Interactive Maps of Bitcoin’s Legality Around the World and the USA

Over the past couple of years, Bitcoins have become increasingly popular and they’ve achieved mainstream success.

While some countries have open-heartedly accepted the rise of cryptocurrencies, there are some that have expressed uncertainty about it, introducing restrictions to their use within their borders. There are also some countries that have completely banned the use of cryptocurrencies altogether.

How Different Countries Respond to Cryptocurrencies

Even within the countries that accept bitcoins, they may approach it differently. The following are a few examples.

  • United States: Bitcoins had been declared a convertible decentralized currency by the U.S. treasury in 2013. However, in 2015, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission declared it to a taxable commodity like bonds.
  • United Kingdom: The UK treats bitcoins as a “foreign currency” along with the corresponding VAT and GST being levied upon it. However, bitcoins are completely permitted for both trading and personal purposes.
  • Australia: They recently confirmed that there won’t be any double taxation on cryptocurrencies and it bitcoins will be treated “just like money”.
  • Japan: In 2016, Japan declared bitcoins to be a means of payment that wasn’t considered to be legal currency. Under their current Financial Instruments and Exchange Law, banks are prohibited from dealing with cryptocurrencies. However, individuals may use them as a form of payment.

If you want a detailed overview of the laws in all the countries regarding bitcoins, you can read this exhaustive Wikipedia entry.

In this article, I’ve drawn up a map that highlights how various countries respond to cryptocurrencies.

This map clearly outlines how various different countries respond to cryptocurrencies. Below, I’ll offer a couple of means by which you can interpret it for yourself.

Color codes:

  • Green here represents countries that are completely open to bitcoins.
  • Blue represents countries that aren’t eager about the rise of cryptocurrencies, but haven’t made any moves to restrict them either.
  • Orange represents countries that allow the use of cryptocurrencies, but have introduces a lot of red tape and restrictions that keeps them in control.
  • Red represents countries that have made the use of cryptocurrencies completely illegal.
  • Purple represents countries that haven’t made any comments on cryptocurrencies yet and as such can be deemed undecided.

Initial Impressions

At a cursory glance of the map above, the following are some general takeaways:

  1. Western countries are generally more open to cryptocurrencies whereas Eastern countries are skeptical of cryptocurrencies.
  2. Even though only a few countries have criminalized bitcoin use, it still encompasses a large geographical area in the map because of Russia.
  3. There are still a lot of countries that don’t have any opinions on bitcoins at all. This is concerning because they could come out against cryptocurrencies, tipping the global balance against bitcoins.

Statistics:

  • 30.89% of the countries in the world, i.e., 99 countries, don’t have any restrictions on cryptocurrency use. They’re either enthusiastically for them, or are neutral to them.
  • 2.85% of the countries, i.e., 7 countries, such as China, South Africa, and Egypt, have put up restrictions to cryptocurrency use.
  • 3.66% of the countries, i.e., 10 countries, such as Morocco, Vietnam, and Bangladesh, are actively opposed to cryptocurrencies and have even gone so far as to criminalize them.
  • 53.25% of the countries, i.e., 130 countries, still have no opinions on cryptocurrencies.

I made a table as shown below:

In the next part, I shall explore the response of the 10 countries have made the use of cryptocurrencies illegal.

Bitcoin is still Illegal in these 10 Countries

There are 10 countries that have completely blocked the use of cryptocurrencies in their countries for various reasons such as its threat to the current monetary system, volatility, potential use for illicit activities, etc.

  • Vietnam: They link the use of bitcoins to money laundering and they’ve declared it illegal to use this as a payment method.
  • Bolivia: In 2014, the central bank of Bolivia banned the use of any coins, including Bitcoins, that weren’t expressly regulated by the government.
  • Ecuador: The National Assembly of Ecuador banned the use of digital currencies in 2014. They still allow the use of electronic money, but only in currencies regulated by the government.
  • Algeria: They’ve recently made the purchase, sale, or use of cryptocurrencies illegal.
  • Nepal: It’s illegal to use Bitcoins in Nepal due to its non-traceability. Individuals who have been suspected of using bitcoins have even been arrested.
  • Bangladesh: Under the Money Laundering Control Act of 2012 and the Foreign Currency Control Act of 1947, Bangladesh has criminalized the use of any currency that hasn’t been sanctioned by the government.
  • Macedonia: Paying for goods and services is banned by the country and the trading of altcoins is discouraged by the National Bank of the Republic of Macedonia. Using altcoins to pay for anything violates the law and may carry not only fines but also jail terms.
  • Qatar: The Qatar Central Bank has prohibited the use of bitcoins for trading and as a means of payment for goods and services rendered. The reason for this ban is the volatility of cryptocurrencies and the absence of any financial institution to serve as backer or guarantor of assets.
  • Vanuatu: Despite reports that circulated that Vanuatu was accepting cryptocurrency payments for their citizenship program, it has emerged that this news is untrue and the small Pacific island nation does not indeed accept such payments and the use of cryptocurrencies remains illegal.
  • Afghanistan: like some of its neighboring countries maintains strict restrictions on the use of bitcoins and other cryptocurrencies but there remains to be seen actual government legislations regarding their use for payments and as assets.

