Freelancer working on her laptop in Europe

There are new freelancer visas, remote worker visas, and digital nomad visas in the EU and wider Europe. One outcome of the COVID-19 pandemic was countries responding to changing work habits. The growth of remote workers and freelancers has seen a wave of new visa options for many countries across the continent.

Three distinct groups can often use the same visas or residency permits to live and work in Europe. However, we’ll look at the three groups of visas separately.

  • Freelancers and self-employed have one or more clients but are not in a formal employee/employer relationship.
  • Digital nomads be freelancers, self-employed, or remote workers using digital technology without a fixed base. In addition, they regularly move to new cities or countries.
  • Remote workers are company employees but do not work in a company-owned office.

Note: not all European countries are EU members; we cover the continent of Europe as well as the EU.

See our guide to the best long-stay visas for European residency if you want a long-term move to Europe.

Europe and EU Freelance Visas

Freelancer visas may allow you to have local clients. However, not all programs allow this, so check the fine print. Most programs have a minimum monthly income requirement to qualify. Others require a business plan or proof of capability, so please use the links in the table to see more details. We cover details of some of our favorites below.

CountryVisa TypeVisa Program NameLengthRenewableIncomeFees
FranceSelf-EmployedEntrepreneur “profession libérale1 YearYes€ 1,500€ 324
BelgiumSelf-EmployedSelf-Employed Visa1 YearYesN/A€ 90
CzechFreelancerSelf-Employed Visa “Zivno”1 YearYes€ 5,500€ 150
FinlandFreelancerSelf-Employed Visa6 MonthsYes€ 1,220€ 400
GermanyFreelancerFreelancer Visa “Freiberufler3 YearsYes€ 800€ 100
GermanyFreelancerSelf-Employed Visa “Gewerbetreibende3 YearsYes€ 800€ 100
ItalyFreelancerSelf-Employed visa2 YearsYes€ 750€ 140
ItalyRemoteRemote Work Visa2 YearsYes€ 750€ 140
NetherlandsSelf-employedDutch American Friendship Treaty2 YearsyesN/A€ 1,446
NorwayFreelancerIndependent Contractor1 YearYes€ 3,000€ 600
PortugalIncomeD7 Passive Income Visa2 Yearsyes€ 705€ 100
SpainFreelancerSelf-Employed “Autonomo1 YearYesN/A€ 100
SpainIncomeNon-Lucrative Visa2 Yearsyes€ 2,316€ 200
European and EU Freelancer Visas and Self-Employed Residency Permits

Our Favorite Freelancer Visa Options in Europe

German Freelancer Visa or “Freiberufler” visa

Germany has long been a leader in attracting excited, talented entrepreneurs into their country. To foster the community, the government created the German Freelancer Visa program. This visa can be a brilliant option for Digital Nomads and Freelancers. However, there are some catches, restrictions, and some effort required.

When applying for the visa, you must live in Germany at a registered local address. Additionally, you should have health (not travel) insurance. The application process can take up to 3 – 4 months. Expect delays if there are queries about any of your information. You’ll also need to show that your work can generate income. For this, you’ll need a business plan showing projected revenue and the capital you have on hand to ensure your company’s success. Although not set in stone, the estimated minimum earnings are €800 per month.

Spain Freelance Visa / Autonomo

You can set up a business in Spain and work as an “autonomo.” This makes you eligible for a Spain freelancer visa. You’ll need to show that you can support yourself and that your business has a good chance of success.

Portugal Passive Income Visa

Lisbon, and Portugal in general, are incredibly popular with the community of Digital Nomads in Europe. If you can show a passive income of €8,460 a year, you can qualify for a Portugal D7 Passive income visa. The program has no restrictions on working while you are in Portugal, either locally or anywhere in the world. You’ll need to apply at the consulate in your home country.

Portugal Self-Employment Visa

To get the Portugal Self-Employment Visa, you must show that you are working or trying to work with local Portuguese companies. You’ll need a contract or a written proposal of a contract with a Portuguese company to be eligible for this freelance visa for Europe.

You may be registered to pay tax in Portugal on your worldwide income after you become a resident. However, Portugal has some excellent tax programs, including the Non-Habitual Resident (NHR) program. Qualify for the NHR, and you pay 0% on income earned outside Portugal. Note: In October 2023, the Portuguese government announced that the NHR program would not be open to new applicants from January 1st, 2024.

With this visa, you can access many resident rights, such as access to the SCHENGEN region and free education. The visa lasts one year, and you can renew for another 2 × 2 years.

