A List of Every Country in Scandinavia with a Digital Nomad Visa

A List of Every Country in Scandinavia with a Digital Nomad Visa

Scandinavian countries are known for their blissful environments for many good reasons. This may be because most Scandinavian countries score within the top 10 on the happiness index. These countries rank highly in terms of healthcare and quality of life.

However, one notable aspect of Scandinavian countries is that they are some of the most difficult to immigrate to for non-EU/ETA citizens. 

Generally, it is mainly for people with extraordinary job types, which makes them more qualified than EU/ETA applicants.  Other ways include opening a business or enrolling in a study program.

Here, we will give you a rundown of digital nomad visa options in Scandinavian countries.

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Key Takeaways

  • Scandinavia has some of the most difficult immigration policies in Europe
  • Iceland offers a digital nomad visa for a duration of 3-6 months
  • Norway has a special area called Svalbard that allows anyone to live there visa-free
  • Many websites say Norway has a digital nomad visa, but it does not have an official one. However, there is a self-employed visa that many digital nomads take advantage of

Overview of the Digital Nomad Visa in Scandinavia

In the last couple of years, some Scandinavian countries have enabled digital nomads to live and work remotely with less hassle. 

These digital nomad visas come with a higher price tag than many countries in the world. However, they seem to be less hassle and costly than trying to find a way to relocate temporarily.

Iceland and Norway have digital nomad visas available. 

One thing to note is that neither country is an EU member but a member of the European Trade Agreement. This means that while these countries aren’t directly EU members, they are part of agreements allowing certain privileges that EU members have, such as freedom of movement. If you have a visa or residence permit from one of these countries, you are treated the same as a resident of the EU.

Iceland

While Iceland is officially not part of the Scandinavian peninsula, it is often grouped with it due to language and culture. It’s also closer to Scandinavia than the rest of Europe. 

The official term for this is “a long-term visa for remote work”.

Reykjavik, a capital city of iceland
Being Iceland’s capital, Reykjavik has everything you need to live here as a digital nomad.

Here’s what makes Iceland’s digital nomad visa interesting:

  • Stay in Iceland: You can stay in Iceland for 90-180 days while doing your remote work.
  • Application Location: You can apply for the digital nomad visa in Iceland. This is a huge plus compared to other European visas that require application at a consulate in your home country or residence.
  • Application Process: The application process is straightforward. Although it says it can ask for a criminal record check later, it doesn’t ask for one initially.
  • No Verified Background Check: While the application asks for your criminal history, you generally don’t need to get a verified background check with an apostille unless your application has some red flags.

Requirements for Iceland Digital Nomad Visa 

Iceland has a strict requirement on the nationality that can get their digital nomad visa.

You need to be from a country where citizens do not need a visa to enter Iceland. 

This is fine for the US, Canada, UK, and many others. 

However, this isn’t possible for countries that require Schengen visas for the European Union, such as Russia or India.

If you are from those countries, even if you have a valid Schengen visa to enter Iceland, you still can’t apply for the Iceland digital nomad visa. 

Other requirements include:

  • From a non-EU/EFTA country
  • Have not been issued a long-term visa in the past twelve months from Icelandic authorities
  • The purpose of the stay is to work remotely from Iceland
  • No intentions to settle in Iceland
  • You can show a foreign income of ISK 1,000,000 per month. This is around US$ 7,000.

Iceland Digital Nomad Visa Application Process

You first enter Iceland on your 90/180 days in Schengen tourist time. While you can wait 2.5 months before you apply for this, you must have 14 days before your 90 days of visa-free time is up. Plan your time well. 

To start the application, go to the Iceland Immigration official website and fill out an application form. Then, you print it out and submit it in paper form to the Directorate of Immigration. You can either put it in Dropbox or send it by regular mail. 

The process takes 3-4 weeks. The Directorate of Immigration will notify applicants of their visa approval via email. Then, you go to the office and get it there.

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Can you add family members?

You can add a spouse or long-term partner as a family member. You can also add kids under 18. They both must be from countries exempt from the visa obligation to enter Iceland. 

Why Iceland? 

