20 Best Countries for Americans Who Want to Live Abroad

Start your next chapter in a new country.

Plaza in Seville, Spain during the day with people walking around
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Considering a life abroad? It's a fantasy for many with a sense of wanderlust, and yet, according to the State Department, millions of Americans are actually doing it. The idea of uprooting is far less far-fetched than it used to be, and it's easier than ever to take the plunge with the help of globalization, frequent flier miles, and the increased freedom of working remotely. Moving abroad can appeal to just about anyone with a YOLO mentality, whether you're a Gen Z entrepreneur, a family relocating for a new job, or a retiree aiming to make the most of those golden years.

While there are many nations to consider for your new home, we've narrowed down this list of the best countries for expats by prioritizing a range of topics including safety, friendliness, quality of life, and access to culture and outdoor activities. Other major aspects to consider in your search include work-life balance and the cost of living. For this, we also factored in the latest survey by InterNations, which was answered by nearly 12,000 expats representing 177 nationalities in 181 countries or territories, and ranks some of the world's best cities for expats, according to expats.

Work-life Balance

In such a connected world, you may find yourself putting in longer hours to stay in touch with colleagues and clients in different time zones. This can lead to isolation and exhaustion. You'll want to pick a country that offers a healthy and productive work-life balance. Look into co-working spaces, community events, clubs, gyms, and access to serotonin-inducing activities — like running groups, cooking classes, and language courses — all of which can help you keep the balance and mingle with locals and fellow expats.

Cost of Living

A major factor, if not the most important one, when considering a move abroad is the cost of living. This umbrella term covers the price of housing, of course, but also healthcare, taxes, and tax incentives, as well as transportation, and prices for things like internet, groceries, shopping, dining, and even your daily cappuccino. If budget is a concern, look beyond the biggest city and capital of the country you are interested in and consider smaller cities and up-and-coming tech hubs where you can find lower prices and, potentially, a better quality of life, depending on your style.

Here are 20 of the best countries for expats to help you get started and practical steps to make your dreams a reality.


Cityscape of Porto, Portugal

Paula Galindo Valle/Travel + Leisure

The trendsetting country on the Atlantic continues to attract young expats, particularly entrepreneurs, given its relatively low cost of living and welcoming business incentives that help stretch your hard-earned dollars. Lisbon is usually the first choice city, but also consider Porto, buzzing with creative energy as a manufacturing and textile hub. On a day off, take advantage of the city's hilly, cobbled streets with cool cafes, historic churches, and port distilleries. You can also ride your bike to a string of beaches, or take a boat ride through the Douro Valley, the oldest wine region in Europe.

Less than an hour from Porto is Portugal's third city, Braga, nicknamed the "Rome of Portugal" because of its Baroque architecture. Braga also offers attractive green spaces, international schools, and high-tech companies for qualified candidates. Further south is seaside Comporta, with plenty of chic expat families, and the Algarve coast with around 330 sunny days per year. You can also check out the affordable nine islands in the Azores. No matter where you choose to move in Portugal, you'll be hard-pressed to find a kinder nation to call home.

How to move to Portugal: Portugal offers different types of digital nomad visas, also known as temporary stay visas, which will allow you to live in Portugal for up to one year with an option to extend up to five years.

Costa Rica

Aerial view of Tamarindo Beach in the orange sun glow. Can see boats and hillside buildings on this coast line of Costa Rica
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Relocating to well-trodden Costa Rica isn't a novel idea for anyone who has ever visited the country and met a few friendly expats along the way, but there's a reason for its persisting popularity. Situated between the Pacific and Caribbean coasts, this utopic Central American nation wins people over with its volcanoes, cloud forests, and wildlife, like sloths, capuchin monkeys, and toucans. More than that, it's the Pura Vida ("Pure Life") philosophy for good living, which sums up this peaceful country.

