The oldest job in the world has, for quite a long time now, been regarded as a hateful and fallen choice of work. Prostitution exists and will continue to exist despite bans and their legal status, due to reasons like poverty or unforeseen situations. Some countries choose to outright ban the practice, while other countries have tried regulating prostitution. These nations typically enforce strict health and safety standards, aiming to protect both sex workers and clients. There are also many countries where prostitution is legal under specific circumstances.

The debate around the legalization of sex work continues to evolve, with ongoing discussions about human rights, public health, and societal attitudes towards the industry. So many times this question arises: “Actually, ‘in which country is prostitution legal?’. Here is a list of countries where prostitution is legal.

Percentage of the legality of prostitution

The legality of prostitution is a complex and varied issue worldwide, with a spectrum of legal frameworks reflecting diverse cultural, social, and political attitudes. According to a study, out of 100 countries that were covered, there are 53 countries where prostitution is legalized, which means a total population of 2.93 billion (51%) of the population, while in 12 countries the act of prostitution is limitedly legal, making it a population of 698.87 million (12%), whereas there are in total 35 countries where the act of prostitution is considered an illegal act, constituting a population of 2.13 billion (37%). The percentage of countries where prostitution is fully legal is relatively small, but a growing number are adopting alternative legal frameworks to address the complexities surrounding this profession.

Here’s the list of countries where prostitution is legal in 2024

New ZealandLegalProstitution, brothels, and solicitation are legal.
AustraliaLegal/IllegalProstitution is legal in some parts of Australia
AustriaLegalProstitution is completely legal in this country.
BangladeshLegal/IllegalProstitution is legal but various provisions of different laws prohibit the solicitation, and keeping of unlicensed brothels.
BelgiumLegal/IllegalProstitution is legal, but organizing prostitution, and other forms of pimping are illegal. 
BrazilLegal/IllegalProstitution is legal, and brothels and solicitation are illegal.
Canada Legal/IllegalThe selling of sex is legal, but the purchasing of sex is illegal.
ColombiaLegalProstitution is completely legal in this country.
DenmarkLegalSelling sex is legal, and soliciting is criminalized.
EcuadorLegalProstitution is legal as long as the sex worker is over 18 years old.
FranceLegal/IllegalProstitution is legal for men/women, owning or operating a brothel is illegal.
GermanyLegalProstitution is legal in this country.
Greece LegalProstitution is legal at the age of 18.
Indonesia Legal/IllegalNo specific laws against sex work, but many regional regulations prohibit selling sex. 
NetherlandsLegalProstitution is legal as long as it involves sex between consenting adults.
SwitzerlandLegalProstitution is legal, forced prostitution and pimping are illegal.
IndiaLegal/IllegalProstitution is legal, brothels and solicitation illegal
United StatesLegal/IllegalProstitution is legal in the majority of states, however, legal in some rural counties within the state of Nevada.
MexicoLegalProstitution is legal at the age of 18.
Czech RepublicLegal/IllegalProstitution is legal, brothels, prostitution rings, and pimping are illegal.
LuxembourgLegal/IllegalProstitution is legal, brothels, prostitution rings, and pimping are illegal
SpainLegal/IllegalProstitution is legal, brothels are a gray area, and solicitation is illegal.
MozambiqueLegalProstitution is completely legal in this country.
VenezuelaLegalOrganized and regulated.
Sierra LeoneLegalProstitution is legal and commonplace, solicitation is illegal.
BoliviaLegalLightly regulated.
PeruLegalOrganized and regulated.
LebanonLegalLightly regulated.
PanamaLegalOrganized and regulated.
UruguayLegalOrganized and regulated.

List of Countries where Prostitution is Legal

1. New Zealand

new zealand-Prostitution legal
Source – scoop

New Zealand is one of those countries where prostitution is legalised since 2003. The PRA decriminalized prostitution by removing most legal restrictions on sex work. It established the Prostitution Law Review Committee to monitor and evaluate the law’s impact on sex workers’ well-being. There are even licensed brothels operating under public health and employment laws, which means the workers get social benefits just like other employees. According to the NZPC (New Zealand Prostitutes Collective) estimation, there are around 8,000 sex workers in New Zealand at any one time. A progressive move.

Also Read: Red Light Areas Across The Globe

2. Australia

australia-Prostitution legal
Source – webchacha

The legal status of prostitution in Oz differs from state to state. Historically, prostitution laws in Australia were primarily a matter for state and territory governments, leading to diverse legal approaches across the country. It is decriminalized in some areas, and illegal in other parts. The same goes for brothel ownership. South Australia’s decriminalization model focuses on harm reduction and treating sex work as a legitimate form of labor. According to a report, the market size of the Brothel Keeping and Sex Worker Services industry increased 19.5% in 2023.