Portugal Entrepreneur Visa

This visa is for entrepreneurs moving to Portugal who want to start a company. You can then work as a freelancer and digital nomad, charging your clients from your company.

It is not necessary to employ several people or have a vast amount of share capital. However, it helps to have a business plan and a solid explanation of how your company will benefit Portugal and its economy.

Estonia Digital Nomad Visa

Estonia launched a dedicated Digital Nomad Visa in June 2020. The visa is issued as a national short-stay (Type C) or a long-stay (Type D). The cost is €80 or €100 respectively.

To qualify for the visa, you’ll need to show that you have a location-independent income or salary. The documented income must come from customers and clients outside of Estonia. Your company, or the company you work for, must be registered outside Estonia. Finally, you’ll need to show a monthly income of at least €3,504 for the last six months.

Estonia e-residency is also worth investigating for some freelancers and entrepreneurs.

Czech Republic Self-Employed Visa

The Zivno” is the official registration of your trade on the Živnostenský. It has become shorthand for the Czech Republic visa for self-employed people. It happens in 3 stages:

  1. Apply for a long-stay visa for the purpose of business (i.e., self-employment). As you need a local address, you may want to move to the Czech Republic on a tourist visa first. You can then apply to a Czech embassy or consulate. This visa lasts twelve months.
  2. Long-term resident visa (renewable up to two years at a time, depending on your insurance)
  3. Permanent residency (PR). After a minimum of five cumulative years of being a long-term resident, you can apply for PR. There are, of course, other requirements.

For the long-term visa, you need to prove that you have available funds to cover yourself for your stay. Although the rules do change, this is currently around €4,300 (Kč110,000). You’ll need a medical, a police clearance certificate, proof of your professional skills, and health insurance.

The process does change, and language can be a barrier, so we advise finding quality local assistance.

Netherlands Independent Entrepreneur Visa

This visa class has some hurdles to clear. You’ll need a comprehensive business plan that proves your business will add value to the Dutch economy. Alternatively, show that you have Dutch clients if you are a freelancer. You’ll also need to show a net profit of €1,200 per month that needs to be independent and long-term.

You also need to score adequately on a points system. The program bases the points system on your experience, education, entrepreneurship, and income, amongst other things. If you can meet these requirements, this can be an option for this visa.

American, Japanese, and Turkish citizens can take advantage of treaties between their countries and the Netherlands. Sometimes, these citizens can skip the point threshold. You’ll still need to meet the general requirements. Here is the official government website to help you take the next steps.

The Dutch-American Friendship Treaty (DAFT)

This option is just for American citizens. US freelancers and entrepreneurs can get residency in the Netherlands by opening a local company.

Digital Nomad Visas in Europe

Estonia launched the first digital nomad visa in June 2020. There are now 10 European digital nomad visas. All can also be used as freelancer visas or remote work visas. Remember, if you have this type of visa, you cannot work locally or have local clients.

Many European countries offer a 90-day tourist visa. However, the strict letter of the law is that you shouldn’t work while using this immigration permission. Some Digital Nomads ignore this and “fly under the radar” but this carries risk. Getting the correct visa is generally a better option, and now there is a great selection!

These visas have a minimum monthly income requirement (see the table below for details). You must show that you earn a minimum monthly income to live in the country. Please click on the visa name for more information about each program.

Our favorite European Digital Nomad Visas?

The Spain Digital Nomad Visa and Portugal Digital Nomad Visa top our list. They are excellent programs and well administered. And Portugal and Spain rank as favorite digital nomad destinations. Add in the amazing tax breaks related to these immigration programs, and they are clear winners.

CountryVisa TypeVisa Program NameLengthRenewableIncomeFees
CroatiaDigital NomadTemporary Stay of Digital Nomads1 YearYes€ 2,300€ 60
CyprusDigital NomadDigital Nomad Visa Scheme1 YearYes€ 3,500€ 70
EstoniaDigital NomadDigital Nomad Visa1 YearYes€ 3,500€ 100
GreeceDigital NomadDigital Nomad Visa2 YearsYes€ 3,500€ 75
HungaryDigital NomadWhite Card1 YearYes€ 2,000€ 110
LatviaDigital NomadDigital Nomad Visa1 YearYes€ 3,192€ 60
MaltaDigital NomadNomad Residence Permit1 YearYes€ 2,700€ 300
PortugalDigital NomadDigital Nomad Visa1 YearYes€ 2,960€ 83
RomaniaDigital NomadLong stay (marked D) – Digital Nomad1 YearYes€ 3,500€ 120
SpainDigital NomadSpain Digital Nomad Visa1 YearYes€ 2,333€ 75
EU Visas for Freelancers, Digital Nomads, and Remote Workers

European Digital Nomad Visas coming soon…

Several European governments have plans for new freelancer visas, Digital Nomad visas, and remote work residence permits. We expect to see these countries added to the list in the first half of 2023 to attract people working remotely.

