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Author Topic: Bitcoin legality across the globe  (Read 30922 times)
dree12
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July 29, 2013, 05:08:05 PM
Last edit: January 10, 2014, 12:40:29 AM by dree12
 #1

Dear reader
This thread is a bit out of date. For up to date data, see BitLegal, an amazing website that already contains all content listed below and more.

But if you insist...

Legality of Bitcoin, across the globe
With the recent news of potential illegality in Thailand, I decided to start a list of countries and Bitcoin's legal status within them. This list was last updated December 20, 2013, 04:26:18 PM.

Table of Contents

Disclaimer
Although the author makes every attempt to ensure factual accuracy, no responsibility is taken for any damages which occur based on factual inaccuracies associated with this article.

Amendment
The author encourages corrections and additions. These may be posted as replies to this topic.

License
This document, including any illustrations attached to it, is licensed under any licence of your choosing.

Map

  Legal
  Contentious legality
  Illegal
  Unknown legality
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dree12
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July 29, 2013, 05:08:19 PM
Last edit: December 20, 2013, 04:26:40 PM by dree12
 #2

Countries in which Bitcoin is legal
AU (Australia, Commonwealth of)
Australia, although it has not officially vindicated Bitcoin's legality, assented to its legal usage by providing tax guidance.[1] Bitcoin is subject to taxation in Australia similar to any other commodity. Australia has also likened Bitcoin as “just a new medium of exchange and similar to any kind of currency”.[2]

BE (Belgium, Kingdom of)
The finance minister of Belgium, Koen Geens, agreed that there was little evidence Bitcoin is used for money laundering and that consequently the Belgian National bank has little reason to object to the use of Bitcoin.[3]

A noted business based in Belgium, the Kraken Bitcoin exchange, has been noted for its existence and relative safety from regulatory pressure despite lack of compliance with local laws.[4]

CA (Canada)
Not only is use of Bitcoin in Canada legal, but the Canadian financial regulation agency has taken a Bitcoin-friendly stance.[5] However, the province of Quebec has its own financial regulation agency, which has thus far not issued a statement about Bitcoin.

Taxation of Bitcoin in Canada is similar to that of any other currency or commodity: income tax and capital gains tax both apply.[1]

DE (Germany)
The German financial regulatory agency, BaFin, has effectively classified Bitcoin as a commodity.[7] Consequently, Bitcoin transactions are considered barter, and are taxable as barter.

DK (Denmark, Kingdom of)
Denmark's financial supervisory committee, Finanstilsynet, issued a statement condemning Bitcoin for its volatility and risk but nonetheless allowing its legal trade.[6] A full statement of how regulation and taxation will work with Bitcoin is expected in January 2014.

FI (Finland, Republic of)
The Finnish Central Bank confirmed the legality of Bitcoin, citing that “people can invest in and use any money they prefer. Finland is a free country, after all.” However, the bank has also warned of the dangers of using unregulated virtual currencies.[7]

FR (French Republic)
The French Republic has confirmed Bitcoin services' legal status on two occasions: the first, when it ruled Mt. Gox was allowed to operate within its borders, and the second, when Bitcoin Central was allowed to operate as a bank in France.[8] However, on both occasions France was careful not to vindicate Bitcoin itself.

GB (United Kingdom)
HMRC has stated that Bitcoin exchanges need not register to comply with regulations.[9] The agency has also stated that Bitcoin is taxable under standard capital gains taxation.[10]

NO (Norway, Kingdom of)
The Norwegian Secretary of the Treasury has confirmed that Bitcoin falls under no existing monetary laws, because Bitcoin does not meet the current Norwegian definition of “money”.[11] Consequently, Bitcoin trade is legal and unregulated.

Norway has continued this stance in recent times, refusing to describe Bitcoin as real money.[12] However, VAT must be paid when acquiring bitcoins, meaning liquid trade is effectively impossible.[13]

NL (Netherlands)
Although the Netherlands has not officially vindicated the legality of Bitcoin, it has assented to its legal usage by providing tax guidance. Income in bitcoins is taxable as income in any other currency is.[1]

PL (Poland, Republic of)
The Polish government has issued a statement confirming Bitcoin's legality; however, it currently is recognized neither as legal tender nor as electronic money.[14] Consequently, VAT may apply to Bitcoin purchases and sales, though the government has yet to clarify the tax requirements.

