Legality of bitcoin by country or territory

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The legal status of bitcoin varies substantially from country to country and is still undefined or changing in many of them.[1] Whereas the majority of countries do not make the usage of bitcoin itself illegal, its status as money (or a commodity) varies, with differing regulatory implications. While some countries have explicitly allowed its use and trade, others have banned or restricted it. Likewise, various government agencies, departments, and courts have classified bitcoins differently. While this article provides the legal status of bitcoin, regulations and bans that apply to this cryptocurrency likely extend to similar systems as well.

Legal status of bitcoin
  permissive (it's legal to use bitcoin)
  contentious (some restrictions on legal usage of bitcoin)
  contentious (interpretation of old laws, but bitcoin isn't prohibited directly)
  hostile (full or partial prohibition)

Detail by union[edit]

Country or territory Legality
 European Union Yes Legal

The European Union has passed no specific legislation relative to the status of bitcoin as a currency, but has stated that VAT/GST is not applicable to the conversion between traditional (fiat) currency and bitcoin.

VAT/GST and other taxes (such as income tax) still apply to transactions made using bitcoins for goods and services. [2]:European Union

In October 2015, the Court of Justice of the European Union ruled that "The exchange of traditional currencies for units of the ‘bitcoin’ virtual currency is exempt from VAT" and that "Member States must exempt, inter alia, transactions relating to ‘currency, bank notes and coins used as legal tender’", making bitcoin a currency as opposed to being a commodity.[3][4] According to judges, the tax shouldn’t be charged because bitcoins should be treated as a means of payment.[5]

According to the European Central Bank, traditional financial sector regulation is not applicable to bitcoin because it does not involve traditional financial actors.[6]:5 Others in the EU have stated, however, that existing rules can be extended to include bitcoin and bitcoin companies.[7]

The European Central Bank classifies bitcoin as a convertible decentralized virtual currency.[6]:6 In July 2014 the European Banking Authority advised European banks not to deal in virtual currencies such as bitcoin until a regulatory regime was in place.[8]

In 2016 the European Parliament's proposal to set up a taskforce to monitor virtual currencies to combat money laundering and terrorism, passed by 542 votes to 51, with 11 abstentions, has been sent to the European Commission for consideration.[9] The European Commission also notably presented a "parallel" proposal aimed at preventing tax evasion techniques as revealed in the Panama Papers.[10] In 2017 it was revealed that the proposal will require cryptocurrency exchanges and cryptocurrency wallets to identify suspicious activity.[11]

G7 Yes Legal

In 2013 the G7's Financial Action Task Force issued the following statement in guidelines which may be applicable to companies involved in transmitting bitcoin and other currencies, "Internet-based payment services that allow third party funding from anonymous sources may face an increased risk of [money laundering/terrorist financing]." They concluded that this may "pose challenges to countries in [anti-money laundering/counter terrorist financing] regulation and supervision".[12]

Detail by country or territory[edit]

Alphabetical index to classifications[edit]

Africa[edit]

Northern Africa[edit]

Country or territory Legality
 Algeria Yes Illegal

As of 2017 bitcoin was legal in Algeria, but per the Huffington Post, "Algeria is going to ban bitcoin in the new Finance law of 2018 (article 113 of the law)"[13]

According to the "Journal Officiel" (28 December 2017):

Art. 117. — The purchase, sale, use, and holding of so-called virtual currency is prohibited. Virtual currency is that used by internet users via the web. It is characterized by the absence of physical support such as coins, notes, payments by cheque or credit card. Any breach of this provision is punishable in accordance with the laws and regulations in force.[14]

 Morocco Yes Legal
On 15 November 2017 a digital services company MTDS introduced bitcoin as a mode of payment for its services in Morocco.[15]

On 20 November 2017 the exchange office issued a public statement in which it declared, “The Office des Changes wishes to inform the general public that the transactions via virtual currencies constitute an infringement of the exchange regulations, liable to penalties and fines provided for by [existing laws] in force.”[16]

The following day, the monetary authorities also reacted in a statement issued jointly by the Ministry of Economy and Finance, Bank Al-Maghrib and the Moroccan Capital Market Authority (AMMC), warning against risks associated with bitcoin, which may be used "for illicit or criminal purposes, including money laundering and terrorist financing".[17]

On 19 December 2017, Abdellatif Jouahri, governor of Bank Al-Maghrib, said at a press conference held in Rabat during the last quarterly meeting of the Bank Al-Maghrib's Board of 2017 that bitcoin is not a currency but a "financial asset", He also warned of its dangers and called for a framework to be put in place for consumer protection.[18]

Western Africa[edit]

Country or territory Legality
 Nigeria Yes Legal

As of 17 January 2017, The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has passed a circular to inform all Nigerian banks that bank transactions in bitcoin and other virtual currencies have been banned in Nigeria.[19]

However, during the year, the CBN (through its Deputy Director on Banking and Payments System, Musa Itopa-Jimoh) clarified the circular and its stance on bitcoin, citing that a lot of people misinterpret the central bank’s recent warning. It noted that "Central bank cannot control or regulate bitcoin. Central bank cannot control or regulate blockchain. Just the same way no one is going to control or regulate the Internet. We don’t own it".[20]

Later on, a committee was set up by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and the Nigeria Deposit Insurance Corporation (NDIC) to look into the possibility of the country adopting the technology driving bitcoin and other digital currencies – blockchain. The committee has submitted its report but "several sub-committees are still working on the issue" according to the Director, Banking & Payments System Department at CBN, Mr. ‘Dipo Fatokun.[21]

East & Central Africa[edit]

Southeast Africa[edit]

Horn of Africa[edit]

Indian Ocean States[edit]

Southern Africa[edit]

Country or territory Legality
 South Africa Yes Legal

In December 2014 the Reserve Bank of South Africa issued a position paper on virtual currencies whereby it declared that virtual currency had ‘no legal status or regulatory framework’.[22] The South African Revenue Service classified bitcoin as an intangible asset.[23]

 Namibia Yes Legal

In September 2017 the Bank of Namibia issued a position paper on virtual currencies entitled[24] wherein it declared cryptocurrency exchanges are not allowed and cryptocurrency cannot be accepted as payment for goods and services.

