A New Breed of Digital Nomad

The pandemic has freed many workers from the confines of the office, leading to the emergence of a new breed of digital nomad – people who can take their laptop, jump on a plane and set up a remote ‘office’ somewhere exotic.

Some countries have responded with schemes to assist long-term workcations. For example, with the Barbados Welcome Stamp, digital nomads can stay in Barbados for up to 12 months with no tax implications – the fee is $2,000 for an individual. But before packing your bags there are some practicalities that cannot be overlooked.

The self-employed should not have any insurmountable problems, but employees will need to consult with their employer to see if they are going to be supportive of a move away, potentially to a different time zone. You may inadvertently create a social security liability or corporate tax issue for your employer, depending on the country you move to.

UK property

There might not be much of a problem if currently renting in the UK, but home ownership comes with more issues. Simply leaving a home empty – even if affordable – could be in breach of the mortgage agreement and may invalidate household insurance. Property rental is a solution but means meeting serious requirements; a good letting agency should be able to advise. Some remedial work may be necessary, such as the installation of fire alarms.

You should definitely retain your UK bank account, but also look at online options for holding currency and transferring funds overseas.

Tax status

It’s all very well having tax-exempt status where you are based, but it is of limited benefit if you remain subject to UK tax. It is important to remember that UK residence status is determined separately for each tax year and may be different for one individual and their spouse/partner. The rules can be quite complicated, but you can typically be classed as non-resident if you:

  • Spend fewer than 16 days in the UK during a tax year.
  • Work full-time overseas – in which case you are allowed to visit the UK for up to 90 midnights each tax year provided no more than 30 days are spent working in the UK; or
  • Balance your visits and ties to the UK. For example, if you retain your UK home, UK visits will need to be restricted to no more than 90 days. If not, you may be able to spend up to 120 days back in the UK.

We can assist with claims for non residency and reviewing the number of days that you can visit the UK to avoid breaching the limits. Please get in touch if you would like our help.

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