The world has changed substantially thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic. Nowhere is this more evident than in the travel and tourism industry and the workforce.

Economic losses continue to mount in tourism-dependent countries as people remain reluctant to travel. And employers now allow their staff to operate outside the office—something most companies see for the foreseeable future to help keep their employees safe.

These two needs—tourist destinations seeking to attract visitors, while minimizing the risk of outbreaks, and workers looking for a break from their home workspaces—are both being met by countries offering what is known as the digital nomad visa.

Key Takeaways

  • A digital nomad is a person who lives a nomadic lifestyle and uses technology to work remotely from outside their home country.
  • Digital nomad visas allow these individuals to legally live and work in another country.
  • These visas are available to students and workers, although the costs and requirements tend to vary.
  • Many offering countries allow individuals to apply for themselves as well as for dependents.
  • Although a digital nomad lifestyle allows you to have a long vacation while you work, it can be stressful and may hinder the formation of long-lasting relationships.

What Is a Digital Nomad Visa?

A digital nomad is someone who lives a nomadic lifestyle and uses technology to work remotely from outside their home country. A digital nomad visa is a document or program that gives someone the legal right to work remotely while residing away from their country of permanent residence.

The phrase digital nomad visa often isn’t used by the governments that issue them, with most regions giving their programs a unique name, such as the Cayman Islands’ Global Citizen Concierge Program, or using more general terms like residence permit. Keep in mind, though, that these visas may not explicitly target digital nomads.

Workers and students are able to use digital nomad visas, although the costs and requirements may vary. For example, the Work From Bermuda Certificate requires scholars to provide proof of enrollment in an undergraduate, graduate, doctoral, or research program with their application.

Some countries actually allow employers to apply for a digital nomad visa for their company. Dominica’s program charges $800 (in U.S. dollars) plus an additional $500 for each employee for a business of four or more people.

The information provided in this article focuses on digital nomad visas solely in the context of remote workers—not those who want to study abroad or for those who are in search of a lengthy corporate retreat.

Digital Nomads vs. Remote Workers

Although the term remote worker has become increasingly common, it isn’t perfectly synonymous with being a digital nomad. All digital nomads are, by necessity, remote workers. Yet the latter term can also apply to those who simply operate from their permanent residence instead of from an office. Laws differ, but entering a country as a tourist generally doesn’t permit the traveler to work while living there.

Working remotely (in your home country) wasn't as popular as it is today. That's because many employers felt that their employees wouldn't be productive if they worked away from the office. Those who needed to work from home were given special permission for certain reasons, such as family or a lack of workplace accommodations.

But telecommuting has become very common, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. Many companies now believe that working from home can actually increase productivity. Some research indicates that people who work from home end up working 1.4 days more than in-office workers.

Individual countries may require additional requirements because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Be sure to do your research before you apply.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Digital Nomads


It’s crucial for anyone considering working abroad to review and follow whatever is requested by their temporary residence of choice. While there are certain benefits, there are some downfalls to working on a digital nomad visa.

Advantages

The obvious benefit of these programs is that you can enjoy a long vacation while maintaining a stable source of income without putting your career on hold. Most regions that offer digital nomad visas already have the infrastructure necessary to support remote workers, such as strong wifi as a selling feature. For instance, Anguilla has two telecommunications network providers that offer high-speed internet.

The remote nature and quick government responses of some of the regions (particularly the islands) make them practically safe havens from the COVID-19 virus. Not surprisingly, these destinations commonly have strict guidelines for incoming travelers. For example, anyone arriving in Curaçao (which is considered a low-risk country) from a high-risk area must undergo a PXR test within 72 hours prior to departure.

Disadvantages

Being a digital nomad requires a job that’s remote and flexible. This is especially important when it comes to logging in hours when there's a time difference. Although these kinds of jobs have become more common in the wake of the pandemic, this may be a guaranteed deal-breaker for some companies and workers.

Moving around frequently from one country to another can be stressful, especially when you consider the rapid spread of the Delta virus. It can also be expensive. That’s not even accounting for the cost of the visa itself. And if the application for your next destination is rejected, you could be left scrambling to find a new place to live before you’re forced to leave once your current visa expires.