 Zimbabwe Yes Legal

The Reserve Bank Of Zimbabwe is sceptical about bitcoin and has not officially permitted its use. On 5 April 2017 however, BitMari, a Pan-African Blockchain platform got licensed, through its banking partner, AgriBank, to operate in the country.[25]

Americas[edit]

North America[edit]

Country or territory Legality
 Canada Yes Legal / No Banking ban

Bitcoin would seem to be classified pursuant to the current provisions of the PPSA simply as an "intangible".[26]
Bitcoin is expected to be regulated under anti-money laundering and counter-terrorist financing laws in Canada, based on a federal budget bill (C-31), passed in 2014.[27] Regulations must be enacted before this provision becomes active,[28][29] however, once they are it is expected that "dealers in digital currency" will be regulated as money services businesses.[30] The Authorite des Marches Financiers, the regulator in the province of Quebec, has declared that some bitcoin related business models including exchanges and ATMs are regulated under its current MSB Act.[31]

As of April 2018 the Bank of Montreal (BMO) announced that it would ban its credit and debit card customers from participating in cryptocurrency purchases with their cards.[32] This is following another banking ban in Canada from Toronto Dominion (TD.) This ban is expected to be temporary as reported by CBC to evaluate the "evolving market" of bitcoin and other currencies.[33]

 United States Yes Legal

The U.S. Treasury classified bitcoin as a convertible decentralized virtual currency in 2013.[34] The Commodity Futures Trading Commission, CFTC, classified bitcoin as a commodity in September 2015. Per IRS, bitcoin is taxed as a property.[35]

In September 2016, a federal judge ruled that "Bitcoins are funds within the plain meaning of that term".[36]

 Mexico Yes Legal

Bitcoin is legal in Mexico as of 2017. It is to be regulated as a virtual asset by the FinTech Law.[37]

Central America[edit]

Country or territory Legality
 Nicaragua Yes Legal

News reports indicate that bitcoins are being used in the country.[2]:Nicaragua

 Costa Rica Yes Legal

The Costa Rican Central Bank announced that bitcoin and cryptocurrencies are not consider currencies, and are not backed by the government nor laws. However, they are not illegal. There are a few merchants who do accept bitcoins in the country.[38]

Caribbean[edit]

Country or territory Legality
 Jamaica Yes Legal

The Bank of Jamaica (BoJ), the national Central Bank, has publicly declared that it must create opportunities for the exploitation of technologies including cryptocurrencies. Accordingly, in 2017 the BoJ will be embarking on a campaign to build awareness of cryptocurrencies as part of increasing general financial literacy and understanding of cryptocurrencies. Indications are that early BoJ signals point to their general framework on "electronic retail payment service systems" possibly being brought to bear on initial cryptocurrencies considerations.[39][40][2]:Jamaica

 Trinidad and Tobago Yes Legal

[41][42]

South America[edit]

Country or territory Legality
 Argentina Yes Legal

Bitcoins may be considered money, but not legal currency. A bitcoin may be considered either a good or a thing under the Argentina's Civil Code, and transactions with bitcoins may be governed by the rules for the sale of goods under the Civil Code.[2]:Argentina.

 Bolivia No Illegal

The Central Bank of Bolivia issued a resolution banning bitcoin and any other currency not regulated by a country or economic zone in 2014.[43]

 Brazil Yes Legal

Not regulated, according to a 2014 statement by the Central Bank of Brazil concerning cryptocurrencies, but is discouraged because of operational risks.[44] In November 2017 this unregulated and discouraged status was reiterated by the Central Bank of Brazil.[45]

 Chile Yes Legal

There is no regulation on the use of bitcoins.[2]:Chile

 Colombia Yes Legal

A 26 March 2014 by Superintendencia Financiera de Colombia states that the use of bitcoin is not regulated.[46]

 Ecuador No Illegal

The Ecuadorian government has issued a ban on bitcoin and other digital currencies.[47]

The National Assembly of Ecuador banned bitcoins including other decentralized digital/crypto currencies, due to the establishment of a new state-run electronic money system. Ecuador's new project would be controlled by the government and tied directly to the local currency—the dollar. Users will be able to pay for select services and send money between individuals. This was slated to begin in mid-February 2015. "Electronic money is designed to operate and support the monetary scheme of dollarization," economist Diego Martinez, a delegate of the President of the Republic to the Board of Regulation and Monetary and Financial Policy.[48]

Asia[edit]

Central Asia[edit]

Country or territory Legality
 Kyrgyzstan Yes Legal

Bitcoin is considered a commodity,[49] not a security or currency under the laws of the Kyrgyz Republic and may be legally mined, bought, sold and traded on a local commodity exchange.[50] The use of bitcoin as a currency in domestic settlements is restricted.[51]

Eurasia[edit]

