What is a digital nomad visa? When should I think about applying to a digital nomad visa? Which countries offer digital nomad visas? How do I apply for a digital nomad visa?
At this point in the modern era, if you're not working remotely you probably know someone who is. Especially since the pandemic, people are embracing the work-from-anywhere lifestyle that allows you to sit in your pajamas all day and scroll through your Instagram while taking meetings.
But there is a group of remote workers who got restless sitting at home all day. Instead, they used their freedom to hop on a flight and live in a completely new part of the world for a while. These people call are known as digital nomads.
According to a study by MBO Partners, there were at least 15.5 million Americans who identified as digital nomads as of 2021.
In 2019, that number was only 7 million.
When the number of nomads more than doubled, the number of countries offering digital nomad visas also began to increase. This visa program has been developing over the last decade but is rapidly making its way across the globe as international destinations try to lure digital nomads in.
When people live and work in these countries, they often boost the economy and (ideally) support local businesses.
If you've been thinking of moving towards a remote career so you can travel full-time, then keep reading!
You'll find everything you need to know about this little golden ticket below, and by the end, you'll be eager to launch your new travel lifestyle.
What is a digital nomad visa?
A digital nomad visa, or a remote work visa, permits someone to live and work in a foreign country, usually without being subject to the nation's tax laws. Typically, it is reserved for remote workers and online professionals, which is different than a work visa that allows you to get a local job.
This type of visa usually grants you full residency status, allowing you greater freedoms like the ability to open a bank account, get resident discounts, and get a local residency ID card.
You're not quite a citizen, but you're definitely not a tourist.
These visas may last anywhere from 3 months to a full year, with some programs pushing their visa up to 5 years!
Basically, when you apply for a digital nomad visa, you're asking the country to open its doors to you with the promise that you will not take away local opportunities. However, you are entering into an agreement that you will benefit the economy by going out to eat, paying rent, shopping, and enjoying your time abroad.
That last agreement usually goes unspoken, but these visas will typically ask about your income so they can make sure you can support yourself within this foreign economy.
So now that you know what a digital nomad visa actually is, it's time to learn where they can take you!
Which countries have digital nomad visas?
As of 2022, there are 46 countries that offer digital nomad visas!
Realistically, you may not find the exact country you want. After all, only 23% of the world has developed its digital nomad programs, and although that number is growing exponentially, we're still limited on which destinations offer this visa.
However, there's a very good chance you'll find a visa program that is geographically similar to what you want, while also allowing you to travel more easily to the surrounding region!
For example, if you're picturing your life in the south of France, that's not exactly doable as France currently does not offer a digital nomad program. However, you could apply to live in Spain and hop on a very short flight from Barcelona to Nice during a long weekend.
There's a full list of the updated countries offering visas in my All About Digital Nomad E-book, but we'll dive deeper into that in a bit.If you've been thinking of becoming a digital nomad 👀‼️ Click To Tweet
Why do digital nomads need a specific visa?
Is it possible to travel as a digital nomad without this visa? Yes.
As a matter of fact, that's what people have done for years before this type of program existed. Nomads have either been taking advantage of loose immigration laws and manipulating the tourist visa programs, or they just bounced between countries at a very fast rate.
However, when you play the game unfairly, there's a good chance you'll get caught.
Countries have become more and more aware of digital nomads who manipulate less strict border policies and have started to crack down on border control. Often, the repercussions leave people stranded in a foreign nation with no idea how to get home.
One recent horror story describes how a woman who moved to Bali during the COVID-19 pandemic was deported after local outrage sparked over her digital nomad lifestyle.
She was living in Bali on a tourist visa during a strenuous health crisis, and she was telling her followers how to do the same. Publishing content about Bali sparked controversy amongst Indonesians and throughout Southeast Asia, and the disagreements led to her deportation.
With just a tourist visa, working and living abroad not only becomes impractical but can be dangerous in extreme scenarios.
