What is the legality of crypto in Europe and Oceania? If you are stepping into the exciting world of crypto for the first time, it is natural that you will be tempted to start right away but it will be unwise to go ahead without knowing the rules and regulations surrounding cryptocurrencies.
It is very important to know them and stay updated over and above your comprehensive knowledge on crypto buying, selling, holding, trading and investing.
Talking about rules and regulations on crypto, these vary from one nation to the other, from one country to the other, and even from one region to another.
Assuming that you reside in a country in Europe, you will find that the laws there regarding crypto may be different from those in the United States.
Here in this article you will find the laws related to crypto in Europe and Oceania clearly defined and segregated for your easy understanding.
Knowing these rules and regulations will save you from the financial, legal, and even criminal consequences for violation of the law. So, read on.
- What is the Legality of Crypto in Europe and Oceania?
- Central Europe
- Eastern Europe
- Northern Europe
- Southern Europe
- Western Europe
What is the Legality of Crypto in Europe and Oceania?
Though there have been a lot of controversies regarding regulating crypto all over the world with some countries for it while a few against it, it is good to know about them before you start trading crypto.
Here are some of the major countries in Europe and Oceania that have different rules and regulations designed and enforced regarding the use and trading of cryptocurrencies.
Each of them is segregated in different regions of Europe and the countries are arranged chronologically for your knowledge and for a better understanding.
To start with, know the rules and regulations on crypto in the countries in central Europe.
Though crypto is not considered as the official form of currency in Austria, it is still legal to use them here.
However, earnings on crypto in Austria are taxable and the Financial Market Authority or FMA warns the investors and users of crypto.
They say that it is highly risky and they do not regulate or supervise these virtual currencies which include Bitcoin and other crypto coins traded on different currency trading exchanges.
In Croatia use of crypto is legal and the Financial Stability Council of the country however warns the investors about the dangers of digital currencies such as fraud and theft. The National Bank of Croatia also corroborates with them.
Here also use of crypto is legal but the government of Czech Republic wants that any individual or business that deals with buying, selling, storing, managing, or mediating the purchase or sale of digital currencies or provides any other services of the same kind to comply with the anti-money laundering law.
In this country, Bitcoin is considered as an intangible asset instead of electronic money. This helps in accounting and tax calculations.
It is legal in Germany to use crypto and the German Finance Ministry declared that Bitcoin is certainly a unit of account now. It can be used for trading in the country also for the purpose of taxes.
This means that when you trade crypto in Germany you will be liable to pay VAT or Value Added Tax as you would with Euro transactions.
Crypto in Germany is not considered by the ministry as foreign currency or e-money but as private money that can be used in different clearing circles.
The best part of the rules and regulations surrounding crypto in Germany is that according to a legislation passed in November 2019 by the German parliament the banks are allowed to sell and store crypto coins on and from January 1, 2020.
The Hungarian Central Bank, Magyar Nemzeti Bank or MNB considers using crypto as legal but at the same time warns the people from using crypto saying that it is much riskier than credit cards and other electronic payment systems.
In Poland, use of crypto is legal but it is not regulated as of now by any legal act. The Ministry of Finance in Poland does not consider Bitcoin to be illegal. It has never tried to be in the way of its development.
However, it is not considered a legal tender and neither is it considered as electronic money according to the directives of the European Union.
There were several banks in this country that closed several accounts of customers trading Bitcoin in 2015 indicating assumption of criminal offense.
The National Bank of Poland or NBP along with the Financial Supervision Authority or KNF issued a statement on virtual currencies in which they underlined that these coins including Bitcoin are not issued by the central bank and are not guaranteed and these are not money.
They also said that it is not electric money and cannot be used to pay taxes. These currencies do not meet the requirements for universal acceptability in service and shopping points and are not financial instruments or payment services in lawful terms.
However, they said that trading crypto here does not violate the national or EU law but still there are lots of risks involved in trading crypto such as loss of funds, lack of guarantee, and high price changes.
Due to this the NBP and KNF warns the people against investing in these coins or buying them.
Like other European countries, use of crypto in Romania is also legal though the Romanian National Bank warns that using these coins as a mode of payment may cause some risks to the financial system.
The National Fiscal Administration Agency or the ANAF also pointed out the need of a legislative framework for Bitcoin especially because in absence of it, it is very hard to create a tax regulation framework.
Talking about taxes, according to a January-2019 law, income from trading crypto coins was considered as ‘income from other sources.’
A tax of 10% is applied only if there is a positive difference between the acquisition price and the selling price of a crypto coin and not on the entire sales proceeds.
And, taxes are only charged when a profit on a specific transaction is more than 200 RON or the total profit for the year is more than 600 RON.
