22 countries where crypto is illegal in 2023

he legal status of crypto varies from country to country. Alongside countries like El Salvador, which legalizes Bitcoin, or the USA, which tolerates its use, are states that criminalize cryptocurrency. According to CoinGecko data, 22 countries around the world consider cryptocurrency to be illegal and punish those who use it. In this article, we invite you to discover them.

Using crypto is a crime in these countries

If holding and using cryptocurrency is allowed in your country, it’s not the case everywhere in the world. Remember that in Morocco, a young Frenchman was sentenced from 18 months in prison for paying for a car with Bitcoin. The situation is similar in China, where crypto lenders encounter enormous difficulties to recover their money. If you’re a crypto user who travels from time to time, it’s best to know the legal status of digital assets in each country to avoid legal trouble.

According to data from CoinGecko, 22 countries worldwide criminalize the use and/or possession of cryptocurrency. Within their national borders, cryptocurrency transactions can result in imprisonment. These countries include:

  • Afghanistan.
  • Algeria.
  • Egypt.
  • Bangladesh.
  • Bolivia.
  • Burundi.
  • Cameroon.
  • Chad.
  • China.
  • Republic of Congo.
  • Ethiopia.
  • Gabon.
  • Iraq.
  • Lesotho.
  • Libya.
  • Macedonia.
  • Morocco.
  • Myanmar.
  • Nepal.
  • Qatar.
  • Sierra Leone.
  • Tunisia.

The majority of countries that have adopted a more restrictive approach to crypto are located in Africa. Indeed, 13 of the 22 countries criminalizing crypto are African. Asia comes in second, with 7 countries in particular having imposed clear crypto bans. Northern Macedonia in Europe and Bolivia in America represent the only countries in their respective regions to ban cryptocurrencies.

Citizens defy state laws and hold crypto

Although the laws of these 22 countries criminalize crypto, some residents of these states hold the digital assets. The crypto adoption rate in some of these 22 countries prohibiting crypto is even well above El Salvador which grants Bitcoin the status of legal tender.

Despite the total ban on cryptocurrency activities since 2017 in China, nearly 58 million Chinese, or 4.08% of the country’s total population, currently own a cryptocurrency. China’s situation is far from being an isolated case when we look at the Triple A data on crypto adoption worldwide in 2023. We note, for example, that Ethiopia, Egypt and Bangladesh have crypto adoption rates of 4.01%, 2.95%, 2.34% respectively, despite strict rules and sanctions regarding the use of cryptocurrencies.

Despite outright bans on cryptocurrencies, Egypt, Nepal, Morocco and China rank among the top 30 countries in Chainalysis’ Global Cryptocurrency Adoption Index 2022.


Although crypto is banned in 22 countries, this is not the case in other states. According to data from CoinGecko the ownership and use of digital assets is legal in 119 countries worldwide in addition to El Salvador. That’s almost half the countries in the world.

crypto, worldwide, coinpri

In particular, this map informs that Europe is at the forefront of crypto legalization. Indeed, 39 out of 41 European countries, or 95%, recognize the legality of crypto. On the old continent, only North Macedonia prohibits crypto, and Moldova remains unclear. In the Americas, 24 of 31 countries, or 77.4%, legalize cryptocurrency. These figures are similar to those for Asia, where 35 out of 45 countries (77.7%) recognize cryptocurrency as legal.

It’s in Africa where there are efforts to be made. Indeed, only 17 out of 44 countries recognize crypto as having legal status. This represents a crypto legalization rate of just 38.6%.

Knowing the legal status of crypto in the country where you’re staying is important for any crypto user. It prevents you from falling into illegality and unfortunately ending up in jail. So exercise caution when visiting these 22 countries, but not only them. Remember that legalizing crypto still doesn’t prevent restrictions. CoinGecko reports that 20 of the 119 countries that have legalized cryptocurrencies impose banking bans on crypto users. In particular, these restrictive measures prevent financial institutions from interacting with cryptocurrency users. See you in 2024 to see if this list has changed!