Travelling the world is a wish for many people. Europe is slowly warming up to the digital nomad movement through which several countries have developed specific digital nomad visas. Thanks to these visas, digital nomads are able to stay in Europe for longer periods than are granted to tourists. These short-term visas have provided an opportunity for digital nomads who desire to live and work in Europe. In doing so, they can have a positive impact on the local economy. This article provides a guide on how these digital nomad visas work, their basic requirements as well as how to submit an application.
How do EU digital nomad visas work?
Digital nomad visas are currently offered by EU countries such as Croatia, Czech Republic, Estonia, Iceland, Germany and Spain. Each country has differences in their requirements and restrictions concerning the eligibility and usage of digital nomad visas. Some may request petitioners to put their application through an embassy or take it in-person to their offices, while others may allow qualified citizens to apply online. For example, in a country like Croatia, a remote worker can apply for a one-year residence permit after arrival, which comes under their laws. During their stay, they cannot provide Croatian businesses services and are not affected by income tax.
Common requirements for digital nomad visa
Visa requirements normally vary per country. It is advisable to check your preferred country's digital nomad visa requirements. You can liaise with the country's authorities you wish to visit, read their policies to gain a better understanding of the application process. The process may take a long period, probably months or weeks, depending on the country you wish to visit.
In most cases, the digital nomad visa applications will usually require:
- Proof of your income or savings
- Proof that your business is registered outside the country
- Valid passport for travel
- Medical documents (e.g. proof of vaccinations)
- Payment of the visa fees
European countries offering digital nomad visas
Germany is one of the EU countries offering two types of visas for digital nomads. The first is the special freelancer visa, which is known as the freiberufler visa. The visa has a duration of 3 months, which can later be converted into a permanent residency. It is an option for self-employed people in industries like marketing, IT, architecture, engineering as well as many others.
The other German self-employment visa is known as Aufenthaltserlaubnis für selbständige Tätigkeit. The visa allows foreign visitors and self-independent non-citizens to live in Germany for six months up to 3 years. This visa has longer processing timelines than the freiberufler visa.
For eligibility of a German self-employment visa, you must:
- Have a residence of accommodation in Germany
- Evidence of steady income and financial self-sustainability
- Documents showing proof of health insurance
- Show evidence of a freelance plan
- Have work clients based in Germany to show participation towards the local economy
- Present all documents required
- Required to make fee payments of visa application of €100
- Go to the Consulate for visa application
- Secure a residence in Germany
Spain now offers a non-lucrative visa that permits non-citizens to live in the country for more than three months. This visa can be renewed and is designed for non-citizens who would like to work remotely from Spain. They also give room for retired people and those who are financially self-sufficient. The country is known for its low budget costs, beautiful places like mountains, beaches and freestyle lifestyle suitable for independent people. However, you are not allowed to work with this visa.
- Proof that you are financially self-independent or you have a retirement pension amounting to least $2,500 per month or hold $32,043 in savings
- Proof of a police background check
- Private Spanish health insurance
- Provide health insurance cover documents
- Apply at any Spanish Consulate near you personally
- All documents should be presented in Spanish, in addition to permission granted by your country of residence
- Must provide an application fee ranging from $86 to $612 depending on citizenship
- Sign a document confirming you want to depart before signing a notary that you concur not to get employed while staying in Spain.
Portugal offers three types of visas that all have validity for one year:
- The Portugal passive income visa. This visa is for individuals with a passive income of around €20,000 per annum from an investment property that can make them qualify for this.
- Portugal Entrepreneur Visa. This visa is designed for entrepreneurs who want to stay longer and work for local companies.
- The Portugal Self-Employment Visa is a visa that you need to prove that you are working or seeking local Portuguese companies.
After five years, you can opt to apply for a permanent residence digital nomad visa.
- Must receive a minimum of $750 per month.
