Until a couple of years ago, being a digital nomad was very unusual.
Working remotely was a privilege of the few, and for many it was only a dream. Until the pandemic came along, working from home became not only an option but also a necessity.
Many people realized that they didn’t need to be in an office to work and get paid. In fact, they only needed a laptop and a decent WiFi connection.
So, if your job becomes location-independent, why not do it from a white sand beach on the other side of the world?
But, what glitters is not always gold.
Even though living as a digital nomad seems like the perfect solution for many, (working and travelling at the same time? yes, please!) it has a big downside: you are always dependent on a visa.
Fortunately, many countries are introducing a new visa category, the digital nomad visa.
Digital nomad visa: why it’s going to make a difference
Being a digital nomad gives you the freedom to change locations as often as you want.
That can be fun for a while, but over time it becomes exhausting. Everyone needs stability, even if it’s just for a few months. This is the problem that many digital nomads face: not being able to stay in a place for longer than three/six months at a time because that’s usually how long a visitor visa lasts.
Also, on a visitor visa you can’t work, and even if you’re working for a company that is registered somewhere else, technically you’re still breaching the conditions of your visa. That could lead to your visa being cancelled, and in the worst case, being banned from the country for a certain period of time.
The introduction of digital nomad visas by more and more countries means that these issues are not going to pose such a problem anymore.
So if you’re planning on becoming a digital nomad, (or if you’re one already) here is a list of the countries that have introduced remote work visas so far!
Countries that offer a digital nomad visa
Estonia is not a very well known country, especially outside of Europe, but it’s often one step ahead in many ways. In August 2020, the small European country launched a new Digital Nomad Visa that allows people that work remotely to live and legally work there for their employer or their own company registered abroad.
The visa allows you to live in Estonia for up to a year, as long as you meet their specific requirements. For example:
– having an active employment contract with a company registered outside of Estonia, conduct business through your own company registered abroad, or work as a freelancer for clients mostly outside of Estonia
– being able to provide evidence that your monthly income is at least €3504 (gross).
Dubai remote work visa
Do you dream of working and living by the beach in one of the fastest-growing cities in the world? Well, you will be pleased to know that Dubai currently has what is called a “Virtual Working Programme“. This visa allows you to work remotely and grants you access to all the of standard services that residents benefit from for an entire year.
The program costs around USD 611, including application fees, processing costs, health insurance, and an Emirates ID.
Portugal digital nomad visa
Portugal is one of the few European countries that offers visas for independent or freelance workers.
Introduced in late 2022, Portugal’s digital nomad visa is aimed at two types of nomads: firstly, those that want to stay in Portugal for up to one year and, secondly, those that want to obtain residency in Portugal on a longer-term basis. To qualify, you will need to have a net monthly income of around €3040, as of 2023.
The second option is particularly to many non-EU digital nomads as residency in Portugal comes with many benefits, such as access to Portugal’s public healthcare citizenship, visa-free travel within the Schengen Area, and the option to be taxed under Portugal’s NHR tax regime.
After 5 years, those on this residence permit can make an application for citizenship and obtain a Portuguese passport, enabling them to live and work anywhere in the EU.Prior to the introduction of this visa, many digital nomads moved to Portugal on the D7 visa. This visa still exists, but it is expected to focus more on ‘passive’ income sources such as income from a rental property, royalties, and dividends. The minimum income requirement isn’t as clearly stated, but at the very minimum you should earn more than the Portuguese minimum wage, which is €760 in 2023.
Another challenge of the D7 is that you typically have to apply in your home country, many consulates ask for you to already have a funded Portuguese bank account, deeds to a property or registered 1-year lease, and a NIF number. While there are several online services for getting a NIF, and most nomads have the means of flying to Portugal to find an apartment, these are still cumbersome hoops to jump through. Most nomads, particularly those with ‘active’ sources of income such as a salary or freelance work, are likely to have the new digital nomad visa much more suitable.
Croatia digital nomad visa
In January 2021, Croatia introduced a long-stay visa designed for remote workers. New legislation, introduced in December of 2020 made this possible for new foreign remote workers.
Now remote workers can apply for a one-year residence permit after they arrive in the country. Under the visa terms, they are not allowed to work for Croatian businesses, and they are exempt from paying taxes.
Barbados remote work visa
Who wouldn’t want to live in the Caribbean? Thanks to the Barbados Welcome Stamp program, now you can!
This new remote work programme allows you to get a visa to live as a digital nomad in Barbados for a year, if you can meet the requirements.
You need to arrive in Barbados no later than twelve months after your visa has been granted, and you will be required to pay a fee (USD 2,000 for individuals and USD 3,000 for families) upon arrival. During your stay you can travel in and out of Barbados as many times as you want.
You will also be exempt from paying income tax in the country.
Georgia digital nomad visa
Georgia is one of the few countries that managed to keep itself essentially Covid-free, and is now considered one of the safest places in the world, making the country the perfect choice for remote workers that want to embrace a nomadic lifestyle.
For this reason, Georgia has introduced a new project called, Remotely from Georgia, that allows you to stay in the country long-term (for up to a year). Despite the current state of the world, Georgia is welcoming visitors from 95 different countries, including those that have been the most affected by the pandemic (like Italy and the United States).
To apply you need to prove your income (at least $2,000 USD per month) and you need to have travel insurance valid for at least six months.
The Law 4825/2021 (Government Gazette Α’ 157/4.9.2021), introduced the Digital Nomad Visa for visitors that want to base themselves in Greece while working remotely.
This visa is valid for a period of 12 months and can be granted to all non-EU citizens who are either self-employed or employed by a company registered outside of Greece.
To be eligible you need to provide proof that you have a stable income, so you don’t become a burden to the national welfare system (the required amount is set at 3,500 Euros per month).
Other countries that offer a digital nomad visa
- Cabo Verde
- Cayman Islands
- Costa Rica
- Czech Republic
COMING SOON: digital nomad visa in Thailand
Thailand has always been an obvious choice for digital nomads due to its cheap cost of living. Remote workers have been relying on short-term tourist visas to live there, but since this type of visa doesn’t allow you to work, many trying to work remotely are actually repeatedly breaking the law.
But not everything is lost! Luckily, In December 2020, Thailand’s Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration approved a proposal from the Thailand Board of Investment which would allow freelance workers and digital nomads to work in Thailand for up to four years under the pre-existing Smart Visa program.
The Thai Cabinet is currently in the process of approving the proposal.
What about Bali?
You would expect that Indonesia, with its large digital nomad community revolving mainly around Bali, would be one of the first countries to introduce a visa specifically for digital nomads. The affordable cost of living and many amenities and attractions have been a magnet for remote workers for years.
The pandemic started however, Indonesia has taken a step back: the multi-entry Visitor Visa is no longer available, and the only way to enter the country at the moment is by applying for a Business Visa. This visa is valid for 60 days (for offshore applications) and can be extended for 30 days at a time up to four times. If you leave the country, you are going to lose your visa.
Therefore, living in Bali as a digital nomad is still possible, it just comes with some restrictions.
The future is clear: we are moving towards a world where working remotely is going to be the new norm, and this is nothing but good news for whoever dreams of the so-called laptop lifestyle!