Cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin have become hugely popular over the last few years, with many online services accepting the virtual currency as payment. Bitcoin started with a valuation of $1 in late 2000s, but by 2021 the price for a single Bitcoin skyrocketed to almost $69,000.
With those prices, it’s easy to see why people would prefer to make large financial transactions with Bitcoin, for example, using it for citizenship by investment. It might seem like a logical thing, as citizenship by investment regularly requires $100,000 or more. But is it true that you can buy citizenship with Bitcoin?
Well, it’s complex, as you can’t actually buy citizenship with Bitcoin or any cryptocurrency. However, a small number of countries do allow you to use Bitcoin as a payment method for the required minimum investment for citizenship by investment.
What is Bitcoin?
Bitcoin, conceived by an anonymous entity known as Satoshi Nakamoto, emerged in a 2008 whitepaper. In January 2009, Nakamoto mined the first block of the Bitcoin blockchain, marking the birth of the first cryptocurrency. It was designed as a decentralized digital currency, utilizing a technology called blockchain, which ensured transparency and security.
Initially, Bitcoin saw limited adoption, primarily by tech enthusiasts and cryptographers. Its breakthrough came in 2010 when a programmer named Laszlo Hanyecz famously made the first real-world purchase with Bitcoin, buying two pizzas for 10,000 BTC. This event established a benchmark for valuing Bitcoin.
Over the years, Bitcoin gained traction as an alternative investment, with its value surging and experiencing significant volatility. It also paved the way for thousands of other cryptocurrencies, collectively known as altcoins. Ethereum, launched in 2015, introduced smart contracts, enabling programmable, self-executing agreements and opening new avenues for decentralized applications.
The cryptocurrency market expanded exponentially, attracting diverse use cases from decentralized finance (DeFi) to non-fungible tokens (NFTs). However, it faced regulatory challenges and concerns over its environmental impact due to energy-intensive mining processes.
Bitcoin can buy you citizenship?
Bitcoin is one of the most widely used decentralized cryptocurrencies in the world and is free from a central banking authority. This allows buyers to make safe and secure transactions, thanks to a peer-to-peer Bitcoin network. You can almost buy anything with Bitcoin, from food and online shopping to real estate and gold.
Some of the most crypto-friendly countries are setting an example of how cryptocurrencies are being integrated into national economies. Indeed, countries are starting to implement legislation in order to regulate it. Some countries do encourage crypto activities, implementing crypto ATMs and crypto tax exemptions.
However, even though holding a considerable crypto wallet is great to have, it is always wise to diversify your portfolio and invest some of your cryptocurrency in tangible assets. This type of investment will prevent you from being the victim of an unpredictable market crash or sudden government-mandated tax regulations.
But can you use the crypto currency to buy citizenship? Well, understandably, it’s a relatively complex issues and it varies by country. While you can’t outright buy citizenship, there are other avenues available. The ability to obtain a golden visa or citizenship through digital assets like Bitcoin is an exciting development and has opened new doors for crypto investors seeking to diversify their portfolios while obtaining residence or citizenship in countries that have embraced this novel form of currency.
Investing Bitcoin in a country’s economy
One such country at the forefront of this movement is Malta, a crypto-friendly nation known for its progressive stance on digital currencies. Through its investment program, Malta offers a unique opportunity for crypto investors to directly invest their digital assets in the country’s economy, potentially leading to the acquisition of a Maltese passport. This initiative not only aligns with the government’s vision of fostering economic growth but also provides an attractive avenue for crypto investors looking to leverage their digital assets for long-term benefits.
Malta’s program allows crypto investors to use their digital assets to purchase real estate, government bonds, or invest in international companies, all of which contribute to the growth and development of the nation. This forward-thinking approach extends to the due diligence process, where diligent checks are conducted to ensure that the funds used in such transactions are legitimate and not associated with illicit activities.
