Digital Nomad Visa Comparison: Spain vs. United Arab Emirates

A comparison of remote work visas for Spain and United Arab Emirates.

Digital Nomad Visa Comparison: Spain vs. United Arab Emirates

Digital Nomad Visa Requirements: Spain vs United Arab Emirates


If you're considering Spain for your Digital Nomad journey, you'll be happy to know that they have a special visa for international teleworkers under Startup Act 28/2022. However, as of now, the criteria for the visa is not yet published, and the decision regarding the acceptance of visa applications depends on the consulate. The visa is valid for one year, which can be renewed for up to three years.

Standard Requirements for Spain's Digital Nomad Visa:

  • Certificate of Social Security coverage (If there is an agreement with the country of origin) or registration in the Spanish social security accrediting at least the application for registration of the foreign company before the Spanish Social Security and the commitment to register once the authorization before the start of work.
  • Public or private health insurance. Travel insurance is not accepted (Not necessary in the case of registration with Spanish Social Security).
  • Police background check of the country/countries they resided in the past 2 years, along with the affidavit of clean criminal record.
  • The freelance applicant is required to earn at least 80% of income from outside of Spain.
  • Proof of being employed with the employer (outside of Spain) for at least one year continuously and permit to work remotely.
  • In case of contractual employment, proof of professional relationship with an entity (outside of Spain) for no less than three months and permit to work remotely.
  • In case of freelancing, proof of working with at least one non-Spanish company from at least the previous three months and providing terms and conditions allowing to work remotely.
  • Qualified professionals: (i) graduates or postgraduates from universities of recognized prestige, (ii) professional training and business schools of recognized prestige, or (iii) with a minimum of three years' professional experience.
  • Work through the exclusive use of means and systems, computer science, telematics and telecommunication.
  • Valid experience and technical knowledge for the job performance.
  • Clean criminal records.

Tax Requirements for Digital Nomad Visa Holders in Spain

The tax residence criteria for digital nomad visa holders is the same as for other visa holders. However, they may be eligible for the Special Tax Regime, which allows them to be taxed on their salary income at a 24% flat rate (up to 600k, 47% onwards) and their foreign source private income (such as capital gains, dividends, interests, or income from real estate) would not be subject to taxation in Spain.

United Arab Emirates

If you're considering United Arab Emirates, they offer the Virtual Working Programme, which is a great option for digital nomads. The visa costs US$611 and is valid for one year, renewable upon re-application. The program has certain requirements that need to be met.

Virtual Working Programme Requirements:

  • Hold a passport valid for at least 6 months
  • Must have a health insurance with UAE coverage validity
  • Proof of employment from current employer with a one-year contract validity
  • Must have a minimum salary of US$5,000 per month along with last month's pay slip and 3 preceding months bank statement
  • Business owners must provide proof of ownership of their business, and should have an average monthly income of US$5,000 along with 3 preceding months' bank statement
  • You cannot perform work for a local employer in Dubai or provide any services to any person or entity carrying out business in Dubai


Virtual Program document holders and their dependents cannot perform work for a local employer in Dubai or provide any services to any person or entity carrying out business in Dubai.


Both Spain and United Arab Emirates offer exciting opportunities and experiences for digital nomads to enjoy. While Spain has more stringent requirements, it also offers digital nomads unique tax benefits. In contrast, United Arab Emirates offers a simpler program that has lower income requirements, making it more accessible for those just starting out on their digital nomad journey.

Ultimately, deciding between the two countries will depend on individual preferences, such as cultural experiences, language barriers, and preferred work environments. It's also essential to consider the climate, cost of living, and available activities in both countries to help make informed decisions.