Working remotely from another country does include a few complications. From applying for entry visas to managing taxes, digital nomads operate within different legal conditions than in-office workers. If you plan on working remotely abroad, read on so you can fully prepare for any problems you might come up against as you work remotely and travel.
What kind of remote work are we talking about?
Many people hear about remote work and think of digital nomads working on a beach. However, in reality, there are many variations of remote work:
- Independent contractors: Gig workers are employed on a project-by-project basis. Many will develop long-term relationships with a client (and can even function as employees), but they can work from the location and schedule of their choosing.
- Remote-only in-house workers: Unlike contractors, remote in-house workers are classified as registered employees. They are full-time or part-time workers who operate from a predetermined location (often outside of company office space). EPAM Anywhere uses remote-only in-house employment contracts.
- Digital nomads: Digital nomads can be classified under any form of employment, but they work in a fully remote situation and travel as they please.
- Hybrid workers: Hybrid workers split their time between company headquarters and alternate workspaces (often at-home offices).
Can you work remotely from another country?
Yes, you can work remotely from another country. However, that answer also depends on several factors related to employment laws, taxes, visas, and data protection.
Businesses must comply with strict employment regulations and taxation laws — and such complex compliance requirements grow even more complicated when you involve two separate jurisdictions. Aspects such as minimum wage, overtime payments, and payroll filing all change depending on your location. As a result, countries around the globe hold unique tax and employment agreements that may restrict where and how you work. In specific instances and sovereignties, you may not be able to work remotely.
However, in the majority of cases, you can easily work from home in another country. Many organizations employ large remote workforces that permanently reside in foreign countries.
What about working remotely from another country temporarily?
Yes, it’s possible to work remotely from another country temporarily. If you have the correct visas and a work permit, you can reside for a pre-set time period within the borders of most foreign countries. However, if you only plan on working remotely for a couple of days or a single week, just take a well-earned vacation instead — working while on a tourist visa is prohibited.
Most of the problems associated with short-term temporary work usually stem from contractual issues with your employer. Visa and tax applications require significant resources that some businesses can't provide. For example, a North American company might not meet the data protection rules outlined in the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which will limit your ability to work remotely in the European Union. Scheduling and training concerns may also arise.
At EPAM Anywhere, full-time employees are regulated by an internal mobility policy. You can relocate on a temporary or permanent basis, but there is an approval process that ensures you have the applicable legal support. This makes job relocation quick and painless, and in most cases, you maintain the ability to switch where you work.
Honesty is the best policy, so always inform your employer of your remote work intentions. This will help you experience fewer negative consequences as you climb the career ladder remotely.
Key benefits of working remotely abroad
Working remotely abroad offers you a series of advantages and benefits:
- Work-life balance: Remote work often includes a flexible work schedule. Even hybrid workers enjoy greater time freedom when they work from home. It’s much easier to take breaks for personal hobbies and other responsibilities when you’re not tied to a set schedule or location.
- Lower costs: Many remote workers land in countries with a favorable cost of living and increased purchasing power due to the currency exchange. In addition, remote workers limit several additional expenses related to in-office work, such as purchased lunches and long commutes.
- Productivity enhancements: Plenty of workers find that they are far more efficient when working remotely. Compared to busy commercial spaces, a personal office is tailored to your needs and can help to limit distractions.
- Access to opportunity: Organizations often prefer to hire remote workers because they can lower costs, access a global talent pool, and earn greater employee retention. As a digital nomad, your specific skill sets (e.g. language, education, cultural mindset) may be in high demand once you branch out beyond your home country.
Working remotely abroad legally: visas and taxes
As stated previously, it is of critical importance that you can legally work in a foreign country. Many places are happy to accept tourists and vacationers, but the entry and tax requirements change when your arrival involves remote work. With the growing popularity of digital nomadism, many countries have created stringent laws that you must follow.
Every country outlines what employment activities you can engage in during your stay. Your visa defines the specific classification (e.g. tourist, temporary business, digital nomad, student, etc.). This visa will include restrictions that grant a legal stay in the country (e.g. length of residency, type of economic labor, access to services such as healthcare, etc.).
Some countries also require work permits and may not allow employment from a foreign employer. Several governments have created customized digital nomad visas (Germany, Iceland, Portugal, etc.) that allow you extended time within the sovereignty.
Visas are a necessary control method of social security services for foreigners. Once you have chosen where you want to work, submit the necessary paperwork before you travel. You can find details on each government's website or at your local consulate.
Every country has its own tax laws, and it is your job to file the appropriate taxes. In most cases, this involves the simple task of declaring all your income within your home country. However, in some instances, you might also have to observe residence-based or territorial-based taxation law.
For example, if you spend more than 183 days outside of your home location, some countries see you as a taxable resident and require you to pay tax for any local economic activity. You then need to provide foreign-earned income reports to your home country (country of citizenship) in addition to the standard tax return of your remote working location.
Often, tax treaties can make the process painless and help reduce cases of double taxation. The type of visa and residency status you apply for will also affect the amount of tax you pay and where. Be sure to look up the varying tax restrictions of the specific country in which you wish to spend an extended period of time working. A financial advisor or tax accountant can help you navigate each specific tax system when working remotely internationally.
Working remotely and safely from another country: check yourself
Here are a few things to consider when you plan to work remotely:
- Health insurance: Consider purchasing health insurance that fits your needs and keeps you protected. Accidents happen, and your country's healthcare may not extend to other foreign countries. Take the necessary precautions to stay strong and healthy.
- Housing: Research the cost and availability of housing that fits your working needs. Hostels and co-living situations may provide perfect employment conditions for some people, but other jobs may require more privacy. In many cases, you need to plan ahead and find housing before you travel.
- Means of communication: While a laptop and internet connection might be all you need while working remotely internationally, the digital infrastructure in different countries might not operate the same. Ensure you can gain online access (data connections and foreign outlet adaptors), prepare for unexpected acts of God (storms, electricity blackouts), and devise backup methods for contacting your home office (internet cafes, SMS, cell carriers).
- Company flexibility: Ensure that the organization you work for knows about your remote work. For example, many digital nomads forget about time zone differences, leading to a breakdown in communication with the office. If your team leader or manager understands the nature of your work situation, everyone can create better labor conditions (e.g. scheduling meetings at appropriate times, assigning clients in a similar time zone to your caseload, changing work requirements according to local weather issues such as hurricanes, etc.).
- Adaptability: Different cultures include different values around work and leisure. Not only do you want to stay respectful of such norms, but you also want to ensure that your location of choice does not affect your work quality. You may come across challenges unique to each country you visit — you will need to stay flexible with the people and coworkers around you. If possible, invest in expatriate communities, as they can help you adapt and give you a community to rally behind.
Interested in learning more about working remotely abroad with EPAM Anywhere? Check out our open jobs for remote-forever work opportunities in tech.