Social security

The Netherlands has a comprehensive social security system, which is subject to continuous change. In the ACCESS Guide Banking, taxation and personal finance we give an overview of the current Dutch social security system, relevant for newcomers and for the international community living in the Netherlands.


Continuing social security in your original country

If a person is posted in the Netherlands from another country and the Netherlands has entered into a social security treaty with this country, the applicable legislation will be determined in accordance with the rules of the treaty.


Generally speaking, the rule is that Dutch legislation is applicable if duties are carried out in the Netherlands.


Exceptions to this general rule are possible in certain cases where the foreign employer has originally requested continuing eligibility for his own social security system based on a special Administrative Agreement between the Netherlands and his country of origin. The Netherlands has special Administrative Agreements with all EEA (European Economic Area) countries (EEA countries include all EU countries, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway) and with Australia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Canada, Chile, Israel, Cape Verde, Croatia, Macedonia, Morocco, New Zealand, Serbia, Montenegro, Tunisia, Turkey, United States of America and Switzerland.


It is only possible to remain eligible for social security in one’s original country if the foreign employee is sent to the Netherlands on a temporary basis and the following conditions are satisfied:

  • the employee remains in the employment of the company in the original country
  • the anticipated duration of the duties for which the employee is posted abroad does not exceed 12 months
  • the employee may request to apply the legislation for a maximum further period of 12 months using a special form (E102). This form can be obtained from the social security authority in the expatriate’s country of origin
  • the employee is not sent to replace another person who has completed the maximum term of posting
  • the Dutch company to which the person is temporarily posted will not subsequently post him to work for another company
  • the employee usually (in the case of agencies) or substantially (in the case of companies) carries out work for the territory of the sending state


If these conditions are met, the employee needs to send a form (called E101) to the competent social security authority in the expat’s country of origin, which can be obtained from this authority. They may grant a so-called “Certificate of Applicable Legislation”. This certificate shows that the expat is covered by his own social security system for a certain period of time. Payment of Dutch contributions is therefore not required, since the expat already contributes under the applicable foreign social security.


Changes effective May 1, 2010

On May 1, 2010, a new European regulation 883/2004 came into force. It deals with the social security system that applies to employees and independent workers who live in one member state and work in another member state.  The main rule is that the social security system of the country where you work applies.


However, there are a few exceptions:

  • If you are seconded to another EU country, the social security system of the original EU country applies.
  • If you work in two EU countries for just one employer, but a substantial part of your work is in the country where you live, the social security system of the country where you live applies. This is also true if you work for two employers (at the same time or alternate) in different member states.


For persons who are currently working internationally there will be a transitional law. After May 1, 2020,  their situation may change, till that the former Regulation* Current EC regulation continues to apply to the EEA countries (Norway,Liechtenstein and Iceland) and Switzerland until the new regulation has been adopted by these countries.


Compulsory insurance schemes

For those who cannot continue with social security in their original country, there are two kinds of compulsory social insurance schemes:

  • National insurance systems (volksverzekeringen) cover all persons legally living in the Netherlands.
  • Employee insurance schemes (werknemersverzekeringen) covering anyone employed in the Netherlands.

Everyone has to pay for this as long as they live or work in the Netherlands. You are not entitled to get a refund of any of the contributions when you leave the Netherlands.


Contributions for national insurance schemes (volksverzekeringen) are income-dependent. Your employer will pay the majority of your contributions for the employee insurance schemes (werknemersverzekeringen), but you will also pay a proportion, deducted directly from your wage. You will need a Burgerservicenummer(BSN), previously called SoFi number, to register in the financial/tax and social system. This is a unique personal identification number for all communications with the government or with organisations who have a legal obligation to work for the public (e.g. health care organisations).


In order to apply for a BSN, you will have to make an appointment with the Registration Office (Dienst Burgerzaken) in the town where you live.


EU and EEA-nationals need only to bring their legal ID (passport, European identity card or national identity card from an EU-country) but non-EEA nationals will also need to show a work permit. Also their residence permit should contain a statement that they are allowed to work in the EU or EEA.