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December 7, 2020

Following the unveiling of a raft of remote working visas in the last six months, Greece and Croatia are the latest nations to roll out the red carpet for global remote workers, with programmes designed to lure digital expats to their shores in a bid to replace the lost tourism dollars due to the pandemic.

Set to be unveiled in January 2021, these two new programmes – Greece and Croatia – come on the back of a roll-out this year of similar programmes, all designed to attract remote workers to stay (and work remotely) in their countries visa-free from between six months to two years.

From the Caribbean (Cayman Islands, Bermuda, Barbados) to Europe (Georgia, Estonia) to the Middle East (Dubai), these temporary residential programmes have been launched mainly by small countries reliant on tourism and expats which are attempting to replace those lost tourism dollars due to the pandemic. Tapping into the digital flexibility being offered by today’s businesses (remote working), these programmes invite foreigners to reside in, and work from, their respective countries – to enjoy their climates, hospitality, laid-back lifestyles and cultures.

Greece to lure foreigners with tax break

On December 2, Greece’s parliament passed a new law allowing digital nomads to half their income tax in a bid to lure the WFH brigade to their sunny shores. Set to be unveiled in January 2021, this programme – an addition to its already operating residency by investment programme – invites both employed and self-employed workers to Greece (as long as they have not previously been a tax resident of Greece) to live and work.

While the details of the digital nomad visa are yet to be finalised, it seems likely that the Greek programme will deliver a duration of length compared to other programmes, considering the seven years of tax breaks it has just announced, aiming to attract more long-term migrants. This also means that such a programme could lead to Greek citizenship as seven years of residency does afford foreigners the opportunity to secure Greek citizenship (and an EU passport).

With its year-long sunshine, sun-drenched islands, buzzing cities, cultural riches, excellent healthcare,  very low cost of living and decent internet (5G his expected to be rolled out in Greece’s major cities and towns in early 2021), living and working from Greece, if you can, is a bit of a no-brainer it seems.

Add to this the fact that Greece appears to have escaped the worst of Covid-19 (reporting just 2,902 deaths to date, which is small compared to so many other European countries especially.

Croatia luring tech and finance foreigners

Croatia originally announced in August, via a Tweet from its Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic, that it would be adjusting its Aliens Act to legally regulate the stay of digital nomads. This announcement came in the wake of Dutch entrepreneur Jan de Jong, who has been living and working in Croatia capital Split for 14 years, writing an open latter to the Croatian Prime Minister back in July this year requesting that Croatia follow Estonia’s example and introduce digital nomad visas as soon as possible.

The first concrete regulatory steps to legalise the residence and work of digital nomads in Croatia was taken in early November with changes approved on November 25.

And according to Jan de Jong, and as reported on Schengen Visa, the country’s digital nomad visa could take effect on January 1, 2021 and would permit internationals who are interested in working in different jobs, regardless of their location and time, mainly in the field of technology, marketing and finance, residency in Croatia.

It would join sister country Estonia, which became one of the first countries worldwide to introduce such a visa back in June after the country’s government approved the amendments to the Alien Act. Like Estonia, Croatia is renowned for being immersed in technology, finance and marketing.