People working from home have more options for making their living abroad than ever before.
In addition to the countries that initially opened to remote workers last year, new destinations have launched programs to tempt workers to ditch their home offices for tropical shores and year-round sun.
What’s necessary? Employment outside of the intended destination (a must), proof of sufficient funds to support a long-term stay (usually required), medical insurance (a good idea even if it isn’t compulsory) and negative Covid tests, of course. Add in application fees and a few other perfunctory requirements — travelers can secure beachside workplaces through the winter of 2022.
Here are seven new options.
Tourists can’t get into Montserrat right now, but remote workers can.
Announced on Jan. 29, the Montserrat Remote Workers Stamp lets travelers live and work on the tiny Caribbean island for up to 12 months.
“The response to this initiative has been extremely positive,” Warren Solomon, Montserrat’s director of tourism told CNBC Global Traveler. “The geographic spread of the applicants matches our main international source markets, namely the U.S., Canada, U.K. and Europe.”
Known as the Emerald Isle, Montserrat is home to Soufrière Hills volcano, which erupted in 1995.
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Remote workers (including freelancers and consultants) must have medical insurance and an annual income of at least $70,000. Fees are $500 for individuals — or $750 or higher for families — to apply.
Applicants know within a week if they are approved.
One of 14 British Overseas Territories, Montserrat is home to around 5,000 people which means that “everyone knows everyone,” according to the island’s tourism website.
Remote workers must test negative for Covid-19 and quarantine for 14 days at an accommodation of their choice. Only 20 Covid cases have been confirmed on the island to date.
“Stamps” cannot be renewed, although workers can reapply to stay another year.
People who think they may tire of staying on one island can apply for the Bahamas Extended Access Travel Stay program.
The new 12-month residency permit, called BEATS for short, lets remote workers and students live and move between 16 different islands in the Bahamas, including Andros, the Exumas, Eleuthera and Paradise Island.
The Bahamas has more than 700 islands and cays; remote workers and students can live on 16 of them, including Eleuthera (shown here).
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Applications are processed within five days and cost $25 per person. Workers must provide proof of employment, while students need to show evidence of school enrollment and funds to cover living and travel expenses. For additional fees, students can access the University of The Bahamas for tech support and other educational services.
If approved, the main applicant must pay $1,000 and $500 for every accompanying dependent. Renewals are possible, for a maximum stay of up to three years.
Travelers need a negative Covid-19 test result (taken no more than five days prior to arriving) to apply for a Bahamas Travel Health Visa, which is an additional requirement. Starting Nov. 1 this year, visitors no longer need to quarantine upon arrival.
All nationalities can apply for Dubai’s new remote working program, provided they make $5,000 per month.
Travelers who are unsure about committing to the program can enter Dubai on a tourist visa, then apply for the work program during their stay.
At $287 to apply, fees are lower than most other programs. Applicants must have health insurance that is valid in the United Arab Emirates and show proof of income in the form of payslips and bank statements.
Like other programs, workers can leave and reenter at will, but stays may be revoked if travelers leave for six continuous months.
Dubai is known for its modern architecture, including the Burj Khalifa, which at 2,700 feet tall is nearly twice the height of the Empire State Building.
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Workers can hire nannies and drivers, rent cars and enroll their children into Dubai’s school system.
To enter Dubai, travelers must arrive with a negative PCR (polymerase chain reaction) test taken no more than 72 hours prior to departing. Additional tests may be required upon landing, and residents of South Africa or Nigeria are currently restricted from entering.
The emirate enacted strict new measures earlier this month to curb record-breaking infection rates that followed a highly-criticized December travel season. The rise in infections coincides with a robust vaccination campaign, whereby the UAE is second only to Israel in the percentage of its population that has been vaccinated.
Remote workers seeking a “Covid-safe” place to ride out the pandemic can consider Mauritius, according to local tourism officials on the island nation located to the southeast of Africa.
