The legal systems are severely lagging behind technological advancements. The problem is that it’s almost impossible to work remotely as a digital nomad from another country legally. In the few cases it’s possible there is usually enough bureaucracy that nobody is gonna go through that. The solution that most remote workers currently are using is working on a tourist visa. I believe this is a loose-loose situation for both the digital nomads as well as the governments.
The gray area
It’s not legal to work on a tourist visa, but on the other hand its almost impossible for the governments to prove that you are working from your laptop over the internet. Basically the laws were made up before the time of the internet. They did not have remote workers in mind since the only way to work during that time was to be there in physical form. The actual gray area is this; Imagine a person on a holiday sitting on the beach, the person opens up a laptop to quickly answer a business email. This is actually not allowed since the person does not have a work permission. But this is not anything governments are taking action on. Therefore since they already are allowing some degree of remote work its really hard for the government to draw a hard line.
I believe that a win-win situation is possible so that digital nomads can legally work in a country, but at the same time the government will be able to make money from it. I think that the best way to go about this is a remote worker visa. The easiest way to implement this without all the bureaucracy would be to have a fixed fee each month for a remote visa. I’m just gonna go ahead and make up an amount of $100 per month for this visa. This would allow you to work legally online in the country.
The current system makes really no sense at all. The digital nomads are not competing with the local labor market and is not a threat for the country. In contrary it’s actually an opportunity for the country to make more money by issuing a remote visa. It would likely also start attracting more people to come and work remotely then since it can be done legally. Let’s hope this can become reality sooner then later. Likely it’s going to take care of itself as the remote working trend grows further. But we also have to push whenever possible to make the changes come true faster.
For further reading about this topics I would highly recommend this article at levels.io