What Is Data Type Nvarchar?


Angela Bailey

What Is Data Type Nvarchar?

The NVARCHAR data type is used in SQL databases to store Unicode character data. It is commonly used when storing text that may contain characters from different languages or character sets.

Characteristics of NVARCHAR

The NVARCHAR data type has the following characteristics:

  • It can store both single-byte and double-byte character sets.
  • It uses twice as much storage space as the VARCHAR data type, as each character requires 2 bytes of storage.
  • It supports a wide range of Unicode characters, including special characters, symbols, and emojis.


NVARCHAR is commonly used in scenarios where multilingual support is required. For example:

  • Multilingual Websites: When building a website that needs to display content in multiple languages, using NVARCHAR ensures that all characters are stored and rendered correctly.
  • Data Exchange: When exchanging data between different systems or applications that use different character sets, using NVARCHAR ensures compatibility and prevents data loss or corruption.

Differences Between NVARCHAR and VARCHAR

The main difference between NVARCHAR and VARCHAR is the storage capacity and character set support. While VARCHAR is limited to a specific character set (usually ASCII or a single-byte encoding), NVARCHAR can handle a much wider range of characters due to its Unicode support.

In terms of storage space, since each character in NVARCHAR requires 2 bytes of storage compared to VARCHAR’s 1 byte per character, using NVARCHAR may result in larger database sizes. However, this extra space allows for greater flexibility and compatibility with different languages and character sets.


The NVARCHAR data type is a powerful tool for storing Unicode character data in SQL databases. Its ability to handle a wide range of characters makes it essential in scenarios where multilingual support is required. While it does require more storage space compared to VARCHAR, the benefits of compatibility and proper rendering outweigh the extra cost.

By understanding the characteristics and usage of NVARCHAR, you can make informed decisions when designing database schemas or working with multilingual data.

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