How to Use Instapaper in the EU

Instapaper is currently blocked in the EU because of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) laws that went into force in May. Anyone who visits the Instapaper website from an EU IP address gets told that Instapaper is “temporarily unavailable” and that they “intend to restore access as soon as possible”. Let’s look at how to get around that.

RELATED: What is the GDPR Privacy Law and Why Should You Care?

EU users of Instapaper have two options right now. The first is to use the Download options to export all your articles, and then import them into them to Pocket—Instagram’s main competitor. The second way to get work around the block. Since we’ve already got a full article on that first option, we’ll be taking a look at the second option here.

Introducing VPNs

A Virtual Private Network (VPN) is a service that reroutes your computer’s traffic through a server in a different location. This means that you can use a VPN to make it appear as if you’re browsing the internet from the US, which very conveniently, is not part of the EU.

We’ve got a full article on how to choose the right VPN for your needs, and we highly recommend giving it a read. The short version, though, is that we recommend using one of two apps:

  • ExpressVPN if you’re prepared to pay for the best VPN going.
  • TunnelBear if you want a free VPN; it’s 500MB limit a month is more than enough to use Instapaper.

Both are available on Windows, macOS, iOS, Android, and more.

RELATED: How to Choose the Best VPN Service for Your Needs

How to Use Instagram With a VPN

Since Instapaper is designed for offline reading, it’s actually pretty well suited for use with a VPN; you don’t need to keep your VPN on all the time, which saves a lot of bandwidth and hassle.

On Your Smartphone

If you open the Instapaper app on your smartphone right now, you’ll see all your articles still waiting for you to read. It’s just that you can’t sync any new articles. Whenever you try to sync, Instapaper detects your EU IP address and refuses. This means you only need to use a VPN when you want to sync new articles.

Open your VPN and turn it on. I’m demoing this with TunnelBear on my iPhone.

Now, open the Instapaper app and pull down to sync. Any new articles will get downloaded. You can then disconnect from the VPN and read as normal.

If you use Instapaper’s integrations with other apps, like Safari, or your RSS reader or Twitter client, you’ll also need to connect to your VPN before trying to send an article.

On Your Computer

On your computer is where you’ll most easily notice that Instapaper is blocked in the EU, since every time you visit the website you’ll be stopped from even seeing your articles. This means that to read your saved articles, you need to use a VPN the whole time you’re browsing the Instapaper site.

Connect to Your VPN. I’m demoing with TunnelBear on a Mac but the process will be similar enough whatever setup you’re using.

Now, when you head to the Instapaper website, you’ll be able to view your articles as normal.

You’ll also be able to use the Instapaper Bookmarklet or browser extension to send articles to your smartphone for offline reading, as well as any apps you have that integrate with Instapaper.

On Your Kindle

Surprisingly, Instapaper’s Kindle integration seems to work just fine. I was expecting it to kick up a fuss that I wasn’t able to get around with a VPN. Instead, since it actually delivers through Amazon’s servers, your daily or weekly round up of articles will get sent to your Kindle as normal.


Instapaper’s failure to comply with the GDPR regulation in time is incredibly annoying. The only reasons I haven’t jumped ship are that getting around it is pretty painless and I’m hopeful that they’ll fix things soon. If they don’t, then it looks like I’ll be moving to Pocket.

Harry Guinness writes occasionally when he’s not busy skiing, sailing, partying, lifting weights, or otherwise dodging responsibility. His main areas of interest are himself, gin, and crazy people with interesting stories to tell. When people won’t pay him to write ill-thought-out opinion pieces, he covers photography, technology, and culture. You can follow him on Twitter.