The pandemic has certainly put a spotlight on the digital nomad lifestyle and made remote working more mainstream and commonplace. With many people used to being stuffed into cubicles and now realizing their jobs can be done anywhere with a Wi-Fi connection, new possibilities are opening up.
Now, more countries than ever before are offering digital nomad visas for remote workers.
In this post we feature the complete list of countries that are currently offering digital nomad visas, how much they cost, along with the pros and cons. We'll also go over which nations are expected to launch their visas next, and what the future holds for digital nomads worldwide.
With that, many countries are taking advantage of all the new remote working professionals and are coaxing them to come live/work abroad with digital nomad visas.
What is a digital nomad visa?
A digital nomad, or remote working visa, is a type of permit to live and work in a foreign country, usually without being subject to that nation's tax laws, and without having to immigrate or apply for residency/citizenship.
This type of visa allows online professionals to come in, stay awhile (usually 1 year) and work on their business remotely. Since most of the nomad visas are 1 year, this gives remote workers a chance to put down some roots and get into routine, since they aren’t classified as just a ‘tourist’, which might only allow them to stay for 3-6 months.
Which countries currently offer a digital nomad visa?
Currently: 7 , but with some releasing programs soon.
In this article, we break down specific details of the digital nomad visas for the following countries:
- Dubai (UAE)
- Cayman Islands
Soon or Partial
Where are Southeast Asian and South American countries?
Now, many reading this might be screaming “but what about Bali? Or Thailand? Or Cartagena, Colombia?” and I hear you. Those are all super popular spots for digital nomads, but they don’t yet offer an official (and legal!) digital nomad visa. Going to many countries and ‘working’, even from your laptop, might be against the law without an official visa, whether they enforce it or not. Until these countries come out with with specific digital nomad visas that transparently list all the legal framework, we just can’t put them on this list.
Countries with Digital Nomad Visas
The first 4 countries with digital nomad visas that we're going to cover all happen to be in the Caribbean.
They all share a few of the same pros and cons, and in order not to repeat ourselves under each country’s specific information, we will just address them here.
All Caribbean nations that offer the remote work program have these PROS in common-
→ They all have island-vibe, relaxed lifestyles. They all have year-round warm weather. They all have fantastic beaches.
The CONS they all share in common are-
→ They all have a high cost of living. They all can be isolating for digital nomads. They all have uncertainty around future lockdowns, border closures and entry with regards to Covid-19.
Now, let’s jump into each individual nation’s digital nomad program.
Cheapest Cost of Living in the Caribbean: Out of the 3 Caribbean nations now offering a remote work-type visa, Barbados has the cheapest day-to-day cost of living. Nomads will be able to find more affordable rentals on this island, as well as cheaper meals and services
Well Connected to the Caribbean: Barbados has more direct flights to other Caribbean and Central American nations than either Bermuda or Anguilla
Services Are Hit and Miss: Things are so laid back in Barbados that many digital nomads might get frustrated when their workday collides with island time. For example, let’s say your internet drops at home and you need a service guy to come out – that could take days or weeks and isn’t as promptly scheduled as you’d like it to be.
Summer Weather: Summers can be a little more hot and humid than some nomads are comfortable with, with at least half the days of the month being rainy.
Price of Visa: Bermuda has the lowest cost of the actual visa in the entire Caribbean. Both Barbados and Anguilla charge at least $2000 USD for their visas, so Bermuda’s $263 is a fraction of the cost.
Easy Connections: Bermuda has daily direct flights to the USA, UK and Canada. New York is 2.5 hours away, Toronto 3 hours and the UK jut under 7.
Super-fast Wi-Fi: Bermuda has first access to many cables running across the Atlantic, giving them blazing fast Wi-Fi speeds up to 500 MBPS.
Cost of Living: Where the actual cost of Bermuda’s visa might be under the pros list, the cost of living on the island immediately sticks out as the most glaring con on the entire list. Bermuda is the most expensive place to live on the planet. Really! It’s has a higher cost of living index than even Switzerland, Singapore, Japan and Iceland.
Unless you are making the big bucks, deciding to spend a year working remotely in Bermuda might not be financially feasible in the least.
