Home » Digital Nomad Visas: What You Need to Know

Digital Nomad Visas: What You Need to Know

Digital nomads often struggle to fit into existing visa structures.

Work visas can be difficult and expensive to get. That’s by design, since they’re intended to protect local jobs and businesses from foreign competition.

Nomads work while they’re visiting a country — but that work takes place digitally, often on a server located on their home soil. The nomad’s employer or clients and tax responsibilities often remain in their home country as well.

Should we have to jump through hoops to qualify for a traditional business visa? Most nomads don’t think so, and we usually enter countries as tourists. We can honestly say that our reason for visiting is tourism — we’re visiting to enjoy the place in our free time.  We don’t have to enter that specific country to do our jobs, so business isn’t the reason for our visit. 

Many countries, however, have outdated rules stating that if you will work while you’re within their borders, you must apply for a business or working visa just like someone who is taking on local employment or clients.

An Ethical Puzzle

Like most ethical questions, there are two sides to the coin, and the truth lies in the center.

On one hand, we may spend weeks or months taking advantage of infrastructure like high-speed internet and public transportation that are subsidized by other peoples’ tax dollars. If we get sick or injured, we’ll depend on healthcare services that are often taxpayer-supported as well. Our presence takes housing away from locals, drives up prices — and in popular areas creates whole neighborhoods owned by Airbnb landlords who aren’t invested in supporting local schools or community resources.

On the other hand, we funnel money from our clients into the country and community. Our income doesn’t come from the local economy, but we pour it into the hands of local landlords, merchants, farmers, artisans, and restaurants. When we gather in numbers, our presence creates opportunities for locals to offer housing, restaurants, cafes, transportation, and entertainment. 

Ethics aside, travelers who work in a country without a work visa could always face consequences.

Countries with Digital Nomad Visas

Until recently, nomads had to decide whether to risk entering each country based on tourist rules or go through the traditional work visa application. But now a handful of countries are catching up and offering visas that are aimed especially at remote workers. 

These visas often let nomads stay longer than a tourist visa, and allow governments to decide the terms for remote workers. Some countries seem mostly interested in attracting high-income guests, while others have more of an open-door policy. Most require some kind of travel health insurance.

Some of the details that follow are specific to US residents, but most of the programs are open to other nationalities as well.

Also, note that some of these countries may be closed to Americans or other nationalities with high Covid rates during the pandemic. 

Antigua & Barbuda: Nomad Digital Residence Program

Digital Nomad Visas - Antigua
By Z_dead from London, UK – Flickr.com – image description page, CC BY 2.0,

Want a warm Caribbean base for your remote working life? Antigua and Barbuda offers a generous residence program designed to attract nomads. 

Maximum Stay: Up to two years

Requirements: 

  • $50,000 annual income
  • Proven ability to support any family members living with you
  • Employment must be based outside the Caribbean 
  • Health insurance

Cost:  $1,500/individual, $2,000/couple, $3,000/family of three or more

Aruba: One Happy Workation

Digital Nomad Visas Aruba
Photo by Howard Herdi from Pexels

This program is aimed at U.S. nationals who are self-employed or employed outside Aruba. Although it doesn’t allow you stay any longer than you could as a tourist, One Happy Workation explicitly welcomes digital nomads to work in the country and offers some discounts on lodging. 

Maximum Stay: Up to 180

Requirements:  

  • U.S. National
  • Self-employed or work for a non-Aruban company
  • Specific health insurance is required, but the cost is reasonable.

Cost: A visa is not required for this stay, so there is no fee.

Barbados: Welcome Stamp

Digital Nomad Visas Barbados
Photo by Robyn W from Pexels

Barbados is welcoming guests who want to live and work in the country for up to one year. The application process is simple and grants you access to a beautiful country with stunning beaches and fast wifi. 

Maximum Stay: Up to one year

Requirements:  

  • Online application
  • Passport

Cost: $2,000/individual, $3,000/family bundle

Bermuda: One-year Residency Permit

Photo by Brandon Morrison from Pexels

Bermuda is welcoming remote workers, digital nomads, and students to its sandy shores with an affordable temporary residency permit visa.

Maximum Stay: Up to one year

Requirements:  

  • Over 18
  • Health insurance
  • Proof of employment OR enrollment in educational program
  • Sufficient mean/continuous income

Cost: $263

Cayman Islands: Global Citizens Concierge Program

The Cayman Islands have created a program designed to welcome professionals and digital nomads to its luxury lifestyle.

Maximum Stay: Up to two years

Requirements:

  • Employed outside the Islands
  • Earn $100,000 per year ($150,000/couples, $180,000/families)
  • Notarized bank reference
  • Health insurance coverage
  • Clean criminal record

Cost: $1,469 non-refundable application fee

Croatia: Digital Nomad Visa

Croatia has announced that it is developing a long-term visa for digital nomads. Details have not yet been announced. 

Czech Republic: Long-term Business Visa

Photo by Felix Mittermeier from Pexels

The Czech Republic’s long-term business visa program isn’t specific to digital nomads, but it is an affordable program that lets you live and work legally in the country for up to one year.