Sweetening the deal, the country offers a straightforward residence program, affordable dental and healthcare, a stable democracy, and easy flights to the U.S. from two international airports in San Jose and Liberia. While the capital of San Jose has a notable food and arts scene, expats can head to either coast for long stretches of undeveloped beaches, seaside villages, surfing and yoga classes, neighborly expat communities, and business ventures often tied to eco-tourism. If you prioritize a healthy, laid-back lifestyle surrounded by natural beauty, then this might be the place for you.

How to move to Costa Rica: With the country's new digital nomad visa, remote workers can stay in Costa Rica for up to a year with an option to extend for another year.

South Korea

People on the crowded neon night streets of Sinchon in the heart of Seoul, South Korea’s vibrant capital city
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The country of K-pop, K-barbecue, K-beauty, and 24-hour jjimjilbangs (Korean bathhouses) draws expats wanting to take part in this epicenter of popular culture. The sleek city of Seoul, Asia's third-largest economy, will provide you with killer restaurants, shopping, entertainment, night markets, and a high-tech scene with international workers who partake in the work-hard, play-hard mentality. Professionals based here will find tight-knit social groups and regular networking events for those looking to hobnob over soju cocktails.

But don't overlook Busan, South Korea's edgy second city with beaches, fresh fish, and an international film festival. No matter where you decide to live on the peninsula, enjoy access to rugged mountains and thousands of islands offering plenty of outdoor adventures like winter skiing and treks to 7th-century temples.

How to move to South Korea: There have been murmurs about a South Korean digital nomad visa in the works, but for now, expats will need to obtain a work visa.


Golden Light, Calgary, Skyline, Alberta, Canada
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Not only is it easy to get to, but Canada also remains a top contender for American expats for several reasons that may include affordable education, cultural diversity, stability, and countless adventures in the unspoiled natural wilderness. If seeking a big-city environment, consider Toronto, where the majority of Canada's work opportunities are located in addition to a sophisticated dining and shopping scene. Vancouver, to the west, is surrounded by sea and mountains, and living here allows for planning weekend trips to Whistler for skiing or Tofino for surfing or stormwatching.

Meanwhile, the more affordable city of Calgary offers cool eateries, hip neighborhoods, and proximity to the best trails in the Canadian Rockies (Banff National Park is an hour away). Then there are the French-speaking cities of Montreal and Quebec City in the east for those who want a hint of European living without the long flights.

How to move to Canada: Depending on your circumstances, there are several ways to start the residence process. There are also visas for self-employed workers and entrepreneurs.


Roof of Graz, Styria region, Austria.
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This highly livable Central European country can have you hiking in the Alps one day and enjoying a performance in a famous opera house the next. Austria's capital, Vienna, has been recognized for its quality of life and low crime rates, as well as an exciting food and wine scene focused on organic, local ingredients. It's also a good choice for those looking for affordability, healthcare, and superb international schools.

Further south is the youthful city of Graz, which offers Renaissance and Baroque architecture as well as abundant parks and upbeat nightlife. Beyond all of the aforementioned pleasures of living in Austria, including work opportunities in various high-level sectors, you'll also have many new and exciting neighbors with Austria's borders touching Italy, Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Germany, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, and Slovenia.

How to move to Austria: You will need to obtain a student or work visa to relocate to Austria, as there are few options for self-employed workers, digital nomads, or retirees.


Beachside village with wooden fishing boats on the Atlantic Ocean in Accra, Ghana
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This West African nation's diverse expat community continues to grow each year thanks to the friendly locals and the laid-back culture. In 2019, Ghana commemorated the Year of Return, 400 years since the first enslaved Africans were brought to America, kicking off a multiyear program to welcome American expats seeking booming business opportunities, low crime rates, and stable democracy. The program includes a path to citizenship through the Right of Abode law for African descendants planning to leave the U.S. and a program that entices residents to keep their talents in the country for at least 10 years.

The vibrant capital of Accra offers a great quality of life for skilled workers, while job hunters and digital nomads will have their pick of social support groups, networking events, and associations to join. On weekends, take your pick between the country's beautiful beaches, national parks, and waterfalls, as well as one of the many UNESCO-listed forts and castles on the Atlantic. An additional plus: Ghana uses English as its official language.