Not As Welcoming: Full disclosure, we do not know this from personal or first-hand experience, but amongst our large readership we have had comments submitted of expats and nomads on the ground in Bermuda, informing us the environment was much less accommodating than they had expected. Racial tensions and outsider attitudes exist on the island, and any potential nomad should at least be aware of this sensitive issue.
Length: 1 year
Income to Prove: unknown
Cost of Visa includes Covid testing: Anguilla is serious about keeping levels of the virus low (and at times non-existent) and they have some very strict entry requirement protocols. Part of those requirements include PCR testing and surveillance once on the island, which the cost of is included in Anguilla's digital nomad visa.
Fresh destination: Anguilla might be off the beaten path for many nomads, so the chance to live and work in Anguilla might offer a fresh new perspective and a change of scenery for many.
Tiny Island: Anguilla has a population of about 15,000 people, making it the smallest nation with a digital nomad program. For some more introverted nomads, this could be a plus, but for the majority of us, we need a bigger community than Anguilla can offer.
Not well connected: Anguilla is definitely not well connected by air. There are only a few flights in and out of the island, making it more difficult for nomads who live to travel a lot.
Length: up to 2 years
Income to Prove: $100,000/year single, $150,000 year couple, $180,000 year single or couple with at least 1 child.
The Cayman Islands calls their program the ‘Global Citizen Concierge Program’
Longest Visa: The Cayman Islands are offering the longest remote work visa on the market right now, with most other nations offering only 1 year. The ability to have a 2-year visa, with unlimited trips allowed in and out of the country, allows for a nomad to create a nice little home base for a while.
Extremely low Covid cases: The Cayman Islands have only seen 232 total cases, 2 deaths, and as of November 1st, only 9 active cases.
Proof of Income: Let’s be frank about this – You’ve got to be pretty wealthy to even qualify for this program. Not to say that many digital nomads are not high-income earners, but the nomadic lifestyle allows remote workers to earn less in general, without having to downgrade the quality of life.
It seems the Cayman’s end goal is really to attract high-level executives with remote working capabilities.
Tough Entry Requirements & Lockdown History: Anyone who applies for the program and gets approval will have to abide by all entry requirements and rules, which currently includes multiple tests, quarantines, and even a monitoring device upon arrival in the Caymans. Plus, they have been one of the most lockdown places on Earth during covid, making committing to a long-term stay a little unsettling.
Cost: 100 Euro
Length: 1 year
Income to Prove: 3,500 Euro per month
Estonia was the original gangster when it comes to catering to remote workers. They have really been pioneers in digital nomad space since 2014 with similar type visas, but their official digital nomad visa was just launched in August of this year.
Only EU Nation: Currently Estonia is the only nation in the EU offering a digital nomad visa.
The Tech Community: There is a huge online, digital, and technology community in Estonia, and being in the country for a year could mean a lot of important connections, education opportunities, and collaboration possibilities .
Cold weather: Estonia has the coldest weather of all the digital nomad destinations. How cold? Many days in the dead of winter might hover just under the freezing mark (0 to -10 Celsius) but cold fronts can send bone-chilling-30c weather through.
Tax: The visa gives you a 1 year pass in Estonia, but once you spend 6 months there, you are considered a ‘resident’ for tax purposes. Right now, nomads are doing simple visa-runs to get past this regulation, but that may become impossible with new legislation expected to pass. Also, isn’t the whole point of signing up for a digital nomad program to stop annoying visa runs?
Overall, Georgia has one of most attractive nomad visas on the market. It’s easy, fast, cheap, and a cost of living as low as some Asian destinations.
Cost of Living: Georgia is CHEAP! According to Numbeo, many costs associated with living in Georgia are even cheaper then Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam and Mexico. Georgia comes up in number 123 of 135 countries listed, making it one of the cheapest places to live in the world.
Cultural/Language Barrier: Some expats and nomads have reported a harder time growing accustomed to living in Georgia, in reference to things like language barriers, cultural differences, etc.
Length: 1 year
Income to Prove: $5,000 per month
The new kid on the block. Dubai just announced their digital nomad program a few days ago (mid-October 2020) which gives a very unique destination option for nomads.
