A digital nomad's 5 favorite digital nomad visas for solopreneurs

Jorge Alexandre
Written by Jorge Alexandre
on September 10, 2021

Remote-working is here to stay. Digital nomads have been working from locations such as Bali, Indonesia, and Chiang Mai (Thailand) since the beginning of the Internet age. Or at least since WiFi became something we take for granted, even in the most remote corners of the globe.

Governments around the world are finally considering this increasingly large group of people, and thinking about how they can attract more content creators, tech-workers, and solopreneurs to their countries. The answer to that is simple, Digital Nomad Visas. 

What are Digital Nomad visas?

These sets of visas come with different names, but they aim to do 2 things:

  1. Allow remote-workers/digital nomads to work legally in that country (instead of the often borderline illegal grey area of tourist visas);
  2. Boost their local economy by creating programs geared to skilled and high-income individuals, through attractive packages or tax schemes.

Cool, but how many countries offer Digital Nomad visa programs?

As I am writing this article, 24 regions around the world offer the chance for you to work easily from sandy beaches, picturesque medieval towns, or booming startup scenes. I will be suggesting 5 existing digital nomad programs, so that it's easier than ever to grab your laptop, pack your bags, and begin your adventure as a digital nomad

Here are my 5 recommendations for your next remote-working destination:

Estonia πŸ‡ͺπŸ‡ͺ

Website: Republic of Estonia E-Residency.

Home of the first Digital Nomad visa in Europe the small but technologically fierce Baltic country of Estonia offers one of the best solutions for working remotely or beginning your journey as a solopreneur. 

Tallinn, Estonia's capital, has become a major start-up hub in Europe over the last decade. Home of companies such as Skype, Bolt, and Wise, the country boasts a repertoire of Unicorns that is a perfect example of how this country uses technology to make everyday life more efficient. There is a running joke between locals that you can do everything online, while taking a walk in one of the many forests and bogs, except for marrying or getting a divorce!

Even better, you can also easily take advantage of this ease-of-business life, and lack of bureaucracy. Nowadays you can run your own business, registered in Estonia, from anywhere in the world with Xolo Leap. If you are just starting your solopreneur voyage (and what a trip it will be!) you can use Xolo Go as a no-strings-attached way to legally invoice cross-border clients.

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Mexico πŸ‡²πŸ‡½

Website: There is no official website but here is a list of Mexican embassies around the world.

Did you ever dream of eating at different taquerias (taco stands) every day, practice your Spanish language skills in a local mercado (fresh market), and not break the bank? Then Mexico is the perfect destination for you!

Through their no-lucrativo visa, you'll receive a one-year residence permit which will allow you to open a local bank account, rent/buy a vehicle, and travel within and outside of the country. To be eligible, you must show that you have a consistent after-tax income of $1,634 USD for the last six months or $27,213 USD for the previous twelve months as an independent business.

In terms of locations, the biggest hubs for expats and remote-workers alike are the metropolis of Mexico City, perfect for an urban feel and all the foodies out there, and the Tulum/Playa del Carmen region for a more relaxed beach vibe (just make sure to do an internet speed tests before booking a room and/or read previous reviews).

Portugal πŸ‡΅πŸ‡Ή

Website: Republic of Portugal Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The westernmost country of continental Europe is the perfect location for everyone who wants the perfect mix between well-developed infrastructure, historical cities, and a great culinary culture. Walk through the narrow alleyways of Lisbon's downtown for the best sunset spots, or work from a coffee terrace while enjoying a morning espresso and a tosta mista (grilled cheese and ham sandwich) in Porto. All of this still gives the adventure-seeing traveller the opportunity to escape for a surfing "sesh" only 30/40 minutes away by car in both regions, or perhaps a wine tasting once your workday is done. 

To attract more remote workers, the autonomous region of the Madeira archipelago created Europe's first digital nomad village. There you will have access to perks such as a free working space, exclusive events, and access to the island's digital nomad Slack community. 

Croatia πŸ‡­πŸ‡·

Website: Republic of Croatia Ministry of the Interior.

In a real-life example of how individuals can make a difference, a Dutch entrepreneur called Jan de Jong wrote an open letter on Linkedin to Croatia's Prime Minister. In that same letter, he noted how remote workers could have a positive impact on the country's economy and suggested the creation of a Digital Nomad Visa. One year later, the nation that is home to such iconic locations as Dubrovnik (Game of Thrones fans know it as King's Landing), and Zagreb (the capital and largest city), officially launched their digital nomad program.

Once you've met the temporary stay requirements, you too will be able to bathe in the Adriatic Sea, enjoy a glass of local rakija (a popular spirit in the region), and hike in their world-famous Plitvice Lakes National Park.

Costa Rica πŸ‡¨πŸ‡·

Website: There's no official website but as it’s a recent program, so best to contact your local Costa Rican embassy.

The most recent of these schemes (signed only weeks before this post was published) would allow remote-workers to stay in this Central American country for at least one year β€” free from local tax obligations β€” by proving an income greater than USD 3000, or USD 5000 if you are traveling with your spouse.

In Costa Rica, you will enjoy a truly relaxed lifestyle, where you can spend your free time surfing along a coastline that's amazing all-year-round, or head inland and explore lush, exotic jungles. Who hasn't dreamt about working with fast WiFi in a wooden hut, right? 

Hope my suggestions have inspired you to begin your journey as a digital nomad. Time to pack your bags and start your new adventure! 

TL;DR: I have compiled a quick comparison table for y'all.

Country

Cost

Financial Requirements

Visa/Residence Duration

Mexico

$270

$1,634 a month for at least 6 months, or a bank account with a balance of $27,213 for the last 12 months

Up to 4 years. After that, you can apply for permanent residency

Portugal

~400€

7,200€ annual minimum income

4 months and then a residence permit of 2 years that can be continuously renewed until you are eligible for permanent residency

Croatia

Diplomatic post: 1190kn (~160€)


Local police admin center: 660kn (~88€)

Monthly minimum of 16,907kn (~2,255€)

Up to 365 days

Estonia

80€ for Type C (short-stay) and 100€ for Type D (long stay) visa

Minimum gross monthly income of 3504€

Up to 365 days with a Type D visa

Costa Rica

No info available yet

Minimum monthly income for individuals of $3000, or $5000 for couples

Up to 2 years

 

Due to the Covid-19 pandemic governments might require that you are vaccinated beforehand, or that you present a PCR test before entering the region. For that reason, once you have chosen your destination, it is best to contact the relevant authorities through the links posted above. Stay safe everyone!

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