Country or territory Legality
 Cyprus Yes Legal

The use of bitcoins is not regulated in Cyprus.[2]:Cyprus

 Russia Yes Legal

As of November 2016 declared, bitcoins are "not illegal" according to the Federal Tax Service of Russia.[52][53] In September 2017 Russia central bank head Elvira Nabiullina has said it is categorically against regulating cryptocurrencies as money, as a means by which payment can be made for goods and services, and against equating them with foreign currency.[54] Deputy Finance Minister of the Russian Federation Alexei Moiseev at the same time said it's "probably illegal" to accept cryptocurrencies payments.[55] However bitcoin market sites are blocked and in court decisions stated that bitcoin is a currency surrogate which is outlawed on the territory of Russian Federation.[56]

West Asia[edit]

Country or territory Legality
 United Arab Emirates Yes Legal

13 February 2018 Dubai gold trader Regal RA DMCC is the first company in the Middle East to get a license to trade cryptocurrencies, the Dubai Multi Commodities Centre said.[57] DMCC was named ‘Global Free Zone of the Year’ 2017 by The Financial Times fDi Magazine, for the third year running and serves as a global marketplace for commodities to drive trade flows through Dubai. As a DMCC licensed company, Regal Assets DMCC operates in a secure regulated trading environment and offers a service to global investors to the highest standards of international compliance.

"DMCC is the only Free Zone in the Middle East to have a government-issued license to trade in crypto-commodities and offers unparalleled full market value insurance on such investments,” said Gerhard Schubert, Chairman of the Board for Regal Assets DMCC. DMCC’s Crypto-commodities license is for Proprietary Trading in Crypto-commodities only. [58]

 Israel Yes Legal

As of 2017, the Israel Tax Authorities issued a statement saying that bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies would not fall under the legal definition of currency, and neither of that of a financial security, but of a taxable asset.[59] Each time a bitcoin is sold, the seller would have to pay a capital gains tax of 25%. Miners, traders of bitcoins would be treated as businesses and would have to pay corporate income tax as well as charge a 17% VAT.[60]

 Saudi Arabia Yes Legal

Bitcoin is not banned by any governmental party in Saudi Arabia. Only Saudi Arabian Monetary Authority (SAMA) has warned from using it as it is high risk and recognised in Saudi Arabia and its dealers will not be guaranteed any protection or rights.[61] There is a bitcoin ATM in the city of Jubail.[62]

 Jordan Yes Legal

The government of Jordan has issued a warning discouraging the use of bitcoin and other similar systems.[63]

The Central Bank of Jordan prohibits banks, currency exchanges, financial companies, and payment service companies from dealing in bitcoins or other digital currencies.[64] While it warned the public of risks of bitcoins, and that they are not legal tender, bitcoins are still accepted by small businesses and merchants.[64]

 Lebanon Yes Legal

The government of Lebanon has issued a warning discouraging the use of bitcoin and other similar systems.[63]

 Turkey Yes Legal

Bitcoin is not regulated as it is not considered to be electronic money according to the law.[2]:Turkey[65]

 Iran Yes Legal

Bitcoin is neither recognized nor regulated in Iran. Government officials, however, discourage investing in cryptocurrencies until after the regulations are made.[66]

South Asia[edit]

Country or territory Legality
 Bangladesh No Illegal

In September 2014, Bangladesh Bank said that "anybody caught using the virtual currency could be jailed under the country's strict anti-money laundering laws".[67]

 India Yes Legal / No Banking ban

Finance minister Arun Jaitley, in his budget speech on 1 February 2018, stated that the government will do everything to discontinue the use of bitcoin and other virtual currencies in India for criminal uses. He reiterated that India does not recognise them as legal tender and will instead encourage blockchain technology in payment systems.

"The government does not recognise cryptocurrency as legal tender or coin and will take all measures to eliminate the use of these cryptoassets in financing illegitimate activities or as part of the payments system," Jaitley said.[68]

In early 2018 India's central bank the Reserve Bank of India announced a ban on the sale or purchase of cryptocurrency.[69]

   Nepal No Illegal

On 13 August 2017 Nepal Rastra Bank declared bitcoin as illegal.[70][71]

 Pakistan Yes Legal

As of 7 April 2018, State Bank of Pakistan [SBP] has announced that bitcoin and other virtual currencies/tokens/ coins are banned in Pakistan. This news was followed right after India's restriction of converting bitcoin and cryptocurrencies into fiat currency. For organizations and institutions it is banned by State Bank of Pakistan. Bank will not get involved if there is any dispute. They will not facilitate any transaction for it. For individuals, it is neither legal nor illegal and they can hold cryptocurrencies at their own risk. National Assembly of Pakistan can pass law to declare bitcoin legal or illegal in Pakistan, but there is no such news from National Assembly yet.

The bank has issued an official notice on its website and has also posted the news on its official Twitter account. [72]

East Asia[edit]

Country or territory Legality
 China (PRC) Yes Legal

While private parties can hold and trade bitcoins in China, regulation prohibits financial firms like banks from doing the same.[7]:China

On 5 December 2013, People's Bank of China (PBOC) made its first step in regulating bitcoin by prohibiting financial institutions from handling bitcoin transactions.[73] In a statement on the central bank’s website the PBOC said financial institutions and payment companies cannot give pricing in, buy and sell bitcoin or insure bitcoin-linked products.

