Digital nomad visas are brilliant. Finally, some forward-thinking countries have made it easier for digital nomads to do what digital nomads do – live, work, travel and enjoy complete flexibility.
But digital nomad visas are not new. There have always been workarounds that enable you to live and work remotely in various countries – essentially digital nomad visas in all but name.
Countries like Estonia, Barbados and Georgia have led the official evolution. And there are now 24 visas you can use. In this article we explain what, why and where.
Disclaimer – visas are complicated and there are different rules and regulations dependent on your nationality. The following information is an overview and will apply to most nationalities, but not all.
What is a Digital Nomad Visa?
A long-term visa for a digital nomad does seem like a paradox. If a nomad has no fixed base, why does a nomad need a special visa?
A digital nomad visa or workaround enables you to live and work in the country for a prolonged period of time. Most are one year. Typical tourist visas or tourist entry requirements only allow you to stay for 30 or perhaps 90 days, and you legally can’t work, even remotely.
For decades digital nomads have been de-facto illegal. They don’t visit a country solely as a tourist, but work remotely in that country and often stay for many months. Traditionally it has been difficult to get a long-stay visa without either an obscene amount of money or a bureaucratic residency process.
With a digital nomad visa there is much greater flexibility. You can come and go as you please. You don’t need to worry about over-staying and visa runs. You can work, you can travel, you can live freely and fully remotely.
General Conditions & Requirements for Digital Nomad Visas
The exact requirements vary dependent on the country. You usually need to arrange most of these visas in advance and prove the following:
- Your income or savings meet a minimum threshold and covers the duration of your visa ($600 – 5000 dependent on the country)
- Valid travel or health insurance for the duration of your stay.
- That your work is location independent (i.e. you’re not in the country to specifically do business in the country)
Some countries also require you to have an employment contract, your own registered business, or proof you freelance for clients outside the country. All have a processing fee (very low in Europe, very high in the Caribbean)
With these visas it’s best to be honest with the authorities about your digital nomad status. I don’t really know where I’m going and I don’t have to be anywhere specific, but I’m going to spend my money along the way!
Top 20 Digital Nomad Visa Options Around the World
The Official “Digital Nomad” Visas
Finally we’re getting recognition that digital nomads are a great benefit to a country. Holidaymakers spend their disposable income on travel. Digital nomads spend almost their entire income in the destinations they visit. They distribute almost everything they earn in a place that is not home. They spend more because they stay longer.
Some countries are now outdoing each other to offer the best terms to digital nomads, in the form of official digital nomad visas.
1 year temporary stay
Estonia is small, welcoming, surprisingly vibrant and a great place for digital work. Estonia created the precursor to digital nomad visas with its e-residency program. Anyone can become a digital resident of Estonia and operate a business in the country, for a registration less than €100.
The Estonian digital nomad visa was launched on August 1st 2020. You need to prove gross income of €3500 monthly and can request a 6-month (short stay) or 1-year (long stay visa.
Highly popular among digital nomads, Georgia has an alluring blend of mountains, culture, cheap prices and good Wi-Fi connection. Tbilisi is a fantastic base to consider.
For their Remotely From Georgia visa you need $2000 per month and still need to quarantine on arrival. But then you can stay in a country with hardly any Covid cases, no restrictions, and a great pace of life.
Plus the freelancer tax is just 1%, so it can be a long-term option if you really like it.
It’s hard to find a digital nomad who does not love Croatia. There’s so much more than the country’s famous Dalmatian Coast. It’s easy to spend a year in Croatia, experiencing the vibe in different towns, cities and landscapes. This is also where Remote Year made their first permanent home.
It will be easier to do this from January 1st 2021. That’s when Croatia’s new digital nomad visa will launch. Exact details are not yet known but there’s hope this could be one of the easiest to obtain.
4. Dubai (UAE)
A shimmering city rising from the Arabian desert, Dubai is a lot more than its skyscraper facade. It’s a fascinatingly multicultural hub of immigrants from all corners of the globe. It’s a place where it’s easy to fit in.
