…Google said “no”.

Google was forced to exit China and all their services were consequently blocked.

How to Access Gmail in China

So if Gmail is blocked in China, how do I access it every day? (and I do access it every, single day!)

The way that I use Gmail in China is the same as almost every expat who has lived in the country over the past decade:

I use a Virtual Private Network, also known as a “VPN”.

At the risk of getting too technical, a VPN is basically a direct, encrypted connection with another computer server. By connecting to a server outside of China and then using that server to access the internet, you’re able to bypass China’s internet censorship.

China has cracked down on the use of VPNs over the years but has never labeled it as “illegal”.

They’re trying to discourage the use of VPNs by Chinese people but they honestly don’t care that we foreigners use one (at least they’ve never punished anyone for using a VPN!)

How I Use Gmail in China in 2024 (despite it being blocked) (2)

Personally, I use ExpressVPN to access Gmail in China and it works something like this:

  • I purchase and download ExpressVPN on my computer, tablet and/or phone (I use it on all my family’s devices).
  • Anytime I’m in China and need to access the internet freely, I ‘turn on’ the VPN (i.e. connect to a VPN server).
  • As long as the VPN is connected, I can access Gmail and any other website I need.

How I Use Gmail in China in 2024 (despite it being blocked) (3)

Tips for Using a VPN in China

If you decide to use a VPN such as ExpressVPN while traveling around China (and I recommend that you seriously consider it), here are a few tips that I’ve picked up over the years of living in and traveling around China:

  • Install the VPN Before You Arrive in China. It should come as no surprise that China blocks access to most VPN websites, making it very difficult to download and setup a VPN once you arrive in China. If possible, I suggest you purchase, download and setup your VPN in your home country before you leave.
  • Don’t Be Surprised if your VPN Acts Up. As I mentioned earlier, China loves to make VPN connections difficult. Sometimes I can’t connect to the server I want, so I just have to try a different server connection. Usually, this happens during sensitive anniversaries (i.e. June 4th) or while Congress is in session.
  • Get a Backup VPN if Necessary. For me, accessing the internet without censorship is vital to my business. For this reason, I have active subscriptions to two different VPN services: one that I use regularly and two that I use as backups. Every expat is different, but for me, my primary VPN is ExpressVPN and I have setup NordVPN as a very good backup. The reason I recommend these two is that they both offer 30-day money back guarantees for travelers.
  • Don’t Get Freaked Out. I get emails from travelers on a weekly basis that ask me if using a VPN in a hotel, or at a coffee shop or staying connected all the time will get them in trouble. Don’t get freaked out. I’ve never heard of any foreign expat getting in trouble for connecting to a VPN and the beauty is, the encrypted connection means they don’t know what you’re doing while you’re connected.

Final Thoughts on Gmail in China

The VPN solution to the Gmail in China problem is a no-brainer in 2024.

If your company doesn’t already provide you with a VPN, it’s cheap and easy to purchase a personal VPN like ExpressVPN and use that to bypass censorship.

And if you don’t like ExpressVPN for some reason, there are plenty of other VPNs that work in China to choose from.

The truth is that email isn’t as common in China as it is in the western world. Chinese people prefer to do business over messaging apps like WeChat and they really don’t care that Gmail is blocked.

For us expats, however, it’s often an essential part of communication.

If that’s you, I hope this short tutorial on how to use Gmail in China has been helpful. :)

  • About the Author

How I Use Gmail in China in 2024 (despite it being blocked) (4)

About Josh Summers

Josh is the author of Xinjiang | A Traveler's Guide to Far West China, the most highly-reviewed and comprehensive travel guide on China's western region of Xinjiang. He lived, studied and run a business in Xinjiang, China for more than 10 years, earning recognition for his work from CCTV, BBC, Lonely Planet and many others.

Continue Reading:

  • How to Use Facebook in China in 2024

  • How to Use Instagram in China in 2024

How I Use Gmail in China in 2024 (despite it being blocked) (2024)


How I Use Gmail in China in 2024 (despite it being blocked)? ›

Google services are not completely banned in China. In some places, there may be restricted access to Google services. However, users can utilize virtual private networks (VPNs) to get around censorship and use Google services.

How do I unblock Google in China? ›

How to Unblock Google in China With a VPN
  1. Step 1: Choose a Reliable VPN Provider. You need a capable provider — many VPNs will not work within China due to ongoing crackdowns by authorities. ...
  2. Step 2: Install the VPN. ...
  3. Step 3: Connect to a Server Outside China. ...
  4. Step 4: Access Google Freely in China.

