8 Countries With Digital Nomad Visas (Estonia, Barbados & More)

Many passionate travelers dream of roaming around the world while earning a living. Unless you’re independently wealthy, you need to work to support your wanderlust. And you’re not alone. More people with online-based jobs are living the nomadic lifestyle and more industries are embracing remote work. Countries are starting to recognize that the rise in digital nomads represents an opportunity for them to receive long-term visitors, and a few are already offering freelancer visas and digital nomad visas.

working on laptop in cafe

The prospect of working wherever you please is definitely attractive. But it is far from simple or easy. Adapting a digital nomad’s lifestyle requires planning and lots of patience as you consider your residence, taxes, internet speed, and of course, your visa. For digital nomads, securing a visa is the most challenging part because immigration laws differ across the world.

Some digital nomads hop from country to country, staying for less than 60 or 90 days in each country, or for as long as a tourist visa allows. If you want to stay longer, you’ll need to obtain a long-term visa. In some places, this means a working visa, but there are some countries such as Estonia, Georgia, Barbados, Germany, Costa Rica, Norway, Spain, and the Czech Republic that have created special visa programs for remote workers. They are often referred to as freelancer visas or digital nomad visas.

What is a digital nomad? What about freelancers?

Even though digital nomads and freelancers both work remotely and rely on telecommunications technologies, the two are not necessarily the same thing.

Digital nomads are location-independent individuals who are either employed by companies or self-employed. They are constantly on the move and can work from anywhere — foreign countries, coffee shops, beaches, co-working spaces, even recreational vehicles, as long as they have a reliable internet connection. Constant traveling is part of a digital nomad’s lifestyle. However, some digital nomads also stay for long periods of time in one place.

A freelancer, on the other hand, is self-employed and not committed to one long-term employer. Freelancing doesn’t mean you have to travel. Freelancers can bring their work while traveling, but they can also work from home and live in the same place for the rest of their lives.

Regardless of the similarities and differences, there are long-term visas that serve either digital nomads or freelancers or both.

Countries that offer digital nomad visas and freelancer visas

1. Estonia

estonia winter

One of the world’s most digitally advanced countries, Estonia is the first country to offer an e-residency program that allows entrepreneurs to create and run a European Union-based business online from anywhere in the world. In June 2020, the Baltic state passed a law offering one-year visas to digital nomads and freelancers, allowing remote workers to live in Estonia and legally work for their employer or their own company registered abroad.

Who is eligible to apply?

You can apply for Estonia’s digital nomad visa if you meet the following requirements:

  • You have a location independent business.
  • You can work remotely using telecommunications technology
  • You either have an active employment contract with a company registered outside of Estonia, conduct business through your own company registered abroad, or work as a freelancer for clients mostly outside of Estonia.
  • You can prove that you earned at least €3504 (before tax) per month over that last six months.

How to apply?

  • You can fill in the application form online. Print the form and sign it after completion. The cost of the digital nomad visa is 80€ for a Type C (short stay) visa and 100€ Type D (long stay) visa. 
  • Make an appointment at your nearest Estonian Embassy or Consulate to submit your application and required supporting documents.
  • Applications are typically reviewed not sooner than 15 days.

2. Georgia

georgia mountains

Known for its snow-capped mountains, coastal sceneries, historical landmarks, and colorful and bustling cities, Georgia is a popular destination for tourists and digital nomads alike. Because of its fast response to the coronavirus crisis, it has reported only a little over 1,000 cases, making it a relatively epidemiologically safe country. To stimulate the economy and slow reopen its borders, Georgia announced a new digital nomad visa to attract remote workers.

Remote workers will be allowed to live and work from Georgia for six months up to one year, provided they can cover the cost of the mandatory 14-day quarantine upon arrival.

More details are yet to be announced, but this digital nomad visa is set to launch in September. The online application system will be live here.

3. Barbados

beach barbados

Fancy a Caribbean working holiday? The lush island of Barbados is opening its doors to remote workers with its 12-month Welcome Stamp. Barbados recognizes that COVID-19 has put a strain on people’s mental health and invites digital nomads and freelancers to work while soaking up the sun, the sea, and sand.

Who’s eligible to apply?

