Last update: Mar 8, 2021

Regulation of Cryptocurrency Around the Globe: Is Bitcoin Legal?

If you’ve been paying attention to the news, then you know that bitcoin has been garnering a lot of attention lately. While some people have a basic understanding of the world’s first digital currency, many people don’t know whether or not it’s legal to buy, sell, or use digital coins in their country.

However, the reality is that no matter what the rules in your country say about the digital coin, it’s difficult to keep anyone from using it. Due to its decentralized nature, the coin can be used anywhere you have an internet connection. Nowadays, you can buy and sell it right from your smartphone, so it’s available practically anywhere you have connectivity.

That doesn’t stop governments from attempting to block the use of electronic money, though. Some have gone so far as to make digital coins completely illegal. This includes countries like Bolivia, India, and Ecuador. Others have decided ‘if they can’t beat them, they’ll join them’ by creating their own digital money.

At least with these countries, you would know whether it’s legal or illegal to use bitcoin. China has gone back and forth, shifting its view on digital coins every few years. They have repeatedly banned, then unbanned virtual money, so it’s tough to know when it’s legal to use it.

Of course, the problem with banning cryptocurrency for a specific reason is that it’s nearly impossible to enforce. Most regulators can hope to create enough consequences that those interested in using digital money will be dissuaded from doing so. But there’s no way to prevent someone from accessing bitcoin due to the digital asset’s decentralized nature.

For the most part, digital coins are legal to mine, send, receive, and use in the majority of countries worldwide.

Bitcoin Regulation and Legality by Country

Even though bitcoin is a global currency, each country regulates and determines whether the digital asset is legal. With that in mind, here’s how each country oversees bitcoin within its borders.

Is Bitcoin Legal In Canada

When it comes to bitcoin, Canada is a lot like other countries. However, some differences are worth noting. For starters, the banking industry has shown disdain for digital coins. Regulators in the market are concerned about the speculative behavior of digital coins, which has led to most banks “banning” the virtual currency.

The Financial Consumer Agency of Canada has stated that the only legal tender it recognizes is the Canadian dollar. Canada treats cryptocurrencies as commodities, which means they are subject to taxes and capital gains reporting. Plus, digital coins are subject to income tax. So while it’s legal to use digital money in Canada, there are some challenges associated with doing so.

Is Bitcoin Legal In the United States

Aside from digital coins that are treated like currencies – like Ethereum and bitcoin – the US treats digital money as securities. Investors can hold and use any digital coins so long as they obtained through lawful means. Crypto is viewed as currency by the US government and can even be used to pay off debt depending on the state.

Similarly, business possession and use vary by state or local governments. Even though digital coins are treated as commodities for tax purposes, local regulators determine how transactions are treated.

For the most part, the US has a positive attitude toward bitcoin. However, specific government entities work overtime to keep the digital tokens from being used for illegal activities. Many prominent companies within the US take digital coins as a payment form, including Overstock.com, Subway, and the Microsoft Store.

Is Bitcoin Legal In The United Kingdom

The UK doesn’t have any specific laws that regulate the use of bitcoin or other digital coins. However, concerns about digital currencies have been raised to ensure that consumers have protection when using them as a payment type. Some within the country also view digital tokens as a potential risk to the UK’s financial institutions and markets’ stability.

When it comes to taxes, the type of tax a person pays is entirely dependent on the parties and activities involved. Value-added taxes are only charged if the goods or services were sold in cryptocurrency exchanges for BTC or other digital coins. Additionally, if a company performs transactions with cryptocurrencies, they are treated the same as typical transaction types.

Is Bitcoin Legal In Australia

The Australian Tax Office, or ATO, has provided in-depth guidance on how bitcoin and other digital coins should be treated. Essentially, the office states that digital currency transactions are barter arrangements and should be taxed as such. This is because, according to the ATO, cryptocurrencies are neither foreign currency nor legal tender.

However, regulators within the country require all digital currency exchanges to maintain anti-money laundering (AML) and know-your-customer (KYC) regulations. This is an effort to mitigate the risks associated with buying, selling, and trading BTC and other digital coins. Additionally, Australian-based exchanges are required to report any activity on their platforms that raise concerns or suspicions.

Is Bitcoin Legal In New Zealand

When it comes to digital coins and tokens, there are three points that New Zealand addresses. First, prices of digital coins can rise and fall dramatically. They are highly volatile. Second, the country does not have official regulations. And third, digital coins and the platforms they are exchanged on are often scams targeting the people who use them.

New Zealand has also published recommendations on how investors should handle initial coin offerings (ICOs), bitcoin exchanges, cryptocurrency services, and wallets. While this information does not regulate digital money, it falls under the regulatory framework for financial services and products.