On 16 December 2013 it was speculated that the PBOC had issued a new ban on third-party payment processors from doing business with bitcoin exchanges,[74] however a statement from BTC China suggests this isn't accurate, and rather payment processors had voluntarily withdrawn their services.[75]

On 1 April 2014 PBOC ordered commercial banks and payment companies to close bitcoin trading accounts in two weeks.[76] Trading bitcoins by individuals is legal in China.[73][77]

On 9 February 2017, multiple bitcoin exchanges in China delayed or paused bitcoin withdraw service, with or without announcement. Some of the announcements,[78][79][80][81] if not all, claim that regulation activities have been or are to be taken. News resources[82] also show that, although such activities were carried out by PBOC, they were not done via legal approaches, but by "appointment" instead. None of the exchanges presented or have claimed to receive any lawful paperwork. The crackdown on bitcoin and other virtual currency traders was accompanied by Chinese media touting the dangers of virtual currency as a tool for criminal activities.[83][84]

In early 2018 the People's Bank of China announced the State Administration of Foreign Exchange led by Pan Gongsheng would crack down on bitcoin mining.[85][86]

 Hong Kong Yes Legal

On 8 January 2014, the Secretary for Financial Services and the Treasury addressed bitcoin in the Legislative Council stating that "Hong Kong at present has no legislation directly regulating bitcoins and other virtual currencies of [a] similar kind. However, our existing laws (such as the Organised and Serious Crimes Ordinance) provide sanctions against unlawful acts involving bitcoins, such as fraud or money laundering."[2]:Hong Kong

On 16 November 2013, Norman Chan, the chief executive of Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA) said that bitcoins is only a virtual commodity. He also decided that bitcoins will not be regulated by HKMA. However, the authority will be closely watching the usage of bitcoins locally and its development overseas.[87]

 Japan Yes Legal

Japan officially recognizes bitcoin and digital currencies as a "means of payment that is not a legal currency" (see Article 2-5 of Japans's Payment Services Act (PSA) 25 May 2016).[88]

On 7 March 2014, the Japanese government, in response to a series of questions asked in the National Diet, made a cabinet decision on the legal treatment of bitcoins in the form of answers to the questions.[89] The decision did not see bitcoin as currency nor bond under the current Banking Act and Financial Instruments and Exchange Law, prohibiting banks and securities companies from dealing in bitcoins. The decision also acknowledges that there are no laws to unconditionally prohibit individuals or legal entities from receiving bitcoins in exchange for goods or services. Taxes may be applicable to bitcoins.

According to Nikkei Asian Review, in February 2016, "Japanese financial regulators have proposed handling virtual currencies as methods of payment equivalent to conventional currencies".[90]

The city of Hirosaki is officially accepting bitcoin donations with the goal of attracting international tourists and financing local projects.[91][92] In 2017, the country’s government officially recognized bitcoin as a method of payment.[93][94]

 South Korea Yes Legal

While not illegal in the country, Korean authorities will prosecute illegal activity involving bitcoin[95] and have indicted at least one individual for purchasing drugs with bitcoin.[96]

There are no laws in South Korea regulating the use of bitcoin at present.[2]:South Korea On 12 December 2013, the president of the Bank of Korea recommended at a press conference that bitcoin be regulated in the future.[97] Regulators in South Korea have reportedly banned the trade of futures contracts and other derivatives tied to bitcoin.

According to a 6 December 2017 report from the Korea Herald, directives from the country's Financial Services Commission led securities firms such as eBest Investment & Securities and Shinhan Financial Investment to cancel seminars marketed towards bitcoin futures investors.

 Taiwan Yes Legal

Bitcoin ATMs are banned here[7]:Taiwan but bitcoins can be purchased at over 6000 convenience store kiosks.[98][99]

Regulators have warned the public that bitcoin does not have legal protection, "as the currency is not issued by any monetary authority and is therefore not entitled to legal claims or guarantee of conversion".[100]

While bitcoin is not illegal in Taiwan, financial institutions have been warned by regulators that necessary regulatory actions may be taken if they use it.[2]:Taiwan

On 6 December 2013, Perng Fai-nan said that bitcoin is only used in certain communities. Besides, he also opined that the value of bitcoin is a bubble and is highly volatile. Therefore, he advised the public against the speculation of bitcoins to prevent making a loss during the process. The central bank is closely watching the development of bitcoin and plan to impose regulations in the future.[101]

On 31 December 2013, Financial Supervisory Commission (Republic of China) (FSC) and CBC issued a joint statement which warns against the use of bitcoins. It is stated that bitcoins remains highly volatile, highly speculative, and is not entitled to legal claims or guarantee of conversion.[102]

On 5 January 2014, FSC chairman Tseng Ming-chung stated that FSC will not allow the installation of bitcoin ATM in Taiwan because bitcoin is not a currency and it should not be accepted by individuals and banks as payment.[103]

However, despite this, three of the four major convenience store chains in Taiwan make available purchases of bitcoin through their kiosk systems,[104] and the largest chain now allows bitcoin to be used for purchases of goods.[105]

Southeast Asia[edit]

Country or territory Legality
 Cambodia Yes Legal

There are no regulations related to the use of bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies in Cambodia. However the Securities and Exchange Commission of Cambodia and National Bank of Cambodia has discouraged the use of cryptocurrencies. The National Bank has stated that cryptocurrencies are illegal in Cambodia and has instructed commercial banks in the country not to accept bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies in financial transactions.[106][clarification needed]

 Indonesia Yes Legal to trade and hold / No Illegal as payment tool

On 7 December 2017, Bank Indonesia, the country's central bank, issued a regulation banning the use of cryptocurrencies including bitcoin as payment tools starting 1 January 2018. However other activities such as bitcoin trading and mining remain not covered by the regulation.[107]