You can apply for Barbados’ 12-month Welcome Stamp visa if you meet the following requirements:

  • You are an individual who will engage in remote work in Barbados. You can’t be employed in Barbados on this visa.
  • You expect to earn an income of US$50,000.00 or more over the next 12 months and/or have the means to support yourself, your spouse and dependents accompanying you during your stay in Barbados.
  • You agree to COVID-19 testing on arrival and 48-hour quarantine periods until results are ready.

How to apply?

  • Complete the requirements listed here.
  • Fill out the form on the same link.
  • Submit the paperwork and pay the non-refundable visa application fees of $2,000 (individual) or $3,000 (if you’re applying as a family).
  • Processing and approval for Barbados’ Welcome Stamp visa takes under seven days.

4. Germany

germany city night

The German freelance visa (Aufenthaltserlaubnis für selbständige Tätigkeit) is a residence permit issued for a specific amount of time (anywhere from 6 months to 3 years) for freelancers and the self-employed. This visa allows freelancers to work with different startups, business, or individuals on a need-based and part-time contracts.

Who’s eligible to apply?

You can apply for Germany’s freelancer visa if you meet the following requirements:

  • You have an address in Germany. You can prove this by showing a rent contract or registration certificate for your address.
  • You have a health insurance (expat insurance, private health insurance, or public health insurance).
  • You can prove that you are earning enough money and are self-sufficient. Letters of recommendations, a business plan, payment from clients, and proof of savings can prove financial stability.
  • You have clients in Germany. A freelance visa is granted if there is a “local economic interest” for your services. You can prove this by showing at least two letters of intent from prospective clients, explaining why they want to hire you and what kind of work you’d be doing. You will be able to work for non-German clients if you get the visa but German clients are required for the application process.

Additionally, you must determine whether you’re a freelancer (Freiberufler) or self-employed (Selbständiger). Requirements for these two categories differ slightly.

  • Freiberufler are freelancers who are practicing a “liberal” profession recognised by Germany, including the following: scientific, artistic, writing, teaching or teaching work, the self-employed work of doctors, dentists, veterinarians, lawyers, notaries, patent attorneys, surveying engineers, engineers, architects, commercial chemists, auditors, tax consultants, advising people and business economists, sworn accountants, tax officers, naturopaths, dentists, physiotherapists, journalists, image reporters, interpreters, translators, pilots and similar professions. A subset of the freelancer visa is the artist visa, which is applicable only in Berlin. Painters, musicians, writers, actors, and others in the relevant industry can take advantage of this visa.
  • Selbständiger are self-employed workers who are often involved in commerce but are not selling intellectual service. If you don’t qualify as Freiberufler, you are automatically a Selbständiger. Your business is expected to have positive effects on Germany’s economy.

How to apply?

  • Ensure that the profession you’ll pursue falls under the freelancer category. Also check whether you’re a Freiberufler or a Selbständiger.
  • Check the complete list of documents required here.
  • Gather all required documents, ensure that you have prospective German clients, and secure a residence in Germany if you don’t have it yet.
  • Book a visa appointment at the immigration office here. Appointments are usually booked far out in advance so you should book yours as soon as possible.
  • The German Freelancer visa fee ranges between €50–110.

5. Costa Rica

costa rica nature

A paradise in Central America, Costa Rica is famous for its serene waters, breathtaking volcanic peaks, delectable Southern Caribbean cuisine, and exciting outdoor adventures. Those who want to enjoy the idyllic lifestyle as a digital nomad in Costa Rica can take advantage of the Rentista visa, which allows its holder to remain in the country for up to two years, with the option to extend it.

Who’s eligible to apply?

You can apply for Costa Rica’s Rentista visa if you have a regular income of at least $2,500 per month from a guaranteed source. This requirement is met in the form of a $60,000 deposit in a Costa Rican bank, which can be disbursed over the course of 24 months.

Rentista visa holders may establish a business or work on their own, but they may not work as employees.

How to apply?

