Perpetual travel with tourist visas
The standard format of retirement abroad, i.e. permanent relocation to a new country, is not suitable for everyone.
For many, applying and the implications of living abroad are not worth it. Others find it difficult to land in a single place of retirement abroad or want to see as many people as possible, traveling without limitation.
Retiring abroad is not a unique proposition. Each agenda makes sense in its context. And none of them make sense to you, which means you have to invent your own. The idea is infinitely customizable.
Becoming a Perpetual Traveler (PT) is an alternative approach to the standard format. PTs are overseas retirees who have not settled anywhere. They go from country to country as they please, usually staying as long as a tourist visa allows.
They’re like digital nomads, except they’ve been around a lot longer, they’re not tied to their laptops or ruled by internet connections in the same way, and they don’t usually have to ask visa.
Along with the freedom and adventure that the PT lifestyle brings, there are also administrative and tax advantages:
- This saves you from applying for residency, which can be a bureaucratic nightmare and usually involves paying fees and meeting specific financial, health and criminal background requirements.
- It frees you from the constraints of time requirements in the country that residency entails. Take the example of Belize: to be eligible for permanent residence, you must stay in Belize continuously for one year without leaving for more than 14 days. This means that you only have two weeks per year to travel abroad.
- You can avoid triggering tax residency in another country. Portugal’s Passive Income Earner or D7 residence permit, popular among American retirees, is designed to make you tax resident. Tax residency is triggered after spending 183 days in Portugal over a 12-month period, and the D7 permit requires you to spend eight months a year in the country for the first two years of holding it.
- If you live and earn income abroad, you may qualify for the Foreign Earned Income Exclusion (FEIE). As an American, you owe taxes in the United States no matter where you live, but the FEIE can be a great ally, allowing you to exclude $112,000 per person for the 2022 tax year. .
Which destinations are best for PTs?
Americans can currently travel to 186 countries without a visa or with a visa issued on arrival. Most grant tourist stays of one to three months. To avoid traveler burnout as a PT, it is best to target countries that offer at least three months. Consider the following destinations, all of which have generous tourist allowances and don’t require you to apply for a visa, at least initially.
Up to one year
Up to 6 months
- Barbados. Note that you may also be required to present a return ticket to your home country.
- Bermuda. You will need to present a return ticket or proof of travel to enter the country.
- Dominica. You may be able to get a three-month extension by paying a fee to the Treasury Department. You will need to present proof of travel and funds to support yourself during your stay.
- Fiji. A visa is issued on arrival for US citizens for four months, but you can stay two months longer by applying for a visitor’s permit extension.
- Mexico. Mexico stands out for having no limit on the cumulative time of stay in the country. Once your first six months are up, you can legally cross the border and come straight back for another six months. This may change in the future. The immigration authority at your port of entry may request a hotel reservation and proof of onward travel and may only grant you stay for the time you expect to be in Mexico.
- Panama. Visitors must show proof of travel or a return ticket, usually requested before boarding your flight to Panama. You may also be asked for proof of funds to support yourself during your stay. This can be a credit card, bank statement, travelers checks or $500 in cash.
- Peru. Americans get just over six months – 183 days – on a tourist visa on arrival.
Up to 3 months
- Chile. You can extend it for another three months by paying a fee to the Chilean immigration office.
- Colombia. You can extend your three-month allowance for an additional three months, but only spend six months per calendar year in the country.
- Costa Rica. You must present proof of onward travel or a return ticket.
- French Polynesia
- Guatemala. Stays can be extended for an additional three months with the local immigration authorities. Guatemala is part of the Central America Border Control Agreement-4 with Nicaragua, El Salvador and Honduras. This allows free travel between the four countries for all three months, but it also means that once your tourist allowance expires, you must leave the entire region.
- Jamaica. You may be required to present proof of onward travel upon arrival.
- Malaysia. The first three months can be extended up to two months.
- Seychelles. The initial three month stay can be extended for periods of three months up to one year for a fee. Visitors need proof of travel or a return ticket, confirmed accommodation, and proof of funds to cover expenses during their stay. USD 150 per day is the recommended amount.
- Schengen area. Americans can stay in the 26 European countries that make up the Schengen area for three months during a six-month period. After three months you must leave the Schengen area and wait another three months before you can return. From May 2023, travel within the Schengen area will no longer be visa-free for Americans. You will need to request authorization from the European Travel Information and Authorization System (ETIAS).