Moving around can also make it harder to form long-lasting relationships, while the constant distance can also put a strain on existing ones. Unless a country offers you permanent residency when your temporary visa expires, there’s little point in putting down roots where you won’t be living after a year or so. And although this lack of ties can definitely be seen as a plus to those who value their independence, anyone thinking about a lengthy period abroad should carefully consider how isolating it might be.

Pros
  • Long vacation with a stable source of income

  • Available infrastructure and resources

  • Some destinations are safe havens from COVID-19

Cons
  • Job must be remote and may require flexibility

  • Stress associated with constant moving

  • Expensive

  • Harder to plant roots and form long-lasting relationships

Who Offers Digital Nomad Visas?

There were 24 regions offering programs for temporary remote workers as of July 2021. Although the majority of these are countries, four are British Overseas Territories. Our research also finds that a few countries, such as Romania, announced that they are working on digital nomad programs. Approvals in these regions will be added to this list at a later date.

Anguilla

The Beyond Extraordinary Anguilla program allows digital nomads to reside in the British Overseas Territory for up to 12 months. If you want to work remotely from the island, you'll need to pay a $2,000 USD (per individual) travel fee, though families of up to four people will be on the hook for $3,000 USD (plus an additional $250 USD for each additional family member).

Prospective travelers need to complete an application form, in addition to submitting several other documents (proof of employment, copy of a birth certificate, etc.). Approval for the remote work program takes approximately 14 days. Those approved must provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test before they travel.

Antigua & Barbuda

Nomad Digital Residence is a long-stay program offered by both islands for remote workers. The visa is good for two years and costs $1,500 USD per individual, while couples and families of three or more must pay $2,000 USD and $3,000 USD, respectively. Applicants must fill out the application and submit up to 11 documents, including proof of expected income of at least $50,000 USD for each year of the program.

The Bahamas

The Bahamas Extended Access Travel Stay allows digital nomads to work remotely for one year from any of 16 islands. An application requires a $25 USD fee, a valid passport data page, a medical insurance card, and proof of employment. The application typically takes just five days to process. Approved applicants must pay $1,000 USD (plus $500 USD for each dependent) to receive their Work Remotely permit.

Barbados

The Barbados Welcome Stamp established a visa that allows visitors to work remotely for up to one year. The application fee is $2,000 USD for individuals and $3,000 USD for families. The application must be accompanied by a passport-sized photograph, the bio data page of a passport, and proof of relationship of dependents (if applicable). Applicants must also prove that they will earn $50,000 USD during their 12-month stay.

Bermuda

The Work From Bermuda Certificate permits digital nomads to work remotely for 12 months. The $263 USD application fee must be accompanied by health insurance and proof of employment. Applicants cannot have a criminal record. Although there isn't a minimum requirement, applicants must have enough income to support themselves for the full year. Family members will also need to pay a fee and apply separately, but all applications must be submitted on the same day. The turnaround time is approximately five business days.

Cabo Verde

The Cabo Verde Remote Working Program is available to remote workers originating from Europe, North America, the Community of Portuguese Speaking Countries (CPLP), and the Economic Community of West African States (CEDEAO).

Applicants must:

  • Have a minimum bank account balance of €1,500 (1,500 euros) for individuals and €2,700 for families for at least the last six months
  • Submit five documents with the application, including a passport and health insurance
  • Provide ten documents to border authorities in person after arriving at one of the 10 islands, though there is some overlap between the two sets of documents

Processing time can take roughly two weeks. The visa is valid for six months and can be renewed for another 12 months.

Cayman Islands

The Global Citizen Concierge Program targets wealthier remote workers. Minimum annual salary requirements are:

  • $100,000 USD for singles
  • $150,000 USD for couples
  • $180,000 USD for families

These minimums are on top of the annual certificate fee of $1,469 USD for a party of up to two people, plus another annual certificate fee of $500 USD for each dependent. Then there’s a credit card processing fee equal to 7% of the total application fee.

Those who can meet this high entry barrier can work remotely from any of the three islands for two years. Additional application requirements include, but are not limited to, a notarized bank reference, a valid passport, and proof of health insurance.

Costa Rica

This Central American country’s temporary residency visa, also known as Rentista, offers a two-year remote work opportunity.

Prospective visitors are required to have a monthly income of $2,500 USD or to make a $60,000 USD deposit at a local bank. That amount may increase if there are more dependents involved.

Other requirements include, but are not limited to, the payment of fees, fingerprint records, and a copy of the prospective visa holder’s birth certificate. The permit can be renewed as long as all requirements are still being met.

