Estonia has introduced a digital nomad visa © Tom Werner / Getty Images

Estonia is launching a digital nomad visa

Maintrip June 17, 2020

Last Update: 2020-06-17 11:46:38

As the coronavirus pandemic has forced companies to rethink their policies on remote work, Estonia has amended its laws to create a new visa to invite in digital nomads who aren’t tied to a physical office.

This forward-thinking Baltic country had previously introduced an e-residency programme that allows international entrepreneurs to access the Estonian government’s digital services and start a business within the European Union, without necessarily having to be physically present. This new visa will allow workers to move to and stay in the country.

"The digital nomad visa will strengthen Estonia’s image as an e-state and give Estonia a more influential voice on the international level," Mart Helme, the Minister of the Interior, said in a statement.

Scenic summer aerial view of the Old Town architecture in Tallinn, Estonia ©Scanrail1/Shutterstock
Scenic summer aerial view of the Old Town architecture in Tallinn, Estonia ©Scanrail1/Shutterstock

More than 50,000 people from 157 countries have become e-residents since the launch of that program in 2014, and the digital nomad visa is looking to attract tech-savvy long-term travellers who will spend their income in the country without taking jobs away from locals.

The new visa is expected to be rolled out in phases starting this month, and though the final details are still being ironed out, it’s expected that up to 1800 visas will be available each year for year-long stays in the country. The government says that visa applications from digital nomads will be scrutinised as thoroughly as applicants in other visa categories and are not guaranteed. 

Town Hall square in central old Tallinn © Evannovostro/Shutterstock
Town Hall square in central old Tallinn © Evannovostro/Shutterstock

A handful of other European nations, such as Germany, Spain, Portugal and the Czech Republic, offer visa options for visitors or freelancers who can prove a certain level of monthly income, but Estonia’s visa is being hailed as the first in the world for digital nomads, who sometimes differ from freelancers in that they can be permanently employed by a single company.

Estonia’s borders reopened to European visitors on 1 June, but travellers could be subjected to quarantine if they are coming from a country with more than 15 coronavirus per 100,000 people.