There are some parts of your life you don’t want the world to see.
If your bitcoin (BTC) activity is one of them, you’ve arrived at the right place.
This guide will show you how to buy bitcoin with no ID in the UK (while staying completely under the radar). Follow these steps and it’ll be more difficult for someone to discover that you even own bitcoin – let alone what you’re doing with it.
Disclaimer: I’m not a financial advisor and my guides don’t constitute recommendations to purchase anything. Read my full disclaimer here.
Why Should You Buy Bitcoin Anonymously?
This isn’t about hiding something illegal from the prying eyes of the nation-state.
For example, you might want to buy bitcoin anonymously to:
- Protect your personal information (and documents) from being exposed in the event an exchange gets hacked.
- Reduce the chance you’ll be targeted (online and offline) by hackers/scammers.
If you don’t have identification or access to banking services (e.g., online banking and bank cards), following this guide will help you too.
Levels of Anonymity
Broadly speaking, there are two levels of anonymity when buying bitcoin.
- Buy bitcoin using tracible methods, then anonymise your funds afterwards.
- Anonymise every stage of the process, from start to finish.
For this guide, I’ll be showing you how to anonymise the whole process. If you’d rather not do that, buy bitcoin elsewhere (for ideas, check out this post) then skip straight to section 3 in this post.
1. Anonymise Your Online Presence
Take these steps to help make yourself a ghost online.
Virtual Private Network (VPN)
A VPN is the minimum requirement for secure and private browsing.
It hides your IP address by routing traffic through a server which is located elsewhere. Putting it simply, a VPN fools your computer into thinking it’s somewhere else, usually in other another country (you can select which one).
As long as you select a VPN that doesn’t keep logs, you’ll be able to:
- Hide your online activity from your ISP (e.g., what websites you’re visiting).
- Prevent websites from identifying your real IP address (i.e., your location).
There are loads of VPN options out there, most of which cost less than £5 per month. Check out the reviews by ‘That One Privacy Guy’ for unbiased reviews/comparisons of your options.
TOR is a privacy-focused web browser that bounces your online activity across a distributed relay network.
As with a VPN, the benefit of using the TOR browser is that it:
- Makes it difficult for your ISP (or someone watching your connection) to understand what websites you’re visiting.
- Prevents sites from identifying your real IP address (i.e., your location).
Check out the video below to learn more.
Tails is a self-contained operating system that can be installed onto a USB stick and run on almost any computer.
Here’s what it does:
- All traffic is routed through the TOR network (not just the browser).
- Doesn’t leave a trace on the computer it’s plugged into.
- Encrypts everything (e.g., files, emails, and IM).
- Built-in Electrum (well-recommended bitcoin wallet).
Find out more in the video below.
2. Buy Bitcoin Anonymously in the UK
If you want to buy bitcoin with no ID verification in the UK, then a viable way of protecting your anonymity is to do it in-person (with cash). Another option is to exchange a gift card (that you’ve bought in a shop with cash) for bitcoin.
It was previously possible to buy bitcoin anonymously at a ‘Bitcoin ATM’. Unfortunately, UK regulation introduced in April 2018 now requires you to scan your ID before you can buy any bitcoin from these machines.
Some brokers and exchanges do allow you to buy small amounts of bitcoin without any ID. However, it’ll be possible to connect the purchase to the payment method – which means this isn’t anonymous either.
There might be more, but below are the best options I know about.
Paxful is a US-based company which was established in 2014 and has more than 4.8 million users.
It supports more than 350 payment methods – which includes bank transfers, other digital currencies, gift cards, cash, and many other popular payment methods.
If you intend to remain anonymous on Paxful, create a new account with a fresh email account (e.g., something like ProtonMail). Don’t use an existing account – if you do, you’ll link the purchase with your real identity.
Then you’ll need to find a (reputable) seller who is willing to sell in-person (for cash). If you need to contact them via phone, use a different phone number (which isn’t connected to you) and an encrypted messaging app like Signal.
When you do meet them, remember:
- Meet in a secure public place (with WiFi).
- Bring your wallet details (printed, or on a device).
- Bring something to (securely) verify the transaction.
If you want to really keep this anonymous, there’s a lot more you should consider (e.g., concealing physical characteristics). It seems a bit laughable to suggest that, but it depends how serious you are about staying completely anonymous.
