Many — if not most — digital nomads travel around Europe as tourists while working from their laptops in the places they visit. “If someone asks, don’t tell them you’re planning on working remotely,” that’s the advice most debutants are given anyway. But here’s the kicker: technically, working without a permit is a big no-no. So why is everyone doing it? For one thing, the risk of getting caught red-handed is practically non-existent. But, also, who wants to bother with all the paperwork? No, gracias.
Even vacationing lawmakers seem to conveniently forget that making Zoom calls from Costa del Sol with their colleagues back home usually requires some sort of official permission, or at least that it falls into a grey area. And for digital nomads, imagine the bureaucracy of planning an itinerary across multiple countries, each with its own set of rules — it’s just too overwhelming, not to say downright impossible. In the end, there isn’t much of a difference between the policy peddler who makes the rules and the laptop hobo who breaks them: if there’s a path of least resistance, it’s human nature they both follow it.
The problem with tourist visas
There’s no question: Working remotely under the pretence of being a tourist is still the easiest option for making short-term stays in Europe. It’s a practice that’s hardly ever cracked down on, mainly because it’s tough to prove without solid evidence (that is unless you blatantly give yourself away). Also, the time frame tourist visas give is something many digital nomads are fine with. But there’s also a large group that prefers a slower pace of travel or just doesn’t feel comfortable bending the rules. And these face a different challenge: the 90-day Schengen rule.
For those who need a refresher, the Schengen is an agreement among most European countries to have a uniform visa policy for visitors who are not from Europe. If you’re a “third country” national, as it’s called, for example, a U.S. or U.K. citizen, you’re only allowed to stay in the Schengen zone for 90 days within a 180-day period. What this means is that you have to exit the Schengen before 90 days and wait another 90 days before you can re-enter. So how do you get around this rule?
How to stay in Europe for more than 90 days
The easiest way to skirt the 90-day limit is by doing the infamous “Schengen shuffle” — a popular dance that involves hopping in and out of the Schengen every 90 days while squeezing in as much fun as possible before the clock runs out. At this point, it’s practically become a rite de passage for newly initiated nomads. For example, to dodge the rules, you could spend 90 days basking on the sunny beaches of Spain (a Schengen country), followed by a hiking adventure in the mountains of Bulgaria (a non-Schengen country). Once you’ve completed your Bulgarian escapade, the 180-day clock resets, and you can rinse and repeat with new — or the same — Schengen and non-Schengen countries.
Doing these “visa runs”, as they’re called in nomad lingo, is physically exhausting. Not only are they tiring, they also don’t address the elephant in the room: working illegally. So what’s the real alternative? Until recently, your best option for a long-term stay was to get sponsored by a local company. But who wants that? Luckily, there’s now a more suitable tango partner: the digital nomad visa. With this magical piece of paper (okay, sometimes it’s digital), you can stay and work in Europe for one year or more without playing cat and mouse with immigration officials.
Europe’s digital nomad visas
If you have an online-based business — whether that’s as a freelancer or as a company owner — there are a lot of countries in Europe with digital nomad visas that’ll give you permission to stay for much longer than just a standard 90-day tourist visa. These nomad visas usually last one year or more, which should give you plenty of time to explore the local scenery and maybe even pick up a new language (or at least enough vocabulary to order a croissant and coffee).
How does it work? When you apply for one of Europe’s nomad visas, what you’re really applying for is a long-stay visa (called a national Type D visa). With this type of visa, you’re allowed to stay in the country for up to 90 days, and then during those 90 days, you need to go to the local immigration office (or go through some formula online) and apply for a long-term residence permit that will last for one year. If you want to stay even longer — which of course falls more in the expat territory — you can just keep renewing your long-term residence permit every year. After around five years, you can usually apply for permanent residence, and after a few years more, you can even become a citizen.
To qualify for one of Europe’s digital nomad visas, you need to earn a certain amount of money each month (or have a certain amount in your bank account), work exclusively with clients based outside the country where you’ll be staying, and bring your own private health insurance. A clean criminal record and a medical certificate attesting to your good health are also a must. If you’re hoping to bring along your spouse or children on the same visa, some countries require a separate application, while others allow them to be included on the same visa application.
Which European countries offer digital nomad visas?
As of 2023, 11 countries in Europe are offering digital nomad visas: Croatia, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Malta, Portugal, Romania, and Spain. While Italy and Montenegro are frequently mentioned in discussions about digital nomad visas, it is worth noting that as of now, they have not yet officially launched their programs. Norway’s skilled-worker visa is also often mentioned as an option too, but it’s not a real digital nomad visa.
There are few better places to think about the impact of travel than the Monument to the Discoveries in Lisbon’s Belém district. It’s a powerful symbol of the Age of Discovery devoted to the explorers who shaped much of the world as we know it today. Portugal’s spirit of adventure is not just for the history books. Modern-day travellers also get to benefit from Portugal’s openness to the world.
Fortunately, you no longer need to plead with the Portuguese crown for the country’s favours — now, it’s the more practical republic that you need to convince. But as long as you can provide sufficient resources, Portugal offers a wide range of visa options — possibly even the largest in Europe — that will allow you to live and work in the country if you can support yourself financially. Those eligible can also get paid to move to Portugal’s interior regions.
