One of the major issues that digital nomads are facing is the visa situation. Although many are traveling and working online with a tourist visa, this is often a grey area or even prohibited. Luckily, more and more countries working on dedicated digital nomad visas that are suitable for remote workers.
The following article gives you a summary of what you have to consider when looking for the right visa and shows you 9 countries that are already offering digital nomad visas.
Table of Contents
What is important when it comes to digital nomad visas?
First, let’s look at everything you should pay attention to when entering a country with a certain visa.
How long are you allowed to stay?
The length of the period you can reside in the country completely depends on the local laws. Some countries give you only one month, others allow 2 years, and again others don’t allow digital nomads at all.
Six months to one year will be enough time for most people to get a feel of the country. You can truly experience what it is like to live and work there. The culture, cuisine, mentality, etc.
So whenever you look into visa options, make sure you are ok with the allowed length of your stay.
Are you allowed to work online?
The line between immigration and the digital nomad visa is still very blurry. It is a digital nomad myth that if you are working for an employer who is located in the country you are traveling to, you don’t need a work visa.
Regardless of where you work from or work for if you are planning to work in a foreign country, you still need the work permit. The question comes down to them whether or not your activities are considered working. The focus is not put on the people/customers you work for and their citizenship.
Whether you say that you are here to travel and to work remotely or you just say that you are a tourist (and later on authorities find out that you are working illegally) is a risk.
Since the idea of a digital nomad visa is relatively new, countries have come up with different kinds of permits that allow you to reside and work in a foreign country. These permits go by the name of:
- Working holiday visas
- Freelancer visas
- Self-employment visas
- Entrepreneur visas
- Other types of temporary residence visas
All of the above can be a solution to traveling and working in a country that might not have a designated digital nomad visa.
Do you have to pay taxes?
The taxation rules when you are a digital nomad working in a foreign country are just as tricky as the work permits. Although there are many different kinds of taxes you may have to pay, the income tax is probably the most important one here.
There are several rules out there for taxation, for instance:
- The United States and Eritrea are the only two countries in the world that use citizenship-based taxation. Here it doesn’t matter where you live or where your income is sourced. You always have to pay taxes if you are a citizen of either of the two countries (there are very few exceptions to this rule).
- There is another rule which states that if you reside more than 183 days in a tax year in a specific country, then they will claim you as a tax resident in their country.
- Other countries have signed a bilateral tax treaty to avoid being taxed in two countries at the same time.
Since there are many more rules and regulations and every situation is highly individual, we advise you to seek a tax professional in case you want to stay in a country for a while and are uncertain about your tax situation.
How much is the visa?
Most digital nomad visas are not free. Prices vary from country to country.
- Countries like Barbados can charge anywhere from USD 2000 per individual up to USD 3000 per couple/family.
- A digital nomad work visa for Bermuda costs USD 262.
- Estonia charges EUR 100 for the digital nomad visa and is far the cheapest digital nomad visa you can buy.
- Georgia, on the other hand, offers a great digital nomad climate by offering you residency for free for an entire year. You just need to fill out an application online (with submitting proof of financial means and health insurance coverage that is valid for at least six months).
The price can also depend on the type of visa i.e. length.
Is there an age restriction?
The general law of applying for a digital nomad visa stands that applicants must be over 18 years of age. For example, the age restriction for dependents in Barbados is under the age of 26. If you decide on a work and holiday visa, you might also face age restrictions, such as 31 years in Australia.
Not only that, some countries might require you to show a clean criminal record. Each state has its own set of specific requirements you must submit into the application form for acquiring a digital nomad work visa.
Couples with children or dependents need to pay an extra fee if they decide to reside in a foreign country on a digital nomad visa.
Other important conditions
- You should know that some countries allow online applications, some require digital nomads to apply through their local embassy or consulate in person.
- Some countries will have your nationality as one of the deciding factors in approving a digital nomad visa. They will decide whether the applicant can be flagged as a national security or health threat to their country.
- In the process of deciding where you want to reside and work from, you also need to consider the cost of living, work conditions (fast Internet, accommodation, access to technology, etc.), and the culture.
Best Digital Nomad Visas 2021
Let’s now look at the most popular countries, that offer digital nomad work visas.
One Note on Europeans: European Union passport holders can enjoy a visa-free work residence in any of the 27 countries that are members of the European Union. That means you don’t need a visa or work permit in these countries if you have an EU passport.
