Has life as a Digital Nomad just got easier? Those of us who value work and travel equally are all too aware of visa runs and living our lives in the vagaries of a faceless bureaucracy.
Have you heard about the Estonia Digital Nomad Visa, or ‘D Visa’? Should you care, and if so, why?
Everything you need to know about the Estonia digital nomad visa:
- What is the Estonia digital nomad visa?
- Estonia digital nomad visa requirements.
- How to apply for the Estonia digital nomad visa.
- Do digital nomads need work visas?
- What are the benefits of a freelancer visa?
- Which other countries offer visas for nomads?
Estonia Digital Nomad Visa—What Is It?
The Long Stay, D Visa, or simply the Estonia Digital Nomad Visa is a new style of visa launched by the Estonian Government. It enables the holder to live and work in Estonia for one year. In addition, it allows up to 90 days in the Schengen Area.
Tallinn Square, Estonia
It provides a tax-free base for a year (extendable) for anyone who works remotely. It also means that working in-country isn’t a grey area; it’s legal and above board—no more ‘sneaking around in the night’ with no rights or entitlements.
Estonia Digital Nomad Visa Requirements
You will need to supply a selection of initial documents and also supporting documents.
- Travel document (passport) with at least two blank pages and valid for three months after the visa expiry.
- Completed and signed application form.
- Passport size photo (35mm x 45mm).
- Insurance (min value of 30,000 euros) valid for the total duration of your stay.
- Visa fee: 100 euros.
- Biometric data: Fingerprints collected at the time of submission.
You will also require supporting documentation for the above, depending on your submission and your requirements. Take care and check which ones may apply in your case.
- Proof of accommodation in Estonia.
- Documents indicating proof of study or work offer.
- Information showing proof of marital or relationship status.
- Proof of income or savings for the period of the visa.
There are exemptions from the Estonia digital nomad visa, namely those under six years of age and family members of Estonian or EU/EEA citizens.
How to Apply for the Estonia Digital Nomad Visa
The application process for the visa really is a big step forward for remote workers and long-stay travelers. Estonia has really got their act together—rest of the world take note!
Whereas visa applications were often made from home (your place of residence), it often resulted in an expensive and annoying trip (more flights!) back to the States for paperwork and form filling. With the Estonia digital nomad visa, it can be done via online booking for an appointment and then an interview in person wherever you are.
You will need to book an appointment with the border official. It’s important to note, however, that if you are applying in Estonia, you MUST have at least 10 days left on your tourist visa. However, once you have applied and your papers are in, then you have leave to stay in Estonia.
The official time for the decision to be made before granting the visa is 10 days, but when applying from outside of Estonia, the process can be around 30 days, so be aware is this also if you foresee any local visa issues where you currently are.
When applying for my visa, I found this was the hardest bit. The dates and times that suited me best were already booked. I had to wait almost a month for my sit-down.
The appointment is where you will bring your photo, application form, fee, and associated proofs as needed for submission. There are a few tricks that I wish I had known before going to the appointment/meeting.
The proof of residence can be a month of Airbnb or similar. This saved a lot of heartache when looking at places unseen on the internet and hoping that we’d make the right decision about a six month-rental.
The reasons for wanting the visa to spend the year in Estonia were also easier than I thought. Applying for a Start-Up Visa (although extra steps) makes this step a formality. Proof of study, short term employment, or the ability to support yourself should be brought.
One serious potential pitfall is insurance. You need insurance to cover you for your entire stay, not just annual insurance that you can renew during your stay. Be sure to take care of this in advance.
Another useful traveler tip is making sure that you have more than the minimum two pages free in your passport. If you plan to travel and fill your passport, you can end up with a new passport and the old one with the visa in. This can cause more problems than it’s worth, so be aware of this too.
Frequently Asked Questions about Digital Nomad Visas
Do Digital Nomads Need Work Visas?
This is a hard one. Yes and no. The answer is, of course, yes, to keep everything above board and legal. It means that you don’t have to ‘keep your head down’ or ‘fly under the radar’ like we’re all used to. Tiresome visa runs, out of the country, have become an expensive thing of the past.
Traveling in and out on a tourist visa means that it’s illegal to work. It often means that stays in a country are a few months long, and having a semi-permanent base is hard. Many of us tread that grey area far too often, and it can be, quite frankly, tiring.
What Are the Benefits of a Freelancer Visa?
The benefits are huge if you ask me. It makes any dealings with the authorities less fraught, and for me, this piece of mind is priceless. I can really relax in the country and do anything I want.
Having the safety and security of a year (or more) in a country allows me to relax. Being stress-free is one of the reasons I love this life. It allows me to work far more effectively and use my time far more efficiently.
Having a 90-day Schengen area visa allows trips into Europe that would normally be a hassle with visas and extra work. The cost of living in Estonia is also lower than the States and many other places, so by going there, you’ll give yourself an effective wage rise. That’s got to be a great reason to check it out too, right?
Which Other Countries Offer Visas for Nomads?
There are a number of options for remote working, the nomad life. The top of the list for me is the Rentista visa for Costa Rica. The fact that the tropical paradise that is San Jose has a cost of living over 50 percent less than New York makes it a huge plus in my book.
Staying in South America, there is the Mexican temporary residence visa, which you can extend for up to four years. The visa is easy to acquire and relies on proof of income.
At the other end of the extreme is Svalbard in Norway. You can get a lifetime residence visa, again with proof of earnings. The flip side of the coin is the extreme cold, the three months of total darkness in the winter months, and the cost of living not dissimilar to New York or London. If this is for you, why not, a lifetime is a long visa!