First, you need to find the best exchange for your country.
This article includes detailed instructions for buying ETH from some of the major exchanges (Coinbase, BitPanda, Blockchain.info), but the process is similar at all exchanges if those detailed below are not available in your country. The individual steps and website design elements discussed below may change if an exchange updates their web interface, but the overall process will remain similar.
Below is a list of the most popular exchanges in different countries/regions:
Australia: Coinbase, Coinspot
Canada: Coinbase, Blockchain.info
Europe: Coinbase, Bitpanda, Blockchain.info
India: Blockchain.info, Zebpay
U.S.A.: Coinbase, Blockchain.info
Other countries: First try Blockchain.info, if that doesn't work you can buy Bitcoin on your local exchange or at localbitcoins.com and use Shapeshift to convert Bitcoins to ETH (See OPTION 4 below).
Second, Learn Crypto Best Practices to Protect Yourself
Cryptocurrencies are an attractive target for scammers, so be careful when visiting cryptocurrency related sites and exchanges to always double check that the url is exactly correct, otherwise you could land at a malicious phishing site. Also make sure once you've landed on the site that the url is preceded by "https" not "http". If you're using Google Chrome, there should also be a box with green text to the left of the url marked SECURE:
If you have to be double careful with URLs, you have to be triple careful with wallet addresses. With cryptocurrency, there's no bank to guarantee your transaction, so if you enter the wallet address incorrectly or send funds to the wrong wallet, no one else is responsible. Buying, exchanging, sending, and withdrawing cryptocurrency means dealing with multiple addresses. Even when copying and pasting wallet addresses, you should always verify that the correct address has been pasted, as malware exists that can change what's copied to your clipboard.
Also be careful with entering crytocurrency amounts, as you're dealing with many decimal places and a small mistake can mean a significant difference in value.
That's about it for the basic best practices, now on to buying your Ether.
Option 1: Coinbase
If you live in Europe or the U.S., chances are Coinbase is the easiest way to get ETH. Coinbase is the most widely-used and user-friendly cryptocurrency exchange, allowing users to buy Ether, Bitcoin, Litecoin, and other cryptocurrencies directly with a credit/debit card or bank transfer.
Check if your country is supported by Coinbase here.
Coinbase step 1: register
Visit the Coinbase site or download their mobile app [iOS/Android] to get started. Many users report that the identity verification process goes smoother if you complete the signup process from the mobile app rather than from a computer.
Once you enter your basic information and confirm your email address, you'll be required to take a photo of your ID and upload it for verification. For U.S. citizens, a state-issued driver's license or ID card usually has better results for verification than a passport.
Due to the high volume of traffic Coinbase gets, sometimes the verification process can be slow, taking hours or days to complete. To make sure the process goes as quickly as possible, make sure you take a good-quality photo of your ID, with as little glare as possible. Coinbase is very strict about this and will reject your verification if the photo does not meet their standards.
Coinbase step 2: connect payment method
Once you've passed the identity verification process, it's time to connect your preferred payment method. Available payment methods vary depending on your country, and each payment method carries a different transaction fee. In general with all cryptocurrency exchanges, bank transfers have lower fees than when buying with a card, but usually have longer processing times. To see the currently acceptable payment methods per country along with the associated fee, visit this link.
Coinbase step 3: buy ETH
After you've connected your bank account or credit card, you're ready to buy ETH. Just click on the BUY/SELL button while logged into your coinbase account to get the process started, choosing the Ethereum option and entering the amount you'd like to buy. Coinbase will show you the required fees before you confirm the transaction.
Depending on your payment method, the ETH will be deposited to your Coinbase wallet either immediately (credit/debit card) or within a few days (bank transfer).
Once you have ETH in your Coinbase wallet, you can transfer it to your Zulu wallet (see below).
Pro tip: If you're looking for the easiest way to buy ETH, follow the above instructions, but if you aren't afraid of completing a few extra steps, you can save on transaction fees by purchasing ETH on CoinbasePro (formerly GDAX), rather than directly through the main Coinbase site/app. While Coinbase currently charges 1.49% for purchases with a bank transfer, for example, CoinbasePro only charges 0.3%. Note that purchases of ETH with fiat currency are currently only available for USD and EUR on CoinbasePro.
