Today’s society is in perpetual change, which goes hand in hand with the dynamism of its members. The circumstances experienced in the pandemic left the initial impression that things will take a turn that will affect the cosmopolitanism that characterizes our times. It appeared that individuals would have to focus their spectrum of attention from the opening offered by international integration to somewhat more familiar and domestic geographic regions. However, it was only an impression, as will be seen, for the pandemic has given rise to an even more interconnected society than before.
The visa for digital nomads does not have its source in the pandemic per se, as there were discussions about it before, but the events of 2020-2022 contributed a lot to the momentum this institution took. In our country Law no. 22/2022 modified several aspects of O.U.G 194/2002 regarding the regime of foreigners in Romania, changes worthy of consideration as they bring important developments.
So, who are these digital nomads?
Well, the law defines them as foreigners who are employed with an individual employment contract at companies registered outside the territory of Romania or even owners of such a company registered abroad. It is essential that they can carry out their activity remotely, making use of digital means (laptops, computers or even smartphones all connected to the internet).
It is necessary that the foreign citizen does not work for a Romanian employer, otherwise he could no longer be considered a digital nomad. Thus, the digital nomad can work both as an employee and as a freelancer. However, it is not possible to make an exhaustive enumeration of activities of this nature that can be performed remotely, as the spectrum represented by telework is extremely broad.
How can you obtain such a visa on Romanian territory?
Reviewing the previously listed issues, it can be observed that in the sense of the law, digital nomads can even be tourists who travel to the territory of Romania and who simply want to stay here. The indispensable condition is that you, as a foreign citizen interested in obtaining a digital nomad visa, can collect your income in one of the ways shown above: either as an employee or as an owner of a company registered abroad, performing your profession remotely, through specific means of information and communication technology (digital means).
Then it is necessary for you to tick the condition that refers to the financial value of the means of maintenance that you achieve from your professional activity. Thus, you must obtain at least three times the average gross monthly salary in Romania for each of the last 6 months prior to the date of submitting the visa application, as well as for the entire period listed in the visa.
Let’s take things one at a time. In Romania, for 2023, the value of the average gross salary for a month is 6789 lei. Practically, you should have earned in each of the last 6 months the amount of 6789 lei multiplied by three. That is 20,367 lei. At the time of writing this material (May of 2023), the conversion in European currency is equal to 4116 euros.
Next, we must return to the notion of visa that I mentioned above, regulated by art. 49 of the O.U.G. 194/2002 regarding the regime of foreigners in Romania. In order to be able to reside on the territory of Romania, you, as a foreign citizen, need a long-stay visa issued by the National Visa Center within the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and obtained from the embassy of the state where you live. This has a validity period of 90 days. To be able to fit under the umbrella of the digital nomad term, you must obtain earnings at least three times higher than the average gross monthly salary in Romania for the period inscribed in the visa. Thus, you must produce through your professional activity for the entire duration of the 90 days the sum of 61,101 lei, respectively 12,346 euros.
What are the documents a digital nomad needs?
Once this condition is checked, art. 49 para. (2 ^1) from O.U.G. 194/2002 establishes the fact that you, as someone who has applied for this type of visa, have the obligation to prove the entire factual situation in which you find yourself with a series of documents. These can be:
- the individual employment contract based on which you carry out your professional activity (if you are a foreign citizen employed at a company registered abroad);
- a document issued by the authority from the country where the company for which you work for is registered, which must contain information about the company and its owners;
- a letter of intent containing the purpose of your journey to Romania and details of the activities you will carry out here;
- an apostilled or superlegalized document issued by the competent tax authority to prove that you, as an applicant employee or owner of a company registered abroad, have paid your taxes and are not in the records of facts related to tax evasion or other economic crimes;
- proof of means of subsistence achieved through your professional activity you carry out;
- criminal record certificate.
Of course, any document listed must comply with the conditions of validity and be translated by an authorized translator into Romanian. When it expires, the digital nomad visa can be extended for 6 months with a valid residence permit. However, if you, as a digital nomad would like to bring your family to Romania citing the grounds of family reunification, you will not be able to do so based on the digital nomad visa, as the family reunification requires you to stay longer than 6 months on Romanian territory.
What is the tax regime of digital nomads?
To begin with, the recent amendment of the Fiscal Code by Law 69/2023 should be mentioned. In short, through this amendment it was stipulated that if you, as a digital nomad, stay on the territory of Romania for a period of less than 183 days (6 months) during 12 consecutive months, then the income you achieve as a result of exercising your job is not taxable, not being considered for the payment of social insurance contributions and for the payment of health insurance contributions.
Also, in relation to the fiscal spectrum of the activity of digital nomads, it should be mentioned that as a digital nomad you are exempt from paying income tax during the first 183 days (6 months) of your stay in Romania. Practically, if you have a stay of less than or equal to 183 days, then you will not be considered a tax resident in Romania. On the other hand, if your stay exceeds 183 days then you will have to pay taxes and fees exactly like a regular fiscal resident on the territory of our country.
The future of the digital nomad visa
In conclusion, it can be easily observed that the procedure for obtaining a digital nomad visa on the territory of Romania is quite difficult and, as a proposal for the future, we believe that the Legislator should simplify it since bureaucracy and excessive formality are not up to date in a world that tends towards the shortest and most simplistic of information.
Attorney at Law, R&R Partners
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