 Malaysia Yes Legal

On 4 November 2013, Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) met with local bitcoin proponents to learn more about the currency but did not comment at the time.[108] BNM issued a statement on 6 January 2014 that bitcoin is not recognised as a legal tender in Malaysia. The central bank will not regulate bitcoin operations at the moment and users should aware of the risks associated with bitcoin usage.[109][110][2]:Malaysia

On 4 October 2017, BNM announced that The decision on whether cryptocurrencies should be banned in Malaysia will be taken by them before the end of the year.[111]

 Philippines Yes Legal

On 6 March 2014, Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) issued a statement on risks associated with bitcoin trading and usage. Recently virtual currencies were legalized and cryptocurrency exchanges are now regulated by Central Bank of the Philippines (Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas) under Circular 944[112]

 Singapore Yes Legal

In December 2013, the Monetary Authority of Singapore reportedly stated that "[w]hether or not businesses accept bitcoins in exchange for their goods and services is a commercial decision in which MAS does not intervene."[2]:Singapore

On 22 September 2013, the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) warned users of the risks associated with using bitcoin stating "If bitcoin ceases to operate, there may not be an identifiable party responsible for refunding their monies or for them to seek recourse"[113] and in December 2013 stated "Whether or not businesses accept Bitcoins in exchange for their goods and services is a commercial decision in which MAS does not intervene"[114] In January 2014, the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore issued a series of tax guidelines according to which bitcoin transactions may be treated as a barter exchange if it is used as a payment method for real goods and services. Businesses that deal with bitcoin currency exchanges will be taxed based on their bitcoin sales.[115]

 Thailand Yes Legal / No Banking ban

The initial position of the Bank of Thailand, mid 2013, was to discourage the use of bitcoin, however as of 2017, the Bank of Thailand is open to bitcoin provided proper controls are in place.[116]

Thai based bitcoin exchanges can only exchange Digital Currencies for Thai Baht and are required to operate with a Thailand Business Development Department e-commerce license. They are also required to have KYC and CDD policies and procedures in place, in accordance with the Ministerial Regulation Prescribing Rules and Procedures for Customer Due Diligence, Reference Page 8 Volume 129 Part 44 A Government Gazette 23 May 2555 (2012).[117]

Suspicious activity must be reported to the Anti-Money Laundering Office (Thailand) (AMLO), of Thailand.[118]

The SEC Thailand encourages access to funding for businesses, including high potential tech startups, and realizes the potential of ICO in answering startups’ funding needs. In cases where an ICO constitutes offering of securities, the issuer will need to comply with applicable regulatory requirements[119]

The SEC Thailand issued a Public Consultation Document Aor Tor Ngor 34/2560 27 October 2017 Topic: Regulatory approach on Initial Coin Offering (ICO)[120]

As of February 2018 the Thai central bank has prohibited financial institutions in the country from five key cryptocurrency activities[121]. These include 1) Investing or trading in cryptocurrency 2) Exchanging cryptocurrencies 3) Creating platforms for cryptocurrency trading 4) Allowing clients to use credit cards to buy cryptocurrencies 5) Advising customers on cryptocurrency investing and trading. Banks complying with these new rules include Bangkok Bank, SIAM Commercial Bank and Krungsri.

The Thai government is expected to introduce regulatory framework in early 2018 but stated that "The government will not ban cryptocurrnecy trading."[122]

 Vietnam Yes Legal to trade and hold / No Illegal as payment tool

Trading in bitcoin in Vietnam is still unrestricted and unregulated by law, and two largest bitcoin markets in Vietnam - VBTC and Bitcoin Vietnam are working without being restricted. In August 2017, Vietnam's prime minister has approved a plan that could see the country formally recognize bitcoin as a form of payment by the end of 2018.[123]

The State Bank of Vietnam has declared that the issuance, supply and use of bitcoin and other similar virtual currency is illegal as a mean of payment and subject to punishment ranging from 150 million to 200 million VND,[124] but the government doesn't ban bitcoin trading as a virtual goods or assets.[125]

Europe[edit]

Central Europe[edit]

Country or territory Legality
 Austria Yes Legal

Bitcoin is legal. Although not considered to be an official form of currency, earnings are subject to tax law.

 Croatia Yes Legal

On 6 December 2013, the Croatian National Bank reportedly conducted a discussion on the circulation of digital currencies and concluded that bitcoin is not illegal in Croatia.[2]:Croatia

 Czech Republic Yes Legal

Bitcoin trading does not require authorization by the Czech National Bank and the Czech National Bank cannot grant such an authorization (2015).[126] Bitcoin is classified as intangible asset (not as electronic money) for the purpose of accounting and taxes.[127][128]

 Germany Yes Legal

On 19 August 2013, the German Finance Ministry announced that bitcoin is now essentially a "unit of account" and can be used for the purpose of tax and trading in the country, meaning that purchases made with it must pay VAT as with Euro transactions. It is not classified as a foreign currency or e–money but stands as "private money" which can be used in "multilateral clearing circles", according to the ministry.[129][130]

 Hungary
 Poland Yes Legal

The use of bitcoin in Poland is not regulated by a legal act at present.[2]:Poland