There are many great perks of living in Iceland, including: 

  • Size and Attractions: Iceland is a unique country. While it is not very big, it is saturated with many things to see.
  • Connected Cities: The main cities and towns are all connected on one major highway, making getting around easy.
  • Free Natural Attractions: While Iceland is an expensive country, there are many free natural attractions, and many hot springs are often free or do not cost a lot.
  • Popular Hot Springs: Many tourists visit the Blue Lagoon or the Sky Lagoon, which are expensive, but there are many other hot springs besides these two.
  • Affordable Hot Springs: The local pool with hot springs and sauna usually only costs around US$5 to US$10 a day.
  • Wild Camping: Wild camping is allowed in Iceland.
A girl on an adventure in Iceland.
Iceland has many free natural attractions all around the country.

Iceland Digital Nomad Visa Disadvantages

Let’s take a look at the key disadvantages of Iceland’s digital nomad visa.

  • Non-Settlement Requirement: It’s meant for people without intentions of settling in Iceland for the long term. One of the conditions per the official website for foreigners is that you have to prove “it is not your intention to settle in Iceland.”
  • Exploring Long-Term Options: Some people get a similar type of visa to explore more long-term options. It doesn’t seem to be encouraged at all with this one.
  • Inclusivity Issues: It’s also not very inclusive. It’s only available for more vital passports, so many nomads from countries with weaker passports can’t apply even if they make the threshold.
  • Spouse Visa Limitations: It’s impossible for someone with a more vital passport to bring a spouse with a weaker passport.
  • Financial Threshold: The threshold is much more expensive than nearly all other digital nomad visas. While it is a little more than an average salary for somewhere like New York or LA, it’s still unobtainable for many nomads.

Should You Get Iceland Digital Nomad Visa?

This is an excellent option if you want a “once in a lifetime opportunity” to spend some time in an enchanted and magical place like Iceland.

However, this is not the best option if you want a long-term way to live in Iceland or Northern Europe.

Norway

Norway has a couple of options for digital nomads.

Norwegian Digital Nomad Visa

Many articles have poorly labeled this, which has caused a lot of misinformation. 

The official page of Norwegian immigration does not label it as a Norwegian digital nomad visa. It is called a “self-employed visa for a person with a company registered abroad” visa. 

This is for someone self-employed and working for a company not based in Norway. 

Oslo
You can access the world-class facilities in Oslo. But it’s also expensive to live here.

Many digital nomads are eligible for this visa.

Here’s what makes the Norwegian digital nomad visa interesting:

  • Visa Duration: The visa is good for 2 years and can lead to permanent residency.
  • Straightforward Application Process: Once you understand that this is not a digital nomad visa, the immigration website becomes much more straightforward.
  • Detailed Checklists: The website offers very detailed checklists for your application, which can be a relief.
  • Quick Decision: The decision is made relatively quickly, so you won’t waste much time waiting around if you get rejected. If you are approved, you can quickly continue with everything as well.
  • Application Location: You can apply for it in Norway if you don’t need a visa to enter.

Norwegian Digital Nomad Visa Requirements

The requirements for this visa are strict in comparison. 

  • Business Registration Outside of Norway: You must be registered with a business outside of Norway, which can be your own. The business must generally be your sole proprietorship and cannot be a limited company.
  • Educational and Vocational Qualifications: You need a degree or vocational training corresponding to your work type. You usually need proof that you have been doing this work for some time.
  • Norwegian Client: You also have to have a Norwegian client willing to give you a work assignment.
  • Remote Work Permission: One area for clarification on the requirements is that you can only work remotely if you have permission from your employer or company. This is not a concern for remote workers as they would already have that permission.

Norwegian Digital Nomad Visa Application Process

You have a couple of options for applying for this type of visa. 

  • Inside Norway: you can apply if you are already in Norway, but only if you meet all the requirements and are legally in Norway. This can mean being there for less than 90 days on your tourism time.
  • Outside Norway: You can apply at the Norwegian embassy in your home country or from the country where you reside legally.

Here’s the document you need:

  • Passport & Copy of Passport
  • Two Passport Photos
  • Address of Accommodation in Norway
  • Contract with Norwegian Client
  • Documentation of Business Established Abroad
  • Proof of Education
  • CV & Work History
  • Completed Application Form
  • Printed and Signed UDI Checklist*
  • €600 Application Fee

*To avoid confusion, the application requires you to bring the printed and signed checklist.

