The Ultimate Digital Nomad Visa Guide
Have you ever dreamed of starting a new life abroad? Perhaps you want to travel the world without sacrificing the career you’ve worked so hard for. If this is the case, then a digital nomad visa could be the perfect fit. In this digital world, more and more people are working online and as a result, countries all over the world are offering special digital nomads visas. Whether in Spain, Portugal or Bali, digital nomad visas make traveling the world easier than ever. Find out which countries you could work in with this comprehensive guide for digital nomads.
What are digital nomads?
In this ever-growing digital world, you can be online anywhere and anytime—an important foundation for digital nomadism. Both freelancers and remote employees can become digital nomads. After all, a stable internet connection and laptop is all you need. The typical career paths of digital nomads often include marketing, IT, design, media and consulting.
What makes someone a digital nomad? Now that remote work has become the norm, we need to distinguish between digital nomads and home office workers. The major difference is that digital nomads are not tied to any place—similar to nomadic people, as the origins of the word suggest. Digital nomads often travel from one country to the next while continuing to pursue their professional ambitions in their home country. Digital nomadism offers people the freedom to explore the world while supporting themselves and advancing their careers—making it a great visa option for people who work from home.
H3. What information do digital nomads need to know?
Most digital nomads work entirely via their laptops and rely on connecting with coworkers or clients online, so a stable internet connection is key. To support this, cities across the world now offer coworking spaces, which are rentable, fully equipped offices for freelancers and digital nomads. The spaces also offer a sense of community and the opportunity for networking.
Many digital nomads also seek affordable living spaces to support their adventurous lifestyle. The cost of living is important to consider before starting your digital nomad journey. Those working abroad need to cover costs for food and rent, while keeping a leftover budget to enjoy the local culture and explore the area. Those who want to stay in a foreign country for a long time typically require a visa, as opposed to those who travel for vacation. As this trend has increased, many countries have followed suit and introduced digital nomad visas to accommodate this growing need, including a wide range of countries in Europe.
Digital nomad visas: Working and living abroad
During the pandemic, tourism significantly declined in many countries. Simultaneously, the emergence of remote work skyrocketed, making it easier than ever to work from anywhere. In order to promote tourism and support local economies, some countries introduced a digital nomad visa to attract working travelers. The rationale: the spending power of long-stay digital nomads is higher than short-stay tourists.
A digital nomad visa can give you the freedom to travel the world and follow your passions. If you dream of working during the day and visiting ancient ruins or hiking through the alps in the evening, then a digital nomad visa is for you. Remote worker visas can open doors to places you’ve only dreamed of visiting.
It’s important to note that you may only work remotely for a company that is not based in your host country. For example, if you are traveling to Spain, you cannot work for a Spanish company with a digital nomad visa. Continue reading to find out which countries offer a special visa for digital nomads and find your perfect match.
Digital nomad visa checklist
When applying for a digital nomad visa, you need to have a valid passport and fill out the visa application. Prepare the following documents:
- Health insurance coverage, which is valid in your desired country
- Employment contract from a company that is not based in the host country
- A letter from your employer stating they permit remote work
- Proof of income
Which countries offer visas for digital nomads?
Whether you’re looking for warm beaches and palm trees or icy tundras and mountainous landscapes, you’re bound to find a country that offers a digital nomad visa.
Find the best location to start your digital nomad journey
Have you already started packing your bags? Before you book that flight, keep reading to find out the best countries for digital nomads based on a range of important criteria:
- Cost of living
- Number of coworking spaces
- Internet speed
- Flexible application requirements
- Family-friendly destinations
Digital nomad life on a budget: The most affordable countries
If you think traveling always has to be expensive, then you need to change your mindset. Even life for digital nomads can be affordable—it’s even cheaper to live and work abroad, helping you save money for more adventures!
Where can you comfortably live and work on a budget?
Cost of Living:
The cost-of-living index tracks costs of regular expenses ranging from food, rent, healthcare and much more on a scale of 1-100. Basically, the cost-of-living index helps you determine how your income will cover basic expenses. These countries have a cost-of-living index below 35 while the USA has an index of 72.4—that’s more than double. This means that living in one of these countries stretches your dollar, so you can spend less on the necessities and more on what you love most.
Source: https://www.numbeo.com/cost-of-living/rankings_by_country.jsp, Status: 03.2023
Source: https://www.investopedia.com/ask/answers/100214/how-cost-living-index-calculated.asp Status: 03.2023
Stay connected both on- and offline
While the cost of living is important, other factors will also play a huge role when deciding which country to live in. As a digital nomad, your Wi-Fi connection and ability to work comfortably are crucial to your success.
Bad internet is a digital nomad’s biggest fear. A stable connection is vital for completing your work on time. These countries boast speedy internet connections: Denmark, Dubai, Romania, Spain and Thailand. Forget the worries of missed meetings or endless hours of downloading thanks to incredible internet speeds of 158.22–198.98 megabits per second (Mbit/s).
