Hello, my dearest reader. My guess is that if you’re here, you’re considering moving to Europe. NICE. In part 1 of our 3-part series, we define what the Schengen area is and how to calculate your stay within the 90/180-day limit. In part 2 of our 3-part series, we are giving U.S.-passport holders some visa-free options for long term stays in Europe, including countries that offer stays from 90 days up to 1 year.

And in our third and final part of the series, we’re discussing digital nomad visas in Europe, including which countries currently offer this type of visa, how to qualify for them, the application process, considerations regarding taxes and residency, and the pros and cons of getting a digital nomad visa in Europe, along with why we ultimately decided not to go this route. As always, if you have questions, leave a comment and I’ll do my best to help.

How to Stay in Europe Longer than 90 Days, Part 3: Digital Nomad Visas

What is a Digital Nomad Visa?

First thing’s first… what the hell is a digital nomad visa? They’re typically 2 year, 1 year or 6-month visas offered by individual countries as a way to encourage people who work remotely to do just that in their country for a specified amount of time.

It’s important to note that the majority of these visas, especially in Europe, are renewable, meaning an initial 1 year digital nomad visa could be renewed for up to several years as long as you continue to meet the qualifications. So while that initial visa length should be a factor in your decision, it’s equally important to look at whether it’s renewable, and if so, for how long.

Since it’s become easier to find employers who are flexible about where you’re based, and easier as an entrepreneur or freelancer to work physically outside of your country of residence while still earning income there, digital nomad visas were launched both as a way to boost tourism dollars during the pandemic as well as offer a legal way for remote workers to live abroad without additional risk of them taking jobs from residents.

More on that later, but for now, let’s say you’re interested in applying for one of these here visas. Where can you go? As of 2024, there are approximately 14 countries in Europe with Digital Nomad Visas. Remember to always do your research before applying to make sure you’re getting the most up-to-date information.

Countries Offering a 1 Year Digital Nomad Visa in Europe

First and also least generous on the renewable list, we have Croatia, which offers a non-renewable 1 year digital nomad visa. Iceland offers an initial 6-month visa which can be renewed one more time, but only after spending 12 months outside of the country after that initial 6 month digital nomad visa is completed.

By the way, we’ve kindly included the formal name of the visa next to each country, which is especially helpful for the countries who boldly decided *not* to simply call theirs a Digital Nomad Visa.

Countries Offering a 2 Year Digital Nomad Visa in Europe

Next up, we have several countries that offer 1-year digital nomad visas that can be renewed one additional time for a total of up to 2 years, including Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Malta and Romania.

Countries Offering a 3 Year Digital Nomad Visa in Europe

Moving on, we have 2 countries with digital nomad visas that can be renewed for up to 3 years total, including Greece and Cyprus. In 2022, Cyprus decided to cap the total number of their Digital Nomad Visas at 500, so an alternative may be to apply for a similar visa called the Pink Slip.

Countries Offering a 4+ Year Digital Nomad Visa in Europe

And last but certainly most generous, if your goal is to stay in Europe for several years, there are a few digital nomad visas that are renewable for up to 4 years or more, including Georgia, which currently has no limit on the amount times it can be renewed for U.S.-passport holders specifically, followed by Spain, Albania and Portugal which can be renewed for up to 5 years total, and Montenegro that’s actually a 2-year initial visa that can be renewed once for a total of up to 4 years.

Introducing Digital Nomad Expert, Dr. Kaisu Koskela

KELSEY: So now that we’ve discussed what a digital nomad visa is and where in Europe offers them, I’m going to introduce you to my Finnish homie and long time digital nomad herself, Dr. Kaisu Koskela, to talk details. Everyone, meet Kaisu. Kaisu, meet anonymous internet humans.

Let’s do a fun little exercise. I’m going to give you 5 types of people who may be interested in getting a digital nomad visa in Europe, and you’re going to match them to a specific country and provide a reason why that would be your pick for that particular type of nomad.

First up, we have Sara from Portland, Oregon. She works remotely as a freelance marketing manager and wants to live in Europe for around 2 years. She is moving by herself and is looking for a walkable city with coworking facilities, a vibrant restaurant and bar scene, and relatively mild winters.

KAISU: Malta or Greece (Athens, Thessaloniki, Chania, Crete).

KELSEY: Next up, we have Mark & Gabby from Melbourne, Australia. They’re a couple who manage their own remote startup, so they’re on a pretty tight budget. That being said, they would love to live in Europe for as long as possible and would prefer to live somewhere near the sea in a place that doesn’t require a vehicle to get around.

KAISU: Spain or Portugal offer a track to citizenship or residency. Bonus option: Register their company in Cyprus to get residency rights at the same time.

KELSEY: Contestant number 3, we have Shane from the snowy plains of Calgary, Canada. He’s burnt out on life and wants to go live in the mountains and do his ultra dull remote accounting work in peace and quiet, damnit. His goal is to interact with more animals than people, and also he loves carbs and hiking on the weekends. He’s undecided on how long he wants to stay in Europe.

KAISU: He’s Canadian, so he can’t take advantage of the Albanian stay for U.S. passport-holders. Look at Bansko, Bulgaria, who are still working on their digital nomad visa, but as far as existing ones, Montenegro is an easy one to get. Romania would also be an option.