  • Albania
  • Andorra
  • Italy
  • Montenegro
  • North Macedonia
  • Serbia

Common EU Freelancer Visa Questions

Be aware that each program can have specific requirements. Please use the links in the tables for details for each visa. In general, you should check out the following:

  1. Validity and renewals. How long is the visa valid, and does it allow renewals?
  2. Health Insurance. Most countries require a valid health insurance policy. You may be able to use local private health coverage, Expat Health Insurance, or travel insurance.
  3. Family reunion. Can your direct family members join you?
  4. Can you work either remotely or locally? Can you have local clients or just in other countries?
  5. Taxation. Are you liable for taxation in the country? And are there tax breaks for digital nomads, freelancers, or remote workers? Your tax rate will significantly affect your cost of living calculation.
  6. Accommodation. Do you need to show a rental agreement or certificate to prove you have somewhere to live?

Two Other Visa Options for Freelancers and Digital Nomads in Europe

European Working Holiday Visas for Digital Nomads

If you are under 35 (30 in some countries), the quickest visa to get maybe a Working Holiday Visa. This visa is a popular option for Digital Nomads, given the accessibility of the schemes.

A Working Holiday Visa allows you to legally work (with some restrictions) in the country that granted the visa. You can then travel as you want. The length of the visa differs depending on the country. Different agreements between countries impact your ability to access these visa schemes.

Generally, you’ll need to show you have a return ticket or sufficient funds for onward travel. You may need to pass health and police checks. Finally, you need to show you have some savings to get you settled and find work.

Please see our in-depth guide for more information on the Best Working Holiday Visas, including those in Europe.

European Student Visas for Digital Nomads

The benefits of studying are often self-evident, but further education abroad may also give you access to live and work in various countries. Many European countries have excellent study visa programs that allow some to work while living in Europe. A European Student Visa can be a perfect option for Digital Nomads and Freelancers.

This path can be a great way to live a Digital Nomad life while picking up a new skill or qualification.

The EU vs. the EEA vs. Europe vs. SCHENGEN

Europe is a term with different meanings in different contexts.

  • Europe is the continent that stretches from Ireland in the West to Russia in the East. To the North is Scandinavia and to the South the Mediterranean Sea.
  • The 27 European Union nations with some common laws and policies. The members are Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Republic of Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, and Sweden.
  • The European Economic Area (EEA) is the 27 EU members + Iceland, Lichtenstein, and Norway.
  • The SCHENGEN area has 26 nations that allow free travel and movement. 22 members are EU states, three are EEA members, and the last is Switzerland.

Which European Freelancer Visa or EU Digital Nomad Visa will you choose?

Freelancers and Digital Nomads are choosing to move to Europe in ever-growing numbers. From cities like Lisbon and Barcelona to the villages of Ireland and Estonia, there are opportunities for all.

And European governments are competing for the boost remote workers bring to local economies. This is good news if you want to work from Europe. As the competition hots up, we’ll see more EU visas for freelancers, Digital Nomads, and remote workers.

Is Asia also on your wish list – we’ve got you covered with our guide to Visa Options in South East Asia for Digital Nomads, Freelancers, and the Self Employed.


  1. We’re delighted you found it useful. Part 2 being planned now. What would you like to see included? Any countries or regions in particular?

    1. This is a very helpful article.

      If you are writing part 2, I would like to know about the possibilities of moving with family to Germany or any other country which provides freelancer visa.

      I am a blogger and I have two kids (aged 8 and 5). I would like to know if it is possible to move with them. How much money would I have to show in my bank account to make this happen?

  2. Do you know the requirements when you have family and want them to go to school while you are “freelancing” in any of these countries?
    also, awesome Job, great info!!

  3. I’m surprised some other countries weren’t mention with much more attractive entry thresholds…

    Bulgaria only requires about 400EUR to start a company on paper and get residency. Serbia even less. You just setup the business on paper (costs maybe 30e), and then funnel your income through a local bank account for that company. You do need to pay taxes, of course. You can be exempt from double payment in the US if you play by the rules in Serbia. A local accountant is highly advised to navigate the local bureaucracy.
    Poland also has the opportunity to start a local business with a requirement of about $1500 turnover per month to get the visa.

    1. Hi Jack. You’re right that setting up a company can be a great way to get residency. But, some of those programs have restrictions and catches. Watch this space – we’ll be publishing a guide the best opportunities around the world soon.

