For members


Non-lucrative vs digital nomad visa: Which one should you choose to move to Spain?

Spain's non-lucrative visa used to be one of the easiest ways for non-EU citizens to move to the country, but now with the introduction of the digital nomad visa, there are more options. So, which is best and which one should you choose?

Non-lucrative vs digital nomad visa: Which one should you choose to move to Spain?
Digital nomad visa or NLV - which to move to Spain? Photo: aus_franken / Pixabay

2023 saw the launch of Spain’s much-anticipated digital nomad visa – the visado para teletrabajadores de carácter internacional – which means that non-EU residents now have more options for being able to move to Spain.

The Non-Lucrative Visa or NLV used to be one of the most popular options, but it has its drawbacks for some people and wasn’t always the best option. So now that the digital nomad visa is available – which one should you choose?

If you want to work: digital nomad visa
The main difference between the non-lucrative visa and the digital nomad visa (which we will shorten to DNV) is that you are not actually allowed to work in Spain on the NLV. Although many people in the past have done so, technically it’s not allowed, even if you are working for an employer abroad, because you have physically working in Spain. The DNV on the other hand is specifically designed for those who want to work in Spain, providing they do not get more than 20 percent of their income from Spanish companies.

READ ALSO: Your questions answered about Spain’s digital nomad visa

You don’t know if you can prove you have enough funds: You need to prove a lot for both
Both the NLV and the DNV require that you can prove you have a substantial amount of income or savings. However, you need to prove you have slightly more money for the digital nomad visa. For the NLV it will have to be based on passive income, but for the nomad visa it can be based on income from work. For the NLV, you need to prove you have 400 times the IPREM which for 2023 is €2,400 per month. For the DNV, this is equal to 200 percent of the SMI or Minimum Interprofessional Salary which for 2023 is €2,520 per month. This means that you have to prove just slightly more for the nomad visa – €120 per month to be exact.

You want to know where you’ll be paying your taxes: both 
Both visas will give you Spanish residency and if you intend to spend more than 183 days in the country, you will officially be considered a tax resident in Spain too. You will be taxed on your worldwide income, so any income that you earn either passively on the NLV or from employers or clients outside of Spain on the DNV. Those on the digital nomad visa will also be charged taxes either on their freelance or remote income. 

READ ALSO – REVEALED: Everything you need to know about applying for Spain’s digital nomad visa

You want to bring your family members: both, but it’s more expensive on the DNV 
Both visas allow you to include family members on your application, such as spouses and dependent children, provided you can prove that you have the extra funds to support them. For the NLV, you have to prove that you have an extra 100 percent of the IPREM for each family member, which for 2023 is €600 per month. For the nomad visa, you have to prove you have an extra 75 percent of the SMI or minimum wage. This currently equates to an extra €945 per month. For each additional family member after this, such as a child, you will have to prove you have an extra 25 percent of the SMI, which is €315.

You want to exchange your visa for another one: NLV
The good news is that after one year of living in Spain on an NLV, it will be easier for you to apply for a different visa – one that will enable you to work. It will be possible for you to get a work permit or to become self-employed (autónomo) through a process called residence modification. It is unclear yet whether you would be allowed to do this on the digital nomad visa as it’s just been released. Nevertheless, most likely you wouldn’t want to because you have tax advantages for four years if you are on the digital nomad visa, and being self-employed will invariably work out to be more expensive. 

READ ALSO: What are the pros and cons of Spain’s non-lucrative visa?

You want to get Spanish citizenship: both 
Both the NLV and the DNV can eventually lead to Spanish citizenship if you want. They both initially give you residency for one year but can be renewed. You can renew the digital nomad visa for up to five years, after which you can apply for permanent residency. You can also renew your NLV for a further two years (and another two after that), providing you have the funds to do so, because you need to prove you have twice the amount for the two years. This will also mean you’re eligible for permanent residency.

You want to enjoy free movement within the Schengen Zone: both
One of the big perks of both visas is that once you have residency in Spain, you have free movement throughout the Schengen Zone. You won’t have residency in those countries though, so you couldn’t for example come on the Spanish digital nomad visa and then move to France, but you can travel and go for short breaks.