Also read: Largest Red Light Areas In India

3. Austria

austria-Prostitution legal
Source – toktali

Prostitution was decriminalized in Austria in 1975, acknowledging sex work as a legitimate form of employment. Prostitutes are required to register, undergo periodic health examinations, be 18 years old or older, and pay taxes. Prostitution in Austria is subject to government oversight, with authorities monitoring and regulating the industry to maintain standards and ensure the well-being of sex workers. Despite this, there is a lot of smuggling and forced prostitution here. In 2022, there were around 5,279 registered prostitutes in Austria.

4. Bangladesh

bangladesh-Prostitution legal
Source – photoshelter

Male prostitution is illegal, but everything else is legal. Provisions in the Penal Code of Bangladesh criminalize various aspects of prostitution, including soliciting, operating brothels, and living off the earnings of prostitution. In addition to legal penalties, the social stigma surrounding sex work in Bangladesh can contribute to challenges for individuals engaged in the industry. As per the information given on Wikipedia, there are 20 brothel villages in the country. The largest is Daulatdia which has about 1,300 sex workers, it is one of the largest brothels in the world.

Also Read: Difference Between Porn & Erotica?

5. Belgium

belgium-Prostitution legal
Source – businessinsider

Prostitution was decriminalized in Belgium in 1995, acknowledging sex work as a legitimate form of employment. They have been trying to remove the stigma, violence, and fear associated with prostitution by not just legalizing it but also running proper state-of-the-art brothels with fingerprint technology and keycards! The regulatory framework includes provisions for regular health checks for sex workers to safeguard their well-being and prevent the spread of STDs. Despite this, there are lot of human trafficking cases here. In 2022, Belgium’s Federal Police registered 303 sexual trafficking cases.

6. Brazil

brazil-Prostitution legal
Source – abcnews

This is in the list of countries where prostitution is legal, though you’ll get busted if you’re channeling your inner Snoop Dogg and pimping away to glory. Engaging in sex work is generally considered a private activity between consenting adults. At the federal level, there is no specific law that criminalizes or fully decriminalizes prostitution. According to a survey conducted by Fumec (Minas Gerais Foundation for Education and Culture)14 it was found that there were about 1.5 million people in prostitution.

Also Read- People Reveal Most Erotic Things Their Partners said

7. Canada

canada-Prostitution legal
Source – rantlifestyle

The Supreme Court of Canada, in the landmark case Bedford v. Canada amended its Criminal Code in 2014. The amendments primarily focused on decriminalizing certain aspects of sex work and addressing the constitutional concerns raised by the Supreme Court. The amendments decriminalized the sale of sexual services, allowing consenting adults to engage in sex work. However, the law still criminalizes activities such as communicating in public to purchase sexual services and operate a brothel for sex work. This puts this law in a very dangerous situation. According to a report, young people were the most critical of prostitution: only 36% of those aged 18–34 considered prostitution “morally acceptable,” compared to 45% of those aged 35–54, and 44% of those older than 55. 

Also Read: People Reveal The Most Erotic Things They’ve Ever Heard From Their Partners

8. Colombia

colombia-Prostitution legal
Source – nyt

It is legal to work in the sex industry in Colombia, though pimping isn’t. Prostitution is especially widespread in cities such as Cartagena and Barranquilla. While prostitution itself is legal, there are regulations in place to maintain public order, such as restrictions on soliciting in certain public spaces. Colombia has faced challenges related to sex trafficking, and efforts are being made to combat human trafficking and provide support to victims. UNAIDS estimates there to be 7,218 prostitutes in the country.

9. Denmark

denmark-Prostitution legal
Source – dailymail

Prostitution is legal here. The government even helps those with disabilities get laid by incurring the extra costs some of them have to pay. Denmark has implemented regulations to govern certain aspects of the industry. This includes licensing requirements for individuals engaged in sex work and establishments such as brothels. However, trafficking remains a dominant issue here. Of the 968 persons identified as trafficked in Denmark, 717 persons were victims of trafficking into prostitution.  

Also Read- Difference Between Porn & Erotica?

