If you’re a new remote worker or a seasoned digital nomad and are wondering how to apply for the visas for freelancers available around Europe then read on.
Countries all around the world are quickly becoming aware of how lucrative it can be to invite digital nomads in with a visa for freelancers, and provide them with some stability beyond the average tourist visa. And, with a workforce who find themselves newly working online, people are understandably starting to weigh up their options outside their home.
It’s our prediction that digital nomad visas (or visa for freelancers) will become much more commonplace in the near future, especially as the travel industry rebuilds – with remote workers being among the first people to move around once travel resumes.
It is the digital nomads who will be driving revenue to these forward-thinking countries. News like Greece’s recent income tax reductions for digital nomads and freelancers, as well as exciting new digital nomad visas in Croatia, only emphasises this trend.
Digital nomads and remote workers with the freedom to move, plus those new remote workers post-pandemic, will be looking for places they can settle for a time that provides them with benefits.
One of the major benefits being that you can legally work within that country and typically apply for a local bank account and healthcare which certainly takes into account a lot of the daily problems that those living a remote lifestyle face.
Many of these visas for freelancers aren’t complicated to apply for with most of the work being done online – though most do involve a trip to your local embassy for that country with paperwork and documents in hand.
You do need to be aware of your tax situation as you will usually be liable to pay tax in the country your applying for a visa in. Be aware, most countries where you spend 180 days or more could require you to pay tax.
While we anticipate this list being updated frequently, here are the countries in Europe that currently offer a visa for freelancers and artists, (or are planning to in the near future), and how to apply for one.
Of course, there are always requirements to meet, and some are much more convenient than others. Find out everything you need to apply for a visa for freelancers below.
1) Germany Freelance Visa (Freiberufler)
Berlin has long been a haven for artists, freelancers, and those looking to start a new business. Germany is a wonderful place to work remotely and they are very welcoming to freelancers providing you meet the requirements and follow the steps properly. It’s an attractive option for many as it allows you to legally bypass the strict Schengen visa requirements.
Note: You do legally become a tax resident of Germany with this visa for freelancers. You will register with your local tax registration office and be issued a Tax ID.
Berlin is an exciting and vibrant place to live with a wealth of opportunities being one of the creative, tech, and financial hubs of the world. Whether you like a great bar or dining scene, museums, exciting day trips, or thriving arts and culture to immerse yourself in it’s all here.
The seasons are typical for northern Europe, with cold winters and pleasant summers, and the cost of living is still currently at an affordable rate thanks to the rent caps in Berlin.
Their permit program (known as the “freiberufler” visa, which means ‘liberal profession’) is specifically targeted at freelancers and remote workers and grants you leave in Germany for three months. It also leaves you in a position to apply for a residency permit which extends to three years. From there, you can look into getting a settlement permit.
This is one of the only visas for freelancers that has long-term residency in mind. Many visas for freelancers and remote workers don’t offer such long extensions, let alone residency options, but bear in mind each of these stages has its own costs and steps involved.
The initial process can take up to three months so make sure you start your application ahead of time. If you are from Australia, Canada, the EU, New Zealand, the United States, Israel, South Korea, or Japan, you can apply for visa for freelancers after you arrive in Germany.
Other countries will require you to go to your local German embassy with the documentation listed below.
If you are applying from within Berlin you will need to follow these immediate steps:
You must officially register at an address, a process known as Anmeldung. This will involve finding and registering yourself in short term accommodation and receiving an Anmeldung certificate.
You ideally need one or two clients based in Germany; something which would be good to prepare ahead of time. This list of companies and startups in Berlin can point you in the right direction.
You will then need to make a Freelance Visa Appointment at the Imiigration Office In Berlin taking the following things with you:
- Proof of income (you’ll need to demonstrate you can support yourself while in Berlin)
- Two passport photos
- Health Insurance
- CV (ideally with a German language copy)
- Valid passport with time to spare
- Visa fee (currently sixty euro)
- Certificates of Education and copies of these certificates
- Freelance Plan (your projected earnings and losses). While there isn’t a set amount for this freelance visa it’s expected you earn at least eighteen thousand euro a year.
