White sandy beaches, swaying palm trees and free Wi-Fi hotspots: if you want to work remotely and travel, there are few places better than Barbados. The island nation made news last year when it introduced its 12-month Barbados Welcome Stamp especially for remote workers (or ‘digital nomads’). If you’re seriously considering applying, here’s what you need to know.
First things first: why Barbados?
Friendly people, stunning scenery, a balmy climate and a safe atmosphere make Barbados a fantastic option for anyone who’s ever dreamed of working from the beach. The internet is fast and reliable, and the work-life balance is excellent. Weekends are spent in nature, swimming in the Caribbean Sea or hiking in the jungle. Socialising is a big part of Bajan life, so make friends and enjoy evening barbecues piled high with spicy chicken and pork.
Is there good Wi-Fi in Barbados?
There are plans in place for full Wi-Fi coverage across the country – in the government’s words, “from bus stop to rum shop”. For now, the best Wi-Fi can be found on the south and west coasts of the island, as this is where most people live and work.
Lots of cafes in Barbados provide free Wi-Fi to customers, so you can grab a fruit punch and a table with a view while bashing through your to-do list.
The majority of hotels, guesthouses and apartments also offer free Wi-Fi to guests, if you’d rather work from your accommodation.
When you’re booking a place to stay with Skyscanner’s hotel search, open up the filters tab and search for places that offer Wi-Fi. You’ll find it under ‘amenities’.
What type of visa do I need to work remotely and travel in Barbados?
The 12-month Barbados Welcome Stamp is geared towards those who want to stay in Barbados for the long term, while working remotely. To qualify for this visa you need:
- An annual income of at least USD $50k (about £36.5k)
- Health insurance
- A background check
- To pay USD $2000 for a solo stamp, or $3000 for a family
For shorter stays, British passport holders don’t need a visa to visit Barbados. You can usually stay for up to six months. Although it’s an offence to work without a permit, this is a legal grey area as the wording refers to working for local companies, rather than remotely.
It’s always better to be safe than sorry, and to do things by the book by applying for the official visa.
How long can you stay in Barbados on a remote working holiday?
If you apply for the Barbados Welcome Stamp you can stay for up to 12 months. If you stay for more than 182 days (around six months) you may be eligible to pay tax as a resident.
Miss the office? Try Barbados coworking spaces
Deciding to work remotely and travel doesn’t mean saying goodbye to the buzz of office life. Co-working spaces are set up for digital nomads, and let you hire a desk on a pay-as-you-go or monthly basis. You’ll be surrounded by other professionals, and usually there are social perks like Friday night drinks. There are a few co-working spaces in Barbados, such as TEN Habitat in Bridgetown, Fall in Love with Barbados in St James and the Welches base of serviced office specialist Regus.
A remote working holiday doesn’t mean forever
Working remotely and travelling can be fun, but staying in one place indefinitely can make things complicated. Before committing, remember:
- If you’re living in a destination, you’ll be eligible to pay tax there. Usually 180 days (about six months) is the maximum you can stay without registering for tax, but it’s worth checking with immigration
- If you’re employed and working from home it’s best to ask for your employer’s permission before jetting off to another country. As well as being good manners, your employer might have tax reporting obligations to that country
- If you’re planning on staying for more than 180 days you’ll need a special Working Holiday Visa – this is covered by Barbados’ 12 month welcome stamp, but other destinations may have a more complicated system.
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Remote working holiday FAQs
With WFH becoming more common during the pandemic, more jobs than ever are suitable for travel. Basically, any job that you can do from your kitchen table, you can do from a cafe in Barbados (or Chiang Mai, or Lisbon… or anywhere with a good Wi-Fi connection). You should speak to your boss to let them know you’re planning to be out of the country. As well as sorting out any potential tax issues, it also gives you the chance to alleviate any worries they might have.
This is a bit of a legal grey area. Because remote working is a fairly new phenomenon, a lot of legislation is yet to catch up. Technically you can’t work while you’re on a tourist visa, however this definition of work is fairly traditional and usually applies to working for local companies. Working independently online is different. Usually, if you’re spending less than 180 days in a destination, you won’t need any special permit.
As long as you spend less than 180 days in your destination, it’s unlikely you’ll be eligible for tax there. You pay tax in whichever country you’re a tax resident in. So, if you’re planning to work remotely and travel, it’s important to make sure you spend at least 183 days in the UK each tax year. If your only home is in the UK, this drops to 30 days per tax year. You also need to have owned, rented or lived in your home for more than 91 days.
Want to read more?
- Coronavirus travel advice: read the latest information about heading abroad while the pandemic is ongoing
- Top five destinations for a super-long holiday: leave the laptop at home, and head off for a few months of adventure instead
- Solo travel: what is it really like? If you don’t have anyone to go on a remote working holiday with, our tips will help you decide whether going it alone is for you.
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