GDPR Compliance Countries

Learn more about GDPR compliance, how it is different from other data privacy and protection laws, and if your business should apply for it.

Organizations that collect, store, and process data in Europe must comply with data protection regulations. One of the most notable regulations is the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). This protects the basic rights and freedoms of EU residents. It covers the processing of their personal information. As part of compliance for SaaS, GDPR applies to the processing of personal data of EU residents by any company, no matter the location where the data processing occurs. This means that, even if your organization is based outside the EU, you must comply with GDPR. You must do so if you handle the personal data of EU citizens or residents.

This piece will discuss where GDPR applies. It covers countries with GDPR adequacy.

Who Has to Apply for GDPR?

The GDPR is a European law. It regulates the collection, storage, and processing of personal information. It applies to residents in the greater European Union block, including the UK. As mentioned, the regulation applies to all organizations, both EU and non-EU, that process the personal data of European citizens.

With that said, one of the critical questions that we often receive is, "Does GDPR apply to individuals?" A straightforward answer is yes. GDPR compliance applies to individuals who collect or process the personal data of EU residents for commercial or professional purposes.

Does GDPR Cover All of Europe?

No. GDPR covers 27 member countries of the European Union and all the countries in the European Economic Area (the EEA). The EAA ropes in other countries beyond the EU member states, including Iceland, Norway, and Liechtenstein. It is important to note that the UK ceased to be a member of the EU on January 1, 2021. Therefore, the EU GDPR doesn't apply to UK businesses unless they collect and process data on individuals in the EEA. Switzerland has also adopted a privacy law comparable to the GDPR.

To make things a bit clearer, here is the list of GDPR countries in 2024:

Europeans countries that don't follow GDPR include Albania, Belarus, Bosnia, Herzegovina, Kosovo, Moldovia, Montenegro, North Macedonia, and Russia.

Does GDPR Compliance Apply to All Countries?

GDPR compliance applies only to businesses in the EU. It also applies to those outside the EU. But, it applies to those outside the EU who collect and process the personal information of EU residents. For example, a software company is in Brazil and sells to clients in Europe. It must comply with the GDPR to protect EU citizens' data. This is true even though Brazil is not on the GDPR countries list.

Which Countries Have GDPR Adequacy Status?

The EU uses "GDPR adequacy" to describe other territories, countries, and organizations. They are deemed as having data protection that is equivalent to the GDPR. In short, the GDPR adequacy status is a title given by the EU. It is for countries outside the EU that protect personal data at a level like the EU's.

As of 2024, the EU has granted adequacy decision GDPR to 12 countries, including:

Is GDPR Compliance Applicable Outside the EU?

GDPR compliance applies outside Europe to organizations that handle data belonging to EU citizens and residents. The GDPR's whole goal is to protect data of EU residents. Businesses or organizations collecting and processing such data must comply with the regulations. This is true whether they are based in the EU or in other non-EU countries.

Is GDPR Applicable in the USA?

The US is not on the list of GDPR compliance countries. However, GDPR can apply to US businesses or organizations. They must collect or process personal information for EU residents. As per Article 3 of GDPR, the territorial scope of GDPR applies regardless of whether the data processing takes place in EEA or not.

The law further provides two criteria for GDPR applicability:

Why Is There No GDPR in the US?

GDPR arguably sets the best standard for data privacy across the world. However, despite this achievement, there is no GDPR equivalent in the US. This is because the country has very different ways to handle privacy and data protection. The EU also sees privacy as a key human right. This is shown in its strict regulations. However, the US tends to take a more fragmented approach. It regulates privacy by industry rather than having a single privacy law.

Some of the notable US data privacy regulations comparable to the EU's GDPR include:

What Is the Minimum Size for Companies to Comply With GDPR?

Any company with over 250 employees must comply with GDPR law. The company should also hire a data protection officer. They will keep records of the data processing a business does. However, if your company has fewer employees, you may not be subject to these GDPR compliance demands.

Is GDPR the Same in All EU Countries?

GDPR compliance applies uniformly across all EU member states. However, the regulations offer a single framework for data protection. But, individual EU members can specify areas of its use, like the public health sector and employment laws. GDPR also has a one-stop shop. It helps PDAs work together on cross-border data processing.

Where Does GDPR Compliance Not Apply?

The GDPR doesn't apply to businesses or organizations that are not operating within the EU. As mentioned, it applies to EU companies. It also applies to non-EU companies with EU establishments or employees. However, companies with no connection to the EU in their operations and client base are not subject to GDPR.

Here are some of the other instances where GDPR may not apply:

Is GDPR Stricter Than US Data Protection Laws?

GDPR and the US data protection laws have different frameworks and approaches. This makes it quite challenging to make a direct comparison in terms of strictness level. However, here are some notable differences between the two laws:

What Are the Consequences of GDPR Noncompliance?

Noncompliance with GDPR can have adverse consequences for organizations both in the short and long term. Violations will not only attract legal and financial penalties but also possible reputational damage and other losses.

Here are some of the consequences of GDPR noncompliance:

Trava Security Can Help You Stay Compliant With GDPR

Many think that GDPR compliance applies only to EU businesses. However, this is far from the truth. GDPR is an EU regulation. It affects all EU countries and entities outside the EU that handle personal data of EU residents. Your organization operates in the EU or handles the personal information of EU citizens and residents. You must ensure full GDPR compliance. This is crucial to avoid fines and other legal consequences.

At Trava, we offer quality compliance and cybersecurity advice. Our solutions are designed to protect your digital assets. They also help your organization comply with changing regulations. We are ready to help you stay compliant with GDPR. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation.


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