October 03, 2018

Bitcoin Regulations by Country for 2018

When it comes to cryptocurrency, the rules of the road can change pretty widely from country to country. This should come as no surprise. Blockchain projects sit on the intersection of two fields that governments have always controlled pretty tightly: currency and investment. Governments like to control the former because it can make an economy, the latter because it can break one.

The globally minded investor needs to understand this and the status of cryptocurrency anywhere he or she trades. 

Here is the legal status of cryptocurrency for each country that has staked out a position on the matter. It isn’t always clear and is far from set in stone, but this should give you a place to start.

A couple of notes before we dive in:

First, the term “legal tender” will appear periodically in this article. Legal tender is a currency which the government will accept for tax payments and, as the U.S. dollar says, is legally valid “for all debts public and private.” Making something legal tender is exactly as big a deal as it seems because giving cryptocurrency that status means everyone has to take it, from the biggest bank to some guy selling peaches on the corner.

Second, unless noted otherwise, countries without specific regulations on the subject tax sales, profits, and losses from cryptocurrency like any other tradeable good.

Finally, if a nation does not appear on this list, it does not have any specific regulations or bans. Members of the E.U. have been included despite regulatory status due to their participation in the economic zone. 

North America

Canada

Legal Status: Legal

Regulatory Status: Regulated as a financial product

Notes: Recognized as a form of currency for the purposes of money laundering and other government oversight

Costa Rica

Legal Status: Legal

Regulatory Status: No specific regulations

Notes: Some large employers may begin offering partial payment in cryptocurrency. This is because the country allows payment in non-official currency as long as the employer pays the minimum in legal tender.

Jamaica

  • Legal Status: Legal
  • Regulatory Status: No specific regulations.
  • Notes: The Bank of Jamaica has advised caution in the investment and use of cryptocurrency.

Mexico

  • Legal Status: Legal
  • Regulatory Status: Regulated as a financial product
  • Notes: Recognized as a form of currency for the purposes of money laundering and other government oversight

Nicaragua 

  • Legal Status: Legal
  • Regulatory Status: No specific regulations
  • Notes: None

Trinidad and Tobago

  • Legal Status: Legal
  • Regulatory Status: No specific regulations
  • Notes: None

United States

  • Legal Status: Legal
  • Regulatory Status: Regulated as a financial product
  • Notes: Recognized as a form of currency for the purposes of money laundering and other government oversight

South America

Argentina

  • Legal Status: Legal
  • Regulatory Status: Regulated as a standard commodity or other tradeable good
  • Notes: Recognized as a form of currency for the purposes of money laundering and other government oversight

Bolivia

  • Legal Status: Illegal
  • Regulatory Status: It is illegal to spend or trade cryptocurrency of any kind. 
  • Notes: Bolivia has banned all trade in currencies not issued by a government.

Brazil

  • Legal Status: Legal
  • Regulatory Status: Not regulated. Trade and spending of cryptocurrency are not subject to any government oversight.
  • Notes: None

Chile

  • Legal Status: Legal
  • Regulatory Status: Not regulated. Trade and spending of cryptocurrency are not subject to any government oversight.
  • Notes: In 2018, numerous banks attempted to shut down cryptocurrency exchanges. This may be a contentious place in which to trade.

Colombia 

  • Legal Status: Uncertain
  • Regulatory Status: There are no laws banning cryptocurrency, but government officials have spoken against it. New legislation may soon protect cryptocurrency as a regulated, legal commodity.
  • Notes: None

Ecuador

  • Legal Status: Semi-legal
  • Regulatory Status: Trading in cryptocurrency is legal; however, it is illegal to spend cryptocurrency or to accept it as a form of currency.
  • Notes: None

Venezuela

  • Legal Status: Legal
  • Regulatory Status: Not regulated. While previously traders were subject to arrest, currently trade and spending of cryptocurrency are not subject to any government oversight.
  • Notes: The nation has issued its own cryptocurrency, the oil-backed Petro, and has declared it legal tender. At the time of writing, it had seen virtually no adoption.