Yes we realize that Dubai is a city within the UAE, but the digital nomad program is for only the Dubai region.
Unique Destination: Dubai (well, the UAE) is the only Middle Eastern country currently offering a digital nomad visa, making it a very different place to land. For nomads who have “been there, done that”, Dubai offers a strikingly new backdrop for building an online business.
Low Cost of Visa: The Visa itself for Dubai is very affordable, which is very attractive for any nomad looking to keep upfront costs low.
Conservative Country: The lifestyle of Dubai might not mesh well with all types of nomads. Dubai is extremely more liberal than many cities in the Middle East, but does come with its own set of challenges and distinct cultural differences.
High level of income needed: Dubai is asking all digital nomads to prove at least $5,000 USD of monthly income, which is the highest threshold on the market. For some nomads, this requirement will simply make them ineligible for the visa right off the bat.
Halfway there – Aruba
Another Caribbean nation is dipping its toe in the water when it comes to offering a remote work visa. Aruba is currently offering a 90-day digital nomad visa (called “One Happy Workation”), which makes us believe it could be a test run for a larger program offering.
However, the 90 days comes with a caveat: buying their state-run travel health insurance at a max of around $275 for the 90 day period.
Coming Soon – Croatia
The next big star in the digital nomad world is going to be Croatia. They’re putting together the legal framework and details for their new digital nomad visa as we speak, set to be ready for early 2021.
Croatia has many more pros than most of the current DN location now, and a lot less of the cons. We truly believe that Croatia is going to be the ‘full package’ when it comes to the digital nomad lifestyle.
Length: 1 year
Income to Prove: unknown
Pros – Where do we start?
Cost of living: the COL in Croatia is very middle of the road, however more affordable than most digital nomads home countries. Croatia is cheaper than the UK, USA, Canada, Australia, and much of the EU.
Favourable Weather: Again, just like cost of living, Croatia has very middle of the road weather, but it seems to appeal to most. It’s not a oppressively humid and hot like some destinations nomads flock to, but thankfully not as cold as Estonia or Georgia in the dead of winter.
Location: Being located in South East Europe on the Adriatic is about a good of location as you can get. Super well connected to other European cities, makes Croatia a great place for a true nomad to base out of.
In addition to all of these, Croatia also has realistic entry requirements in regards to countries allowed/PCR testing, and is trending as one of the top places to travel for 2020/2021.
DN Infrastructure is still growing: As any early nomad knows, being the first in a new destination can come with a few hiccups. The digital nomad and remote working infrastructure is not as established as in some destinations, but local businesses are actively pivoting to remedy that.
What the future holds for digital nomads
While none of us truly know which countries will officially launch their digital nomad visa next, I do have an educated guess.
In my opinion, I believe that South East Asian countries, like Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam and Cambodia are going to develop some pretty attractive remote working visas.
They have all been sealed up since the start of the pandemic, absolutely devastating their economies. Most nomads who would set up shop in those nations for months at a time (legally or not) have been forced to go elsewhere, many finding ‘new favourite’ places to live.
These countries are going to have to make some major moves to attract back their digital nomad communities, and perhaps legitimizing them is a great way to start. I wouldn’t be surprised if some very desirable nomad visas start popping up in 2021 from many South East Asian nations.
The Rise of the Digital Nomad
I went part-time digital nomad in 2014, traveling most of the year, and more ‘full time nomad' in 2017, after selling my house and 90% of my possessions. Traveling all over the world in many different countries and continents has taught me a lot and given me a ton of perspective on this topic. I am truly excited to watch this global shift unfold and witness so many people transitioning into this lifestyle.
Remote working, world schooling and the entire digital nomad way of life is growing at exponential rates, propelled even further by the pandemic.
2020 is just the beginning, as its been estimated that by 2035, 1 billion people will be working remotely.
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Disclaimer: Current travel rules and restrictions can change without notice. The decision to travel is ultimately your responsibility. Contact your consulate and/or local authorities to confirm your nationality’s entry and/or any changes to travel requirements before traveling. Travel Off Path does not endorse traveling against government advisories
Article originally published October 17, 2020 with updates