- During the pandemic, some countries began changing their rules to allow nomadic travelers to stay for a year or more.
- Before applying for a digital nomad visa, you have to determine if you need one. You might not.
- If you spend at least 330 days a year outside the U.S. and want to claim a Foreign Earned Income Exclusion.
Kristine Thorndyke plans to move to Europe in August but isn’t sure where she’s going yet. She heard about digital nomad visas – special permissions for people who want to work abroad for up to a year – and narrowed it down to two countries: Portugal and Croatia.
“I love slow travel and having a home base,” said Thorndyke, who runs a test preparation company based in Shanghai.
Where should she set up shop?
Many American travelers are asking themselves a similar question this summer. After a long pandemic, they’re ready to leave for weeks and maybe months.
A recent Expedia survey found that 68% of Americans plan to “go big” on their next trip, hitting international destinations like Europe. And while the research didn’t indicate whether they would stay longer than they have in years past, there’s certainly a lot of making up to do.
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What is a digital nomad visa?
During the pandemic, some countries were eager to attract mobile workers interested in staying longer than the typical one-month or three-month permit. So they began changing their rules to allow nomadic travelers to stay for a year or more.
Traditionally, digital nomads were location-independent workers or freelancers with online businesses. But post-pandemic, more full-time remote employees, executives and startup founders have joined the ranks of the digital nomads.
Since the beginning of the year, Brazil, Hungary, Latvia and Greece have introduced digital nomad visas. Applicants must show that they earn a minimum income derived from outside the country and submit proof of medical insurance. Some countries also require a background check and a rent contract.
Kristin Wilson, author of “Digital Nomads for Dummies”, said digital nomad visas are meant for remote employees who can work from anywhere and intend to move overseas long term.
“If you plan to stay in a country for more than 90 days, you should consider applying for a digital nomad visa,” she added.
Do I need to extend a nomad visa?
Before applying for a digital nomad visa, you have to determine if you need one. You might not.
Stephane Tajick, the managing director of products at the Global Residency & Citizenship Group, said most Americans want this type of permit to stay in Europe. But most of Western Europe – governed by the Schengen Agreement, which voided the need for passports between mutual borders – allows Americans to stay all season.
“Keep in mind you, as an American, can stay in the Schengen area 90 days in every 180-day period,” he said.
Tajick said most digital nomads like to move around, spending a month in one place and then pulling up stakes and moving to another country. Digital nomad visas are for people who plan to stay in one country for up to a year with little or no traveling.
That’s the thing with digital nomads; they love the flexibility. They could spend a year in a place like Croatia or Greece, or just a month. Then they might move on to the next place.
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How do I know that? Besides writing about digital nomads, I am a digital nomad. So when I look at my schedule for the next six months, I see Europe, but I don’t have a particular country in mind. Like many digital nomads, I’ll probably go to the country with the most favorable residency requirements, the lowest cost of living and, of course, the tax advantages. If you spend at least 330 days a year outside the U.S. and want to claim a Foreign Earned Income Exclusion – for the tax year 2022, the maximum exclusion is $112,000 per person – and Foreign Housing Exclusion.
Which digital nomad visa should I get?
Carlos Grider, who writes the blog A Brother Abroad, said it can be challenging to select the right digital nomad visa. And it’s not just because there are so many of them. The most attractive residency permits are often simple permits not tailored for digital nomads. For example, he’ll use a regular visa when he travels to the Balkans and Argentina later this year.
Grider says the most practical permit is the one-year Croatian digital nomad visa. It costs around $60 and takes about three weeks to get with “minimal” paperwork.
“Using Croatia as a base for travels allows Americans to experience EU countries for brief periods and return to Croatia for stints, balancing the 90-day Schengen visa exemption with the one-year Croatia digital nomad visa for a near-perfect European experience,” he said.
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How do I get a digital nomad visa?
It depends on where you want to go. The application processes are similar. There’s usually an online form to fill out, but you may also need to contact the country’s nearest embassy or consulate. Also, expect to show bank statements proving your income and proof of health insurance coverage. You may also need to provide a rental contract for your stay.
Applying for a nomad visa may not be a straightforward process. Kathleen O’Donnell is applying for one of the new Greek digital nomad visas. They’re so new that the State Department hasn’t updated its page yet to include them. You can find unofficial translations of the nomad visa law (Law 4825/2021, Article 11) online.
O’Donnell, a writer and editor, plans to stay in Greece for a year. But the visa is so new that she has had to make some adjustments to her schedule. For example, the Greek government hadn’t set up a way to apply for a visa while you’re in the country, so she decided to fill out the application while in the U.S. Because the process takes up to 12 weeks, she delayed her arrival in Greece to August.
“There are still a lot of kinks to be worked out in this process,” she said.
Can you extend your stay without a digital nomad visa?
Thorndyke, the American moving from China to Europe, extensively researched digital nomad visas for Portugal and Croatia. The Croatian digital nomad visa, which is among the most popular, had a lot of appeal. But it also had limitations. She envisioned using Croatia as a home base, but the visa would not allow her to spend over 30 consecutive days outside of Croatia or she would lose her residency. Portugal’s D7 passive income visa requires holders to remain in the country for at least 16 months in a two-year period. Thorndyke preferred to travel.
“After doing research, I decided not to get a digital nomad visa,” she said.
I love the idea of a digital nomad visa, and I may yet apply for one. But not for Europe this summer. I can move between European countries while easily staying within the three-month limit.