digital nomad visas

11 Digital Nomad Visas for Easy Access to Europe

Fancy a taste of the European lifestyle? Why not consider one of Europe’s digital nomad visas?

The COVID-19 pandemic has opened up the potential of remote work and has forced governments to adapt to new circumstances.

In response, countries all over the world have created specific digital nomad visas to encourage remote workers to travel there for extended periods of time.

In Europe, more and more countries are introducing these visas. Some countries, such as Germany or Portugal, already had existing freelancer visas, while others created something entirely new.

In this article, we’ll cover:

  • What a digital nomad visa is (and isn’t)
  • What you can and can’t do with a digital nomad visa
  • How to become eligible for one
  • Which countries have a digital nomad visa scheme currently in place
  • Which digital nomad visas can be used as a pathway to a more permanent situation

What is a digital nomad visa?

In the past, people who worked remotely while travelling usually did so on tourist visas. But this wasn’t strictly legal, because most tourist visas don’t allow the holder to work.

It was impossible for the remote worker to apply for a regular work permit, because their employees or clients were located outside the country.

In some cases, remote workers could just keep renewing their tourist visa. But that solution wasn’t always ideal.

Governments started becoming more strict about ‘visa runs’. Anyway, visa runs were impossible in Europe because of the Schengen zone restrictions.

Digital nomad visas were created to fill a gap between the short-term tourist visa and long-term work permit. They allow remote workers to stay for longer than a typical tourist visa, while working remotely for their foreign employer or clients.

In Europe, the regular tourist visa allows non-EU citizens to stay in the Schengen zone for up to 90 days in every 180. Once those 90 days are reached, they need to leave the Schengen zone for another 90 days before they can make a new trip.

Digital nomad visas allow their holders to stay beyond the 90 day limit. Applicants usually need to show proof of sufficient funds, along with proof of their business activity and a clean criminal record.

The major downside of digital nomad visas is that most are non-renewable. Most of them can’t be used as a pathway to permanent residency or citizenship.

But, there are a couple of exceptions to that rule. If you’re interested in a more permanent stay, keep reading to find out which digital nomad visas in Europe offer this option.

11 Digital Nomad Visas for Easy Access to Europe

Here’s a roundup of 11 options for digital nomad visas in Europe. Some of these are brand-new programs, while others have been around for awhile.

#1. Estonia’s digital nomad visa

Estonia has long had an image as a digital-friendly country. It was the first country in Europe to create an e-residency program for foreign entrepreneurs.

So it made sense that this innovative Baltic nation was the first to introduce a digital nomad visa, in the summer of 2020.

The Estonia digital nomad visa is valid for up to 1 year. It allows remote workers and freelancers to work from Estonia, either for their own overseas registered business, or for a foreign employer.

To get the digital nomad visa, you need to apply through an Estonia embassy or consulate abroad. Applications are reviewed within 30 days.

#2. Croatia’s digital nomad visa

In 2021, Croatia launched its new digital nomad visa, which is valid for up to 1 year and comes with tax exemptions. You can also bring your immediate family members with you on this visa.

The requirements include a clean criminal record, a rental contract in Croatia, health insurance, and proof of sufficient remote income.

You can apply for the Croatia digital nomad visa online and receive a decision around 20 days later.

#3. Italian Self-Employment Visa

Just before the pandemic, in January 2020, Italy introduced new tax incentives to encourage remote workers to move there.

While this isn’t technically a “digital nomad visa”, the Italian self-employment visa offers resident freelancers 70% reduced tax on any income they generate in Italy.

The Italian self-employment visa is valid for two years from the date of issue, with the possibility to extend.

It’s a great path to setting up legal residency in Italy, which could lead to more permanent options if that’s what you want.

The first step is to make an appointment at your closest Italian embassy in your country of residence. You’ll need to show proof of sufficient income, accommodation in Italy, and health insurance.

#4. The Greek digital nomad visa

Another of Europe’s new digital nomad visas is found in Greece.

The visa is valid for up to 12 months, but the holder can also apply for a residence permit for longer stays.

You’ll need to show proof of income of at least €3,500 per month, along with suitable health insurance coverage.

What’s more, to fulfil the requirements you must work remotely for a company or clients situated outside of Greece.

If you’re self-employed, then you must submit confirmation of your business activity, corporate purpose, and business address (your business can’t be registered in Greece).

#5. Germany’s ‘freiberufler‘ visa

Germany has offered a freelancer visa for a long time. In fact, it was the first country in Europe to create this kind of visa.

Called freiberufler visas in German, they come in two flavors: one for professionals and the other for artists.

