Fancy a taste of the European lifestyle in 2023?
Then why not consider one of Europe’s digital nomad visas?
The COVID-19 pandemic has opened up the potential of remote work and inspired many people to become digital nomads.
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 the Czech Republic, Germany or Portugal, already had existing freelancer visas, while other countries have 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.
13 Digital Nomad Visas for Easy Access to Europe
Here’s a roundup of 13 options for digital nomad visas in Europe. Some of these are brand-new programs, while others have been around for a while.
#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
UPDATE (October 10, 2022). The Portuguese government has just announced a brand-new dedicated Portugal digital nomad visa, which will be available from October 30. According to Business Insider, applicants will need to show a minimum monthly income of 2,750 USD.
Successful applicants can stay in Portugal for up to 1 year, or apply for full residency if they want to stay longer.It looks like the Portugal digital nomad visa can be used as part of a pathway to Portuguese citizenship.
Keep an eye on our Portugal Digital Nomad Visa article for all the latest news once the visa is officially released.
Portugal already has several residency visas that can act as digital nomad visas – i.e., they’re a good fit for those earning a living online.
First, the Portugal D7 visa, or passive income visa (also known as the retirement visa). Initially designed for those living on 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.
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.
#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. However, these details are still being ironed out. We’ll update this post once the visa is officially launched (Oct/Nov 2022).
#12. Norway’s independent contractor visa
Norway’s independent contractor visa is the closest thing Norway has to a digital nomad visa. It allows non-EU/EEA foreigners to live and work in Norway for up to 2 years.
This visa is different from typical digital nomad visas, because the applicant is required to have at least one Norwegian client. In that sense, it’s more similar to Germany or the Czech Republic’s freelancer visas.
To apply for the Norway digital nomad visa, you’ll need proof that your business is incorporated outside Norway. You’ll also need a minimum annual income of €35,719 (and bank statements to prove it), an address in Norway and at least one Norwegian client.
#13. Finland’s self-employment visa
Finland’s self-employment visa is similar to Norway’s independent contractor visa. It can be a good fit for digital nomads, although there are certain restrictions.
First, the visa only allows you to stay in the country for six months. You’ll need to show bank statements proving you have a monthly income of at least €1,220, from a company incorporated outside Finland.
You’ll also need to present documents from your company (including incorporation certificate and shareholders’ register), so the Finnish authorities can evaluate its profitability.
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’ve looked at the requirements for 13 digital nomad visas in Europe.
If you want to spend an extended time in Europe in 2023 – then one of these digital nomad visas could be the perfect starting point for you.