Southeast Asia

Southeast Asia has been a particular area of great interest in regards to crypto regulation. Government entities in Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, and Thailand have provided guidelines on how the crypto industry should be regulated. Here’s a closer look at the legality of bitcoin in some Southeast Asian countries.

Is Bitcoin Legal In Indonesia

In Indonesia, crypto is viewed as a commodity, which means they can be legally traded, so long as those partaking in cryptocurrency trading comply with AML, KYC, and consumer protection guidelines. Additionally, all cryptocurrency exchanges operating in the country must keep transaction data on their platform for a minimum of five years.

Is Bitcoin Legal In Malaysia

For those that want to buy, sell, or trade electronic money in Malaysia, all digital tokens and currencies are considered securities under Malaysian law. If a company wants to issue tokens via an ICO, both the business and the exchange offering the token must abide by the laws set aside through the Securities Commission of Malaysia.

Is Bitcoin Legal In Philippines

Virtual currency and crypto exchanges are legal in the Philippines, but specific guidelines must be followed. The country’s central bank, Bangko Sentral Pilipinas (BSP), regulates digital coins used for financial services. It’s also required that exchanges have AML, CFT (Combatting Financial Terrorism), and consumer protection guidelines in place.

The Philippines SEC arm has also provided guidelines to manage ICOs. For example, all new coin offerings must show that the tokens they distribute are not security tokens. If they are security tokens, the project must register them and submit an audit report to SEC Philippines that shows risk mitigation, security protocols, AML framework, and other protection guidelines.

Is Bitcoin Legal In Singapore

Bitcoin is legal in Singapore, but the country has plenty of guidelines on handling digital coins. Cryptocurrencies are required to follow the requirements outlined in the Securities and Futures Act (SFA), which clarifies what constitutes a digital token and what does not. Additionally, all cryptocurrency exchanges in Singapore must be approved by the governing authorities and recognized as a market operator.

Is Bitcoin Legal In Thailand

Thailand was among the first countries in Southeast Asia to provide regulations and legislation pertaining to bitcoin and other digital coins. Under its Digital Asset Business Decree, public offerings and ICOs are regulated. This includes all electronic money and digital tokens, old and new. All issuers are required to acquire approval and file registration through SEC Thailand.

All service providers are required to provide ongoing information to both the public and investors while also providing regular reports to SEC Thailand stating their financial standing. Licensees are also required to follow procedures, rules, and conditions, which include AML and CFTC guidelines.

Is Bitcoin Legal In EU

In the EU, cryptocurrency transactions, including digital tokens, are considered a service, which means it is exempt from the VAT (value-added tax), which is applicable in all states within the EU. However, some individual countries within the EU have established their own stance on bitcoin.

For example, Finland does give digital coins a VAT exemption by deeming it a financial service. As a result, cryptocurrency is treated as a commodity instead of a traditional currency. Likewise, Belgium’s Federal Public Service Finance has given bitcoin exemption status from VAT.

Cyprus simply chose not to regulate or control digital coins, while Bulgaria chose to bring the digital currency under laws that already existed. Germany has shown they are open to digital token adoption but tax digital coins depending on how it was earned.

Is Bitcoin Legal In China

Depending on the day or time of year, China may or may not view digital coins as legal. Just a few years ago, the People’s Bank of China states that it did not recognize digital coins or tokens as a legitimate form of payment like fiat currency or credit cards. However, prior to this statement, the government was open to bitcoin and other digital coins.

The country has currently announced the financial risks associated with ICOs and has gone so far as to ban them. China has also stated that virtual currencies are illegal, do not share the same legal status as paper tender, and should not be used in financial markets.

Government officials have gone so far as to warn its people about the risks associated with virtual money, creating a platform that would denounce bitcoin as a currency. Based on the notice, banks, retailers, and payment institutions are strictly forbidden from accepting digital coins or tokens.

Is Bitcoin Legal In Russia

Russia regulates through its Civil Code, which defines exactly what digital money and digital rights are. The purpose of the document is to protect the rights of crypto owners and their coins or tokens. Additionally, the country has specific rules set forth for bitcoin mining activities, which is stated as the creation of cryptocurrency with the intent to receive compensation in the form of digital coins.

When it comes to ICOs, only investors that have been vetted are permitted to participate. However, there are exceptions, so long as Russia’s Central Bank gives approval. Exchanging digital tokens or assets for foreign currency is permissible, but it must be done only through approved exchanges and operators.

Eastern Europe

Eastern Europe is known by many in the industry as the wild west of cryptocurrency. Regulations and guidelines can vary widely from country to country. Some regulations are simple, and some are more complex. Here’s a quick rundown on how many Eastern European countries treat digital coins.

