What is a Digital Nomad Visa?
A Digital Nomad visa (also known as international teleworking visa or Remote Working visa) allows applicants to temporarily live in foreign countries while working remotely for their employer. It is primarily aimed at remote workers who only need a laptop or a computer to work for their foreign-based company or business but still wish to experience living in a foreign country while employed.
Many countries now offer some form of a Digital Nomad visa, each with differing eligibility requirements and application processes. However, there are broad similarities across the board that link most Digital Nomad visas. For instance, there are basic eligibility criteria and stipulations you must follow when becoming a digital nomad, as well as common rules on what you can and cannot do.
Taking Europe as an example, the key factors to take into account to qualify for a digital nomad visa in the continent are salary requirements, seniority, whether dependends can accompany the main applicant, additional costs per dependents and visa duration.
If we look at a number of EU countries, where digital nomad visas have been implemented post-pandemic, we observe that applicants require to meet higher salary levels compared to other visa types.
In some countries, the digital nomads must be considered “highly qualified” employees either in terms of qualification or years of experience similarly to Blue Card holders or Intra Company Transfers.
The main tourist destinations in the South of Europe (Portugal, Spain, Cyprus, Malta, Greece already offer digital nomad visas. While Italy legislated the digital nomad visa, we are still waiting for additional goverment guidance for its practical implementation.
Note that as of September 2023, the UK does not offer any kind of Digital Nomad or remote working visa.
- What is a Digital Nomad Visa?
- Why Do Digital Nomad Visas Exist?
- How Do Digital Nomad Visas Work?
- What Restrictions Are There for Digital Nomads?
- What Are the Eligibility Criteria?
- What Documents Do Applicants Need to Provide?
- How To Apply for a Digital Nomad Visa?
- Information About Selected Digital Nomad Countries
- How Can IAS Help?
- Frequently Asked Questions
Why Do Digital Nomad Visas Exist?
Since the pandemic, many businesses have now made this a permanent change and fully embraced remote or hybrid work models.
This change in working habits around the world has now led to many countries offering Digital Nomad visas to capitalise on this trend. By welcoming remote workers, countries are able to stimulate their local economies and redress issues relating to brain drain and slumps in tourism numbers during the pandemic.
International remote work is a complex matter for employers though. It is important for companies to reach out legal experts in each country to ensure any employees wishing to work remotely are compliant not only with immigration rules but also with employment rights, data protection, governing law and tax implications. Businesses must also ensure that they don’t trigger permanent establishment in the digital nomad’s host country.
How Do Digital Nomad Visas Work?
By obtaining a Digital Nomad visa, the applicant will be granted permission by a country to live and work there for an extended period of time. Typically, this will be up to a year, though most countries will also allow you to extend this permission if the applicant wishes to stay longer.
In most cases, the applicant will only be allowed to work remotely for an employer who is based in another country and no work would be allowed within the host country.
Applicants must also be able to fulfil all of their work duties with only a laptop or a computer and an internet connection.
What Restrictions Are There for Digital Nomads?
Some countries implemented the digital nomad visa route to attract foreign employees only, while others allow both employees and self-employed to apply for this visa.
Local employment or work activities for busineess in the country is not permitted to applicants on a digital nomad visa although in countries such as Spain, self-employed digital nomads are allowed to carry out activities for the country as well.
Initially, digital nomad visa routes were of short duration, not leading to permanent residence while more recently we are seeing countries creating long term digital nomad routes with paths to both permanent residence and citizenship.
What Are the Eligibility Criteria?
The specific eligibility criteria for a Digital Nomad visa will vary from country to country.
However, as a guide, below is a general overview of the type of eligibility criteria digital nomads may need to adhere to when applying for a Digital Nomad visa. Applicant must normally:
- Prove that they have the ability to work remotely through IT means
- Be employed by a company or business that is not based in the same country you’ll be looking to move to
- Be self-employed abroad and prove dealings with business abroad (depending on the country)
- Prove that the applicants have enough money to support themselves (and any dependents) for your entire stay
- Meet minimum monthly income requirements
- Have private health insurance coverage
- Have somewhere to stay for the whole duration of the visa’s validity
- Be from an eligible country
- Have a clean criminal record
What Documents Do Applicants Need to Provide?
The documents applicants will need to provide with their visa application will likely be closely tied to the eligibility criteria for that country’s Digital Nomad visa.
For example, if a country requires applicants to show proof of onward travel when their visa expire, they will have to supply this along with their other key supporting documents.
As a general guide, below are some typical supporting documents to be required to provide with a Digital Nomad visa:
- Copies of passport or other travel documents
- Proof of employment and ability to work remotely
- Proof of salary or finances, such as through a payslip or a bank statement
- Proof of private health insurance that’s valid for the entire duration of the stay
- Proof of accommodation, such as a rental agreement
- A police certificate
- A completed Digital Nomad application form and corresponding Government Fee
Note that this is not an exhaustive or definitive list of supporting documents. It’s important to carefully research the requirements for the chosen country’s visa and ensure that all of the necessary documents are required.
How To Apply for a Digital Nomad Visa?
The application process for a Digital Nomad visa will vary from country to country.
Some countries may allow the applicant to submit an application online through an official government website. If so, then applicants may also be able to upload their supporting documents online at the same time.