How to move to Ghana: Ghana does not offer a digital nomad visa, so if you are interested in relocating to Ghana, you will first need to apply for a work permit. Or, if you are of African descent, you can apply for the Right of Abode.


A row of brightly colorful homes and a downtown skyline in the distance in Seoul, South Korea.
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The upscale city-state of Singapore often ranks among the best countries for expats to live and work, thanks to job security, high-quality schools, and one of the world's most efficient public transport systems that can get you all over the city in a jiffy. In 2022, it came in at #3 on InterNations' Expat Essentials Index. There's an incredible food scene, thanks to its melting pot of cultures, from night markets to hawker centers to Michelin-starred restaurants, as well as incredible shopping malls, sustainable skyscrapers, and endless walks in the remarkable botanical gardens, the best in Southeast Asia.

When you're ready to travel (Thailand, Vietnam, and Bali are a hop, skip, and jump away), you'll fly through Changi Airport and see the "Rain Vortex," the world's tallest indoor waterfall and five-story garden featuring thousands of tropical plants, trees, and shrubs. With this abundance of lush greenery injected into new buildings and terminals, Singapore's "City in a Garden" moniker is coming to life in a new, big way.

How to move to Singapore: Singapore doesn't offer a digital nomad visa, but you can apply for an Employment Pass if you have work lined up or an EntrePass if you are an entrepreneur interested in starting a business in Singapore.


View of island Styrso in the southern Gothenburg archipelago of Sweden
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Scandi-fans in search of constant fresh air and a sense of space might want to consider moving to Sweden, which has one of the lowest population densities in the world. The design-forward capital of Stockholm offers walkable access to the enchanting historic center, world-class museums, and impeccably stylish cafes. The Swedish capital also ranked in the top ten on InterNations' 2022 Working Abroad Index. Those on a budget can check out Sweden's more affordable second city of Gothenburg, which has been called the world's most sustainable destination by the Global Destination Sustainability Index, for several consecutive years. Here you can browse ethical fashion shops and dine at zero-waste restaurants. Plus, all meat served in the city must be organically raised.

Summer months offer lively Midsummer festivals, swimming, and kayaking, while winters above the Arctic Circle feature the northern lights, reindeer feedings, and dog sledding — plus, quick access to Denmark, Norway, and Finland. Overall, there's a natural ease to the work-life balance in Sweden; for starters, most employees begin with around five weeks of paid vacation and new parents will benefit from months-long paid maternity and paternity leaves.

How to move to Sweden: Without any visas available for digital nomads, you will have to obtain a residence permit to relocate to Sweden through work, self-employment, or a student visa.

New Zealand

The Wellington Cable Car runs between the CBD and the hill suburb of Kelburn with viewas of the harbour.
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Americans looking to fine-tune their mental well-being and work-life balance will be drawn to New Zealand's safety, friendliness, and high quality of life. The adventure capital of the world's huge variety of activities should be enough of a draw, but those seeking peaceful surroundings will find plenty of calm with fresh seafood and wine tastings. Auckland is the modern hub of commerce and culture, but future residents might also want to consider the capital of Wellington (with its charming Victorian timber architecture) or the adrenaline-filled Queenstown as their home. With ferry service between the North and South Islands, plus plenty of affordable domestic flights, residents are free to explore the impressive array of mountains, glaciers, hot springs, lakes, beaches, and ski slopes. Your paycheck will be well spent on experiencing the good life.

How to move to New Zealand: New Zealand offers a Working Holiday Visa, which allows anyone between the ages of 18 and 30 (or 35 for some countries) to stay in New Zealand for up to two years. If you are past the age requirements, you can look into other kinds of visas that may be available to you.


Plaza in Seville, Spain during the day with people walking around
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Sunny Spain is always a convincing choice for those who wish to live a sophisticated working life or retire amongst passionate and tolerant locals. For starters, Spain has some of the lowest costs of living in Western Europe, so you can find both affordable housing and quality bottles of Rioja costing only a few euros. Spain also has great public healthcare (and healthcare reimbursements), international schools, and self-employment visas that may appeal to entrepreneurs, freelancers, and digital nomads.