Here's how to do it:
While signed into your Coinbase account, click on the ACCOUNTS tab. This is where you can see all of your wallets for the different cryptocurrencies that Coinbase supports, plus one wallet for the fiat currency of your account (i.e. USD Wallet or EUR Wallet). Click on your fiat currency account, then click on DEPOSIT and follow the instructions for adding funds by bank or wire transfer (currently there are no fees for this).
After your fiat currency wallet is funded, head over to CoinbasePro and follow the instructions for creating an account. If you are currently logged into Coinbase, your information should automatically transfer over to CoinbasePro for easy signup.
Notice that on CoinbasePro you also have a fiat currency account (USD or EUR). Follow CoinbasePro's instructions to make a deposit in this account. You can see that one of your options for funding your CoinbasePro account is transferring from your Coinbase Account. Choose this option, selecting your Coinbase fiat currency wallet as the source, and the amount that you would like to transfer, then click DEPOSIT FUNDS. All transfers to CoinbasePro from Coinbase are instant and free, so the only fee you will pay is CoinbasePro's fee for buying ETH (currently 0.3%).
Now that you've transferred your funds from Coinbase to CoinbasePro, you're ready to buy ETH. From the dropdown menu on the top of the screen that says "Select product," select your ETH/fiat pairing (i.e. ETH/EUR or ETH/USD) then click the BUY tab on the left. You have the option of buying ETH at the current market price (MARKET tab) or choosing the Limit option to select your own price. Unless you're already familiar with trading, the best option for beginners is MARKET, however there are no margin fees when placing a Limit order which is a significant benefit. After choosing your order type, enter the amount of your fiat currency balance that you would like to trade for ETH, and click PLACE BUY ORDER. Alternatively, if you want to use your entire fiat balance, you can click on the numerical balance shown and select "Prefill all" and it will automatically select the maximum amount.
Upon successful buy order, you'll see that your balance has moved from your fiat currency balance to your ETH balance. From here, you can click withdraw and send your ETH to your Zulu Republic wallet following [these steps].
Coinbase pros & cons
Pros: Simple user interface for beginners. Relatively low transaction fees.
Cons: High level of traffic can cause slowdowns. You are not in control of your coins if you leave them in the Coinbase wallet. Can be difficult to pass their identity verification process.
Option 2: Bitpanda (EU only)
If you live in the EU and don't want to use Coinbase for whatever reason or are having difficulty passing their identity verification process, Bitpanda is probably the most trusted European cryptocurrency marketplace. The registration and buying process on Bitpanda are similar to those on Coinbase.
bitpanda step 1: register
After signing up on the Bitpanda site and confirming your email address, you'll immediately be redirected to your wallet page, which of course has a zero balance for now.
Next, click on the VERIFICATION tab to start the identity verification process. Make sure you're on a computer/tablet/etc with working webcam and microphone, and have your government-issued ID document ready. The process should take from 3 to 5 minutes.
bitpanda step 2: buy eth
To get started with your ETH buy, first determine your preferred payment method. See accepted payment methods here. As usual, bank transfers (SEPA) have a lower fee than card transactions but take longer to process. For information about purchase limits and fees, see here. For SEPA transfers, see the extra step in the following paragraph before continuing to the BUY page.
SEPA Transfers: If you want to buy with a SEPA transfer, first you need to deposit Euros to your Euro Wallet. To do this, click on the EURO WALLET, select BANK TRANSFER (unless you prefer to complete a SOFORT transfer), and the amount you'd like to deposit. After confirming your payment method, you'll be presented with Bitpanda's SEPA information to use for you transfer. Make sure to include the payment reference number when you complete the transfer as this is how they identify your Euro Wallet as the one to credit with the funds. After your deposit has been credited to your Euro Wallet, you can continue following the instructions below for all other payment methods.
