I'm planning a trip to Aruba and so I was checking out the passport requirements. I found them here. Near the top, it says, "During their stay in Aruba tourists are not allowed to work" (emphasis theirs)

Does this mean that I can't so much as check my work email? And if so, when I tell my employer about my travel plans, should I mention that if they ask me to do any remote work while I'm there, they'll be asking me to violate the law? I want to use this as an excuse to "turn off" while I'm there.

EDIT: Part of the reason I'm asking is because of some forum posts I've found where there isn't a consensus about this being allowed. As for my employer asking me to work remotely, for my job that just means being available in case anything goes wrong and answering emails if anyone needs an answer urgently.

EDIT 2: I'm a US citizen.

  • 37
    I'm pretty sure this is related to getting a "job" there. There's no even reasonable ways to check whether you're doing your regular work whilst abroad, is there?
    – user71614
    Dec 18, 2017 at 16:14
  • 33
    If they ask you to do any remote work while you're there, they're technically not giving you vacation time, which itself might be a violation of the law, unless you're a contractor in which case you generally aren't entitled to any. Dec 18, 2017 at 16:15
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    Look, when you enter at passport control and they ask the purpose of your visit, you say 'Vacation'. Keep it very simple. Whether you check work email they don't care about. You're not trying to get a local job and work under-the-counter, is all.
    – smci
    Dec 18, 2017 at 21:16
  • 10
    You should interpret this the wrong way and pretend it's illegal to work there. "Hey boss, yeah sorry can't open that email here - It's illegal" - Then head straight for the bar and have fun Dec 19, 2017 at 9:39
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    I've never been to Aruba. But to the smaller islands I've been to, it's always safe to assume that the internet would not be working there (despite what the resorts advertise), that if you bring your laptop with you, it will probably be stolen or damaged (do not trust the room safes, anyone with access to youtube knows how to open them), and if you use an Internet cafe, the computer you'll be using will probably be infested with malware and spyware, and if not that, your work and personal credentials will probably be stolen by a keylogger or hidden cameras. Dec 19, 2017 at 12:06

3 Answers 3


The link you cited states the following:

Persons who are considered a tourist are those who travel to Aruba for one of the following purposes: vacation and relaxation, sport, health reasons, family matters, study, religious purposes or a business visit. During their stay in Aruba tourists are not allowed to work.

So, the "not allowed to work" part definitely isn't excluding working remotely for your normal (foreign) job while briefly visiting Aruba, even if you're actually conducting business meetings with clients or vendors in Aruba. Odds are your employer knows this, as it's the same in almost every country, so I wouldn't recommend attempting to use that as an excuse to your boss.

The "not allowed to work" part in most countries means that you can't get a job working for someone in that country or start a business in that country, etc. while you're there. This is aimed primarily at illegal immigrants circumventing the normal work visa requirements and taxes. While the technical legal definitions often don't define this carve-out well, in reality, even if they do know, no one is going to care that you answered some work e-mails or even did some design work in the evenings during your visit. As long as you can truthfully tell the immigration officer that the purpose of your visit is tourism/vacation, you're good and there's normally no reason to even mention checking e-mails or similar to them.


There are two issues here:

  1. "not allowed to work"

This refers (normally) to taking [illegal] employment in-country on a tourist visa. And thus avoiding the whole employment visa process, and paying taxes. FYI, here's how Aruba defines work.

Generally speaking, Immigration doesn't care about you checking your work email. They're usually more concerned about illegal work and immigration.

  1. "an excuse to turn off while I'm there"

You don't need an excuse. You're on vacation. Depending on where you're from, pestering you to check your emails and do some work could be a (serious) violation of your country's laws. If you want to turn off while on vacation, leave your work phone and laptop at home.

Using I want to use this as an excuse to "turn off" while I'm there. is beyond ridiculous. Your manager would probably laugh at you so hard your ears would ring even after your vacation is over. Don't. If you need an excuse to not answer emails, you need to find another job.

  • 3
    According to this, apa.org/news/press/releases/2013/09/connected-work.aspx, 44% of workers check their work email while on vacation. I usually do. That's partly because my work phone is my personal phone so it's easy to check. Dec 18, 2017 at 16:31
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    The fact that it's easy to do doesn't mean that you have to do it...
    – user67108
    Dec 18, 2017 at 16:33
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    @user2023861 Canada's view is that if your job is in another country and you get paid in another country and you're not performing work for residents of Canada while in Canada, you're not working, for their purposes. So checking work email, or continuing to work on a project via a distance (e.g. a writing project) would not be "working". I imagine most countries view it the same way. Dec 18, 2017 at 16:53
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    In broad terms, these laws are in place to stop you from taking a job from an Aruban. So you are neither violating the spirit or the letter of the law. Dec 18, 2017 at 20:46
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    @user2023861 I worked in Silicon Valley for many years, including multiple startups. Intense work environment (up to 70-hour weeks, work on weekends, work on July 4th, Christmas, etc). I would typically take one three-week vacation a year, and sent notice one week prior: "I will be gone for three weeks from [date] to [date], and I will be off the grid. See me in the next few days to resolve pressing issues, or wait till my return. Please see [boss] for any urgent issues during my absence". In 25 years, not once did I have a problem with that approach.
    – njuffa
    Dec 19, 2017 at 1:07

De jure there are dozens of complex laws and regulations regarding remote employment, under which you may or may not need a special visa in order to work in a given country. Tax laws are an additional complication, where countries such as the UK can deem you as a tax resident for spending as little as 16 days on British soil.

De facto, as long as you don't mention your remote job to immigration personnel at the airport, there's a 99.99% chance no one will ever find out. There are millions of people breaking the law by being employed at on-site jobs in any given country, so remote workers who travel for short periods of time are a pretty low priority for law enforcement.

  • 5
    Yes, there are a lot of complicating laws. No, none of them forbid to check your work e-mail. I think your answer is more confusing the matter at hand than clarifying it.
    – Mast
    Dec 19, 2017 at 1:52
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    @Mast my answer is that the laws of a given country are of zero relevance in this case. You can work remotely in any part of the globe.
    – JonathanReez
    Dec 19, 2017 at 8:33
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    Did I just read you as endorsing breaking a law?
    – CGCampbell
    Dec 19, 2017 at 14:37
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    @JonathanReez I can't speak for countries like Mali or US, but in Europe people workin illegally are certainly not a low priority, even if the enforcement is far from efficient. 99% might be correct for Aruba, certainly not for Germany (at least by long-term stays).
    – user45851
    Dec 20, 2017 at 12:43
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    You are dealing an absolute. Do you have any proofs it is really zero? Because it opposes my state of knowledge. There were also the discussions on Expatriates with facit, that being digital nomad to evade taxes is not going to work in EU, though it might work in Mali, US or Aruba.
    – user45851
    Dec 20, 2017 at 12:52

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