If you want a comprehensive table of the legality of bitcoins in all the countries across the globe, just check out the following table. All the data here has been compiled from Coin Dance.

CountryBitcoin Legality
Afghanistan Illegal
Aland Islands Legal
Albania No Information
Algeria Illegal
American Samoa Restricted
Andorra Neutral / Alegal
Angola No Information
Anguilla No Information
Antarctica No Information
Antigua and Barbuda No Information
Argentina Neutral / Alegal
Armenia No Information
Aruba No Information
Australia Legal
Austria Legal
Azerbaijan Legal
Bahamas No Information
Bahrain No Information
Bangladesh Illegal
Barbados Neutral / Alegal
Belarus Legal
Belgium Legal
Belize No Information
Benin No Information
Bermuda No Information
Bhutan No Information
Bolivia Illegal
Bosnia and Herzegovina No Information
Botswana No Information
Bouvet Island No Information
Brazil Legal
British Indian Ocean Territory No Information
British Virgin Islands No Information
Brunei Darussalam Legal
Bulgaria Legal
Burkina Faso No Information
Burundi No Information
Cambodia No Information
Cameroon No Information
Canada Legal
Cape Verde No Information
Cayman Islands No Information
Central African Republic No Information
Chad No Information
Chile Legal
China Restricted
Christmas Island No Information
Cocos (Keeling) Islands No Information
Colombia Neutral / Alegal
Comoros No Information
Congo Legal
Cook Islands No Information
Costa Rica Legal
Cote D'Ivoire No Information
Croatia Legal
Cuba Legal
Cyprus Legal
Czech Republic Legal
Democratic Republic of the Congo No Information
Denmark Legal
Djibouti No Information
Dominica No Information
Dominican Republic No Information
Ecuador Illegal
Egypt Restricted
El Salvador No Information
Equatorial Guinea No Information
Eritrea No Information
Estonia Legal
Ethiopia No Information
Falkland Islands (Malvinas) No Information
Faroe Islands No Information
Federated States of Micronesia No Information
Fiji No Information
Finland Legal
France Legal
French Guiana No Information
French Polynesia No Information
French Southern Territories No Information
Gabon Neutral / Alegal
Gambia No Information
Georgia Legal
Germany Legal
Ghana No Information
Gibraltar No Information
Greece Legal
Greenland No Information
Grenada No Information
Guadeloupe No Information
Guam No Information
Guatemala No Information
Guernsey No Information
Guinea No Information
Guinea-Bissau No Information
Guyana No Information
Haiti No Information
Heard Island and Mcdonald Islands No Information
Holy See No Information
Honduras No Information
Hong Kong Legal
Hungary Legal
Iceland Legal
India Neutral / Alegal
Indonesia Neutral / Alegal
Iran Legal
Iraq Legal
Ireland Legal
Isle of Man Legal
Israel Legal
Italy Legal
Jamaica No Information
Japan Legal
Jersey Legal
Jordan Neutral / Alegal
Kazakhstan Neutral / Alegal
Kenya Neutral / Alegal
Kiribati No Information
Kosovo Neutral / Alegal
Kuwait Legal
Kyrgyzstan Neutral / Alegal
Lao People's Democratic Republic No Information
Latvia Legal
Lebanon Legal
Lesotho No Information
Liberia No Information
Liberland Legal
Libyan Arab Jamahiriya Legal
Liechtenstein Legal
Lithuania Legal
Luxembourg Legal
Macao No Information
Madagascar No Information
Malawi No Information
Malaysia Neutral / Alegal
Maldives Neutral / Alegal
Mali No Information
Malta Legal
Marshall Islands No Information
Martinique No Information
Mauritania No Information
Mauritius Neutral / Alegal
Mayotte No Information
Mexico Restricted
Monaco Legal
Mongolia Legal
Montenegro No Information
Montserrat No Information
Morocco Illegal
Mozambique No Information
Myanmar No Information
Namibia No Information
Nauru No Information
Nepal Restricted
Netherlands Legal
Netherlands Antilles No Information
New Caledonia No Information
New Zealand Legal
Nicaragua Legal
Niger No Information
Nigeria Neutral / Alegal
Niue No Information
Norfolk Island No Information
North Korea No Information
Northern Mariana Islands Legal
Norway Legal
Oman No Information
Pakistan Neutral / Alegal
Palau No Information
Palestinian Territories No Information
Panama No Information
Papua New Guinea No Information
Paraguay Neutral / Alegal
Peru Neutral / Alegal
Philippines Legal
Pitcairn No Information
Poland Legal
Portugal Legal
Puerto Rico No Information
Qatar Illegal
Republic of Macedonia Illegal
Republic of Moldova No Information
Reunion Legal
Romania Legal
Russian Federation Legal
Rwanda No Information
Saint Helena No Information
Saint Kitts and Nevis No Information
Saint Lucia No Information
Saint Pierre and Miquelon No Information
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines No Information
Samoa No Information
San Marino Legal
Sao Tome and Principe No Information
Saudi Arabia Restricted
Senegal No Information
Serbia Legal
Seychelles No Information
Sierra Leone No Information
Singapore Legal
Slovakia Legal
Slovenia Legal
Solomon Islands No Information
Somalia No Information
South Africa Legal
South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands No Information
South Korea Legal
Spain Legal
Sri Lanka No Information
Sudan No Information
Suriname No Information
Svalbard and Jan Mayen Legal
Swaziland No Information
Sweden Legal
Switzerland Legal
Syrian Arab Republic No Information
Taiwan Legal
Tajikistan No Information
Thailand Legal
Timor-Leste No Information
Togo No Information
Tokelau No Information
Tonga No Information
Trinidad and Tobago No Information
Tunisia Neutral / Alegal
Turkey Legal
Turkmenistan No Information
Turks and Caicos Islands No Information
Tuvalu No Information
U.S. Virgin Islands No Information
Uganda No Information
Ukraine Legal
United Arab Emirates Legal
United Kingdom Legal
United Republic of Tanzania No Information
United States Minor Outlying Islands No Information
United States of America Legal
Uruguay Neutral / Alegal
Uzbekistan Legal
Vanuatu Illegal
Venezuela Neutral / Alegal
Viet Nam Illegal
Wallis and Futuna No Information
Western Sahara No Information
Yemen No Information
Zambia Restricted
Zimbabwe Legal