For digital nomads coming from outside the EU/EEA — and expats in general — Portugal has two visas of interest: The D7 Passive Income Visa and the newly released D8 Digital Nomad Visa. Portugal’s Digital Nomad Visa essentially comes in two variants: a one-year Temporary Stay Visa and a five-year Long-Term Residence Visa.
Passive or active income? Portugal’s D7 vs D8 visas for nomads
The D7 visa is the choice you want to go with if you make your bread and butter through passive income sources such as investments in the stock market, rental income from foreign properties, pensions, or dividends from your non-Portuguese company. You can become eligible for the D7 visa with just €760 per month (the current minimum wage), and although income requirements are expected to be higher in the future, it’s currently a no-brainer.
Until recently, most digital nomads used the D7 visa for their stay in Portugal, but due to the surge in popularity, Portugal created the D8 specifically for remote workers. So if you’re someone who depends on having an active income from employment, then the D8 is probably for you. The D8 comes in two variants: (1) a one-year temporary stay visa that can be renewed annually, or (2) a visa that can be converted into a long-term residence permit that lasts for five years, with the possibility of renewal or exchange for permanent residency, as well as Portuguese citizenship down the road.
Option 1: Portugal’s one year Temporary Stay “Nomad Visa”
Portugal’s Temporary Stay Visa is for digital nomads who want to stay in Portugal for up to one year. This visa is designed for “true” nomads who move from one place to another without putting down deep roots. If you eventually end up falling in love with Portugal, as many foreigners do, the visa can be renewed, though it doesn’t lead to citizenship — for that, you need to switch over to the long-term residence or D7 visa.
With the Temporary Stay visa, you need to prove an income four times the minimum wage, which is currently €3,040 per month, originating from a source outside Portugal. The application fee is €75.
How to apply for Portugal’s temporary stay visa
To apply for the visa, follow these steps:
- Visit the official website of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Portugal to get an up-to-date overview of the documents you need to submit for the Temporary Stay visa. Scroll down and click the accordion menu that says “For the exercise of a professional activity done remotely” to see what additional documents you need as a digital nomad. Collect all those documents.
- In the right-hand menu, click on the “General Information” link. On this site called “Type of Visa”, scroll down and click “Forms”. Download the form called “Application for National Visa”, print it, and fill it out. Now head back to the page called Type of Visa, scroll down, and then click the link called “Where should you lodge a visa application”. On this page, you’ll find a list of Portuguese representations where you can lodge your application.
- Once you have all the required documents in order, visit the nearest Portuguese embassy or representation, and pay the required visa fee. After processing your application, you’ll receive your visa in approximately 3-4 months. Collect your visa and passport from your application location.
- Once you have your visa, you can enter Portugal. You’ll initially be allowed to stay for 120 days. Within that time, you’ll need to set an appointment with the SEF to become a resident. Make an appointment with SEF and register as a resident. You’ll need to provide evidence of a NIF and a Portuguese bank account and pay an additional fee to apply for residency.
Option 2: Portugal’s long-term residence “Slowmad Visa”
As the wanderlust fades, many digital nomads begin to crave a more permanent base for their travels. Portugal’s Long-Term Residence Visa offers a perfect solution for these semi-settled or looking-to-settle nomads. The residence visa lets you stay in Portugal for up to 120 days. Once in the country, you can apply for a long-term residence permit, which is valid for two years and renewable for an additional three years. After holding a residence permit for five years, you can apply for permanent residency or even citizenship in Portugal.
How to apply for Portugal’s long-term residence visa
As you might have guessed, the process involves slightly more legwork. It involves two stages: (1) applying for a four-month residency visa, and then (2) applying for a long-term residency permit once you’re in Portugal. Here’s a general overview of the steps you need to take:
- Go to the website of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Portugal. Once you’re there, click on “Necessary Documentation” to see what documents you’ll need to submit for your Residency Visa.
- Download the application form. Click on “National Visas” in the top navigation menu, then click on “Forms”. There, you’ll find the application form titled “Application for National Visa”. Download it, fill it out, and print it.
- Apply for your Residency Visa. In the top menu again, click on “Where should you lodge a visa application” to get a list of representations where you can lodge your application. If your application is successful, the consulate or embassy will grant you a double-entry visa that’s valid for four months. During this time, you’ll need to enter Portugal and complete the next step.
- Book an appointment with the SEF. This is where you’ll apply for your long-term residence permit. Visit the Immigration and Border Services in Portugal (SEF) website to schedule your appointment online or by telephone. Be sure to inform them of your situation so they can tell you what forms you need to bring to the physical meeting.
- Apply for your residence permit and tax/social security number, the “NIF” (Número de Identificação Fiscal). You’ll need to do this at the SEF and a Portuguese tax office (Finanças or Loja do Cidadão) respectively. You can also get a NIF before arriving in Portugal. Remember that you only have four months before your residency visa expires, so make sure you visit both places before that time.
- Renew your permit yearly. If your application is successful, your residence permit will be valid for one year. Before that year has ended, you can apply for an extension that will give you a two-year permit. Keep renewing your permit, and after five years of temporary residence permits, you can switch to a permanent residence permit. At that point, you can also apply for Portuguese citizenship.