Source : https://www.speedtest.net/global-index, Status: 03.2023
Working from home can be a joy whether it’s the time saved from no commute or the opportunity to pop in some laundry during your break. However, digital nomads might get homesick from time to time or want ways to meet new people while living in a foreign land. Coworking spaces are the perfect solution for digital nomads. Offering the comforts of modern offices, coworking spaces provide dedicated workspaces, electricity, internet access and sometimes even drinks and snacks, all included for a set price.
These countries have the largest number of coworking spaces:
Number of coworking spaces Source: https://www.coworker.com/, Status: 03.2023
Stay safe abroad
If you’ve never lived abroad, you might wonder just how safe it is in other countries. Whether traveling alone or with small children, choosing a country with a high level of safety will ease your mind. The safety index score for the U.S. is only 51. Consider Estonia for a digital nomad visa thanks to the high safety index score. Croatia, Estonia, Georgia, Japan, Switzerland and Taiwan all have a safety index5 higher than 74—making them a safer choice for your digital nomad adventure.
Source: https://www.numbeo.com/crime/rankings_by_country.jsp, Status: 03.2023
What goes into the safety index score? Risk of pickpockets, terrorist attacks and also natural disasters all factor into the score. Women’s safety when traveling alone was also a consideration.
You should proceed with caution when choosing a country that has a low safety index score. While it doesn’t mean you should avoid these countries entirely, take certain precautions for safe travel. Argentina, the Bahamas, Brazil, Namibia and South Africa, rank the lowest on the safety index.
Is it complicated to apply for a digital nomad visa? Not in these countries!
Requirements for digital nomad visa applications vary from country to country. These are the countries with the most flexible guidelines for digital nomads:
- Costa Rica
These countries make it easy for digital nomads to apply for and extend visas, granted that applicants meet basic criteria such as proof of income. NomadList even named Croatia the “Most liked digital nomad hub” for 2023.
Source: https://www.traveloffpath.com/the-top-5-easiest-digital-nomad-visas-to-get-in-2023/, Status: 03.2023
Family-friendly countries for digital nomads
Digital nomads come in all shapes and sizes—some even have families. If you’re looking to become a digital nomad but you have children, don’t worry because many countries offer family-friendly digital nomad visas. In Portugal, the digital nomad visa (D7 visa) allows for a spouse, children under 26 and even parents to join the main applicant on a D7 visa.
Belize has the Work Where You Vacation program which offers significant benefits for digital nomads with kids. All children under 18 years old can enroll in the Belize school system so you don’t have to worry about homeschooling while living and working abroad. In order to bring your family along, you’ll need proof of employment outside of Belize with a minimum annual income of $100,000.
Special work visa agreements
Special work visa agreements
Other popular countries such as Australia and New Zealand don’t currently offer digital nomad visas. But don’t worry—both countries have special work visa agreements, making it easier for Americans to work and travel abroad there.
The Australian Work and Holiday Visa allows U.S. citizens between the ages of 18 to 30 to travel and work in Australia for up to 12 months.7 Applying for this special visa will give you the opportunity to fill a gap year, take an extended vacation or explore a new country in-depth. If you are a young, American digital nomad, then consider working abroad in Australia for a year.
New Zealand offers a similar visa for Americans between 18 to 30 years old. The USA Working Holiday Visa allows you to work, study and travel in New Zealand for up to 12 months.8 Keep in mind, the visa does not allow you to bring any dependents along and if you are traveling with a partner, they will have to submit a separate application.
Most popular countries amongst American digital nomads
Which countries are American digital nomads flocking to? To no surprise, warm coastal countries rank highest among American digital nomads. Whether in Europe or more tropical destinations elsewhere, Americans seek digital nomad visas in the following stunning locations: Bali, Costa Rica, Croatia, Portugal and Spain.
Omio on Workation
As employees of Omio, a travel company, we naturally don’t miss the opportunity to get a taste of the digital nomad experience by combining work with vacation. In her article on workation, our colleague Nora explains the best way to enjoy this experience. Read more about Stephie’s trip to Madeira and what to expect in our Madeira guide. So set sail and let’s go!
Corporate Communication Manager
1 year, Aljezur, Portugal
Sitting on a terrace overlooking the crashing waves of the Atlantic, sipping orange juice made from oranges picked from your own, temporary garden as you answer emails hits differently! Working from anywhere helps me refuel my creativity and think differently about strategic problems I’m facing in my role.
Head of ERP & Workplace IT
I rented an apartment in the hills above Haifa, Israel whilst the Covid restrictions were being lifted. The joy of people being able to meet again was palpable, along with a hint of uncertainty. I had the privilege of watching a city re-establish itself as a community, one that welcomed me as a long term visitor, living life alongside the locals.
Senior Vendor Manager
5 weeks, Rhodes, Greece
There are many reasons why I love to work remotely: My yearn to embrace different cultures, try new foods, and to see different landscapes. But ultimately what I get out of it is throwing myself into the local community. Remote working allows you to not just travel somewhere, but to live and get a brief snapshot of a different world.
Senior Online Marketing Manager
3 months, Madeira, Portugal
Even the way to the supermarket past the maracuja trees and the constant view of the sea at Madeira were a great change from the grey Berlin winter. It’s nice to close the laptop and go for a hike, take a plunge into the sea or go on smaller excursions and slowly get to know the island.