5 Countries Where Bitcoin Is Illegal

Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies are outlawed in several countries

Man in handcuffs

Chris Ryan/OJO Images  

Bitcoin has increased a lot in popularity since it was created in 2009 but there still remain several regions around the world where it, and other cryptocurrencies such as Litecoin and Ethereum, are classified as illegal and not recognized as a legitimate form of currency.

Bitcoin users in North America don't have anything to worry about as the cryptocurrency is completely legal to own, buy, sell, trade, and mine in both Canada and the United States. Here are some countries to keep an eye on though when planning your next trip abroad. Bitcoin isn't accepted everywhere just yet.

Bitcoin in Morocco

Bitcoin and other cryptocurrency transactions were officially outlawed in Morocco in November 2017 seemingly in response to a major Moroccan digital services company, MTDS, announcing a few days prior that it would begin accepting Bitcoin payments.

Sending and receiving payments via any cryptocurrency in Morocco is punishable by fines.

Bitcoin in Bolivia

Cryptocurrencies have never been legal in Bolivia and the government has been known to enforce its anti-Bitcoin stance rather firmly. People caught using Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies can be fined and a number of users have even been arrested on more than one occasion for trading and mining Bitcoin.

Bitcoin in Ecuador

Ecuador outlawed Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies in mid-2014 as part of its financial reform plans. The ban on Bitcoin was seen by many as a way to reduce competition with the country's own digital currency system (Sistema de Dinero Electrónico). This official Ecuadorian currency isn't a cryptocurrency and isn't based on blockchain technology. It's simply a digital money solution based on traditional money and valued after the American dollar.

Anti-Bitcoin laws don't appear to be too strict in Ecuador as there are still several ways to buy and sell Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies domestically. Enforcement isn't as strict as other countries like Bolivia and Bitcoin is seen as something that might be technically illegal but is still used by a small number of the population.

Bitcoin in China

The trading of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies was banned in China in September 2017. Due to the technology being so popular in the country before the ban though, the change in law hasn't ceased its use completely and many Chinese people continue to trade cryptocurrencies via in-person trades and chat apps like Telegram and WeChat.

The Chinese government appears to target professional cryptocurrency trading companies over individuals.

Bitcoin in Nepal

Nepal's stance on many aspects of Bitcoin and cryptocurrency is a little ambiguous however it has been confirmed that the trading of Bitcoin is considered illegal following several arrests of Bitcoin traders in 2017 that resulted in a combination of fines and jail terms for those involved. Attempting to use Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies in Nepal is not recommended.

Bitcoin Laws Change as Much as Bitcoin's Price

Due to how new cryptocurrency technology is, most countries are still trying to figure out how to adapt to the numerous digital currencies that have sprung up in the past decade.

There remains a lot of debate globally around not only if Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies should be recognized as legal tender but also if they should be taxable, how cryptocurrency trading should be regulated, and whether or not governments should monitor mining (the process in which cryptocurrency transactions are processed).

Cryptocurrency laws frequently update in many countries as the technology evolves and usage increases.

Bitcoin and International Travel

Laws and regulations relating to Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies can change several times a year as financial institutions adapt to the market and government opinion shifts. If planning a trip overseas, it's highly recommended to research the target country's Bitcoin policies beforehand via an official government website. This is especially important if traveling for business.

It's unlikely, as a tourist, that you'll be arrested in a country where cryptocurrency is banned for simply having a Bitcoin wallet on your smartphone or for carrying your Ledger Nano S hardware wallet in your pocket. Simply don't ask to pay in Bitcoin where it's not allowed and be careful of strangers encouraging you to do so if it's against the law.

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