 

Based on the map above, you can see that the various states within US are about as divided in terms of their response to bitcoins as the rest of the world.

In the United States, using Bitcoins is completely legal and permitted in most states. However, it’s not to be treated as a legal tender but as a commodity such as stocks or bonds. As such, it’s completely taxable, and if you receive payment in bitcoins, it can be taxed as income.

Since the United States is a federation, all the different states are allowed to make their own decisions regarding cryptocurrencies. As such, the legality of cryptocurrencies differs from state to state.

Some of the states most friendly to cryptocurrencies are Kansas, Montana, and New Hampshire. Meanwhile, some of the most hostile states are New Mexico, Georgia, Hawaii, amongst others.

How Various States are Responding to Bitcoins

Connecticut: This state is extremely hostile to bitcoins and they prohibit the sale or storage of bitcoins without license. Furthermore, to get the license you need to have a surety bond with the banking commissioner based on the amount of bitcoins.

Florida: Until recently, Florida was pretty undecided on altcoins. However, they’ve recently been introducing laws that gives them more power to regulate the use of bitcoins.

Texas: One of the most cryptocurrency-friendly states, they don’t even need you to have a money transmitter’s license to deal in bitcoins.

New York: If you’re a business dealing with cryptocurrencies and living in New York, you’ll have to get a license from the Department of Financial Services after paying an added fee.

In the table below, you can see whether a particular state is Friendly towards cryptocurrencies, vague about them, hostile to them, or if they’ve expressed no opinions. The data in the table has been compiled from Bitcoin Market Journal.