Croatia

Croatia doesn't offer a visa but its program still targets digital nomads. Temporary stay is available for an individual and their close family members for up to one year, without the possibility of extension. You can submit a new application for six months, though.

Prospective visitors must submit several documents with their application, including Form 1a if filing in person. Applicants must prove income of 16,907.50 kunas (HRK), per month or 202,890 HRK for the full year. That's about $2,671.14 USD and $32,053.65 USD, respectively. These amounts increase by 10% per family member.

Applicants are responsible for a fee of 420 HRK ($67.93 USD) to 880 HRK ($139.03 USD), depending on the method of application.

Curaçao

This Dutch Caribbean island offers the @HOME in Curaçao program. Available to remote workers for six months, residency can be extended for an additional six-month period.

Outside of a $294 total for fees, the application also requires a copy of a passport photo, proof of solvency, and proof of health insurance. Processing time is approximately two weeks.

All applicants must file individually. Families may also apply for the program, but they must do so under the main applicant. An additional fee applies to any dependents.

Czech Republic

The Czech Republic’s freelancer visa, Zivno, is a bit trickier to acquire than most on this list. This program requires a variable fee, proof of a minimum income of 124,500 koruna (CZK)—about $5,750.58 USD—and documents like a passport, proof of accommodation, criminal record, etc.

Applicants must also receive a trade license for one of the jobs on this list before they apply. That means juggling remote work with a local career, albeit a temporary one. Applicants will also be required to pass an immigration interview. The visa lasts for one year, and being approved can take 90–120 days.

Dominica

Dominica, also known as the Nature Island of the Caribbean, provides an 18-month Work In Nature Extended Stay Visa for digital nomads. Applicants must present proof of expected income of $50,000 USD, in addition to paying a $100 USD application fee and either $800 USD single or $1,200 USD family visa fee.

Several other documents, including the biodata page of a passport, a bank reference letter, and proof of health insurance, must also be submitted alongside the application. Approval letters are often sent within seven days.

Estonia

On Aug. 1, 2020, Estonia launched an official Digital Nomad Visa for remote workers to remain in the country for up to one year. Applicants need proof of a minimum of €3,504 in income and pay a state fee of €80 or €100 for a Type C (short stay) or Type D (long stay) visa, respectively.

Additional requirements include having a valid travel document and health insurance. They must also pass a background check. Applications must be submitted in person at the nearest Estonian Embassy or Consulate, and the processing time is typically 15 to 30 days.

Georgia

The Remotely From Georgia program enables digital nomads and their families to work within the former Soviet state for one year.

The project is available to travelers from up to 95 countries, including the United States and European Union (EU) members. The list is essentially composed of all nations whose residents were able to visit Georgia without a visa for up to one year prior to the start of the pandemic.

Applicants only need to submit an online application form and provide financial proof—the exact amount isn’t specified—along with any other requested information.

Germany

Germany’s residence permit is granted to freelancers and other self-employed workers to reside within the country for three months, but this can be extended by up to three years.

In addition to the visa application form and a €60 fee, digital nomads must submit photocopies of documents with their application, including, but not limited to:

  • A passport
  • Two biometric photographs
  • A cover letter
  • A portfolio of previous freelance work

The application must be submitted in person to the nearest German Embassy or Consulate. Before applying for the residence permit, prospective travelers must secure a German residence and register it with the local Residence Registration Office. They must open a German bank account, register with the Tax Registration Office, and secure German health care.

Iceland

The long-term visa for remote workers program is available to digital nomads from any country that doesn’t require a visa to travel to Iceland and is not available to any that are part of the EU, the European Economic Area, and/or the European Free Trade Association.

The visa can be issued for up to 180 days, as long as applicants can prove a monthly income equivalent to one million króna (ISK) or about $8,085.38 USD for singles or 1.3 million ISK (about $10,511 USD) for couples. Each applicant must submit a separate application and pay a 12,200 ISK ($98.64 USD) processing fee separately for each one.

Applications will also require a passport photo (no older than six months), copies of a passport, proof of health insurance, proof of purpose of stay in Iceland, and potentially a criminal record check.

All applications must be submitted in person or via mail to the Directorate of Immigration at Dalvegur 18, 201 Kópavogur.

Malta

The Nomad Residence Permit allows digital nomads to work remotely within the archipelago for one year. It can be renewed but is available only to residents of countries outside of the EU.