- Evidence of income from property or proof of business ownership
- Proof of financial means
- Obtain a criminal background check
- Proof of health insurance
- Pay the €83 visa fee and €72 resident permit fee
- Make a visit to a Portuguese embassy near you
- Prepare the required documents and print out
Estonia provides a digital nomad visa to enable foreigners to live and work from the country for one year. Estonia was the first country to develop and adapt to a unique e-residency program. The program provides licenses to people looking to establish and run EU-based online business. Later on, the Estonian government started to allow foreigners to live and freelance using a one-year digital nomad and freelancer visa. This encourages visitors to come and promote the country's local economy.
- You are not constrained to working in a single location and can perform your work using telecommunication technology
- Evidence that you work for an employer or your own company that is registered in a country other than Estonia
- You should be receiving an income of about €3504 per month for the previous 6-months
- Fill out an online application form and make a visit at your nearest Estonian Embassy or Consulate to give in person
- A short-stay visa fee costs €80 while for long-stay visa goes for €100
- Background check as part of the application
If you want to work in the Czech Republic as a freelance or self-employed person, you can try applying for their nomadic visa. The country provides the Zivno visa for digital nomads. It has a validity period of twelve months, and if needed, it can be extended. However, the application process is a bit complicated and can take longer than the other nomad visas.
- Provide proof of a place you will live for at least 12 months
- Minimum of €5,587 in your bank account (per individual applying to travel)
- Ability to pay approximately $80 per month in local taxes
- Hire an agency to help you with the process
- Prepare the list of required documents as required depending on your citizenship
- Visit the Czech embassy if applying for the long-stay visa
- Make the €100 payment of the visa fee
Croatia is among the most recent European countries to roll-out the digital nomad visa. The country has taken over the hearts of many tourists who repeatedly visit the country. The visa offers up to a maximum stay of 12 months. The visa also offers tax exemption to its visitors. The Croatian government passed this ruling to attract more visitors and help them enjoy their stay. The visa’s disadvantage is that it only lasts for one year and lacks the permanent residency option.
- Evidence of accommodation
- Give evidence of self-employment or the capability to work as a freelance worker
- Minimum of €2500 per monthly income or savings
- Have a health insurance valid for period of stay
- Criminal history checks from your country of residence
- Pay application fee of 590 Kuna and 35 Kuna
- Obtain an OIB identification number
- Two passport photos
Iceland government now offers a remote worker visa to non-citizens. The visa allows remote workers to enjoy working for six months within the country. Foreigners can also apply for a long-term visa, if they wish to stay longer, and their income should not be taxed at the local rate.
- Provide evidence of a private health insurance cover for Iceland
- Applicant must own a location independent business or work for a company located outside of Iceland
- Provide proof of your employment
- Evidence of approximately $8,000 USD monthly income for individuals or over $10,000 USD for a couple
- Pay the visa processing fee of 7800 ISK
- Complete the application form online
Norway has a unique nomad visa for visitors who wish to move to Svalbard — One of the most luxurious areas in the country. Norway is a non-EU state but a member of the Schengen area. The most remarkable thing about this visa is that a foreigner can enjoy living on a luxurious and beautiful island. You can also apply for a short-term visa valid for up to 2 years.
- Proof of accommodation in Norway
- You must be self-employed with a permit to work
- You must have the right working qualifications in your profession
- Provide proof of receiving a minimum annual income of €35,719
- Pay the visa application fees of approximately €600
- Get the required application documentation from Norway's Directorate of Immigration website to complete the application form
- Fill out the application, and submit it at the nearest Norwegian Embassy.
Greece's government is planning to roll-out a unique visa for digital nomads. The visa will allow visitors to participate in remote jobs that boost the local economy. The Greek government has pledged to tax 50% of the income received from non-citizens.
- Be self-employed or work for a company based outside of Greece
- You should not have been a tax resident of Greece prior to obtaining the visa
The digital nomad visas being introduced across various EU countries have made travelling the world while working easy and enjoyable. Getting a digital nomad visa is steadily becoming an efficient and cost-effective process for most travellers wanting to live and work in EU countries. If you are a remote worker, consider the above options when planning your next working and holiday destination with the above options offered by popular EU destination countries.