10. Ecuador

ecuador-Prostitution legal
Source – spiritofbaraka

Ecuador decriminalized adult consensual sex work in 2011. Quito was the first city in Ecuador to regulate prostitution in 1921, requiring prostitutes to be tested weekly for STIs. Everything related to sex work is legal here. You can sell your body, run a brothel or be a pimp with no legal ramifications. Authorities issue permits and licenses to individuals and establishments involved in sex work. Forced prostitution is a bit of a problem here though. UNAIDS estimates there to be 35,000 prostitutes in the country. 

11. France

france-Prostitution legal
Source – huffpost

Prostitution is legal in France, though soliciting in public is still outlawed. Pimping is illegal and brothels were outlawed in France in 1946, right after the War. However, in 2016, France adopted a new legal framework that criminalizes the purchase of sex while decriminalizing the sale of sex. Certain aspects of sex work are regulated, including restrictions on where sex work can take place, such as forbidding street solicitation in some areas. In 2023, it was estimated that over 30,000 people were involved in prostitution in France.

12. Germany

germany-Prostitution legal
Source – nationalpostcom

Prostitution was decriminalized in Germany in 2002. Alongside decriminalization, Germany implemented a regulatory framework to govern the sex industry. This includes health and safety standards, taxation, and licensing for sex workers and establishments. According to official figures published by the Federal Statistics Agency, the number of registered sex workers in Germany at the end of 2022 was 28,280, a rise of 19.1% compared with the year before.

13. Greece

greece-Prostitution legal
Source – ibtimes

Prostitution was decriminalized in Greece in 2016. Greece has also followed the German method of including prostitution as an actual job in society. The sex workers get equal rights and have to go for health checkups pretty often. Sex workers may be required to register with authorities, and establishments such as brothels must comply with specific standards for health and safety. It is estimated that fewer than 1,000 women are legally employed as prostitutes and approximately 20,000 women, half of whom are of foreign origin and the other half are Greek, are engaged in illegal prostitution.

14. Indonesia

indonesia-Prostitution legal
Source – foxnews

This is one of the countries where prostitution is legal in Asia. Considering prostitution itself is not even present in their law in any clear form, it’s plain to say that the sex trade is legal. This also means that it is very dangerous for forced workers and minors. According to Wikipedia, It is estimated that 40,000 to 70,000 Indonesian children engage in prostitution within the country.

15. Netherlands

netherlands-Prostitution legal
Source – amsterdamshortstay

The Netherlands decriminalized and regulated prostitution in 2000. One of the places most famous for its red-window sex workers, prostitution is, obviously, legal here, just like a lot of other things. They’ve always had a slightly more open way of dealing with things deemed taboo elsewhere. The legal age for engaging in sex work in the Netherlands is 21 years. The Netherlands, particularly Amsterdam, is known for sex tourism, and the presence of legal and regulated sex work establishments attracts visitors from around the world. A report says, approximately 25,000 prostitutes work in the Netherlands with around 1,000 working daily in Amsterdam’s Red Light District alone. 

16. Switzerland

switzerland-Prostitution legal
people daily

Prostitution has been decriminalized and regulated in Switzerland for several decades. Both selling and buying sex are legal activities for consenting adults in Switzerland. This country’s approach to regulated sex work has also attracted some visitors, contributing to a certain degree of sex tourism in specific areas. One estimate puts the number of street sex workers in Zurich at 5,000. UNAIDS estimates there to be 20,000 prostitutes in the country. 

17. India

india-Prostitution legal
Source: India TV news

India is one of the Asian countries where prostitution is legal. However, soliciting and public prostitution are illegal. Owning a brothel is also against the law, but, as places like GB Road and Kamathipura prove, these laws are rarely enforced. Under Sections 372 and 373, it is illegal to buy, sell, or import minors for prostitution. Wikipedia states that according to UNAIDS estimate, there were 657,829 prostitutes in the country as of 2016. Other unofficial estimates have calculated India has roughly 3 million prostitutes. 

18. United States

united states-Prostitution legal
business insider

Prostitution laws in the United States have historically been diverse in various regions. Some states have adopted stricter criminalization measures, while others have pursued various forms of regulation or decriminalization. Nevada is an exception, where certain counties allow regulated and legal prostitution in licensed brothels, subject to specific regulations. A 2012 report by Fondation Scelles indicated that there were an estimated 1 million prostitutes in the U.S.

19. Mexico

mexico-Prostitution legal
business insider

The legal status of prostitution in Mexico is varied and diverse among the states. Mexico City (now Mexico City and Mexico State) decriminalized sex work in 2010, allowing adults to engage in sex work without facing criminal penalties. It also has implemented laws to address human trafficking, including sex trafficking. UNAIDS estimated the number of prostitutes in the country at 236,930 in 2016.