Obviously, settling in Portugal for five years isn’t very nomadic at all. But it’s one of the fastest routes to obtaining a European passport. Plus, during the first 10 years of living in Portugal, you can enjoy a number of generous tax exemptions, including exemptions on capital gains, that might just convince you to stick around.
Croatia is quickly becoming a favoured destination for remote workers thanks to its program’s combination of exemptions from taxes and long duration. Since January 1, 2023, Croatia is also a Schengen member. The country offers a Digital Nomad Residence Permit, which allows non-EU/EEA/Swiss citizens to live and work in Croatia as digital nomads without paying any tax to Croatia. Here are the important details:
- Application fee: If you apply online, the Digital Nomad Residence visa costs €45 in administrative fees and €32 for the residence permit.
- Income requirements: At least €2,540 per month; alternatively, proof that you have €30,472 in your bank account
- Duration: The permitted length ranges from 6 months to one year.
- Family: Close family members may apply for temporary residence as well.
- Who can apply: Non-EU/EEA/Swiss nationals
- Taxes: Remote workers are currently not subject to income tax in Croatia.
According to Article 9 (1) of Croatia’s Income Tax Act, digital nomads are exempt from income tax during their stay.
How to apply for Croatia’s digital nomad visa
If you think you meet the above criteria, you can apply for Croatia’s Digital Nomad Residence Permit online by following these steps:
- Head over to the official Ministry website and familiarise yourself with all the details: https://mup.gov.hr/aliens-281621/stay-and-work/temporary-stay-of-digital-nomads/286833
- Click on Online Application for Digital Nomad Residence Permit in Croatia in the right-hand sidebar.
- Click on Enter new form button to start your application.
- Fill out all the required fields, check the necessary boxes, double-check everything, and then hit the Send button when you’re ready.
- Once submitted, you’ll receive a confirmation email. Later, a caseworker will reach out to you and either ask for additional information or confirm that your application was successful or rejected.
If there is one country whose history represents the spirit of exploration it is Spain, embodied by famous voyagers such as Christopher Columbus, Ferdinand Magellan, and Juan Sebastián Elcano, who all set sail from Spanish ports. For better or worse, these travellers connected the globe through networks that spread across the Americas, Africa, and Asia. But today, things have reversed slightly: adventurers from all corners of the world anchor their dreams on Spanish soil. It’s not just pensioners — remote workers too can moor their vessels in one of Europe’s most vibrant countries.
Spain’s digital nomad visa — visado para teletrabajar — allows non-EU/EEA nationals to live in the country for one year while working for a non-Spanish company or freelancing with the majority of their clients located outside Spain. With this one-year visa, you have the option of applying for a residence permit, which can be renewed for up to five years, and after five years of legally residing in Spain, you can apply for permanent residency. As a side note, if you’re a natural-born citizen of a country in Ibero-America, you can obtain Spanish citizenship after just two years.
- Application fee: €75, excluding consulate fees
- Income requirements: €2,334 per month, equal to 2x the Spanish minimum wage; the income requirement increases by 25% for each family member
- Duration: 12 months, with the possibility of extension
- Family: You can include your spouse and children in the same application
- Who can apply: Non-EU/EEA/Swiss nationals who work for a through “systems, telephone and telecommunication facilities” (essentially, the internet)
- Taxes: If you stay for more than 183 days, Spain will consider you a tax resident.
- Official website: https://prie.comercio.gob.es/en-us/paginas/teletrabajadores-caracter-internacional.aspx
- Law text: https://www.boe.es/diario_boe/txt.php?id=BOE-A-2022-21739
Remote workers can pay a reduced income tax rate of 24% for the first four years of their stay as long as they earn less than €600,000 annually. However, this reduced rate does not take social security contributions into account. Also, several news outlets, even reputable ones, advertise a 15% tax rate for digital nomads in Spain. This rate is only available to start-up founders.
How to apply for Spain’s digital nomad visa
The official resources aren’t very helpful in guiding you through the application process. According to the lawyers we consulted with, there are essentially two ways to apply for the Spain digital nomad visa:
- Outside Spain, at the Spanish embassy or consulate where you live. This grants a one-year visa. If you want to stay longer, the visa can be modified to a three-year residence card at an immigration office once you arrive in Spain.
- In Spain, on a tourist visa, student visa, or any other valid visa, at the nearest immigration office within 90 days of arriving. This option grants you a three-year residence permit that can be renewed every two years. During the residence permit application process, you will also need to apply for a NIF or NIE number.
Option one is for “true” digital nomads who want to remain mobile and not settle down in Spain long term. Both options, however, offer a pathway to permanent residency after 5 years and citizenship after 10 years.
Here is a more practical guide on how to apply:
- Find out what documentation you need by visiting the website of the Unidad de Grandes Empresas y Colectivos (UGE-CE), which is the unit within the Spanish Ministry of Inclusion, Social Security and Migration that is responsible for processing the Spain Digital Nomad Visa. Click on “Documentación que se debe aportar” to see the list.
- Download and fill out the Application for Long-term Visa form.
