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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?

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.

If you were resident in Spain not so long ago: NLV
The digital nomad visa is only open to those who haven’t been resident in Spain for the five years prior to their application, so if you have been this is not a viable option for you. Instead, you can apply for the NLV, which doesn’t have a time limit on when you were a resident here.

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, however, have a tax advantage meaning they will be charged non-residents tax or IRNR, even though they’re residents. This means they will pay 24 percent rather than the more progressive IRPF or personal income tax, which can go up to 45 percent for higher earners.  

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. 

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.

Source: The Local