Working Remotely From Another Country
Have you been itching to take your remote work abroad or figure out how to work from anywhere…and not just Anywhere, USA? While it might not be easy, it’s not impossible. Whether you want to take your current US job abroad or find a way to work from anywhere we are here to help you plan your first steps.
If you’ve been hitting roadblocks, the good news is that there are ways to take your remote job abroad. Just be open to do a little legwork because some require more planning and paperwork than others. Let’s dig in with the most important aspects to consider and take a look at 6 strategies to help you take your remote job abroad.
Can you work remotely from another country?
Taking it from the top, can you even work remotely as a US citizen? Yes, you can work remotely from another country, but there are several factors to take into consideration before you pack up that suitcase and hit the road. The main factors being:
- Does your employer allow working from abroad (we’ll dive deeper in the following section)
- Can you legally reside in a foreign country. In other words, do you need a visa?
If you are considering working remotely from another country, it’s important to think about WHERE you want to go and HOW LONG you want to work remotely from another country. This is important because there are different options depending on that country’s laws and the agreements it’s established with the U.S.
If you want to work remotely from another country here are your options:
- Do you want to spend 90 days in one or two countries and then head back to your home base in the U.S.?
- Or, are you looking to make a more permanent move, living a year or more in one country
- Maybe you’re seeking a true nomadic lifestyle, changing countries often, and not staying put in any one place too long.
Each of these options has its pros and cons, so let’s explore these a bit more.
1) Traveling and working abroad for up to 90 days
One of the benefits of taking your remote job abroad for up to 3 months is that it likely won’t require a visa! The U.S. has 90 day automatic tourist visas established with many countries throughout the world. Spending 90 days in one place gives you a chance to get to know it and can be a great “trial period” to test out a country you’re thinking about moving to later on.
Some important things to consider here: Does your company have geographic or time zone restrictions? If yes, this might not be an option. Even if your company has a work from anywhere policy, are you prepared to work your standard U.S. hours from the country you’re traveling to? For example: Let’s say you’re a U.S. citizen who lives on the east coast of the U.S. and you want to travel to Spain. There is a six hour time difference, so if your company requires you maintain your standard U.S. working hours of 9-5, you’d be working 3-11pm Spain time.
This is definitely the easiest of all three options, and can be a great way to dip your toes into the world of remote work from abroad without having to make any major commitments or likely do a visa application.
2) Living abroad full-time in one country
If you want to live abroad full-time, you will need to acquire residency permission for the time period and place you want to live. Many countries are launching digital nomad visas, with exactly this in mind. Meaning, your employment is not tied to the country you want to relocate to. For example, you are employed by a U.S. company, or work as a freelancer for majority U.S. clients, and are given permission to reside in another country for a set period of time, typically 12 months. However, many digital nomad visas are renewable, some up to 5 years.
This can be a great option if you’re looking to have an in-depth experience in one country, and especially if you’ve got some language learning goals!
What’s the catch? Well… as you might have guessed these digital nomad visas have several requirements. Typically you are required to show proof that you are working for an established employer or clients. Additionally, many have minimum income and private health insurance requirements. Why? Most countries want to make sure that whoever they are letting in won’t be a burden on the country and that they have a steady income source to spend on elevating their economy.
What else? Well…this is where things start to get tricky for you and your employer. This option would definitely require a talk with HR and your line manager to see what kind of policies they have in place for the use of digital nomad visas, other visas, and temporary relocation. From an employer’s point of view, there are legal and tax issues to consider when employees live and work abroad. Furthermore, it’s important to inform yourself about any changes in tax obligations that you might have due to your relocation.
3) Nomadic lifestyle and working remotely abroad
Do you want to completely untether your life and traveling as a lifestyle while taking your remote work with you? The idea here is: if you don’t spend more than 6 months in a country you will not technically establish residency anywhere, and therefore not need to worry about all of the legal compliance issues. There are some exceptions to this but as a general rule most countries use 6 months as a cutoff for establishing residency. But remember, if you want to spend more than 90 days abroad you will still likely need to get a visa for most countries.
Managing this kind of a lifestyle requires navigating ambiguity and it’s not for everyone. There are legal gray areas here and it’s best to inform yourself thoroughly before embarking. If you work for a U.S. employer it is likely this type of lifestyle and employment are not compatible due to tax obligations and it is better suited to freelance or entrepreneurial work.
6 strategies to help you figure out how to work remotely abroad
As you can see there are lots of options and aspects to consider. If you have already have a remote job or are looking for one here are 6 strategies to help you navigate this process and find solutions to any roadblocks you encounter.
