Can You Be a Digital Nomad on a Tourist Visa?

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A digital nomad is someone who can work from anywhere in the world. This means that they are not bound by the constraints of their physical location and can go where they want to go, as long as there is an internet connection. In order to become a digital nomad and travel to various countries around the world, you need to have the right type of visa. In this article, we will answer your query: can you be a digital nomad on a tourist visa?

Tourist visa is not the best type of visa for a digital nomad. Most countries now offer a special type of visa called digital nomad visas, which are tailor-made for remote working.

Read on to find out why we recommend digital nomad visas over tourist visas.

What’s a Tourist Visa?

A tourist visa is a document that allows someone to travel to a foreign country for tourism purposes. Tourist visas are usually valid for a limited time and allow the holder to visit the country in question for tourism purposes only. This validity period might differ from country to country. For example, the Australian government typically grants a period of 3 months while the Canadian government offers 6 months. However, these can be extended depending on the applicants’ circumstances. Tourist visas can be granted by the embassy or consulate of an individual’s home country or by any other country’s embassy or consulate, depending on the holder’s citizenship.

The most important aspect you have to know about tourist visas is that it does not give permission for a person to legally work in that country or carry out a business. So what does that mean to digital nomads using a tourist visa? 

Can You Be a Digital Nomad on a Tourist Visa
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Is It Legal to Be a Digital Nomad on a Tourist Visa?

As we explained above, legally, you are not allowed to work when you are visiting a country on a tourist visa. This law was mainly established to prevent tourists from taking jobs from the local population, but this doesn’t really apply in the case of remote work.

According to Kent O’Neil from Newland Chase, a global provider of immigration and visa services, “most immigration laws assume that “work” takes place in the physical location of the worker.” This is because most of these laws are not updated to match the post-internet era of working. Therefore, working as a digital nomad on a tourist visa is a legal grey area.

If you are planning to work remotely while on a tourist visa, this makes it tricky for you to answer the question, “What is the purpose of your visit” at a visa interview or when you are entering that country. If you are honest about your purpose at the visa interview, there is a chance of your visa being rejected. Worse, if you lie and say that you are visiting the country as a tourist, you may be liable for lying to authorities and visa fraud. You also face the threat of detention, deportation, and bans on future travel.

Why Choose a Digital Nomad Visa?

A digital nomad visa is an authorization to live in a foreign country while working remotely (usually for a company outside that country). These visas are ideal for freelancers and remote workers who love to travel while they work. Digital nomad visas offer a longer stay period than typical tourist visas, which allows you to enjoy your stay more efficiently.

Not all countries in the world offer these visas, but some countries like Germany, Spain, Norway, Taiwan, Barbados, and Malta offer them for remote workers. In some countries, the visa might not be named a ‘digital nomad visa,’ but they have the same features as them. In fact, many countries have various types of visa categories like freelancer visas, working holiday visas, self-employed visas, start-up visas, and entrepreneur visas, which suit your purpose better if you are planning to work remotely during your stay.

Photo by Daria Shevtsova via Pexels

Tourist Visa vs Digital Nomad Visa: Pros and Cons

Tourist VisaDigital Nomad Visa
It’s illegal to work with a tourist visaAllows you to work while traveling
Usually issued for 1 month or longerGenerally, allows a longer period (1 year or more)
You don’t have to be employed to get the visaYou have to be employed to get the visa
Takes only a couple of months to get processedMay take months to get processed.
Tourist Visa vs Digital Nomad Visa

Digital nomads can be found in every industry and every profession. Most digital nomads find it difficult to find the right visa category for travel. While some digital nomads use tourist visas, this is not entirely legal. Most countries now offer a digital nomad visa or a freelancer visa, which allows remote workers to freely enjoy a nomad lifestyle.

Can You Be a Digital Nomad on a Tourist Visa?

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