NLV vs Digital Nomad visas

I am a 70 year old single man, who wants to move to the EU. I "was" planning to go to Portugal, but the spoken language seems impenetrable. I am quite concerned about being lonely.

I speak some Spanish and have loved visiting Spain, though the rules around NLV vs Digital Nomad visas seem contradictory in this forum and online. I may need an attorney to help make sure I am doing it right.  I am currently completing a book and not sure if that would disqualify me from an NLV. Looking for advice and some direction.

I'm a 65 year old, recently divorced man who moved to Spain in July '22. I'm happy to help if I can.

First, the digital nomad is for people working. Are you planning on working. If not, you will need to apply with the NLV.

I haven't seen the amount you'll need for 2023 but for me the main question was having an account with enough money in it. You can also qualify with a monthly deposit from a pension or social security. Beyond that you must be healthy. As I hadn't been to a doctor in years, I had to go to two in order to find one that would sign the paperwork. The first wouldn't as I wasn't his patient for years. The second accepted the test results.

As I understand it, I cannot do any type of work with the NLV.  So my question is whether writing a book would violate that prohibition. Also, I still do some consulting currently.  As I understand it, I cannot do that even during a visit to the US.  There is also some information on the Internet that says I cannot have a mortgage in the US.  Considering all these factors, I am wondering if the digital nomad visa is more appropriate.


Hi, My name is George Michailow, US Citizen, living in Tenerife on an NLV. for over a year. Just filed for a 2-year extension with the help of a local attorney.

What country are you planning to move from?  The Spanish Consulate in your country should have all requirements on their website.

I'm a 77 Yr old happily divorced man. I moved here on an NLV. My two adult children both relocated to Tenerife and qualify as residents now .

They asked me to move closer and made it easy for me.

Knowing some Spanish helps

I doubt writing a book can be considered a job.

Just make sure you have enough in the bank and /or evidence of a pension. or other passive income.

They will make you get private health insurance with no co-pay . . After considerable research and due to my age, I could only qualify for DKV..

I'm happy with them.   I had a couple medical issues and hit ER and clinics a few times but never paid for anything but Penicillin.

The 2,000 a year I pay DKV  is less than the Part B I was getting nicked for on Medicare. So, I was able to cancel the part B and break even.

FOR Banking I recommend online accounts like WISE and Revolut.  I have both and Move my SS to them and then into a local bank for my rent, utilities and whatever

May be good to have a local Spanish attorney to guide you thru the process if you can afford it once you arrive and try to get your residency card etc.

The embassy/consulate gives you a 90 day Visa and then you start to scramble to get the 1-year residency.

I managed with a little help from my kids, but a local attorney would make it a lot easier if you don't want the stress of navigating forms and appointments.

Hope this helps

Spain is a wonderful country to retire in.

I got rid of my car and here the weather is so good that I need neither heat nor AC

Good Luck

George in Santa Cruz de Tenerife


Welcome to the forum and good luck with your potential move to Europe!

I don't think you should be so fast to rule out Portugal. It has a good retirement residence (D7, I think). And Portuguese is actually very similar to Spanish, so it's usually quite quick to pick up for anyone with some Spanish already.

As for Spain, you'd be better off with the No Lucrativa Visa rather than trying for a Digital Nomad Visa. It's the normal option for pensioners, which, at 70, I imagine you are.

The NLV is for those who are "financially independent" (i.e. have "passive income" like rent, dividends, book royalties, pensions) and does not allow you to legally work in Spain. So this rules out taking a job with a Spanish company. But it doesn't rule out doing remote consulting work, or writing a book (although I wouldn't complicate things by volunteering my plans at the Spanish Embassy). Keep it simple by declaring yourself a "retiree" and provide proof of your savings and monthly pension, and it should be very straightforward.

The NLV requirements are typically quite straightforward, and many (most?) folks complete the application themselves. But there are plenty of immigration attorneys (and gestors) around who can help you, if you prefer.

If you find online information contradictory, the best option is the official Spanish immigration guidance for the NLV:


As I understand it, I cannot do any type of work with the NLV.

It is for those who are "financially independent" and "economically inactive" (don't work or carry out any professional activity).

However, most immigration lawyers take this to mean not working for (and being paid by) a Spanish company. Which you couldn't anyway as all employers must check a foreigner's legal right to work.

Being a digital nomad or remote worker (or author) is a grey area. It violates the spirit of the NLV, but doesn't (or shouldn't) involve being employed by or paid by a Spanish company.

So my question is whether writing a book would violate that prohibition. Also, I still do some consulting currently.

Keep it simple by not volunteering this information, you are simply a retiree/pensioner. Make sure your work is "remote" so that your book royalties and consulting payments come from US entities. If you want to be extra cautious (and the amounts are significant), incorporate a non-Spanish company (US LLC perhaps) instead, and have all your ongoing professional activity be implemented with appropriate contracts with this entity.

There is also some information on the Internet that says I cannot have a mortgage in the US.

I have never seen this. The NLV is a long-term residence visa. It doesn't put any restrictions on your finances or your borrowings either in Spain or USA. There might be tax implications, but that's a different issue. And, at 70, perhaps mortgages are not such a great idea, but that's your call.

Considering all these factors, I am wondering if the digital nomad visa is more appropriate.

Absolutely not. The NLV is ideal for American retirees, and is, by far, the most popular option for such folks.

Not to be pedantic, but "writing a book", in itself, is not working. You need to sell that book in order for it to begin to be considered "working".

I mention that because I came to Spain under an NLV. After 5 years, when I updated my visa, it came back saying "Residencia Larga Duracion" and " Autoriza a Trabajar"!!!

So, if you finish the book and were able to sell it after receiving this upgrade, you are in the clear.

How long were you going to take to write the book? If you are like George Martin ("A song of fire and ice"); you should be in the clear