Is Bitcoin Legal In Albania

The powers that be in Albania have taken a negative view on bitcoin and other digital coins. Based on these views, the central bank of Albania announced to the public that there are risks associated with using virtual currencies while at the same time confirming that there are no specific regulations for buying, selling, or trading.

Is Bitcoin Legal In Belarus

Belarus is one of many Eastern European countries that have endorsed the use of digital coins and blockchain technology. State support for virtual currencies paves the way for blockchain innovation, as well as the use of digital tokens and assets. Unlike other countries, Belarus chooses not to regulate bitcoin transactions or the crypto market closely.

Is Bitcoin Legal In Bulgaria

It isn’t easy to know exactly where Bulgaria stands when it comes to digital currencies. However, the country’s regulatory agencies have stated that any personal income from trading digital coins have to be declared for tax purposes. Bulgaria has taken a strong stance against questionable platforms, quickly cracking down on exchanges or sites that do not fit a public ledger’s definition.

Is Bitcoin Legal In Croatia

Croatia does not view bitcoin or altcoins as legal payment methods, but you can buy, sell, and trade them within the country. There are taxes on capital gains. However, Croatia does not provide clear instructions on how crypto users need to pay them. But things are changing in the country, as Croatia announced its Blockchain and Cryptocurrency Association, which will help regulate digital coins.

Is Bitcoin Legal In Czech Republic

One of the more liberal stances about digital coins comes from the Czech Republic, which has gone on record to say that bitcoin and altcoins do not pose a threat to the country’s financial institutions. While the Czech National Bank stated that fiat currencies are the best medium of exchange, it believes the digital token system does have value as payment services.

That being said, the Czech Republic’s Finance Ministry has introduced AML regulations, which restrict bitcoin and other digital coins. These regulations require that cryptocurrency exchanges reveal user identities, so they are unable to hide behind pseudonyms or fake personalities.

Is Bitcoin Legal In Estonia

Estonia is well-known as a country that supports developing and emerging blockchain technologies. However, it appears that with recent regulations, Estonia is attempting to walk the line between supporting crypto and protecting its citizens. This is evident with recent KYC and AML regulations that all Estonian cryptocurrency exchanges must adhere to.

Is Bitcoin Legal In Hungary

The only real direction you’ll get from Hungary is that the state expects you to pay taxes on trading or mining digital assets. Users are expected to pay a 22% tax for health contributions and a 15% tax for personal income. While the government is considering additional regulations, especially in regards to AML, nothing official has been announced.

Is Bitcoin Legal In Latvia

For the most part, Latvia wants its people to ignore digital coins. The country’s central bank has stated that cryptocurrencies do not fulfill the same functions as fiat currencies and refuse to recognize digital currencies as legal tender. With that in mind, the state isn’t about to miss out on making money, so Latvia does expect users to pay capital gains taxes on all crypto transactions.

Is Bitcoin Legal In Lithuania

Lithuania’s central bank has gone on record saying that while bitcoin is legal in the country, those participating in virtual currency activities should separate them from fiat market finances. Lithuania requires a distinct and clear separation between crypt-related services and financial activities. This allows the central bank to issue ICO licenses quickly and easily, creating an easy to use regulatory ecosystem for crypto.

Is Bitcoin Legal In Macedonia

When it comes to bitcoin, Macedonia doesn’t mince words: it is illegal. The governor of the National Bank of Macedonia has gone on record calling digital coins a “bubble.” Macedonia states that the only method of payment in the country is denars. International transactions are to be carried out by financial institutions, thereby rendering digital currency illegal.

Is Bitcoin Legal In Moldova

While the National Bank of Moldova has gone on record warning its citizens about the risks and volatility associated with digital assets, it is not regulated within the country. Users cannot use bitcoin or other digital coins as a form of payment in Moldova, but they are free to buy, sell, and trade it with no overarching regulations.

Is Bitcoin Legal In Poland

In Poland, digital coins are legal, as are the mining and trading of digital assets. However, its policies and views on these virtual currencies aren’t as open as they once were. This skepticism has grown in large part due to poor decisions on the part of the government, which included state-funded anti-crypto ads. However, Poland has shown signs of coming back around, as it plans on rolling back current crypto governance in exchange for better regulation.

Is Bitcoin Legal In Romania

Like many other countries in Eastern Europe, bitcoin is legal in Romania. While overall, the country views digital coins and blockchain technologies as positive, it does believe that certain areas should be regulated. Nothing official has been announced for crypto oversight, but many within the government believe it is just a matter of time before it happens.