The acceptance of Bitcoin and other digital currencies for investment applications in Malta exemplifies the country’s commitment to embracing the future of finance. Investors can now directly convert their digital assets into tangible investments that not only offer the potential for financial returns but also the prospect of obtaining a Maltese passport, providing them with European citizenship and access to a host of tax incentives.
Beyond Malta, several other countries have started to recognize the value of integrating cryptocurrencies into their citizenship by investment (CBI) programs. This trend signifies a paradigm shift in the way countries approach economic development and opens up opportunities for forward-thinking investors in the crypto field.
Some countries are exploring the option
Canada, for instance, has been exploring initiatives to accept Bitcoin and other digital currencies for investment applications, with an eye towards providing exceptional services to crypto investors. By doing so, the Canadian government aims to attract global talent and investment, positioning itself as a leader in the crypto-friendly landscape.
Turkey, too, has announced plans to improve its visa and citizenship programs by accepting Bitcoin and other digital assets as a means of investment. This move is expected to expand the pool of potential applicants and further develop the country’s economy.
However, it’s important to note that while the acceptance of cryptocurrencies in obtaining golden visas or citizenship presents exciting opportunities, it also requires careful due diligence on the part of both applicants and the respective governments. Applicants must be prepared to answer questions, provide required documents, and ensure compliance with all applicable terms and regulations.
The integration of cryptocurrencies into golden visa and citizenship programs marks a significant step towards the future of finance and international investment. As countries around the world continue to develop initiatives that recognize and accept digital assets, crypto investors have the opportunity to not only expand their portfolios but also to obtain residence or citizenship in forward-thinking nations.
Dangers of cryptocurrencies
Cryptocurrencies, while offering numerous potential benefits, also come with inherent risks and dangers:
- Price volatility: Cryptocurrencies are notorious for their price volatility. The value of a cryptocurrency like Bitcoin can fluctuate dramatically over short periods. While this can present opportunities for significant gains, it also exposes investors to the risk of substantial losses.
- Regulatory uncertainty: Many governments are still grappling with how to regulate cryptocurrencies. Changes in regulations can have a profound impact on the use and value of cryptocurrencies, and investors may find themselves subject to unexpected legal consequences.
- Security risks: The digital nature of cryptocurrencies makes them susceptible to hacking and fraud. While blockchain technology itself is highly secure, exchanges, wallets, and other services can be vulnerable to cyberattacks. If a user’s private keys are compromised, they can lose access to their funds permanently.
- Lack of consumer protections: Unlike traditional banks, cryptocurrency transactions are typically irreversible. Once a transaction is confirmed on the blockchain, it cannot be undone. This means that in cases of fraud or accidental transfers, there is often no recourse for recovery.
- Scams and ponzi schemes: The cryptocurrency space has seen its fair share of scams and fraudulent schemes. From fake ICOs (Initial Coin Offerings) to Ponzi schemes promising high returns, unsuspecting investors have been lured into losing significant amounts of money.
- Market manipulation: Due to the relatively low liquidity of some cryptocurrencies, it’s possible for large traders or groups to manipulate prices, creating a false sense of value or scarcity.
- Legal and regulatory risks: Depending on the jurisdiction, certain activities related to cryptocurrencies may be illegal or heavily regulated. This includes aspects like initial coin offerings (ICOs), money laundering concerns, and the use of cryptocurrencies for illegal activities. Also, if users lose access to their private keys or wallet, there is typically no way to recover the associated funds. This has resulted in cases of people permanently losing significant amounts of cryptocurrency.
While cryptocurrencies offer exciting possibilities, it’s crucial for individuals to be aware of these risks and to approach the space with caution. Investing in cryptocurrencies should be done with a clear understanding of the potential dangers involved.
Bitcoin Citizenship by Investment
If you are looking to purchase citizenship with crypto, Bitcoin can buy you nationality in some specific countries – with a few caveats. With cryptocurrency gaining a reputation throughout the world, there is no doubt that applying for citizenship by investment with Bitcoin will gradually become an acceptable way to invest with virtual currency.