Szymon Woźniak of the Ministry of Finance made an official announcement on the legality of bitcoin on 18 December 2013 at a conference at the Warsaw School of Economics stating that the Ministry of Finance does not consider bitcoin illegal and does not want to hinder its development.[131] He clarified that while not illegal, bitcoin cannot be considered legal tender, and, in the light of the directives of the European Union, it is neither electronic money.[131] As of 27 January 2015, several banks have closed accounts of clients trading bitcoin, and indicated "presumption of criminal offense" as the cause, with "criminal offense" presumably being "cryptocurrency trade".[132] As of 7 July 2017, the National Bank of Poland (NBP) and Financial Supervision Authority (KNF) issued a comment on virtual "currencies".[133] They underlined that virtual currencies (including bitcoin): (1) are not issued or guaranteed by the central bank, (2) are not money, i.e. they are neither legal tender nor currency, (3) can not be used to pay tax liabilities, (4) do not meet the criterion of universal acceptability in shopping and service points, (5) are not electronic money, (6) are not payment services (in legal terms), (7) are not financial instruments (in legal terms). They added that trading virtual currencies in Poland does not violate national or EU law, however, having virtual "currencies", involves many risks: (1) risk related to the possibility of loss of funds due to theft, (2) risk related to lack of guarantee, (3) risk of lack of universal acceptability, (4) risk related to the possibility of fraud, (5) risk of high price change. Because of these risks, the NBP and KNF warn against buying virtual currencies and investing in them. The NBP and KNF recognize that the purchase, possession and sale of virtual currencies by entities supervised by the KNF (e.g. banks) would be burdened with high risk and would not ensure a stable and prudent management of the financial institution. Financial institutions should be cautious about engaging and cooperating with virtual currency "trading" entities.

 Romania Yes Legal

As of March 2015, an official statement of the Romanian National Bank mentioned that "using digital currencies as payment has certain risks for the financial system".[134]

In October 2017, the National Fiscal Administration Agency (ANAF) declared that there is a lack of a legislative framework around bitcoin, and therefore, it is unable to create a tax regulation framework for it as well (implying no taxation).[135]

 Slovakia Yes Legal

The National Bank of Slovakia (NBS), stated[136] that bitcoin does not have the legal attributes of a currency, and therefore does not fall under national control.[note 1] European legislation, including the Slovak law, does not define the activities associated with virtual currency. Such activities are not regulated and supervised by the National Bank of Slovakia or the European Central Bank. At the same time NBS points out that any legal person or natural person in the Slovak Republic shall not issue any notes or any other coins. Unlawful manufacturing of banknotes and coins and putting them into circulation is punishable by law. In this context, NBS points out that virtual currencies have not a physical counterpart in the form of legal tender and participation in such a scheme (virtual currency) is at your own risk. Exchanges or purchases of virtual currencies represent the business risk of investors and investors' money are not protected. For any compensation of losses caused by such exchanges or purchases there is no legal entitlement.

 Slovenia Yes Legal

On 23 December 2013 the Slovenian Ministry of Finance made an announcement[137] stating that bitcoin is neither a currency nor an asset. There is no capital gains tax chargeable on bitcoin, however bitcoin mining is taxed and businesses selling goods/services in bitcoin are also taxed.

  Switzerland Yes Legal

Bitcoin businesses in Switzerland are subject to anti-money laundering regulations and in some instances may need to obtain a banking license.[138]

On 5 December 2013, a proposal was put forth by 45 members of the Swiss Parliament for digital sustainability (Pardigli), that calls on the Swiss government to evaluate the opportunities for utilization of bitcoin by the country’s financial sector.[139] It also seeks clarification on bitcoin’s legal standing with respect to VAT, securities and anti-money laundering laws.[140]

In response to the parliament postulates, the Swiss Federal Council issued a report on virtual currencies in June 2014.[141] The report states that since virtual currencies are not in a legal vacuum, the Federal Council has concluded that there is no need for legislative measures to be taken at the moment.

In 2016, Zug added bitcoin as a means of paying city fees, in a test and an attempt to advance Zug as a region that is advancing future technologies.[142] Swiss Federal Railways, government-owned railway company of Switzerland, sells bitcoins at its ticket machines.[143]

Eastern Europe[edit]

Country or territory Legality
 Belarus YesLegal

The Decree On the Development of Digital Economy — the decree of Alexander Lukashenko, the President of the Republic of Belarus, which includes measures to liberalize the conditions for conducting business in the sphere of high technologies.

The provisions of the decree "On the Development of Digital Economy" create of a legal basis for the circulation of digital currencies and tokens based on blockchain technology, so that resident companies of the High-Tech Park can provide the services of stock markets and exchange offices with cryptocurrencies and attract financing through the ICO. For legal entities, the Decree confers the rights to create and place their own tokens, carry out transactions through stock markets and exchange operators; to individuals the Decree gives the right to engage in mining, to own tokens, to acquire and change them for Belarusian rubles, foreign currency and electronic money, and to bequeath them. Up to 1 Jan In 2023, the Decree excludes revenue and profits from operations with tokens from the taxable base. In relation to individuals, the acquisition and sale of tokens is not considered entrepreneurial activity, and the tokens themselves and income from transactions with them are not subject to declaration. The peculiarity of the introduced regulation is that all operations will have to be carried out through the resident companies of the High Technology Park.

