Our secret is out. Even before the pandemic made remote work more possible than ever, the rise of digital nomads has been a tide akin to the waves of Portugal, and location independent workers are flocking to this way of living like nomads to a Scott’s Cheap Flights deal. Nomads aren’t the only ones taking notice either - many countries, recognizing the value these workers bring to their local economies, have begun to craft digital nomad visas, helping move remote workers from a legally iffy area to a smoother travel situation.
Currently, the majority of digital nomads travel on tourist visas, and tourist visas don’t allow for the holder to work while in the country. Originally designed to keep those traveling on these visas from taking local jobs, many countries have been turning a blind eye to digital nomads working on tourist visas because of the economic boost they bring. Digital nomad visas aim to clear up this gray area, clarifying working and tax requirements and often allowing for more extended stays than a tourist visa.
Where can I go?
Dr. Seuss said it best - “Oh, the places you’ll go”. Over 30 countries are already supporting some variation of a digital nomad visa, and that number is growing each day. Georgia, Croatia, Malta, Estonia, Mauritius and others have already established these visas, with Spain, Greece, Romania, Bali and more putting together their own versions as we write this.
Approved and Ready for Boarding
Georgia - Remote from Georgia
Georgia’s beautiful scenery and world-renowned wine encourage people from across the globe to visit each year - and for digital nomads, the Remote From Georgia visa allows a 1 year stay. Among the pros are a quick turnaround time for processing and no application fee. Couple that with the affordable cost of living and the mouthwatering food and it sounds too good to be true.
You’ll need to prove that you earn at least $2,000 a month, have travel insurance, and are employed by a company outside of Georgia - and once in Georgia for 183 days, you’re officially a tax resident, subject to 20% taxes. To offset this, Georgia offers a tax incentive called the Individual Entrepreneur - Small Business Status which knocks the 20% down to 1% (note that this is on gross revenue, not net profit). Bonus - if you’re looking to establish residency in Georgia, this visa can help you get there.
Croatia - Temporary Stay of Digital Nomad
Setting up shop in a country nicknamed the Land of 1000 Islands doesn’t sound like the worst plan. With Croatia’s digital nomad visa, you get 1 year to explore all those islands, not to mention breathtaking waterfalls, national parks, and the epic Game of Thrones filming location of Dubrovnik.
You’ll need to be able to prove a regular monthly income of “at least 2.5 average monthly net salaries paid for the previous year”, with a minimum of ~$2,700/month. If you want to stay the whole year, you need to show about $33k in savings as well. Secondary requirements include a clean slate (no criminal records) and an address in Croatia.
Croatia has also recently established an entire area targeting remote workers who want to stay and play for a while. The Digital Nomad Valley Zadar, located about 30 miles off the port city of Zadar, opened on October 10, 2021. The Valley offers a wide variety of living arrangements, from apartments to campgrounds.
Mauritius - Mauritius Premium Travel Visa\
Mauritius, an island off the coast of Madagascar in Africa, known for its exotic trees and volcanic landscapes, provides a premium travel visa that allows digital nomads to stay for up to a year. Online application for this visa is free, but when applying you will need to be able to prove you have comparable health insurance, travel insurance, and earn an income from somewhere outside Mauritius.
Estonia - Digital Nomad Visa
Estonia was the first country to pioneer the digital nomad visa. Good for a year, the upside of this visa is that while Estonia is in the Schengen zone, time spent in the country while on the digital nomad visa does not count towards the 90/180 Schengen limitation.
You’ll need to be able to show ~$4,250 of monthly income from outside of Estonia, and if you spend more than 183 days in Estonia, you will be subject to Estonia taxes at a flat 20% for personal income - businesses do not tax in Estonia unless they have distributed profits, which are subject to 20%.
Barbados - Barbados Welcome Stamp
The name of this visa alone gently nudges you to plan a trip to Barbados. The country is close in proximity to many Caribbean countries, making quick trips reasonably accessible. However, the requirements for this peppy-named visa are a bit more strenuous, focusing on financial elements.
The initial application cost for an individual is $2,000, and you must be able to prove that your annual salary is over $50,000. In addition, you must prove that you are working for a company outside of Barbados or own a location-independent business.
Cayman Islands - Global Citizen Certificate
The Cayman Islands recently launched a visa allowing digital nomads to stay in the country for two years.
Antigua and Barbuda - Nomad Digital Residence
These islands have launched their visas and are valid for up to two years. These locations may be a tad more costly than other options and also require a background check.
Costa Rica - Freelancer Visa
The Freelancer Visa in Costa Rica allows you to stay for up to two years, making this a desirable destination for those who want to stay long-term. The country will ask you to pay the 250 application fee, have all your documentation translated into Spanish, and prove you have an income of at least $2500 a month. Even if your income doesn’t meet those monthly requirements, there may be a workaround. Costa Rica will allow you to open and deposit $60,000 into a bank account to demonstrate you will be able to cover any costs while working there remotely.
In the Works
Imagine working with beautiful ocean views in the morning and visiting the uniquely constructed Guell park in the afternoon and rounding out the day with tapas and rioja. The digital nomad visa in Spain has been created, but they are still working out the bugs within the Spanish parliament. For individuals arriving from non-EU countries, the visa will allow applicants who are employed by a non-Spanish company or earn less than 20% from Spanish companies. Once fully approved, the digital nomad visa will allow the recipient to work for up to a year in Spain, and you may be able to renew it for a further two years if you continue to meet the requirements.
Spain already has a Self Employed visa in place, and you can learn more about its process here.
Romania is a popular destination among nomads due to its low cost of living, a plethora of coworking spaces, affordable transportation, and excellent high-speed internet access. The Romanian government has proposed new laws that show a little extra love to digital nomads wanting to stay.. If passed, it would allow nomads to stay up to 90 days, with extensions available. The visa covers anyone who works for themselves or a company outside of Romania.
To apply for the visa you will be required to show proof of remote employment, your accommodations, health care coverage, and validate your lack of criminal activity Romania also wants you to prove that you have a minimum income that equals that of an average gross salary during the six months prior to applying, which is slightly higher than the earlier discussions of 1,100 euros a month.