Slovakia also allows using crypto within its peripheries though the National Bank of Slovakia or NBS does not consider it as a currency because it does not have the necessary attributes for that, they feel.
Moreover, neither the Slovak Law nor the European legislation defines the activities related to virtual currencies and therefore these cannot be supervised and regulated by the National Bank of Slovakia or the European Central Bank.
However, the NBS specifies that no one, legal or natural person, should issue any other coins or notes and put them into circulation in the market in the Slovak Republic. These activities are punishable by law.
On the other hand, the NBS warns the people about the risks involved with crypto trades. This is mainly due to the fact that they do not have a physical form and therefore not considered a legal tender.
Users, businesses or individuals, should take part in such activities at their own risk and should be aware of the fact that they and their money is not protected by the law.
This means that they are not legally entitled to make any claims for compensation for any losses incurred by them that may be caused by the exchanges or errors in dealing with crypto coins.
It is legal to use crypto in Slovenia but the Slovenian Ministry of Finance said that Bitcoin should not be considered as a currency or as an asset.
In Slovenia, there is no capital gains tax charged on Bitcoin but when you mine Bitcoin it will be taxed just as any business selling goods or services for Bitcoin.
Crypto is legal in Switzerland but in some cases requires a banking license. It is also subject to AML regulations and the Federal Council does not feel that as of now there is any need for legislative measures.
In countries in Eastern Europe, the rules and regulations regarding crypto are as follows:
Though it is legal to use crypto in Albania, the country has passed a new law on 21st May 2020 to regulate crypto transactions and activities.
Crypto transactions here are legal but you will need to look deeply in the rules and regulations of Belarus to know about it better.
Based on the Decree on the Development of Digital Economy or the Decree of Alexander Lukashenko, the President of the Republic of Belarus, there are several measures that are included to slacken the conditions for carrying out business in the area of advanced technologies.
These measures create a legal framework for the use and circulation of virtual currencies and tokens based on the blockchain technology.
This is done to allow the local companies of the high-tech park to offer their services with crypto coins which will allow them to draw financing through the Initial Coin Offerings or ICO.
The decree provides the right to the legal entities to create and use their own coins, execute transactions via exchanges and stock markets.
As for the individuals the decree provides them with the right to own their tokens, engage in crypto mining and to change them to obtain Belarusian rubles, or any other form of electronic money or foreign currency.
The decree excludes any profit or revenue generated from operations using crypto tokens from being taxed till January 1, 2023.
For the individuals, the decree does not consider purchase and sale of tokens as entrepreneurial activity and therefore the coins themselves and the income from the transactions using tee coins are exempted from tax declaration.
The peculiarity of the regulation of Belarus is that all such operations must be executed through the local companies of the high-tech park.
Apart from that, the decree also includes expansion of the validity period of the unique lawful command of the high-tech park until January 1, 2049 and preservation of current benefits provided to the resident companies in the park.
It states that the foreign companies are not supposed to provide any marketing, consulting, advertising, and other services to the resident companies of this park and introduces a separate English law institution for these companies to help them in deal with option contracts, non-competition agreements to the employees to entice them, convertible loan agreements, and provide irrevocable powers of attorney for international practices along with other documents.
The use of crypto in Georgia is legal and it is not considered to be ‘sourced’ by the Ministry of Finance of Georgia based on the public decision issued by them in 2019. This means that income from such coins should come under the 0% capital gains tax.
According to the crypto trading laws of Georgia crypto however is not a legal tender in this country but the government or the National Bank of Georgia does not regulate it and even does not prevent it from being used as a barter exchange.
Due to the availability of cheap hydroelectric power, this country is also one of the most favored countries for crypto mining.
According to the latest reports of January 2022 there is a temporary ban imposed on cryptocurrencies in Kosovo. This is due to the ongoing energy crisis which affects the crypto mining process.
Finally, in Russia it is legal to mine crypto coins but the banks here cannot indulge in crypto transactions in any way.
Vladimir Putin in 2021 said that the country will accept the role of crypto and also admitted that it had the potential to be used for payment.
Bitcoin, as such, was never illegal in Russia because the Federal Tax Service of Russia said so way back in November 2016.
However, things are not as clear as it seems. The Deputy Finance Minister of the Russian Federation Alexei Moiseev had some other ideas and said a year later that accepting crypto payments is probably illegal.
And also, the court decisions are too against Bitcoin and outlawed it within the peripheries of the Russian Federation considering it as a currency substitute.
The Bitcoin market sites are still blocked because according to Article 27 of the Federal Law On the Central Bank of the Russian Federation issue of currency surrogates within the Russian Federation is forbidden.
