In 2020, the entire world witnessed a massive shift towards remote work, accelerated profoundly due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Professions that naturally were solely defined as being office-based, became available to perform remotely, offering several employees the possibility of conducting their activities from wherever they believed to be fit for their performance and lifestyle. Therefore, two large movements took place: WFH (work from home) – referring to individuals who decided to partake in their professional activities from the comfort of their homes – and WFA (work form anywhere) – referring to the other set of individuals who perceived this change as an opportunity to travel and experience new cultures while still performing their professional activities.
Furthermore, the option of WFA gave a substantial number of individuals the chance to become a digital nomad. A digital nomad refers to citizens who have the ability to perform their professional activities online, from anywhere in the world. Before 2020, this was considered to be quite a niche lifestyle, though nowadays it is becoming a larger trend every day. However, they have long been caught in quite of a legal grey area. Because obtaining a standard working visa in most cases it requires a contract with a local entity and most often an invitation letter, the digital nomads were not able to acquire such documents and therefore, were usually allowed to remain in the set countries for short period of times only. Since this was quite of an issue for a growing number of stable and committed employees, numerous countries decided upon creating a travel permit that would legalise the status of a travelling professional – a digital nomad visa.
Similar to a tourist visa, they are fairly easy to obtain and do not require long paperwork, nor a work contract. However, in contrast to the classic tourist visa, they allow for longer stays, as soon as the holder officially states that they can work while in the country and they do it independently and remotely.
Nevertheless, each country issuing digital nomad visas has the right to define its own policies and regulations. For instance, some countries allow citizens convenient online applications, while others require them to submit their application in person through an embassy or a consulate. It is advisable that before entering a country in such conditions, that the remote workers get in touch with the public authorities of the destination country in order to check the digital nomad visa requirements, as well as their required application processes.
Even though countries around the whole world are taking small steps towards implementing such visas, European nations are believed to be at the forefront of this change in the hope of attracting professionals and make the most of the economic boost they often bring along.
Please find down below some of the countries currently welcoming digital nomads and who also have created visas tailored for these individuals:
‘Croatia – your new office’ – a warm and blissful campaign created by the Croatian authorities in order to attract digital nomads to their country.
Their requirements include, among others, proof of remote work, sufficient yearly income, health insurance, background checks and a rent contract. These all can be submitted online, where they can request their digital nomad visa. The standard processing time is usually around 20 days from the date of the application submission. Upon arrival, the holders of the Digital Nomad Residence permit are required to register with the local authorities and provide their Croatian address, which must be updated during the stay, if needed).
The digital nomad work visa in Croatia comes with tax exemptions and a validity of 1 year.
- Czech Republic
The Czech Republic’s digital nomad visa is considered to be a special business visa that remote workers from outside the EU can benefit from. However, in this case it must be requested in person, at a Czech consulate or embassy – which takes anywhere from 90 to 120 days. The requirements include an eligible trade licence, enough funds in the bank account, health insurance, and proof of accommodation for at least 1 year.
Estonia represented the European pioneer in this movement and was first to adapt to change and implement a digital nomad visa for online entrepreneurs, freelancers and remote workers. Through this implementation, they hope to attract more visitors and boost the local economy, as well as confirm itself as an international tech hub.
Their visa allows digital nomads to work in Estonia for up to 1 year. Applications can be submitted through their embassies and consulates and are to be reviewed within a time frame of 30 days.
Germany split their ‘freelance visas’ into two categories: one for artists and one for other professionals. Digital nomads must register with the German tax office and submit a series of documents such as their portfolio, bank statements and in some cases, evidence of their expertise. Moreover, freelancers must have clients based in Germany.
Greece’s digital nomad visa is yet to be launched. They have been working lately on a 1-year visa that can be requested online. It is not yet finalised but it should arrive shortly. Moreover, they have recently introduced tax incentives for self-employed professionals who decide to move their tax residence to Greece, who will see only 50% of their income getting taxed.
The Iceland digital nomad visa refers to foreign citizens whom wish to work remotely in Iceland for periods of longer than 6 months. In order to obtain this, they must provide proof of employment, health insurance coverage, as well as sufficient funds. Moreover, they are allowed to take their families to Iceland, without the need of an Icelandic ID.
In order to attract numerous digital nomads, Italy is currently offering freelancers who set up legal residency in Italy, a 70% detaxation of all income they generate within the country. While a clear-stated digital nomad visa has yet to be announced, non-EU nationals who wish to work remotely from Italy are able to apply for a self-employment visa, valid for 2 years from the date of issue. To apply for this visa, one needs to make an appointment at an Italian embassy or consulate, where they must present several documents – including proof of a suitable accommodation in Italy and evidence of income.
Portugal designed a temporary resident visa that can be used by freelancers and entrepreneurs for stays longer than 1 year. This can also be used as a pathway towards permanent residency.
A member of the Schengen area but a non-EU state, Norway implemented quite a unique visa for digital nomads who wish to relocate. This visa remains valid for life. The Independent Contractor visa, on the other hand, is designed solely for self-employed individuals who are working on a project for Norwegian businesses.
In conclusion, in order to acquire a digital nomad visa, it is usually necessary for applicants to prove they have in fact the statute of a remote worker and that they can sustain themselves financially for the entire planned duration abroad. However, most countries have designed this process to be quite effortless and straight-forward in order to attract several digital nomads who can easily represent an economic booster.
Us at Nestlers, we are thoroughly enthusiastic for this moment and truly believe that it can make a massive positive change in Romania’s economy as well, especially after the decline resulted by the pandemic.