Europe

Austria

  • Legal Status: Legal
  • Regulatory Status: Cryptocurrency is regulated and taxed as a traded currency.
  • Notes: None

Belgium

  • Legal Status: Legal
  • Regulatory Status: No specific regulations.
  • Notes: None

Belarus

  • Legal Status: Legal
  • Regulatory Status: Income from cryptocurrency is exempt from taxation until 2023. 
  • Notes: None

Bosnia and Herzegovina

  • Legal Status: Semi-legal
  • Regulatory Status: Trade in cryptocurrencies is permitted. Purchases are not.
  • Notes: None

Croatia

  • Legal Status: Legal
  • Regulatory Status: No specific regulations.
  • Notes: None

Czech Republic

  • Legal Status: Legal
  • Regulatory Status: Regulated as a financial product.
  • Notes: Recognized as a form of currency for the purposes of money laundering and other government oversight

Denmark

  • Legal Status: Legal
  • Regulatory Status: No specific regulations
  • Notes: None

Finland

  • Legal Status: Legal
  • Regulatory Status: No specific regulations
  • Notes: None

Germany

  • Legal Status: Legal
  • Regulatory Status: Cryptocurrency is regulated as a financial product. Although not recognized as currency, transactions in cryptocurrency are subject to tax.
  • Notes: Regulated for the purposes of money laundering and other government oversight

Greece

  • Legal Status: Legal
  • Regulatory Status: No specific regulations
  • Notes: None

Hungary

  • Legal Status: Legal
  • Regulatory Status: Specific regulation for cryptocurrency is pending. 
  • Notes: Cryptocurrency is not currently recognized as a form of currency.

Iceland

  • Legal Status: Unclear
  • Regulatory Status: Trade in cryptocurrency may violate the Foreign Exchange Act, but the legal status of this issue is unclear and changing.
  • Notes: None

Ireland

  • Legal Status: Legal
  • Regulatory Status: No specific regulations
  • Notes: None

Italy

  • Legal Status: Legal
  • Regulatory Status: No specific regulations
  • Notes: Recognized as a form of currency for the purposes of money laundering and other government oversight

Latvia

  • Legal Status: Legal
  • Regulatory Status: Regulated as a financial product
  • Notes: Recognized as a form of currency for the purposes of money laundering and other government oversight

Lithuania

  • Legal Status: Legal
  • Regulatory Status: Regulated as a financial product. Traditional financial services must not trade in cryptocurrencies.
  • Notes: None

Luxembourg

  • Legal Status: Legal
  • Regulatory Status: No specific regulations
  • Notes: None

Malta

  • Legal Status: Legal
  • Regulatory Status: No specific regulations
  • Notes: The Maltese government is currently working on cryptocurrency-specific financial regulations.

Netherlands

  • Legal Status: Legal
  • Regulatory Status: No specific regulations
  • Notes: None

Poland

  • Legal Status: Legal
  • Regulatory Status: Cryptocurrency trades are specifically taxed with brackets of 18 percent and 32 percent.
  • Notes: None

Portugal

  • Legal Status: Legal
  • Regulatory Status: No specific regulations
  • Notes: None

Romania

  • Legal Status: Legal
  • Regulatory Status: No specific regulations
  • Notes: None

Russia

  • Legal Status: Legal
  • Regulatory Status: Mining and initial coin offerings are subject to specific regulation.
  • Notes: None

Slovakia

  • Legal Status: Legal
  • Regulatory Status: No specific regulations
  • Notes: None

Slovenia

  • Legal Status: Legal
  • Regulatory Status: No specific regulations
  • Notes: None

Spain

  • Legal Status: Legal
  • Regulatory Status: No specific regulations
  • Notes: None

Sweden

  • Legal Status: Legal
  • Regulatory Status: Regulated as a financial product. Certain cryptocurrency businesses require a license.
  • Notes: Recognized as a form of currency for the purposes of money laundering and other government oversight

Switzerland

  • Legal Status: Legal
  • Regulatory Status: Initial coin offerings are subject to specific regulations. Some Swiss cantons have begun accepting government payments in cryptocurrency.
  • Notes: None

Ukraine

  • Legal Status: Legal
  • Regulatory Status: Cryptocurrency specifically cannot be classified or traded as a currency of any form.
  • Notes: None

United Kingdom

  • Legal Status: Legal
  • Regulatory Status: Regulated as a financial product. VAT applies to transactions made in cryptocurrencies.
  • Notes: Recognized as a form of currency for the purposes of money laundering and other government oversight

Africa

Algeria

  • Legal Status: Illegal
  • Regulatory Status: All use of cryptocurrency is banned.
  • Notes: None

Bahrain

  • Legal Status: Semi-legal
  • Regulatory Status: Owning and trading cryptocurrency outside of Bahrain is legal. Spending it within the country is not.
  • Notes: None

