Do Digital Nomads Need A Work Visa?

Friday, April 9, 2021

Being a digital nomad is the perfect lifestyle for a lot of people. They’re not content with traveling a few times a year and they want to spend all of their time getting around the world and discovering new places. Fortunately, technology has made it easier than ever for people to earn money from their travel, so it’s possible to sustain yourself financially. 

However, if you are planning to become a digital nomad, you need to understand the legal side of things, particularly where visas are concerned. Many countries require you to have a work visa if you are working in the country, which is fairly straightforward. But what if you are working remotely for somebody halfway around the world? On the one hand, you are earning money while staying in that country but you are not employed by anybody that lives in that country, so are you working there or not? A lot of digital nomads don’t know where they stand with visas and this can be an issue because if you breach yours, you could get a big fine or even be thrown out of the country. Unfortunately, there is no easy answer here but this page will give you some guidance on your legal status as a digital nomad. 

Do Digital Nomads Need A Work Visa?

This all depends on the country you are in and where you are from. For example, if you live in the EU and you travel to another EU country, you can work there without needing a visa of any kind. However, if you’re traveling from the US, you will need work visas in a lot of countries. The rules in each country vary, so it may be best to speak with immigration lawyers to see whether you qualify as working and need a specialist visa or not. In most cases, you will technically be required to have a work visa, but a lot of digital nomads don’t. 

Many digital nomads will travel on a tourist visa if they are required to get a visa to enter the country. While this is technically illegal, the authorities in a lot of places will not chase you up for this. The reason being that you are not taking a job away from a local person and your working remotely from that country doesn’t really affect them. In fact, the money you earn is then put back into the local economy, so they don’t really mind too much. However, you are still breaking the law so if you want to be safe, get the right work visa. 

What Is A Visa Run?

If you are on a tourist visa, it will eventually run out and you’ll need to renew it. Many people do a visa run when this happens, which means heading to a neighboring country to renew your visa and then returning. However, some countries will not issue back-to-back visas and it’s vital that you check before doing a visa run. If you don't, you might leave the country and then not be able to get back in, which is a nightmare if you are renting a place and all of your stuff is there because you only thought you’d be a few days. 

Visa issues can be tricky for digital nomads because the law in a lot of places hasn’t kept up. In many cases, you can get away with a tourist visa but technically, you should still be using a work visa.