To start your buy, click on the BUY tab at the top of the page. Select Ethereum, your preferred payment method (choose Euro Wallet if you've already completed your SEPA transfer) and the amount of ETH that you would like to buy.
After following Bitpanda's instructions to complete your buy transaction, ETH will be deposited into your Bitpanda Wallet.
From here you can transfer ETH to your Zulu wallet (see below).
bitpanda pros & cons
Pros: Good for beginners. Many payment options.
Cons: Limited to EU. Not all fees are transparent on their website.
Option 3: Blockchain.info (140 countries worldwide)
Blockchain.info is currently available in 140 countries, and is relatively user-friendly. It's primarily used as an online (hot) wallet, but allows users to buy Bitcoin and convert it to ETH directly from within the app, so it can be a good option for buying ETH for those who are not able to use Coinbase.
blockchain step 1: register and create wallet
After registering and verifying your email address, the blockchain.info site or app will guide you through the process of setting up your wallet. The most important part of this process is writing down and safely storing your backup recovery phrase.
This is a 12-word phrase that must be written down in the correct numerical order, from 1 to 12, and stored somewhere safe from damage, loss, theft, or access by untrusted people. In the event that you get locked out of your wallet because you forget the password or for some other reason, this 12 word phrase will be used to restore your wallet and funds. This also means that anyone who gains access to your recovery phrase will also have access to your funds, so be sure it's stored somewhere safe.
Of course, if you are only using your blockchain.info wallet temporarily to purchase ETH and transfer it out rather than holding coins for a long period, these security measures become less of a serious issue.
blockchain step 2: verify id and buy bitcoin
After setting up your wallet, you're ready to get verified and buy Bitcoin. To get started, click BUY & SELL BITCOIN when logged into the desktop site, or tap BUY BITCOIN from the mobile app.
Blockchain.info allows you to purchase up to 300 EUR equivalent of Bitcoin without verifying your identity. For amounts over that, you'll need to upload a photo of your government-issued ID and complete their verification process. For US users, only a state-issued driver's license or ID is accepted (no passports). Make sure you take a good-quality photo of your ID, with as little glare as possible, or your verification can get rejected. This process can take up to a few days to complete.
After completing verification, Blockchain.info will then set up an account for you with their exchange partner, and guide you through the process of purchasing Bitcoin.
blockchain step 3: exchange bitcoin for ether
Once you've completed your Bitcoin purchase and your Bitcoin is deposited in your wallet, you'll need to click on the EXCHANGE tab to convert it to ETH. Enter the amount of your Bitcoin you'd like to convert, confirm your order, and after processing, your Ether will be deposited to your wallet.
From here you can transfer ETH to your Zulu wallet (see below).
blockchain.info pros & cons
Pros: Available in many countries, strong reputation in the industry, user-friendly interface.
Cons: Can be slow/difficult with ID verification, slow to unresponsive customer service.
Option 4: Fiat currency to Bitcoin to Ethereum
If the major fiat to Ethereum exchanges are not available in your area or you're not able to use the above solutions for whatever reason, you may have to take a few extra steps and first buy Bitcoin from one source and have it converted to Ethereum at shapeshift or at an exchange.
If your issue is a geographical one, google either where to buy bitcoin in your country or the best cryptocurrency exchange in your country and make sure you do a bit of research to determine the reputation and security of these options.
If you're not able to find an exchange in your area to buy bitcoins at, one good option that works in many countries around the world is localbitcoins.com. While this option does not carry the best exchange rate, it allows you to buy Bitcoin peer-to-peer in the currency of your choice though a secure escrow system most places in the world.
Here's how it works:
option 4 step 1: register and search for sellers on localbitcoins.com
Sign up for your account here. After signing up and confirming your email address, you'll be directed to a page with instructions and a video on how to begin buying Bitcoin, which are summarized below.
When you select the BUY BITCOIN option, you'll see a search field at the top of the page where you can enter your desired fiat currency and the amount that you'd like to spend on Bitcoin, along with your country and preferred mode of payment, if any. Enter your desired information and click SEARCH.