Estonia Digital Nomad Visa
Estonia set the pavement for the emerging trend in the digital nomad space for issuing the first-ever ‘digital nomad visa’ in the world. They offer two types of digital nomad visas. Depending on the duration of the stay, you can get:
- a short-term (C-)visa, which costs EUR 80 or
- long-term (D-)visa, which is EUR 100.
For getting approved for the Estonian digital nomad visa you are required to meet the following criteria:
- proof that you are a digital nomad (proof of working from an independent location by using telecommunication technology),
- have an active contract with the company (preferably registered outside of Estonia) and
- proof of income that meets the minimum requirement for the threshold during the 6 months before the application.
At this time, the monthly income threshold sums to around EUR 3,500. This type of visa doesn’t limit people based on the level of education or profession or any specific skill set.
Despite the white beach sand, Barbados offers the digital nomad work visa as well! The visa can grant you a 12-month residence as a remote worker and it can be renewed for longer than that. You need to meet the following requirements:
- proof of working remotely for a company that is based outside of Barbados, and
- proof of USD 50,000 of annual income.
The visa also requires a fee of USD 2000 after filling out an online application form after submitting all required paperwork.
Georgia’s government was concerned about the country’s declining tourism and decided to one of the pioneers of offering a digital nomad visa also called ‘Remotely from Georgia’ visa. The country offers more than that, the beautiful landscape will be an amazing sight while working on your PC. Did I mention the living cost is dirt cheap? You need to meet the following requirements and conditions:
- proof of owning a location independent business,
- proof of working remotely for a company outside of Georgia,
- proof of financial income statement to pay taxes,
- proof of earning at least USD 2000 per month, and
- valid travel insurance valid for six months.
I added Portugal to the list of digital nomad friendly countries not only because of offering a digital nomad visa but also for the fun activities you can enjoy while working remotely. Portugal is also great for remote workers because it offers a permit for entrepreneurs and freelancers for an entire year with the option of renewal for up to five years. Submit the following documents to apply for the digital nomad Portugal visa:
- proof of income from business ownership,
- proof of income and financial means,
- proof of earning at least EUR 600 per month,
- travel/health insurance,
- approval of undergoing a criminal background check.
The visa fee is EUR 83 and the resident permit fee is EUR 72.
Have you ever dreamed about working while enjoying the hot sun and watching the amazing fireworks near Burj Khalifa? Now, you can do it thanks to their one-year virtual working program that allows remote workers to fulfill their dreams and run their business. These are the basic conditions for getting the Dubai digital nomad visa:
- proof of employment from your employer with a 1-year contract,
- proof of earning USD 5000 per month,
- bank statement from the three precedent months,
- last month’s payslip, and
- health insurance that is valid in UAE.
The Cayman Islands
Their digital nomad visa is also called the GCC or in other words, the Global Citizen Concierge. Thanks to this visa you can stay and work remotely from the island for up to two years. This comes with a price. To qualify for this digital nomad work visa you need to provide proof of earning at least USD 100,000 a year for individuals and USD 150,000 if you are a couple. Along with that, you need to:
- be employed by an employer stationed outside the islands,
- show a notarized bank reference letter,
- undergo a background check, and
- submit proof of health insurance coverage.
The German Freelance visa is also called Freiberufler visa. You can extend this type of digital nomad work visa for three years. To be eligible for approval you need to consult with your local tax office to label your job as independent/freelancing. Germany requires remote workers to pay taxes. When you are submitting your application you need to have the following documents:
- valid travel insurance,
- recommendation letters from your previous companies,
- portfolio, certificates of your education,
- financial statements, and
- evidence of a freelance plan.
The fee for the digital nomad visa is EUR 60, the residence permit is EUR 140 and the settlement permit is EUR 260.
Australia issued the Work and Holiday visa subclass 462 which allows people outside of the country to reside and work for one year. You can get an extension of another year if you are willing to work in a predefined local job for 3 months during your first year. The costs are AUS 485 for one year.
This visa allows you to work remotely, too. At the moment, you don’t even need to pay income taxes if the source of your remote income is outside of Australia. This is because the Australian tax system has no way to process remote income, yet. Here are your requirements:
- You must have a passport from an eligible country, and
- You have to be between 18 and 30 (inclusive) years of age.
As you can see, every country has its own set of rules and regulations when it comes to the length of residence, work permits, taxes, and application requirements. Please keep in mind that the above list is only a quick overview. Always check for your individual situation and if there are any new rules or limitations.
Also, do your research on the country you want to reside in. You could also do a test run and have a look around the country in person before you start applying for a visa. Maybe the culture and vibe are just not for you. It would be super frustrating to go through the entire visa process only to find out after 4 weeks that this is not the right place for you.