        1. Currently, Poland doesn’t have an immigration option for remote work. You’d need to explore their work permit options to legally stay in Poland.

  4. Working as a freelance writer, vlogger or in some other creative line of work can open doors to many possibilities regarding traveling. And oftentimes you get to write or vlog about your experiences in that particular country and its nightlife. You get to explore all the secrets of that wonderful city and of course, feel the real atmosphere when the night falls down.

    Sourav Basak
    Namaste UI

  5. This is a great article, I stumbled upon it by accident. Brexit and Covid and wondering how I could get to return to live in Europe brought me here. Married, no dependent children.
    I was wondering how the taxes would work, I am not UK resident (Hong Kong), but hold UK passport. Portugal or Germany interest me the most at this stage.

    1. Hi Cliff – Brexit is going to change the outlook for UK citizens on 31st December this year. If you can move now and take residence in an EU country prior to that date you’ll still be able to stay according to current rules. Failing that, you’ll need to look at some of the pathways for non-EU residents. Start with our blog on 14 ways to move to the EU or explore the country pages of those nations that interest you the most.

  6. I do agree with all the ideas you have presented on your post.
    They’re very convincing and can definitely work. Nonetheless, the posts are very short for newbies.
    May just you please prolong them a little from next time?

    Thanks for the post.

  7. Can I acquire a nomad visa for any country let’s say Germany or Spain, could I live somewhere else in the Schengen zone?

    1. Hi Eric. Generally, most visas allow you only to live in the country it is issued. In Spain, for example, within 3 months you should register with the local authorities as a resident. If you tried to register with a German visa, the authorities would reject your application. Having said that, as a resident of any EU country you are free to travel with the region as much as you like.

      1. Thank you so much Alastair for the insight. So would it be fair to say if I have a one year Spanish nomad visa and I do register in Spain upon arrival, I could potentially relocate to any other Schengen country for that period of time?

        The reason I’m asking is because as long as you travel within Schengen zone, your passport is not checked for entry/exit stamps at the border. You can easily sneak in and out. So I wonder, how do they even regulate that the individual stays in the country the Visa was issued for?

        1. As you say, once you are in the SCHENGEN area you do indeed have freedom of movement and you can move around as you please – no need to sneak. But, Spain requires you to sign up for a TIE (your foreigner ID number) and NIE (your Expat ID card) within one month of your arrival on a long term visa. In Spain (and other EU countries), legal transactions often require local registration and your local ID card which require your legal immigration status. For example, open a bank account, get an ID card, sign a lease, sign up for utilities, get a job, get a driver’s licence etc. Your Spain Visa + ID card will also allow you to enter and leave from any SCHENGEN border point.

          1. Thanks again for your valuable input. You are right, no need to sneak if we have legal freedom to roam around. I was just using Spain as an example. Maybe for some other Eastern European Schengen countries, it may not be so strict.

            One confusion I have after reading your post. Once we have a digital nomad visa and once we are already the country, why need to get a job? Digital Nomad visa classification is based on our existing job in our home land. Secondly, getting a driver license is just an individual’s choice.

            So now the question is, once I land as a digital nomad, and once I sign up a lease and get myself registered, open a bank account and all; could I then relocate myself to any other Schengen country for the remainder of the year? What stops me from leaving the country where I first landed?

          2. Hi Eric. The job and drivers licence were just examples of thing that require your registration. For the question you pose: yes, you can move around as you please. There is nothing stopping you leaving the country that has issued your visa.

  8. Hi

    Excellent information. Thanks

    As a Brit suffering from Brexit your information has shone a light at the end of the tunnel.

    Can you provide clarity regarding dependents (spouse) on a Digital Nomad visit.

    I am the wage earner. Would my spouse be granted the same length of stay.

    We are looking at France


    1. Hi Dickie. Your spouse can normally be included on your visa application, but the income requirement rise accordingly. If not, they’ll need to show sufficient funds to support themselves for the duration of your stay. Keep posted – we’ll be publishing new articles on Moving to France and Living in France in the next week or so… it’ll have everything you need to make the move. Also, check out our Moving to Spain after BREXIT article if Spain has any appeal for you…

  9. Just FYI, I got denied the Czech freelance visa because I didn’t have clients in the Czech Republic. I even could speak the language… So I wouldn’t recommend this one unless you have really strong personal connections in Czechia that ties you to the country

    1. Hi Hilary – did you use a Czech Immigration Lawyer to assist with your application or did you manage it yourself? Thanks, Alastair

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