- Letters of intent of those who intend to work with you once your visa has processed (two to three would be idea and ideally they should be German clients). The letters should also be written or translated into German.
Helpful documents include letters of recommendation, portfolio/ samples of your work, cover letter, personal monthly budget, bank statements demonstrating any savings and ingoings/outgoings.
Tip: More information on the full list of requirements, the paper work needed, plus the steps you have to take once you’re in Berlin can be found on NomadenBerlin. They can also personally help with any of the steps.
2) Croatia Freelance Visa
This visa for freelancers has just been launched (Jan 2021) and is a hugely exciting prospect for digital nomads as Croatia becomes the next destination in a line of countries welcoming remote workers.
Currently, none-EU members can stay 90 days in Croatia but this visa for freelancers allows freelancers to stay in the country for up to a year. They recently held a ‘Dubrovnik for Digital Nomads’ conference which really showed how open they are to making this a positive change for everyone.
If you’d like to stay beyond the year you will have to leave for six months and try applying again. It doesn’t put you on track for any kind of residency art this time.
There are huge advantages to being based in Croatia, there are multiple fantastic cities with cafes and coworking spaces already open and many in development. Typically people choose Dubrovnik or Zagreb as their base but that’s the tip of the iceberg.
The weather is generally better year-round than most of the other countries on this list and the cost of living is one of the most affordable on this list. Croatia offers one of the best lifestyles in Europe full stop so we anticipate Croatia being the next hot-spot for digital nomads.
Croatia Digital Nomad Visa Requirements:
You will need to apply at your nearest Croatian embassy or consulate or at the local police station if you’re already in Croatia.
You will need:
- A completed application, which the police/embassy/consulate will provide or you can find here
- Proof you are a digital nomad (contracts are helpful here) and that you have sufficient funds to support yourself – a bank statement or proof of regular income to your account in which you must have available a minimum of HRK 28,800 for a period of 12 months ( approx. £3335.26 or $4619.53)
- A valid passport and two passport photos
- Government-issued background check from your home country
- A valid private/travel health insurance policy that covers the entire term of your permit (we recommend Saftey Wing)
- A valid rental contract and address in Croatia
- Application Fees (more info on fees available here).
- A Digital Nomads Guide to Zagreb, Croatia
3) Georgia Freelance Visa
This is a relatively new visa for freelancers and digital nomads. Georgia was a very welcome addition to the list being a place that has been slowly gaining popularity amongst travellers and freelancers over the past year.
Georgia offers a perfect location, at the mid-point between Europe and Asia, for those looking to explore off-the-beaten-track boasting incredible natural scenery for blowing off some steam, great food, and a low cost of living. The internet is fast and cheap.
Tbilisi is a fantastic international hub for travelling with direct flights going across Europe and Asia. The seasons are very distinct here with no extreme temperatures, winters are cold with a low of 0 degrees Celsius and summers are warm with highs of 30 degrees celsius.
Georgia has always been particularly generous with offering stays of up to one year for residents of ninety-eight countries. Now, their ‘Remotely From Georgia’ visa (applicable to ninety-five countries including UK, USA, and Canada) allows you to legally work your online business up to a year with the possibility to extend after.
This program is currently free of charge, provided you meet the requirements below.
Note: You will be eligible to pay income tax in Georgia after spending 183 days in Georgia which are as low as 1% if you earn under $155,000.
Remote in Georgia Requirements:
- Minimum Monthly Income of $2000 USD – You can demonstrate this with your bank statements, contracts, pay stubs.
- Passport with over a year validity.
- Annual Health Insurance. You’ll need to show you have health insurance coverage for at least six months (minimum length of stay) to a year.
Current Situation: You can still apply for the Remote Visa and go to Georgia despite current travel restrictions on tourists. You will have to quarantine for twelve days in a government-approved hotel. Georgia has consistently been one of the safest countries in the world throughout the global pandemic.
How to apply: You can apply online with on the Remotely From Georgia website. Currently, over a thousand people have already applied for the visa.
- A Complete Guide to Living and Working in Tbilisi, Georgia
- Everything You Need to Know as a Remote Worker in Georgia
4) Estonia Digital Nomad Visa
The Estonia E-visa was one of the first we heard about, and many Brits were investigating this option post-Brexit vote as a potential way to escape and hold onto European citizenship.