Which email services are not blocked in China? ›

Which email providers are accessible in China without any restrictions or blocks?
  • Gmail: Gmail is one of the most popular email providers worldwide and can be accessed in China without any issues [1]. ...
  • Yahoo Mail: Yahoo Mail is another email provider that is not blocked in China [1].

What happens if you try to use Google in China? ›

Google services are not completely banned in China. In some places, there may be restricted access to Google services. However, users can utilize virtual private networks (VPNs) to get around censorship and use Google services.

Can I email someone in China? ›

If you're sending email to China, it will be subjected to stricter email filtering than any other country in the world. This could result in email delays, delivered emails with unclickable links, or flat-out non-deliverability.

Is Gmail still blocked in China? ›

Its system of firewalls is called the Great Firewall, and it restricts access to not just Gmail, but all Google services (including Google docs, Google Maps, Google Translate, and more). The Chinese government blocks these services to limit their users' internet freedom.

Which VPNs work in China? ›

VPN ProviderDL Speed (MBps)Server Locations (Countries)
2. AstrillVPN755+
3. VyprVPN660+
4. IvacyVPN750+
5. PureVPN765+
4 more rows
3 days ago

Can I access my Gmail account in China? ›

No, Gmail doesn't work in China because it's blocked by the government. However, you can get around this restriction by using a VPN (virtual private network).

Can Yahoo Mail still be used in China? ›

In recognition of the increasingly challenging business and legal environment in China, including new privacy regulations, Yahoo services will no longer be accessible from mainland China.

Is VPN illegal in China? ›

Are VPNs in China illegal? Short answer: VPNs are not illegal in China, but their use is heavily restricted. Long answer: Using a VPN in China is not officially illegal. China allows VPN providers to operate as long as they cooperate with the state, which defeats the privacy purpose of having a VPN in the first place.

What is the alternative for Google in China? ›

Baidu is China's largest and most widely used search engine, much like Google in the U.S.

Which email works in China? ›

What Is the Most Popular Email Service in China?
  • Source. Sina Mail. ...
  • Source. Aliyun Mail. ...
  • Source. Sohu Mail. ...
  • Tom Mail. Tom Mail is provided by, a Chinese portal website that offers a variety of services including email. ...
  • Source. QQ Mail. ...
  • Source. 139 Mail. ...
  • Source. NetEase Mail. ...
  • Source.

Does Outlook work in China in 2024? ›

Outlook (Microsoft 365): Microsoft's email service, Outlook, remains a reliable option for users in China. With servers located within the country, Outlook offers stable email access, along with additional features such as calendar integration and cloud storage through Microsoft 365 subscriptions.

How do I send an email to a Chinese address? ›

In China, they start with the country name. The next line contains the province, city, and district names. This is followed by a third line detailing the street name, building or community, and apartment number. Finally, the last line should be the recipient's name.

What is the email format for China? ›

Most Common Email Formats at CHINA

The most accurate and popular CHINA's email format is (ex. CHINA also uses (ex. as email structures.

How do I access Google services in China? ›

How can I use Google in China? The easiest way to access Google in China is with a VPN. You can use the VPN provider's servers located around the world to connect to the Internet and mask your IP address. This will trick any censorship attempts and allow you to access blocked websites like Google.

What to do if your website is blocked in China? ›

How to Make Your Site Accessible from Behind the Chinese Firewall
  1. Use a VPN. One of the most common ways is to use a Virtual Private Network (VPN). ...
  2. Site-to-Site VPN. Like a regular VPN, companies with offices abroad have been using what is known as site-to-site VPN. ...
  3. Direct Access. ...
  4. Miscellaneous Options.

How to unblock Google? ›

Find blocked accounts or unblock someone
  1. On your Android phone or tablet, open your device's Settings app Google. Manage your Google Account.
  2. At the top, tap People & sharing.
  3. Under "Contacts," tap Blocked.
  4. You'll find a list of accounts you blocked across Google products.

Will China allow Google? ›

Some of these search engines will be accessible, but the results of your queries may be totally different when inside China. Others, like Google, have been banned entirely. Google is taking steps to reenter China, but this would require them to alter the results they provide.

Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Lilliana Bartoletti

Last Updated:

Views: 6510

Rating: 4.2 / 5 (73 voted)

Reviews: 88% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Lilliana Bartoletti

Birthday: 1999-11-18

Address: 58866 Tricia Spurs, North Melvinberg, HI 91346-3774

Phone: +50616620367928

Job: Real-Estate Liaison

Hobby: Graffiti, Astronomy, Handball, Magic, Origami, Fashion, Foreign language learning

Introduction: My name is Lilliana Bartoletti, I am a adventurous, pleasant, shiny, beautiful, handsome, zealous, tasty person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.