You’ve read up on how to become a digital nomad, and you’re ready to take the plunge. As well as seeking sunshine, surf, and slow-living goodness, digital nomads are generally on the lookout for countries that make it easy for them to run their location-independent business: and that means a good Internet connection, the facilities they need for working remotely, and a visa specifically designed for their lifestyles.
Relocate Antigua peels back the layers of information out there to shed light on digital nomad programs and digital nomad residency visas that could work for you.
What is a digital nomad visa?
An increasing number of countries have been waking up to the global trend for digitalized services and businesses, and are hopping on the digital nomad visa bandwagon – which is excellent news for all you travelers used to working from home and beyond. But what makes digital nomad visas stand out from the rest, exactly?
Visas for nomads vs. visas for employees
While traditional salaried employee and tourist visa schemes have been in place for centuries, remote work visa programs that allow digital nomads the freedom to roam, living and working around the world, have been a long time coming.
Because they generally don’t have standard employment contracts, it has traditionally been a little tricky for globetrotters to secure the paperwork they need to stay in the country of their choice. And that’s where freelance visa schemes come in.
Digital nomad visas sometimes have minimum income thresholds, but all allow freelancers and location-independent professionals to live and work freely in the applicable country, just as employees on work contracts can.
Visas for nomads vs. visas for tourists
Until digital nomad visas became a thing, remote workers were often forced to stick to a good old tourist visa. But the benefits of opting for a nomad-specific visa are manifold:
- Avoiding maximum stay lengths
Tourist visas are generally designed for flying visits, often no longer than 90 days. For digital nomads looking to secure a base for themselves, this can prove insufficient.
In the case of schemes such as Europe’s Schengen visa system, for example, digital nomads “cannot stay within the Schengen Area for more than 90 days in a 180-day period of time”.
Cue insane amounts of wasted time, money, and energy on going back and forth to circumvent the rules. A digital nomad visa strips away this extra layer of hassle, giving you more freedom and convenience.
- Securing rights
While a tourist visa merely allows its holder to be physically present in a country, visas such as digital nomad visas give remote workers access to facilities and services similar to those on offer to the country’s citizens, such as the right to use local health services, and do away with pricey health insurance.
- Furthering long-term goals
If your ultimate end-goal is to make use of the residency schemes and citizenship opportunities out there, then a digital nomad visa is a step in the right direction to testing the waters.
Do digital nomads need work visas?
The short answer? Yes.
Unless you’re lucky enough to be a European Union-passport holder – in which case you enjoy the right to live and work in any of the EU’s 27 countries – most countries around the world will expect and require you to have some kind of work visa.
A simple, straight-forward travel visa may be enough for you if you plan on jumping from country to country, but if you’re looking to lay down roots, catch your breath or make the most of beneficial conditions in a particular place, some kind of working visa will be needed. And in light of the many new schemes popping up across the world designed specifically with digital nomads in mind, we definitely recommend making the most of the trend.
Bear in mind that each country will inevitably apply their own idiosyncratic set of regulations and requirements, with some demanding that you seek a particular type of visa depending on whether or not your income is generated in the country you’re applying to.
We’ve put together our list of our favorite countries for digital nomads, but we’re also ready and waiting to answer any questions you might have on specific countries and your particular circumstances.
Get in touch with one of our expert digital nomad advisors today, and let us know where you’re dreaming of heading next. We’ll rifle through the details and give you an idea of what’s doable for you.
Best digital nomad visas: our top three countries
With Internet connections, cheap flights, and fast and painless visa applications making it easier than ever to live and work abroad, the world is your oyster. However, a few countries are now offering a particularly seamless experience for digital nomads.
Relocate Antigua talks you through our favorites…
Digital nomad visa Estonia
Gazing out across the Baltic Sea, within waving distance of Finland, Estonia is a Central European gem that offers digital nomads a warm welcome, all the culture they can handle, and one of the juiciest digital nomad visas around.
Brand new this year, the Estonian Digital Nomad Visa is available for remote workers and those on employment contracts with companies based abroad. The visa grants holders the right to live and work in the country for up to one year, provided they meet the monthly minimum income threshold of €3504 (gross of tax), and can prove evidence that this has been the case for the six months preceding their application.
Applications are made via an online form on the government website, and cost just €80 or €100 to process, depending on whether you decide to apply for a short- or long-stay visa.
Digital nomad visa Mexico
Mexico. Does the country need more introduction? A long-standing favorite with travelers of all stripes, Mexico’s dramatic landscapes, incredible food and warm and welcoming people come top of the charts when it comes to the world’s best destinations. And thanks to the Mexican Temporary Resident Visa, digital nomads are enjoying even more of a reason to pack their bags and head for the country.
To be eligible for the Temporary Resident Visa, applicants will need to demonstrate a monthly income of approximately USD$1,620, or show that their bank balance in the preceding year hit a total of USD$27K. The visa is granted for one year initially, and can then be renewed on an annual basis for up to three years. This scheme is designed for digital nomads looking to spend between three months and four years in the country – and don’t forget that five years of residency can lead to citizenship, too.
Applying for a Mexican Temporary Resident Visa is a little more complex than in other countries. You’ll need to put together a paper application and attend an interview to assess your freelancing career and eligibility. The first step is attending an interview at a Mexican Consulate near you, which you can find over here.
