A dedicated incentive for location-independent workers
If you hadn’t heard already, Estonia is my favourite country. It’s an enterprising, technological, forward-thinking nation; all things which the UK at this moment in history, sadly, is not. Estonia is proving itself to be ahead of the pack once more with the digital nomad visa.
Estonia is one of several European countries promoting technological and societal progress, rather than inhibiting it. Along with Iceland and Ireland, Estonia has more than 30 startups per 100,000 inhabitants. The European average is just five.
The Baltic state is now joining Czechia, Germany, Norway, Portugal, Costa Rica, and Mexico in launching a visa tailored to digital nomads. This allows people to stay in the country for a longer period than other tourists while earning an income online. However, Estonia’s scheme is the first to actually be called a “digital nomad visa”.
Estonia’s digital nomad visa is set to launch soon, so here’s what we know so far.
Who is Eligible for a Digital Nomad Visa?
Estonia’s digital nomad visa will launch in stages, so it may be some time before we can actually get our hands on one. But the basic premise is this: if you can prove you’re a digital nomad, making a sustainable location-independent income, then you’ll be eligible for the digital nomad visa.
It’s estimated that this will allow up to 1800 digital nomads a year to relocate to Estonia. Here, you’ll have access to world-class internet speeds and dream coworking spaces.
Estonia too cold for you? Similar visas are also offered in Costa Rica, Portugal and Mexico!
While a Schengen visa lasts for 90 days, a digital nomad visa grants residency for a year. The Mexican version of this visa can be renewed three times, while Norway’s offers you residency in Svalbard for life. It’s unclear what the renewal rules for Estonia’s digital nomad visa would be.
Estonia is targeting this visa specifically to nomads: those who drift and don’t want to be tied down. In contrast, Portugal’s version of the visa insists you do business with Portuguese companies. Estonia’s digital nomad visa won’t even ask you to pay tax in the country. All they want is for you to spend some time there and give a boost to the economy.
Why Start a Digital Nomad Visa?
How does a small country make a name for itself? Estonia’s population is just 1.3 million, making it one of the most sparsely populated countries in Europe. They should have no fear, then, of becoming overcrowded by immigrants. In fact, Estonia is actively promoting itself as welcoming to outsiders.
Consumer prices are 46% higher in London than in Estonia’s capital Tallinn, but rental prices are 279% higher. This makes Estonia an affordable place to live, even if your freelance business isn’t making a lot of money. The only question is one of immigration.
The digital nomad visa proves Estonia to be a better place to do business than the financial capital of the world. It’s a way of saying to the world, “we are the future”.
“A digital nomad visa strengthens Estonia’s image as an e-state and thus enables Estonia to have a more effective say on an international scale. It also contributes to the export of Estonian e-solutions, which is especially important in recovering from the current economic crisis.”Mart Helme, Estonian Prime Minister
This creates a culture of enterprise, which will attract the most innovative minds to Estonia. Not that they’re lacking in this area, but it will give an overall boost to the tech startup economy. The Estonian government hopes entrepreneurs the world over will come to the country to spend their money. This will help Estonia get its economy moving after the collapse caused by Coronavirus.
By specifically inviting location-independent workers, local jobs won’t be snapped up by immigrants, remaining available for unemployed Estonians. Meanwhile, the UK, which will have one of the worst hit economies, is discouraging foreign investment.
Why Should Digital Nomads Relocate to Estonia?
If you’re eligible, then I’d strongly recommend applying for the digital nomad visa and spending a good year in Estonia. You’ll experience a buzzing startup industry, merging the greatest technological brains with creative minds. As an online entrepreneur, you’ll benefit from the atmosphere you’ll find in places like Telliskivi: Tallinn’s Creative City.
Estonia, despite its modern image, is not a soulless business park of a country. It has maintained a sense of national history, with Tallinn’s beautiful medieval Old Town, protected as a UNESCO Heritage Site. There’s also incredible nature, including islands, forests, swamps, and coastline, for when you need some time away from your screen.
If you’re making a location independent income already, then why not check out Estonia’s dedicated digital nomad visa? I’m definitely going to give it a go when I can, so maybe I’ll see you in Telliskivi!