Thinking of taking your WFH setup abroad? Here's what you need to know.
The year 2020 became a pivotal time for remote work and/or relocation for many people around the world. Nowadays there are different ways to describe travelers who would like to live abroad without depending on local employment opportunities. The most popular titles are digital nomads, digital entrepreneurs, freelancers, or remote workers.
We’ve researched and provided tidbits about 12 visas to consider if you’re able to lead a location-independent lifestyle and/or have considerable funds for an extended period of time. While this list is written from the perspective of a U.S. American citizen, be sure to check the official government websites of each country you’re interested in for eligibility, updates, and a complete list of requirements. Please remember that restrictions and allowances may be subject to change at short notice and processing times will vary dramatically.
INSIDER TIPFor freelancers or remote workers, it’s best to show that at least the minimum financial requirement is coming from one consistent, solid source.
Top Picks for You
Antigua and Barbuda - Nomad Digital Residence Visa
This visa is valid for up to two years!
- Proof of employment
- Income of at least $50,000 USD for each of the two years
- Medical clearance
- Proof of relationship if applying with family/dependants
- Payment confirmation of application fees
- Police clearance
Application Fees: Single applicant: $1,500 USD | Couple $2,000 USD
Family of thre and over: $3,000 USD
Perks: Modern amenities, island location, safe and friendly, reliable telecommunications network.
Barbados - 12 Month Welcome Stamp Visa
The visa fee is a hefty one in comparison to many on the list but there are also fewer requirements for the application. If you have or manage a business, you can make multiple applications for the employees in your company.
- Must be a remote worker
- Proof of relationship if bringing spouse/partner or dependant(s)
- Passport photos + bio data page of passport
- Valid medical insurance
- Individual – $4,000 BDS ($2,000 USD)
- Family Bundle – $6,000 BDS ($3,000 USD)
Perks: Short processing time, usually from 48 hours to five days, tropical climate, beautiful beaches, local tax exemption.
Costa Rica - Rentista (Freelancer) Visa
Allows remote workers to stay in the country for up to two years with the possibility to renew.
- Must be self-employed or an entrepreneur
- Proof of monthly income to exceed $2,500 USD per month or deposit $60,000 USD in a Costa Rican bank
- All documents must be translated to Spanish and authenticated in your home country
Application Fee: $250 USD
Perks: Great climate, known for amazing food, tropical landscapes, and natural activities.
Website: Rentista Visa – Costa Rica
Croatia - Temporary Stay Visa
Basic Requirements: This visa allows remote workers from outside the EU the opportunity to live in Croatia for up to a year.
- Proof of remote employment
- Proof of a monthly income of at least $2,700 USD/ €2,200 Euros
- Proof of health insurance
- Proof of accommodation
- Pass a criminal background check
Application Fee: 350 HRK ($57 USD/ €47) – 460 HRK ($75 USD/ €62)
Perks: Great climate, known for seafood, beautiful landscapes and sea views, income tax exempt.
Website: Temporary Stay Visa – Croatia
Dubai - Digital Nomad (Virtual Working) Visa
Dubai is world-renowned as a playground for the wealthy. It’s hot year-round and boasts magnificent structures, nautical and cold weather activities, and some of the best hotel and fine dining experiences you can find.
- Must be a remote worker and show validity (contract) for at least a year or must be a business owner and show proof of ownership for at least a year
- Monthly income must be at least $5,000 USD
- Present the last 3 months of bank statements
- Proof of health insurance
Application Fee: $287 USD + processing fee and health insurance fees
Perks: An opportunity to mingle with the rich and famous, hot weather (but can get severely hot at times), great food, luxurious lifestyle for a premium.
Website: Work Remotely Visa – Dubai
Estonia - Digital Nomad (Remote Worker) Visa
Estonia is a country in Northern Europe that has more than 1,500 islands and borders the Baltic Sea and the Gulf of Finland. It’s known for scenic views and announced this new visa in late 2020. Plus, you can extend your stay from within Estonia if you happen to fall in love with the country!
- Must be able to perform your work duties using telecommunications
- Be either an active employee or a freelancer/have a registered business from outside Estonia with clients mostly from outside Estonia
- Show proof of at least €3,504 gross per month
Perks: Affordable cost of living, access to beautiful textiles, rocky beaches, forests, and lakes, the country is dotted with castles, churches, and forests.
Application Fees: €80 for the Type C, short-stay visa; €100 for the Type D, long-stay visa
Websites: Prefill application online in one of three languages or the Visa Applications – Estonia in English
Georgia - Nomad Visa
Not to be confused with the U.S. State of Georgia, this country is located at the crossroads between Europe and Asia. The capital city of Tbilisi is beautiful and boasts an international airport. Batumi and Kutaisi are also popular destinations.