You can gravitate towards one of the big cities like Madrid, Barcelona, Bilbao, or Seville. Just don't discount Valencia, which ranked #1 in the InterNations 2022 Quality of Life Index. You can choose from the Balearics in the Mediterranean — home of islands like Mallorca and Ibiza — or the tropical Canary Islands in the Atlantic. Then there's Andalusia's stunning citrus coast with Moorish history and architecture, beautiful beaches, and English-speaking expat communities or Malaga, the birthplace of Picasso, with over 30 museums — the highest concentration of museums per square mile in Europe. LGBTQ+ expats will also find one of the world's safest and most open-minded countries.

How to move to Spain: Spain now offers a digital nomad visa that allows travelers to live there for up to 12 months, with the option to renew for up to five years. Alternatively, the non-lucrative visa allows you to reside in Spain if you can show financial means.


Tulips in The Netherlands
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Imagine riding your bike through a colorful tulip field, a hot stroopwafel in hand, and maybe a distant windmill casting a silhouette on the horizon. It's a dreamy image that expats in the Netherlands may get to enjoy from time to time, but the country has many more practical advantages for expats than sweet caramel cookies and its reputation for being one the most bike-friendly places on the planet. In the Netherlands, you'll find a large international community, with many English speakers and international schools, as well as an open-minded and liberal culture and a large job market.

It may not be the most affordable city in Europe, but Amsterdam ranked in seventh place on the InterNations' Working Abroad Index, with a high score in work culture and satisfaction. Plus, the Netherlands has way more to offer beyond Amsterdam, with very livable cities like Rotterdam, home to some fantastic museums and architecture, and Eindhoven, which is a huge hub for the technology sector. And for such a small country, there's plenty to explore, like the beautiful canals of Delft and Utrecht and many historic windmills, including ones you can sleep in.

How to move to the Netherlands: The Netherlands does not offer a digital nomad visa, but you can apply for a long-stay visa if you are moving for work or study, or if you are an entrepreneur or investor.

United Arab Emirates

Dubai's dancing fountains are a major free attraction.
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In the Middle East, Dubai has been dazzling travelers with the world's tallest building the Burj Khalifa, opulent hotels, and some of the world's best dining options. Many expats have not only been drawn to this modern city of three million but also to the capital of the United Arab Emirates, Abu Dhabi. Both cities took the top two spots on the InterNations Index of Expat Essentials, which compares cities by the ease of settling in, factoring in the less dreamy parts of moving abroad like opening a bank account and general bureaucratic housekeeping. Of course, many expats also enjoy the 0 percent income tax.

Lamentably, the UAE is a very conservative country where homosexuality is illegal, as is alcohol consumed outside of designated tourist areas. However, certain venues have been granted licenses to serve alcohol to tourists and residents. Despite these strict restrictions and intolerance, many expats find the UAE to be a desirable place to live. According to InterNations, many people living in the UAE reported a high level of personal safety, a welcoming environment, and a satisfying social life.

How to move to the UAE: One of the biggest draws for expats is how easy it is to get a remote working visa. Each Emirati is governed separately, so the requirements may differ depending on whether you decide to apply in Abu Dhabi or Dubai.


View of a port in Kyrenia/Girne during a sunny summer day, Cyprus
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In the eastern Mediterranean, the climate and scenery of Cyprus are ideal for beach-loving expats who will enjoy their time off swimming in some of the cleanest waters in Europe and checking out the underwater museum. Travelers should be aware of the political situation as the island has been divided into two parts since 1974: Northern Cyprus controlled by Turkey, and the Republic of Cyprus, which is part of the EU. Tourists should have no problem crossing the border, which passes through the capital of Nicosia, but the procedure is strict.

Cyprus boasts a large expat community, English is spoken throughout, the cost of living is low, and there are many options for parents who wish to enroll their kids in an international school. Cyprus has also just introduced a digital nomad visa, which allows remote workers to live in Cyprus for up to two years.