20. Czech Republic

czech republic-Prostitution legal

The Czech Republic decriminalized prostitution in 1990, following the end of communist rule. Sex workers are required to register, and health and safety standards are enforced. The legal age for engaging in sex work is 18 years. According to some estimates, 12,000 to 13,000 women worked as sex workers in the Czech Republic in 2019.

21. Luxembourg

luxembourg-Prostitution legal

Luxembourg decriminalized prostitution and implemented a regulatory framework to govern the sex industry. Both selling and buying sex are legal activities for consenting adults in Luxembourg. The legal age for engaging in sex work in this country is 18 years. Brothels and other establishments must comply with specific standards for health and safety. There are estimated to be 300 prostitutes in Luxembourg, most of whom are immigrants. 

22. Spain

spain-Prostitution legal

Spain decriminalized prostitution in 1995. Cities like Barcelona and Madrid are known for attracting tourists interested in the legal and regulated sex industry. Both selling and buying sex are legal activities for consenting adults in Spain. Edicos del Mundo estimates there are some 350,000 women in prostitution in Spain and 80% percent of them are foreigners without legal papers.

23. Mozambique

mozambique-Prostitution legal

It is legal and widely accepted in Mozambique. However, police often target sex workers due to loopholes in the law. Encouraging, promoting, or facilitating ‘prostitution’ is criminalized under the penal code. If sex workers and clients have sex in a public place then liable to be arrested by police under the Penal Code for an outrage to public modesty. UNAIDS estimates there to be 13,554 prostitutes in the country.

24. Venezuela

venezuela-Prostitution legal

Prostitution is legal in Venezuela, and there are regulations in place to govern the sex industry. Brothels and other establishments must comply with specific standards for health and safety. However, major issues like human trafficking persist due to prostitution being legal in the country. Victims are recruited through false job offers and subsequently forced into prostitution or conditions of labor exploitation. A study of 212 sex workers conducted in 2003 evaluated at a health center in a city near Caracas found that 91% of workers were Venezuelan. 

25. Sierra Leone

sierra leone-Prostitution legal
freedom united

Prostitution is legal and commonplace and 3rd party involvement is prohibited by the Sexual Offences Act 2012. However, it is also a source and destination country for men, women, and children subjected to sex trafficking. UNAIDS estimates there are 240,000 prostitutes in the country.

26. Bolivia

bolivia-Prostitution legal

Bolivia has taken steps to decriminalize and regulate prostitution. The legal framework acknowledges sex work as a legitimate occupation and aims to provide certain protections for sex workers. The legal age for engaging in Bolivia is 18 years. In 2016 UNAIDS estimated there were 30,523 prostitutes in Bolivia.

Also Read: Red Light Areas Across The Globe

27. Peru

peru-Prostitution legal
social documentary network

Peru has decriminalized adult consensual sex work. The vast majority of prostitutes work in the informal sector, where they lack health protection. Individual police officers tolerate the operation of unlicensed brothels. Peru is a source, transit point, and destination for trafficked persons. The majority of human trafficking occurs within the country. UNAIDS estimates there to be 67,000 prostitutes in the country.

28. Lebanon

lebanon-Prostitution legal

Lebanon does not have clear-cut laws specifically addressing prostitution. Instead, various aspects of sex work may be subject to interpretation under existing legal provisions related to morality and public order. The police are allowed to check whether the prostitutes are registered or not and have attended a clinic during the previous 20 days. In 2016 UNAIDS estimated there were 30,523 prostitutes in Bolivia.

29. Panama

panama-Prostitution legal
yc in panama

Prostitution is legal in Panama, and there are regulations in place to govern the sex industry. Street prostitution also occurs on Avenida Ricardo Arias, Central Avenue, and Avenida Perú. Unregistered prostitutes can still access health services at clinics such as the one in Santa Ana, Panama City. There were 2,650 sex workers registered with the government in 2008, but there was no accurate information regarding the total number of people practicing prostitution in the country.

30. Uruguay

uruguay-Prostitution legal
el pais english

Uruguay has legalized and regulated prostitution. Both selling and buying sex are legal activities for consenting adults in Uruguay. It was legislated in 2002 through the sex work law. Article 31 of the law provides penalties for selling sex without a health card, and their names are placed on the register. UNAIDS estimates there are 8,195 prostitutes in Uruguay.

