Remote & Async Work 11 min

Work remotely abroad without making tax and visa mistakes

Written by Gillian O'Brien
June 11, 2024
Gillian O'Brien

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Are you dreaming of working remotely abroad?

Fortunately, many people can work from anywhere in the world. 

But how is this work arrangement different from a regular day job? And how can you get started right away?

This article shares what you need to know about working remotely abroad. We'll cover landing your first remote job, sorting out your visa, getting paid, and filing your taxes.

Can you work remotely from abroad?

The short answer to this question is yes — as long as your employer allows it. If you have the right visa and don't overstay your welcome, you can work remotely from abroad even if you're not a permanent resident of the country you work from.

How does this work? 

Many countries, like Japan, Bali, and Spain, have a digital nomad visa that allows people to do their jobs while traveling around their respective countries.

About 17.3 million American workers consider themselves digital nomads — a whopping 133% increase since 2019. And while most digital nomads work as freelancers, the numbers show that 41% of digital nomads are employed full-time.

There are two main ways to begin working remotely from abroad. You can either apply for a remote job that allows you to work anywhere, or negotiate a remote work arrangement with your employer. Companies with existing remote or work-from-home teams are more likely to allow this since it's not a big leap from their current arrangement.

What jobs can you work remotely from abroad?

Many jobs are flexible enough to be done from anywhere. Below are some industries that are particularly popular among remote workers.

Tech

Organizations hire developers to create everything from online shopping sites and mobile apps to complex enterprise software. With an endless number of apps, SaaS, and websites popping up, the demand for these jobs is high.

You can code from anywhere as long as you have a reliable high-speed Internet connection. And since tech roles are typically incredibly lucrative, these jobs are popular choices among remote workers.

Digital marketing

Digital marketing positions are often filled by remote workers. As a digital marketer, you need skills in writing, communication, SEO, and design skills – all of which can happen from anywhere. 

You can build a lucrative career in digital marketing. Employment for digital marketing manager positions, for example, is predicted to grow by 7%. Social media marketing skills are predicted to be worth $1.5 trillion by 2030.

Design

Creatives rarely thrive in a cubicle. Working in different environments gives them more inspiration for their craft. 

Here are some design roles that often accept remote workers.

  • User Interface/User Experience designer: Designs the user-facing side of websites and apps

  • Graphic designer: Designs typography, graphics, and other visual elements for websites, digital branding, or print

  • Video editor: Edits videos to create compelling stories that boost awareness for brands

Customer service

Fortune 500 companies routinely outsource their customer helplines abroad, so it's not surprising that there are many customer service jobs for remote workers. Even small and mid-sized enterprises hire customer support teams abroad to save money via payroll.

Customer service roles are great for entry-level applicants, that can lead to higher management roles.

Education

Online tutoring is a popular choice for people who work abroad. It's expected to be a 196 USD billion market, so it can be a stable career choice for someone looking to work abroad long-term.  This market is not just for tutors. Consultants, teaching assistants, and course developers can also work remotely abroad in education.

What are the benefits of working remotely from abroad?

This lifestyle isn't just for avid travelers. Many people can benefit from working abroad remotely.

Be a tourist in your downtime 

Working remotely abroad allows you to work from world-renowned tourist destinations. Instead of watching Netflix in your downtime, you could spend hours exploring the cafés of Paris or surfing the waves of Costa Rica.

Make new friends

Moving abroad allows you to build new social connections with people from around the world, both locally and through digital nomad communities. You can find online groups, or find co-living spaces to live and work alongside other nomads. These are great ways to make new friends and connect with other remote professionals.

Financial savings

You can reduce your living expenses if you work abroad by choosing to live in a more affordable country. Companies also benefit from hiring and managing remote employees. The best destinations for remote work have their own cost of living, safety levels, and other characteristics that you can consider when choosing where to live for financial savings.

Cultural immersion

Living in another country broadens your appreciation for different cultures, cuisines, and traditions. It's not just about language, either; working cultures vary in Asia, South America, and Europe. 

Traveling diversifies your worldview and gives you valuable insights that can even improve your creativity and style of work.

How to work remotely from abroad legally

Let's take a deeper dive into what it takes to legally work remotely from abroad, whether you're an employee or independent contractor.

Get the right classification

If you’re in the market for a new remote position, check each job ad before you apply. Is it for full-time or freelance work? 

Working as a full-time employee gives your employer more control over your location and work hours. For instance, some companies allow remote work but only within the US. 

Independent contractors often work with multiple businesses and have more control over their working conditions. This isn't to say companies follow this to a tee. Some employers misclassify their workers by hiring them as contractors but controlling their work conditions as if they were employees.