- If you’re applying from outside Spain, make an appointment with the Spanish consulate or embassy in your country of residence. If you’re already in Spain, make an appointment with the UGE-CE in Madrid.
It’s the island in Europe with the most sunshine hours per year, but also a place that’s increasingly popular for online business owners. Many start their company there due to its low corporate taxes and its generous tax breaks for individuals under the non-dom programme. In 2021, Cyprus opened its door to digital nomads, too, with the launch of its Digital Nomad Visa Scheme, which allows non-EU/EEA citizens to stay in the country for up to three years. Here’s what you need to know:
- Application fee: €70 for the temporary residence permit and €70 for registering with the Aliens’ Registry.
- Income requirements: A monthly net income of minimum €3,500.
- Duration: One year, with a possibility of renewal for an additional two years.
- Family: The digital nomad’s close family members can join them during their stay in Cyprus, but they are not allowed to work unless they obtain their own work permit or are EU/EEA citizens
- Who can apply: Non-EU/EEA nationals.
- Taxes: Digital nomads who spend more than 183 days in Cyprus within the same tax year will be considered tax residents of Cyprus if they’re not tax residents in any other country.
Even if you do become a tax resident in Cyprus, you can make use of the country’s non-dom program and access a wide range of attractive tax benefits, including no tax on income deriving from abroad, a 50% exemption on your income tax base, as well as tax-free dividends and capital gains.
Who can apply?
According to Cyprus’ Civil Registry and Migration Department, you can apply for the Digital Nomad Visa if:
- You’re not an EU/EEA citizen.
- You’re employed by a foreign company that’s registered outside of Cyprus or are self-employed offering services remotely for clients located abroad;
- You work “location-independently using telecommunications technology.”
- You have a stable and sufficient monthly net income of at least €3,500 (after the deduction of contributions and taxes).
What are the benefits?
Here are some benefits of the Digital Nomad residence permit in Cyprus:
- The right to stay in Cyprus for up to three years in total
- The option to bring family members with you
- To become a tax resident of Cyprus if you spend 183 days or more there, which provides a path to the many tax benefits offered to foreigners in Cyprus
How to apply for Cyprus’ digital nomad visa
To apply for the Cyprus Digital Nomad Visa, follow these steps:
- Visit the website of Cyprus’ Civil Registry and Migration Department to familiarise yourself with the details of the program and to find the necessary forms: http://www.moi.gov.cy/moi/crmd/crmd.nsf/All/FE2829CCA899862DC22587EA002E321F?OpenDocument
- Scroll to the bottom of the section called Application form and accompanying documents, download, and fill out those forms. You can’t apply online.
- Travel to Cyprus as a tourist; if you need a tourist visa to enter Cyprus, set up an appointment at the nearest Cyprus embassy or consulate to submit your application.
- Within 3 months of arriving in Cyprus, submit your Digital Nomad Visa application along with the necessary documentation at the Civil Registry and Migration Department in Nicosia, and pay the corresponding fees.
- Wait five to seven weeks to receive an answer on whether your application is approved, in which case you’ll receive a residence permit that’s valid for one year. If your application is rejected, you’ll also be informed accordingly.
Everyone knows that Greece is a stunningly beautiful country with an incredible history, and now it’s inviting digital nomads to come and explore it. With the Greek digital nomad visa, you can live a year or more working in the gorgeous Mediterranean climate, with the possibility of eventually obtaining permanent residency. All you essentially need to do is show that you have a remote job with a minimum income of €3,500 a month.
Although the visa is valid for one year, you can apply for a two-year residence permit. This permit is renewable, and after five years of living in Greece legally, you can apply for permanent residency. After seven years, if you learn Greek and pass the tests, you can even become a Greek citizen. This makes Greece’s nomad visa one of the fastest pathways to permanent residency in the EU and to get your hands on your very own European passport.
- Application fee: €75 for applying and €150 in administrative fees.
- Income requirements: €3,500 per month; €4,200 if accompanied by your spouse
- Duration: One year, with the option to apply for an additional two years under a different visa
- Family: Your family can join you but they will be issued a different visa. This visa will expire at the same time as yours, and it doesn’t allow them to work in Greece.
- Who can apply: Non-EU/EEA citizens who work for a foreign company using telecommunications technology.
- Taxes: Greece will consider you a tax resident if you spend 183 days or more in a consecutive 12-month period.
How to apply for Greece’s digital nomad visa
Unfortunately, Greece hasn’t done a very great job of explaining the process and does not have a website or official guidelines — as far as we know — dedicated to providing information for those interested. The rules are, however, outlined in Greece’s Immigration Code (Law 4251/2014). Here’s how to proceed:
- Download the visa application form from the website of the Greek Ministry of Foreign Affairs and fill it out. Under section 24, “Main purpose of the journey”, write “Remote Work” or “Digital Nomad” in the blank field next to “Other”. Make sure to double-check the information you provide for accuracy.
- Gather all the required documents: You will need to prepare and gather all the necessary documents, including a valid passport, proof of employment or business, proof of income, health insurance coverage, and a clean criminal record certificate from your home country.
- Submit your application by (a) scheduling an appointment with the nearest Greek embassy or consulate; (b) via email; or (c) via post. You will be asked to provide your passport, application form, and all the required documents.
