Are you ready to redefine the term “business trip?” Remote workers who have the flexibility to work from anywhere now can do just that. With COVID-related travel restrictions lifted and borders reopening, why work from home when you can embrace international travel?
Some countries recruit remote workers with special visas just for them. These digital nomad visas allow employees to work for their U.S.-based job abroad. Some countries even launched specific programs to recruit remote workers to help the local economy recover from the pandemic. Barbados launched a “Barbados Welcome Stamp” program and one plan calls for entire Italian communities to become remote worker hubs.
Other countries might allow long-term travel and remote work without an explicit policy.
While traveling for remote work might not be quite the same as doing it just for fun, it’s a middle ground if you don’t have vacation days to spare or want to make your vacation more permanent.
Countries with open borders that offer visas for remote workers
The remote work visa gives you a ticket to turn your travels into a lifestyle. Many countries offer mid-to-long term residence visas to location-independent businesses and remote employees. These digital nomad visas typically come with a fee ranging from $100 to $2,000 for a year-long stay.
While each country has different restrictions, many of them require proof of income. Visas last anywhere from six months to two years, but many of the programs allow you to reapply and extend your stay.
These countries offer specific visas for remote workers:
Antigua & Barbuda
Aruba - Limited to 90 days
Costa Rica - Limited to self-employed or freelancers
Italy - Limited to certain regions
Other countries don’t offer visas designated for remote workers, but may not place restrictions on working.
Countries with borders closed to the U.S.
A U.S. passport lost all the power it once had in 2020. In the height of the coronavirus outbreak, 189 countries closed their borders.
Those restrictions have eased, notably in May 2021, when the European Union announced borders will reopen to people vacationing from other countries. Not all of them will accept visitors from overseas, however. For example, you can visit Italy from the U.S., but if you want to go to France, you must prove you have a compelling reason for the trip aside from tourism.
Requirements for remote work visa travel
Before you apply for the visa, gather all the documentation. Besides your passport, you may also need:
Background/criminal record check
Proof of income
Proof of employment or company ownership
Health and/or travel insurance
Proof of accommodations
Some countries like the Cayman Islands require a notarized reference letter from your bank.
COVID restrictions in countries with remote worker visas
While countries have lifted some COVID restrictions, things still haven’t gone back to normal. Many countries don’t have a high percentage of fully vaccinated people. When considering travel, you’ll have to factor in health regulations, including pandemic protocols, rules for wearing a mask, and vaccination policies.
Working remotely while traveling abroad isn’t exactly a new idea. It’s been around almost as long as the internet has. Given the current state of global health, remote workers had to reevaluate their travel plans.
The Centers for Disease Control compiled a comprehensive list of travel recommendations, with countries organized by COVID risk level.
Which countries are best for remote workers?
When you’re deciding where to live, consider language, culture, and even the time zone you’ll be in if you have frequent virtual meetings. Some countries require you to pay local income tax. Plus, the internet connection strength will likely be crucial.
Many of the countries in the Caribbean islands were - or still are - British colonies, so English is spoken fluently there. These countries include Anguilla, Antigua & Barbuda, Barbados, Bermuda, Cayman Islands, Jamaica, and Montserrat.
Costa Rica, Mexico, and Spain are predominantly Spanish-speaking countries. Don’t be surprised if the language still takes some getting used to: dialects can vary wildly between continents, countries, and even regions.
You’ll also want to consider the cost of living and culture of the country you’re going to. As a foreigner, you won’t necessarily be expected to assimilate with the general population - but it’s still important to understand what you’re getting yourself into.
Tools to prepare you to become a digital nomad
Moving - even temporarily - to another place takes some preparation. You’ll need to select a bank with minimal international fees that you can access . If it’s a U.S. based bank, it may also require a U.S. address. You may also need a U.S. address if you’re self-employed and need to keep your business based here.
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