Digital nomad visas offer protection from immigration complications that tourist visas cannot when you want to live and work somewhere for an extended period of time.
If you're only visiting a destination for two weeks, the tourist visas are perfectly fine.
But, if you want to put down roots, take your time in a new city, form friendships and enjoy a peaceful work-life balance, then the digital nomad visa is a much better option.
Things you should consider when choosing a digital nomad visa
Every digital nomad visa application has unique requirements. The main factors of these visa programs you should consider before applying include:
- Visa length
- Application cost
- Application requirements
- Cost of living
Your digital nomad visa's time allotment will determine how long you can stay and remote work in a specific destination.
For example. in Colombia, you can get a PIP-5 Entry Permit for 180 days. This permit functions like a tourist visa and will need to be reviewed and renewed 90 days into your stay. The application process is nearly nonexistent, and the main requirement is that you provide your passport.
However, in Norway, you can stay for 2 full years through their Norway Independent Contractor Visa program if you meet the income minimums, satisfy application requirements, and can prove you have a Norwegian client.
Norway's digital nomad visa will cost you almost $700 to apply for, and the vetting process is more intensive compared to Colombia's travel permit.
Considering the application requirements like this will help you narrow down which visa to apply for.
These nations want to feel secure in your ability to sustain a good lifestyle in their communities. Most nations aren't super excited by travelers who drain local resources, so some applications will have rigid requirements.
If you can't meet certain criteria or pay high application costs, that country may not be right for you right now!
Explore all your digital nomad visa options before you get your heart set on a certain destination. You may be inspired to travel somewhere unexpected based on what requirements you satisfy!
If you need a little extra inspiration, get stories from my own travel experiences delivered straight to your inbox so I can help you narrow down where you want to go.
Everything you need to know in one place: the digital nomad newsletter
If you want the ultimate guide to becoming an expert digital nomad, I got you.
Come join me in the nomad group chat by signing up for my nomad newsletter right here. This is the place for anyone who's just starting their full-time travel journey, or nomads looking for fresh ideas!
I'm always sending tips about everything from digital nomad visas to destination inspiration. You'll also get exclusive access to things like my All About Digital Nomad Visas E-book.
You're basically signing up for an easy, personalized masterclass on how to live your best travel life. What else could you want?
Should you apply for a digital nomad visa?
If you want to spend a few weeks on vacation in Costa Rica? No, you're good with just a tourist visa!
But if you want to live in a destination for a substantial period of time, working remotely while enjoying the local culture? Y-E-S!
Becoming a full-time digital nomad has been the best experience of my life. I've made so many new friends, visited over 15 countries in just two years, and built my business while doing it!
Earning your bag while traveling the world is all that it's hyped up to be. If this is the lifestyle you've been dreaming up, learn how to make it happen with my nomad newsletter, where I drop all my best tips, tricks, and travel secrets like digital nomad visas!
There's literally never been a better time to commit to this lifestyle and make travel a top priority! Get out of that stuffy AF office cubicle, and get on a flight to your dream destination 😍✈️
Requirements vary from country to country! You may only need a passport, or you might need a few documents like proof of income or annual tax returns.
As of 2022, there are 46 countries that offer digital nomad visas across the world. Even if you can't get a visa for the exact country you want, there is a big likelihood you'll be able to find a similar destination that suits your travel goals!
This is ✨exactly✨ what digital nomad visas are made for! If you are a remote worker who wants to live abroad for three months to a few years, the best option is a digital nomad visa. These visas provide you with travel flexibility and the freedom to work long-term as a remote employee, no matter where you are.
Digital nomad visas are offered by a diverse range of countries around the world. You should research what digital nomad visa requirements are before picking your dream destination! The best countries are going to be whichever ones line up with your budget, career goals, income, and travel goals.
Have you used a digital nomad visa before?
Tell me your experience in the comments below!