Concerned about sharing your identity to buy Bitcoins?
You might have heard you need to submit identifying documents to buy Bitcoin these days. While that’s true in many ways, it’s not a universal rule.
We’ll dive into the details behind buying Bitcoin without ID in this article. You’ll learn exactly what forms of ID are (and are not) required to build a hefty investment in Bitcoin.
You may have heard that to buy Bitcoin one needs to submit a series of identification documents to the trading site.
Such documents may range from standard forms of ID your government or bank might require, like copies of passports or utility bills. They might also extend to more unusual forms of proving your identity, like a selfie of you holding a custom message.
When I first started using Bitcoin in 2013 none of the exchange sites asked for passport or utility bill photocopies.
Today in 2018, virtually every Bitcoin exchange is obliged by law to follow through with what’s known as “know your customer” protocol, or KYC. It makes sense–knowing your customer is more secure.
These measures are designed to prevent cybercrime and money laundering, but they’ve met with controversy. Some of the more philosophical leaders behind Bitcoin say the government restricts Bitcoin users because they gain too much economic freedom with anonymity.
All things said, be wary when seeking a place to buy Bitcoin without ID. Even if you choose a full-KYC exchange you should still be realistic and take precautions to protect against identity theft or abusive practices by exchange operators.
No security measure is 100% effective, and providing multiple forms of identity is no exception.
Before we dive into buying Bitcoin anonymously, you need to realize that the vast majority of people are fine getting their cryptocurrency through normal verification procedures.
Ask yourself if you really need to obfuscate your existence or not.
If the answer is yes, you’ll learn everything you need to know right here.
It’s possible to stay anonymous when buying Bitcoin, but expect to pay a higher cost per Bitcoin. Most sites charge premiums of 20% to 40% for customers without identification.
Remember also that that not each method will be the same. There are means for buying cryptocurrency with no ID that may require you to meet up in person.
Others may require wait periods of up to 3 weeks before the digital assets are released from escrow to your wallet.
But not all anonymizing procedures are tiresome. I’ve ordered from each vendor below fairly easily, and you can keep your identity relatively private in the process.
These are the best places to buy Bitcoin without ID.
LocalBitcoins was one of the first and currently the most popular person-to-person exchange platform. (Person-to-person means you won’t need to go through an exchange platform.)
You can buy with cash, Paypal, or bank transfer. Choosing cash purchases on LocalBitcoins is definitely the most anonymous way to buy Bitcoin.
The process is similar to Craigslist in many ways. Just choose a well-reputed seller near your location and arrange to meet in a public space.
On meeting, you will them give them the cash and they will then instruct LocalBitcoins to release your cryptocurrency from escrow.
Be aware that if you choose to buy via bank transfer then your name will be visible on the sellers bank statement (but not to LocalBitcoins).
Some sellers may occasionally ask for a partially visible copy of your driving license. You can usually check this on the seller’s page or by asking them prior to ordering.
Coinmama is a site where you can buy Bitcoin and Ethereum with your Visa or Mastercard credit or debit card. Coinmama operates in 188 countries and says on their website that you can pay with “whatever currency you choose” (although it looks as if US dollars and Euros are preferred).
You can either buy a specific amount of your cryptocurrency or choose one of four packages offered by Coinmama. The cheapest package is $199.95 and the most expensive is $4,999.95. These prices include Coinmama’s fees, but it should be pointed out that the number of Bitcoin or Ethereum you get will depend on the day’s exchange rate.
Coinmama sends your cryptocurrency immediately after your payment and virtual wallet address has been confirmed. So there is virtually no waiting.
Shifting sites is a great (and much cheaper) alternative than high-markup anonymous buying. To do this, you’ll anonymous Bitcoin you purchased with an ID.
Such a procedure is sometimes referred to as “altcoin shifting”. Note that specialized blockchain forensics experts can, and sometimes do, follow coins that have been shifted.
Nevertheless, the coin shifting procedure is relatively simple.
Livecoin is very popular in the Russian crypto market, but it also gets many English-speaking users. You can deposit and withdraw via Capitalist, Advcash, Qiwi, Payeer, or PerfectMoney.
