If you are one of those who refuse to lock themselves into a traditional way of working, you might wonder which countries offer a digital nomad visa. So whether you want to work remotely from a European City, a paradisiac island or a tropical destination, here is everything you need to know about the Digital Nomad & Remote Work Visas around the world.
The ability to work remotely from anywhere in the world is more important than ever. Whilst more and more companies and employees are realizing the tangible benefits of remote work, more and more countries are starting to target digital nomads and remote workers by offering them a dedicated visa.
Do you need a Digital Nomad Visa to work online while traveling ?
In reality, most remote workers enter foreign countries as regular tourists. So you don’t really need a Digital Nomad Visa to work online while traveling, as long as you stick to the maximum stay. But that put online workers in a “legal grey area” as pointed by Ott Vatter, the Director of Estonia’s e-Residency Program.
“Digital nomads and remote workers have long faced ambiguity when working while they travel, often skirting the law by working while visiting a country with a tourist visa.”
Countries that currently offer a digital nomad & remote work visa
Estonia : Nicknamed “the Digital Nomad nation”, Estonia is the first country to have created an E-residency Program. Launched in 2014, this program allows non-Estonians access to Estonian services such as company formation, banking, payment processing, and taxation.
Since the 1st August 2020, Estonia has opened applications for its Digital Nomad Visa (DNV), which permits international citizens to work remotely from this Northern Europe country for up to one year. Anyone who is able to work independent of location can fill the application form online.
Georgia : In order to stimulate its economy, Georgia is one of the latest to offer a digital nomad visa called “Remotely from Georgia”. As a remote worker you would like this country at the intersection of Europe and Asia, for its secret Caucasus Mountain villages and its low-cost of living. Before filling the form online, note that foreigners seeking to work from Georgia for up to one year must earn at least 2000 USD per month.
“You don’t need to work in Europe, the US or Latin America if you can come here and work for a couple months at a time; go back and come back.”
Barbados : This quote from the Prime minister of Barbado, Mia Amor Mottley, shows the commitment of the government to attract digital nomads to this eastern Caribbean island. The 12 month “Barbados welcome stamp” (renewable), can be obtained if you earn at least 50000 USD per year and prove that you have the means to support yourself. The fees are 2000 USD for an individual visa.
Bermuda : Like Georgia, Bermuda has joined the digital nomad visa club recently. The “Work from Bermuda” certificate program allows remote workers and students to stay in the British island territory for up to a year. Although there is no minimum income requirement, you will have to pay the non-refundable application fee of 263 USD.
Countries that currently offer a freelancer / self-employed visa
Costa Rica : Jungle, volcanoes, paradisiac beaches, great surf spots, a relaxing lifestyle… Costa Rica is becoming a hotspot for remote workers. If you are a self-employed individual, Costa Rica grants a 2 year temporary residency visa (renewable) under the category of “rentista”. You have to show income of 2500 USED per month for two years or make a 60000 USD deposit in a Costa Rican bank. It’s a bit complicated to obtain it and you might need the help of an immigration lawyer.
To make things easier, a Costa Rican deputy has just proposed a bill which aims to attract more online workers in Costa Rica. Otherwise, the majority of the digital nomad and remote workers in Costa Rica choose the unofficial “Visa Run” that makes them “perpetual tourists”. This term refers to foreigners who leave the country approximately every three months (to Nicaragua mostly) to renew their tourist visa and avoid becoming illegal aliens. Visa runs are completely legal.
Mexico : The “Visa de Residente Temporal” allows holders to stay longer than 180 days (6 months) but less than 4 years. It can be renewed up to three times. You have to demonstrate that you made a balance of 27000 USD during the year prior to the application and you have sufficient funds for the duration of your stay.
Spain :The Spanish “Non-lucrative visa” allows foreigners to stay in Spain for up to 1 year. When applying, you will need to prove you have sufficient funds to “establish and maintain employment indefinitely”.
Portugal : Portugal offers a temporary resident visa that can be used by freelancers and entrepreneurs. The renewable “D7 Passive Income Visa” allows holders to stay for one year. You must have income or pensions amounting for 12 months : 7200 USD.
Czech Republic : The freelancer visa is called “Zivno” and it’s valid for one year. To qualify, you need 6000 USD in your bank account and obtain a trade license for one of these professions. You need to NOT have a criminal record to move to the Czech Republic. Also, be ready to pay 80 USD per month in local taxes.
Germany : Aufenthaltserlaubnis für selbständige Tätigkeit. That’s the name of the Freelancer residency permit that allows you to live in Germany for 6 months up to 3 years. If you don’t speak German and you don’t know anybody who does : abort!
Norway : Norway’s Independent Contractor visa allows freelancers to move to the so-called Scandinavian paradise for up to 2 years. But there are certain conditions : Show an income of at least 40000 USD per year before tax and be self-employed with a contract to work on a project for a business in Norway.
Countries about to start a digital nomad visa
Croatia is in the process of introducing a Digital Nomad Visa. On August 26 2020, the prime minister of Croatia announced on Twitter the country is going to start a digital nomad visa program soon.
Lithuania announced in 2019 a new e-residency program for online business owners, digital nomads, expats, remote workers, and anyone who wants access to the European Economic Area and market. The Lithuanian government has passed a legal amendment allowing foreign nationals to obtain the status of e-resident starting January 2021.
South East Asia is a popular destination for remote workers especially Bali and Lombok. But one thing is missing : a visa. A group of freelancers and entrepreneurs based in Bali are even trying to make it a reality by advocating the government for a nomad-style visa in Indonesia with an online petition that reached about 2700 signatures.