But we have to stress again that it’s impossible to buy citizenship for any country by investing in Bitcoin or any other cryptocurrency. Over the last few years, there have been plenty of myths and misinformation on what you can and can’t do with Bitcoin.
As far as citizenship by investment is concerned, it’s possible to use Bitcoin but there are strict laws in place. For example, cryptocurrency is often used for illegal activities because of it’s anonymity. Therefore, in most cases, the Bitcoin must be sold, the funds transferred to a bank account, and the legality of the transaction must be proven.
Vanuatu Bitcoin citizenship
In 2017, the Vanuatu government announced that it would accept Bitcoin as payment for its citizenship by investment program. However, there has been some confusion as some officials denied that cryptocurrency could be used. As of October 2023, there has been no official word that you can’t use Bitcoin, so for the time being, it is possible.
In some cases, a third-party agent accepts the Bitcoin exchange, sells it for real-world money and pays the Vanuatu government on your behalf. In another scenario, you must first sell your Bitcoin and transfer the funds into an identifiable bank account.
You can learn more about Vanuatu’s citizenship by investment program by checking out our Ultimate Guide.
Antigua and Barbuda citizenship
Antigua and Barbuda is the only country in the world to allow investors to pay for their citizenship by investment program in Bitcoin. The country is a paradisiac Caribbean island, whose passport allows visa-free and visa-on-arrival travel to 150 countries.
Residents and citizens of Antigua and Barbuda enjoy relaxed tax conditions since there are no capital gains, inheritance tax, income tax or wealth tax on worldwide income or assets. One of the perks of the Antigua and Barbuda citizenship by investment program is that its process to citizenship is fast and affordable, taking around five months altogether.
While some countries have implemented anti-Bitcoin regulations, some have opened their arms to cryptocurrency. All over the world, countries are welcoming and encouraging digital currency — including building Bitcoin ATMs, ensuring tax exemptions, and attracting crypto businesses. Some of these Bitcoin-friendly countries also offer valuable citizenship by investment programs, making the life of crypto investors easier in terms of trading and taxes.
Best Citizenship by Investment for Bitcoin Traders
Malta residency for Bitcoin traders
Malta is one of the most Bitcoin-friendly countries in the world. Positioning itself as a worldwide leader in the fintech sector, Malta has built successful infrastructures encouraging cryptocurrency trade and has provided incentives for fintech companies to relocate to its shores.
Crypto investors looking to relocate to Malta can apply for Maltese citizenship by naturalization through the Malta Citizenship by Naturalization for Exceptional Service by Direct Investment Program, a successful scheme offering investors and their families the unique opportunity to acquire citizenship in Malta in exchange for an investment in the country’s economy.
Portugal residency for Bitcoin
Portugal has also established itself as a Bitcoin-friendly country. Several Bitcoin ATMs have been installed throughout Portugal, and legislation favors cryptocurrency. This means that any individual profiting from the purchase and sale of cryptocurrency in Portugal will not be taxed, not even if you exchange the cryptocurrency into another currency.
The Portugal Golden Visa scheme has been a fantastic immigration option for international investors looking to secure their digital assets, and realize cryptocurrency transactions without being largely taxed.
To top it off, several investment migration consultants like Global Citizen Solutions allow investors to pay the required consultation fees in Bitcoin, contributing toward their goal of obtaining a Golden Visa in Portugal.
Under Portugal’s 2023 budget plan, profits derived from digital asset holdings held for less than one year will be subject to a 28 percent tax rate. However, any cryptocurrencies held for a period exceeding one year will be exempt from taxation. Additionally, authorities will consider gains from cryptocurrency issuance and mining operations as taxable income.
The 2023 State Budget Law Proposal includes a new sub-paragraph where the concept of capital gains is under scrutiny, considering income deriving from the sale of crypto assets held that do not constitute securities.
