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Is Bitcoin Legal? Countries Where Bitcoin Is Legal

Is Bitcoin legal? Let's explore the legality of Bitcoin in different countries and find out if it's legal in your location.
is bitcoin legal

Bitcoin has undergone significant changes since its inception in 2008. Its popularity as an investment has led to concerns among authorities about its impact on monetary policies. Consequently, different countries have established varying regulations for cryptocurrencies, which continue to evolve and improve over time.

Is Bitcoin legal? This article will explore the legal status of Bitcoin in different countries.

Key Takeaways

  • Bitcoin’s legal status varies widely across different countries.
  • Countries where Bitcoin is legal: United States, European Union, Japan, South Korea, Canada, Australia.
  • Countries where Bitcoin is illegal: Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Egypt, Bangladesh, Afghanistan.

Legal Status of Bitcoin

Bitcoin can be transacted around the world without hindering. Some governments and legislators argue that it is a lack of legal control and illicit ties; others give regulations based on AML/CFT (anti-money laundering and combating the financing of terrorism) to decrease the rate of guilt. 

Some nations allow it to be used as a normal currency for trade, such as the European Union, East and Central Africa, or the United States. Others have been banned or restricted: Egypt, Namibia, and Northern Africa are fully forbidden.

Is Bitcoin Legal in the U.S.?

Bitcoin is legal in the United States, but its regulation varies significantly across federal and state levels. The federal government does not classify Bitcoin as illegal, and several regulatory bodies oversee its use.

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) treats Bitcoin as property for tax purposes, requiring that transactions involving Bitcoin be reported similarly to transactions involving other types of property.[1]


Read more about how Bitcoin is taxed: https://coinminutes.com/learn/bitcoin-taxes/


The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) may regulate certain aspects of Bitcoin under securities laws if it is used in a manner that qualifies as a security.[2]

Additionally, the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) mandates that businesses dealing in Bitcoin comply with anti-money laundering (AML) regulations and register as Money Services Businesses (MSBs).[3]

However, the legal landscape can differ significantly from state to state. For instance, states like New York have stringent regulations, such as BitLicense, which imposes rigorous requirements on businesses dealing with cryptocurrencies. Conversely, other states have more favorable environments for Bitcoin and cryptocurrency operations.

Is Bitcoin Legal in India?

Bitcoin is legal in India, but it is not recognized as a legal tender. This means that while individuals can buy, sell, and trade Bitcoin, it cannot be used to pay for goods and services or settle debts within the country. The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) had previously imposed a ban on banks facilitating cryptocurrency transactions, but this was overturned by the Supreme Court in March 2020, leading to a resurgence in the crypto market in India.[4]

Despite its legality, Bitcoin remains largely unregulated. The Indian government has imposed a 30% tax on capital gains from cryptocurrency transactions, along with an additional 4% cess, reflecting an effort to manage the economic implications of cryptocurrency trading without providing a comprehensive regulatory framework. Discussions about future regulations continue, with potential legislation aimed at both managing risks and fostering innovation in the sector.

India’s approach contrasts with other countries like Singapore and Japan, which have established more defined regulatory frameworks for cryptocurrencies. Observers expect that India might eventually adopt a similar approach to balance innovation with investor protection and legal clarity.

Is Bitcoin Legal in China?

Bitcoin is illegal in China, with a comprehensive ban on cryptocurrency trading and mining enforced since 2021.[5]

Despite this, many Chinese investors continue to trade Bitcoin through grey-market channels, such as using small rural bank cards or fintech platforms like Alipay and WeChat Pay. Some also use their annual forex quotas to invest in cryptocurrencies via Hong Kong, where crypto trading is legal.

The underground crypto market in China remains active, driven by the economic downturn and a declining stock market.

Where Is Bitcoin Legal?

Although cryptocurrency is more popular than many years ago, many countries do not allow the use of virtual currency. First, some countries can transact Bitcoin and have clear regulations for cryptocurrency.

European Union

The European Union is one of the nations where Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies are legal. The use of Bitcoin in the E.U. isn’t illegal; however, the banking and monetary management basis of the European Union assumed that the crypto asset operation was out of their control and warned citizens and businesses about the risk of virtual currency. 

Investors must pay when transacting or owning bitcoin in the European Union, for example, Germany must pay the same regular Income Tax rate (up to 45%) plus potentially the 5.5% Solidarity Tax. You’ll pay no tax at all on your crypto gains if holding for a year.

