Belarusian legislation allows natural and legal persons to mine, buy, sell, and exchange cryptocurrencies and tokens. The Presidential Decree on the development of the digital economy, which took effect on March 28, 2018, regulates taxation, foreign exchange control, and other aspects of transactions with cryptocurrencies. Only legal entities operating in the special economic zone designated as the High Technologies Park are allowed to provide cryptocurrency-related services as operators of cryptocurrency exchanges and crypto-platforms.
I. Decree on the Development of the Digital Economy
The Presidential Decree on the development of the digital economy is a comprehensive document regulating the issuance and use of cryptocurrencies and tokens. It was signed by the President of Belarus on December 21, 2018, and took effect on March 28, 2018. Most of its provisions are retroactive. The Decree creates the legal framework for buying, selling, exchanging, creating, and mining cryptocurrencies and tokens. According to an official commentary published on the presidential website, Belarus thus became the world’s first jurisdiction with a comprehensive regulation of businesses based on blockchain technology and the first country in the world to legalize smart contracts at the national level.
Many of the regulations in the Decree extend only to legal entities operating on the territory of the High Technologies Park, a special economic zone. As a legal experiment, the Decree allowed residents of the Park to use “smart contracts” and elements of English contract law, such as convertible loans, options, clauses of indemnity, and nonsolicitation and noncompetition agreements, to create a “venture ecosystem.” Residents of the Park also enjoy a simplified procedure for recruiting and employing foreign workers.
II. Authorized Transactions
The Decree defines “cryptocurrency” as bitcoin or other digital signs (tokens) that is used in international circulation as a universal means of exchange. A “digital sign” (token) is defined as an entry in the transaction block registry (blockchain) or other distributed information system, which certifies that the owner of the digital sign (token) is entitled to civil law protections and/or is a cryptocurrency.
Natural persons are expressly allowed to own tokens; mine them; store them in virtual wallets; exchange tokens for other tokens; acquire them or dispose of them in exchange for Belarusian rubles, foreign currency, or electronic money; and donate or bequeath them. At the same time, individuals are not allowed to buy goods or services with cryptocurrency. The Decree clarifies that tokens are not subject to declaration and that the mining, acquisition, or disposal of tokens is not considered entrepreneurial activity as long as the natural person acts alone and does not engage other individuals as employees or contractors.
Legal entities are allowed, through a resident of the Park, to create and place their own tokens in Belarus or abroad, to store tokens in virtual wallets, and to acquire or dispose of them through crypto-platform operators, cryptocurrency exchange operators, or other residents of the Park.
III. Crypto-Platform Operators and Cryptocurrency Exchange Operators
The Decree introduced two new types of companies operating in the field of cryptocurrency, “crypto-platform operators” and “cryptocurrency exchange operators.” All companies working in this field must be residents of the High Technology Park. A “crypto-platform operator” is a provider of information systems to businesses and individuals, who are not necessarily Belarusian residents, with the purpose of facilitating such transactions as the exchange, sale, or purchase of tokens between natural or legal persons. Crypto-platform operators are allowed to place tokens and buy, sell, or exchange them in their own interests or the interests of their clients. Crypto-platform operators cannot exchange tokens for property other than Belarusian rubles, foreign currency, electronic money, or other tokens.
A “cryptocurrency exchange operator” on its own behalf and in its own interests exchanges, sells, or purchases tokens using software and hardware systems operating in self-service mode.
IV. Licensing Requirements
The Decree specifically excludes operations with tokens from the application of licensing and other requirements of banking and securities legislation. Licensing requirements pertaining to cryptography and information protection also generally do not apply to the mining, storage, acquisition, and alienation of tokens. The minimum capital requirements are 1 million Belarusian rubles (approximately US$505,000) for crypto-platform operators and 200,000 rubles (approximately US$101,000) for cryptocurrency exchange operators. The Decree has not established rules for the operation of ICO operators and crypto-exchanges; these areas will be left to self-regulation.
V. Foreign Exchange Controls
Regulations on foreign exchange are generally not applicable to transactions with tokens. The use of foreign currency in transactions between residents of Belarus is authorized if such transactions are conducted through crypto-platform operators or on foreign trading platforms. Payments between cryptocurrency exchange operators and residents of Belarus must be made in Belarusian rubles.
VI. Taxes and Financial Reporting
The Presidential Decree exempts from income tax the income of the residents of the Park as well as the income of natural persons generated from the mining, creation, acquisition, or alienation of tokens. The Decree also exempts the sale of tokens from value-added tax (VAT). These tax benefits will be effective until January 1, 2023. Moreover, the Decree clarifies that investments attracted as a result of the creation and placement of tokens are not considered taxable income. Businesses operating in the Park only have to pay 1% of their turnover to the government. This arrangement is guaranteed by the government to last until 2049.
For purposes of financial reporting, acquired or “mined” tokens are considered assets. The placement of tokens created by legal entities results in increased liabilities. These accounting rules were further detailed by a decree of the Ministry of Finance.
