10 Best Remote Work Visas Around the World
Remote workers and “digital nomads” are a quickly emerging subset of the international workforce, and many countries are beginning to establish immigration rules specifically to attract this kind of worker.
Most countries do not have visa laws that address the new world of remote work. Technically, it is illegal to travel from a foreign country and work while on a tourist visa. Such visas are usually valid for 30 to 90 days and can be difficult to renew. Remote workers might not be eligible for a traditional work visa, which typically requires a contract or invitation letter from a local company or sponsor. These remote workers can easily find themselves stuck in a legal gray area.
The so-called “digital nomad visa” or “remote work visa” is here to help. These permits allow traveling workers to gain legal standing and recognition in a foreign country. They are quick to obtain, don’t require reams of paperwork, and allow digital workers to take their jobs with them wherever they go.
The next step in making your remote job a reality is to find the best country and visa option for you. It can be hard to find the right visa option for you, which is why we’ve put together a list of the top remote worker visa options around the world.
Note on terminology: Throughout this article, we will be using the terms “remote worker” and “digital nomad” interchangeably.
How We Chose the 10 Best Countries & Visas
There are more than 30 countries that offer remote work visas, and when it comes to “remote work friendliness” not all countries are created equal. Each destination was evaluated according to three key criteria in order to be considered one of the top countries for remote workers.
- Country’s digital nomad score (factoring cost of living, internet speed, variety of co-working spaces and laptop-friendly cafes, and interesting activities to enjoy in the region)
- Ease of obtaining visa
- Length and renewability of visa
In addition to the above, there are other factors that you should consider when choosing a destination such as safety, weather and climate, and availability of healthcare. We recommend reading more in-depth blog posts for your favorite countries and cities and using websites like NomadList.com to get a better understanding of these more niche issues.
10 Best Remote Work Visas Around the World
Thailand: Sponsored Business Visa and Work Permit
While Thailand is considered the top country in the world for digital nomads, it does not offer a digital nomad visa per se. Rather, there are a number of Thai tech companies who can sponsor visas and work permits for digital workers if you have a technical degree and/or more than 5 years of experience. You still work on your own behalf; the sponsoring company simply handles the back-office administrative and compliance processes required to keep you legally employed in Thailand. The nice thing about this setup is that you get a renewable yearly business visa, work permit, and social security card. Since you are paying taxes in Thailand, you get free government healthcare and are legally considered a tax resident of the Kingdom.
Pricing depends on the provider you choose, but typically the company will collect a percentage of the earnings you bring into Thailand (minimum between 1,500-2,000 USD) and the remainder is paid as your net salary in Thai baht.
To learn more about getting a Sponsored Business Visa and Work Permit in Thailand, click here.
Portugal: D7 Visa
Portugal offers an independent worker visa, which is valid for a year. The visa can be renewed two times, each time for an additional 2 years. A visa costs EUR83 and a EUR72 fee for a resident permit. Prospective residents will need to submit a visa application form along with a passport-sized photo, valid travel insurance, proof that they are able to support themselves (or a term signed by a Portuguese citizen), proof of ownership of a business entity or a contract for the provision of services, and a declaration from an authority that they are qualified to work in the sector. A separate residence permit is available for family reunion purposes.
To learn more about getting an Independent Worker Visa in Portugal, click here.
Spain: Self Employment Visa
Spain’s Self Employment Visa is an excellent option for digital nomads who work for themselves. It is quite common for them to be freelancers. This visa, like the others, will allow you to stay up to one year. You will need to show that you have enough funds to “establish or maintain employment indefinitely”. A background check will also be required. You can then join the digital nomad scene in Barcelona or Madrid.
To learn more about getting a Self Employment Visa in Spain, click here.
Bali: Digital Nomad Visa (Coming Soon)
Bali, the island in Indonesia, is another favorite Southeast Asia destination. It’s a great place to find free spirits, yoga enthusiasts and remote workers. Digital nomads are most likely to spend their time in Bali performing remote work under a tourist visa, which must be renewed every 60-days. According to digital nomad communities, there are approximately 5000 remote workers in the Canggu region. Although there is currently no official visa program in Indonesia, Indonesia announced recently that they will be launching a new digital nomad visa later this year. The Balinese remote visa for work would be valid for up to five years and visa holders would not have to pay any taxes on income earned outside of Bali.
To learn more about the upcoming Digital Nomad Visa in Bali, click here.
Malaysia: Tech Entrepreneur Program
Although no Asian country has ever used the terms remote work visa or digital nomad visa, Malaysia offers a Malaysia Tech Entrepreneur (MTEP) visa that is specifically tailored for tech entrepreneurs. Malaysia aims to attract the brightest and most talented tech professionals. A 90-day visa is available for short stays. This visa is intended for nomads who are looking to take a break from traveling around the globe. You don’t need an onward ticket for this visa and it is easy to extend your stay depending on your nationality. It is praised by digital nomads as one of the best in South East Asia. It is also free!
