Best Countries for Digital Nomad Visas in 2023

With many office workers unable to attend their usual workplace during the Covid-19 pandemic, there was a sudden increase in the number of people working remotely in 2020. Once social distancing regulations were lifted, office-based employers began ‘back to office’ campaigns. Much to bosses’ surprise, they found that there was significant opposition to this idea from many employees who had realised they could be just as productive working remotely, without the need to sit at a desk or to spend money on a daily commute.

While the professional world is still trying to find the right balance between office-based and remote working, an increasing number of people are deciding to go it alone and take advantage of the ability to market their talents on a fully freelance, location-independent basis. Such professionals are joining the ranks of the ‘digital nomads’.  While such globally-mobile workers are not an invention of the 2020s, this decade is seeing an increasing number of countries taking notice of this new type of worker and adjusting their visa and immigration regimes to try to accommodate them.

Below, we have highlighted some of what we see as the best countries for digital nomads as we move towards 2024.

1. Barbados

For many people looking to relocate while working remotely, the idea of working from or just relaxing at a beachfront terrace is often exactly the kind of mental picture that they conjure up when considering the alternatives to that long commute to the office. The Caribbean island of Barbados is looking to take full advantage of that fantasy with its ‘Barbados Welcome Stamp‘ visa.

Offered for a period of 12 months at a time, this working visa is open to individuals who earn at least USD 50,000 per year, or expect to do so while in Barbados on this visa. Applications cost USD 2,000 for individuals and USD 3,000 for family applications, and are payable only if the application is successful. Usually, applications will be considered within less than two weeks – perfect for any digital nomad looking to relocate in short order. Those who enjoy Barbados so much that they want to stay for longer than one year are in luck, as the Barbados Welcome Stamp can be renewed.

Successful applicants will enjoy exemption from paying income tax in Barbados, and a low corporate tax rate if they do decide to start a Barbados-based business of between 1% and 5.5%.

2. New Zealand

With an incredibly diverse range of fascinating sights and experiences all the way from Cape Reinka at the very tip of North Island to Rakiura just off the coast of the South Island, New Zealand is one of the ultimate destinations for extended travel. Digital nomads don’t yet have their own tailored visa option for New Zealand, but they are nevertheless still able to continue to work as they travel thanks to some pretty generous visitor visas.

The most popular digital nomad visa for New Zealand will usually be the standard visitor visa or, for travellers from countries eligible for New Zealand’s visa waiver programme for visitors, the New Zealand Electronic Travel Authority (NZeTA). If eligible for a visitor visa or NZeTA, digital nomads will continue to be able to work for their non-New Zealand clients while they travel the country for up to six months.

An alternative to a visitor visa or NZeTA would be a Working Holiday Visa, which allows for visits of between 12 and 36 months instead of just six, but is only available to passport holders of certain countries.

3. Estonia

The northernmost of the Baltic states, Estonia has earned a reputation for being one of the most forward-thinking countries in Europe when it comes to embracing digitalisation throughout society. Even their elections are partly conducted digitally following the world’s first online voting pilot in 2005, with over half the votes in the most recent Estonian parliamentary elections being cast online. It is perhaps no surprise then that in 2020 Estonia became the first country anywhere in the world to make available an official visa targeted specifically at digital nomads.

Estonia’s Digital Nomad Visa allows remote workers to live and work in Estonia for up to 12 months, whether for an employer registered abroad or as a freelancer whose clients are primarily based outside of Estonia. Applications can be submitted at any Estonian embassy that handles visa applications for as little as €80 for a short-stay visa or €100 for a long-stay visa and decisions are usually reached within 30 days.

Applicants can intend to work in any sector but should expect to prove that they have at least six months’ work history as a remote employee or freelancer, and that they will be able to meet the minimum income requirement of €150 per day or €4500 per month. They should also have enough money on hand to cover their expenses for the first month of their stay. Estonian Digital Nomad Visa holders will not be considered tax resident in Estonia unless they stay in the country for a combined period of 183 days within a period of 12 months.

4. Australia

Australia has a well-earned reputation as a backpackers’ paradise, with many travellers taking extended holidays which take them across the length and breadth of the country. It has been the case for many years that such visitors would often take short-term work to help pay for their trip, perhaps in construction or on a farm. Those options still exist today, but so does the ability to perform freelance work remotely with nothing more than a laptop and an internet connection.

Australia’s Work and Holiday Visa (Subclass 462) gives tourists from certain countries and aged between 18 and 30 the ability to travel to Australia for an extended holiday, and to work while they do so. While any kind of work is permitted on this visa providing it is not the primary purpose of the visa holder’s visit, this visa is particularly well-suited for digital nomads looking for the flexibility to work as they travel around Australia.

The Work and Holiday Visa (Subclass 462) is valid for up to 12 months, and holders are allowed to leave and re-enter Australia as much as they want during that 12 month period. Applications cost AUD635 plus potential additional costs of supporting information such as biometrics, police certificates or health certifcates. It is not possible to extend this visa, but holders can apply for a second separate Working Holiday Visa (Subclass 417) providing that they do at least three months’ work in certain specified areas.

