These days, many of us have been ‘working from home’ – but with the flexibility offered by a raft of new remote work visas, ‘home’ could be a sunny Greek island, buzzy Barcelona or even remote Lapland. These new temporary visa categories are meant to attract so-called ‘digital nomads’, tip-tapping laptop warriors with a stable income and a taste for adventure. If trading your home office for a wifi-outfitted beach sounds appealing, read on to find out who’s offering these special work permits, and how you can snag one.

Croatia

Croatia
Working from beautiful Dubrovnik is no chore / Image: Adobe Stock

With its ancient walled towns, 3,600 miles of pristine coastline and enough Games of Thrones filming locations for an endless bingo game, Croatia has captured the hearts of many seasoned travellers, who return year after year to drink in its majesty. But if you could live in a dragonless King’s Landing (aka Dubrovnik), wouldn’t you? 

The Croatian government is banking on its country’s charms to entice itinerant workers. It introduced a new residence permit this year geared towards digital nomads who are self-employed or work for a foreign company. The permit is valid for a year, during which time the worker can’t provide any services for a Croatian business, but will also be exempt from paying income tax in Croatia.

Basic requirements:

  • Must provide a criminal background check from your home country
  • Must make a minimum monthly salary of €316
  • Must provide proof of accommodation in Croatia
  • Must provide proof of health insurance valid for length of stay

If you need a temporary visa to enter Croatia, you’ll need to apply for this residence permit at a Croatian embassy or consulate in your home country. If you don’t need a visa to enter, you can apply at the closest police station to your address in Croatia. 

Estonia

Estonia
Tallinn is bubbling up as a digi nomad-friendly destination / Image: Adobe Stock

Estonia is an ambitious European country that’s stealing more and more in-the-know travellers away from super-popular near neighbours Denmark and Sweden. Visitors who land in its buzzing capital, Tallinn, will find a young, forward-looking city teeming with lively bars and modern restaurants, all set to a swooning backdrop of spired Gothic buildings. The government is working hard to cement Talinn’s reputation as a digital nomad-friendly tech hub by peppering the city with futuristic co-working spaces like the industrial-cool Lift99. 

And it looks like Estonia’s star will continue to rise thanks to its new, officially named Digital Nomad Visa. This visa category – which came into law in August 2020 – allows remote workers to live in Estonia and legally work for an employer registered abroad for up to one year.

Basic requirements:

  • Must make a minimum gross monthly salary of €3,504 
  • Must provide documentation proving that you are employed by a company registered outside Estonia, that you conduct business through your own company registered abroad, or work as a freelancer mostly outside Estonia
  • Must pass a background check as part of the application
  • Must provide proof of health insurance valid for length of stay

You must complete the application form online and pay the fee (€80 for a short stay visa, and €100 for a long stay). Print out your completed form and take it to your nearest Estonian embassy or consulate, where it will be processed. Alternatively, if your home country doesn’t have an Estonian embassy, you can enter Estonia on a tourist visa and lodge your application at the Police and Border Guard Board office. 

Germany

Germany
All you need is decent wifi to make the Black Forest your home office / Image: Adobe Stock

Powerhouse Berlin, historic Munich, fast-moving Frankfurt, cool Leipzig – Germany’s cities all offer something different, but each make an exciting base for a long-stay holiday. And, despite Germany’s size, you’re never far from the country’s enchanting countryside: the mythical Black Forest, the mountainous Mecklenburg Lake District or the castle-strewn Rhine Valley are all worthy weekend jaunts.

Germany has long attracted roving workers with its ‘Freiberufler’ visa – aimed at freelancers, this visa allows self-employed people to live and work in the country for up to three years, after which the worker can apply for a settlement permit. 

Basic requirements:

  • Must be self-employed
  • Must provide evidence showing you can support yourself financially while living in Germany
  • Must be able to show a portfolio of your work
  • Must provide proof that you do not have a criminal record
  • Must provide proof of accommodation in Germany
  • Must provide proof of travel insurance

If you are from Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United States, Israel, South Korea or Japan, you can apply for the visa once you arrive in Germany. To do this, simply make an appointment at the Ausländerbehörde (Foreigner’s Office). If you are not from one of the listed countries, you will have to make an appointment with your nearest German embassy or consulate in order to apply. 

