Bitcoin Regulations by Country (Updated for 2018)

Why do bitcoin regulations matter?  Here’s a real-life example that sheds some light.

Upon returning home from a vacation in Cuba, a British citizen named Elliott Smith 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 of 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 Cryptocurrencies by Nation

NationLegal StatusNotes
ArgentinaLegalArgentina recognizes digital currencies as a good, with no right to be used as legal tender. The National Constitution of Argentina gives cryptocurrencies monetary status.
AustraliaLegal/RegulatedAustralia recognizes cryptocurrencies as currency and taxes them accordingly.
BangladeshIllegalBangladesh‰'s anti-money laundering laws threaten to imprison anyone dealing with cryptocurrencies 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
BrazilUnregulatedCryptocurrency regulations are planned for the near future.
BulgariaLegal/RegulatedCryptocurrency is regulated by the nation‰'s payment services laws.
CanadaLegal/RegulatedCryptocurrencies are recognized as an ‰"intangible‰" under the Personal Property Security Act. As with all G7 nations, Canada imposes AML/CTF controls on cryptocurrencies.
ChinaIllegalChina has banned cryptocurrencies and has prohibited exchanges from operating within its borders.
CroatiaLegalCroatia declared cryptocurrencies legal in 2013.
Czech RepublicUnregulatedThe government is officially uninvolved in licensing or regulating cryptocurrency businesses as of 2015.
EcuadorIllegalEcuador sees digital currency as a rival to its national digital currency. The use of non-nationalized cryptocurrencies in the country is strictly banned.
FinlandLegal/RegulatedCryptocurrency transactions via an exchange are exempt from VAT.
GermanyLegal/RegulatedGermany recognizes digital currencies 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 cryptocurrencies.
IcelandLegal/RegulatedIn 2017, cryptocurrencies were exempted from the Icelandic Foreign Exchange Act, which prohibited transfer of Icelandic currency across borders by means of an exchange.
IndiaUnregulated/DisputedDiscussions are currently be held if the Securities and Exchange Board of India or the Reserve Bank of India will have final say over cryptocurrency regulations.
IndonesiaIllegal/Partly RegulatedThe Bank of Indonesia banned the use of cryptocurrencies as payment methods in 2018, but the country's financial regulator has approved cryptocurency futures trading on regulated exchanges.
IsraelLegal/RegulatedIsrael recognizes cryptocurrencies 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 digital currencies asserting a capital gains tax of 25 percent.
ItalyLegalItaly has no regulations on private use of cryptocurrencies.
JapanLegal/RegulatedJapan recognizes cryptocurrencies as money and as legal tender for the payment of debt.
JordanSee noteJordan permits the use of cryptocurrencies 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.
KyrgyzstanLegalCryptocurrencies are considered as commodities under the laws of the Kyrgyz Republic and may be legally traded and mined within the country's borders.
LebanonLegal/CautionedThe nation strongly discourages the use of cryptocurrencies, but does not hinder their usage.
LuxembourgLegal/RegulatedLuxembourg issues New York State-style BitLicenses to bitcoin businesses.
MalaysiaUnregulatedMalaysia does not recognize cryptocurrncies as legal tender.
New ZealandUnregulated
NigeriaUnregulated/DisputedNigeria bans banks from engaging in cryptocurrency transactions and requires Anti-Money Laundering/Combating the Financing of Terrorists assurances utilized for any banking customers known to deal in digital currencies. Nigeria also does not recognize cryptocurrncies as legal tender or as a legitimate commodity but bitcoin startups are still allowed to operate within the country's borders.
NorwayLegal/RegulatedNorway sees cryptocurrencies as assets subject to the wealth and sales taxes, but not the VAT.
PhilippinesLegal/RegulatedCryptocurrency transactions are regulated by the Central Bank of the Philippines.
PolandUnregulatedPoland recognizes cryptocurrencies 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 digital currencies.
RussiaUnregulatedCryptocurrencies are currently unregulated but the Russian government plans to introduce regulations in the near future.
SingaporeUnregulatedSingapore recognizes cryptocurrency transactions as barter sales and taxes them accordingly.
SloveniaLegal/RegulatedSlovenia recognizes cryptocurrencies as neither currency nor an asset. As such, there are no capital gains taxes on cryptocurrency investments. However, Slovenia does tax cryptocurrency mining and digital currency transactions.
South AfricaUnregulatedThe Reserve Bank of South Africa holds that cryptocurrencies have ‰"no legal status or regulatory framework," but has generally taken a positive stance towards cryptocurrency-based innovation.
South KoreaLegal/RegulatedCryptocurrencies are legal and investos are free to trade them provided they have fully KYC'd accounts. Anonyomus trading accounts are not permitted.
SpainLegal/RegulatedSpain recognizes cryptocurrency transactions as barter transactions. ICOs are currently banned but there are plans to introduce specific regulations for them.
SwedenLegal/RegulatedSweden recognizes cryptocurrencies as currency exempt of the VAT, but requires bitcoin businesses that handle fiat currency to apply for a license and follow AML/CTF practices.
SwitzerlandLegal/RegulatedElements of the Swiss government have accepted digital currencies as payment. Bitcoin businesses may need a banking license to practice in Switzerland and are required to adhere to AML/CTF practices.
TaiwanLegal/CautionedTaiwan advises against the use of cryptocurrencies and has instructed banks dealing with cryptocurrencies to follow strict AML/CTF practices. Since then, the government stance has softened and regulations are planned for late 2018.
ThailandLegal/RegulatedAfter banning cryptocurrencies in 2016, the Thai government since changed its tone and has issued crytocurrency regulations in 2018 that state that seven cryptocurrencies (bitcoin, Ethereum, Bitcoin Cash, Ethereum Classic, Litecoin, Ripple, and Stellar) are legal and are allowed to be traded and can be used in ICOs.
TurkeyUnregulatedCryptocurrencies are currently not regulated in Turkey.
United KingdomLegal/RegulatedCryptocurrencies are recognized simultaneously as ‰"foreign currency‰" and ‰"private money.‰" VAT is waived for exchange purchases, but will be collected for other cryptocurrency transactions. Cryptocurrencies investments are are subject to capital gains tax.
United StatesLegal/RegulatedCryptocurrencies have varying legality, depending on the state. See guide of bitcoin legality in the United States for clarification. Federally, cryptocurrencies are treated as commodities that can be taxed as income or for capital gains.
VietnamBannedThe Vietnamese financial regulator has banned businesses from engaging in any cryptocurrency-related activities within the country in mid-2018.
ZimbabweUnclear/DisputedThe Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe has taken a negative stance towards cryptocurrencies by banned financial insititons from dealing in cryptocurrencies. This ban was later overturned by a High Court. For the individuals cryptocurrency user, there are no restrictions.

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