These digital nomads who become permanent residents

“Digital nomads” : the expression seems to designate independent workers who simply slip a laptop into their backpack before setting off, free as air, to travel the world.

However, according to various surveys, truly independent workers only represent a small minority among so-called digital nomads, reports the Financial Times. “Even though their number has increased by more than 50% since the pandemic,” they don’t
do not constitute the majority of professionals that many governments are now trying to attract by launching new visas.

In 2023, the MBO Partners platform devoted a study to American remote workers. There were then 17.3 million living outside the borders of the United States, taking advantage of “special digital nomad” visas launched since the pandemic by some sixty countries – including, in Europe, Portugal, Estonia, Greece, Malta , Spain and, more recently, Italy.

Among them, MBO counted only 6.6 million self-employed workers. The others were employees of American companies, but permanently installed in a foreign country. “Ironically, ‘digital nomad’ visas are not reserved for nomads at all, confirms Gonçalo Hall, CEO of NomadX, a specialist consulting firm. The expression is fashionable, governments have seized on it, but we should rather call them ‘remote worker visas’.”

The tax question still unresolved

For Daida Hadzic, tax specialist at KPMG, the aging of the working population in a certain number of countries is not unrelated to the appearance of new visas intended for remote workers. “If these foreign employees settle permanently in the country, governments expect that they will bring their skills and, ultimately, their workforce to the country.”

Most governments consider these visas “a good way to attract remote workers”. With the idea, “clearly”, to encourage them to stay “and to become permanent residents”, confirms Gonçalo Hall.

Tax issues remain to be resolved, notes the Financial Times. Currently, the European Union, the OECD and the UN are still studying ways to make life easier for businesses and administrations.

Last February, recalls the British daily, the European Economic and Social Committee recommended that remote employees be taxed in the employer’s country of residence, with part of the tax revenue being shared with the employee’s country of residence.

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