VII. Anti-Money Laundering
On February 15, 2018, the National Bank of Belarus amended the anti-money laundering regulations to extend their application to crypto-platform operators and operators of cryptocurrency exchanges. Crypto-platform operators and operators of cryptocurrency exchanges will be treated as high-risk clients similar to operators of lottery games and casinos.
On March 27, 2018, the Council of Ministers issued a press release stating that the use of cryptocurrencies and other tokens must comply with the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) recommendations for combating the laundering of criminal proceeds and the financing of terrorism. The business plans submitted by applicants for registration with the Park must contain comprehensive measures to address the issues of compliance with Belarus’s international obligations, compliance with FATF recommendations (including procedures for identifying customers), sufficient guarantees of financial stability, technological safety, and protection from cyberattacks.
Foreign Law Consultant
 Decree of the President of the Republic of Belarus No. 8 of Dec. 21, 2017, National Legal Internet Portal of the Republic of Belarus, Dec. 27, 2017, No. 1/17415, http://pravo.by/document/?guid=12551&p0=Pd17 00008&p1=1&p5=0 (in Russian), archived at https://perma.cc/7PJ7-YEKA, available in English at http://law.by/ document/?guid=3871&p0=Pd1700008e, archived at https://perma.cc/V7UZ-TYM8.
 Id. § 3.4.
 Press Release, President of the Republic of Belarus, Commentary to Decree No. 8 of December 21, 2017 (Dec. 27, 2017), http://president.gov.by/ru/news_ru/view/kommentarij-k-dekretu-8-ot-21-dekabrja-2017-g-17715/ (in Russian), archived at https://perma.cc/A7B7-WJBS.
 Decree No. 8, § 5.
 Cryptocurrency Silicone Valley in Belarus, Happy Coin Club (Apr. 22, 2018), https://happycoin.club/ kriptovalyutnaya-silikonovaya-dolina-v-belarusi/ (in Russian), archived at https://perma.cc/997B-85CB (click “See the screenshot view”).
 Decree No. 8, Annex 1.
 Id. §2.2.
 Tatyana Melnichuk, Crypto-Freedom in Belarusian. Will Lukashenko Create a Digital Power?, BBC (Mar. 29, 2018), https://www.bbc.com/russian/features-43578798 (in Russian), archived at https://perma.cc/X5NR-QCCH.
 Decree No. 8, § 2.2.
 Id. § 2.1.
 Id. Annex 1.
 Id. § 2.2.
 Id. Annex 1.
 Id. § 3.3.
 Mining Is Allowed, Bitcoin Mining Has Been Legalized in Belarus, RG.ru (Dec. 27, 2017), https://rg.ru/2017/ 12/27/v-belarusi-legalizovali-dobychu-bitkoina.html (in Russian), archived at https://perma.cc/9DLQ-EMGX.
 Decree No. 8, §3.2.
 Id. Annex 1.
 Id. § 3.1.
 Resolution of the Ministry of Finance of the Republic of Belarus No. 16 of Mar. 6, 2018, National Legal Internet Portal of the Republic of Belarus, Mar. 24, 2018, No. 8/32944, http://www.pravo.by/document/? guid=12551&p0=W21832944&p1=1&p5=0 (in Russian), archived at https://perma.cc/3EL9-CBR7; see alsoDavid McNickel, Belarus Leads the Way with New Crypto Accountancy Laws, Brave New Coin (Mar. 28, 2018), https://bravenewcoin.com/news/belarus-new-crypto-accountancy-laws-kick-in/, archived at https://perma.cc/3VGF-9SMC.
 Resolution of the Board of the National Bank of the Republic of Belarus No. 62 of Feb. 15, 2018, National Legal Internet Portal of the Republic of Belarus, Mar. 20, 2018, No. 8/32923, http://pravo.by/upload/ docs/op/B21832923_1521493200.pdf (in Russian), archived at https://perma.cc/D3CK-DQL6.
 Premiere of Digits, Belarus Is the First in the World to Comprehensively Legalize Cryptocurrencies, RG.ru (Mar. 26, 2018), https://rg.ru/2018/03/26/belarus-pervoj-v-mire-kompleksno-vvedet-kriptovaliuty-v-zakon.html (in Russian), archived at https://perma.cc/X258-2T5A.
 Press Release, Council of Ministers of the Republic of Belarus (Mar. 27, 2018), http://www.government.by/ ru/content/7914 (in Russian), archived at https://perma.cc/S899-4B9N; see alsoIana Largo, The Decree “On the Development of the Digital Economy” Came into Force in Belarus, Legalizing the Cryptocurrency, Crypto.pro (Mar. 28, 2018), https://news.crypto.pro/v-belarusi-v-stupil-v-silu-dekret-o-razvitii-cifrovoj-jekonomiki-legalizujushhij-kriptovaljutu/, archived at https://perma.cc/7ERA-9JB2.
Last Updated: 06/18/2018