Digital Nomad Visas – Why You Need One If You Work Remotely

spellbound travels digital nomad visas

Digital nomad visas seem to be all the hype these days. So many people (myself included), left their 9-5s behind during the pandemic and have opted for a remote work lifestyle. I’ve been working remotely for the past 9 months and have just been using tourist visas as I move from place to place. BUT I must say that it gets incredibly tiring moving around all the time. Many countries understand that digital nomads want to stay longer while working and bringing over foreign currency and are starting to see the benefits of having nomads around.

So I’ve done a little digging and I’ve found the best countries that currently offer digital nomad visas (as of July 2022). I’ll also address a few countries that are in the process of putting together digital nomad visas in the next few years. Let’s get into it!

Pros of Digital Nomad Visas

  • More time in a place – There’s nothing worse for a digital nomad than finding a place you’d love to call home, only to find out you have to be gone within 90 days. I’ve been there a few times and it sucks! When you’re working abroad, it’s nice to have the option to stay someplace longer. More time allows you to build strong connections with locals, get to know the place well and feel more at home.
  • Tax benefits – On occasion, you’ll be exempt from double taxation. That means some countries won’t require you to pay additional taxes to them. Instead, you’ll only have to worry about the country you currently pay tax to. You’ll have to check if the country you’re a citizen of has a tax treaty with the country you hope to live and work from!
  • Cost of living – This could be a pro or con, depending on what country you choose to make your home as a digital nomad. Some countries will inevitably have a much lower cost of living than what you’re used to at home. Choosing a country with a lower cost of living is an incredible benefit because your dollar (or home currency) will go much further than it typically would. This is especially true for more remote and less popular destinations. As soon as a place becomes too popular, the cost of living will increase.
  • Good infrastructure – Going to a new place to travel is one thing but when you’re also working, you need to be sure you can access good wifi. You’ll also want to connect with a community of other digital nomads and feel like it’s your home away from home. Countries with digital nomad visas are ones you can count on for all of those things and more!
  • No fear of being caught – Many digital nomads enter new countries on a tourist visa and simply forego information about working online. While this is usually fine, if you get caught your tourist visa could be revoked and you could be kicked out of the country. With a digital nomad visa in hand, you won’t have to worry about that.
  • Work-life balance – Countries that offer these visas are known for having beautiful nature and many activities to do. This is great if you’re seeking a better work-life balance. If the climate is important to you, there are many options where you can say goodbye to winter forever!

Cons of Digital Nomad Visas

  • Proving monthly income – Many countries require that you earn a certain amount each month to show you can provide for yourself. While this is totally understandable, it’s not great for those who freelance and have unsteady and unreliable income that fluctuates each month. The income threshold can be quite high, depending on the country.
  • Admin work – To get your hands on one of these digital nomad visas you’ll have to do some extra admin work. Most places require an application that includes proof of employment, proof of earnings, police clearance, health insurance, a lease or proof of accommodation and more. Gathering all of this information to apply will take time and could be a bit of a headache.
  • Overtourism – When too many digital nomads/expats come to a country, it can result in overtourism. This happens when a town, city or country’s culture starts to become overtaken by ‘Westerners’. While it’s great to live in and experience a country, it’s important to consider the impact you could be having on the locals. Always look for ways to support local businesses when you choose to live in another place. You could also seek out destinations that aren’t so populated by digital nomads already.
  • Processing times – Unlike a tourist visa that takes a few days or weeks (at most) to be approved, these visas take time. It usually takes at least a week but up to 3+ months to approve a digital nomad visa.
  • Confusion during tax season – Depending on where you’re from and what country/countries you choose to work from, tax season could be even more of a headache than usual. As someone who isn’t great with numbers, I choose to use an accountant because I’d rather use the extra time to pour it back into my business.

Countries with Nomad Visas (July 2022)

There are many countries currently offering these visas but some have more restrictions than others. The point of these visas is to allow remote workers a chance to work in another country. None of them allow you to work for companies within that specific country to deter foreigners from stealing local jobs.

Portugal

Portugal has become a bit of a hotspot among digital nomads recently and I can’t blame them!

Their version of a digital nomad visa is called the Portuguese Passive Income or D7 Visa. You’ll also need a NIF Number and must open a Portuguese bank account. This visa is valid for 2 years but can be extended for longer stays and lead to permanent residency after living there for 5 years.

⭐️ Why Portgual? With gorgeous beaches, a warm climate year-round and great food at an affordable price tag, it’s no wonder everyone is flocking there.

⭐️ Eligibility – Non-EU Citizens.

⭐️ Visa Fees – D7 Passive Income Visa Application fee = €180. You’ll also have to pay the Initial Residence Permit = €320.