Other countries may require you to apply through a local embassy or consulate.
If a country’s embassy or consulate requires the applicant to contact them in person, they may also have to attend an interview in order to have their information verified or their supporting documents accepted.
Applicants may be allowed both options, applying in the country or from the consulate or embassy abroad.
After submitting the application, it will normally be assessed and processed by the country’s immigration, visas or foreign affairs department.
They will then notify the applicant of the result of the application and the applicant may or may not need an entry visa depending on the nationality and the duration of the assignment.
Dealing with taxes and individual tax situations can be a complicated matter, as they depend heavily on which country you’ll be moving from and which country you’ll be moving to.
For expert and bespoke advice regarding your situation, reach out to one of our global immigration department on [email protected]
The far-eastern European country of Georgia has one of the most attractive Digital Nomad schemes available. The low cost of living is combined with a relatively low entry threshold for digital nomads, who have to earn at least $2,000 a month or show proof of at least $24,000 in funds.
In addition, citizens of over 95 countries can stay in Georgia visa-free for up to a year at a time.
As previously mentioned, one of the largest draws of Croatia as a destination for digital nomads is the complete absence of any income tax imposed for nomads living there.
The minimum salary requirements for the Croatia Digital Nomad visa are €2,232 a month, and with digital nomads being able to apply for a permit to stay after they arrive in the country.
Costa Rica is another country where digital nomads can work from without having to pay any income tax at all.
This means that it’s a popular destination for remote workers as well as holidaymakers and tourists. Applicants must earn at least USD $3,000 a month to be eligible for a Digital Nomad visa or $ 4,000 if applying with family members.
The Estonia Digital Nomad visa was notably the very first official Digital Nomad visa to be offered in the world. Applicants wishing to work from Estonia must earn at least €3,504 a month and boasts an impressive reputation as a digital hub for a range of professionals and remote workers.
Boasting some of the lowest cost of living in Europe, Greece is a highly popular choice for many digital nomads.
There are also benefits for digital nomads who wish to live abroad for longer as well, as a Digital Nomad visa can be turned into a Digital Nomad residence permit, which is valid for 2 years and can be extended for another 2 years beyond that.
Applicants must earn at least €3,500 a month to obtain a Greek Digital Nomad visa.
Saint Lucia’s digital nomad visa programme is notable for having no minimum monthly salary requirements at all, which means that it’s an incredibly attractive package for freelancers, self-employed individuals, or anyone with no fixed monthly income.
Saint Lucia also offers scenic beaches and relatively low costs of living in addition to its generous Digital Nomad visa requirements.
The Hungary Digital Nomad visa is also known as a ‘White Card’, and allows digital nomads to live in Hungary for up to a year at a time.
The minimum income requirement is on the low end, at only €2,000 a month, and the application fee is a relatively low €110 per person. Hungary also notably boasts some of the fastest internet speeds in Europe, which can be a real boon for remote workers.
How Can IAS Help?
We offer complete and expert immigration services that are tailor-made for businesses and individuals wishing to work remotely from another country.
We offer employers assistance to understand how the digital nomad visa works in certain countries and how to adapt global immigration policies to this new way of working internationally.
For more information about Digital Nomad visas, reach out our to our global immigration team on [email protected]
Last modified on October 2nd, 2023 at 8:48 am
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Below is a list of countries and regions that offer some form of Digital Nomad visa as of January 2023. However, note that many new countries are launching their own versions of Digital Nomad visas, and some may retract their Digital Nomad visa schemes at any time.
|Antigua and Barbuda||Czech Republic||Montenegro|
As of January 2023, the UK does not currently offer a Digital Nomad visa or programme.
However, standard visitors are able to work remotely for a foreign-based business in the UK during their permit.
For most visitors, this will be a period of up to 6 months. If you wish to stay in the UK for more than 6 months, you will have to apply for a long-term visa, such as a dedicated work visa or a student visa, if you wish to enrol in a higher education course in the UK.
Note that some UK work visas may require you to have an approved job offer from a Home Office-approved sponsor as a prerequisite for applying.
Many countries will process Digital Nomad applications at their own speed and rate, depending on how busy their services are and how quickly they can get through applications.
On average, though, most Digital Nomad applications should take around a few days to a few weeks to process, with some taking up to a month.
The main thing that characterises digital nomads is their ability to work from anywhere in the world, as long as they have a laptop, computer, and a stable internet connection.
Because of this open-ended model, many people may have the potential to turn their current jobs into a digital nomad position or change roles into one which allows them to do so.
If you’d like to become a digital nomad, it may be worth seeing if your current role will allow you to do so. If your work pattern is hybridised or partly remote, your employer may be willing to negotiate you being able to make it fully remote.
You may then be able to discuss with them the possibility of working from abroad. Note that your employer will have to take into consideration the legal and financial implications of this, as well as factor in changes to your own work habits and contending with time zone differences that may cause challenges with the way you communicate with your colleagues.
However, if you’re a freelancer or self-employed and you don’t need to be tied down to a physical office or face-to-face meetings, it’s likely that there’ll be little stopping you from embracing the digital nomad lifestyle, as long as you can afford the additional costs and expenses involved.