A list will be populated below the search box with all of the Bitcoin Traders that match your search. For each Trader, you can see the number of trades they've completed, their reputation score (1-100%), and a colored circle that shows their average response time (grey = slow, yellow = within 30 minutes, green = within 5 minutes. Obviously, you should only choose to trade with people who have both a high rating and a high number of confirmed trades; good response time is a bonus. You'll also be able to see each trader's price per Bitcoin, their purchase limits, and accepted payment method.
option 4 step 2: make the trade on localbitcoins.com
Clicking on the BUY button for any offer will bring up a more detailed screen with the exact terms of the trade. Review this information carefully and make sure that the terms of the trade will work for you. If you approve of the conditions, enter your purchase amount in the blue box, add a message to the Trader, and click SEND TRADE REQUEST when you are ready to buy.
Each trader has a time limit for receiving payment before the trade is cancelled. Additionally, they all have their own identity verification procedures, usually involving you sending them a photo of your ID, of you holding your ID in front of your face, and/or a photo of a handwritten message confirming the transaction and the date. Use the chat area to speak with the trader and follow their specific instructions. Once you've passed their ID screen and you send your payment, you'll need to click the MARK PAYMENT COMPLETE box. Your Bitcoins are then held in escrow until your payment clears.
Your Bitcoins will be deposited to your localbitcoins.com wallet as soon as your payment clears, at which time you can withdraw them to an exchange to convert them into Ethereum.
option 4 step 3: convert your bitcoins to ether
If you were able to find a reputable cryptocurrency exchange that works in your area and you feel confident enough to use it, than you can proceed that way. Otherwise, for beginners we recommend Shapeshift as a very easy place to convert from Bitcoin to Ether.
With Shapeshift, you don't need to create an account, as they just take your incoming Bitcoins, convert them to Ether, and immediately send them out to your external wallet, which in this case will be your Zulu Republic Wallet. You can also watch Shapeshift's step-by-step how-to video here.
First, choose which assets to trade (Bitcoin to Ether), and choose the PRECISE option for the best rate. Next, enter the amount of Bitcoins that you're converting (being careful not to mess up the decimal places). Shapeshift has a maximum transaction amount, so make sure your order is under that limit. It will immediately show you your conversion rate and the exact amount of Ether that you will receive (Shapeshift doesn't charge any additional fees other than a small miner fee).
Enter the address of your destination Ether wallet (in this case your Zulu Republic Wallet address) and your Bitcoin refund address. The refund address is where Shapeshift will send back your Bitcoins if there is any problem with the trade, such as you entered the wrong amount. This should be your personal wallet address or a deposit address at the exchange where you bought your Bitcoin. With localbitcoins.com, for example, you can click on RECEIVE BITCOINS while logged into your account to see your Bitcoin address for deposits.
Finally, start the transaction on Shapeshift, and they will provide you with the Shapeshift receiving deposit address where you will need to send your Bitcoins. On localbitcoins.com, this is the address you will add after clicking SEND BITCOINS while logged into your account.
Once Shapeshift's systems have detected your incoming Bitcoins, they'll send your ETH to the wallet address that you provided. And boom you've got Ether!
Option 4 Pros & Cons
Pros: Works regardless of which country you're in.
Cons: More steps to complete, higher fees compared with the other options.
Sending ETH to your Zulu Wallet
Once you've purchased ETH from an exchange, you can send it from your exchange wallet to your Zulu wallet. This process will be slightly different on each of the exchanges but the general steps are the same. When logged in to your exchange wallet, follow the indications on the website for sending, and simply enter your Zulu wallet address as the recipient wallet address. You'll need to factor in a small amount of ETH for transaction fees, which means you won't be able to send your entire balance.
Within a few minutes of confirming the transaction, you should see it show up in your Zulu wallet. It will be marked as pending until the transaction is confirmed on the Ethereum blockchain. To check the status of your transaction when logged into your Zulu wallet, click on the sender address for the transaction, then click on "View on Etherscan":
This will take you to Etherscan, where you can view the status and all details of the transaction.
That's it! You've successfully sent ETH to your Zulu wallet!