Unfortunately, this dream quickly evaporated because this visa doesn’t lead to citizenship or provide unrestricted travel to the other EU nations and only allows you to set up a business within Estonia.
In August 2020, they launched a visa for freelancers that’s specifically for digital nomads and offers a lot more options for people who want to enjoy Estonia as their base.
With this visa for freelancers, you are allowed to stay in Estonia temporarily which the previous e-visa didn’t allow. It’s applicable for short and long-term stays with the minimum being 90 days and the long term application granting you a year.
Firstly, Estonia is a wonderful country. It’s safe and relatively affordable and Tallin has a surprising amount of independent cafes to enjoy. The wifi is also one of the best in the world and you have the option of taking the ferry to Helsinki or the train or bus to neighbouring Latvia for more variety.
With the Estonia e-visa, you’ll be able to live and legally work in the country for up to a year.
Estonia Digital Nomad Visa Requirements:
- Currently the application costs between 80€ for a Type C (short stay) visa and 100€ for a Type D (long stay) visa depending on how long you plan on staying.
- You must make a minimum gross income requirement of €3,500 per month for the six months preceding your application.
- You have to prove that you’re either employed by a company that’s registered outside of Estonia or self-employed with a business that is registered outside of Estonia.
How to apply for an Estonia Digital Nomad Visa:
- Fill in the application form online (it needs to be printed and signed). You can also register for their newsletter and updates on the website.
- Make an appointment at your nearest Estonia embassy and take the visa fee, passport photos, and required documents including bank statements and any contracts proving your employment.
- The process typically takes thirty days.
Read More: 10 Essential Tips for Beginner Freelancers
5) Czech Republic Freelancer Visa (Zivno)
‘The Czech Republic has offered a zivno visa, or long-term business visa, for years now and it’s certainly a good option if you’re like to create a stable working life in the Czech Republic. You will be registering at the trade office and becoming a trade license-holder.
The visa is targeted at freelance and remote workers, and people doing freelance contract work (like English teachers) looking to live in the country for longer periods of time. It is more accessible than some other visas as you need to be making 5587 euros per year to be eligible.
Note: You will be a licensed taxpayer and will need to be health insurance and social security in the Czech Republic.
The Czech Republic is a wonderful place to live, and has already become popular with digital nomads taking advantage of the Schengen Visa. This means there’s a good community waiting there for anyone who’s interested in working remotely, especially in Prague.
You will benefit from a low cost of living and a beautiful country with a rich art and culture scene to explore in down time.
How to apply for the Zivno Visa:
It will involve a trip to your local Czech Republic embassy and cannot be applied for from within the Czech Republic. Make an appointment with your local embassy and request an appointment for the zivno visa.
They will interview you about your business plan, your intentions in the Czech Republic, and how much you’re aware of the tax, health, and social security system in Croatia.
Many people opt for a local agency to help them out with obtaining this visa as you will need secured accommodation in the Czech Republic which is difficult to obtain from home.
You will also need to obtain a criminal background check as well as passport, passport photos, proof of at least 124 500 CZK in your bank account.
Getting help with the application for this visa is recommended.
6) Portugal Residence Visa for Independent Work
Portugal is a thriving hub of digital nomadism and it’s undoubtedly an attractive place to live with beautiful beaches, impressive hiking opportunities, delicious food, and year-round glorious weather.
There are two visas to apply for that will allow you to work remotely in Portugal: the Residence Visa for Independent Work and the Resident Visa for Entrepreneurs.
If you can prove you have eight hundred euros’ worth of monthly income and valid health insurance you are eligible to apply for the Independent Work Visa.
This visa for freelancers and digital nomads entitles you to a year in Portugal which and then be extended for five years with the option to apply for permanent residency after that.
Note: You will need to pay taxes in Portugal if you stay over six months.
How to apply for a Portugal Independent Visa:
You will need to apply in person at your local Portuguese embassy and provide:
- two recent photographs
- a valid passport
- evidence of accommodation and sufficient means of supporting yourself
- labor contract
- criminal record check