AbbreviationState NameBitcoin Friendly?Current or Potential Regulation
ALAlabamaNo opinionNo ruling
AKAlaskaNo opinionNo ruling
AZArizonaNo opinionNo ruling
ARArkansasNo opinionNo ruling
CACaliforniaMurkyLearning from New York's BitLicense example, California is seeking to impose a bitcoin-focused business license that would require any business seeking to sell or transmit fiat currency by bitcoin to apply for a license and pay a licensure fee. This rule, however, has yet to be enacted.
COColoradoNo opinionNo ruling
CTConnecticutHostileConnecticut prohibits the selling and storing of bitcoin for others without a license. Connecticut also requires that licensees must have a surety bond in an amount set by the banking commissioner on a case-by-case basis. This bond is based on the projected profitability of the licensee.
DEDelawareNo opinionNo ruling
FLFloridaMurkyFlorida is in the process of drafting new regulations on altcoins. Indications suggest that Florida is seeking to take a tightened position on altcoin regulation.
GAGeorgiaHostileGeorgia prohibits the selling and storing of bitcoin for others without a license. Furthermore, the Department of Banking and Finance is authorized to enact further rules and regulations for persons involved in money transmissions that use the digital currency, opening the door to possible additional regulation in the future.
HIHawaiiHostileHawaii has taken an unofficial position of recognizing bitcoin transactions as money transmission, making a money transmitter’s license necessary. Hawaii also has taken the highly unusual step of making bitcoin officially illegal as tender in the state.
IDIdahoNo opinionNo ruling
ILIllinoisNo opinionIllinois is currently researching bitcoin regulation.
INIndianaNo opinionNo ruling
IAIowaNo opinionNo ruling
KSKansasFriendlyKansas has issued memorandums indicating that no money transmitter’s license will be needed to sell altcoins in the state.
KYKentuckyNo opinionNo ruling
LALouisianaNo opinionNo ruling
MEMaineNo opinionNo ruling
MDMarylandNo opinionNo ruling
MAMassachusettsNo opinionNo ruling
MIMichiganNo opinionNo ruling
MNMinnesotaNo opinionNo ruling
MSMississippiNo opinionNo ruling
MOMissouriNo opinionNo ruling
MTMontanaFriendlyMontana has no money transmission laws. Therefore, there are no bitcoin regulations in place, nor any indication that bitcoin regulations will be imposed in the future.
NENebraskaNo opinionNo ruling
NVNevadaNo opinionNo ruling
NHNew HampshireFriendlyNew Hampshire recently passed legislation that exempts persons using virtual currency from registering as money transmitters, thereby essentially protecting bitcoin from regulation in the state.
NJNew JerseyNo opinionNo ruling
NMNew MexicoHostileNew Mexico not only requires a money transmitter’s license to transmit money via digital currency, but to deal with digital currencies in any way.
NYNew YorkHostileNew York requires businesses that deal with any form of digital currency to seek a license from the state’s Department of Financial Services and pay an application fee. Additionally, the amount of the surety bond required is set on a case-by-case basis. This law has been highly controversial. This is seen, however, as better than requiring businesses to have a full money transmitter’s license. This law was the first altcoin legislation to be imposed by the states.
NCNorth CarolinaMurkyNorth Carolina sellers and peer-to-peer traders are allowed to operate in-state as long as they are federally registered with the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network. The state requires surety bonds on money transmitters of at least $150,000, not to exceed $250,000.
NDNorth DakotaNo opinionNo ruling
OHOhioNo opinionNo ruling
OKOklahomaNo opinionNo ruling
OROregonNo opinionNo ruling
PAPennsylvaniaMurkyPennsylvania qualifies virtual currencies as having monetary value. As such, sellers are required to have a money transmitter’s license and a qualifying surety bond.
RIRhode IslandNo opinionNo ruling
SCSouth CarolinaMurkySouth Carolina introduced new money transmitter laws in June 2017, potentially affecting altcoin companies. To date, however, there have been no specific challenges to altcoins in the state.
SDSouth DakotaNo opinionNo ruling
TNTennesseeFriendlyTennessee has issued memorandums indicating that no money transmitter’s license will be needed to sell altcoins in the state.
TXTexasFriendlyTexas has issued memorandums indicating that no money transmitter’s license will be needed to sell altcoins in the state. Taking this stand a step further, the state does not require bitcoin companies based in Texas to have a money transmitter’s license when running a custodial exchange for in-state customers.
UTUtahNo opinionUtah has shown indications of considering restrictions on bitcoin transactions.
VTVermontNo opinionNo ruling
VAVirginiaNo opinionNo ruling
WAWashingtonHostileWashington State includes digital money in its money transmission definition, under the Uniform Money Services Act. This means that altcoin businesses may be required to obtain a money transmitter’s license in the future.
WVWest VirginiaNo opinionNo ruling
WIWisconsinMurkyWisconsin requires companies dealing in virtual currencies to sign an agreement that they will not use virtual currencies to transmit fiat currency. The state also refuses to offer money transmitter’s licenses to companies that it suspects may violate the money transmission rule.
WYWyomingNo opinionNo ruling

Conclusion

So now you know all about how cryptocurrencies are being treated in different parts of the world. As you can see, the responses have been varied, with over half the world yet to comment on it. However, amongst those that have responded to it, they seem to generally be in favor of cryptocurrencies, with only a few countries being actively opposed.

If you have any other questions about the legality of cryptocurrencies, feel free to comment down below and I’ll get back to you about it!

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