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New Digital Nomad visas (updated): More countries see restless internationals as key to prosperity

Not in Europe, but we hear it’s nice

Bali – Bali already attracts Digital Nomads, but now Indonesia is thinking about making it a thing, according to Lonely Planet. You can see the details here, which mostly involve petitions and behind-the-scenes lobbying.

Barbados – Here’s a no-brainer … work from the beach on one of the world’s lovliest islands, a favorite of British celebrities since the 1930s. With its five-star resorts, Barbados was St. Barths before St. Barths became the Caribbean destination in the 2000s.

If Elon Musk were a Digital Nomad, this is where he’d be digitally nomading – with Amber Heard at Sandy Lane.

Now, Barbados, of all places, is offering a Digital Nomad visa. On 1 July, 2020, Barbados Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley announced a 12-month Barbados Welcome Stamp to allow visitors the option to work remotely from Barbados for a year at a time.

“You don’t need to work in Europe, or the US or Latin America if you can come here and work for a couple months at a time; go back and come back,” the prime minister announced.

You can apply here, and there is a hefty $2,000 fee involved. Also, you have to “expect” to make at least $50,000 during the next 12 months. (We expect to make millions … we hope that counts.)

Now, about that cost of living … cities such as Tallinn and Tbilisi are far less expensive cities than, say, Copenhagen or Amsterdam. The Caribbean not so much. We are huge fans of the Caribbean, but we know from experience that most things are more expensive just because everything has to be shipped in.

That said, Expatica and other crowd-sourced data mills indicate that Bridgetown, the main city on Barbados, has sort of affordable housing, about 40-percent less than Amsterdam.

So there you go … you heard it here first.

Bahamas – The Caribbean is really heating up, and we don’t mean hurricane season. The Bahamas just became the latest country to offer a long-term visa to Digital Nomads, the 12-month Bahamas Extended Access Travel Stay program. This program is a bit different than those on other Caribbean islands in that there doesn’t appear to be a requirement for earnings, just that you can prove you’re employed. The application fee is lower, as well – $25 Bahamian, about $23 U.S. But if you get the visa, the fee is $1,000 Bahamian. You can apply here.

Belize – This Central American country with a Caribbean coast just introduced its “Work Where You Vacation” campaign, allowing you to work remotely for up to six months. The visa fee is a relatively affordable $500 but the income requirements are among the highest in the world.

Here are the requirements:

• proof of employment outside of Belize (minimum annual income of a whopping $75,000 for individuals, $100,000 for couples/families)

• a notarized banking reference and statement of account

• a clear criminal record (no more than 6 months old)

• a valid passport

• a travel insurance policy (min. US $50,000 coverage)

You can apply to immigration online here.

Bermuda – Okay, crazy rich Digital Nomads, there’s a new destination where you can work and count your money in a well-known tax haven.

Bermuda’s Digital Nomad 1-year digital nomad visa went live 1 August 2020 and you can apply here. Think of Bermuda as the Switzerland of the semi-tropical Atlantic, close to New York City and with the well-oiled bureaucracy of that Alpine bastion of banking.

This being Bermuda, the application cost is a bit high at $263. And yes, it states clearly in the FAQs that you can indeed bring along your domestic staff. About 400 people (not counting maids and chauffeurs) arrived under the visa in the first six months.

Colombia – Starting October 22, DMs will be able to set up residence in Colombia by fulfilling one requirement: a minimum $684 in available funds monthly. KPMG has a detailed post.

Costa Rica – One of the few stable democracies in Central America (along with Panama and Belize), Costa Rica scores big with all travelers from eco-tourists to Digital Nomads. It’s already high on the most of the “most popular countries with Digital Nomads” lists without a dedicated DN visa. Now, pushed by his tourism officials, Costa Rican President Carlos Alvarado approved legislation in 2021 to create one without actually calling it a Digital Nomad visa. Under the new law, “travelers” who make at least $3,000 a month from a foreign company will be able to get a one-year visa, renewable for an additional year. They can also open Costa Rican bank accounts, use their nation’s driver’s licenses and import needed work equipment tax-free, according to NPR.

Costa Rica just made the visa official, and you can see details here.

Indonesia – Indonesia is now crafting a new visa to incentivize digital nomads to work from tourism destinations such as Bali. The thing that sets this visa apart from other is that the plan is for it to be valid for up to five years, according to Euronews, and live tax-free as long as their income is from companies outside the country.

