Estonia launches 'digital nomad visa' as remote working becomes the norm

Emma Featherstone
talinn - Getty

Applicants will need to prove earnings of over £3,000 per month

Four months of toiling from home has tempted many office employees to rethink their working environment.

A relocation to Estonia is one possibility thanks to a new scheme that allows foreign nationals to live and legally work in the country, for their employer, freelance or for their own company.

The Digital Nomad Visa will allow international visitors to stay in the country for up to a year, in an aim to boost Estonia’s Covid-hit economy.

Successful applicants will also be granted 90 days of travel across the Schengen area, an enticing prospect for non-Europeans.

Home to just 1.3 million people, the Baltic state is seeking to boost its working population. The Medieval old town of Tallinn already gathers foreign tourists; a year-long stay would allow ample time to discover the lesser-known attractions of Estonia's countryside.

“One of the goals is to promote Estonia in the world,” Ruth Annus, head of the interior ministry department that developed the plan, told Politico. “Digital nomads also use services which are taxed in Estonia, and we believe they create diversity and enrich the community,” she added.

The country had already taken steps to lure entrepreneurs with an e-residency programme, launched in 2014, that allows foreigners to establish a legal presence in the country – an opportunity that’s been snapped up by 70,000 people.

To be eligible for the Digtial Nomad Visa, applicants must show evidence that they are earning at least €3,504 (£3,184) a month.

They must also be employed with a company registered outside of Estonia, conduct business through a company registered abroad or work as a freelancer for clients mostly outside of Estonia. Additionally, they should be able to work independently of a specific location and perform their duties using technology.

Those interested in the scheme can fill out a form online, which comes with a fee of €80 for a short stay visa or €100 for a long stay visa.

The next step will be to make an appointment at the nearest embassy or consulate to submit the application.

Estonia, which is less than three hours from London by air, is not the only country luring digital nomads amid the pandemic and the resulting blow to tourism. Barbados has also proposed a scheme that would allow foreigners to work remotely on the island for a year at a time.

Estonia has recorded 2,016 cases of Covid-19 and 69 deaths.