Now Dubai have made it easy with a One-Year Virtual Working Program, a remote work visa that also gives you access to the same services of any resident.
Dubai is an expensive place to be and that’s why it’s not on many digital nomad bucket lists. For this visa you’ll need to prove $5000 per month income over the last few months, with either an employee or your own company.
Mexico is as much a continent as a country. You’ll find Tulum and other digital nomad hotspots on the Caribbean coast, then a string of surf nomad towns on the Pacific. The cities are wonderfully diverse and colourful.
Mexico is also popular thanks to their generous six-month tourist visa. Now you can stay longer, up to four years with a Temporary Resident Visa for freelancers. Proving a monthly income of $1620 is attainable for most nomads and with so much time in Mexico, there are so many places you can travel, live and work.
In Portugal it’s not called a digital nomad visa but it’s essentially the same. You can apply for a Residence Visa for Independent Work or a Resident Visa for Entrepreneurs.
With its beaches, cities, laid-back vibe and all-round good times, Portugal is among the world’s most popular digital nomad destinations. There’s more than just Lisbon! Apply for this visa at a Portuguese embassy or consulate, with proof that you make €600 a month and have valid insurance. Only €600 a month!
The first visa gives you a year, which can be renewed for five years. And after that you can be resident. The paperwork is bureaucratic and it’s a little complicated, so read up before applying.
Digital Nomad Visas in the Caribbean
Many Caribbean nations are reliant on tourism. But with Covid-19 decimating tourism, they have turned to digital nomads in an attempt to regain some of this incoming revenue. Each island is different, although their nomad visas are essentially the same. You need to prove a substantial annual income and pay a substantial visa fee ($2000).
For many, the dream of being a digital nomad is living and working on a spectacular white beach. So why not the Caribbean!
Anguilla is tiny, pretty and as slow-paced as you can imagine. So if you want to disappear into palm tree paradise for a year try their Digital Nomad visa. Anguilla is not well connected, so it’s not good if you want to fly in and out regularly, but great if you really need a detox and break.
The island is very strict about Covid and has hardly had ay cases, which means freedom to move and live without restrictions. But like other Caribbean nations, it’s not a cheap place to stay, especially if you want beachfront accommodation in a hotel or resort. Exact financial requirements are not published.
8. Antigua & Barbuda
This Caribbean nation is two different islands. Antigua is bigger, with colourful towns as well as beaches and resorts. Barbuda is mostly a resort haven, which may appeal to some but certainly not most digital nomads.
In a bid to outdo their neighbours, Antigua & Barbuda offers a two-year Nomad Digital Residence. This long duration supports a back and forth existence, so Antigua & Barbuda can be a go-to spot throughout 24 months. It is pricy. The visa fee is $1500 and you need to earn at least $50,000 per year.
Barbados was second only to Estonia in offering a nomad visa, with their Barbados Welcome Stamp. Stay for 12 months with the option to extend. Then live and work from the beach.
Barbados has more than great beaches and it’s still difficult to imagine spending an entire 12 months on a white Caribbean beach. Like Antigua & Barbuda, you need to prove $50,000 annual income and the application fee is high at $2000.
Bermuda understands the digital nomad style. Their Work from Bermuda is for any nomad who wants to stay for up to 12 months and work from, not in Bermuda.
And unlike others in the Caribbean, there is no minimum income requirement. You just need travel insurance and proof of your location independent work. At $263 the visa fee is the cheapest in the region as well.
11. Cayman Islands
Famous as a tax haven and one of the most expensive places to live in the world, the Cayman Islands are not very appealing to digital nomads.
But let’s give respect to the Cayman Islands for introducing a two-year Global Citizen Certificate. It’s just hard to see many digital nomads proving the minimum annual salary of $100,000. You are also subject to background checks and need a notarised bank reference letter.
Digital Nomad Visa Workarounds
In many countries you can stay for a year or more without a specific digital nomad visa. You just need to know the workaround to enjoy the same benefits.
12. Costa Rica
Costa Rica is a stunning nomad destination. Beaches, surfing, jungle, hiking, a relaxed atmosphere and the pura vida (pure life) mentality. It’s been loved by nomads for over a decade.