1 . Check to see if you have the legal right to live abroad
As a U.S. citizen, you can see what the entry requirements are for your destination country here. As mentioned above, in many cases you can enter a country as a tourist for 90 days, visa free! If you’d like to stay longer you will need to see what visa options are available Many countries are rolling out digital nomad visas, but there are also other options like non-lucrative visas, and some countries like Georgia and Albania allow U.S. citizens to stay almost a year with no visa!
If you want to move to Europe, learn about 50+ different visa options in the 18 easiest European countries to move to for US citizens. Grab a copy of our visa guide to living in Europe today!
2. Inform Yourself
Most companies do NOT have a work from anywhere policy—here are 15 companies that do—find out what your company policy is. If your employer is not set up to let you work remotely abroad, you have a two options:
- Can you change your current work contract from a W-2 based employee to a 1099 contractor i.e. freelancer? This will relieve your employer of being responsible for you abroad. Talk with HR and your line manager and see if it’s a possibility.
However, be aware this option would likely require a change in scope of your job responsibilities. Why? For legal reasons, employers are not allowed to employ contractors doing the exact same role as full time employees otherwise they risk being fined for misclassification.
- Is your employer open to working with an Employer of Record (EOR) to employ you in the country you wish to relocate to. Bear in mind, this will most likely require you to obtain both residency and work permission for your country of choice, and therefore potentially rule out digital nomad visas as an option. We’ll explore the EOR option in more detail in our next tip.
3. Consider going from employee to contractor
Another option would be to make the switch from employee to contractor. As mentioned above, it might be difficult to do this with your current employer because of the risk of misclassification, and would likely be easier to start a new role as a freelance employee from the start. Tech companies and startups are often looking to hire candidates in this way because it relieves them of the burden of having to pay employer taxes.
As a freelancer you are responsible for paying your own social security, unemployment and income taxes. However, many times freelancers have higher salaries to help offset this cost. Additionally, being a freelancer means you lose other full time employee benefits such as: vacation time, health insurance, and an employer contribution to a retirement fund. On the other hand, freelancers generally have complete control over their own schedules and how they manage their day.
4. Update your employment agreement for full compliance (Employers of Record and third party payroll provider)
Employers of Record or third party payroll providers, allow companies to employ people in countries where they don’t have a tax entity established. Two of the most well-known examples are companies like Deel and Remote.
Why would a company want to work with an EOR? It allows them more flexibility in who they can hire and where, before EORs, companies could only hire in the country they had a tax entity established in. By working with an EOR, they can open their remote job postings to candidates all over the world. At the same time, it ensures they will be compliant with labor laws in countries they don’t have experience in.
Services like this offer employers great flexibility but at a hefty cost, anywhere from $300 to $600 dollars monthly depending on the country. If you’re thinking you’d like to try this option, keep this cost in mind when talking with your employer
5. Coordinate with your team
If you’re able to implement a solution above, congratulations! Now it’s time to prepare for this transition. Before embarking on your move abroad, coordinate with your team or client to ensure you can maintain good communication. Establish what your working hours will be for scheduling any team meetings or 1:1s, and when you will be online and can be reached directly. Consider if you will need to increase asynchronous forms of communication and how to do it.
6. Time zones / Productivity / Well Being
Lastly, it’s important to consider how your move abroad could affect your productivity and well being. For example, if you are a morning person and do your best work then, is it realistic for you to switch to working in the afternoon to accommodate a time zone difference? Or maybe you work best in the afternoon, so the time difference would be great. Everyone is different and it’s important to keep that in mind when mapping out the day to day of your move abroad.
We’d recommend giving yourself a touchdown and take off day to any new location you travel to. Meaning, that you don’t have to do any work on the day you arrive at or leave a destination. There is nothing more stressful than trying to send a document or worse yet having a meeting when traveling and you can’t control your environment or internet connection.
Prepping your new work environment is another very important aspect to consider. Are you someone who has lots of video meetings? Or do you do more project based async work? Depending on your work, you may need a completely quiet place with a desk and great internet connection, or working from a cafe could be just fine. Be conscientious of your work space needs when booking accommodations.
Additionally, it’s important to have your well being in mind when building your new life abroad. If you find yourself missing the social aspect of the office, you could look at reserving time at coworking spaces with apps like Croissant. You could also see if there are any local meetup groups. Well being can sometimes flounder when traveling so be intentional about how you foster a positive environment for yourself.
Working remotely in another country is possible
Working remotely from another country temporarily or more permanently is a possibility now more than ever before, but it does require planning. Figuring out where and how long you’d like to work abroad is an important first step and hopefully these six tips have helped bring you closer to making it a reality!
If you want more information on how to move abroad, check out our resources:
- Sign up for the next Move Abroad After 30 Masterclass to see if a move abroad is a possibility for you!
- Join our Facebook group for women age 30 and up who want to move abroad
- Grab your copy of our Ultimate Visa Guide to Living in Europe as an American