The list of the countries where bitcoin is legal is quite long, and even within it the subtleties of cryptocurrency legal status still vary from state to state. The slightest differences in law can significantly affect bitcoin regulation even in generally crypto-friendly countries. In this article, we will be talking about cryptocurrency legal issues by country, about the general population’s view and the government’s stance on it.
Famously keen on new technologies, the Japanese have been interested in cryptocurrency news and especially Bitcoin since its launch in 2009 — with the bitcoin inventor being allegedly Japanese as well. Some of the most important Japanese blockchain platforms have gained wide international recognition over time. The authorities are actively supporting and popularising bitcoin use in the country, recognizing it as similar to real money since 2016.
While bitcoin legal status in Estonia is uncertain for now, the authorities allow its use as payment method. Upon purchasing more than 1000 euros of bitcoin in a month, the buyer’s ID must be provided.
Malta, a small Mediterranean country, can be found on every list of countries where bitcoin is legalized: not only is cryptocurrency legal there, but the government is also supporting and encouraging its use. This has granted Malta a nickname — the ‘Blockchain Island’. However, you might face a problem once you’ve decided to start a business there: before allowing a crypto startup to open a bank account, the local banks need it to be licensed with the MFSA — which can take up to six months.
Unlike its big brother, China, Hong Kong hasn’t banned cryptocurrency, even though bitcoin legal status remains uncertain. The government has no legislation regarding its use but makes sure to provide sanctions against virtual currency abuse, including money laundering and fraud.
By 2013, bitcoin had already been recognized as a virtual currency in the U.S.; by 2015 — as a commodity. Cryptocurrency activities are being controlled and regulated by the government in order to prevent money laundering, with blockchain businesses being required to register with the FinCEN and make reports regularly. The legislation varies by state, and many states are developing further regulations to cover cryptocurrency legal issues.
The guidance on cryptocurrency taxation in Germany states that should bitcoin (or any other virtual currency) be used as a mean of payment, it will be treated like traditional “real” money in terms of VAT, while any other use of it does not count as “payment” and therefore is not taxable. Moreover, the state authorities qualify cryptocurrency as private money rather than commodities or stocks, according to the recent bitcoin news. The distinction is crucial, since it lowers the taxation of the cryptos significantly, making Germany an attractive country to start a bitcoin business in.
Singapore does not qualify cryptos as currencies either: bitcoins are rather viewed as goods. The tax Bitcoin users are required to pay amounts to 7%. While the Singaporean government stance on cryptocurrency legal status is far from ecstatic due to the latter being experimental and generally “presenting a great risk to customers”, the authorities see no reason to ban bitcoin for now.
The UK can be found on the list of the countries where bitcoin is legal, too. There is no strict legal status of cryptos yet, which are being treated as foreign currency for now. However, while the new regulations are being worked on, the government is acting cautiously around the bitcoin topic, warning the users about potential risks.
Having one of the most stable economies in the world, Switzerland also was one of the first countries to express a positive stance on cryptos. Not only is bitcoin mining legal in Switzerland — you can use bitcoins to pay city fees or even buy them at SFR ticket machines. Bitcoin use is subject to anti-money laundering laws, especially in businesses.
Bitcoin is legal in Slovenia, and there are no restrictions towards its exchanges. However, mining and selling goods are taxed. The authorities have stated that bitcoin can’t be considered a currency or an asset and, therefore, capital gains tax can’t be charged.
While this list contains ten countries where bitcoin is legalized, it’s definitely not full. France, Canada, The Netherlands, Vietnam, Belarus and many more states all over the world allow cryptocurrency use for lots of purposes.