Free Trade Zones

Which countries offer visas that help entrepreneurs to work abroad?


As the world entered lockdown in 2020, businesses and workers have had to adapt the way they work.

Employees have saved time spent on daily commutes, while Zoom conference calls have replaced brick-and-mortar meeting rooms.

Eighteen months later, it seems like the traditional daily 9 to 5 office routine isn’t coming back for everyone. Microsoft, Twitter, and Facebook are some of the big tech companies leading the way in making remote working an organizational element.

Relocating to work in a destination with favorable conditions or where restrictions are more relaxed is becoming popular among expats.

Many destinations offer visas and programs to facilitate this, not to mention destinations that pay digital nomads to work there.

In Europe, Croatia introduced special visas for digital nomads outside the EU, allowing them to stay for a year without paying income tax.

The country has even turned the port city of Zadar into a “village”, aimed specifically at digital nomads who want to leave the office.

Spain is also planning to introduce a digital nomad visa that will allow people to stay and work for up to 12 months. Startups can also benefit from tax incentives to encourage young entrepreneurs to move to a new location.

About 30 towns and villages across Spain have decided to join the Red Nacional de Pueblos Acogedores para el Teletrabajo (or National Network of Welcoming Villages for Remote Workers) to encourage digital nomads to visit. They all have less than 5,000 inhabitants and wish to attract new inhabitants to repopulate their streets.

Dubai is another such country and has announced that a new remote work visa is being made available to workers around the world.

This one-year visa allows employees to work in Dubai even if their company is based in different countries.

Many expatriate business owners in the emirate choose to operate in free zones – economic zones where companies can exchange goods and services, usually at preferential tax and customs rates.

Originally from France, Sabine Arnoult, told Euronews that she had created her business “Le cordonnier” in a free zone in order to have 100% of the company.

Spread across the city, there are over 30 free zones, each designed to be advantageous for a defined industry, but the requirements for starting a business vary from free zone to free zone.