Mauritius – This island in the Indian Ocean off Madagascar is offering some of the most generous Digital Nomad visa terms in the world. Aside from the usual documents – passports, proof of health insurance – Mauritius’s Premium Travel Visa requires a minimum monthly income $1,500 for each applicant, and $500 per month for each dependent younger than 24 years old. And it’s good for one year.

You can see the details here on the official website.

Montserrat – This island in the Caribbean is basically half volcano (which buried the capital back in 1996), half tropical paradise. To revive its tourism sector, Montserrat has just introduced a visa for remote workers. The island’s model follows other Digital Nomad approaches in that you must work for a foreign company (hence, are not taking a job from a local) and earn a lot of money to spend, in this case at least $70,000 American annually. Application fees are $500 for individuals; families up to three people, $750, then another $250 for every additional person over three family members. And we would add that if you’re bringing a family of 10 to Montserrat, our personal experience is that living on a Caribbean island – especially one this remote – is an expensive proposition.

Saint Lucia – This lush, authentic Caribbean isle just started offering its Live It Digital Nomad visa, good for up to one year. You apply apply directly to Immigration via email [email protected]. You must apply at least two weeks out, and you’ll be notified one way or the other within five working days. You pay a few bucks for the visa The cost of the visa and there are no minimum income requirements. And boom! You’re working in one of the most beautiful places in the world.

South Africa – Jo-berg and Cape Town – especially Cape Town – are already expat destinations. Now, South Africa is on the verge of joining the small number of African countries – the first on the mainland – issuing Digital Nomad visas. At this point, the SA version seems pretty standard – stay in the country up to one year if you can prove you’re taking in $3,000 per month from foreign companies. You can see more details here.

Sri Lanka – This island-nation in the Indian Ocean is pretty much in constant political turmoil. But it is tropical and it is growing more popular with Digital Nomads bored with, say, Greece looking for the most exotic places to work. Club Med has Sri Lanka at No. 2 on its list of the most popular countries for digital nomads. Why this chain of all-inclusive luxury hotels even keeps this list is a bit of mystery, but there it is.

Sri Lanka placing so high on the list is particularly interesting because the country didn’t even have a DN visa. Until now. The government is in the process of creating one, but details at this point are all over the place. But it appears the visa will be good for one year.

Thailand – Chiang Mai in Thailand already is a major Digital Nomad hub. Now, the Kingdom of Thailand is considering changes to its Smart Visa to make it easier to attract digital nomads and remote workers.

It would allow them to stay up to four years without a work visa as long as they work for a foreign company and meet certain qualification metrics.

Currently, Thailand offers four types of smart visas:

• the SmartT for highly skilled internationals,

• Smart E for executives at multinationals,

• Smart I for investors,

• SmartS for start-ups.

Seychelles – Down in the Indian Ocean off East Africa, these tropical islands have introduced a “workation” visa and we love it.

From the website:

The ‘Seychelles Workcation’ program welcomes both self-employed visitors such as a company/business owner/freelancer or employed individuals namely, an employee to participate in the program.  Visitors under the program to work remotely in Seychelles for 30 days up to 1 year. Few requirements are necessary to qualify for the program.  

Visitors must:

  • have a valid passport.
  • provide documents as proof of being an employee/business owner.
  • provide proof of income or wealth
  • hold a valid medical and travel insurance policy.

You have to apply here at least 60 days before arrival.

United Arab Emirates – The UAE just joined Bermuda and Barbados on the list of countries welcoming affluent Digital Nomads. Officials in this group of posh, futuristic Gulf emirates just introduced in October their one-year “virtual working programme,” which comes with a lot of stipulations including being able to prove you have top-line monthly revenue of at least $5,000.

BUT, the application fee of $287 is a lot more affordable than Barbados, and you don’t pay any taxes in the UAE. So, this is a doable proposition for most. Well, some ….

You can see the details here including an application form. And Dubai is running non-stop web ads trying to lure remote workers.

In the works:

Serbia has launched the Serbia Digital Initiative, but there’s no special Digital Nomad visa. Digital Nomads can stay 90 days, but then must apply for a formal residence visa. Euronews has an interesting post about the Digital Nomads in Belgrade.

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