Your guide to converting a non-lucrative visa to a self-employed visa in Spain

Taxes in spain and residency

As followers of the Costaluz Lawyers blog section will know, getting a non-lucrative visa is challenging if you’re under retirement age.

In fact, we’ve noticed that Spanish Consulates are now reluctant to approve any applications from non-EEA nationals who are of working age. However, if you do have a non-lucrative residence permit, it is possible to convert it into a self-employed visa in Spain. 

If you like the sound of the idea of working for yourself in Spain and wish to change your non-lucrative permit into a self-employed residence option, read on. 

About non-lucrative residence permits

But first, a bit of background. As you’ll be aware, a non-lucrative residence permit is valid for one year in the first instance. The clock starts ticking on that year when you enter Spain and after 12 months, you need to renew it or convert it into another sort of residence permit.

Find out more about non-lucrative visas in Spain

Converting from non-lucrative to self-employed 

In general terms, holders of non-lucrative residence permits are not allowed to work in Spain. As a result, if you want to set up a business or become self-employed, you need to swap permits. 

Broadly speaking, the requirements are similar to those for a self-employed visa. They include:

Proof of qualifications

Your application must include details of your professional background (e.g. qualifications and/or experience) that show you are apt for the business activity you plan to set up. In addition, if you’re planning to set up within a sector such as law, architecture or medicine, you need to show proof that you have registered with the appropriate professional association. 

A detailed business plan 

You must prove that you’ve thought out what you’re going to do to earn a living. This includes a comprehensive outline of the sort of business and its projected profits. You also need to show proof that you have the funds to set it up.

Find out more about setting up a company in Spain


If your business project involves premises, you’ll need to show proof that you have either secured them or are in the process of doing so.

Living costs

You must also prove that you have sufficient funds to live on. In our experience, this step is straightforward since you have already shown proof for the non-lucrative visa.

Additional paperwork

And, of course, you must present the completed application form and there may be other required documents including proof of investment in the business and a clean criminal record.

When do I apply to convert the permit?

You have two options:

If your non-lucrative residence permit is the first you have received, you must apply within 60 days of its expiry date. OR,

If you have already renewed your non-lucrative residence permit, you may apply at any time.

Do I have to leave Spain to change the permit?

No, you don’t. Instead, you apply to the corresponding National Police Station or Immigration Authorities in your province in Spain.

Read about converting a non-lucrative residence permit to a long-term residence permit

How easy is it to convert a non-lucrative permit to a self-employed permit? 

In our experience, the procedure is relatively straightforward because you already have a Spanish residence permit. However, there is one proviso (that goes for all applications); you must have all the paperwork in place and a business plan prepared for your self-employed venture.

How long does the process take?

The authorities have three months to make a decision. 

What happens after a self-employed residence permit is approved?

You must register with the Spanish Social Security and apply for a residence card. And of course, you need to start your business activity!

What next?

If you’d like to pursue this option, get in touch with our immigration experts for a non-obligatory chat about how we can help you make a successful application for the first-time round.

10 thoughts on “Your guide to converting a non-lucrative visa to a self-employed visa in Spain”

  1. Dear
    With Non-Lucrative can we setup a company like a mobile app company or we must first convert visa type?


      If you would like to set up a company, you would need to convert your visa to a self-employment residence permit. We will be pleased to help you with both procedures.

  2. Is my military monthly pension of $3830 a month be enough to move to Spain with my wife (no children) on a digital nomad visa? Or do i need to provide income from self employment only?


      Hi Marc,

      Applicants for international teleworking visas or residence permits must prove that they have financial resources for themselves and their family members in accordance with the following amounts:

      Holders of visas and residence authorisations: amount that represents 200% of the monthly minimum interprofessional wage (SMI). The minimum interprofessional wage is 1,100 euros/month. Therefore, the required monthly amount is 2,200 euros.

      Family units that include two persons counting the holder and the reunited person: at least 75% of the SMI (825 euros). A 25% of the SMI (275 euros) will be required for each additional member to the two persons mentioned above. In your case, the amount would be 3,025 euros per month.

      These amounts can be accredited with the contract, payslips, certificate from the company, etc. This income must come from your professional activity (as salary). The application online form requires us to provide the gross annual salary.

  3. Hi I have a non lucrative visa and have just renewed it ,
    Could you tell me the cost involved in changing it into a working visa please.


      Hi Jon,

      We will be pleased to assist you but we would need you to contact us directly to our email in order to provide a quotation to you.

  4. May i know if I can convert my freelancer visa into an non lucrative visa in Spain ( without returning to my country and doing it directly here in Spain) thank you!

    1. Maria Luisa Castro

      Dear Lily:

      Yes, it is possible to change your residence status from a freelancer visa to a non-lucrative visa while you are in Spain, provided that you make the application while your current visa is still valid.

      It is essential to maintain your legal status throughout the process. You should not let your freelancer visa expire before your non-lucrative visa has been approved. The steps for making this change involve preparing and submitting an application to the Spanish immigration authorities with all the necessary documentation that proves you can support yourself without engaging in any professional activities or employment.

      We will be pleased to guide you through the specific requirements and help ensure that your application is correctly submitted to minimize any risk of losing your legal status during the transition.

      Best wishes


  5. Hello,

    I am from India and entered Spain on 12 Feb 2024 with my first year of Non lucrative visa. Can I convert my NLV to HQV or general work permit if I get a work contract in Spain? Also is there any other visa applicable to work here if I get a contract?

    1. Maria Luisa Castro

      Dear Asish:

      Switching from a Non-Lucrative Visa (NLV) to a Highly Qualified Professional Visa (HQV) or a general work permit in Spain is complex since each visa serves different purposes. Typically, to transition to an HQV or work permit, you need a qualified job offer. Eligibility and the process depend on current Spanish legislation and your specific situation. Other options might include the Entrepreneur Visa or the Blue Card for highly skilled workers.

      Hope the above helps!

      Best wishes


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