How to move to Cyprus: If you are thinking of making a permanent move one of the easiest ways to get a residency permit is through the investment visa. To apply for either visa, you will need to make an appointment through the Cypriot embassy or consulate.


Family riding through small Mexican beach town
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For Americans living abroad, Mexico has numerous benefits beyond its delicious cuisine and abundance of beautiful beaches. Generally, the cost of living in Mexico is much lower and InterNations ranked Mexico City as the top city in the world for financial satisfaction and ease of settling in. Expats in Mexico don't only find themselves satisfied with the lower cost of living expenses but also benefit from access to huge expat communities that can be found beyond Mexico City from resort areas like the Maya Riviera to the dramatic coasts of Oaxaca.

Named Travel + Leisure's destination of the year in 2022, Mexico has travelers satisfied at every turn, enticing more and more people to go beyond the resorts and the beaches and check out historically fascinating and culturally-rich cities like Guadalajara and San Miguel de Allende. And according to real estate experts, some of the best places to move to in Mexico include the under-the-radar cities of Puebla and Mérida, as well as the classics you might have already heard of like Monterrey and Los Cabos.

How to move to Mexico: Mexico does not offer a digital nomad visa, but expats looking to make a permanent move beyond the usual six-month allowance of a tourist visa can look into gaining a Temporary Resident Visa, with which you can spend up to four years in Mexico. For official retirees, there is also the option to apply for a Permanent Resident Visa.


Sunset with rice terraces and volcano in Bali

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There is no denying that Bali is a hotspot for travel in Indonesia, but it's not the only island with fantastic beaches in the massive and multicultural archipelago in Southeast Asia. Across the country's over 6,000 inhabited islands (over 18,000 if you count non-inhabited), you'll find exciting jungles, impressive volcanoes, and large expat communities on islands like Lombok and Sumba and around the 10-million-population-strong capital of Jakarta in neighborhoods like Kemang. Not to mention, you'll be in the prime position for exploring some of the country's quieter and more remote regions — and incredible snorkeling destinations — like the Banda Islands or the Gili Islands off the coast of Lombok. Indonesia also ranked highly in terms of ease of settling in the latest InterNations survey, citing the ease of finding housing and high job satisfaction.

Living among many island paradises, expats in Indonesia enjoy a low cost of living in a welcoming culture and endless vacation options from beach trips and surfing excursions to visits to natural areas like Komodo National Park in Java and Sipiso-piso Waterfall in Sumatra. While the heat, distance, and traffic are drawbacks for some expats, there's no denying that Indonesia is an attractive destination where you can devote yourself to hobbies like diving, surfing, or yoga, while never running out of places to explore.

How to move to Indonesia: To stay in Indonesia long-term, you will need to apply for a Temporary Stay permit and obtain a residence card, also known as KITAS.


A beautiful picture of Peace Park in Taipei, Taiwan
Peace Park in Taipei, Taiwan. (Photo by Daniel Aguilera / Contributor / Getty Images)

While it might not be top of mind when it comes to dream destinations, Taiwan has won over many expats with its high quality of life, taking the #3 spot in the most recent InterNations survey of the overall best places for expats. The country is financially stable, welcoming, and safe, but one of the biggest benefits for expats is the affordability and high quality of the healthcare system which all residents are required to sign up for.

English is widely spoken in Taiwan, but learning some Mandarin is generally recommended to help you get around. Taiwan is a fairly urbanized island, famous for its Taipei skyscrapers, but it's not without its natural beauty too. Nine miles from the city center, Yangmingshan National Park was named by Quiet Parks International in 2020 as the World's First Quiet Park, and it's easily accessible by bus from the capital. The island is home to many other natural wonders like the Taroko Gorge, the world's deepest marble canyon, and stunning Sun Moon Lake surrounded by mountains on all sides — not to mention the hundreds of natural hot springs you'll find all over the island.

How to move to Taiwan: You'll need a work permit to relocate to Taiwan, which can be obtained through a Taiwanese employer. Taiwan does offer a working holiday visa for certain nationalities like the United Kingdom, Australia, and Canada, but unfortunately, the United States is not included.


