New Forms of Labor Contracting: The "Digital Nomads"

For several years, there has been a global trend to address the situation of the so-called "Digital Nomads", an expression that is used to refer to those people who, through the use of technologies and telecommunications, work remotely with a mobility that transcends the borders of the country in which they reside and the country of domicile of the companies that hire them. In other words, the hypothesis of "international telework".

Since the beginning of the Covid-19 health emergency and the development of teleworking as a form of labor contracting, many countries have approved special "visas" to protect the situation of these workers, who choose to live and work legally remotely, from abroad.

The case of Uruguay: The migration solution adopted.

In our country, a specific procedure was created that protects the situation of these workers and that modified the applicable regulations on immigration procedures (approved by Decree 238/022). This is the "Provisional Identity Card for Digital Nomads" (HIP ND), a temporary residence that is granted for a period of up to 180 days and whose authorization depends on the National Directorate of Migration (DNM).

  • The request for this document is made online (through the State procedures portal) and the approval of the procedure by the DNM has an approximate delay of thirty days.
  • Once admitted, it is possible to schedule an appointment for the issuance of the Uruguayan document before the National Directorate of Civil Identification (DNIC). In this instance the interested party must appear personally (with the original documentation).
  • Subsequently, the document is ready to be withdrawn (either by the worker or by a duly authorized representative) within five working days.

Regarding the term of stay, it is possible to manage an extension for another 180 days, thus completing the year in the country. To do this, you must present a Criminal Record Certificate for the 5 years prior to entering Uruguay (from all addresses where you have resided for more than 6 months). In turn, a certificate is required that certifies that the foreigner has applied the minimum vaccines required by the Ministry of Public Health.

On the other hand, it is worth mentioning that in December 2022 a bill was presented to Parliament that proposes the approval of a new legal residence procedure applicable to these workers. Although the proposal (which is still under study) also implies a temporary residence, it increases the term of stay to two years, providing for its renewal -for the same time- for the same period.

Labour and social security considerations

With regard to the exercise of work activity, Law No. 18,250 provides that migrants shall have equal treatment with nationals. Similarly, Regulatory Decree No. 238/022 establishes that natural or legal persons who employ foreign workers in a dependent relationship in the national territory must comply with all labor regulations in force.

However, in the case of digital nomads, the particularity is given because they are not employees of companies incorporated or installed in the country. Nor is the activity they carry out "for Uruguay", although they are physically within the national territory.

Regarding social security, Decree 394/022 expressly stipulates that the registration of these workers with the social security bodies is not required. This, on the understanding that they work abroad and therefore continue to make the corresponding contributions in the country of origin, thus avoiding a double contribution.

However, there is no regulation on the labor regime applicable to these figures. That is, what legislation corresponds to abide by in terms of the rights and obligations of the employment relationship, both in terms of salary and other working conditions. For its part, the Telework Law (No. 19,978) does not expressly cover these situations either. Its scope of application is limited to remote work carried out within the country, for companies based in it and therefore does not contemplate the situation raised.

As a result, the solution is to resort to the General Law on Private International Law (Law No. 19,920), through which the parties can freely choose the applicable law, under the principle of the autonomy of the will. 

Final Thoughts

The world of work must adapt to reality and in this sense, being our country an unquestionably attractive destination for foreigners, for its political-economic stability and quality of life; we welcome the fact that Uruguay has finally considered the migratory situation of these people who opt for geographical freedom, taking their work with them.

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Macarena López's picture

PhD in Law and Social Sciences, graduated from the University of the Republic. Postgraduate in Applied Labor Law (Universidad de Montevideo).

Her practice is focused on Labor, Contentious, Labor Administrative and Social Security Law. His experience includes providing advice to companies in their labor relations, representation in legal disputes, drafting employment contracts, immigration processing, general and special benefits by sector of activity, drafting labor regulations, and assistance in conflicts (individual and collective). , in hearings before the Ministry of Labor and Social Security.

She has published several articles of interest in different Newsletters, regarding labor issues, such as regarding outsourced services, the holiday regime in our country, job placement for people with disabilities, and teleworking.

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