Estonia to implement a digital nomad visa

The Estonian parliament on 3 June adopted amendments to the current laws to create a digital nomad visa that would allow people to come to Estonia as a tourist and at the same time continue working for a foreign employer or as a freelancer independent of location.

According to the Estonian interior ministry, Estonia is one of the first countries in the world to create a digital nomad visa.

Digital nomadism is a way of life that enables people to travel the world and at the same time work remotely. The interior ministry says the main areas where digital nomads work are ICT, finance and marketing.

“The digital nomad visa will strengthen Estonia’s image as an e-state and helps Estonia be more influential in the global arena,” the country’s interior minister, Mart Helme, said in a statement. “It also helps export Estonia’s e-solutions, which is especially important in recovering from the current economic crisis.”

Attracted by the Estonian startup ecosystem

The interior ministry says that Estonia is known for its novel technological solutions and it would therefore be an attractive destination for digital nomads, who would diversify the Estonian ICT community and consume the country’s products and services, thus positively affecting the local enterprises.

A digital nomad walking on a beach in Pärnu, Estonia. Photo by Tanel Murd.

According to Helme, the digital nomad visas are subject to the general regulation of issuing visas and no digital nomad will get an automatic right to gain the visa – their backgrounds will be checked as thoroughly as all the other visa applicants.

“Since digital nomads can’t be subjected to the rules of classical employment, this prevents them from coming to Estonia and being here purposefully,” the interior ministry stated. “In the Estonian case, the digital nomads are attracted by the Estonian startup ecosystem, access to the European Union market, a high fluency of the English language and the e-residency programme.”

Further solutions in development

The implementation of the digital nomad visa programme will be phased. In the first stage, these foreigners who can prove they’re digital nomads will be allowed to apply for the visa. The country also plans to develop solutions that would merge other Estonia’s e-solutions with the digital nomad visa – especially e-residency.

The country is predicting maximum 1,800 people a year would apply for the digital nomad visa.

Estonia is predicting maximum 1,800 people a year would apply for the digital nomad visa. The image is illustrative. Photo by Rasmus Jurkatam.

Digital nomads are a type of people who use telecommunications technologies to earn a living and, more generally, conduct their life in a nomadic manner. They work remotely from foreign countries, coffee shops, public libraries, co-working spaces or recreational vehicles.

These digital nomads use devices that have wireless internet capabilities. Successful digital nomads typically have a financial cushion or need to develop high levels of self-reliance and self-discipline.

Cover: Estonia is predicting maximum 1,800 people a year would apply for the digital nomad visa. The image is illustrative. Photo by Shutterstock.

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