Digital nomads are a new breed of expats who rose from the global devastation left in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.
The pandemic left many voids to fill – but two dovetail together for expats.
Countries depending on cash from tourism were losing money as few wanted to travel even if restrictions allowed them to.
Employers let staff work from home to keep them safe and to cut costs.
Put the two together, and you have the digital nomad – someone with a desire and the means to travel while remaining connected to the office.
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What is a digital nomad?
Digital nomads are travellers who increasingly harness the latest technology to work remotely.
Many governments try attracting digital nomads by offering special visa deals that allow them to work outside their home country.
Digital nomad is a generic term. Most governments prefer to give their digital nomad visas grand names, like the Cayman Islands, which has a Global Citizen Concierge Program. Be warned. If the visa title doesn’t mention digital nomads, conditions may be challenging.
Don’t be fooled into believing a digital nomad and a remote worker are the same.
A digital nomad travels the globe and can work from wherever there’s a good internet connection.
A remote worker lives within commuting distance from the office and works from home.
The most enjoyable part of a digital nomadic lifestyle is the freedom to travel when and where you wish.
However, rejected visa applications – and travel for the family – are expensive. Another downside is the strain placed on long-distance relationships.
Most digital nomad visas last 12 months, which adds the problem of what to do when the papers expire, and you need to find a new job and home, possibly in another country.
Countries Offering Visas To Digital Nomads
Digital nomads are spoilt for choice when seeking a new country to visit. Around 50 countries offer the visas.
Here are ten of the top digital nomad visas:
Croatia is the list’s odd man out. The country does not offer digital nomad visas but encourages them to stay for up to 12 months with special terms. Applicants must show they earn at least $28,529 a year, increasing by 10 per cent for each family member.
Estonia is where the digital nomad lifestyle started with the issue of the first visa in 2020. Remote workers can stay in the country for up to 12 months with e-residency while creating a company in any European Union state.
Malta has a Nomad Residence Permit that is valid for a year. The permit is renewable but only granted to non-European Union citizens. Digital nomads must show an average before-tax monthly income of £2,300, adequate health insurance and a contract to rent or buy a home.
Often cited as the favourite digital nomad destination, Portugal is keen to invite expats to come and stay. The D7 independent working visa is renewable and lasts up to five years. The fees are cheap – the visa costs about £125 – and the application process is one of the easiest to navigate.
This heavily USA-influenced country in Central America has a Rentista visa for digital nomads. The two-year visa starts at $2,500 and increases if family or dependents are included. The Rentista is renewable, providing the terms continue to be met.
The $265 fee for the Work From Bermuda Certificate is one of the few cheap things in Bermuda. The capital, Hamilton, is considered the most expensive place to live in the world by expats, according to the cost of living website Numbeo. Applicants must also show they have enough cash in the bank to support themselves for a year.
Living the dream of working from a sun-drenched beach, cocktail in hand, is possible with the Bahamas Extended Access Travel Stay. Lasting for a year, the application costs $25 plus a $1,000 fee. Like Bermuda and the Caymans, the Bahamas is one of the world’s most expensive places to live.
One of the least-known Caribbean islands, Anguilla, offers a popular 12-month stay for digital nomads – the Beyond Extraordinary Anguilla visa. However, working remotely from Anguilla comes at $2,000, although a family of four can pay $3,000 through a discount scheme.
The Czechs have one of the most complicated application procedures for digital nomads that requires a minimum gross monthly income of $5,125 and sets several more obstacles for applicants, like passing an immigration interview and applying for a trade licence. The Zivno visa lasts a year.
Unlike any other digital nomad visa, the Premium Travel Visa from Mauritius is free. Applicants must show a monthly income of at least $1,500 plus $500 for every family member below 24. The application is online only and takes 48 hours to process.
Other countries offering digital nomad visas include Antigua & Barbuda, Barbados, Cape Verde, Curacao, Dominica, Georgia, Germany, Iceland, Mexico, Montserrat, Norway, Seychelles, Taiwan, Spain, Greece, Romania, Hungary, Cyprus, Latvia, Albania, St Lucia, Grenada, Panama, Belize, Brazil, Ecuador, Dubai, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Malaysia, Namibia, North Macedonia, Serbia, Montenegro, Indonesia-Bali, Italy, Columbia, and South Africa.
Digital Nomad Visa FAQ
What is a digital nomad?
A digital nomad works remotely with the help of fast internet speeds and other technologies. Digital nomads tend to work outside the country where their job is based.
Why do digital nomads need special visas?
A digital nomad visa grants permission for someone to live in a country for 12 months or so while receiving income from abroad. The visa differs from a work that permits an expat to work for a local employer.
Where do digital nomads pay taxes?
Taxes depend on the terms of the visa. Some allow a digital nomad to stay for up to 12 months without becoming a tax resident. Others make the digital nomad tax resident after six months. The best advice is to check a visa’s tax conditions on application.
Can students apply for digital nomad visas?
No, students should apply for a study visa as they are not digital nomads.
What is the hot destination for digital nomads?
Many digital nomads cite Portugal as the destination of choice as the country gives easy access to international travel, has a cheap cost of living and has a warm climate year-round.