The Central Bank of Russia warns the Russian citizens about the speculative nature of crypto operations and comes with a high risk of losing value.
It also said that since most of the crypto operations are performed beyond the legal regulation of the Russian states and Federation, these operations are not provided or guaranteed by the Bank of Russia.
Now, take a look at the rules and regulations imposed by different governments of different countries in Northern Europe.
In Denmark, use of crypto is legal but the Financial Supervisory Authority or FSA of the country does not consider Bitcoin as a currency and therefore does not regulate it.
Earlier on December 17, 2013 the FSA issued a statement saying that Bitcoin does not fall under the purview of the FSA, which corroborates the warning of the EBA, and therefore it will not stop anyone from starting such a business.
And, the chief of FSA went a step further and said that the country might even consider covering these virtual currencies by making some necessary amendments in the current financial legislation.
Use of Bitcoin is also legal in Estonia but it is not regulated as in many European countries. This means that it is not governed by the government in any way.
Even the Estonian Ministry of Finance has said that there is no legal barrier to use Bitcoin and other crypto coins in the country as a payment method.
However, it is required by the traders to identify the buyers while any transaction is made, especially when the value of the trade exceeds 1,000 Euros in a month.
Once again, Finland too supports using crypto and the Finnish Tax Administration has also issued specific guidelines to let the users know about the tax implications of using Bitcoin or any other crypto coin in this country.
However, in Finland Bitcoin and other virtual currencies are not considered as a security or even as a currency.
Rather, a Bitcoin transaction is considered as a private contract which is comparable to a CFD or Contract for Difference for tax calculations.
This means that when any commodity is purchased with Bitcoin by anyone or the coin is converted into a legal currency it actually realizes the value. If there is any increase in the price then that amount will be taxable.
Even if you mine Bitcoin it will be taxable because it is treated as an income earned. However, if you incur any losses during the process it will not be tax-deductible.
There is one unique aspect of the rules and regulations of Finland on crypto. The court has classified Bitcoin as a payment instrument much unlike other countries in Europe where the use of it is considered to be an unregulated way for exchanging goods, and even as a crime.
Also, based on the ruling 034/2014 by the Finnish Central Board of Taxes or CBT the fees and commissions charged on any purchases made with Bitcoin by an exchange market are under banking services and the EU VAT Directive and therefore exempted from VAT.
In Iceland, use of crypto is legal but the central bank of this country does not authorize purchase of foreign currency from any financial institution in the country or transferring them across the border by transacting them with virtual currencies.
This is in accordance with the Icelandic Foreign Exchange Act.
It is for this specific reason the transactions with virtual currency in this country are subject to limitations in Iceland.
However, this does not affect mining Bitcoin in Iceland. And, there have been some notable amendments made in the rules which now offer a few exemptions in some specific cases from the restrictions.
It is not illegal to use Bitcoin in Lithuania but the Bank of Lithuania issued a warning for the general public way back on 31st January 2014 stating that Bitcoin is not accepted as a legal tender in the country.
Therefore, the users of Bitcoin should be well aware of the risks involved in using and dealing with Bitcoin.
In Norway, use of crypto coins is also legal but in December 2013 the Norwegian Tax Administration already stated that Bitcoin is not defined as money by them.
Instead, they regard it as an asset and therefore it is subject to wealth tax in case any profit is made in the transaction of the coin by any individual.
As for the businesses any transaction made with Bitcoin is considered as a sale in Norway and therefore it will fall under the sales tax regulation.
However, the good news is that the Norwegian government has not levied any VAT on buying and selling of Bitcoin.
Finally, it is Sweden where use of crypto is also legal and the Swedish Tax Agency has already given their preliminary ruling on VAT or Value Added Tax on Bitcoin.
The agency, though have excluded Bitcoin trading from VAT, states that such transactions are subject to Finansinspektionen or Financial Supervisory Authority regulations instead of Swedish VAT and therefore is considered to be a currency.
However, the Swedish Tax Authority has appealed this decision and therefore you will need to visit their official website to know the latest update on it.
If you look into the matter deeply you will see that the Swedish jurisdiction is quite liberal and is in favor for Bitcoin businesses in general as well as the users of this virtual coin in comparison to other countries within the European Union as well as the rest of the world.
It is all due to the governmental supervisory and regulatory body Swedish Financial Supervisory Authority that has legitimized this industry which is growing at a rapid pace by stating publicly that Bitcoin and other crypto coins are good means of payment.
However, in this country some businesses may find while interacting with exchanges or fiat that the existing regulation on crypto dictates them asking for complete compliance with AML, CTF and KYC regulations as well as an application for a license or an approval.