SE (Sweden, Kingdom of)
The Swedish government has warned against the use of Bitcoin, citing money laundering concerns. Thus, it has required registration for any money-transmitting Bitcoin services under the Finansinspektionen, the Swedish financial regulatory agency.[15]

US (America, United States of)
Although Bitcoin is recognized legally by FINCEN,[16] the United States has demonstrated unfriendliness towards most Bitcoin merchants. The State of California, for example, issued the Bitcoin Foundation a cease and desist letter.[17]

Countries in which Bitcoin's legality is contentious
CN (China, People's Republic of)
The legality of Bitcoin in China is contentious. Whereas the state media has promoted Bitcoin,[18] other virtual currencies in the past have been declared illegal.[19]

TH (Thailand, Kingdom of)
The Foreign Exchange Administration and Policy Department of Thailand found illicit most Bitcoin-related activities, including commerce, exchange, and remittance.[20] Although a bank would not usually be authorized to make currencies illicit, the Department is not simply a private institution. It is indeed a part of Thailand's central bank and some argue that it can enact policies banning the use of Bitcoin.[21] Others argue that because a higher level of government has not confirmed the law, the bank's role is only advisory.

Countries in which Bitcoin is illegal
dree12
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July 29, 2013, 05:08:48 PM
Last edit: December 20, 2013, 04:26:55 PM by dree12
 #3

References

Credits
Thanks to Stephen Gornick, whose List of court cases, complaints, regulatory actions, etc. proved instrumental in seeding this list. Additionally, thanks goes to Vitalik Buterin, whose recaps on Bitcoin regulation greatly simplified this research. The blank world map is courtesy of Wikimedia Commons, licensed under the public domain.

Additional credit goes to the following people who helped build this list:
  • binaryFate @BitcoinTalk
  • camem @BitcoinTalk
  • elux @BitcoinTalk
  • Otoh @BitcoinTalk
  • stenkross @BitcoinTalk
  • blahbob @Reddit
  • is4k @Reddit
TheButterZone
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July 29, 2013, 07:48:24 PM
 #4

FUD flag thrown on Thailand: https://bitcointalk.org/index.php?topic=264389.0

Saying that you don't trust someone because of their behavior is completely valid.
dree12
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July 29, 2013, 08:41:02 PM
 #5


The Bank of Thailand does not correspond to the Bank of America. It is actually closer in meaning to the Bank of Canada, which is the central bank, owned by the government, and is responsible for monetary policy and payment systems. See wikipedia for more information.
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July 29, 2013, 10:07:50 PM
 #6

The Bank of Thailand does not correspond to the Bank of America. It is actually closer in meaning to the Bank of Canada, which is the central bank, owned by the government, and is responsible for monetary policy and payment systems. See wikipedia for more information.

BOT merely provides "suggestions", or "advises" the government. See http://www.bot.or.th/English/AboutBOT/index/Pages/RolesAndResponsibilities.aspx

You made a nice map and you may feel good about using the full palette of colors of your legend, but until the Exchanges Currencies Act of Thailand is updated or superseded by another Act to prohibit Bitcoin, your map is spreading misinformation.
dree12
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July 29, 2013, 10:43:14 PM
 #7

The Bank of Thailand does not correspond to the Bank of America. It is actually closer in meaning to the Bank of Canada, which is the central bank, owned by the government, and is responsible for monetary policy and payment systems. See wikipedia for more information.

BOT merely provides "suggestions", or "advises" the government. See http://www.bot.or.th/English/AboutBOT/index/Pages/RolesAndResponsibilities.aspx

You made a nice map and you may feel good about using the full palette of colors of your legend, but until the Exchanges Currencies Act of Thailand is updated or superseded by another Act to prohibit Bitcoin, your map is spreading misinformation.


Are you sure about this? I reread the Exchange Control Act, and it seems to authorize the Bank to do what it did. But IANAL, so I may be wrong on this.

Quote
Foreign currency means legal tender in any country other than Thailand including foreign exchange;

After the Minister has entrusted the Bank of Thailand with the execution of this Act, the Governor of the Bank of Thailand shall be empowered to appoint the officers of the Bank to be the Competent Officers under this Act...