⭐️ Required Monthly Income – You must provide proof of the Portuguese minimum wage which is €9,870 per year.

⭐️ Required Insurance – You must have medical insurance to cover over €30,000 during the length of your stay. Purchase your travel insurance with SafetyWing.

⭐️ Other Things to Consider – Another major requirement is that you must be in Portugal for at least 16 months (uninterrupted) within the first two years. This is great if you’re sure you want to stay in the country long term but not so great if you’re on the fence!

⭐️ Where to Apply – You can find the visa application here.

Hungary

If you’re hoping to escape the crowds of tourists, Hungary might be worth considering.

Their digital nomad visa is called a ‘White Card’. It will allow you to stay in the country for one year, with the chance to extend it by another year.

⭐️ Why Hungary? Hungary has a lot to offer. Its location is great if you’re looking for a base in Eastern Europe that will allow you to travel easily and on a budget to nearby countries.

⭐️ Eligibility – Non-EU Citezens.

⭐️ Visa Fees – The visa costs €110.

⭐️ Required Monthly Income – You’ll have to prove a monthly income of €2,000 from the past 6 months.

⭐️ Required Insurance – You must have medical insurance while in Hungary. Purchase your travel insurance with SafetyWing.

⭐️ Other Things to Consider – Hungary is known to have some of the fastest internet speeds in Europe! It’s also one of the more affordable European countries to be based.

⭐️ Where to Apply – You can find the visa application here.

Iceland

If you’re after a unique destination to work from, look no further than Iceland! I went to Iceland back in 2017 and it was unlike any other country I’d visited before. Their digital nomad visa is known as the Iceland Remote Worker Visa.

⭐️ Why Iceland? Iceland is one of the safest countries in the world. It’s also a great place to set up shop if you’re into hiking and want a cooler climate. I visited Iceland during their winter and had the chance to catch the aurora borealis!

⭐️ Eligibility – Non-EU Citizens. Your home country must also have a visa-free travel agreement with Iceland.

⭐️ Visa Fees –  ISK 12,200 (~$94).

⭐️ Required Monthly Income – The monthly income requirement is a bit high at €7,000.

⭐️ Required Insurance – You must have medical insurance while you’re in Iceland. Purchase your travel insurance with SafetyWing.

⭐️ Other Things to Consider – You’ll also need to provide a criminal record check and documentation to prove your remote work.

⭐️ Where to Apply – You can find the visa application here.

Costa Rica

Costa Rica is a coveted destination for a lot of remote workers. You can open a business or work as a freelancer under their Rentista Visa. They currently have a digital nomad visa that allows you to stay in the country for up to two years with the option to renew. After living in Costa Rica for three years, you can apply for permanent residency.

⭐️ Why Costa Rica? Costa Rica is known for its natural beauty, fresh food and magical beach sunsets. It’s also the safest country in Central America, so it’s easy to see why it’s a popular spot for digital nomads.

⭐️ Eligibility – All nationalities.

⭐️ Visa Fees The application fees come to a total of $2,219.

⭐️ Required Monthly Income – You must be able to prove that you’re earning a fixed income of at least $2500/month.

⭐️ Required Insurance – You must have medical insurance while you’re in Costa Rica. Purchase your travel insurance with SafetyWing.

⭐️ Other Things to Consider – One benefit of this digital nomad visa is that you’ll get a tax cut and will only have to pay the Costa Rican government 10-15% of your income, instead of their usual 30%.

⭐️ Where to Apply – Your application must be submitted in person and contain all the documents that are required.

Digital Nomad Visas in the Works …

Of course, this isn’t an exhaustive list of all of the digital nomad visas that exist. The list is constantly expanding and more and more countries are considering adding these kinds of visas. South Africa has recently been talking about a digital nomad visa. They made statements around April 2022 but nothing official has been released as of July 2022. I personally loved South Africa, having spent 6 months living and working in Cape Town and think introducing a digital nomad visa is a great idea.

Indonesia is currently working on a 5-year digital nomad visa and Italy, Sri Lanka and Colombia are also considering what a digital nomad visa would look like for them. I’m also intrigued by Argentina’s digital nomad visa. They created one in May 2022 but I couldn’t find any information about the application process yet (stay tuned for updates).

Where Will You Move?

As you can tell, the options for digital nomads are always expanding! This is just a little taste of the digital nomad visas that are available. If you want to see more blogs like this, leave a comment below or send me a DM on Insta! I also share daily travel tips on my TikTok and have a guide on Becoming a Digital Nomad here.

I’ll see you shortly with another blog!

Cheers,

Amy xx

Leave a Reply