Digital Nomad Visas: What They Are and How To Get One

If you're tired of living the cubicle life, having to hunker into 6' x 6' workstations for 60 hours a week, maybe it's time to trade your timecard for a laptop and a dream. Digital nomads are remote workers, often independent contractors, who earn income from multiple online sources — blogging, copywriting, web design, internet marketplaces, etc. The freedom allows these savvy individuals to live a nomadic life, traveling the world and enjoying simple pleasures.

The lifestyle sounds amazing, but it comes with a catch: most countries will not allow people to work and live without proper documentation. A tourist visa will not work in most places, but a digital nomad visa might.

What Is a Digital Nomad Visa?

A digital nomad visa is a document that allows you to work and reside in another country temporarily — for up to one year in some countries. The visa allows a person to stay in another country despite not having official immigration status, like refugee or asylum status.

How To Obtain a Digital Nomad Visa

The application process for a digital nomad visa is pretty straightforward. You can complete the entire application online in four steps:

  1. Apply for the visa
  2. Apply for a work permit
  3. Apply for a residence permit
  4. Apply for travel documents

Travel documents allow you to enter and exit the country. Depending on how long you plan to stay and how often you will go to and from the country, you may want to invest in an eVisa.

Travelers from specific countries — including regions offering the visas — can apply for an eVisa to travel without waiting in lines to get their passport stamped. If you want an eVisa, you will need to provide the necessary documentation, including citizenship proof and photos.

All the applications make it sound like a person needs to wait months before they can receive a digital nomad visa, but the process is quicker than you might expect. Most visas get approval within a week. However, know that some countries might require additional steps or requirements:

  • Visa runs
  • Medical exam
  • Background or police check
  • Health insurance
  • Home country of residence

What's the Difference Between a Passport and a Digital Nomad Visa?

While digital nomad visas and passports allow for international travel, there are differences. The issuing of each document is different as approval of passports is by a country of origin, and approval of digital nomad visas is by other governments.

Passports are also for short-term travel and restrict a person's activities in another country. For example, a person cannot engage in work or study with only a passport.

Digital nomad visas, explicitly designed for remote or freelance workers, are less restrictive than passports. The visas allow you to stay in places for yearly increments, usually.

If you want to embrace a freer life and work experience, finding freelance or remote positions is where it's at. With a laptop, a steady income stream, and a digital nomad visa, you can live a life of experience, one that most people only dream about.