In addition, the decree includes:

  • Extension of the validity period of the special legal regime of the High-Tech Park until January 1, 2049, and expansion of the list of activities of resident companies. Under the new rules, developers of blockchain-based solutions, developers of machine learning systems based on artificial neural networks, companies from the medical and biotechnological industries, developers of unmanned vehicles, as well as software developers and publishers can become residents. The list of promising areas is unlimited and can be expanded by the decision of the High-Tech Park supervisory board.
  • Preservation of existing benefits for resident companies in the High-Tech Park, including the cancellation of the profit tax (instead of which a contribution of 1% of the gross revenues proceeding to the administration of the park is applied), reduced to 9% of the personal income tax rate for employees, and the right to contribute to the Social Protection Fund according to the national average figures, and not the actual salaries.
  • Exemption of foreign companies providing marketing, advertising, consulting and other services to the residents of the High-Tech Park from paying value-added tax, as well as paying income tax, which allows to promote IT products of Belarusian companies in foreign markets. To encourage investments, the Decree also exempts foreign companies from the tax on income from the alienation of shares, stakes in the authorized capital and shares in the property of residents of the High-Tech Park (under condition of continuous possession of at least 365 days).
  • Introduction of individual English law institutions for residents of the High-Tech Park, which will make it possible to conclude option contracts, convertible loanagreements, non-competition agreements with employees, agreements with responsibility for enticing employees, irrevocable powers of attorney and other documents common in international practice. This measure is aimed at simplifying the structuring of transactions with foreign capital.
  • Simplification of the regime of currency transactions for residents of the High-Tech Park, including the introduction of a notification procedure for currency transactions, the cancellation of the mandatory written form of foreign trade transactions, the introduction of confirmation of the conducted operations by primary documents drawn up unilaterally. Also, the decree removes restrictions on resident companies for transactions with electronic money and allows opening accounts in foreign banks and credit and financial organizations without obtaining permission from the National Bank of the Republic of Belarus.
  • Simplification of the procedure for recruiting qualified foreign specialists by resident companies of the High-Tech Park, including the abolition of the recruitment permit, the simplified procedure for obtaining a work permit, and the visa-free regime for the founders and employees of resident companies with a term of continuous stay of up to 180 days.
 Ukraine Yes Legal

The use of bitcoins is not regulated in Ukraine. Mining is legal type of entrepreneurship.[citation needed]

Northern Europe[edit]

Country or territory Legality
 Denmark Yes Legal

Denmark’s Financial Supervisory Authority issued a statement declaring that bitcoin is not a currency and stating that it will not regulate its use.[2]:Denmark

On 17 December 2013, Denmark's Financial Supervisory Authority (FSA) has issued a statement that echoes EBA's warning. As of 2017, FSA says that doing business with bitcoin does not fall under its regulatory authority and therefore FSA does not prevent anyone from opening such businesses.[144] FSA's chief legal adviser says that Denmark might consider amending existing financial legislation to cover virtual currencies.[145]

 Estonia Yes Legal

In Estonia, the use of bitcoins is not regulated or otherwise controlled by the government.[2]:Estonia

The Estonian Ministry of Finance have concluded that there is no legal obstacles to use bitcoin-like crypto currencies as payment method. Traders must therefore identify the buyer when establishing business relationship or if the buyer acquires more than 1,000 euros of the currency in a month.[146]

 Finland Yes Legal

The Finnish Tax Administration has issued instructions for the taxation of virtual currencies, including the bitcoin.[2]:Finland[147] Rather than a currency or a security, a bitcoin transaction is considered a private contract equivalent to a contract for difference for tax purposes. Purchases of goods with bitcoin or conversion of bitcoin into legal currency "realizes" the value and any increase in price will be taxable; however, losses are not tax-deductible. Mined bitcoin is considered earned income.[147]

Ruling 034/2014 by the Finnish Central Board of Taxes (CBT) stated that commission fees charged on bitcoin purchases by an exchange market were, under the EU VAT Directive, banking services and therefore VAT exempt. This is because the court classified bitcoins as payment instruments - whereas most countries treat their use as an unregulated method for the exchange of goods, or even as a crime.[148][149]

 Iceland Yes Legal

According to a 2014 opinion, from the Central Bank of Iceland "there is no authorization to purchase foreign currency from financial institutions in Iceland or to transfer foreign currency across borders on the basis of transactions with virtual currency. For this reason alone, transactions with virtual currency are subject to restrictions in Iceland."[150] This does not stop[151] businesses in Iceland from mining bitcoins.[152] The Icelandic Central Bank confirmed that "it is prohibited to engage in foreign exchange trading with the electronic currency bitcoin, according to the Icelandic Foreign Exchange Act".[153]

On 12 March 2017, the Central Bank amended its rules. With the new rules, wide and general exemptions have been granted from the restrictions of the Foreign Exchange Act No. 87/1992[154]

 Lithuania Yes Legal

Bank of Lithuania released a warning on 31 January 2014, that bitcoin is not recognized as legal tender in Lithuania and that bitcoin users should be aware of high risks that come with the usage of it.[155]

 Norway Yes Legal

The Norwegian Tax Administration stated in December 2013 that they don't define bitcoin as money but regard it as an asset. Profits are subjected to wealth tax. In business, use of bitcoin falls under the sales tax regulation.[156]

The Norwegian government stated in February 2017 that they would not levy VAT on the purchase or sale of bitcoin.[157]

 Sweden Yes Legal

The Swedish Tax Agency has given a preliminary ruling on Value Added Tax (VAT) on bitcoins, stating that trade in bitcoins is not subject to Swedish VAT, but is instead subject to the Finansinspektionen (Financial Supervisory Authority) regulations and treated as a currency. The decision has been appealed by the Swedish Tax Authority.[2]:Sweden

The Swedish jurisdiction is in general quite favorable for bitcoin businesses and users as compared to other countries within the EU and the rest of the world. The governmental regulatory and supervisory body Swedish Financial Supervisory Authority (Finansinspektionen) have legitimized the fast growing industry by publicly proclaiming bitcoin and other digital currencies as a means of payment. For certain businesses interacting with fiat (mainly exchanges) the current regulation dictates that an application for approval/license must be filed and all the AML/CTF and KYC regulations applicable to more traditional financial service providers must be followed.

