If the past few years have taught us one thing, it may be the ease with which we can work from home, or just about anywhere in the world. Perhaps we already knew this, and the COVID-19 pandemic was simply the catalyst for this shift in mindset. That’s why many countries have launched some form of a digital nomad visa, aiming to attract remote workers to work in their country while they can also legally live there.
One thing is for sure: More people than ever before have the ability to work remotely from anywhere in the world, provided that you have a stable internet connection. In what turned out to be one of the most popular options, Portugal launched its own Digital Nomad Visa in late 2022, allowing remote workers to live and work remotely in Portugal.
In this article, we’ll provide you with crucial information on Digital Nomad Visas, including what the visa is, eligibility criteria, the best countries to get a visa as a digital nomad, and the application process.
What is a Digital Nomad Visa?
A Digital Nomad Visa is a visa that many countries have introduced, allowing individuals to live and work in their country for a set period of time. Usually, a requirement is that your primary work or the company you contract to is outside of the host country. Self-employed, freelancers or people who have a business that can be managed from anywhere in the world also qualify for a remote worker visa.
The visas are usually short-term (up to one year) and do not offer a pathway to citizenship. Although, in some cases there is the possibility to get a residence permit, depending on the country’s requirements.
In short, the visa lets you stay in the country to work, and can be seen as similar to a temporary residence visa. As long as you have a sufficient income from an outside source, you can join many digital nomads who make their living this way. It doesn’t need to be a desk job, either. If you live a nomadic lifestyle, have high-speed internet and can work from coffee shops to national parks and everything in between, you can definitely make another beautiful country your temporary home.
Remote working often involves relatively expensive equipment, so don’t forget to add travel insurance to your list of things to get before you leave. During the work permit application process, some countries might need you to show proof of health insurance coverage, too.
However, it is different to a short stay visa, as those are generally only up to 180 days and you can’t work, even if you have a foreign employer. Self-employed people are usually also barred from making money during this time.
Digital Nomad Visa programs are steadily becoming more common across the world. Some of the general eligibility criteria to qualify for this visa type are the following:
- You must be over the age of 18.
- Prospective applicants must be able to prove a specific monthly minimum income, which varies depending on the country. Usually this is two or three times the country’s minimum wage.
- You must have a job that you can do from anywhere in the world for a company registered elsewhere but not located in the host country. In most cases, people apply as freelance or consulting services workers, but it can also be through an employer registered abroad.
Where can I get a Digital Nomad Visa in 2023?
As of late 2023, there are 43 countries that offer digital nomad visas, although it could go by different names, such as an Independent Contractor visa. The countries that currently offer such a visa are:
* South Africa was set to launch its remote worker visa by the end of 2023 but will fail to meet the self-imposed deadline.
Middle East and Asia
* Sri Lanka announced a similar visa but is yet to implement it.
* Italy doesn’t have a remote worker visa yet, but an Italian visa for remote workers was approved and signed into Italian law in early 2022. As of late 2023, Andorra was close to approving a remote worker visa.
Americas and Caribbean
Antigua and Barbuda
Note that there are no Digital Nomad Visas in the US to date. However, the USA has many other visa types and residence permits for foreign nationals that could apply to you, and it may still be possible to live in the USA and work as a freelancer.
Best Countries to Get a Visa as a Digital Nomad
Argentina: The Argentinian government launched its take on a visa for digital nomads on 21 May 2022. The Argentinian digital nomad visa allows digital nomads to work remotely for either an international or Argentinian company.
Costa Rica: The Rentista Visa for digital nomads is an easily obtained visa and allows holders to remain in the country for two years, with the possibility to extend this further. The visa is designed for small investors who want to provide their services in Costa Rica. You will need to prove that you have around $2,500 per month as proof of a steady income.
Croatia: The Croatian authorities launched their visa for digital nomads in 2021 to encourage remote workers to live in Croatia while working.
Czech Republic: The Freelance Visa is for those looking to work on their own time schedule and live in the Czech Republic. The visa is valid for up to one year, with the possibility of extension for a further two years. The Freelance Visa costs around €223, and you will need to demonstrate that you have an income of €5,767.
Estonia: This visa is specifically called the Digital Nomad Visa and was launched at the end of 2019 with the aim to target remote workers.
Germany: Digital nomads can apply for a German Freelance Visa, which allows holders to work with different startups, businesses, or individuals on part-time contracts or a needs basis.
Iceland: The Icelandic version of digital nomad visas were launched by the country in October 2020 and is called the Icelandic Remote Worker Visa. This visa also serves as a temporary residence permit.
Mexico: If you want to live in Mexico while working as a digital nomad, then the Mexico Temporary Resident Visa is a safe bet. You can stay in the country for one year and then can extend the visa up to three more times.