Unlike newer digital nomad visas, the freiberufler visas require applicants to have clients based in Germany. So this one isn’t the best fit if you work remotely for a foreign employer.

What’s more, the application process is fairly involved. You’ll need to register with the German tax office and submit documents including bank statements, a work portfolio, and proof of expertise (e.g. diplomas, professional qualifications).

#6. Czech Republic: zivno business visa

If you want to move to the Czech Republic, you can apply for this special business visa. It’s a good fit for freelancers and remote workers.

The process is more complicated than others, because you’ll need to apply for a trade licence before applying for the business visa.

Other requirements include health insurance, sufficient funds and proof of accommodation for at least one year.

You’ll then need to request a visa in person at a Czech consulate in your country of residence. This usually involves an interview, in which consulate officials will ask you about your business and why you’ve chosen the Czech Republic for remote work.

Once you’ve got the zivno visa, it’s possible to get onto a path to long-term Czech residency. Eventually, you could work your way towards applying for citizenship.

#7. Hungary Digital Nomad Visa: “White Card”

This new digital nomad visa allows foreign remote workers to live in Hungary while working for foreign employers.

The White Card is valid for one year and can be extended for an additional year. But that’s it, a maximum of two years. So this isn’t a pathway to permanent residency or citizenship.

To be eligible, you need to be a non-EU/EEA and non-Swiss citizen.

You must also be able to work remotely, either for an employer outside of Hungary or for your own registered company.

It’s a two-part application. Part one involves applying for an entry visa at your nearest Hungarian consulate.

Then you have 30 days to enter Hungary and complete part two – applying for your White Card.

#8. Iceland’s digital nomad visa

Iceland’s digital nomad visa is aimed at foreigners who wish to work remotely in Iceland long-term.

The visa is valid for stays longer than six months. You can also bring your family to Iceland with you.

To be eligible for the visa, you should provide proof of employment and sufficient funds, along with adequate health insurance coverage.

#9. Malta’s digital nomad visa

Malta has jumped on the digital nomad bandwagon with this one year renewable visa. It’s aimed at non-EU nationals who can maintain their existing jobs or freelance work while spending a year living in Malta.

Applicants for Malta’s digital nomad visa currently need to show proof of vaccination against COVID-19, plus health insurance. You’ll also need to show a monthly gross income of a minimum of €2,700 or more, from an organization outside Malta.

#10. The Portugal digital nomad visa

Portugal has several types of residency visas that act as digital nomad visas.

First, the Portugal D7 visa, or passive income visa (also known as the retirement visa). Initially designed for those living off pension income, the D7 soon became popular with digital nomads and remote workers.

Applying for the D7 is a two-step process that starts at your nearest Portuguese embassy in your country of citizenship or residency.

You’ll need proof of recurring passive income of at least €705 per month, plus a year’s worth of savings, health insurance and a clean criminal record.

Remote employment (as opposed to passive income) isn’t always accepted for the D7, as the policy depends on the individual embassy.

Portuguese embassies in the US and UK are typically fine with accepting remote employment for the D7, but embassies elsewhere may be more picky. It’s worth confirming with the specific embassy where you intend to apply.

The other Portugal option is the D2 ‘entrepreneur’ visa. You can get this one without having proof of regular passive income. Instead, you’ll need a business idea that’s viable in Portugal, along with a business plan to support it.

For the D2, you also need to open a Portuguese company and hire a qualified accountant to handle your business finances. Proof of savings for the first year will also be required.

Generally speaking, the D7 is an easier option for digital nomads than the D2.

#11. The Spain digital nomad visa

This one is currently in the pipeline, but due to launch soon. It will be open to foreign workers for non-Spanish companies, who have the ability to do their work remotely.

Spain already has the non-lucrative visa, which is a loose equivalent to Portugal’s D7.

But the Spanish version is typically a lot stricter on remote work. While you might get away with taking an income in dividends, the non-lucrative visa isn’t really suited for digital nomads, especially those employed on contracts.

Spain’s new digital nomad visa ought to be the solution to this problem. The new visa is expected to be valid for 1 year after approval, with the option to renew it for a further 2 years.

Conclusion

It’s a great time to be a digital nomad!

European countries (as well as countries worldwide) are taking advantage of the new wave of remote workers by introducing a range of new digital nomad visas.

In this article, we looked at 11 options for digital nomad visas in Europe, examining their application requirements and assessing whether they can be used for a more permanent move.

If you want to spend an extended time in Europe this year, one of these digital nomad visas could be the perfect starting point for you.


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