A beach at the southern coast of Barbados, which recently launched a digital nomad visa programme.
  • If all you need to do your job is a laptop, phone and strong internet connection, you may be able to apply for a "digital nomad" visa in some countries.
  • This will allow you to work from another country.
  • But you will have to prove that you earn a good income.
  • For more articles, go to www.BusinessInsider.co.za.

With the pandemic hitting the international tourism industry hardest of all, a number of countries have decided to address the unpredictability of short-term tourism by trying to lure long-term stayers. Hoping to attract remote workers who are happy to spend their foreign-earned salaries at local guest houses, hotels and coffee shops, some have introduced “digital nomad” visa programmes.

Digital nomads are people who can work totally remotely, and only need a laptop and a phone to do their job. Typically young, they move between countries or cities to satisfy their wanderlust. But while they were traditionally self-employed, this changed with the pandemic. Increasingly, companies are embracing remote working, and even the permanently employed can now become digital nomads.

If all you need is a good internet connection (and the finality of permanent immigration to Australia is too heavy to handle), here’s a list of the top countries where South Africans may be eligible for a digital nomad visa.

But remember that many of these countries have not completely opened their borders due to the coronavirus pandemic, and South Africans may not be allowed in - yet.

Antigua and Barbuda

Working while enjoying a Caribbean sunset sounds better than sitting in Johannesburg traffic. The island nation’s Nomad Digital Residence visa is valid for 2 years and costs $1,500 (around R25,000) for an individual, $2,000 (R32,500) for a couple and $3,000 (R50,000) for a family of three or more. Applicants must prove that they can support themselves and family members with a minimum income of at least US$50,000 per year (R812,000). They should also have health insurance and prove that they’re employed by a foreign company.


No longer just for honeymooners or cruise ship passengers, Barbados has a similar set-up with their 12 Month Barbados Welcome Stamp visa. Again, applicants must have a minimum annual income of at least $50,000 (R812,000). With a price tag of $2,000 (R32,500) per remote worker, the allure of living and working in this tropical paradise could be worth the ticket.


Bermuda is the most recent destination to welcome long-term, remote workers

The Work from Bermuda initiative encourages visitors to stay longer on the island. The programme was recently spearheaded by the island’s young premier, David Burt, who was elected to the position at age 38. He realised that all many employees need to work these days is high-speed internet – something the country is working hard at improving. Alongside the island’s impressive handling of the Covid-19 pandemic and overall safety, its vibrant culture and beautiful beaches may be the perfect place to escape to. At only $263 (R4,300), applicants can get a 1-year visa, if they can prove employment and sufficient income. 

READ | You could move to Bermuda and work there remotely for a year, for R4,300


Oleviste Church in Tallinn, Estonia.
Oleviste Church in Tallinn, Estonia. (Getty)

The Baltic state has long been praised for its innovative people-centric solutions to improve the lives of its citizens. Estonia’s new digital nomad visa hopes to encourage foreigners – especially those in tech, finance and marketing fields - to stay longer in what has been called, “Europe’s Silicon Valley”. Eligibility for a visa of up to 1 year depends on proving active employment for a company outside of Estonia and steady income of at least €3,504 per month. But only 1,800 such visas are being made available.

READ | You can move to Estonia and work there remotely for a year – if you earn R72,000 per month


A tourist favourite, Georgia recently announced the option for digital workers to apply for their new digital nomad visa. Remote workers, including freelancers, the self-employed and salaried, can apply for a visa that’ll allow them to work and stay legally for between 6 months and a year.


The German ‘Freibe Berufe’ visa is an attractive option for those freelancers working in what the German authorities refer to as “liberal professions”. Liberal freelancers, according to German immigration law, are people working as freelancers in tax, business consulting, information technology, linguistics, law, scientific research and healthcare. Also welcome are artists, who can apply for a specific artist visa to live and work in Berlin. Visas are typically granted for three months and can be converted into residence permits which can be extended for up to three years – if you prove the success of your freelance business or artistic endeavours.

United Arab Emirates (Dubai)

The Burj Khalifa in Dubai.
Dubai. (Getty)

In response to the decimation of its tourism industry amid Covid-19, the Dubai government announced one of the most attractive digital worker visa programmess. For as little as $287 (almost R5,000) you could enjoy most of the benefits UAE residents have, for up to a year. The one-year virtual working programme offers applicants and their families the comfort of living in one of the world’s most connected and cosmopolitan cities while having access to some of the fastest internet speeds in the world.  

READ | If you earn R83,000 per month working remotely, you can now move to Dubai for a year

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