No form of vetting is required for using such deposit/withdraw mediums. Livecoin gets over 12 million monthly visits, so it stands as one of the most popular options here.
Fees are relatively acceptable (expect to pay ~10%) compared to other methods for maintaining your privacy.
Customers can use their credit card to acquire bitcoins without registration or proving who you are.
The major downside to Indacoin is the huge markup of up to 50% compared to standard exchange prices. Transaction limits are set at $100 USD for first-timers. It then increases to $200 USD after 4 days, and $500 USD after 7 days.
Aside from the outrageous fee, Indacoin is a relatively hassle-free and beginner-friendly website.
Paxful has been operating since 2015 in Wilmington (USA). It is another prominent person-to-person platform where sellers and buyers make trades directly between themselves.
Just like LocalBitcoins, the P2P nature of the exchange allows users to keep their real names and identity relatively secret. The major advantage of using Paxful is the amount of payment methods available (300+).
The most popular deposits types are iTunes/Amazon Gift Cards, Paypal, Skrill, NetTeller, and Webmoney. Users can also make cash purchases via Western Union, MoneyGram, cash in person, cash deposit to bank, or using a Bitcoin ATM.
While there are some sellers that ask for your real name for large volumes, I have never been asked for a copy of my passport for smaller orders under $1,000 USD.
Paxful is currently the best site to buy Bitcoin without ID because of the range of choice for depositing money.
Coin ATM Radar is a super handy website featuring an interactive map of global Bitcoin ATMs, or bATMs. Simply search for your location, select the nearest machine, and check the requirements for buying.
With over 55 bATM manufacturers and 125 operators around the globe, knowing who made and who operates your chosen bATM will give you extra insight into the buying process.
Some do sell Bitcoin without ID being requested, while others will need a passport before exchanging cryptocurrency for your fiat paper money. Keep in mind that just like buying with cash, bATMs take a higher commission relative to the spot price. Expect premiums of 10-20%, depending on the machine operator.
Bisq is the most reputed decentralized person-to-person crypto exchange, in operation since 2016 (previously known as “Bitsquare”). This is also a good place to buy Ethereum without ID.
Before you buy on Bisq, however, you should know this:
Tumbling services are a pretty cool idea that worked for some time. Now it’s hard to know which services can be trusted and which are not keeping logs. Some new altcoins have built anonymity or mixing right into the core transaction protocol.
If you’re interesting in this type of anonymity, look into Dash, Monero, or Zcash.
Some exchanges are worried they will get shut down by the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network unless they know every single detail about their customers.
Others take advantage of the KYC-craze to collect information on their user’s personal and commercial habits. Of all the major exchanges, these three are currently receiving slightly negative reviews with regards to overbearing KYC verification methods.
Please note that while the above sites may not have smooth verification processes, they remain very trusted and popular platforms. Millions of users trade on each site every month.
In this new age, your ID is scattered across dozens of sites around the internet. Your identity is only as secure as the weakest link in the chain, which is why I recommend being very careful about which sites you choose.
If a web-server gets hacked, then all your information files can be stolen and used elsewhere. Look to only use the most reliable exchanges, and follow best practices when trading on them.
Best practices recommend that exchanges keep users’ personal ID information on a separate server. Such a server should be offline and only connected up when the initial vetting process is underway.
A good method you can use to prevent identity theft is to water-mark any documents you submit. For example, some users like to write a message such as “for Coinbase only” on their passport copy.
Such techniques prevent malicious actors from easily using your ID to open an account elsewhere.
Please note that in most cases your personal information is safe. Large exchanges are increasingly required to follow very strict safety measures and all store users’ files offline.
But when choosing an anonymous Bitcoin purchasing method, you can’t be too careful.
At the end of the day, there are lots of ways to get Bitcoin without handing your ID over to a third party.
If you’re looking for a cheap method to anonymize your information, you can easily shift your coins from one currency to another and back, essentially erasing your fingerprints each time.
If you like, you can also use a verified anonymous exchange. If you choose this route, you need to beware of any security vulnerabilities the site might have.
Whichever method you choose, you can be rest assured that you’ll get the Bitcoins you need without sharing any more information than you want to.
What methods will you use to buy Bitcoin without ID?