KELSEY: Continuing on, we have Kristen & Clara from New York. They have a 6-year old son and a 2-year old daughter, and want to take a gap year in a culturally vibrant city in Europe. Kristin can work remotely with her job as a software engineer, but Clara plans to quit her job before they arrive.

KAISU: A lot of nomad visas allow for dependents to be added, but each dependent involves more income. Portugal, Greece or Estonia would be options.

KELSEY: And a final bonus scenario for you. They’re a couple named Kelsey & Peter who actually already live in Europe but just want to wake up and eat pasta and float in the sea and listen to music and eat fruit and drink wine all day and ideally never work another day in their lives ever again and just… do that. Where… where can they live? Preferably with someone else’s money that magically arrived in their accounts?

KAISU: Umm… and they are also not prepared to do any of the paperwork that is required for these visas, right?

KELSEY: That is correct. Okay thank you SO MUCH for joining the Travelin’ Fools vlog. By the way, Kaisu, Peter and I are 3/4ths of the award-winning team of championship olive pickers in the whole wide world, so… there’s that nugget of info. Till next time, ma’ lady.

What are the requirements to get a Digital Nomad Visa in Europe?

Now that you’ve had some time to consider your options, how do you go about getting a digital nomad visa in Europe? Each country has their own list of requirements, but generally speaking, in order to qualify, you need:

  • A passport with at least 3-6 months validity after your visa expires
  • A clean criminal record
  • Health and/or travel insurance for the entirety of your visa
  • Proof of sufficient funds, usually in the form of a minimum monthly income as a multiplier of the average monthly salary
    • This can be from a contract with a foreign company or from income you make as an entrepreneur or freelancer
  • Depending on the country, you may also need:
    • A sealed FBI record
    • Tax returns
    • Copies of your pay stubs and/or bank statements
    • A personal statement about why you want to live there
    • Flight itinerary that includes an onward or return ticket
    • Work contract
    • Declaration from your employer stating that they either agree to pay taxes to that country or you’re shifting to a remote contractor position
  • And last but not least, and also the most annoying requirement, in my opinion: in select countries, you’re required to show a signed long-term lease agreement for the entirety of your visa at the time you apply

That last bit means you may have to pay rent to a stranger on the internet for an apartment you’ve never seen in a country you’ve never stepped foot in, and just wait and hope that your digital nomad visa, is, in fact, approved, and your apartment does, in fact, exist.

With the exception of Spain and Croatia, where you can apply from within the country, and places like Estonia, where you can apply completely online, you’re almost always required to apply for digital nomad visas from the nearest consulate in your country of residence. Depending on where you live, this could be states away from you and have a long wait time to snag an appointment and yet another long wait time after you apply to get that final approval.

Pros of Digital Nomad Visas

If digital nomad visas are as big a pain in the ass as I’m sure I’m making them sound, why would anyone go through the trouble of actually getting one?

Probably most importantly on the pros list, you’d have a legit home base in Europe from which you are legally allowed to do remote work and earn income while you’re abroad. Another advantage: for certain countries, the time you spend there as a digital nomad can count toward acquiring residency without having to do something like invest in property.

Cons of Digital Nomad Visas

Let’s talk cons. Unfortunately, even if you are granted a digital nomad visa in a country that’s in the Schengen area — let’s say Croatia, Greece, Portugal or Spain — you’re not allowed to spend more than the standard limit of 90 days out of every 180 days in other countries in the Schengen area, even though you live within it. So for example, let’s say you successfully get the Digital Nomad Visa in Spain, you can’t go spend 2 months in France and then 2 months in Portugal without still overstaying your stay in the Schengen area.

And lastly, you’re at the mercy of a relatively new bureaucratic process, so if you don’t love paperwork, planning & find yourself fresh out of freakin’ patience, I feel ya.

Why we opted NOT to get a Digital Nomad Visa in Europe

We originally intended on applying for the 1-year Temporary Stay Visa in Portugal and even went as far as getting our FBI records and making appointments at the consulate, but since Peter and I both quit our jobs before we moved to Europe, and also want to see as much of Europe as possible while we’re here, it made more sense to take advantage of the 1-year visa-free option in Albania and do the Schengen shuffle when we want to travel elsewhere.

How to avoid being a terrible Digital Nomad

I’m going to close by saying that not everyone in the world is a fan of digital nomads, and you may in fact be met by some level of hostility from Twitter trolls when you talk about how and why you might want to do this. In my opinion, some of it is justified, and some of it is not. 

On good days, you’ve found a smart way to explore more of the world while making money. On bad days, you’re a gentrifying colonizer out-pricing locals from their hometowns.The irony is not lost on me, by the way, that some of the same people applauding Peter and I for moving to other countries are also the same people applauding the building of the wall on the Texas Mexico border.

My two cents: do what you can to minimize the ways in which you negatively impact the place or places you are fortunate enough to be able to live. That can be anything from not openly posting on Facebook groups offering to pay Los Angeles prices for a furnished apartment in the city center of Lisbon to not expecting cafes to provide you 10 hours of free high speed wifi and a power outlet in exchange for a single espresso, tap water and loud calls about crypto.

Thanks for watching our 3-part series on how to stay in Europe longer than 90 days. Big thanks to our guest, Dr. Kaisu, and as always, feel free to reach out for questions, just as long as they’re not stupid. Catch y’all in Europe and keep it funky.