So, I'm creating an international app; all my team is from Mexico (including me, of course). Which country's law will be applied to it?

The app is physically hosted in the United States, but our "main market" will be of course Mexico.

I'm not a US resident and have no economic activity inside the US; in fact, I don't even have economic activity in Mexico since I'm 14 years old.

  • 1
    As it is the answers will be very general. If you want something a little more specific you could provide details on what your app does. i.e. do you store personal information? Europe have much stricter rules about that than, for example, the US. Nov 24, 2020 at 12:56
  • I never gave any legal advice!It's out of policy of this site and this is not legal advice and I am not a lawyer ok. Nov 24, 2020 at 13:11
  • On top of that there is no contract signed . Nov 24, 2020 at 13:17
  • International distribution, sales and support of software is a very complicated matter, even excluding the legal issues. As a software developer myself (retired) I’d strongly encourage you to find some resource/person with experience in this to help guide you through the process. Mexico, for instance, may well have some kind of program to assist companies like yours. If not, try reaching out to other sw developers in your area. Nov 24, 2020 at 17:03
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    When we started our company (Ltd) we put the list in my answer below together, and where quite shocked how much extra work besides programming this was. After two weeks or so things became more clear. We reprogrammed parts of the app to more easily fulfill GDPR (which needs a deep technical understanding, but is not so hard to understand). For AGB and/or disclaimer we hired a lawyer (800 EUR), and things like German Impressum are well-defined (we needed to get a phone number, for example). I propose you start with one country, get familiar with the legal stuff and move to the next country.
    – UweD
    Nov 24, 2020 at 18:25

4 Answers 4


When publishing an app in a store, such as Apple's App Store, you choose in which countries the app is available. See the instructions on how to do that for the Google Play store, for example.

Smartphone users have to set their base/home country in their smartphones during initial setup (they are able to change it later). They can only download apps that are available for their configured country.

That said, if there is ever a dispute, it will usually be settled according to the laws of the user's country of residence (which may be different from the country configured in their smartphone, but that's another issue).

If you do not make your app available outside Mexico, you should care mostly about Mexico's laws.

Do notice though, though, that laws from the country where you are hosting or processing data will also apply. For example, if you would host in Europe, due to the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), you should have to allow users to remove their data from your system if they so wish, even if they are not physically located within EU borders.

It might be worth the time to consult a lawyer to check a few more things. For example, if your app is going to have users that move between Mexico and the US frequently, then you might consider the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act and in the very least not allow people under 13 to have accounts in your system.

To really simplify things, you could find a company that would host your app in Mexico. That would make your life easier regarding international laws.

I am not a lawyer, so as always, talking to an actual lawyer might give you more clarity on these things. In the very least you will be more confident about what you can and cannot do.

  • For example, suppose you don't pay your U.S. host's hosting invoice. That's probably a U.S. law contract dispute. In contrast, if you had a dispute with an app user that is likely to be governed by the user's residence or the terms of service choice of law for the app.
    – ohwilleke
    Nov 28, 2022 at 23:39

The law of each country where you offer the app for download applies, and you have to consider:

  • Privacy Policy (GDPR in EU, CCPA in California, APPI in Japan, LGPD in Brasil, and more - check each country to be on the safe side)

  • Disclaimer versus AGB/Terms and Conditions (e.g. Germany), not required but recommended

  • Impressum (Germany, Switzerland, Austria)

  • Value Added Tax (VAT) which is taken care of e.g. by Google Play for most countries but not all (e.g. not for Japan) in case the app is not free

  • Consumer Protection Law - applicable (and different) everywhere

There might be more, but these are the important ones I am aware of.

  • 2
    Perhaps one might translate Impressum as Imprint or Company Information, and AGB as Terms of Service.
    – o.m.
    Nov 24, 2020 at 6:16
  • 1
    Yes, thanks for adding this.
    – UweD
    Nov 24, 2020 at 6:21
  • 3
    As an example, Play Store's distinct requirements for a few countries: Requirements for distributing apps in specific countries/regions
    – Andrew T.
    Nov 24, 2020 at 10:28
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    Patent and Copyright Law applies as well
    – Stian
    Nov 24, 2020 at 11:40
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    I see a lot of assumptions about the Play Store, but it was never specified how the app was going to be released by OP.
    – Mast
    Nov 24, 2020 at 13:08

The law that applies is the law with the most significant relationship to the dispute in question. This could be, and realistically, usually would be, different for different issues. There could be dozens of different national laws that apply to different issues that could come up.

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    Even if your answer is not incorrect (I'm sure it is not), I'm not sure if that was what I was looking for. But I'll consider that, thanks. Nov 24, 2020 at 0:41
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    @UlisesViña The bottom line is that the question has an unstated premise that there is one answer, and mostly, there isn't. It is really a whole lot of complicated little questions bundled together that look like they should have a single simple answer, but actually don't. It would be possible to answer better more specific legal questions, but that may not be helpful either. It is an inherently difficult problem which even big multinational tech companies struggle with. Similarly, in IT some problems that seem like they should be easy (identify moving objects in a visual background) are hard.
    – ohwilleke
    Nov 24, 2020 at 0:44

The laws of every country who says their laws apply apply. If you don't visit those countries and don't have financial interactions with them, then they will find it difficult to enforce their laws. Iran declared a death sentence against Salman Rushdie despite there being no basis for jurisdiction, but they weren't every able to enforce it.

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