Read your employment agreement to see if it needs to be updated, so that you stay legally compliant when you relocate.

Pay the right taxes in the right country

Employers usually handle their remote employees’ taxes on their behalf. If you’re an independent contractor, however, you should research whether you have to pay at home or abroad. Your employer should know how to pay or tax you while you're abroad.

Taxes and statutory contributions of non-US citizens working in American companies are paid in their country of residence. Employees must fill out a W-8BEN form, while contractors must sign a W-8BEN-E form to show that they're not eligible for US taxes.  What categorizes you as a resident varies per country. Your residence is often where you have a long-term apartment or have paid taxes before traveling.

The tax rules are different if you're just working out of state. Some states have a reciprocity agreement with their neighbors, which allows remote workers to withhold taxes if their employer is in one state but they live in another. In that case, you have to pay taxes in your state of residence. 

If you work remotely from another state, learn which states have a reciprocity agreement and where you’re supposed to pay taxes.

Secure proper visas

Research your destination country to see visa options and requirements when working abroad, including how long you can stay there and work.

Several countries offer digital nomad visas that allow you to work remotely and stay longer than a tourist. Many of them let digital nomads work there for three to six months on a tourist visa. 

Nomad visa requirements often include bank information, employment contracts, or pay stubs.

Avoid permanent establishment risk

Visas for remote workers have limitations that prohibit them from affecting the local economy. For example, people who work remotely should not:

  • Work for local businesses

  • Sell their products or services locally

  • Outsource their work to local labor

Going against these visa regulations may get your visa revoked and even result in immigration fraud charges. Make sure your activities abroad are not applicable to permanent establishment risks.

5 key things to consider before working remotely from abroad

Working in a foreign country can be challenging. Consider the following points so you are well prepared for working remotely abroad.

Cultural differences

Many people working in European countries realize that stores close around siesta time, dinner starts late, or the mail takes longer to arrive. Get accustomed to your new surroundings to optimize your new work-life balance.

Language barriers

Learn the basics of your destination's language before you go so that you don't have to rely on Google Translate every time. Learn the basics, like "hello," "thank you," "yes” and “no" to make your transition to living abroad much easier.

Reliable internet connection

Check your accommodation's Wi-Fi speed and reliability before traveling. Get a mobile hotspot SIM as a backup, or find a co-working space near where you’re staying so that you don't miss a work day if your connection goes down.

Unexpected loneliness

Staying in a foreign country might feel lonely at first, especially if you don't know anyone. Try reaching out to other digital nomads to make friends. You can also find friends in expat groups on Facebook or attend local social events.

Cost of living and unexpected expenses

It can be cheaper to live abroad, but you need to budget your expenses. Plan for expenses for rent, food, transportation, and other essentials. Plus, it’s important to save for emergencies like accidents, broken laptops, or getting sick.

Best practices for landing jobs that let you work remotely from abroad

Finding work remotely abroad is different than a regular job search, but it’s not impossible. Here are five tips to help you land a remote job.

Focus only on remote-only job boards

Skip traditional job boards, which usually list jobs that require complete or partial office work.

Instead, check out resources that focus on remote positions only, like Remote's job board. You can filter jobs by timezones, travel requirements, and workplace — perfect for people looking for remote job opportunities abroad.

Build your network

Join online groups, freelancing communities, and virtual networking events. The more you grow your network, the more you'll hear of open remote opportunities.

Emphasize your remote work experience

Having remote work experience shows that you are independent, driven, and comfortable with remote work communications. Include "remote" in your job title or in the bullet points on your resume. 

If you haven't worked remotely before, highlight your written communication skills, expertise in project management, and proficiency in handling online communication tools.

Remove the hassle of scheduling

Hiring teams hate going back and forth just to pick an online interview schedule. Plus, it's a sign you're not used to time zone differences. Send a calendar booking link to make scheduling a talk easier.

Show your brand and personality

It's hard to gauge an applicant's personality and background in a virtual setting, let alone with only a resume. Incorporate your personality into your LinkedIn profile, website, and portfolio so your application stands out.

Remote can help remote teams work from practically anywhere in the world

It's not impossible or expensive to work remotely abroad — it just takes a bit of planning and adjustment. By aligning your skills with the remote job market, you can easily find a role that supports both your travel and your daily needs.

Working abroad is rewarding, but it also comes with some complications in insurance, taxes, and visas. Whether you’re looking for full-time or freelance remote work, Remote can help you navigate the challenges of staying compliant in your remote position. 

To search for remote jobs to work abroad, check out Remote's job board today.

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