NVL2 lets you determine the value returned by a query based on whether a specified expression is null or not null. If expr1 is not null, then NVL2 returns expr2. If expr1 is null, then NVL2 returns expr3.

The argument expr1 can have any data type. The arguments expr2 and expr3 can have any data types except LONG.

If the data types of expr2 and expr3 are different, then Oracle Database implicitly converts one to the other. If they cannot be converted implicitly, then the database returns an error. If expr2 is character or numeric data, then the implicit conversion is implemented as follows:

  • If expr2 is character data, then Oracle Database converts expr3 to the data type of expr2 before returning a value unless expr3 is a null constant. In that case, a data type conversion is not necessary, and the database returns VARCHAR2 in the character set of expr2.

  • If expr2 is numeric data, then Oracle Database determines which argument has the highest numeric precedence, implicitly converts the other argument to that data type, and returns that data type.

See Also:


The following example shows whether the income of some employees is made up of salary plus commission, or just salary, depending on whether the commission_pct column of employees is null or not.

SELECT last_name, salary,
       NVL2(commission_pct, salary + (salary * commission_pct), salary) income
  FROM employees
  WHERE last_name like 'B%'
  ORDER BY last_name;

LAST_NAME                     SALARY     INCOME
------------------------- ---------- ----------
Baer                           10000      10000
Baida                           2900       2900
Banda                           6200       6820
Bates                           7300       8395
Bell                            4000       4000
Bernstein                       9500      11875
Bissot                          3300       3300
Bloom                          10000      12000
Bull                            4100       4100