New Digital Nomad Visa: Everything You Need to Know
The new digital nomad visa has been designed for those who wish to travel while maintaining employment and working virtually. So, if a person only requires a computer or laptop with an Internet connection to work for a business but wants to expand their travel and live in other countries, then they can apply for a digital nomad visa and still maintain their earning capability. As with all visas, there are differences in the application process and the eligibility criteria depending on which of the 24+ countries accept the digital nomad visa you are applying to, but primarily the process operates on a general standard of common rules. In this guide, we discuss everything you will need to know before deciding whether a digital nomad visa is the best choice for you.
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The new digital nomad visa has been designed for those who wish to travel while maintaining employment and working virtually. So, if a person only requires a computer or laptop with an Internet connection to work for a business but wants to expand their travel and live in other countries, then they can apply for a digital nomad visa and still maintain their earning capability. As with all visas, there are differences in the application process and the eligibility criteria depending on which country accept the digital nomad visa you are applying to, but primarily the process operates on a general standard of common rules. In this guide, we discuss everything you will need to know before deciding whether a digital nomad visa is the best choice for you.
Why Has This New Visa Been Introduced?
Fundamentally changes to visas came in the week of the global pandemic. Massive lockdowns on a worldwide scale meant that many people had to work from home as they were not allowed to go to their place of work. It proved more successful than many employers first thought it would and has now been labelled hybrid working and is a popular alternative that many employees are seeking when looking for work. The landscape of working has been changed forever, with employees now able to work from coffee shops, home, or pretty much anywhere with an Internet connection making the daily commute redundant.
The mental health benefits have proven to be significant, and people report a much happier work-life balance. Employers were always concerned that working from home would decrease productivity. , but in fact, in most cases, quite the opposite is true. Employees work harder because they are happier. So the digital nomad Visa was introduced to enable countries to capitalise on this new way of life. The countries taking part in the scheme realise that allowing the people to live in the country while maintaining their current employment actually stimulates the economy and starts to recover the damage done by the pandemic and the tourist industry when everything was dead. It is popular with remote workers as they can still earn money but immerse themselves in new cultures, explore new places and make new memories without having to leave their jobs or apply for costly and time-consuming temporary resident and work visas.
So How Does It Work?
In most cases, if you are granted a digital nomad visa, you are allowed to live in a country while working digitally for a period of around a year. The work has to be for an employer in another country, and you must be able to carry out your role using a computer and Internet connection. It does not replace any work visa requirements for that country. So if you wanted to get a second job, say in a local café, you would need to also meet the visa requirements and be issued a work permit if one is needed. Assuming that your single role sustains your income then you are free to live in the country but earn your money on a digital basis.
Other Restrictions Can Apply
So as mentioned above, the main criteria of a digital nomad visa are:
You are only working digitally for an employer in another country
You are not taking up any form of employment in the host country
In many cases, there will be other limits to what you can do while you are there, generally being akin to a standard tourist visa. So this means you cannot vote, apply for benefits, or try and obtain permanent residency status. These are all things that vary from country to country, so you should carefully examine the rules for your chosen country before you start your application.
Why Not Just Get a Tourist Visa?
The main answer to this question is time. It depends on how long you want to spend in the host country. Tourist visas are usually only valid for a couple of months. Once it expires, you are required to leave the country. The new digital nomad Visa is generally granted for a 12-month period. In many cases, you can extend it if you enjoy living and working in that country. If you are only planning to go on holiday or be in a country for a couple of months, you may find it all you need is a tourist visa. This has been designed for people who wish to stay a little longer and enjoy living in another country without having to give up their employment.
It Does Not Replace a Work Visa
This is important; in no way does a digital nomad visa replace a physical work visa. Using the digital nomad visa, you cannot be employed by a local business in the host country. It’s not a shortcut; it cannot help you get a standard work visa, so you must be clear on what you can and can’t do. So, let’s say you plan to go to Spain to teach English as a foreign language. If you are employed over the Internet to do this already, and your employer is based in another country, you could apply for a nomad visa and stay in Spain for a year.
However, while you are there, you cannot take paid or unpaid employment in a language school or any other venue teaching English as a foreign language. You cannot take a second job to top up your income, so if you plan to go down that route, you need to look at the work visa requirements for that country and potentially apply for that instead.
Digital Nomad Eligibility Criteria
As already mentioned, there are some differences between host countries, so you need to make sure you have checked out the specific rules for the country you are applying to. However, there are a general set of criteria that every country requires from their digital nomad visa applicants.
