Prior to the Covid-19 pandemic there was a small but unique group of people called digital nomads that were living their best life – working remotely from various countries whilst enjoying the lifestyle of their temporary home. EU citizens did not require any special work permits, sampling remote work and life in another EU country. However, Covid-19 crash-landed, causing global lockdowns and tight restrictions, and travel between countries– even within EU countries– became very difficult.
As the global pandemic threat is fading, European countries are trying to attract those young entrepreneurs, offering digital nomad visas.
So far, there are a number of European countries that have digital nomad visas, like Hungary, Spain, Romania, Portugal, Germany, France, Malta, Croatia, Estonia, Greece, Malta and the Czech Republic.
Estonia was one of the first countries to introduce an official digital nomad visa in mid-2020. They had the foresight to see this remote working trend gaining traction during and after the pandemic. The visa allows you to stay for one year while working remotely.
Greece has already formulated an arrangement with the financial company Visa, which is a forerunner in the world of digital transactions. This arrangement should facilitate electronic transfers in and out of the country making Greece very attractive for digital nomads.
At the beginning of this year, Spain also announced plans to introduce a special digital nomad visa to attract scores of remote workers from large international companies or freelancers willing to call Spain their new (but temporary) home. Spain has also recognised the great potential this select group of remote workers can bring to the economy of the country.
“the digital nomad visa will attract and retain international and national talents by helping remote workers and digital nomads set up in Spain” , stated by the Spanish Economic Affairs Minister, Nadia Calviño.
This year also saw Romania introducing a digital nomad visa for international people who want to live in the country whilst working remotely for clients and companies located globally.
Croatia already has a digital nomad visa in place with all the required forms, procedures and regulations outlined and worked out. This visa takes the form of a temporary residency permit. It is an economical visa which costs between €80 to €130 and valid for one year. The minimum income required to qualify is €2,232 per month or €26,790 for a 12 months stay. The visa can be obtained through any Croatian consulate or embassy or when you are already in Croatia.
Italy is very serious about attracting digital nomads to their shores in an effort to kickstart their flailing economy, and also breathe some new life into some of the rural villages that have been left derelict. The country was quick to recognise that this group of remote working nomads posed an alluring solution to their economical woes, especially in light of how working has changed, particularly over the last 24 months of the pandemic.
Earlier this year, a law was passed making it easier for foreign people interested in remote working to live and work in Italy legally. These include all people outside of the EU (European citizens have already the right to work in Italy without restriction), like American and British citizens.
The new legislation has introduced provisions for tax and immigration for this emerging workforce. These new provisions will encourage more visitors to Italy, not only on short holidays but also for longer periods where they can work remotely from their various Italian destinations.
The new digital nomad visa will be available for people who perform "highly qualified work activities" using technology that would allow them to perform their tasks remotely or for a company that is not based or registered in Italy.
Holders of the Italian digital nomad visa will not be required to have additional residence permit or authorization to work. This new visa will be valid for one year and all visa holders will have to show proof of health insurance that is valid in the country. The visa holder will also have to ensure all Italian tax and social security provisions are strictly adhered to.
The Italian government hopes that this new permite will pave the way for an easier route to experiencing life in the Italian countryside for many more people. Without the new law, a person who is not from an EU country can only stay in Italy for up to 90 days with no visa.
Italian MP Luca Carabetta, one of the avid proponents of the new law stated: “We are happy to have approved the proposal, but we are also aware of the next steps. The government has to work on a new bill to implement the law, defining all the procedures and details”.
The new law will clearly outline the procedures and requirements for the new visa and also clarify the categories of remote work that will fall under the new provision.
They will institute the minimum income limits for applicants and also introduce mechanisms to verify the work being carried out remotely. Other issues to be concluded are whether families of the applicant will be eligible to live in Italy and whether the visa can be extended beyond the one-year period.
The Italian government is pledging an investment of approximately one billion euros to entice remote workers to the picturesque and quaint villages that have been deserted over the years. There are currently about two thousands of these “ghost towns” scattered all over the country. The substantial investment will transform these ghost towns with high-speed internet and other infrastructure into attractive destinations for remote workers.Once the details of the digital nomad visa are ironed out and finalised, there will be scores of people applying for the opportunity to live and work in the scenic little villages of rural Italy.
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