- Once you have submitted your application, you’ll need to wait 7-10 days for the embassy/consulate to process it. If your application is approved, you’ll receive a visa that allows you to travel to Greece. The visa is usually valid for 180 days and can be renewed for up to a year.
- Travel to Greece and register for your residence at the nearest Aliens and Immigration Department office.
The law is still new, and it’s still not very clear what steps you need to take to apply. We recommend contacting the embassy before applying to explain what you’re applying for to help them understand your situation. Some embassies haven’t yet heard about the nomad visa, even though it’s now part of the law.
Over the past few decades, Europe’s fifth-smallest country has become incredibly popular among business owners from around the world thanks to its effective corporate tax rate of only 5%. Historically, Malta was always a hub open to cultural exchange and international trade because of its position in the Mediterranean Sea. In line with this tradition, the small island nation introduced a digital nomad visa in 2021 to welcome people to invite non-EU nomads to come and work there.
Malta’s digital nomad visa, officially called the Nomad Residence Permit, allows non-EU individuals, except for certain nationals, to legally live in Malta while working remotely or freelancing for a company based outside of Malta. This visa is open to those who work using their computer and make a minimum income of €2,700 per month. The visa is valid for one year but can be renewed twice for a total stay of a maximum of three years.
- Application fee: €300
- Income requirements: €2,700 per month
- Duration: One year, renewable for two additional years
- Family: You can bring your spouse and children with you on your Malta digital nomad visa
- Who can apply: Non-EU/EEA/Swiss nationals who are “able to work remotely and independent of location, using telecommunications technologies”, except individuals from a few sanctioned countries
- Taxes: If you stay less than 183 days, you will not have to pay taxes in Malta; the situation is less clear for those who stay longer.
When the visa was initially launched, the Residency Malta Agency, the entity in charge of administering Malta’s digital nomad visa, stated that digital nomads would be exempt from paying tax during their stay. However, Malta’s Inland Revenue Department later declared that the exemption was not in accordance with Maltese law, and Residency Malta therefore had to remove the reference. The department clarified that digital nomads would be considered tax residents if they spent 183 days or more residing in Malta during the year. The status now is that the Residency Malta Agency is trying to figure out another tax scheme that aligns with the tax legislation to attract digital nomads.
How to apply for Malta’s digital nomad visa
Although the Icelandic government has digitised many parts of its services, the only way to apply for the long-term visa is by a manual process. Here are the steps you need to take:
- Visit the website of Residency Malta Agency, the Maltese government institution responsible for administering the digital nomad visa, to find the latest and most accurate information about the programme.
- Click on “Forms” in the top menu and then download the “New Application Checklist” for a full list of the documents you need to apply. Download and complete Form N1A, Form N1B, Form N4 and Form N2 if you’re bringing dependents with you. Ensure that all documents are computer typed as handwritten documents will not be accepted.
- Submit your application and supporting documents by email. The email address can be found on the website. Once you’ve submitted your application, you’ll receive instructions on how to pay the application fee.
- Wait for approval. It will take approximately 30 days for the Residency Malta Agency to process your visa application. If approved, you will receive a Nomad Residence Permit, which allows you to legally reside in Malta while working remotely for up to one year.
Estonia first became known for its e-Residency program back in 2014. A decade later, 72,000 there are e-Residents from over 160 countries. Now, the country also offers a digital nomad visa for non-EU/EEA citizens who want to live in Estonia while working remotely for a company registered outside of Estonia. Estonia’s digital nomad visa lets you stay for up to one year, and although it won’t offer you the same benefits as being an Estonian citizen, it can be a pathway towards permanent residency, unlike many other nomad visas.
- Application fee: €100.
- Income requirements: €4,500 per month prior to applying.
- Duration: One year.
- Family: Spouses must apply separately for a visa.
- Who can apply: Non-EU/EEA citizens who can work location-independently using “telecommunications technologies.”
- Taxes: Digital nomads are considered tax residents after spending 183 days or more in a consecutive 12-month period
How to apply for Estonia’s digital nomad visa
Although the Estonian government usually takes a digital-first approach to bureaucracy, applying for its digital nomad visa involves some manual legwork. Here’s how to do it:
- Go to the Republic of Estonia’s website and check out the e-Residency vs digital nomad visa FAQ to get the most up-to-date info regarding the visa, its requirements, what documents you’ll need, and the application process.
- If you’re eligible to apply, fill out the visa application form. You can apply for either a long-stay visa (D-visa) or the short-stay visa (C-visa), depending on how long you want to stay. Once filled out, print out the form.
- Arrange an appointment with the nearest Estonian embassy or consulate. You can find a list of Estonian representations that handle visa applications here. Submit your visa application and all necessary documents in person. Alternatively, you can submit the documents at the Police and Border Guard office in Estonia.
- Wait around 15 to 30 days for your application to be processed and to receive notification of the decision.
If your application is accepted, you’ll need an Estonian Embassy or the Police and Border Guard in Estonia to confirm your identity and collect your visa.