Maximum Stay: Up to one year

Requirements:

  • Must apply at Embassy 3-4 months in advance, and be present in the US to receive the visa
  • Valid credit card
  • At least $5,600 in the bank for a one-year stay
  • Travel insurance
  • Proof of your business purpose
  • Criminal background check
  • Personal interview

Cost: $234

Estonia: Digital Nomad Visa

Digital Nomad Visas Estonia
By Diego Delso, CC BY-SA 3.0

This Northern European nation has been welcoming digital corporations for quite a while; it’s no surprise to find Estonia on the cutting edge of digital nomad work visas as well. 

Maximum Stay: Up to one year

Requirements:

  • Business or employment outside Estonia
  • Gross income of $4130/month for six months prior to application

Cost: $94-117 application fee, depending on length of stay.

Georgia: Remotely from Georgia Program

Photo by Rudolf Kirchner from Pexels

Georgia is welcoming digital nomads to stay long-term in the country, visa-free, with an approved application. 

Maximum Stay: 360 days

Requirements:

  • Freelancer, entrepreneur, or full-time employee outside Georgia
  • Minimum $2,000 monthly income
  • Health insurance

Cost: This is a visa-free stay, but you must pay taxes while in Georgia.

Germany: Freiberufler (freelance) visa

Photo by Shvets Anna from Pexels

Germany invites freelancers to stay for three months under this visa while applying for a long-term residency permit. After three years, you can apply for a settlement permit. This is a path to long-term residence in the EU. 

Maximum Stay: 3 months; can be converted into a residency permit

Requirements:

  • Work in one of the “liberal” professions (law, healthcare, communication, etc) 
  • Submit your plans, portfolio, etc.
  • Health insurance
  • Adequate means to support yourself (including pension plan if over age 45)
  • Register your business with the tax office and pay taxes

Cost: 60 Euros to apply for the freelance visa, 140 Euros for residence permit, up to 260 Euros for settlement permit

Iceland: Work in Iceland

This program used to be limited to EU residents, but Iceland has recently started offering this digital nomad visa to anyone who doesn’t need a visa to visit the country. 

Maximum Stay: 6 months

Requirements:

  • Have health insurance
  • Self-employed or work for a non-Icelandic company
  • Earn 1,000,000 ISK/month (around $7700) for an individual, 1,300,000 for a family

Cost: No visa needed

Mauritius: Premium Travel Visa

Photo by Michal Marek from Pexels

This African island nation is known for its beautiful beaches. Now you can arrange a prolonged stay and live and work legally here. 

Maximum Stay: Up to one year (renewable)

Requirements:

  • Income from outside Mauritius
  • Proof of a residence in the country
  • Travel & health insurance

Cost: No charge for visa

Mexico: Temporary Resident Visa

Photo by Michal Marek from Pexels

This visa allows anyone who is “financially solvent” to remain in Mexico long-term. It doesn’t allow for Mexican employment, but may allow you to earn income outside the country.

Maximum Stay: One year; renewable up to four years

Requirements:

  • Income of more than $2000/month OR bank balance above $103,000

Cost: No charge

Portugal: Self-Employment Visa

Photo by Michal Marek from Pexels

Long-term visas in the Schengen zone are highly desirable, and Portugal is a beautiful country to make a home base. 

Maximum Stay: Up to one year; longer terms available

Requirements:

  • Prove your skill is in demand
  • Register your business, pay taxes, etc
  • Have Portugese bank account and residence
  • Register for Taxpayer Identification Number
  • Lengthy application procedure; see details here. 

Spain: Self-Employment Work Visa

Photo by Aleksandar Pasaric from Pexels

Spain’s program is similar to Portugal’s. This is a long-term stay visa for freelance workers who will become Spanish taxpayers. 

Maximum Stay: Up to one year

Requirements:

  • Self-employment income
  • Register for taxpayer ID number
  • Complete lengthy application process

UAE (Dubai): Remote Work Visa

Photo by JESHOOTS.com from Pexels

Dubai is a glittering modern city with a great infrastructure for remote work — and no income tax.

Maximum Stay: Up to one year

Requirements:

  • Income of $5,000 month or more from outside UAE
  • Health insurance

Cost: $287

FAQ

What is a Digital Nomad Visa?

Digital nomad visas allow a visitor to legally work in a country when their income source (job or freelance work) is outside that country. Tourist visas usually prohibit work of any kind, while business or work visas are designed to protect local jobs and are often very difficult to get. The digital nomad visa is a modern solution to the visa issue for remote workers.

Do digital nomads need work visas?

In some cases. Tourist visas usually prohibit work of any kind, so a digital nomad entering a country on a tourism visa could get into trouble. Many countries are now developing visas specifically for digital nomads which allow work that doesn’t compete in the local job market.

How do digital nomads get a visa?

Many nomads enter countries on tourist visas and don’t tell immigration authorities that they’ll be working during their stay. Since work visas were designed to protect local jobs, they are a poor fit for nomads and are often expensive or difficult to get. Now many countries are offering specific digital nomad visas that welcome remote workers for longer stays.

Which countries have digital nomad visas?

At the moment, the countries offering a specific visa for remote workers are: Antigua & Barbuda, Aruba, Barbados, Bermuda, Cayman Islands, Croatia, Czech Republic, Estonia, Georgia, Germany, Iceland, Mauritius, Mexico, Portugal, Spain, and UAE/Dubai