You will need to provide evidence that you are a remote worker and can carry out your job from anywhere
The company or business that you are employed by cannot be based in the country you are applying to
Meet specific financial criteria to prove that you can support yourself and any dependence you may be bringing for the duration of your stay
Demonstrated your ability to meet any minimum monthly income requirements
Provide evidence of private health insurance
Show that you have accommodation for the duration of your stay
Be a citizen of an eligible country
Provide a clean criminal records check
Some countries have also implemented COVID-19 restrictions and will require you to prove that you are fully vaccinated before travel.
How Do You Apply for a Digital Nomad Visa?
As with most visas, there will be an application fee that you will need to pay when applying for a digital nomad visa.
General supporting documentation will be needed no matter which country you are replying to; this will include the following:
Passport and travel documentation
Proof you can work remotely and have an employer
Evidence of your salary and also any bank statements supporting your ability to finance your stay
A copy of valid private health insurance that covers the entirety of your stay
Evidence of your accommodation, for example, your rental agreement
A clear criminal record check
Evidence of family ties to your country to show that you will be returning there or proof that you have onward travel arranged
Any other documentation, as requested.
In many cases, you are able to start your digital nomad visa application online. However, some will require a paper application to be made via the local consulate or embassy. Some countries will request an interview in person at the consulate or embassy, and this will allow them to verify your supporting documentation. Any visa application is processed by the immigration, visa and foreign affairs departments for that country. You will be contacted with a decision, and if accepted, you can make plans to travel to the country to live. Costs are set by the government to which you are replying, and they vary. Georgia, for example, makes no charge to applicants, whereas Barbados charges $2000 per applicant.
As well as taking into account the application fee you should ensure that you can cover all associated costs. This includes your travel insurance, health insurance, accommodation and living costs. You should also plan for any unexpected scenarios that might cost money.
Your income will be taxed in your home country, so if it is taxed at source, it will continue. If you are self-employed for a company, you are still bound by the tax laws of that country. Therefore you need to complete your tax returns and pay your taxes. You also need to consider the country you are living in and its tax laws. You could become liable for tax in your host country. Especially if you have been living there for more than 183 days of the year. Many countries recognise that digital nomad Visa holders have different living arrangements than full residents. Which means they may offer tax incentives to attract applicants. In Greece, the digital nomad visa holder is entitled to a 50% reduction in their social security and income tax payments. Tax can be very complicated, so you should seek professional advice to ensure you comply.
Countries that Accept Digital Nomad Visa Applications
Georgia: Application Cost €0, Visa Length: 12 Months
Croatia: Application Cost €80-€1230, Visa Length: 12 Months, can apply for an extension
Czech Republic: Application Cost €0, Visa Length: 12 Months, can apply for an extension
Estonia: Application Cost €0, Visa Length: 12 Months
Iceland: Application Cost €50, Visa Length: 6 Months
Germany: Application Cost €100, Visa Length: 6 months-3years
Norway: Application Cost €600, Visa Length: 6 months-3 years
Portugal: Application Cost €83, Visa Length: 12 Months-5 years
Spain: Application Cost €140, Visa Length: 12 Months, can apply for an extension
Malta: Application Cost €300, Visa Length: 12 Months, can apply for an extension
Greece: Application Cost €75, Visa Length: 12 Months, can apply for an extension
Hungary: Application Cost €110, Visa Length: 12 Months, can apply for an extension
Cyprus: Application Cost €140, Visa Length: 12 Months, can apply for an extension
Barbados: Application Cost €2000, Visa Length: 12 Months
Bermuda: Application Cost €263, Visa Length: 12 Months
Mexico: Application Cost €390, Visa Length: 12 Months, can apply for an extension.
Panama: Application Cost €300, Visa Length: 9 Months, can apply for an extension
Dubai: Application Cost €287, Visa Length: 12 Months
Taiwan: Application Cost €310, Visa Length: Open-ended
Sri Lanka: Application Cost €150, Visa Length: 90-180 days, can be extended
Thailand: Application Cost €600, Visa Length: 10 years
Malaysia: Application Cost €220, Visa Length: 12 Months, can apply for an extension
Mauritius: Application Cost €0, Visa Length: 12 Months
Cape Verde: Application Cost €54, Visa Length: 6 Months, can apply for an extension
This list was correct when the article was produced.