Costa Rica’s Rentista is specifically for freelancers and entrepreneurs. You will need to prove $2500 per month of unearned income over two years, usually through a bank letter. This is isn’t available if you’re employed by one company. However, freelancers can show they have regular income from different sources.
These complications mean this visa is better if you really love Costa Rica and plan to stay. It’s fairly easy to make tourist visa runs to neighbouring countries if you’re a nomad in Central America.
Peru is already attractive and not just because of Machu Picchu. You can stay 183 days in a year, which is plenty of time to explore jungle, beach, mountain and city. To stay longer you can get a residence permit.
Either a Rentista Visa with proof of a steady $1000 a month income. Or get a work visa as the CEO of your own company. Both will get you three years and are ideal to use Peru as a second or regular residence.
Uruguay? It’s a fascinating, rural country, with very progressive politics and the slowest pace of life in South America. This was the first country to legalise all drugs and for an insight into its unpretentious style, try this Netflix documentary about the president El Pepe.
Uruguay is trying to transform itself into a tech hub but you’ll need to stay in the south for adequate Wi-Fi. Get six months on arrival as a tourist, then apply for a residence permit within 30 days, proving $600 a month.
People aged 18 – 30 can easily obtain a 12-month working holiday visa in Australia, by showing around $4000 in a bank account. It’s a good option for new digital nomads who are uncertain about their potential income, because you can legally work in Australia during this 12 months.
That means combining digital work with bar or cafe work, or very well paid jobs in agriculture.
16. Czech Republic
Historical, cultural, beautiful and a lot of fun! There’s a lot to like about the Czech Republic and it’s not just Prague. They offer a freelancer visa that is very easy to obtain, especially if you use a local agency.
It’s called the Zivno and you need a freelance trade from their official list. But you only need to prove €5587 for an entire year!
Digital nomads can stay in Germany for between six months and three years, thanks to the German Freelance Visa (Aufenthaltsterlaubnis fur selbstandige Tatigkeit), although you can’t be very nomadic.
The visa takes 3 – 4 months to approve and you must provide a residence, in the form of a rental contract, along with financial self-sustainability (the exact amount is not specified). So if you have the address, you can stay, live and work in Germany.
A wild card in this list, Norway is mostly considered too expensive for digital nomads. Plus it’s cold for a lot of the year. But wow, what a beautiful country!
Stay for up to two years on a Self-Employed Person Visa. You’ll need to prove €36,719 per year and have a contract for freelancing work with a Norwegian client.
France also offers a similar one-year Self-Employed Person or Liberal Activity Visa but at €18,240 it’s easier to obtain. Like Germany you’ll need an address, except in France it’s possible to use a friend’s address or short-term accommodation like an Airbnb.
Apply before you travel, with proof of income, health insurance, French address, and a letter certified by a notary that declares you won’t work for a French employer.
Another option is the French Sabbatical Visa. You need €13,176 in a bank account and promise not to work at all in France.
Spain’s Non-Lucrative Visa is intended for retirees and you can’t technically work with this visa. But if you can prove €2151 per month and buy private Spanish health insurance you’ll get a minimum of one year.
That’s enough to explore a lot of different regions and cities. Spain’s diversity is incredibly underrated and unknown, until you arrive in Spain and appreciate just how much you can travel, live and explore.
21 – 24 Other Options In Europe
Italy, Netherlands, Ireland and Sweden all have similar visas for entrepreneurs and people who can prove independent means. However, the financial thresholds are high compared to Spain, Portugal and France, plus there’s a lot of bureaucracy. You’ll need business plans, signed documents, and paperwork that’s maybe not worth the visa.
Almost all nomads find it easier to visa hop in and out instead, especially as these countries are within the lax Schengen zone. But they are also options for digital nomads wanting a solid European base.
Work Remotely and Live Anywhere as a Digital Nomad
So that’s 24 countries where you can stay for far longer than a 30-day tourist visa. So work remotely, live and enjoy a new place, and then move on. It’s very possible, especially when you have remote work.