To learn more about the Malaysia Tech Entrepreneur Program, click here.
Germany: Residence Permit
Freelancers and self-employed workers can obtain a residence permit in Germany for up to three months. However, this may be extended up to three more years. In addition to the visa application form and paying a EUR60 fee, digital nomads are required to include photocopies of numerous documents with their application–including, but not limited to, a passport, two biometric photographs, a cover letter, and a portfolio of previous freelance work. The application must be presented in person at the nearest German Embassy/ Consulate. Prospective travelers must first obtain a residence in Germany and register it with their local Residence Registration Office before applying for a residence permit. They must then open a German bank account and register with the Tax Registration Office to secure German healthcare.
To learn more about getting a Residence Permit in Georgia, click here.
Mexico: Temporary Resident Visa
Mexico’s Temporary Resident visa is unique because it targets Canadians, but not only. The visa allows digital nomads the ability to work remotely in Mexico for up to 180 days. Prospective travelers must prove a monthly income in Canada of $2720 USD ($2,166.11 USD) and a minimum monthly bank balance of $45,334CAD ($36,102.41 US) for the past 12 months. However, the exact amount can vary depending upon the circumstances. A passport or valid travel document is required for remote workers. A Family Unity Application, which requires additional documentation and economic solvency, allows a digital nomad’s family to travel with them abroad.
To learn more about getting a Temporary Resident Visa in Mexico, click here.
Estonia: Digital Nomad Visa
Estonia launched a digital nomad visa on Aug. 1, 2020 that allows remote workers to stay in Estonia for up to one year. For a Type C (short-stay) or Type D visa, applicants must show proof of a minimum income of EUR3,504 and pay either a EUR80 or EUR100 state fee. You must also have a valid travel document, health insurance, as well as pass a background check. The processing time for applications is usually between 15-30 days.
To learn more about getting a Digital Nomad Visa in Estonia, click here.
Czech Republic: Zivno Visa
It is more difficult to obtain a freelance visa in the Czech Republic, Zivno. A variable fee is required, along with proof of income at 124,500 koruna ($5,750.58 US), and other documents such as a passport, proof that accommodation has been provided. To be eligible for one of these jobs, applicants must first obtain a trade licence. This means that remote work can be combined with a local job, even if it is temporary. An immigration interview will be required for all applicants. Approval can take between 90 and 120 days. The visa is valid for one year.
To learn more about getting a Zivno Visa in the Czech Republic, click here.
Georgia: Remotely From Georgia Program
Remotely From Georgia allows digital nomads to live and work in the former Soviet Union for one year. This list includes all countries whose citizens were allowed to travel to Georgia for up to one-year prior to the outbreak of the pandemic. The online application is required. Applicants must submit a financial proof (the exact amount of the money is not specified) and any other information requested.
To learn more about the Remotely From Georgia Program, click here.
Taiwan: Employment Gold Card
Like Thailand, Taiwan is an exceptional case in that the Taiwan Employment Gold Card doesn’t technically qualify as a digital nomad visa. This card is a four-in-1 card that includes an open-ended work permit, resident visa and alien certificate. It also allows for reentry permits. The card is valid for workers from remote areas. It costs between $100 and $310 USD depending on their nationality and the length of their stay. Approval of applications takes approximately 30 days. However, additional documents may take up to 50-60 days. The applicant’s professional skills are assessed. Applicants who wish to travel to Taiwan don’t need to have a job. Digital nomads will need additional documents based on their skill.
To learn more about getting a Taiwan Employment Gold Card, click here.
Columbia: Tourist Visa
Medellin is another destination for digital nomads. Most people come in as tourists and can stay up to 90 day. Tourists from the United States, Canada and Australia can also visit the country. You can leave the country and return within 90 days. However, you are only allowed to stay for 180 days each year. Colombia doesn’t seem to have a program that allows remote workers and digital nomads to legally stay for longer periods than six months.
To learn more about getting a Tourist Visa in Columbia, click here.
Vietnam: Tourist Visa
Medellin is another destination for digital nomads. Most people come in as tourists and can stay for up to 90 days. Tourists from the United States, Canada and Australia can also visit the country. You can leave the country and return within 90 days. However, you are only allowed to stay for 180 days each year. Colombia doesn’t seem to have a program that allows remote workers and digital nomads to legally stay for longer periods than six months.
To learn more about getting a Tourist Visa in Vietnam, click here.
Romania: Digital Nomad Visa (Coming Soon)
Romania plans to introduce new legislation to allow remote work to be more flexible. This will include a digital nomad visa. This is in response to workplace problems related to coronavirus, as well as the dynamic changes to the labor market due to widespread use of telecommunications technologies. Eligible individuals from countries outside of the European Union/European Economic Area will be able to work in Romania more flexiblely and without any restrictions for a set period. This is in addition to the normal rules that would apply if they were to come to Romania to work.
To learn more about Romania’s upcoming Digital Nomad Visa, click here.