With dozens of countries around the world offering long-term visas and entry permits to cater for the growing phenomenon of remote workers, it was actually a difficult decision to make on whether I would enjoy the warm beaches of Barbados or the cold freezing winters of Georgia, which is still under lockdown as of January 2021 and is closed to tourists, who in pre-COVID times were lining up to visit this beautiful country.
So why did I choose Georgia?
For me personally, it was an easy choice. Georgia is a short flight (now flights) away from my home country, Lebanon. It shares almost the same climate, has great food, friendly people, and an abundance of things to see and do safely since most of these things are outdoors and in nature. Here is a blog post that I wrote 5 years ago on why everyone needs to visit Georgia at least once in their life!
In August 2020, Georgia introduced the “Remotely From Georgia” program, a new government program that allows foreign citizens from 95 countries to work in Georgia for at least 180 days. This is not a visa program but more of an entry permit since the borders were still officially closed to non-Georgians.
The program specifically targets freelancers, full-time employees, or business owners who are able to stay in Georgia for at least 360 days without a visa per their passport or other travel document. To benefit from this program, you would have to fill a quick and straightforward application in which you are asked to attach a passport copy, a proof of employment, a bank statement, and health insurance for the duration of your planned stay. In general, you should prove that you have a minimum monthly salary of $2,000. You get a confirmation email shortly after you hit the apply button and in 10 business days or less you should get an answer. Make sure you put the correct entry date as the permit you receive is valid for 10 days after the specified date.
After approval, you must book an 8-day quarantine/stay at a government designated hotel. The prices range from around $45 per night to hundreds of dollars. I booked mine at Amado Hotel, which overlooks the city and has a balcony, which proved very useful since 8 days locked up in a small room are actually more difficult than you think. Before my quarantine was over, a doctor visited me to assess my condition and see if I need to take a PCR test, and i was cleared to leave the hotel after her visit since I didn’t show any symptoms. You are also requested to take and record your own temperature three times per day.
Things to Know Before Arrival
- Most hotels that are hosting quarantined travelers offer paid lunch and dinner on top of their free breakfasts, however, based on my and other people’s experiences, the meals are horrible, but luckily, ordering food via two apps (Wolt and Glovo) comes in handy. The only catch is that both of them require a functioning Georgian mobile number to work. When i arrived at midnight in Tbilisi airport, all shops at the airport and elsewhere were closed and the hotel refused to help and get me one so I messaged customer support on both apps and the folks of Wolt were kind enough to let me use the app with a non-Georgian number. Both apps have cash or credit card payment options.
- Quarantine at the hotel is very strict so you won’t be allowed to wander around even on hotel grounds so plan accordingly to keep yourself busy. Bring books, an iPad and/or try to work as much as you can to stay sane.
- You will find a lot of conflicting reports online on whether you actually need a PCR test before arrival since you would be quarantining for 8 days anyway. The short answer is yes and no. Turkish Airlines wouldn’t have let me board the airplane without a negative test despite my assertions to them that I am quarantining. Luckily, I had one already. Upon arrival in Georgia, nobody even bothered to ask me for my test.
- This didn’t happen to me but many others reported it — passport control officers in Tbilisi will ask to see the documents you used to apply for “Remotely From Georgia” so make sure you have printouts to produce them if or when asked.