New Zealand Digital Nomad visa: what we know so far

New Zealand’s Immigration Minister has confirmed the country is exploring offering a Digital Nomad visa to remote overseas workers.

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New Zealand, also known as Aotearoa or “land of the long white cloud”, is considering introducing a Digital Nomad visa to open up the country to wanderlusting remote workers.

If it is announced, the scheme would make New Zealand the first country in the Oceania continent to welcome tech-enabled and self-employed workers to its islands. It would join Japan, Italy, and Thailand, all of which unveiled their own Digital Nomad visas this year.

Few details have been announced so far, but we do know that the New Zealand visa scheme would enable digital nomads to live and work in the country for at least a year.

In January, The Economist forecast there could be one billion digital nomads by 2035.

NZ will “start small” with Digital Nomad scheme

Digital nomads are workers who can carry out their job in any location. As a result, many choose to travel abroad and see the world while working, which is why so many countries have begun to introduce specific Digital Nomad visa programmes.

Back in March, New Zealand’s newly-elected Immigration Minister Erica Stanford confirmed that the country’s government was considering a visa scheme for digital nomads.

During its recent election campaign, the now-ruling National Party indicated it would begin by offering up to 250 visas to foreign employees, as a kind of soft launch to gauge interest.

The proposed scheme would allow them to live and work in New Zealand for employers based outside the country for up to 12 months. Based on other, similar schemes, it would likely have the following entry requirements:

  • Valid passport
  • Minimum income
  • Health insurance
  • No criminal record

Scheme will target startups and software experts

Mahesh Muralidhar, a National Party candidate who has been a prominent campaigner for the Digital Nomad visa, shared that he thought the scheme should cater to entrepreneurial tech experts and sole traders.

“[For example], a software engineer who has worked at a large company and had one or two failed startups, or a designer coming here, mixing and mingling with our founders and entrepreneurs,” he told the New Zealand newspaper, The Post.

Likely, the scheme will not be confined to just these occupations, however. Research by IT service provider Redcentric revealed that a range of professionals would be interested in quitting their job to work as a Digital Nomad.

The report shows that accountants are most likely to want to move abroad, followed by IT technicians, software engineers, and teachers.

“New Zealand will forever offer something truly special for anyone that comes here. We are incredibly lucky to have what we have and should take advantage of that,” Muralidhar added.

Tax concerns cause hold-up

It could be within New Zealand’s interest to introduce a Digital Nomad visa; not least because its own inhabitants are being lured away by rival schemes.

Technology firm Cvapp recently found that, since 2019, there has been a 2700% increase in searches from New Zealanders using Google to find remote work.

However, the scheme’s delivery appears to be getting caught on tax legislation. This has become a controversial topic in the Digital Nomad visa debate.

Specialised visas often have tax concessions to entice applicants. But some countries, such as Mexico and Argentina, complain this pushes up living costs for locals, while contributing little to regional economies.

Robyn Walker, New Zealand Deloitte tax partner, agrees. “Obviously, we’re in a global war for talent but we still want people who are happy to pay their fair share,” she told The Post.

How can I work in New Zealand now?

Stanford has declared that, while the National Party is open to the idea of a Digital Nomad visa, it is “unfortunately not as an immediate priority”.

In the meantime, Brits who are interested in moving to the land of The Lord of the Rings must be content with applying to New Zealand’s Working Holiday Visa. The scheme allows visa holders from the UK to live and work in NZ for three years.

Technically, this scheme is meant for those who are employed by a New Zealand-based company. However, it is possible to work for a foreign employer on this visa.

That said, after six months, you will legally be classed as a tax resident and will need to register for self-assessment in New Zealand (although because of the UK’s double taxation agreement, you will be able to claim tax relief).

Failing that, New Zealand also offers an Accredited Employer Work Visa, which will allow employees to work for a local, accredited employer for up to five years.

Keen as a Kiwi? Don’t worry, we’ll keep this page regularly updated with any new information related to the proposed New Zealand Digital Nomad visa.

Written by:
Helena Young
Helena is Lead Writer at Startups. As resident people and premises expert, she's an authority on topics such as business energy, office and coworking spaces, and project management software. With a background in PR and marketing, Helena also manages the Startups 100 Index and is passionate about giving early-stage startups a platform to boost their brands. From interviewing Wetherspoon's boss Tim Martin to spotting data-led working from home trends, her insight has been featured by major trade publications including the ICAEW, and news outlets like the BBC, ITV News, Daily Express, and HuffPost UK.

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