The rise of ‘digital nomads’ in Greece
Konstantinos Nanopoulos, Victoria Iliopoulou and Nicholas Demiroglou of TaxExperts Group discuss a new law to attract digital nomads to Greece.
The new reality, introduced by the consecutive lockdowns due to the COVID-19 pandemic, in combination with the robust networking infrastructure, through the completion of the licensing process of 5G networks, as well as the wider technological ecosystem in Greece has paved the way for exponential growth of the digital nomad population.
According to an extensive digital nomad study performed in 2020 by Emergent Research and MBO Partners, the number of US digital nomads grew from 7.3 million to 10.9 million, depicting a 49% increase. Even though this study is based on US data, it certainly reflects a new global trend for the professional world.
In a constantly evolving technological environment, therefore, Greece has made significant steps, becoming one of the first countries to transform into a digital innovation destination, introducing a new law attracting ‘digital nomads’.
Law 4825/2021, which has introduced the concept of the digital nomad in Greek Immigration Law with Article 11, allows third country workers to work remotely from Greece. Τhe law outlines the process and criteria for the digital nomad visa, giving a significant motive for economic development for communities of all sizes and offering better quality of life to remote workers.
Big technological investments, such as the Space X and Tesla satellite network expansion for the entire country, CISCO’s Digital Transformation Centre and Pfizer’s Research Centre in Thessaloniki, as well as TeamViewer’s Research & Development Hub in Ioannina, have put Greece on the map of radical digital developments.
The provision of Article 11 was introduced when the technological ecosystem in Greece was mature enough to welcome new digitally friendly policies. A regulatory framework for licensing digital wallet companies and crypto-assets exchange was recently introduced, highlighting Greece’s endorsement of cryptocurrencies and digital technologies.
In general, the new digital nomads regime in Greece has low administrative costs, as seen below, and a fast track (approximately 10 days) process before the competent Greek consular authority that individuals need to apply to for the visa. The documentation required, which is explicitly provided by law, could be sent in advance for the filing of the relevant request, while a local bank account could be opened following TIN registration of the individual.
The issuance of the digital nomad visa depends on the filing of the following documentation:
Employment or work contract with a counterparty that is established outside of the Greek territory;
Solemn declaration stating the individuals’ intention to reside in Greece and their commitment to not work for an employer or client who is based in Greece;
Confirmation of position held by the individual as well as company details;
Proof of income, proving that the individual has sufficient regular financial compensation. Adequate financial income is set at the net amount of €3,500/month minimum. This amount is increased by €700 for any spouse/partner and by €525 for every child;
National visa fee of €75; and
Administrative fee of €1,000.
The digital nomad visa holders are granted the right of legal residence within the Greek territory, with no access right, however, to Greek dependent employment or business activity in Greece for 12 months. This does not apply to short-term rents which are now very common in Greece.
Digital nomads could also bring their families too, who, upon expiration of the residency permit, are all eligible to a two-year residence permit extension, dependent on the relevant request filed before the expiration of the visa.
It is, finally, worth noting that in anticipation of the issuance of detailed guidelines by the Independent Authority of Public Revenue with respect to the tax residency of the digital nomads, any related issues raised are regulated by general tax residence rules and OECD guidelines on a case-by-case basis.