- Come from the list of approved countries, proof of sufficient funds
- Must have income that exceeds $2,000 USD per month and health insurance for the duration of stay
- Must commit to a stay of longer than six months.
Application Fees: No application fee!
Perks: Georgia is known as an affordable, safe, and welcoming country. Tbilisi is known for being walkable, as well.
Website: Nomad Visa – Georgia
Germany - Freiberufler Visa, also known as the Freelancer or Artist Visa
Learning how this visa is pronounced shouldn’t deter you from applying for it because it could very well be your opportunity to live in a beautiful country and experience another culture.
Basic Requirements: This visa has a long list of requirements so you’ll need to be diligent during the application process. For example:
- You’ll need to open a blocked bank account in Germany
- Submit your work portfolio, profit/loss statement, licenses, degrees or certifications
- You’ll need letters of commitment from current or future employers
Application Fees: Starting at €60 for the freelancer visa application
Perks: Fantastic gastronomy, powerful winters, outdoor markets, stunning architecture, rich history, efficiency-driven culture, good cost of living.
Mauritius - The Premium Travel Visa
Tourists can stay in Mauritius, a beautiful island located off the Eastern coast of Africa (near Madagascar), for up to 180 days but if you’d like to stay for up to a year, you’ll need to apply for the Premium Visa. This visa is renewable and you can apply online or when you arrive in the country.
- Your income should be from outside the country and be at least $1,500 USD/ €1,300 per month
- You cannot take up employment on the island
- Must have sufficient health and travel insurance
- Proof of accommodation and return airfare
Perks: The beach, beautiful ocean views, two UNESCO World Heritage Sites, pay no local taxes on purchases using a foreign credit or debit card.
Website: Premium Travel Visa – Mauritius
Mexico - Temporary Residency Visa
This visa is great for those wishing to live and/or work in Mexico for longer than 180 days but less than 4 years.
- Proof of income to exceed $1,634 USD per month or $27,213 annually
- Letter of employment/contract stipulations
Estimate of fees: $40-250 USD
Perks: Can obtain residency after four years, purchase and register a Mexican plated car or temporarily bring your own, open a bank account, avoid paying duty on household goods, can freely enter and leave Mexico without the 180-day limit
Website: Temporary Resident Visa – Mexico
Spain - The Non Lucrative Visa
This visa allows non-EU nationals to live in Spain as long as they don’t take up employment. That means you must have ample savings and/or sufficient funds to sustain your time there. What’s great about this visa is that you’ll have the option to renew it for two years at a time. After you’ve reached five consecutive years of living in Spain, you’ll be able to apply for permanent residency. You’ll also be able to rent accommodation, enroll yourself or your children in classes, and obtain medical treatment using private health insurance.
- Proof of at least €25,816 per year in savings or guaranteed income
- Private Spanish health insurance
- Pass a criminal background check
- Medical clearance
- Spanish translations
- Copy of tax returns
Application Fees: USA (€123), Canada (€507), and (€80) for most other countries
Perks: Great weather year-round, low cost of living (especially outside of major cities or in the south).
Website: Non – lucrative Visa – Spain
Portugal - D2 (migrant entrepreneurs or independent worker) or D7 (largely targeted towards retirees or those not seeking to invest or conduct business)
Most applicants will have to apply via VFS Global.
The D2 visa is better suited for those who’d like to establish a business and invest in some way, for example hiring locals or anyone already established as an independent worker.
The D7 visa is well suited for those with passive income and who’d like to live in Portugal without the need to work can be renewed every two years until you reach five consecutive years in Portugal after which you can apply for permanent residency.
Basic requirements: proof of employment or funds (€7,200 per year of passive income and 6 months of bank statements) to stay up to a year, proof of private health insurance, open a bank account in Portugal, medical clearance, background check, letter of intent
Perks: Great weather, affordable cost of living (outside of Lisbon capital), great for history buffs.
Application Fees: €50-300
Website for USA citizens and permanent residents: VFS Global – Portugal – for U.S. Citizens
Website for UK citizens: VFS Global – Portugal – For UK Citizens
Thousands of people apply for visas around the world on their own each year. It’s important to stay organized, be flexible, and patient. Do your research and ask clarifying questions, especially for presenting time-sensitive documents. Some applications may not be in your own language, so translation devices or an actual translator will be necessary. Also, keep in mind that there can be unforeseen or miscellaneous costs throughout the process, so it’s best to have a budget in case there are any surprises. If you’re pressed for time and/or feeling overwhelmed, you can opt to hire an immigration/relocation professional but it will probably run your bill up significantly. Lastly, for tax questions, it is always best to contact an international tax professional. Taxes are complicated and what works for another person may not work for you. Preparedness will take you a long way whether at home or abroad.