Is Bitcoin Legal In Serbia

Buying, selling, and trading bitcoin in Servia is legal in Serbia. However, they are not regulated, and the country does not view crypto as a means of payment, opting instead for Serbian fiat currency. Serbia’s national bank has gone on record stating that some form of regulation should be in place, but the Finance Ministry has yet to make any formal announcements.

Is Bitcoin Legal In Slovakia

Bitcoin is legal in Slovakia, as evidenced by the country’s ability to tax cryptocurrencies. The government has provided regulation on all digital coins, cryptocurrency exchanges, and virtual currencies used for services or rendered as payment. All are considered taxable assets.

Is Bitcoin Legal In Slovenia

There are no cut and dry regulations in place for bitcoin and altcoins in Slovenia, which means it’s perfectly legal to buy, sell, and trade. However, the Slovenian government has issued warnings to its citizens, warning them of the dangers of digital assets, particularly when investing in ICOs.

Is Bitcoin Legal In Ukraine

While the original digital coin is currently legal in Ukraine, the freedom users currently enjoy may soon be coming to an end. This is largely due to the Ukrainian government’s stance that crypto is primarily used as a means for nefarious behaviors and activities, such as illegal drug and weapons trading. The government has gone on record saying that crypto presents a complex set of problems that are related to the uncontrolled circulation of digital coins within the country.

Tax Paradise Countries

No matter what time of year it is, it’s always a good time to think about taxes. The IRS and other tax agencies can’t wait to get their hands on their “part” of your earnings. With the rise of crypto, the Internal Revenue Service is looking for anyone who plans on skirting their civic tax-paying duties.

However, there are some places in the world where crypto is not taxed – especially for those who buy, hold, and sell. This means it’s perfectly legal not to pay taxes on your digital currency gains. The catch is that many of these jurisdictions require you to take up residency before you’re eligible for tax exemptions. Here’s a short rundown of some of the best tax paradise countries for crypto.

Is Bitcoin Legal In Germany

Bitcoin transactions in Germany are exempt from VAT. The country states that digital money is not a currency. However, the capital gains exemption on assets does apply to the digital asset after a year. That means, if you keep your digital coins for longer than a year, you won’t get taxed on it like it’s income. Any gains you accrue are not taxes as well. However, businesses are still required to pay any taxes on gains earned from bitcoin through their corporate taxes.

When Can You Buy or Trade Bitcoin?

There really is no age restriction on when you can begin to buy or trade bitcoin. With that in mind, most legitimate exchanges and sites are going to require you to confirm your identity and own a bank account, which means if you live in the US, you need to be at least 16.

However, if you’re not old enough to join an exchange and you must get your hands on some bitcoin for your digital wallet, many ATMs around the world allow users to quickly and easily convert fiat to cyber cash and vice versa.

Will Bitcoin Trading/Investing be Regulated in the Future?

The thing about digital money is that it’s not located in any central place, so it’s essentially impossible to enforce regulation. That’s why each government takes different approaches on how to regulate bitcoin and other digital coins.

There are many areas in regards to regulation that appear as though they may be coming sooner than expected. This includes reporting for taxes, which already exists for many countries, and overseeing ICOs the same way securities are managed.

Of course, new regulations mean changes are bound to occur within the market. However, many believe that this will be a good thing given enough time. Let’s consider some questions on how virtual money trading and investing might be regulated in the future.

How will bitcoin regulations change the crypto market?

For the near term, bitcoin regulations may wind up suppressing values in the crypto financial system. However, it’s anticipated that over the longer term, so long as regulations are put into place properly, the market will stabilize and create a safe environment for investors, traders, and first-time users.

Will regulating bitcoin create a safer market?

Regulating virtual money could potentially make the crypto market a much safer place. Of course, due to crypto’s volatile nature, there’s no way to make it entirely safe, but for investors and traders, there’s less likely to be market manipulation if regulations are put into place.

The expectation is that bitcoin and the crypto market overall would draw more interest and investors as regulation creates a safer market. Market suppression may initially occur as current traders, holders, and investors adjust, but as the public earns trust, prices will trend back up.

Is current regulation impacting bitcoin’s price?

If you’re paid attention to the market lately, you know the answer to this question is a hard no. While dips do occur when new regulations are released, overall, bitcoin’s price hasn’t been adversely impacted. As you can see, the price usually tends to head back up.

The thing to remember about digital coins is that they are volatile. They are risky and are prone to significant changes. As more government bodies enter the space and enact more regulation, more users are likely to join the foray. This type of consumer protection may drive the price of bitcoin even further up.

author Andrej Ilisin

A serial entrepreneur working primarily with digital assets. He's the CEO of Sharp Capital, a company that focuses on growing online businesses. Andrej is also huge crypto, chess, and CrossFit enthusiast.

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