Member comments

  1. This article is inaccurate. You can apply for the DNV if you’ve been a resident of Spain in the last five years; you just won’t qualify for Beckham Law.

    Also, only employees who come to Spain on the DNV can qualify for Beckham Law. Freelancers/contractors do not qualify.

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For members


How long does it take to be approved for Spain’s digital nomad visa?

Spain's digital nomad visa is already proving to be a very popular way for non-EU nationals to move to the country. So how long does it actually take to apply for?

How long does it take to be approved for Spain’s digital nomad visa?

Spain’s digital nomad visa, which launched in early 2023, is currently one of the easiest ways to move to Spain if you work remotely or are self-employed.

The digital nomad visa or DNV allows remote workers or self-employed people from non-EU countries to work and live in Spain, as long as no more than 20 percent of their work comes from Spain.

It can be extended for up to five years and can be applied for from the Spanish consulate in your home country or while on holiday in Spain. 

Officially it’s called the visa for teletrabajadores de carácter internacional, but most people applying are simply referring to it as the DNV.

The application can be a painstaking process, however, with lots of research to do, even more documents to gather, and proof to send.

READ ALSO: All the documents you need for Spain’s digital nomad visa

So how long does the process actually take?

Firstly, if you’re applying from your home country, you may need to make an appointment at your local consulate. This can take a while, depending on where you’re from and where you’re applying. It’s best to contact them to find out how long the wait will be. 

If you’ve gathered all your documents and sent them off, then the official time in which you can expect to receive a response from the body responsible – the Unidad de Grandes Empresas (UGE) is 20 business days.

Some people are lucky and get their applications approved quickly or they’re highly organised and have made sure there are no more documents or pieces of evidence to send. This means that it is possible to receive an approval within the 20 days.

One member of the Spanish Digital Nomad Visa Facebook group confirmed: “Application submitted June 21st. Approved just before midnight yesterday, July 18th for the full three years”, which is exactly 20 working days.

Another member also had a similar experience saying “Just received approval, family of 4 from Canada. Applied 26th July, approved on 23rd Aug – exactly 20 business days”.

READ ALSO: ‘It seems impossible’: The problems Spain’s digital nomad visa applicants face

Not everyone received an answer after exactly 20 days though. For some people, it was near enough though.

Another member said “The wait time for approval was 23 days, I was not asked for any further documents”, while another who was an employee with a permanent contract confirmed he waited 18 days.

The process can take longer 

As with most bureaucratic processes in Spain, it doesn’t always take the amount of time that it should do in theory.

If you have missed out on some documents or the authorities need to see more proof in order to approve your visa, the process will typically take longer than 20 days.

One member reported that they had been waiting at least two and a half months for their approval. “I had a long process of applying (it’s been 77 days since my first one went in and then a second and then a request for additional documents) but finally received my approval”.

Another explained “I applied on the 6th of July. On the 31st of July, they requested documents: on the 14th of August, and did not hear back so I requested for positive silence on the 24th of August and last night 4th of September I received the notification”.

READ ALSO: ‘No lawyer can guarantee you get Spain’s digital nomad visa’

How long does the appeal process take?

It’s common for some people to be rejected for the visa. This could be because they haven’t provided enough evidence or simply down to miscommunication.

There have been a lot of instances when the UGE has said that applicants haven’t provided enough evidence on how long their company has been operating for example, when the applicants believed that they had.

If you are rejected, the good news is that you appeal. Currently, appeals are taking varying amounts of time depending on your situation.

One member of the DNV Facebook page confirmed “My lawyer said they have 15 working days to respond”.

While that may be what lawyers are saying, this isn’t always the case.

Another member said “I’ve heard of people waiting 5 months”, while another explained, “I appealed my visa denial last March 31st and I just got my approval yesterday, June 20th”.

To speed the process up, we recommend doing as much research as you can and gathering all documents you need, before starting the application.