November 22, 2022
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4 minutes

Remote working: countries that want to attract digital nomads

The pandemic has brought the tourism industry to a halt worldwide. Some countries are trying to remedy this by attracting digital nomads from all corners of the globe. From special visas to income tax exemptions, here is an overview of initiatives aimed at attracting (the wealthiest) international workers as the home office continues to grow. There could be a billion teleworkers in the world by 2035.

Remote working: countries that want to attract digital nomads

Estonia, first European country to regulate the stay of digital nomads

The country was the first European state to launch a visa specifically for foreign teleworkers. "Digital nomads and remote workers have long faced ambiguity when working while travelling, often circumventing the law, by practising while visiting a country on a tourist visa" according to the Estonian government website. Thus, as of 1 August 2020, the country offers self-employed people the possibility to live in Estonia for one year and work there legally. To be eligible for this new visa, several criteria must be met, including earning more than 3,500 euros per month and working for a non-Estonian organisation.

Note that visas for digital nomads (whether entrepreneurs, freelancers or employees of a foreign company teleworking) have also been introduced in the Czech Republic, Norway, Germany, Iceland, Portugal, Costa Rica, Mexico, Mauritius, Cayman Islands, Dubai and Barbados.

Croatia seeks to boost off-season tourism industry

Since the beginning of the year, the Croatians have been offering non-European teleworkers and their families a special digital nomad visa for up toone year. It is available to workers earning more than 2,200 euros per month and provides for income tax exemption. Teleworkers are not allowed to work for a local company. The aim is to boost tourism, particularly outside the high summer season.

Stays of up to 5 years in Spain

  • Madrid adopted last week several measures aimed at "recovering international and national talent" and favouring"the installation of teleworkers and digital nomads" according to the government. The authorities announced tax reductions and easier visa procedures. Digital nomads will be able to reside and work in Spain for 5 years, benefiting from anincome tax reduction. The measure will also apply to Spaniards who have lived abroad for more than five years and wish to return to Spain.
  • In general, the country is inclined to adopt new ways of organising work in order to bring more flexibility to employees. In 2022, Spain will experiment with a four-day week in 2,000 volunteer companies.

In Portugal, a unique legal arsenal for teleworkers

  • Portugal does not have a digital nomad visa as such, but the country has two different types of visas (or residence permits) that can be used as substitutes. The first, called the D7 visa, is for freelancers, self-employed people, retirees and property annuitants. The second type of visa is intended for entrepreneurs. The first formula, which is aimed at digital nomads (D7), allows volunteers to stay in Portugal for up to five years, after which the holder of the residence permit can apply for permanent residence or citizenship. To apply for this visa, the minimum income requirement is about 750 euros per month (equivalent to the Portuguese SMIC), which is the lowest salary requirement among other countries with an attractive policy for digital nomads.
  • The Portuguese archipelago of Madeira also opened this year the first digital village for digital nomads. It welcomes foreign teleworkers who have free access to Wi-Fi and coworking spaces. Volunteers can stay there for a minimum of one month. In response to the surge in demand, the authorities have announced the opening of five more telework centres by the end of the year.
  • It should also be noted that Portugal is becoming a paradise for remote workers. The country has adopted new rules favourable to employees working outside the office (notably aiming to protect their right to disconnect). The country thus aims to become "one of the best places in the world for digital nomads" according to the government.

Halfway between Asia and Europe, teleworking from Georgia

The "Remotely from Georgia" programme allows foreign teleworkers (from 95 countries) to stay for a minimum of six months. The scheme is open to people earning a salary of at least 1,670 euros per month. Halfway between Europe and Asia, this state of 3.7 million inhabitants where the cost of living is very low may represent an opportunity for foreign teleworkers in search of purchasing power.

Costa Rica or the Eldorado for teleworkers

Bordered by the Caribbean Sea and the Pacific, Costa Rica is the Eldorado for teleworkers. The country has enjoyed political stability and economic growth for several years. The tropical climate offers mild weather from December to April. The digital nomad visa is available to foreigners earning more than USD 3,000 per month and can last up to two years. The country has taken various measures to attract foreign teleworkers, who are exempt from paying income tax. The driving licence issued in the country of origin is also valid in Costa Rica. This is ideal for travelling around the country known for its beaches, volcanoes and biodiversity. With 20% of the population living below the poverty line, the influx of digital nomads into this Central American country has also been criticised by some observers as a new form of colonialism.

NB: Digital nomad visas issued in Europe have advantages for non-EU citizens. Apart from the health crisis, freedom of movement and residence is one of the principles of the 27 member countries of the European Union, plus Iceland, Liechtenstein, Switzerland and Norway, which belong to the Schengen area.

Edmée Citroën

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