Why Most Digital Nomad Visa Are Useless

When to apply for a Digital Nomad Visa and when to save yourself the money and trouble

Recently, many countries have launched a ‘Digital Nomad Visa’, a document or program that gives digital nomads, location-independent entrepreneurs, and remote workers the legal right to work remotely, while residing away from their country of permanent residence.

There are currently around 50 digital nomad visas! That seems like a good development. But what do digital nomads – and especially those with a European passport, benefit from it?

Een workation in Spanje, Portugal of op Mallorca? Het zijn populaire bestemmingen voor digitale nomaden.

A publicity stunt? Or is it a digital nomad essential?

Below is an overview of why I think the offering of a Digital Nomad Visa is mainly a fun – but no longer original – publicity stunt of those countries. I also list reasons why some should apply for such a visa. In the end, you will also find advice for governments of countries that want to do something that will actually benefit digital nomads.

Are Digital Nomad Visas beneficial?

  • I have been traveling and working all over the world for over 15 years; always on a tourist visa. They are often valid for 3 to 6 months and I don’t stay in a country that long at all.
  • Moreover, with most EU passports you automatically get a tourist visa in many countries. You have to apply separately for a Digital Nomad visa, which costs time and money.
  • If you work on your laptop in a country, it doesn’t mean you work IN that country. Most of us do our business online and our customers are elsewhere than where we reside. So technically we don’t work in a country and we don’t take over local jobs; that is what work visas are mainly for.
  • Unfortunately, a number of digital nomads have run into problems in recent years. For example, the police in Indonesia has been very strict for a while. They have even arrested a group of digital nomads working in a co-working cafe, accusing them of “taking work from Indonesians”. It took a while for that to be cleared up. If you want to avoid such a situation, a Digital Nomad visa can come in handy.

Are visas for Digital Nomads still valid?

It may still be a good idea to apply for such a visa in the following cases:

  • If you have local customers in that country
  • When you do very visible work, for example as a speaker, or with local workshops
  • If you really want to stay in a country longer, longer than 3 to 6 months
  • If you like to avoid any risk or, for peace of mind, business, or status, like to do everything by the book.
  • If you want to save visas, just like once the stamps in your passport 🙂
Een workation in Spanje, Portugal of op Mallorca? Het zijn populaire bestemmingen voor digitale nomaden.

So what DOES matter?

Governments don’t realize that we worry less about rules and administrative matters when we travel to a country to stay there for a while. There are other things that are much more important to us, such as good infrastructure and, above all, good internet. See also my blog ‘tips for remote working‘.

I gave a presentation to the government of Curaçao about what they can do instead of, or in addition to, a visa to attract digital nomads:

Need help determining what works best for you?

During my Digital Nomad workshop, we discuss the current situation and see what the best solution is for you. I also give examples and many tips about other issues you encounter when you travel the world as an independent entrepreneur, such as registering yourself and your company, taxes, insurance, and much more.

Want to become a digital nomad?

Do you see yourself live, work & play around the world as a location-independent entrepreneur?

  • Still have questions?
  • don’t know where to start?
  • want to meet like-minded people?

If you don’t want to reinvent the wheel, then these options may be for you:

  • In my Digital Nomads book, you’ll find inspiring stories and tips from other nomads. It also contains lots of practical tips & information about mindset, registration, setting up an international company, taxes, entrepreneurship, and much more.
  • Once every few months I organize an online Digital Nomad workshop. In advance, you will receive a couple of videos in which I discuss the most important topics (where to register and set up your company, what insurance to get, where to pay taxes, etc.). During the workshop you can ask all your remaining questions, we talk about your plans and you hear about the experiences of other nomads.
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