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Is Lithuania the best EU country to obtain a cryptocurrency exchange and crypto wallet license?

As one of the leading nations for FinTech in Europe, Lithuania is fast becoming the go-to country for a wide range of digital services, for businesses and important organizations worldwide. Among those services for clients in a variety of sectors is the Crypto Currency Exchange License and Crypto Wallet Licence, a big talking point on a global scale, offering a legal and safe environment to exchange payments securely.

Since 2020 Lithuania has developed as an integral country for a secure and seamless license set up, following the 320% Fintech growth with 230 licensed Fintechs since 2014. Now regulated by the newly appointed Financial Crime Investigation Service (FCIS), under The Ministry of the Interior of the Republic of Lithuania, the sky is the limit for not just Cryptocurrency exchange but a wealth of other FinTech services (ranked 4th globally), supporting businesses in sectors such as technology, legal and finance digitally.

So, what does the Baltic State offer that sets it apart from the rest of the EU? And why do virtual asset service provider (VASP) companies continue to pick Lithuania ahead of other leading nations such as Malta and Estonia that also provide support to obtain a Cryptocurrency Exchange License?

Why FinTech’s Select Lithuania as Their Destination for the License

The answer is a simple one – efficiency. Vilnius, the capital of Lithuania, is a rapidly-growing tech hub for not just exciting start-ups based in Lithuania but also acting as a financial standpoint for remote businesses from important Asian, American, and European markets. This is because they reacted quickly to other countries setting even stricter regulations, making it more difficult for Fintechs to set up a Crypto Exchange License, whereas Lithuania has created a financial ecosystem that welcomes new startups with a smooth transition. That’s why Lithuania now has a presence from huge companies such as Google and IBM, while even incorporating impressive Fintechs such as Binance, Kraken, 

Now we’re seeing a shift as more organizations search for Lithuania. Why? Because of the below reasons:

  • Costs are lower than other major European countries
  • A faster process with licenses taking a matter of weeks instead of months
  • Getting a license from Lithuania doesn’t have to be complicated or time-consuming – it can be completed remotely anywhere globally
  • The country has a wide range of tax incentives (such as 5%) Low corporation tax rates
  • Only requires one member of staff acting as the director (more can be appointed later if preferred. Notably, later appointments would result in the requirements to change the Articles of Association).
Animation by John Mevis

How Do You Get Get a Cryptocurrency Exchange License in Lithuania?

Countries such as Estonia, once recognized as a popular destination for obtaining a Cryptocurrency Exchange License, have gradually become more of a difficulty. Now the Estonian banking system is imposing more laws to prevent foreign investors from operating that do not use typical local market goods and services within the Northern European country.  

Further laws are impending to protect against Crypto activity because of past discretions. Additional new demands include; a resident Compliance Manager & a Management Board Member based in Estonia. Similar scenarios are in place elsewhere if you hope to get a Cryptocurrency license remotely. However, in Lithuania, there are no such specific requirements with an easier process in place, not just in terms of cost but time spent achieving your goal. The setup is managed once you:

  1. Arrange the necessary initial company documents for the company’s incorporation;
  2. Establishment of UAB (limited liability company), which included the requirement to have a legal address (Virtual or non-virtual);
  3. Arrange the necessary AML/CFT, KYC documents;
  4. Start the process of locating and appointing an MLRO;
  5. Notify FIU about the designated AML officer (MLRO).

Lithuanian banks do not work with VASP, therefore bank account opening should be done through an EMI (Electronic Money Institution). It is important to note, that this should be completed before the start of the activity. Usually, the company is incorporated and only then VASP activity is being changed in the RC (Registry Center)

At the time of writing, Lithuania provides two types of Cryptocurrency activity authorization for virtual currency operations, discussed in more details below and directly evident on the official:

  • Cryptocurrency Wallet Service – transfer, manage, and protect cryptocurrency exchanges using encrypted keys for a third party or your business.

    The virtual currency wallet operator refers to a legal person who is established in the Republic of Lithuania or a branch, established in the Republic of Lithuania, of a legal person of a Member State of the European Union or a foreign state and who provides services of management of custodian virtual currency wallets on behalf of the customers.

  • Cryptocurrency Exchange Operator – Services to exchange cryptocurrency, fiat to cryptocurrency, or vice versa.

    The exchange operator applies to a legal person who is established in the Republic of Lithuania or a branch established in the Republic of Lithuania, of a legal person of a Member State of the European Union or a foreign state and who provides services of virtual currency exchange, purchase and/or sale for remuneration.

You can obtain both licenses in Lithuania, but the minimum time before completion is roughly a minimum of one month.

Lithuania – the Safe, Reliable, and Efficient Option

It may be one of the smallest nations in Europe but Lithuania is officially on the map for Fintech’s because of its welcoming environment and intelligent processes in place for businesses of all sizes to operate. For a quick and easy Crypto Currency Exchange License set up, since 2020 Lithuania has demonstrated it’s the new kid on the block that’s quickly taken over from established players such as Estonia or Malta for those initial first steps. Rest assured regulations are in place to ensure it’s a fair and secure process, but completed in a much quicker time for a fraction of the price you’d expect elsewhere.

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