Japan

Bitcoin is legal in Japan. For many years, it has been a pioneer in recognizing cryptocurrencies as legal tender.[6]

By 2024, Japanese regulations will likely continue to evolve, focusing on protecting consumers while promoting innovation in the cryptocurrency industry.

To make listing digital currencies for approved exchanges easier, the Japan Virtual Asset and Cryptocurrency Exchange Association plans to relax screening procedures. This is true for tokens currently available on the Japanese market. 

It collects tax fees for the income from selling, using, besting, and mining. For the individuals, it is subject to income tax as miscellaneous income at the progressive rate. For the business or company, crypto income is subject to corporate tax. 

South Korea

Similarly, South Korea can use Bitcoin. However, adolescents and foreigners are forbidden from trading virtual currency.[7] Korean adults can transact the exchange by registering by real name at the bank where the trading market is verified. Both banks and exchanges are responsible for verifying customers and acting on some anti-money laundering regulations. 

For the tax fee, resident companies are subject to income tax at a progressive rate of up to 26.4% on gains from virtual assets. Additionally, the resident individuals are subject to 22% rates. The above terms apply to the seller and the donee.

Canada

Canada has no federal national legal framework because each province has its own State Securities Commission to promulgate the particular law.

However, to ensure the security of investors, CSA assumed that CTP operated in Canada and trading or derivatives were required to comply with the security law, including registration with the State Securities Commission.

Hitherto, Canada has had no direct federal or provincial tax specifically on cryptocurrency or related – crypto transactions. Generally, governments treat cryptocurrency like commodities. Any income from crypto transactions as business income or capital gain, depending on the facts and circumstances 

Australia

In Australia, virtual currency is legal, but most crypto is unregulated. Most digital properties and others aren’t financial products.

Under current Australian income tax regulations, a cryptocurrency is not considered foreign exchange or money but CGT’s assets or revenue property, such as shares with the character of the property. Capital gains and mining income are subject to a 27.5% tax for each part. 

Where Is Bitcoin Illegal?

Some nations are concerned about the volatility of cryptocurrency values and the security rate and whether or not it affects negative aspects of the economy. Therefore, there are a lot of countries that completely prohibit crypto exchanges and transactions. 

Saudi Arabia

After a few years, Saudi Arabia has continued to be cautious, warning of the potential risk but delaying the promulgation of the ban completely.[8] Because of this, SAMA (the Saudi Arabian Monetary Authority) always monitors crypto transactions, focusing on the regulatory environment and promoting sustainable finance.

However, due to the possible legal consequences, Saudi Arabia’s legal position unclearly puts the challenge on potential investors and doesn’t encourage them to participate in crypto transactions. 

Qatar

Qatar has taken more strict action and banned all cryptocurrency-related activities within the Qatar Financial Center (QFC) in a report published in 2020. It includes the main aspects of the crypto markets, strictly prohibiting virtual currency transactions, exchanging crypto, and any services supported to transact, record, or publish digital property.[9]

Egypt

In 2018, Dar al-lfta – the main Muslim lawmaker in Egypt, issued a religious edict classifying the commercial exchange of bitcoin as haram (banned following Muslim law).[10] Because it can harm national security and the central financial system, it should be noted that the religious decree is a non-binding legal opinion. 

In 2020, the Egyptian Parliament issued Law No. 194, which introduced some means of technology and digital to support the digital transformation of the Finance Bank in Egypt. It includes digital finance, cryptocurrency, FinTech, and RegTech.

Bangladesh

Until now, Bangladesh has banned the use of cryptocurrency. In 2020, the Government of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh issued the National BlockChain Strategy to recognize the importance of the Blockchain establishment.[11]

Despite expanding and recognizing the world, Bangladesh still doesn’t allow any virtual currency. There are two reasons behind the government’s decisions about bitcoin being illegal in Bangladesh. Firstly, the volatility of cryptocurrency values. Secondly, the government is concerned about the negative prospects for Bangladesh’s economy. 

Afghanistan

In August 2022, the Taliban prohibited crypto transactions and activities related to crypto because it brings gambling and uncertainty aspects, which Muslims consider a sin.[12]

The Bottom Line

The laws governing Bitcoin vary by country. Before investing, carefully research Bitcoin regulations in your area. You can get into big trouble if you buy, sell, or use Bitcoin in the wrong place.

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