Bitcoin Regulations by Country (Updated 2017)

Elliott Smith is a British citizen. Upon returning home from a vacation in Cuba, he learned that his Coinbase account was closed. Coinbase, an American company, was acting in accordance with U.S. Department of Treasury requirements regarding the use of American-hosted funds in a sanctioned country.

Smith’s case represents the hazard of differing altcoin laws between nations. Perceptions on altcoins change daily, and this affects the security of altcoin investments.

This sense of ambiguity and lack of international agreement make an international investment in altcoins tricky. To assist you, we have created this list of current national guidelines and official opinions on altcoins. Nations that are unlisted have yet to publicly comment on altcoin use.

Legality of Altcoins by Nation

NationLegal StatusNotes
ArgentinaLegalArgentina recognizes altcoins as a good, with no right to be used as legal tender. The National Constitution of Argentina gives altcoins monetary status.
AustraliaLegal/RegulatedAustralia recognizes altcoins as currency and taxes it accordingly.
BangladeshIllegalBangladesh’s anti-money laundering laws threaten to imprison anyone dealing with altcoins in the country for up to twelve years. "Bitcoin is not a legal tender of any country. Any transaction through Bitcoin or any other cryptocurrency is a punishable offense," the Bangladesh Bank said in a 2014 statement.
BoliviaIllegalBolivia explicitly bans any non-governmental digital currency from use in the country.
Bosnia and HerzegovinaUnregulated
BulgariaLegal/RegulatedAltcoin is regulated by the nation’s payment services laws.
CanadaLegal/RegulatedAltcoins are recognized as an “intangible” under the Personal Property Security Act. As with all G7 nations, Canada imposes AML/CTF controls on altcoins.
ChinaSee noteChina allows private parties to store and trade altcoin in the nation. Financial institutions are prohibited from handling altcoin transactions.
CroatiaLegalCroatia declared altcoins legal in 2013.
Czech RepublicUnregulatedThe government is officially uninvolved in licensing or regulating altcoin businesses as of 2015.
EcuadorIllegalEcuador sees altcoins as a rival to its national digital currency. The use of non-nationalized altcoins in the country is strictly banned.
FinlandLegal/RegulatedAltcoin transactions via an exchange are exempt from VAT.
GermanyLegal/RegulatedGermany recognizes altcoins as “private money” and a “unit of account” for the purposes of tax and trading. It can be used for “multilateral clearing circle” and is regulated the same as domestically-held fiat currency.
Hong KongUnregulatedHong Kong maintains AML/CTF controls over altcoins.
IcelandLegal/RegulatedIn 2017, altcoins were exempted from the Icelandic Foreign Exchange Act, which prohibited transfer of Icelandic currency across borders by means of an exchange.
IndiaUnregulatedDiscussions are currently be held if the Securities and Exchange Board of India or the Reserve Bank of India will have final say over altcoin regulations.
IsraelLegal/RegulatedIsrael recognizes altcoins not as currency or a commodity, but as a taxable asset. Miners and traders must pay corporate income tax in addition to a 17 percent VAT, with sold altcoins asserting a capital gains tax of 25 percent.
ItalyLegalItaly has no regulations on private use of altcoins.
JapanLegal/RegulatedJapan recognized altcoins as money and as legal tender for the payment of debt.
JordanSee noteJordan permits the use of altcoin by small business and individuals while banning banks, currency exchanges, financial companies, and payment service companies from accepting them. The nation also strongly discourages their use.
KyrgyzstanIllegalKyrgyzstan only accepts its national currency as legal tender. Use of altcoins is illegal in the country and while there are no legislated penalties for use currently, the potential for such a penalty has been officially noted.
LebanonLegal/CautionedThe nation strongly discourages the use of altcoin, but does not hinder their usage.
LuxembourgLegal/RegulatedLuxembourg issues New York State-style BitLicenses to altcoin businesses.
MalaysiaUnregulatedMalaysia does not recognize altcoins as legal tender.
New ZealandUnregulated
NigeriaIllegalNigeria bans banks from engaging in altcoin transactions and requires Anti-Money Laundering/Combating the Financing of Terrorists assurances utilized for any banking customers known to deal in altcoins. Nigeria also does not recognize altcoins as legal tender or as a legitimate commodity.
NorwayLegal/RegulatedNorway sees altcoins as assets subject to the wealth and sales taxes, but not the VAT.
PhilippinesLegal/RegulatedAltcoin transactions are regulated by the Central Bank of the Philippines.
PolandUnregulatedPoland recognizes altcoins to be legal, but not on par with legal tender or electronic money, as defined by the European Union.
Puerto RicoSee United StatesPuerto Rico has no territory/state level laws concerning altcoins.
RussiaUnregulatedRussia struck its ban of the altcoin in 2016.
SingaporeUnregulatedSingapore recognizes altcoin transactions as barter sales and taxes them accordingly.
SloveniaLegal/RegulatedSlovenia recognizes altcoins as neither currency nor an asset. As such, there are no capital gains taxes on altcoins. However, Slovenia does tax altcoin mining and altcoin transactions.
South AfricaUnclear/DisputedThe Reserve Bank of South Africa holds that altcoins have “no legal status or regulatory framework.”
South KoreaUnregulatedWhile not illegal per se, altcoin crimes receive special attention. There are no laws that exclusively focus on altcoins.
SpainLegal/RegulatedSpain recognizes altcoin transactions as barter transactions.
SwedenLegal/RegulatedSweden recognizes altcoins as currency exempt of the VAT, but requires altcoin businesses that handle fiat currency to apply for a license and follow AML/CTF practices.
SwitzerlandLegal/RegulatedElements of the Swiss government have accepted altcoins as payment. Bitcoin businesses may need a banking license to practice in Switzerland and are required to adhere to AML/CTF practices.
TaiwanLegal/Cautioned/Partial BanAltcoin ATMS are banned. Taiwan strongly advises against the use of altcoins and instructs banks dealing with altcoins to follow strict AML/CTF practices.
ThailandLegal/CautionedThailand reversed its decision to ban altcoin in 2016, choosing to warn against their use.
United KingdomLegal/RegulatedAltcoins are recognized simultaneously as “foreign currency” and “private money.” VAT is waived for exchange purchases, but will be collected for other altcoin transactions. Altcoin is subject to capital gains.
United StatesLegal/RegulatedAltcoins have varying legality, depending on the state. See guide of altcoin legality in the United States for clarification. Federally, altcoins are treated as commodities that can be taxed as income or for capital gains.
VietnamUnregulatedThe government is forming a legal framework for altcoins to be completed by December 2017.
ZimbabweUnclear/DisputedDespite being highly skeptical on altcoins and not officially permitting their use as legal tender, Zimbabwe has permitted BitMart to be licensed to practice in the country.


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