Published 19th May 2021
Ah yes, the life of a digital nomad. A life of travelling the world, setting your own schedule, and working whenever and wherever you want. A life of meeting like-minded people, following the career you want, and moving around the world at your own pace. Sometimes when we see digital nomads posting their pics on the gram, we might wonder how it’s actually possible, because it certainly seems too good to be true.
If you are working remotely, how do you manage to deal with the red tape of passports and visa requirements to let you live in all these different countries? For some of us (*cough cough* South Africans) even getting a tourist visa can be tricky for certain countries! But without a job in a specific country how can you live and work there legally, and stay there for longer than a tourist visa?
We’re going to let you in on a little secret: a handy little thing call a digital nomad visa.
What is a digital nomad visa?
A digital nomad visa is a visa aimed at the likes of us – those of us who want to work remotely and live in a foreign country. We might be online English teachers, bloggers, writers, programmers, social media experts; there are so many jobs available to us from our laptops. This means that we can live and work wherever we want to, be that at home with our parents or in a shared house in Vietnam. A digital nomad visa allows you to live in a country without the need for a working visa. In other words, the country is recognising that you are working while you are staying there but not in that country.
What are the benefits of a digital nomad visa?
The benefits are two-fold. For countries all over the world, the coronavirus pandemic has resulted in dramatic losses for the international tourism industry. Even now that borders are opening slowly, people are understandably still hesitant to travel. Because the industry is such a massive one, it is not only airlines that have suffered, but hotels and accommodation, tourist attractions and local transport have all seen knock-on effects. The digital nomad visa is a way to encourage remote workers to travel again and put down roots for an extended period of time – and spend their hard-earned money in their new hometown, thus helping to revive the economy.
For the remote workers, this visa offers the chance to experience life in another country without the hassle of having to organise emigration visas. Many of us have lost our jobs or revisited our priorities over the course of the last year, which has seen us make changes to our careers and our lifestyles. Some of us have embraced the digital nomad lifestyle 100% and work from project to project on a self-employed basis. Others are employed full-time but are able to negotiate working from home or remotely. A digital nomad visa is a flexible visa that suits the digital nomad lifestyle, no matter what kind of a digital nomad you are.
How can I get a digital nomad visa?
As with any visas, there are different requirements for different countries and different passports. These visas allow you to stay in a country for a certain amount of time. Not all countries have introduced a digital nomad visa but more and more are seeing the benefits. Each country calls their digital nomad visa something different and they have different requirements but it’s worth investigating whether the country you want to visit has implemented such a visa.
Some countries, for example, Barbados and Estonia, require you to prove you have employment for a company outside the country (even if it’s your own). Then, in order to support yourself, you need to show your average income is above a certain amount. Some countries, like Spain, allow you to be self-employed as long as you have a certain amount of savings. While countries, like Germany, offer digital nomad visas only to certain professions, such as tax or business consultants, IT workers, linguistics and lawyers. And countries, like Bermuda, ask you to provide proof of travel insurance.
Long and short term visas
Some of these visas allow you to live in a country for three months, others for six, and some up to a year or two. Portugal offers a temporary resident visa which can be a stepping stone to applying for permanent residency. And yes, while some countries offer these visas free, others charge for the pleasure, just as is the case with any other visa. A Nomad Digital Residence visa in Antigua and Barbuda is $1 500 for a single person and is valid for two years. The Barbados Welcome Stamp is $2 000 and valid for twelve months. The Work From Bermuda visa is $263 and is valid for a year.
With more and more countries cottoning on to this idea, chances are wherever you are thinking of settling will have a digital nomad visa on offer in some shape or form. So if you’ve considered a particular destination but have been put off by your passport and/or visa restrictions, now could be the time to check again.
Read more: Top City Destinations for EFL Teachers
But before you go…
However, particularly with the current situation, make sure you check out all the requirements and possibilities before you head to the airport! Some countries are still not open to international travel, or possibly not travellers from your specific country. Other countries might require extensive health or travel insurance, while still others might ask you to have had the COVID-19 vaccination before you can be eligible to travel there. Plus, as we have now learnt, things can change on a daily basis so be sure to keep up to date with what’s happening in your chosen destination.
With a whole host of countries already offering some sort of digital nomad visas – including the likes of Mexico, Thailand, Dubai and Costa Rica – now is a good time to have a good think about where you want to go and see if it can be a real possibility.