Competent Officer means a person appointed for the execution of this Act...

The Minister is empowered to issue Ministerial Regulations controlling, restricting, or prohibiting the execution of all exchange or other operations in which foreign currency is concerned in whatever form and is also empowered to issue Ministerial Regulations as regards the following:
(1) the purchase, sale and loan of foreign currency or gold;
(2) the exportation of currency, bank notes, money orders, securities, foreign currency, or gold;
(3) the transfer of securities out of Thailand;
(4) the drawing or negotiation of bills of exchange or promissory notes, the transfer of securities, or the acknowledgement of any debt so that a right to receive payment in Thailand is created or transferred as consideration:
(a) for receiving a payment or acquiring property outside Thailand
(b) for a right to receive a payment or to acquire property outside...

Any person who contravenes or fails to comply with the Ministerial Regulations, Notifications, or Directions issued under this Act shall be liable to a fine not exceeding Baht 20,000 or to imprisonment not exceeding 3 years or both.
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July 29, 2013, 11:00:01 PM
 #8

surely UK counts as legal, what with HMRC telling you how to deal with tax etc

http://www.coindesk.com/hmrc-uk-bitcoin-exchanges-dont-have-to-register-under-money-laundering-regulations/

http://stirling-westrup-tt.blogspot.com/2011/06/tt-ns-2815-future-of-money-series.html

https://bitcointalk.org/index.php?topic=145972.msg1827953#msg1827953

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July 29, 2013, 11:07:55 PM
 #9

BOT merely provides "suggestions", or "advises" the government. See http://www.bot.or.th/English/AboutBOT/index/Pages/RolesAndResponsibilities.aspx

You made a nice map and you may feel good about using the full palette of colors of your legend, but until the Exchanges Currencies Act of Thailand is updated or superseded by another Act to prohibit Bitcoin, your map is spreading misinformation.


+1

It's not illegal until we hear it first hand from an authoritative source of the law.

Companies claiming they got hacked and lost your coins sounds like fraud so perfect it could be called fashionable.  I never believe them.  If I ever experience the misfortune of a real intrusion, I declare I have been honest about the way I have managed the keys in Casascius Coins.  I maintain no ability to recover or reproduce the keys, not even under limitless duress or total intrusion.  Remember that trusting strangers with your coins without any recourse is, as a matter of principle, not a best practice.  Don't keep coins online. Use paper or hardware wallets instead.
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July 29, 2013, 11:17:55 PM
 #10


Thank you, added.

BOT merely provides "suggestions", or "advises" the government. See http://www.bot.or.th/English/AboutBOT/index/Pages/RolesAndResponsibilities.aspx

You made a nice map and you may feel good about using the full palette of colors of your legend, but until the Exchanges Currencies Act of Thailand is updated or superseded by another Act to prohibit Bitcoin, your map is spreading misinformation.


+1

It's not illegal until we hear it first hand from an authoritative source of the law.

Can you review this? My reading seems to suggest that the bank does indeed have the power to enact these regulations. However, I am terrible at reading legalese. I have heard two versions of the story: the Bank is only advisory and the Minister must carry out the regulation, or the Bank is entrusted by the Minister to carry out regulation.
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July 29, 2013, 11:46:46 PM
 #11

http://codinginmysleep.com/bitcoin-illegal-in-thailand-sort-of-not-really-maybe/

Saying that you don't trust someone because of their behavior is completely valid.
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July 30, 2013, 01:54:14 AM
 #12

Are you sure about this? I reread the Exchange Control Act, and it seems to authorize the Bank to do what it did. But IANAL, so I may be wrong on this.

Quote
Foreign currency means legal tender in any country other than Thailand including foreign exchange;

Is Bitcoin legal tender in any country? As far as I know, the answer is no, so how does a law defining "Foreign currency" as "legal tender in any country other than Thailand" have anything to do with Bitcoin?

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dree12
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July 30, 2013, 01:58:56 AM
 #13

Are you sure about this? I reread the Exchange Control Act, and it seems to authorize the Bank to do what it did. But IANAL, so I may be wrong on this.

