Government supports draft digital nomad visa bill

Minister of the Interior Mart Helme (EKRE).
Minister of the Interior Mart Helme (EKRE). Source: Ken Mürk/ERR

The government supported a bill on Thursday to amend the Aliens Act 2009 to create a digital visa which would allow people who work flexibly between countries to stay and work in Estonia.

Estonia is one of the first countries in the world to design a visa for remote workers. Digital nomads are people who work simultaneously in different countries while traveling around the world. This is a popular option in professions such as IT, finance or marketing.

Minister of the Interior Mart Helme said: "Digital nomads bring significant added value to the state by consuming goods and services and thereby having a positive impact on local business."

The minister said Estonia is known for its innovative technological solutions and is an attractive destination for international digital nomads, but the current regulations for labor migration do not take digital nomads into account.

"[Currently] In order to work in Estonia, a person must have an Estonian employer [to apply for a visa], and therefore digital nomads often come to Estonia with a tourist visa, although they also want to work remotely while staying here," Helme said.

"Since digital nomads do not fall under the rules of traditional work, and so the requirement of having an Estonian employer prevents them from coming to the country and choosing a work-based stay in Estonia," he added.

Helme said the new regulations have been designed to reduce the risk of misuse. He said: "Digital nomads can only come to Estonia for remote working through an intermediary who is also responsible for their stay. The general conditions for granting a visa to a digital nominee apply, and among other things, they must have sufficient financial resources to stay in Estonia."

The minister said that although, in essence it is a form of tourism, it is not normal tourism, but someone working for the benefit of their company from abroad.

A digital visa can be both short-term and long-term.

The Bill on Amendments to the Aliens Act also sets out the obligations of the inviter to the employer, who registers the short-term employment of the foreign workers and arranges a long-term visa.

The amendment still needs to pass three readings in the Riigikogu, among other processes, before it can enter in to force.


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Editor: Helen Wright

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