  • Applying for a residency visa in Costa Rica can be done without an immigration lawyer is possible, although it is generally not recommended. It can be a long and bureaucratic process that’s difficult to do alone, and unless you’re fluent in Spanish, Costa Rica’s immigration website (better known as Migracion) is hard to navigate.
  • Your lawyer (if you get one), will check your eligibility and obtain the required documents and assist in answering the application form.
  • All your documents must be translated into Spanish. This can be done through the lawyer that you have retained for your application or through a certified translator.
  • All your documents must be authenticated or Apostilled in your country of origin. Otherwise, Costa Rica will not recognise them as official documents. Where you will obtain the Apostille of your documents depends on whether your home country is a member of the Hague Apostille Convention.
  • A government fee of $250 is required in processing.

6. Norway

norway houses

Norway is known as one of the most beautiful countries on earth. With its breathtaking landscapes, awe-inspiring Northern Lights, and vibrant Scandinavian culture, it’s no wonder a lot of digital nomads wish to work and travel here at the same time. Self-employed digital nomads can do that with Norway’s independent contractor visa (also known as self-employed persons with a company abroad visa), which is valid for two years.

Who’s eligible to apply?

You can apply for this visa if you meet the following requirements:

  • You are a self-employed person with an established business outside Norway and have entered into a contract to carry out an assignment for business in Norway.
  • The business in Norway must have a registered address in Norway. As a rule, the offer of an assignment must be specific for only one Norwegian enterprise.
  • You have relevant qualifications or authorization to work in your profession.
  • You have earnings of €35,719 per year (before tax).
  • You have proof of accommodation in Norway.

How to apply?

  • Print out the checklist from the Norwegian Directorate of Immigration website and gather the necessary documents.
  • Fill in your application form.
  • Hand in the application and documents in person to the Norwegian embassy or visa centre in your country of origin.
  • Application fee is around €500-600.

7. Spain

spain city architecture

Do you want to work from Spain’s beautiful beaches or the majestic Sierra Nevada, tour grand cathedrals, and feast on tapas on your downtime but you have no plans of working for a Spanish company? Spain’s non-lucrative visa is for you. This visa is ideal for self-employed digital nomads and allows the holder to stay in Spain for a year but you can renew it for another two years.

Who’s eligible to apply?

You can apply for Spain’s non-lucrative visa if you meet the following requirements:

  • You don’t have an EU passport and you have from sufficient funds from either investments, retirement income or income from work carried out in other countries. You may be required to show a business plan, which details what your business is and your projected profits.
  • You have an annual income produced outside of Spain of at least €26,000 per annum.
  • You have a private Spanish health insurance.
  • You pass the required police and medical checks.

How to apply?

  • Complete the required documents listed down in the your Consulate’s website. You can find your Consulate here.
  • Similar to the Costa Rica Rentista visa application, some documents for Spain’s non-lucrative visa must also be translated to Spanish by a translation service that’s recognised by Spain’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Authentication or Apostille is also required.
  • Schedule a visa appointment through phone, or by filling an online form at the Spanish embassy/consulate website or a visa service centre. It is recommended to apply at least five weeks before your intended trip to Spain.
  • Visa fees vary depending on your country of origin.

8. Czech Republic

prague bridge castle

The Czech Republic is a small land-locked European country bordering Austria, Poland, and Slovakia. It is home to charming little towns, historical landmarks, and diverse landscapes. This central location in Europe, complemented with fast internet connection, makes it a favourite among digital nomads.

If you are a self-employed digital nomad or freelancer and you dream of walking the streets of Prague after a day’s work, the Zivnostensky List (Zivno for short) visa is for you. The Zivno visa is a trade license freelance visa that is valid for one year and may be extended for another two years.

Who’s eligible to apply?

You can apply for Czech Republic’s Zivno freelance visa if you meet the following requirements:

  • You have a trade license for any of the 80 unqualified trades listed here.
  • You have proof showing that you have accommodation arranged at least for a year.
  • You have proof of the availability of €5,587 in your bank account.

How to apply?

  • Secure all the required documents listed here.
  • Register for a trade license at the Ĺ˝ivnostenskĂ˝ list office. This requires help from an agency.
  • Book a visa appointment in your consulate.
  • Attend the interview and submit all the requirements.
  • Visa application fee is around €100 and the trade license or Zivno fee is around €40.

Globalisation and advancements in technology have given savvy travellers plenty of options to satisfy their wanderlust while roaming the world. Obtaining visas and work permits may seem tedious (and it does require time and energy) but the experience you gain from a digital nomad lifestyle makes it all worth it.

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