On 1 July 2020, a new wording of the Aliens Act of Estonia introduced the Digital Nomad Visa (DNV). We currently live in a period that is marked by the digitalization of society and by the growing possibility to perform work from distance. This trend was only accelerated by the rapid spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The introduction of this new visa category is aimed at attracting borderless freelancers or digital nomads and start-up members who want to access the EU market by residing in a digitally advanced country while still mostly doing the work that was being done in the country of origin.
In comparative terms, we could place the DNV between the e-residency program and the temporary residence permit. The DNV grants a legal basis to stay in Estonia, while e-residency does not give any rights to enter the Estonian territory. On the other hand, the DNV is not equivalent to a temporary residence permit because the time spent in Estonia under the DNV does not count for applying for a long-term residence permit or for citizenship. Holders of DNV are eligible to travel to other Schengen countries with this visa under the general rules.
The DNV is referred to in the law as a “visa for teleworking”. It means that the main difference from the regular D-visa is that the person is actually working from distance and via IT means and needs to present documents proving the eligibility as a digital nomad. Besides that, the person needs to fit into one of the following categories: 1) is employed by a foreign entity; 2) provides business activities for a foreign company, of which he or she has a holding; or 3) provides services mainly to customers that are located outside Estonia.
There is no cap on the number of DNVs issued. Short term residence permits, on the other hand, are limited by an immigration quota. However, the person applying for a DNV must have a monthly income threshold of at least is 3504 euros.
Additionally, a digital nomad can bring his/her spouse or partner, as well as minor children, when moving to Estonia. Also, if during the period of 1 year a digital nomad becomes an Estonian tax resident there may be a situation of double taxation with the country of origin.
Applications for the DNV can be done in person in Estonian Embassies or at a Police and Border Guard office in Estonia. It takes at least 15 days to receive an answer to the application.
Due to COVID-19, there are limitations to travelling to Estonia depending on the country from where the person starts his/her journey. If applying to a nomad visa via an embassy or consulate, a meeting should be booked beforehand. Some Estonian Embassies may have altered their schedules or be closed to the public. Therefore, it is important to check the current prohibitions and plan visa applications by taking into consideration these limitations.
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