Vagabonds have been exploring throughout the European Union for what seems like forever. The undeniable ease of an expansive infrastructure paired with worldly gems in close proximity makes it hard to beat. While the world of travel post-COVID 19 may look a little different, most countries are beginning to reopen their borders and allow wanderers to continue what they do best, wander.
The Schengen Area consists of 26 countries, both in Eastern and Western Europe. Essentially this was created for ease of travel between countries and unifies most international travel policies between lands, in addition to eliminating the need for border control. The European Commission grants this title to countries that meet certain standards in various areas. It’s important to remember that just because a country is in the EU, does not mean that it is in the Schengen Area.
Visas are a particularly tricky topic depending on what citizenship you hold and what kind of trip you’re looking to take. So let’s start by discussing what exactly a visa is. A visa is a type of certification from a country detailing the type of travel you are entering their country to do, and for how long. It basically permits you to be there, and it’s extremely important. Depending on the relationship your home country has with the country you’re looking to enter, this may be easy or difficult. So what kind of visas does the Schengen Area have?
Types of Visa’s
USV: A Uniform Schengen Visa is the name of the typical tourist visa you will use upon entry. It will be important for nomads to decide whether or not they want to get a single entry, a double-entry, or a multiple entry visa for their trip. Most travelers opt for a single entry and use their 90 days consecutively in the Schengen Area before beginning their 90-day waiting period before re-entry. If you want to explore a non-Schengen country while overseas, then hop back on a plane to a Schengen country within 90 days of your first entry, you will need a double-entry visa.
Visa Exempt: Citizens of over 50 countries are allowed to enter the Schengen Area for up 90 days within a 6-month period, without a visa. This means that you don’t need to apply for anything special, and you can use your passport to enter with ease. This begins to get a little trickier for nationals of territories with specialized restrictions like Moldova, Serbia, Hong Kong, Bosnia, and several more. Without an actual visa in hand, this means that your 90-day timer begins when you get your passport stamped upon arrival.
Non-Exempt: Travelers looking to enjoy a holiday here that are not from visa-exempt countries must pay a fee for the 90-day allowance. This fee varies but for general purposes, it’s around $90USD for an adult. In addition, visitors will need to fill out an application form, two recent photos, a passport, itinerary (meaning where you will stay and when you will leave), travel insurance, and proof of finances. Your 90-day timer will begin according to the date that your visa becomes valid. Therefore, if your validation began but you didn’t enter for the first 2 months, you now only have 30 days left before it expires and you can be deported.
Work Visa: Digital nomads technically don’t have to have a visa to do business in the EU. They have the unique ability to do work their jobs online and make money from clients all over the world in different currencies. As such, they aren’t taking a job opportunity from a European citizen and don’t need to prove that their skills are so specialized that they must do business and receive compensation in euros.
If you are going to be conducting business apart from your computer then it will be necessary to obtain a business visa, the specifications for which can be found here. It’s also worth noting that a business visa doesn’t extend your allowable stay past 90 days. While the digital sphere may be gray from a legal standpoint, some people still don’t like the idea of a tourist making money while they are in another country. As such, if you decide to travel on a tourist visa, it’s best to not boast about your booming online business to foreign nationals, lest you capture the ear of a displeased citizen. (Also why it’s best not to talk about work exchange opportunities you may or may not be endeavoring on).
Extended Travel Visa: A stay of longer than 90 days is going to require some careful maneuvering. The easiest and most convenient way to do this is to move around while you wait for your 180-day period to be up (if timed right this is about 3 months). There are many countries close by that you can enjoy in your spare time, and this route is pretty easy for nomads since we love adventuring anyway!
If country hopping isn’t in your wheelhouse or bank account, your only option is to apply based on one of the commission’s qualifying reasons. Reasons such as a death in the family, taking care of dependent, medical emergencies, war, and natural disasters can all be cause for an extension. Remember to file before your current visa expires, and that these reasons can still result in a rejection of your application.
Independent Contractor Visas: Obtaining an independent contractor visa is best done according to which country you want to reside in. These are typically handled by the individual embassies and work very well for digital nomads who have a steady clientele base. Different European countries have their own names for these such as Portugal’s Self Employment Visa, Estonia’s Digital Nomad Visa, Germany’s Freelance Visa, and Czech Republic’s Freelance Visa. Due to the extensive process and implications of such an important move in your nomad journey, I highly recommend hiring a professional to help you through the process and ensure all the proper boxes are checked.
As the world continues to grow and change, more and more doors are opening for nomads to explore and relocate. While the in’s and out’s can be a bit dizzying, the spark that we have to adventure on is a powerful force that will continue to drive us and expand the avenues for future nomads to follow their dreams overseas.