Digital nomads looking to travel to Australia may also be able to continue working online while travelling on a Visitor Visa (Subclass 600), eVisitor Visa (Subclass 651) or Australian ETA Visa (Subclass 601).

For detailed advice tailored to your personal circumstances and requirements, feel free to speak with one of our registered migration agents.

5. Brazil

Any digital nomad looking to spend some time in the multicultural melting pot that is Brazil might find themselves tempted by the relatively new digital nomad visa introduced by the Brazilian government in January 2022. Valid for a period of one year, this visa allows foreign nationals to enter and remain in Brazil while conducting remote work online for a client or clients.

Applications for a Brazilian Digital Nomad Visa can be filled out online, but must then be printed and either posted or handed in to a Brazilian consular office that handles visa applications. The fee for submitting an application is 100 USD.

Applicants should expect to provide evidence of valid health insurance, a criminal records statement from their country of residence, and proof of their employment contract or existing self-employment. They should also have bank statements to demonstrate that they meet the digital nomad visa’s minimum income requirement of 1500 USD per month, or that they have at least 18,000 USD funds already in their bank account.

6. United Kingdom

With its rich history, world-renowned tourist attractions and highly-developed gastronomic and cultural scenes, the UK continues to be a steady fixture on most global travellers’ must-visit lists. While the UK does not currently have a visa specifically aimed at digital nomads, there are still options available for individuals who would like to take an extended visit to the country while maintaining their digital nomad lifestyle.

By far the most popular visas issued by the UK are visitor visas, with over 1.5 million visitor visas being granted in the year up to March 2023.  The most common of these, the Standard Visitor visa, allows for individuals to enter the country for the purposes of tourism or some business purposes, but not to undertake paid work for a UK company. However, it does not specifically prohibit ongoing freelance remote work providing that work is not the primary purpose of the visit. Standard business visitor activities such as signing contracts, attending meetings or undertaking site visits are permitted.

Whether a UK visitor visa will need to be applied for in advance depends on the applicant’s country of origin. Younger citizens of Australia, Canada, Hong Kong, Iceland, Japan, Monaco, New Zealand, San Marino, South Korea or Taiwan may be eligible to apply for a visa under the more generous Youth Mobility Scheme. This allows visitors to the UK to stay for a standard period of two years instead of six months, and gives full permissions to seek and undertake paid work in the UK during their stay.nada for up to six months as a regular visitor.

7. Costa Rica

One option for those seeking a convenient way to combine travel and remote working with tropical climate and natural rainforest is the Central American nation of Costa Rica. With North and South America and the island states and territories of the Caribbean within reach, With shorelines on both the Pacific and Atlantic oceans, Costa Rica is perfectly situated for the digital nomad. The government is keen to entice mobile, remote-working professionals to spend some time in the country, and has put together an impressive package.

Costa Rica’s digital nomad programme extends the usual 90-day tourist visa to 12 months, with the ability to renew for a further year. Holders of the digital nomad visa are income tax exempt in Costa Rica and benefit from other conveniences such as recognition of their home country-issued driving licence, permission to open a Costa Rican bank account, and tax breaks on equipment and telecoms expenses associated with their work.

Applicants for Costa Rica’s digital nomad visa are subject to a minimum income requirement of USD 3,000 per month from sources outside of Costa Rica, rising to USD 4,000 if the applicant wishes to bring dependents with them. There is also an application fee of USD 100. Applicants must also have medical insurance to cover the full duration of their planned stay in the country.

8. Canada

With its combination of thriving modern cultural hubs and ruggedly stunning nature, a digital nomad could easily spend months travelling through this vast and beautiful country. Major North American cities like Toronto, Quebec and Vancouver and wilderness jump-off spots like Banff or St John’s are all well-connected, allowing travellers reliable opportunities for remote work before closing their laptop and heading off in search of their latest adventure.

In 2023, the Canadian Government announced its ‘Tech Talent Strategy’, which includes a specific policy focus on attracting digital nomads to Canada. As this policy develops, it is possible that we will start to see targeted incentives for mobile, remote working talent to spend extended periods of time in Canada or even have increased opportunities to transition from being a digital nomad to an employee of a Canadian company should they so wish.

For the time being though, Canada already has quite a generous provision for digital nomads via its regular visitor visa or visa exemption program. Unlike some countries, Canadian immigration rules currently do not prohibit foreign nationals with visitor status from continuing to undertake work for foreign employers. Digital nomads can therefore feel confident in visiting and travelling through Canada for up to six months as a regular visitor.

Looking for visas for digital nomads travelling to the USA? While America might not have any options tailor-made for digital nomads, you may still be able to incorporate an extended visit on your round-the-world adventures! Our team of migration experts can help you find the right visa to match your plans and circumstances, so don’t hesitate to contact us or book a personal consultation if you have any questions!

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