Norway: Norway offers visas for digital nomads looking to live and work in Svalbard, one of the most expensive places to live in the world. The visa is valid for a lifetime, and you simply need to show that you have sufficient funds to support your stay there. Living in Svalbard can be pretty difficult because of the very low temperatures and the 24 hours of darkness that the archipelago experiences for about four months of the year, from November to February. However, living in Svalbard is an experience that digital nomads will remember for a lifetime.
Portugal: The Portugal Digital Nomad Visa launched in late 2022. This visa provides its holders with the ability to live and work in the country. There are two categories you can opt for, the temporary stay visa, which is valid for one year, or a digital nomad residence permit, for those that are looking to secure residency in the country. A digital nomad residence permit allows you to become a resident of the country, with the possibility of citizenship after five years, provided you meet all the requirements, such as making at least four times the Portuguese minimum wage per month, which is about €3,040.
The requirements and specific procedures may differ from country to country. However, the application process follows a similar course as outlined below. Note that it is best to check the specific procedure of your foreign country of interest.
Fill out the application form
If you are looking to work as a digital nomad, then you will need to complete an application form for this visa, carefully following the instructions.
Prepare your documents
After you have completed your application, you will need to prepare the necessary documents that you have to present. You may need to have some documents translated in some circumstances. Other documents may need to be certified with an apostille stamp.
Set up an appointment
You will need to locate a visa office to make an appointment. Your appointment can either be at an embassy or a consulate. Once you have found your closest visa office, you can schedule an appointment where you will attend an interview.
File your application with the embassy or consulate
Once you have all your documents prepared, submit them along with your completed visa application to the embassy. You will also need to attend the interview and pay the visa fee (if required). Note that some countries may ask you to pay the fee before your appointment. You will need to show the payment receipt as part of the application documents.
Although this will vary from country to country, you will likely need to present the following documents for this visa:
- Application form
- Valid passport
- Identity pictures
- Proof that you meet the minimum monthly income or that you exceed the gross monthly income threshold
- Evidence of remote work to satisfy the minimum income requirement
- Civil documents (birth certificate, qualifications, etc.)
- Valid property rental
The documents that you will be required to present to apply for your visa will need to follow the guidelines shown below:
- You must have a valid passport that has a validity of at least six months at the time of the application
- Your identification picture needs to have a plain, white background with a neutral facial expression and must not be edited in any way.
- Your civil documents need to be translated (if required by the country) and certified with an apostille stamp.
The dedicated Digital Nomad Visa validity will depend on the country to which you are applying. Commonly, the remote worker visas last up to a year or sometimes up to two years. Some countries may allow visa holders to extend your visa for up to four years if you meet the qualifying criteria.
Applying with Family Members
You may be able to bring family members with you with this visa type. Some countries only allow you to bring your spouse or registered partner, and your children.
The Digital Nomad Visa Versus the Tourist Visa
The Digital Nomad and the Tourist Visa offer very different things to the holder. Check the table below to find information on the key differences.
Digital Nomad Visa
Can take months to be processed
Usually takes around two weeks to be processed
Issued for 1 year
Usually valid for 90-180 days in a year
Allows you to travel and work remotely in the country
Allows you to travel in the country
You have to be employed or self-employed to get the visa
You do not have to be employed
Frequently Asked Questions About the Digital Nomad Visa:
How long does it take to get a Digital Nomad Visa?
The length of time to get your visa will depend on the country, but it will generally take around one month to process your visa.
How much does a Digital Nomad Visa cost?
Digital Nomad Visas vary considerably in terms of price. Some countries may issue you a Digital Nomad for free to attract more applicants, but for others, you may need to pay between €200 to €2,100.
Why may your Digital Nomad Visa be denied?
Some of the reasons why Digital Nomad Visas may be denied include:
- You have been convicted of a serious crime
- You do not have a job that you can do remotely
- You completed the application form with incorrect information
- You fail to meet the annual income requirement
Does the UK offer a Digital Nomad Visa?
To date, the UK does not offer a visa specifically for digital nomads. Temporary workers are welcome in the UK to live and work for a short-term period under categories such as the Government Authorized Exchange or Seasonal Workers program.
Do you need a Digital Nomad Visa?
If you are looking to conduct work in a country, you will need to have a visa. A visa for digital nomads can be an excellent option for you to work remotely hassle-free for a set period of time in a specific country, provided they offer some form of visa for digital nomads.
What type of work can I do with a Digital Nomad Visa?
As long as you can work remotely, you should be able to apply for a visa for digital nomads. Some of the most popular job types for digital nomads are:
- Digital entrepreneur
- Content creator
- Website developer
- Social media marketer
Do I have to pay taxes under a Digital Nomad Visa?
In general, you have to file a tax return in your county of residence if you have a visa for digital nomads. Note that this will vary depending on which country you are working remotely in.
To provide you with an example, if you are working on a remote worker visa in Estonia and stay in the country for more than 183 days, then you will be considered a tax resident in the country.
With this said, other countries have a one-year tax exemption in place for digital nomads. To be completely clear on whether you need to pay taxes, check the information provided by your host country.