Countries where prostitution is illegal

ChinaIllegalFrequent legal exception.
PakistanIllegalStill common despite steep penalties.
RussiaIllegalPunishment for engagement is a fine from 1500 up to 2000 rubles.
PhilippinesIllegalIllegal but tolerated.
EgyptIllegalStill exists, but not prevalent.
VietnamIllegalSerious Crime.
IranIllegalRepeat offenders may be executed.
TanzaniaIllegalStill widespread.
FranceIllegalSelling is legal, but buying, organizing, and solicitation are illegal. Loopholes exist.
South AfricaIllegalStill widespread.
MyanmarIllegalStill widespread.
South KoreaIllegalIllegal but tolerated.
UgandaIllegalStill widespread.
IraqIllegalBuyer, seller, & organizer all liable. Steep penalties
AfghanistanIllegalSex outside of marriage is punishable by death
CanadaIllegalSelling is legal, but buying, organizing, and solicitation are illegal.
MoroccoIllegalStill widespread.
UkraineIllegalIllegal but tolerated.
AngolaIllegalLax enforcement.
Saudia ArabiaIllegalSteep penalties.
UzbekistanIllegalLax enforcement.
YemenIllegalStill widespread.
GhanaIllegalStill widespread.
NepalIllegalSex workers are criminalized through the use of public order offenses.
CameroonIllegalStill widespread.
NigerIllegalStill widespread.
North KoreaIllegalPrevalence unclear
SyriaIllegalLax enforcement.
TaiwanIllegalTechnically legal in “special zones” … none of which exist.
Sri LankaIllegalProstitution is illegal, soliciting, procuring, and brothels are outlawed
ChadIllegalStill widespread.
SomaliaIllegalProstitution is officially illegal.
CambodiaIllegalStill widespread.
ZimbabweIllegalStill widespread.
RwandaIllegalStill widespread.
BurundiIllegalStill widespread.
TunisiaIllegalLegal in two small areas of the country only.
HaitiIllegalStill widespread.
JordanIllegalIllegal but tolerated.
SwedenIllegalSelling and brothels are legal, but purchasing illegal. Loopholes exist.
Papua New GuineaIllegalIllegal but tolerated.
AzerbaijanIllegalStill widespread.
United Arab EmiratesIllegalSteep penalties.
BelarusIllegalStill widespread. Minor offense.
IsraelIllegalSelling is legal, but buying, organizing, solicitation illegal.
LaosIllegalCriminal activity can be subject to severe prosecution.
LibyaIllegalStill widespread.
TurkmenistanIllegalStill widespread.
NorwayIllegalSelling and brothels are legal, but purchasing illegal. Loopholes exist.
PalestineIllegalReportedly still legal in the city of Ramallah
IrelandIllegalSelling is legal, but buying, organizing, solicitation illegal.
OmanIllegalWomen’s sex outside legal marriage is criminalised as Zina.
KuwaitIllegalStill widespread.
CroatiaIllegalStill widespread.
GeorgiaIllegalStill widespread.
MongoliaIllegalStill widespread.
MoldovaIllegalStill widespread.
GambiaIllegalStill widespread.
AlbaniaIllegalStill widespread.
JamaicaIllegalIllegal but tolerated.
ArmeniaIllegalStill exists, but not prevalent.
QatarIllegalSteep penalties.
LithuaniaIllegalStill widespread.
BahrainIllegalStill exists, but not prevalent.
EswatiniIllegalIllegal but tolerated.
DjiboutiIllegalIllegal but tolerated.
GuyanaIllegalStill widespread.
BhutanIllegalStill exists, but not prevalent.
SurinameIllegalStill widespread. Lax enforcement.
MaldivesIllegalStill exists, but not prevalent.
BruneiIllegalProstitution is illegal and can incur a punishment of imprisonment for 1 year.
BelizeIllegalSelling is legal, but buying, organizing, solicitation illegal. Still widespread.
IcelandIllegalSelling is legal, but buying, organizing, solicitation illegal. Still widespread.
BarbadosIllegalStill exists, but not prevalent.
SamoaIllegalStill widespread.


Q- Which country is highest in prostitution? 

China, India, and the United States are the countries with the most prostitutes.

Q- In which country prostitution is famous?

The Netherlands is often hailed as one of the world’s foremost destinations for sex tourism. Prostitution in the country is not only legal but also well-regulated.

Q- In which state of India prostitution is high?

Mumbai and Kolkata have the country’s largest brothel-based sex industry, with over 100,000 sex workers in Mumbai.

Q- Is prostitution allowed in Dubai?

Prostitution, although prohibited, is prevalent and easily accessible in Dubai.