The Foreign Ministry of Norway has a handy website. It offers checklists and answers about applications. 

Norwegian Digital Nomad Visa Waiting Times

It will take around 15 days if you apply in Norway and around 30 from the Norwegian embassy. 

While document verification may take longer, many people reported getting their documents verified within the timeframe. 

Norwegian Digital Nomad Visa Disadvantages

The Norwegian digital nomad visa isn’t for everyone because of these reasons. 

  • High Rejection Rates: This is a very difficult visa to get, with high rejection rates.
  • Qualification Requirements: You have to demonstrate your qualifications to get this visa, which can be quite high.
  • Norwegian Client Requirement: You also need one of your clients to be Norwegian, and they have to pay you around USD $40 an hour.
  • Application Fee: This visa has a very steep application fee.

Why Live in Norway?

Norway is a very beautiful country. There are many reasons you might want to live here as a digital nomad. 

  • Natural Beauty: Norway has a lot of natural beauty with its magical fjords and mountains.
  • World-Class Infrastructure: It has one of the best infrastructures in the world, topping nearly every favorable ranking.
  • Fast WiFi: It has one of the fastest WiFi speeds in Europe.
  • Coworking Communities: Most cities have coworking communities.
  • Transportation Networks: Norway is well-connected to the rest of Europe with impressive railways, ferries, and airport networks, despite being a large and sparsely populated country.

However, there are also disadvantages of living here, including: 

  • High Cost of Living: Norway is incredibly expensive, with one of the highest costs of living in Europe.
  • High Tax Rates: The tax rates in Norway are some of the highest in Europe.
  • Long Winters: Norwegian winters are very long, which can be a significant drawback.
  • Remote Work Preference: Many Norwegians enjoy working remotely so they can leave during the winter for warmer European climates or countries like Thailand.

Should You Get Norwegian Digital Nomad Visa?

Honestly, this is only for people destined to make a long-term future in Norway. 

It’s also quite demanding and exclusive. While the income threshold isn’t ultimately that high, the taxes and cost of living in Norway are only for those who make a lot of money. But if you have an excellent salary and the skills for your profession, this can be a fantastic opportunity to live in one of the most highly-rated countries in the entire world.

Svalbard Visa-Free Area

Svalbard is a large island north of mainland Norway. There is a decree that anyone of any nationality can live in this area without a visa. However, you must do more than just show up. 

Svalbard
If you are adventure-minded and want to seize this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, Svalbard can be a good place for you.

You need to demonstrate that you have a way to support yourself.

While there is not a specified amount per the local government, it simply states you need housing and a job. The minimum wage is reported to be 12,035 NOK which is US$1,400, but it is safe to say you need well over that if you are a remote worker. 

The average price for rent and food is already at 10,000 NOK.

Svalbard Requirements

The official website states that you must have the means to live in Svalbard. This also applies to Norwegians. The local government of Svalbard decides on a discretionary basis. You are advised to arrange a source of income and housing beforehand.

You have to travel to mainland Norway to get to Svalbard. So, the Schengen rules apply in this case. If you are from a country requiring a Schengen visa, get a multiple-entry Schengen visa and not a single-entry Schengen visa. 

Svalbard Advantages

Not needing a visa is an advantage. It’s also not part of the Schengen area, so your time there does not count towards your tourist time. 

So, it can be done if you want to mix your time in Svalbard and go to the rest of Norway or anywhere in the Schengen agreement for 90/180 days a year.

Svalbard Disadvantages

If you have a weaker passport, you still need a Schengen visa to go to the rest of Norway or the Schengen agreement. So, it is not always an easy entry.

However, if you have the means to live in Svalbard, then you will probably have less trouble obtaining a Schengen visa.

It’s very far north. Winters have no light, and summers are light for basically 24 hours. The climate can take a toll on people. Things are very remote to get to. In addition, it is even more expensive than mainland Norway.

Should You Live in Svalbard?

This is not an option for everybody. 

But if you are the type of person who doesn’t mind the setbacks, you can make it an exciting experience for yourself.

Heidi originally from New Orleans, has lived in the European Union for nearly 13 years. She works as an analyst, and writer and also has a side business that relocates people to Slovenia and Croatia.

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