To the modern visitor, it’s difficult to understand why the Black Sea was once a source of misery for the exiled Roman poet Ovid. When you today look out at the vast, shimmering expanse of the Pontus Euxinus during warm summer months, all you’ll see is welcoming deep blue water. But the appeal of modern-day Romania extends far beyond the vistas of the Black Sea. The country is blessed with breathtaking natural scenery, from the rolling hills and jagged peaks of the Carpathian Mountains to the winding rivers and verdant forests of Transylvania.
For travellers who want to experience this stunning landscape themselves, Romania’s newly launched digital nomad visa provides an interesting opportunity. If you’re a non-EU/EEA citizen, this visa allows you to live in Romania for almost one year while working for a foreign company. But there are also caveats you need to consider: you need a lofty minimum monthly income of around €3,700 — an almost unreasonably high sum given the country’s low living costs.
Additionally, you need to fulfil a long list of bureaucratic requirements, such as having your documents translated into Romanian and lodge not one, not two, but three visa applications during the first year. Plus, if you stay longer than 183 days in Romania, you’ll have to pay taxes, social security, and social health insurance contributions.
- Application fee: €120
- Income requirements: 3x the gross monthly average salary in Romania, about €3,700 per month
- Duration: Nine months, renewable
- Family: It’s unclear whether you can bring family members with you
- Who can apply: Non-EU/EEA/Swiss nationals who work for a “company registered outside Romania providing the provision of remote services through the use of information and communication technology”.
- Taxes: If you stay less than 183 days, you will not have to pay taxes in Romania.
How to apply for Romania’s digital nomad visa
Finding clear step-by-step guidelines from Romanian officials is unfortunately quite challenging. The general process involves two main steps. First, before going to Romania, you need to apply for a 90-day Long-Stay Visa. Second, once you’re in Romania, you apply for a six to twelve-month residence permit. Here’s a rough guide on how to proceed:
- Visit the website of Romania’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and scroll down to the section called “10. Other purposes – D/AS”. Within this section, you will find specific information about the requirements for digital nomads.
- To apply for the Long-Stay Visa in Romania, the first step is to create an account on the Romanian eVisa platform. Alternatively, if you don’t want to apply, you can contact the nearest Romanian embassy or consulate to lodge an application in person.
- Once you’ve created an account, complete the application form and upload any necessary documents. On the second page of the application, select “Other purposes (marked D/AS)” under “Long-stay”.
- Submit your application and wait for approval. This should take about two weeks.
After getting the Long-Stay Visa, you can travel to Romania. You are allowed to stay 90 days, but to stay longer, you must apply for a residence permit.
- Go to the website of the Inspectorate General for Immigration. Here, scroll to the section called “Residence Permit”, where it says, “For the first extension of the right of residence (obtaining a residence permit) for digital nomads”. This permit will be valid for six months, meaning you can stay a total of nine months in Romania to begin with.
- Download the application form, print it, and fill it out by hand. Read the instructions to see which supporting documents you need to include with your application.
- Head to the front page and click on “IGI Portal (Online Applications).” Look for the “Registration” button in the top right corner, click on it, and follow the steps to create an account. Once you’ve created an account, you can upload all the necessary paperwork for your application.
- Finally, in the top menu, click “Contact” to book an appointment at the nearest Immigration Bureau office.
The Digital Nomad Visa is still a relatively new initiative, and many caseworkers don’t know about its existence. It’s advisable to write a detailed email explaining your situation or call in advance to ensure that you are given accurate information and that your case is handled properly.
Romanian officials have confirmed that digital nomads will be considered tax residents if they spend more than 183 days or more in the country. But if you’re fine with that — taxes in Romania are fairly low after all — you can apply for a six or 12-month extension of your residence permit.
That yummy stew called goulash isn’t the only thing cooking in Hungary. The country is now offering a digital nomad visa, officially called the White Card, which lets remote workers, freelancers, and business owners live in Hungary for one year while working for a foreign employer, with the option for renewal for an additional year.
- Application fee: From €76 to €123, depending on whether you apply online, at a representation, or in Hungary.
- Income requirements: €2,000 per month.
- Duration: One year, extendable for one additional year.
- Family: Unlike other digital nomad visas, the Hungarian digital nomad visa does not allow you to bring your family members to Hungary.
- Who can apply: Non-EU/EEA citizens who work for a foreign company using telecommunications technology.
- Taxes: Hungary will consider you a tax resident if you spend 183 days or more in a consecutive 12-month period.
Becoming a tax resident in Hungary isn’t the end of the world, as the personal income tax and social contributions sit at only 15% and 18.5% respectively.
How to apply for Hungary’s digital nomad visa
Applying for Hungary’s digital nomad visa is quite an easy process. Here are the steps you need to follow:
- Head to Hungary’s National Directorate-General for Aliens Policing’s page on the White Card, which, despite lacking an SSL certificate, is the official and most current source for guidelines and necessary forms. On this page, you will also have a list of documents you need.
- To submit your application, you need to find out if your country grants you visa-free tourist access to Hungary. If you don’t require an entry visa to Hungary, you can apply for the digital nomad visa online. On this page, click the “Registration” link to create an account, and then submit your documents once you receive a one-time password via email. If you do need an entry visa, make an appointment at your nearest Hungarian embassy or consulate to submit your documents and go through a brief in-person interview.