Egypt

  • Legal Status: Semi-legal
  • Regulatory Status: While the government has not prohibited cryptocurrency, using it as currency has been declared prohibited under Islamic law.
  • Notes: None

Iran

  • Legal Status: Semi-legal
  • Regulatory Status: Financial institutions are banned from handling cryptocurrencies. Currency exchanges cannot handle cryptocurrencies.
  • Notes: None

Iraq

  • Legal Status: Illegal
  • Regulatory Status: Trade and use of cryptocurrency are illegal.
  • Notes: None

Israel

  • Legal Status: Legal
  • Regulatory Status: Regulated as a financial product
  • Notes: Recognized as a form of currency for the purposes of money laundering and other government oversight

Jordan

  • Legal Status: Semi-legal
  • Regulatory Status: Large financial institutions and payment servicers may not handle cryptocurrency.
  • Notes: None

Kuwait

  • Legal Status: Semi-legal
  • Regulatory Status: Financial institutions are banned from handling cryptocurrencies.
  • Notes: None

Morocco

  • Legal Status: Legal
  • Regulatory Status: Regulated as a foreign currency.
  • Notes: None

Nigeria

  • Legal Status: Semi-legal
  • Regulatory Status: Large financial institutions may not handle cryptocurrency.
  • Notes: Recognized as a form of currency for the purposes of money laundering and other government oversight

Qatar

  • Legal Status: Uncertain
  • Regulatory Status: No specific legislation
  • Notes: In a publication, the Central Bank has stated that Bitcoin is illegal.

South Africa

  • Legal Status: Legal
  • Regulatory Status: No specific regulations
  • Notes: None

United Arab Emirates

  • Legal Status: Illegal
  • Regulatory Status: All cryptocurrency transactions are banned.
  • Notes: None

Asia

Bangladesh

  • Legal Status: Illegal
  • Regulatory Status: While no specific law has been passed, it is the position of the Bangladesh government that cryptocurrency transactions break unrelated financial laws.
  • Notes: None

Cambodia

  • Legal Status: Uncertain
  • Regulatory Status: Government officials have made conflicting statements on the legality of cryptocurrency.
  • Notes: None

China

  • Legal Status: Illegal
  • Regulatory Status: All cryptocurrency transactions are banned. Research and development in blockchain technology are encouraged in specific areas.
  • Notes: None

India

  • Legal Status: Legal
  • Regulatory Status: Regulated financial institutions cannot traffic in cryptocurrency.
  • Notes: None

Indonesia

  • Legal Status: Semi-legal
  • Regulatory Status: Spending or purchasing with cryptocurrency is banned. Trading in cryptocurrency is not.
  • Notes: None

Japan

  • Legal Status: Legal
  • Regulatory Status: Cryptocurrency has asset-specific regulations as both a currency and a financial product.
  • Notes: While not legislative action, an interpretation of previous financial laws has made some cryptocurrencies legal tender for domestic and government transactions.

Malaysia

  • Legal Status: Legal
  • Regulatory Status: No specific regulations
  • Notes: None

Nepal

  • Legal Status: Illegal
  • Regulatory Status: All cryptocurrency transactions are banned.
  • Notes: None

Philippines

  • Legal Status: Legal
  • Regulatory Status: Regulated as a financial product
  • Notes: Recognized as a form of currency for the purposes of money laundering and other government oversight

Singapore

  • Legal Status: Legal
  • Regulatory Status: Regulated as a financial product
  • Notes: Recognized as a form of currency for the purposes of money laundering and other government oversight

South Korea

  • Legal Status: Legal
  • Regulatory Status: Regulated as a financial product
  • Notes: Anonymous trading of cryptocurrency is prohibited.

Thailand

  • Legal Status: Legal
  • Regulatory Status: The government has issued specific restrictions on cryptocurrency trading pending more comprehensive regulation.
  • Notes: None

Turkey

  • Legal Status: Legal
  • Regulatory Status: No specific regulations
  • Notes: None

Vietnam

  • Legal Status: Illegal
  • Regulatory Status: All cryptocurrency transactions are banned.
  • Notes: None

Australia

Australia

  • Legal Status: Legal
  • Regulatory Status: All cryptocurrency transactions are taxed and regulated as a foreign or otherwise third-party currency.
  • Notes: Recognized as a form of currency for the purposes of money laundering and other government oversight

New Zealand

  • Legal Status: Legal
  • Regulatory Status: Regulated as a financial product
  • Notes: Recognized as a form of currency for the purposes of money laundering and other government oversight

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