Southern Europe[edit]

Country or territory Legality
 Bosnia and Herzegovina Yes Legal

No regulation on the use of bitcoins.

 Bulgaria Yes Legal

There is not a single word in Bulgarian laws about bitcoin. People owe 10% tax if they made profit trading.

 Greece Yes Legal

No specific legislation on bitcoins exists in Greece.[2]:Greece

 Italy Yes Legal

Italy does not regulate bitcoin use by private individuals.[2]:Italy

 Malta Yes Legal

As of 2017, Malta does not have any regulations specifically pertaining to bitcoins.[2]:Malta In 2017, the country’s prime minister Joseph Muscat announced the approval of a national strategy to promote bitcoin and blockchain technology. Muscat specifically addressed the bitcoin blockchain’s ability to handle, store and process sensitive data in an immutable and decentralized ecosystem.[158]

 Macedonia Yes Illegal

Paying in crypto is not legal in Macedonia and using digital money is discouraged by the National Bank of the Republic of Macedonia.[159] Payment of the virtual currency bitcoin in Macedonia is forbidden and anyone who uses it for any transaction violates the law, which provides not only fines, but also imprisonment.

These days the governor of The National Bank of Macedonia urged Macedonian citizens not to invest in bitcoins, because they are very risky and their value is speculative

Bitcoin operation in our country will be sanctioned. Bitcoin is basically a speculative currency, which makes investment in it extremely risky.

In the Republic of Macedonia, the legal means of payment is only the denar and any payment in another currency falls under the legislation. The use of bitcoin is contrary to the Law on Payment Operations and the Law on Foreign Exchange Operations, according to the National Bank of Macedonia. According to the Law, the responsible person, sole proprietor and natural person (residents), who its operations will violate the provisions of this law by using foreign currencies and other international valuation measures such as the currency of executing contracts between residents will be punished with imprisonment of three years to five years.

The responsible person in the legal entity or sole proprietor in the territory of The Republic of Macedonia shall carry out, in its own name and on its own account, as well as for another person (legal or physical) payment or payment into effective foreign currency contrary to the provisions of this Law, shall be sentenced to imprisonment of six months to five years.

In addition to prison terms, fines of between 7,000 and 10,000 euros are provided.

In Macedonia so far only one company has announced that it is working with bitcoin, and there is also a failed initiative to start using it in restaurants and cafes.

 Portugal Yes Legal

Bitcoin has no specific legal framework in Portugal.[2]:Portugal

 Spain Yes Legal

Transactions in bitcoins are subject to the same laws as barter transactions.[2]:Spain

Western Europe[edit]

Country or territory Legality
 Belgium Yes Legal

The Minister of Finance indicated that government intervention with regard to the bitcoin system does not appear necessary at the present time.[2]:Belgium

 France Yes Legal

The French Ministry of Finance issued regulations on 11 July 2014 pertaining to the operation of virtual currency professionals, exchanges, and taxation.[160]

 Ireland Yes Legal

The Central Bank of Ireland was quoted in the Assembly of Ireland as stating that it does not regulate bitcoins.[2]:Ireland

 Luxembourg Yes Legal

The Commission de Surveillance du Secteur Financier has issued a communication in February 2014 acknowledging the status of currency to the bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies.[161][162] The first BitLicence was issued in October 2015,[163] and the government is actively supporting this development.[162][164]

 Netherlands Yes Legal

As of 2017, virtual currencies such as bitcoin do not fall within the scope of the Act on Financial Supervision of the Netherlands.[2]:Netherlands

 United Kingdom Yes Legal

As of 2017, the government of the United Kingdom has stated that bitcoin is unregulated and that it is treated as a 'foreign currency' for most purposes, including VAT/GST.[2]:United Kingdom

Bitcoin is treated as 'private money'. When bitcoin is exchanged for sterling or for foreign currencies, such as euro or dollar, no VAT will be due on the value of the bitcoins themselves. However, in all instances, VAT will be due in the normal way from suppliers of any goods or services sold in exchange for bitcoin or other similar cryptocurrency. Profits and losses on cryptocurrencies are subject to capital gains tax.[165]

Oceania[edit]

Australasia[edit]

Country or territory Legality
 Australia Yes Legal

In December 2013, the governor of the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) indicated in an interview about bitcoin legality stating, "There would be nothing to stop people in this country deciding to transact in some other currency in a shop if they wanted to. There’s no law against that, so we do have competing currencies."[166] Australia has officially confirmed it will treat bitcoin “just like money” on 1 July 2017 and it will no longer be subject to double taxation.[167]

 New Zealand Yes Legal

The Reserve Bank of New Zealand states: "Non-banks do not need our approval for schemes that involve the storage and/or transfer of value (such as ‘bitcoin’) – so long as they do not involve the issuance of physical circulating currency (notes and coins)."[2]:New Zealand

Melanesia[edit]

Micronesia[edit]

Polynesia[edit]

Footnotes[edit]

  1. ^ Translated from: ...bitcoin nespĺňa atribúty meny v právnom zmysle (jeho platnosť na určitom území nie je mocensky ustanovená, právny poriadok neupravuje jej obeh ani ochranu), zastávame názor, že ho nie je možné označovať za menu.

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