- Wait for approval, which typically takes about 30 days. Once you’ve received approval, you can travel to Hungary and pick up your White Card at the National Directorate-General for Aliens Policing in Budapest.
10. Czech Republic
The Czech Republic doesn’t have a visa specifically designed for digital nomads; instead, it has a freelancer visa and a trade permit called Zivno (Zivnostenske opravneni) that together allows non-EU/EEA citizens to stay and work in the country for up to one year.
Applying for the Czech visa is rather cumbersome. You need to provide proof of a minimum bank account balance of 124,500 CZK or foreign currency equivalent, and you must obtain a trade licence and a Czech tax ID. The approval process takes around 90 to 120 days and includes an in-person interview at the embassy and the submission of physical documents. Here are the details:
- Application fee: The fees are €102 for the visa, €41 for the application, and €41 to obtain the trade licence
- Income requirements: At least 124,500 CZK or foreign currency equivalent in your bank account
- Duration: One year
- Family: Close family members may join you, provided you have sufficient means to support the
- Who can apply: Non-EU/EEA nationals.
- Taxes: Digital nomads who operate under the Czech trade licence must register with their ID and pay taxes and social insurance contributions to the Czech Republic
How to apply for Czechia’s digital nomad visa
The process is certainly not as straightforward as in other countries, and you may need the help of a lawyer. But here are the general steps you need to go through:
- Apply for a trade licence by visiting the Licensed Trades Portal https://www.rzp.cz/registracni-formular/cs/kompletni-podani (only available in Czech). You’ll need an address in the Czech Republic, which can be a virtual office or the residential address of the place you’re renting. Within 5 days, you’ll receive a temporary registration number.
- After obtaining your Trade License, you can apply for the Czech Republic digital nomad visa. Go to the website of the Czech Foreign Ministry, read through the page, and then click the Application Form link. On the next page, called Application Forms for Visas and Permits, scroll to the section called Long Term Visa Forms and download the formula.
- Set up an appointment with the nearest Czech Republic embassy or consulate to lodge your application in person. The application for the Zivno visa also requires an in-person interview with an immigration officer.
- Within 120 days, you’ll receive a response regarding your visa application. If accepted, you can travel to the Czech Republic. Within three days of arriving, go to the Foreign Police to register your address and receive a stamp. Next, visit the Trade License Office to obtain your official Trade License. After a few days, you can collect your licence and legally start working in the Czech Republic.
For digital nomads who like to roam free, the bureaucracy that comes with obtaining the Czech visa is a bit of a buzzkill. There are a lot of steps involved, and it wouldn’t be surprising if most nomads give it a hard pass until the rules become more relaxed.
Iceland may not be the most convenient base for your European adventures, but if you’re a digital nomad from a non-EEA/EFTA country who makes over ISK 1,000,000 per month (roughly €6,662), you can stay there for up to 180 days with their newly launched Long-term visa for remote work. The catch? The cost of living in Iceland is steep, and the application bar is set high. However, on the bright side, you won’t have to pay taxes during your stay, according to official guidelines. Plus, Iceland is the safest country in the world.
- Application fee: ISK 12,200
- Income requirements: ISK 1,000,000 per month (roughly €6,662)
- Duration: Six months
- Family: If your spouse or children don’t need a visa to enter the Schengen area, they can join you
- Who can apply: Non-EEA/EFTA citizens who work for a foreign company using telecommunications technology.
- Taxes: Iceland will not consider you a tax resident during the 180-day stay
How to apply for Iceland’s digital nomad visa
Although the Icelandic government has digitised many parts of its services, the only way to apply for the long-term visa is by a manual process. Here are the steps you need to take:
- Visit Iceland’s Directorate of Immigration website for the latest information about the visa and to find the necessary forms. Also, read the FAQ published by Work in Iceland, a site run by the Iceland government.
- Click the Apply button to download the application. Fill it out electronically or by hand and then print it.
- Pay the processing fee to the Directorate of Immigration’s bank account, using the provided details on their website.
- Submit your completed application with the required documents via mail to the Directorate of Immigration in Kópavogur or in person if you are in Iceland. You can also submit them to the offices of District Commissioners outside the capital area.
- Wait for a response from the Directorate of Immigration. If you receive a positive response, you can travel to Iceland. After arriving, contact the Directorate of Immigration via email to issue your digital nomad visa.
12. Italy (TBC)
Italy has long been one of the most sought-after destinations for remote workers, but it has so far been hesitant to invite them in. Italy did approve a digital nomad visa in March 2022, but the government that passed the law has subsequently been replaced. The current administration has not shown much interest in actually implementing the scheme, perhaps because of the growing complexity of the issues surrounding migration. For now, although the law still stands, the future remains uncertain, which leaves remote workers with little choice but to wait and watch — chi vivrà vedrà, as they say in Rome.
13. Montenegro (TBC)
Legend has it that the name “Montenegro” — or “black mountain” — was coined by 10th-century Venetian sailors who thought the dense forests surrounding Mount Lovćen made it look black when viewed from the Bay of Kotor. For four centuries, Montenegro’s picturesque coast was under the Venetians’ watchful rule, but its strategic significance also lured in a host of cultures and empires throughout history. Now, the coast is being conquered anew — though this time, not by foreign invaders, but by holidaymakers and long-term residents who are drawn to its irresistible allure.