Ireland, Ulster, County Antrim, Bushmills: Dunluce Castle, Pyke Castle, Iron Islands, in the TV series Game of Thrones
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Beyond the iconic sights you can visit on a one-week vacation, Ireland has plenty of nooks and crannies to explore, from historic countryside castles to charming small towns. Despite the notoriously rainy weather, expats in Ireland are highly-satisfied with the quality of life found here, especially for families who reap social benefits like seven weeks of paid paternity leave (for both parents).

According to InterNations, Dublin offers some of the best career opportunities in the world, thanks to the many businesses that headquarter there. However, Cork in the southwestern part of the country is also a popular option, being a large city that often feels like a small town. Ireland is a part of the European Union, so residency there will make it easier to travel across the continent.

How to move to Ireland: Ireland does not offer a digital nomad visa, so you will need to obtain a residence permit through a work, working holiday, or study visa. Alternatively, if you are financially independent, you may have the option to retire in Ireland.


Temple in Chiang Mai, Thailand
Chiang Mai has lots of beautiful temples. Copyright Anek / Getty Images

Known affectionately as the Land of Smiles, Thailand has a long reputation for hospitality and welcoming expats. With the two main nomad and expat hubs in Chiang Mai and Bangkok, it's easy to settle in quickly and make connections with fellow foreigners and locals. With great food and endless beach resorts to explore, expats will also find great returns on the cost of living, especially in Bangkok, which came in at #2 behind Mexico City in the latest InterNations Personal Finance Index with 86 percent of respondents saying that their disposable income is enough or more than enough to afford a comfortable life.

While housing is affordable and the people are friendly, Thailand doesn't rank as highly as other countries for job satisfaction and quality of life. One of the biggest perks of living in Thailand though may be the location. Not only is there plenty to see domestically — like some of the world's top beaches — but you're just a border crossing or short flight away from other exciting countries like Vietnam, Singapore, Cambodia, Malaysia, and the Philippines.

How to move to Thailand: Aspiring Thailand-bound expats can apply for the Long Term Resident Visa, which will allow them the opportunity to spend up to 10 years living in Thailand.


a french countryside with rows of green vineyards leading to charming houses

Pakin Songmor

When it comes to living la vie en rose, you can't do any better than France. Whether you're dreaming of a busy life in your own pied-à-terre in Paris or a leisurely one filled with countryside strolls or evening dips on the French Riviera, France offers American expats and retirees a grand variety of lifestyles and landscapes across its many regions. The country scores well on InterNations' indexes for Quality of Life, and although the language barrier can be an issue, there are many English-speaking expat communities beyond Paris in big cities like Lyon and Strasbourg.

France can be a very expensive place to live. However, there are numerous social benefits for residents such as access to universal healthcare, economic stability, and easy access to travel across the European Union.

How to move to France: France does not offer a visa for digital nomads, but you can apply for a long-stay visa for work or study reasons.


Ho Chi Minh City rainy evening, Vietnam
Ho Chi Minh City rainy evening, Vietnam.

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In a country as culturally rich and historically layered as this one, expats have found a lot to love in Vietnam. Offering both beaches and mountains, plus a climate that can be surprisingly cool in some areas, there is plenty to explore and many large cities to choose from, where you'll find a low cost of living and many other expats. In Hanoi, remnants of French colonialism influence the city's architecture and cuisine and in Ho Chi Minh City, many neighborhoods distinctly appeal to expats since they are more westernized.

According to InterNations data, 80 percent of expats in Vietnam are happy with the cost of living, and the country ranked in the top ten on the Ease of Settling In Index. Many expats even reported that it is easy to make friends with both fellow expats and locals. Although some challenges include healthcare and job satisfaction, the economy has been on an upswing and there are many international school options for families.

How to move to Vietnam: Vietnam has not introduced a digital nomad visa, so if you want to stay beyond the 30 days of the on-arrival tourist, visa you will need a work permit.

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