The country of nearly 1.3 million people has recorded 610 Covid cases to date, few of which have occurred in 2021.
Digital nomads and retirees willing to follow its “rigorous” health measures can apply for a “Premium Visa” to stay for one year, according to the country’s official tourism website. To enter, travelers must quarantine for two weeks and pass four Covid-19 tests.
Concierge services are being planned to help digital nomads and retirees locate homes, cars, banks and telephone companies, according to Mauritius’ official tourism website.
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There is no fee to apply, though applicants need long-term accommodation plans, travel and health insurance and proof of sufficient funds to stay in Mauritius, which is defined as at least $1,500 in monthly income. Savings of $18,000 is sufficient, said Muhammad Muhsin Mowlabaccus from Economic Development Board Mauritius.
The new visas, which launched in November 2020, are open to residents of more than 100 nations, although travelers who have been in the U.K., South Africa, Japan and Brazil in the past 15 days cannot enter until Feb. 28.
Applying to live in this popular Mediterranean coastal country isn’t as simple as other destinations. However, this may be changing soon, said Jan de Jong, president of Digital Nomad Association Croatia.
“At this moment, it is only possible to apply at the local police station in Croatia,” de Jong told CNBC. “We expect that by March … we can start accepting online applications.”
Remote workers who require a separate visa to enter Croatia can apply for the program at the nearest Croatian embassy or consulate — there are 10 in the U.S — but de Jong said they can email documents to police stations in Croatia, too.
“Croatia has a chance to become among the top destinations for digital nomads,” said Jan de Jong, who said workers will be attracted to its islands and coastlines as well as its inland mountains, forests and national parks.
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Workers must also show they have enough money to support their stay, but this can be proven through monthly income or savings, said de Jong.
“The minimum amount you need to have per month is 16,142.50 kuna ($2,590),” he said. “For those digital nomads who don’t have a steady income every month, it would also be enough to show you have enough savings for those 12 months, meaning some $31,000.”
Remote workers should also plan to stay for no more than a year. Temporary stays for digital nomads are “granted for up to a year (possibly even less) and … cannot be extended,” according to a government website. Workers can reapply six months after a previous stay has expired.
Madeira isn’t just welcoming digital nomads — it hopes to form an entire community for them.
The archipelago, which is an autonomous region of Portugal located 320 miles from Morocco, is home to an initiative called Digital Nomads Madeira. The pilot program is providing free working space in the village of Ponta do Sol from Feb. 1 to June 30.
“The working space is capable of welcoming 30 to 40 people daily,” said Micaela Vieira, a project manager with Startup Madeira, an organization working with the local government to develop the program. “So far, we’ve received over 4,800 registrations from [more than] 90 countries.”
Vieira said that more than 250 digital nomads are currently working on the island, either in the free workspaces or in cafes and restaurants with free Wi-Fi.
Most are from European Union or Schengen Area countries, due to EU travel restrictions.
Still, it’s possible for others to join through “a popular visa used by digital nomads, the D7,” said Vieira, referencing the visa that allows non-EU citizens to get Portuguese residency provided they make at least €7,620 Euros ($9,250) in annual passive (not salary derived) income.
Although no official program exists, Puerto Rico is open to American remote workers who don’t want to be bothered by application forms or fees.
As an unincorporated territory of the United States, Puerto Rico allows U.S. citizens to enter freely. They don’t need a passport to visit and can even bring along their pets, according to Discover Puerto Rico, the island’s official destination marketing organization.
Americans can work and live in Puerto Rico without a remote worker visa.
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American travelers must show proof of a negative PCR test result to enter, but Covid tests aren’t needed to return to the U.S.
The territory has several coworking spaces and hotels with packages catered to remote workers.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has deemed Puerto Rico a Level 4 travel destination and recommends against traveling there. To date, the territory of 3 million people has confirmed more than 133,000 Covid cases.