Digital nomad visa Germany
Long at the cutting-edge of innovative thinking, Germany is a thriving country with a deep-rooted tradition in supporting start-ups and creative thinkers. At the crossroads of Europe, linking East and West, the German Freiberufler visa is aimed specifically at digital nomads and remote workers, and is one of the most attractive offers around.
One of the benefits of a German digital nomad visa is that it gives you access to freely travel around the Schengen area, making it ideal for nomads hoping to explore Europe in full. If you want to apply for the Freiberufler visa, prepare to commit: Germany is a bureaucracy-heavy country, with the application requirements to prove it. You’ll need to put together a rock-solid application with a long list of supporting documentation – check what paperwork you’ll need here.
It costs €100 to apply, and can take up to six weeks to process. The visa runs for three years, after which you’ll be able to apply for citizenship by naturalization, or for the permanent settlement permit for freelancers. We like! To get started, make an appointment with the officials using this form.
(h3)Going low-tax and embracing residency
While not necessarily offering nomad-specific visas, many countries make it easy for remote workers to save on their tax bill, and gain residency. You’ll need to make sure you meet the criteria based on your nationality and plans, but working around the 183-day rule and setting up your base in a no- or low-tax country is a smart strategy for location-independent workers.
Portugal, Dubai, Thailand, and Antigua all come in top of the class for offering residency schemes and programs that save you money while giving you the opportunity to live and work in world-class destinations. Check out Relocate Antigua’s guide to digital nomad tax residency for more details on where to look.
Places to watch: where to next?
As more and more countries jostle for a slice of the digital nomad action, you can expect to see an increasing amount of remote work-specific visas arrive on the market. Some programs have been given the green light – although details remain to be confirmed – while others are still in development.
In 2021, keep an eye out for shiny new visa programs you could be eligible for in Croatia and Georgia, in particular.
Antigua’s digital nomad visa
Finally, the digital nomad destination to end them all has to be Antigua. As well as being entirely English-speaking (a massive advantage when you’re looking for a base that gets you feeling right at home), this Caribbean gem is a sun trap crammed full of buzzing beach bars, secluded coves, colorful landscapes and breath-taking views, with a vibrant expat community to keep things interesting.
The Nomad Digital Residence (NDR) two-year visa was launched in 2020, and it isn’t hard to see why digital nomads are flocking to Antigua in their droves – it isn’t just the island’s slick and seamless connected facilities. The program gives applicants residency for two years, with the added benefit of having no income tax payable in Antigua.
It costs just USD$1,500 to apply for yourself, rising to USD$2,000 if you’d like to add a partner to your visa, and USD$3,000 if the whole family will be joining you. Applicants will need to demonstrate a minimum annual income of USD$50,000, which is an important point you’ll need to bear in mind.
The official government website does an excellent job of taking you through all the paperwork you’ll need to get together to apply. It’s then simply a matter of sending off your application by email to firstname.lastname@example.org and waiting for the good news to drop in your inbox!
As experts on the ground, Relocate Antigua provides a turnkey solution for digital nomads looking for assistance with their applications. We handle paperwork for visas for Antigua and Barbuda, as well as support in putting together your documents for work permits, residence and citizenship. We take care of making sure you have everything you need ready to go, and can even apply on your behalf. Using our apostilled translation and notarized translations mean you can rest assured your application will be given the green light, while our qualified ad hoc interpreting professionals are on hand to accompany you to official appointments.
If you’re serious about making a new life for yourself as a digital nomad in Antigua, or if you’re at the curious, early-planning stage, get in touch with our team and we’ll talk you through everything you need to know.
At-a-glance guide to the best digital nomad visa schemes
A quick-fire overview of the places to add to your digital nomad bucket list.
|Visa duration||Minimum monthly income||Application fee||Where to apply||Ease of application||Sunshine factor|
|Estonia||One year||€3,504||€80||Government website||❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️||🌞|
|Mexico||One year, renewable for up to three||USD$1,620||Varies||First step involves an interview at a Mexican consulate||❤️||🌞🌞🌞🌞|
|Germany||Three years||Varies by location||€100||First step involves making an appointment at your local Ausländerbehörde office||❤️❤️||🌞|
|Antigua||Two years||$50,000 annual income||Starting at USD$1,500||Email paperwork to email@example.com||❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️||🌞🌞🌞🌞🌞|
Digital nomad visas: a new age of ultra-flexible lifestyle
The rise of digital nomad visas in countries around the globe is ushering in a landmark shift in how location-independent contractors and freelancers are able to organize their lives.
No longer bound by the highly restrictive tourist visas they were once left to rely on, the new generation of digital nomad visas is opening up a world of possibility that would once have been unimaginable. These work permits give their holders the freedom to come, go and settle, making allowances for income earned abroad, and paving the way to securing more permanent rights – and in some cases, nationality.
As long-standing experts in offering expats help through our personal assistance and relocation services, Relocate Antigua has been ahead of the game when it comes to crafting bespoke handholding packages for digital nomads. Our finger is firmly pressed to the pulse of the latest news in digital nomad travel opportunities, and we’re here to share what we know.
Email or call our HG today for insight into where you could go, and how you can start living the digital nomad dream. Check out our articles on digital nomad jobs and the best digital nomad cities and locations out there for inspiration to get you started.