While freelance working and digital nomad culture have continuously gained momentum in recent years, individuals who work remotely and their movements from place to place are often at the behest of a given countries work visa requirements for digital nomads and online workers. Europe provides some of the most flexible locations to work remotely, especially if you are a citizen of an EU member state. A few factors should always be considered, especially if you are coming from outside the EU.
On one hand, digital nomads don’t qualify for the traditional work visas as in most cases they require a contract with a local company or entity. On the other hand, a basic tourist visa may be too limiting especially if you want to extend your stay.
It is important to plan ahead your movements where possible, without overstressing about it either. Try to make sure you will be allowed entry to a new country when you arrive and will not find yourself in a grey area when it comes time to leave. Part of digital nomad culture is a sense of moving around without too many set rules!
What is a Nomad Visa?
A digital nomad visa is a travel permit that allows a traveling professional to legally stay, and work remotely in a certain country.
In essence, a Nomad Visa eliminates the need to take multiple visas or exit to other countries. For instance, you get to enjoy a longer stress-free stay instead of taking a tourist visa and then going through a daunting process to extend your stay.
Although every country issuing freelance and digital nomad visas has their own policies some of the most basic requirements for such visas include;
- A valid passport
- Proof of a steady income (remote)
- Proof that you’re indeed a digital nomad
- Proof that you can sustain yourself for the entire duration of your stay
Do digital nomads need work visas?
Technically, you need a work visa if you want to work legally in a foreign country. It all depends on your country of origin and the country you intend to work in. If you are planning to stay longer than 90-days, then it is a good idea to familiarise yourself with that nation’s visa requirements in advance.
However, digital nomads are often independent contractors or freelancers working for companies or individuals from all over the world. This means you’re automatically ineligible for a traditional work visa which often requires a contract from a local employer.
Plus, as a digital nomad, you can easily visit a country on a tourist visa and still get your work done as long as you have access to your laptop and internet connection.
For the longest time, this has been the only available option especially because most countries have been reluctant in providing a visa specifically designed to cater to digital nomads.
Nonetheless, remote working is not exclusive to digital nomads anymore. Times are changing and more countries are coming up with visa options that allow digital nomads to visit and work remotely.
Do you need a visa to be a digital nomad?
You don’t always need a visa to be a digital nomad. Not every country requires a visa to visit and based on your citizenship or country of origin you can enjoy visa-free privileges to some destinations.
That said, for countries that require a visa you’ll not be exempted as a digital nomad. Since most countries are yet to launch visas specific to digital nomads you might need one or more visas to get you fully covered legally.
Some European Countries with Digital Nomad Visa
Estonia opened applications for DNV (Digital Nomad Visa) as from 1st August 2020. This type of visa is designed to allow foreigners to stay and work in the country as tourists for a period of up to one year.
Although Estonia’s Digital Nomad Visa is open to all nationalities and work sectors, you have to fulfill the set eligibility criteria.
- Prove you’re a digital nomad
- Prove that your income meets Estonia’s minimum salary requirement for the last six months at least. Currently € 3504 (gross of tax).
Fit into one of these categories;
- Have a work contract with a foreign entity, or a company
- Be a shareholder or a partner in a foreign registered country
- Be a freelancer or offer consulting services to foreign clients and have a contract
To apply for Estonia’s Digital Nomad Visa, you have to complete a visa application form, and then submit all the required documents at the nearest Embassy or Estonian consulate.
On 27th August 2020, Georgia launched a program that allows, freelancers, business owners, and full-time employed individuals to work remotely from the country.
With the ‘Remotely from Georgia’ program, you’ll be able to live and work from Georgia for up to 360 days.
To apply you’ll need to fulfill the following requirements;
- Be a citizen from one (or more) of the 95 eligible countries
- Prove ability to pay taxes while staying in Georgia
- Have a minimum income of $2000
- Have a health insurance
Croatia is also set to be among the first European countries to introduce a digital nomad visa as of the beginning of 2021. Watch this space, as Croatia and especially the city of Dubrovnik is seeking to attract digital nomads as a matter of policy. Why? Unlike summer season tourists, digital nomads inject year-round revenue into local economies. They often have a high rate of disposable income and are seeking to rent properties longer-term, anywhere from one month or more. Croatia will feature in our Global Nomad: Balkan Summer 2021 tour.
Currently, non-EU residents can only stay in Croatia for a maximum of 90 days per visit. But soon to be introduced digital nomad visa will allow a 12-months stay to individuals that can fulfil all the requirements such as;
- Health insurance
- A clean criminal record
- A certain level of income