A special 28 percent rate will be applied to this type of income. With this said, a tax exemption has been proposed regarding income resulting from the disposal of crypto-active assets that are held for a period of 365 days or more.
The regime imposed on capital gains income from transactions with bonds, shares, and other securities, which aimed to increase the taxation of speculative capital gains held for a time period of one year or less, was extended to tax on capital gains derived from cryptocurrency transactions with crypto assets.
Crypto is defined in the proposal for the State Budget Bill as “any digital representation of value or rights that may be stored electronically, using the distributed register or similar technology.”
Operations related to issuing crypto assets, which includes Bitcoin and crypto mining, or the validation of crypto transactions through consensus mechanisms, are considered commercial and industrial activities and fall under the tax category Business and Professional Income.
Crypto Tax-Free Countries
There are a handful of tax-free crypto countries around the world that have taken a progressive stance on cryptocurrency and taxes.
Germany is often thought of as a bastion of financial stability, and its highly-rated banks establishing its reputation as a safe haven for investors is well deserved. The country has a long history of being a reliable investment destination, and the strong economy and political stability make it an attractive option for those looking to park their money in a safe place.
However, Germany is also an attractive option for crypto investors for another reason: Its crypto tax laws are similar to Portugal’s tax system in that crypto assets held for more than a year are not subject to capital gains tax.
The Cayman Islands
The Cayman Islands, located in the western Caribbean Sea, is a British Overseas Territory with a population of just over 68,000 people. It is a well-known tax haven and offshore financial center and has been frequently used by wealthy individuals and corporations where they’re exempt from capital gains tax, income tax, wealth tax, and business income tax.
In addition to no corporate or personal income taxes and capital gains tax, few restrictions exist on foreign ownership of businesses or property, making it an attractive destination for investors looking to minimize their home and offshore tax liabilities.
Despite its reputation as an offshore haven, the Cayman Islands is relatively compliant with international tax standards. The jurisdiction has signed multiple tax information exchange agreements (TIEAs) with other countries and is a member of the OECD’s Inclusive Framework on Base Erosion and Profit Shifting (BEPS). So you can rest assured that you remain within the legal parameters of offshore financial activity.
Regarding cryptocurrency, the Cayman Islands has been relatively progressive in its approach. The country has approved a limited number of cryptocurrency-based exchanges, and there is a licensing process in place that allows individuals to engage in cryptocurrency-related activities.
Frequently Asked Questions about buying citizenship with Bitcoin
Can I buy citizenship with Bitcoin?
So far, Vanuatu is the only country where you can buy citizenship with Bitcoin. Antigua and Barbuda is in the process of implementing Bitcoin payments for it citizenship by investment program.
What is the best citizenship for Bitcoin traders?
Several countries are welcoming Bitcoin traders and do not tax Bitcoin assets. Malta and Portugal are, for example, some of the most bitcoin-friendly countries.
Which are some crypto-friendly countries?
Some of the most crypto-friendly countries are Vanuatu, Antigua and Barbuda, Malta, and Portugal.
Further, in Europe, Germany recognizes Bitcoin as a legitimate payment method for discreet transactions while also putting strict regulations in place to combat fraud and money laundering. Singapore also has a strong focus on crypto, as it has put in place several tax exemptions for specific digital tokens and a clear way of paying taxes on others.
Are there countries where cryptocurrencies are banned?
Yes, there are several countries where it is illegal to be a crypto investor. Besides the fact that some people skirt the legal framework by not paying taxes, a number of countries have taken steps to shut down the crypto market in their regions.
For example, China has had a ban on cryptocurrency trading and initial coin offerings (ICOs) since 2017. This ban is largely due to concerns over financial stability, capital flight, and the potential for illegal activities that stem from crypto-related ventures.
In Africa, Algeria’s government has banned the use, holding, purchase, and sale of cryptocurrencies. This is mainly to protect the Algerian Dinar and prevent money laundering.