What is a VPN Passthrough?

VPN software employs a set of predetermined rules called protocols to communicate with a distant server. Some of these protocols are compatible with the Network Address Translation (NAT) feature on routers, enabling numerous devices on a single network to share a public IP address. 

If you’re using a remote access VPN with an old protocol that is no longer supported, you’ll need to set up a VPN passthrough on your router. 

This article will discuss everything you need to know about VPN passthrough and help you decide if you need to enable this feature on your router. 

What Is VPN Passthrough?

A VPN Passthrough is a feature that enables you to create an outbound VPN connection between a device on a network. In simpler terms, A VPN passthrough allows traffic to pass through a router, even if it has older protocols, by bypassing the NAT process.   

So why is VPN passthrough important? Older routers that support older L2TP, PPTP, and IPSec protocols may not be compatible with using a VPN service. So instead of changing the router altogether, VPN passthrough opens a way to bypass the older protocols, so the router is compatible with VPNs. 

Pros and cons of enabling Passthrough 

The security of your system will always be higher if VPN passthrough is disabled. The fewer ports that are available for communication, the more secure you are. A VPN passthrough opens ports in your local firewall that are normally inaccessible. But Passthrough enables VPN service to work which masks your IP address, so considering both, let’s look at the pros and cons of enabling Passthrough in your router. 


  • Enables you to connect to a VPN using routers that use older protocols when NAT would normally prevent the connection.


  • Significantly weakens the security of your local network.
  • It can be complex to set up, requiring technical knowledge. 
  • Using older protocols may open new variabilities. 

What’s the Difference Between VPN Passthrough and a VPN Router?

A VPN router is a WIFI router that has VPN software installed in it. So any internet connection that goes through the router is end-to-end encrypted, allowing you to protect all of your devices simultaneously. However, installing a VPN on the router is complex and may require some technical knowledge. VPN Router is particularly useful if you are using a VPN that has limited device support. It is redundant if you use surfshark VPN, which has unlimited device support. 

VPN passthrough, on the other hand, is a workaround for installing a VPN on an older router. It is much more complex to set up and significantly increases system variability.

So should you be enabling Passthrough on your router?

We recommend you not to enable Passthrough on your router for two reasons. 

You are already using an old router with dated protocols that may already have different vulnerabilities, making you susceptible to cyberattacks.

Passthrough opens new ports, which can make your system vulnerable to cyberattacks. 

So, we recommend you simply change your router and get a newer one that supports new protocols and is compatible with the Network Address Translation (NAT) features.