These, they feel, are actually applicable to a more traditional financial service provider.
In the South European countries the rules and regulations on crypto are as follows:
Bosnia and Herzegovina
It is legal to use Bitcoin in Bosnia and Herzegovina and there is no regulation on it.
The Bulgarian, as of now, has nothing to say about Bitcoin and it is considered legal to use it here. However, if profits are made in trading these coins, you will have to pay 10% tax.
The use of Bitcoin is legal in Cyprus and is not regulated.
There is no particular legislation as of now on use of Bitcoin in Greece.
All private individuals are allowed to use Bitcoin in Italy and it is not regulated here by the government.
When it comes to Bitcoin especially, there is no regulation in Malta. In fact, in 2017 the prime minister of Malta Joseph Muscat declared the support of a national strategy in order to support Bitcoin as well as blockchain technology.
With special emphasis on the potential of Bitcoin blockchain Muscat lauded its ability in handling, processing, and storing sensitive data efficiently that too in a decentralized and an immutable ecosystem.
Use of Bitcoin is legal in North Macedonia and as of now there is no explicit legislation on it and other crypto coins.
In this regard the National Bank of Republic of North Macedonia or NBRM quotes the law on Foreign Exchange Operations and since crypto coins do not represent a foreign currency according to this particular law, it does not need to be regulated.
However, the NBRM discourages the citizens from investing in specific types of crypto coins and urges the people to do some research on their own before investing on any crypto coin because there is a high chance of a coin to be a scam.
The use of Bitcoin is legal in Portugal though the Bank of Portugal considers it to be an unsafe currency since it lacks issuance oversight.
However, there is no definite framework officially authorized for Bitcoin.
Transactions in Bitcoin are legal in Spain and the same laws as barter transactions are applicable to it.
And now, here are the rules and regulations on crypto that are followed by the countries in the Western side of the continent.
Crypto use is legal in Belgium and the Minister of Finance pointed out that the government did not find it necessary as of now to intervene with the Bitcoin system.
Use of crypto is also legal in France but the French Ministry of Finance issued a few regulations on it, way back on July 11, 2014 with regards to the operation of the professionals and exchanges dealing with virtual currencies as well the tax implications on crypto.
In Ireland crypto is legal and the Central Bank of Ireland has confirmed that it does not regulate Bitcoin.
Once again, crypto use is legal in Luxembourg and the important factor is that the Commission de Surveillance du Secteur Financier has acknowledged the status of currency to Bitcoin and other crypto coins.
Crypto use is legal in the Netherlands as well but these are not considered as currencies and therefore do not fall under the purview or the Act on Financial Supervision of the Netherlands.
Of course crypto is legal in the United Kingdom though it is unregulated. However, it is considered as a foreign currency in most of the cases and therefore has separate tax implications as compared to that related to the national currency.
You will be required to pay VAT on crypto because in the UK it is considered as private money.
However, there is a catch here. There will be no VAT due on the Bitcoin transactions itself when you exchange these coins for any foreign currency such s Dollar or Euro or to Sterling.
But, in all cases, it will be due if it is acquired in the normal process from the suppliers selling any goods or services on the exchange for Bitcoin or other crypto coins.
And, any profits made or loss incurred on crypto transactions are subject to capital gains tax.
Caring for the standards around Bitcoin transaction is an industry body called CryptoUK. They have come up with a specific code of conduct which they believe will reduce the chances of money laundering with the provisions and additional security measures.
Though this region consists of Australasia, Melanesia, Micronesia, and Polynesia, apart from Australasia there is not much information available regarding rules and regulations on crypto. Here they are:
Crypto use is legal in Australia and there is no law against it as of now. According to the statement of the governor of the Reserve Bank of Australia or RBA in December 2013, crypto is the competing currency of Australia.
However, it was only since April 2018 that all of the digital currency exchanges in Australia had to register them with the Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre.
Apart from that, they are now required to implement a strict Know Your Customer or KYC policies in order to comply with the new AML or Anti-Money Laundering legislation which is even stricter.
New Zealand too allows using crypto as it is legalized. According to a statement of The Reserve Bank of New Zealand, the non-banks do not require any approval from them as of now to get involved with storage or transfer of Bitcoin.
The government here does not interfere into these matters until and unless it involves issuing notes or coins and start circulating in the market like physical currency.
Expert tip: Though the list is quite long and updated, you are requested to do your own research to find the latest about the rules and regulations on crypto which as you may know, keeps on changing for several good reasons.
There is no doubt that you will need to know the rules and regulations imposed by different governments of different countries in Europe to trade confidently, successfully and without any legal hassles. Thanks to this article, you now know all about them.
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