Bisq (previously called Bitsquare) is an open source and decentralised P2P cryptocurrency marketplace.
To interact with the market, you need to download Bisq to your desktop (it supports Windows, Mac, and Linux). You don’t need to register or provide any personal information (no email, ID, or anything else).
It supports a number of cryptocurrencies – including bitcoin (BTC), litecoin (LTC), ether (ETH), and monero (XMR).
Bisq supports a range of payment methods. To remain as anonymous as possible, you’ll want to find someone selling bitcoin for cash (in-person).
Wall of Coins
Wall of Coins is a P2P bitcoin marketplace which was launched in 2014. It supports 12 countries (including the United Kingdom). Unlike Paxful, Wall of Coins only supports cash deposits. This is where you deposit cash directly into the seller’s account at a local bank, or MoneyGram/Western Union deposit point.
You will need to provide a phone number, so you’ll need a burner phone to keep your purchases on Wall of Coins disassociated from your real identity. It’ll also ask for your location (to show the nearest offers). If you want to remain anonymous, don’t enter your real postcode (enter a nearby city centre instead).
I wanted to test this out, but I couldn’t find any sellers nearby. You might have more luck in the big cities (e.g., London, Birmingham, or Manchester), but I think you’ll have better luck with Paxful or Bisq.
For an overview of how it works, check out this video.
Forums, Chatrooms, & Meetups
There are a few forums and chatrooms where you can try to find someone who is willing to sell bitcoin (or other cryptocurrencies) for cash. I reckon this is more awkward and dangerous than alternatives, so you’ll want to take some serious precautions. Another option is to find someone at a local bitcoin meetup or event that’s happy to sell you some.
What About Localbitcoins?
LocalBitcoins is a P2P bitcoin marketplace which was launched in 2012 and is used in more than 200 countries around the world (including the United Kingdom). In 2021, it continues to be a popular place to buy and sell bitcoin.
While I’d be surprised if you couldn’t find someone who supports whatever payment method you want to use (e.g., bank transfer, PayPal, other cryptocurrencies, etc.), LocalBitcoins removed cash (in-person) as a supported payment method in 2019.
3. Increase Your Anonymity Further
Even after following sections 1 through 2, you can add extra levels of obfuscation to make it even harder to trace them back to you.
You could use reputable mixing (or tumbling) services.
These type of services work by combining your coins with those of others who are also using the service. You’ll then receive your funds back (minus a fee) from a wallet which isn’t connected with yours. This gives you the freedom to make transactions anonymously on the blockchain.
Check out this post about my favourite bitcoin blenders for more details.
Converting to Monero
You could also convert your bitcoin to monero (XMR). It’s the largest and most well-known ‘privacy coin’ which is anonymous and near-untraceable. By converting your bitcoin into monero, you’ll make it extremely difficult to trace these funds back to you.
You can use something like MorphToken or Sideshift.ai to do this. These work like Shapeshift or Changelly, but don’t require registration or ID. To quickly and easily generate a monero wallet, check out MyMonero. You should be able to access it through a Tails installation.
From here, you’ll then just need to covert it back whenever you want to spend some bitcoin. If you’re doing this, make sure you send the funds to a new address (or wallet). If you send it back to the same wallet it was originally in, then you’ve defeated the point of these extra steps.
Managed to get this far? Congrats!
If you’ve completed all of the steps correctly, it’ll be more difficult for these funds to be traced back to you.
Honestly? A lot of these steps are overkill.
You’d still be pretty damn anonymous if you bought bitcoin online and then just anonymised it afterwards (following the tips in section 1 and 3). The downside of skipping section 2 (i.e., buying bitcoin in cash) is that there will be a paper trail which shows you purchased bitcoin (which then vanished). Buying bitcoin with cash leaves no digital breadcrumbs.
One more thing.
This process is expensive. If you follow all these steps, expect to ‘lose’ at least 10% of your money (if not more). Unless you really need or want to stay under the radar like this, it’s easier and cheaper not to.
Don’t care about staying anonymous?
Check out my post about the best ways to buy bitcoin in the UK.
What Do You Think?
Have you bought bitcoin (or other cryptocurrencies) anonymously before?
What’s worked for you?
Let me know in the comments section below!