Family members of remote workers must apply via a separate application. Applicants must meet a gross monthly income threshold of €2,700, hold a valid travel document, have health insurance, acquire a valid property rental or purchase agreement, and pass a background check.

Once the application and all required documents have been submitted via email, instructions will be sent to pay a €300 administrative fee for each applicant.

Mauritius

The Premium Travel Visa offers one year of remote working abroad with the potential for renewal. The best part? The Premium Travel Visa is 100% free—no fees of any kind.

Applicants still need to prove a minimum monthly income of $1,500 USD for each applicant as well as $500 USD per month for each dependent under the age of 24. Prospective travelers must submit multiple documents with their online application, such as a valid passport, proof of travel and health insurance, and a copy of their marriage certificate (if applicable).

Applications are processed within 48 hours after they are submitted.

Mexico

Mexico’s Temporary Resident Visa is unique in that it is targeted toward—but not restricted to—Canadians. Digital nomads can work remotely within Mexico for 180 days to four years.

Prospective travelers must prove a monthly income of $2,720 CAD ($2,166.11 USD) or an average monthly bank balance of $45,334 CAD ($36,102.41 USD) during the previous 12 months—though the exact amounts can vary depending on the circumstances of their application. They must also include:

  • A passport or valid travel and identity document
  • A 3.9-centimeter × 3.1-centimeter headshot
  • A document indicating their legal migratory status in Canada (for anyone who isn't a Canadian citizen) along with their visa application form

The Family Unity Application, which has its own documentation and economic solvency requirements, enables a digital nomad’s kin to join them abroad.

The base consular fee for the application is $56 CAD ($44.60 USD), though this can increase if additional services are required.

Montserrat

The Montserrat Remote Work Stamp is valid for one year of remote working. It requires proof of an annual income of $70,000 USD, and there’s a $500 USD fee for single travelers or a $750 USD fee for families of up to three dependents (plus a $250 USD fee for any additional dependents).

Proof of valid health insurance, a copy of passport biographical data, a passport-size photo, a police record, and proof of employment or a business incorporation certificate are also required.

Processing takes seven working days after the application is submitted.

Norway

The Independent Contractor Visa provides two years of residency within Norway for remote workers. The visa costs €600 and requires proof of an annual income of at least €35,719.

The Norwegian Directorate of Immigration has an online checklist of required documentation, such as a passport, two passport-size photos, and proof of having a Norway residence. These must be turned in alongside the application and the completed checklist itself. Applications and all required documents must be submitted to the nearest Norwegian Embassy or Consulate.

Portugal

Portugal offers a visa for independent workers that is valid for one year. It can be renewed twice, each time for an additional two years. The visa costs €83 and there’s also a resident permit fee of €72.

In addition to the application form, prospective residents must provide a valid passport, two passport-size photos, valid travel insurance, proof of residence (if applicable), proof of sufficient income or a term of responsibility signed by a Portuguese citizen or resident, proof of owning a business entity (or a contract for providing services), and declaration by an authority that the applicant is qualified to be employed in their sector (if applicable).

There is also a separate residence permit for family reunification purposes.

Seychelles

The Seychelles Workcation program enables digital nomads to work remotely from any of the 115 islands that comprise the archipelago for as little as one month or as much as one year.

There is a €45 fee, and prospective travelers must also provide a valid passport, proof of being an employee/business owner, proof of income (exact amount unspecified), and a valid medical and travel insurance policy with their application.

Family members can also join an applicant as ordinary visitors, as long as they meet all requirements and submit birth and/or marriage certificates, whichever is appropriate.

Taiwan

Taiwan is a unique case, in that the Taiwan Employment Gold Card isn’t technically a digital nomad visa. It’s a four-in-one card, combining an open-ended work permit, resident visa, alien resident certificate, and re-entry permit.

The card allows workers (remote or otherwise) to reside in Taiwan for one to three years and costs $100 USD to $310 USD, depending on the applicant’s nationality and the duration of their stay.

Applications typically take 30 days to receive approval, but this can increase to 50 to 60 days if additional documents are requested. Qualification is based on the assessment of an applicant’s professional skills; prospective travelers aren’t required to already have a job in Taiwan when applying.

In addition to a passport and photo, digital nomads will need to provide additional documents, based on the skill applied under.