Quote
Foreign currency means legal tender in any country other than Thailand including foreign exchange;

Is Bitcoin legal tender in any country? As far as I know, the answer is no, so how does a law defining "Foreign currency" as "legal tender in any country other than Thailand" have anything to do with Bitcoin?

Apparently Bitcoin was okay when it was not considered a currency, but has now been recognized as one.

Quote
Initially the Bank of Thailand had bypassed the company’s money exchange license on the basis that Bitcoin was not a currency, however the company was invited back, on July 29th, 2013, to participant in a conference about how Bitcoin works in general, and business operations of Bitcoin Co. Ltd.   The conference was held with about 15 members of the Bank of Thailand in attendance.  During this conference, managing director of Bitcoin Co. Ltd. gave a presentation about the workings of Bitcoin, the benefits of Bitcoin, incite into the company’s operations and future implications of Bitcoin.
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July 30, 2013, 06:29:43 AM
 #14

Bitcoin is not a legal tender of any nation, meaning it's also not a "foreign currency". No government controls bitcoin or claims to use it as a legal tender and there is no central bank for bitcoin. If anything bitcoin is a "global currency" which can be used by anyone with internet access. The way the Act is written doesn't appear to cover bitcoin, because it specifically talks about foreign currencies but doesn't deal with currencies which have no connection to a single government.

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July 30, 2013, 07:04:47 AM
 #15

Btc is not illegal in thailand. Just cuz one suspected scam site said so does not mean it is law...

Come on. We have to have some red on the map somewhere!

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July 30, 2013, 01:14:18 PM
 #16

Bitcoin is not a legal tender of any nation, meaning it's also not a "foreign currency". No government controls bitcoin or claims to use it as a legal tender and there is no central bank for bitcoin. If anything bitcoin is a "global currency" which can be used by anyone with internet access. The way the Act is written doesn't appear to cover bitcoin, because it specifically talks about foreign currencies but doesn't deal with currencies which have no connection to a single government.

I'll bump Thailand up to contentious legality until we get clarification from the Bank.
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July 30, 2013, 06:19:53 PM
 #17

That will not be anytime soon but thank you for at least taking that troll's blog post with a grain of salt.

Chaang Noi, the post by Bitcoin Co. Ltd. is not a troll. Bitcoin Co. Ltd. merely reports word for word what they were told by the Bank of Thailand. Yes the BoT used the word "illegal" but I am sure that, just like you and I, Bitcoin Co. Ltd. knows that the BoT has no authority to declare Bitcoin illegal. That's why Bitcoin Co. Ltd. carefully titled the post "Trading suspended due to Bank of Thailand advisement" without trying to imply anything else.

The trolls are those on Hacker News and elsewhere who fail to interpret the meaning of that post, and who shout "Bitcoin is illegal!"
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July 31, 2013, 08:22:17 AM
 #18

Please. If it's not explicitly forbidden, it is legal. The entire globe should be green.

If you want to make some distinctions, you could distinguish those countries whose governments have already started attacking Bitcoin business through regulations (like US) of those who haven't done anything yet.
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July 31, 2013, 08:38:31 AM
 #19

Typo in the OP

US (America, United States of)

Although Bitcoin is recognized legally by FINCEN,[8] the United States has demonstrated friendliness towards most Bitcoin merchants. The State of California, for example, issued the Bitcoin Foundation a cease and desist letter.[9]

Since when has a cease and desist letter demonstrated friendliness, unfriendliness surely?

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July 31, 2013, 09:34:06 AM
Last edit: July 31, 2013, 11:40:07 AM by stenkross
 #20

In Sweden we have an online exchage called kapiton.se.
It is registered at "finansinspektionen" (Financial Supervisory Authority)
That should make bitcoin legal in Sweden as well.

Also, according to Svenska Dagbladet (Swedish newspaper), the central bank has stated that they don't see bitcoin as a threat to our financial stability in Sweden.

Link to central bank statement in Svenska Dagbladet: http://www.svd.se/naringsliv/nyheter/varlden/riksbanken-bitcoin-ingen-systemrisk_8057040.svd
Link to finansinspektionen on wikipedia: http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Financial_Supervisory_Authority_(Sweden)
Link to kapiton on finansinspektionens site: http://fi.se/Register/Foretagsregistret/Foretagsregistret-Detaljerad-information/?idx=116009
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