The government of Montenegro has recently announced its plans to introduce a digital nomad visa for non-EU nationals. This programme will technically be a temporary residence permit that will enable digital nomads to stay in Montenegro for up to two years, with the option to renew their permit for an additional two years, for a total of four years. Eligibility for tax breaks may also be granted to visa holders, but specific details have not yet been released. It is important to note that the visa has not been implemented yet.
While “Viking nomads” might not be the most historically accurate term, Norway’s history is full of adventurous figures who definitely didn’t like being stuck in one place. The perhaps most famous Norwegian explorer, Leif Erikson, is believed to have reached North America almost 500 years before Columbus, while his father, Erik Thorvaldsson, founded the first European settlement in Greenland. Thor Heyerdahl famously crossed the Pacific on a balsa wood raft named Kon-Tiki. Not to forget Roald Amundsen, who was the first person to reach the South Pole in 1911. Norwegians know a thing or two about roaming the world, and now a narrow group of modern-day travellers have the chance to live in Norway surrounded by all its beauty.
Norway’s digital nomad visa doesn’t exist
Norway doesn’t have a visa specifically for digital nomads, but it has a visa for self-employed people with a business registered abroad. Properly speaking, the self-employed visa is a long-term residence permit that allows you to stay in Norway for up to two years if you’re contracting for a single Norwegian company.
You can apply for this residence permit if you earn more than €35,718 annually and classify as a “skilled worker” in the eyes of Norway, which means having completed a vocational training programme, having a bachelor’s degree, or have a minimum of six years of experience that make you qualified within a certain field.
Unfortunately, the conditions attached are stern and impossible to meet for the majority of those who could be interested. Only if you have secured a contract with a Norwegian company are you eligible to participate, which means the majority of remote workers are excluded. Furthermore, contractors who do qualify are required to pay taxes and VAT in Norway, which adds an additional layer of bureaucracy.
The truth behind Europe’s DNVs
What’s the point of digital nomad visas anyway? Let’s just say opinions are divided. On one side, you’ve got the purists (for lack of a better term), and they’re saying, “If you’re a true disciple, you don’t need a visa that lasts for a year.” Their main idea is supposedly to dodge whatever bureaucracy modern nation-states have invented by using loopholes in the law. The gist of their argument is that skirting the rules means freedom, and freedom means not having to deal with taxes, social security, immigration formulas, and the torture of opening a local bank account (which these days often feels like being grilled by the Spanish Inquisition).
What this group is often also saying is that digital nomad visas were invented as some sort of ploy for governments to milk more cash from middle-class, white-collar professionals without giving them much in return. Even the OECD seems to think something along those lines. And it’s not hard to follow this viewpoint because, let’s face it: Spain, Portugal, Greece, etc. are all great countries, but they’re also swimming in deep debts and deficits. What better way to fill your coffers than to lure new high rollers with fluffy marketing and then slap the 183 days tax rule in their face once they’ve settled down. Sounds like a classic bait-and-switch.
At the opposite pole, there’s the group who would say the definition of nomadism is actually quite broad. Because historically, different kinds of nomads moved at different paces, so there isn’t a basis for claiming some fixed standard (whether that’s three, six, or 12 months) is the correct amount of time to stay in one place. Sami reindeer herders and Alpine sheep herders, for example, usually moved twice a year, the Bedouins moved all the time, and hunter-gatherers roamed around as needed. Hence circumventing the rules doesn’t equate to nomadism; it’s just something we all do from time to time to make our lives easier.
More contemporarily, most long-term nomads eventually start putting down roots in a particular place for romantic, cultural, practical or other reasons, or maybe they’re just tired of schlepping their entire life in a backpack. For these people, a longer-term visa might be the answer to their problems. It’s also an attractive proposition for those registered in a high-tax country looking to establish a tax base in a low-tax country or one with tax incentives for new residents like Portugal and Italy. Finally, if you’re a regular employee, but your employer only allows you to work from another country if everything is above board in terms of compliance, then these visas make perfect sense as they legitimise your stay, which tourist visas don’t.
Will people actually use these visas?
It’s hard to say. Experienced nomads know how easy it is to hop from country to country on tourist visas compared to going through a lengthy visa application process. Those who prefer this lifestyle will likely say, “no thanks.” For others, however, a digital nomad visa is one of the few viable paths to permanent residency in Europe, and this is only possible with a proper paper trail. For example, Greece, Portugal, and Spain have digital nomad visas that provide a springboard to obtaining permanent residency if you establish a legal presence and, if you’re patient enough, eventually even citizenship.
Does a digital nomad visa lead to permanent residence?
Sometimes. The key thing to look out for is whether you can convert the digital nomad visa to a long-term residence permit. If that’s the case, the permit is often renewable, and after typically five years of renewals, you’re eligible to apply for permanent residence. After an additional two to five years, depending on the country, you can often apply for citizenship. For example, Greece, Portugal, and Spain offer this option (sidenote: Ibero-Americans plus a few other nationalities can obtain Spanish citizenship after just two years). Other countries, including Croatia, don’t offer these extensions.