Iceland

Iceland
Iceland puts the 'remote' in 'remote working' / Image: Getty Images

If you really want to go off-grid, Iceland is the place: the small Nordic island nation entices adventure-seekers with its wild, hard-to-access beauty and stock of bucket-list topping sites (you want to see the Northern Lights swirl across a star-streaked sky, don't you?). And in the middle of all that rugged nature, Reykjavik is a cosmopolitan island that’s easily as cool as Berlin or Amsterdam.

In late 2020, Iceland launched a new visa aimed at digital nomads, allowing them (and their families) to work and explore the country for up to six months. Though this significantly opens up live-work opportunities in Iceland, the higher-than-average minimum salary threshold means it’s still more prohibitive than other remote worker visas. 

Basic requirements:

  • Must make a minimum yearly salary of $88,000
  • Must be a resident of a country that enjoy visa-free short-term travel to Iceland
  • Must provide proof of health insurance for duration of stay
  • Must provide proof that you do not have a criminal record

Applicants must fill out Form L-802, pay the processing fee and send all supporting documents to the Directorate of Immigration in Iceland. 

Portugal

Portugal
Lisbon is a remote-worker paradise / Image: Adobe Stock

There are many reasons why Portugal has become the go-to holiday destination on the continent: its colourful towns, balmy coastline and laidback outlook give it all of Spain’s main draws, only without the inflated prices that come from years of high tourism. Its sophisticated capital Lisbon has become quite the hub for digital nomads, and thus has some impressive infrastructure to support them – you can’t turn a corner without stumbling on some cool, space-agey warehouse full of laptop-wielders munching custard tarts in between Zoom meetings.

Not to be left out, Portugal’s Madeira island has its own remote-worker boom – in Ponta do Sol, a ‘digital nomad village’ that opened this year and acts as a live-work space for 100 lucky visitors. Each resident gets hooked up with their own workspace, free internet and access to a diverse roster of events at the village’s cultural centre.

The best visa for digital nomads interested in making Portugal their home is the temporary resident permit, which can be renewed for up to five years and is aimed at freelancers and entrepreneurs. In contrast with most other digital nomad visas, though, applicants must prove that they are actively working with (or trying to make connections with) Portuguese companies. 

Basic requirements:

  • Must be self-employed
  • Must earn a salary or profit of at least €800 per month
  • Must provide a criminal background check from your home country
  • Must provide proof of accommodation in Portugal
  • Must submit at least once invoice issued to a Portuguese client

To apply, make an appointment at your nearest Portuguese consulate or embassy. The application fee is €120, while the residence card costs €160.

Spain

Spain
Spain's beaches are the best in the world / Image: Adobe Stock

A straight-up holiday classic: staggering geographic diversity and an intoxicating melange of cultures make Spain ideal for a long-stay trip, since there’s no shortage of stunning countryside, historic villages or metropolises to explore. And then there are the beaches: the country’s near-3,100km of coastline means you’re never too far from an idyllic shore.

Spain has long attracted freelancers from around the world with its Self-Employment Work Visa, which allows workers to stay in the country for at least a year, with the option to renew. The catch: you may have to prove that your economic activity will create jobs in Spain, and all the paperwork has to be submitted in Spanish.

Basic requirements:

  • Must be self-employed
  • Must earn a salary or profit of at least €537.84 per month
  • Must provide a criminal background check from your home country
  • Must provide proof of health insurance valid for your length of stay

Applications can be made by appointment at your nearest Spanish consulate or embassy. You will need to bring this completed form plus all relevant documents to your appointment. The application fee is around €205.

Greece

Greece
You could make Santorini your temporary home / Image: Adobe Stock

If you’ve ever been on a Greek island holiday, you’re probably familiar with that please-don’t-make-me-go-home feeling that inevitably precedes your inbound flight. Who hasn’t dreamed of uprooting their life to a speck of land in the Mediterranean, moving into a dinky whitewashed villa and spending their days floating between the beach and breezy tavernas?

Well, thanks to Greece’s brand-new digital nomad visa, the holiday never has to end. In December 2020, the Greek government passed legislation that slashes the normal federal personal income tax rates by 50 percent for so-called ‘digital migrants’ – people who have relocated to Greece to work. This sweet deal is good for up to seven years, at which point the worker would need to start paying normal income tax rates.

To attract even more talent, the Greek government is currently at work on a special long-stay visa category aimed at digital nomads coming from outside the Schengen Area. While it’s just in the idea phase at the moment, once it comes into law it will allow remote workers to stay in Greece for up to a year.