Dual careers in the Netherlands
I will be relocating to the Netherlands or I am new to the Netherlands and have yet to find work. I don’t speak Dutch and would be happy to receive any advice from you with regards to employment possibilities and opportunities in the Netherlands.
Many international companies, non-commercial organisations, non-governmental organisations (NGOs), and affiliates of the United Nations and the European Union use English as the main working language. Also, certain jobs need languages such as French and German. Learning some Dutch would no doubt increase your opportunities, but there are many jobs for which no Dutch is required.
Where can I find information about international jobs in the Netherlands?
Internet has taken over the recruitment processes and there is not much of a point on leaving your CV door by door. However, there is a possibility to stand out over hundreds of applicants by giving a simple call. Showing that you are pro-actively interested in the position and asking questions about it can make a difference to pass the first filter of the recruitment process. If you have no questions, you can always call to check if they have received your application in order to make the first contact. Here a sum up of the most popular methods of job hunting.
Via uitzendbureaus (employment or job agencies)
There are agencies that employ people and send them temporarily to employers, though you can also get other type of contracts depending on the employer. There are several advantages but also disadvantages to using this channel. On one hand, an agency can give you inside information about an employer as well as helping you prepare for an interview.
On the other hand, an agency is one step further away from the employer. It’s up to the agency to propose and ‘promote you’ for the job, which is why it’s important to make a good impression on them as well. Treat them the same as you would a potential employer, including a smart dress code.
Take time to choose agencies which represent your area of work, and especially those agencies which deal with international organisations if you do not speak Dutch. Some Dutch employment agencies may not consider you as a candidate if your CV is in English. To avoid being turned away with a standard response, look for job opportunities with descriptions that are in English. If Dutch is a requirement for the position and you can manage the language, then you should send the cover letter and CV in Dutch. In both cases, have your cover letter and CV checked for spelling and grammar errors as that is one of the first things a recruiter will look at.
Several agencies specialise in jobs for non-Dutch speakers. You can either forward your CV to the job agency or apply for their advertised vacancies. Both can be done via their websites; however, it is a good idea to give them a call to introduce yourself and stand out as a potential candidate. For a comprehensive list of recruitment agencies contact the ACCESS Helpdesk here. If you are looking for a recruiter or head-hunter for your next career step, then you have to refer to the werving- en selectiebureaus (recruitment agencies). You can find all agencies available in the Netherlands on: Allewervingenselectiebureaus.nl.
Please note that many of the agencies actually require a MBO (vocational education)/HBO (professional higher education) diploma to apply for the vacancies. If you are looking for part-time work as a student, job boards such as Monsterboard.nl may be more helpful.
In the Netherlands, establishing a network of contacts is invaluable. Keep in mind that networking can happen anywhere (e.g. sports clubs, your children’s school, joining clubs and interest groups). Make sure you are ready for the question: what do you do? Spend time on perfecting your profile and practising your ‘pitch’ but remember to keep it simple and natural.
Also attending multilingual job fairs might be helpful. Some of the organisations/employers participating in these fairs may have positions for English-speaking job seekers and the added networking opportunity may provide valuable information. You will find more information about these job fairs on the ACCESS and other expat-oriented websites.
LinkedIn is a well-used recruitment medium in the Netherlands (make sure your profile is up to date and includes the fact that you are in the Netherlands). Joining LinkedIn’s basic membership is free. Make sure your profile and experience are consistent with your CV and be sure to use a (professional) photo. Recruiters and hiring managers are constantly looking at profiles or placing job advertisements here. You can also join groups, take part in discussions and use LinkedIn for your job research. For example, what are the profiles like of people in a similar profession to you? Where do they work? You can also signup for job alerts by filling in key words and areas of work interest, which will notify you of jobs matching your requirements. For more information about using LinkedIn for your job search click ‘here’.
Via the internet and job boards
In the Netherlands, most companies and organisations advertise their vacancies on the internet. Several platforms exist on which all (or many) of the available job opportunities for internationals have been gathered. You can upload your CV and sign-up for job alerts on various job boards; this can save you a lot of time when looking for jobs and assist in discovering who is hiring.
Amongst the more popular ones are: Togetherabroad.nl, Iamexpat.nl , Dutchnews.nl, Expatica.com. Although you will come across several jobs in the Dutch language only, keep in mind that they also include non-Dutch speaking jobs as well.
If you have identified particular organisations that you are interested in, try to find a connection in your network (LinkedIn can be a good start). This can lead you to an introduction to somebody working there. Simultaneously, you could also consider an open application, and if possible, deliver it in person. This method is more effective in small- to medium- sized companies.
On the ACCESS website, you will find a list of career coaches and trainers. Contact details are provided so you can email the coaches and trainers directly if you would like further details about how they can help you. Some of the courses/workshops offered by the ACCESS’ trainers are professional skills development, cultural awareness and global mobility.
What is the Europass CV?
The Europass CV is understood in every European country and it pays particular attention to your skills and competences. You can create a Europass CV on europa.eu/europass/en
What kind of CV and cover letter is customary to support job applications in the Netherlands?
It is important that your CV is clear, comprehensive and written on one page or two pages maximum, as it will give a valuable first impression of you, your skills and the experience that you have to offer. Companies are flooded with CVs and scan through the CVs, so make sure your CV markets you in the best possible light.
In the Netherlands, a cover letter accompanying an application is often known as a motivation letter. Its purpose is to introduce yourself to the company, clarify why you are interested in the role and the organisation, and how your skills and experience would benefit their organisation. A motivation letter usually has the following structure:
- Your reason for applying
- Explanation why you believe that you are the right candidate for the job and what attracts you to the company
- Concluding sentence stating that you look forward to meeting them to explain in detail what you have outlined in the letter
Tailoring your motivation letter as well as the CV to the role you’re applying for will increase your chances of success. Don’t forget, in the Netherlands a catchy application/motivation letter, both content and design wise, is sometimes more important than impressive grades.
What steps should I take to prepare myself for my interview?
Here are some useful tips to prepare for an interview. Some may be obvious, and some may be different from how you would prepare yourself in your own country:
- Know the exact place and time of the interview, the interviewer’s full name and correct pronunciation, and his/her title.
- Research the company, products/services, growth and potential growth in the future.
- Refresh your memory on the facts and figures of your present employer and former employers.
- Prepare the questions you will ask; the interview is about input and feedback from both you and the interviewer.
- Arrive on time – this is very important in the Netherlands.
- While the Dutch may appear to be very informal in their dress and appearance, it is still recommended to dress professionally when attending an interview.
- Don’t forget the importance of a firm handshake and eye contact when meeting your interviewer(s).
- It may help you to prepare yourself by knowing about the person(s) who will be interviewing you, so look them up on LinkedIn.
In the job interview, the emphasis is on your motivation. You may be asked questions such as why you chose that particular company or to name your skills and strengths, but also mention some of your less strong points and skills you do not possess. Give examples that demonstrate your skills and strengths (these are called competency-based questions) and also be prepared to answer questions about personal matters like hobbies and social engagement.
You will usually be interviewed by one or two people. Applicants often have to attend two or even three interviews. At the end of the interview, it is common for you to ask some questions.
Can I get some support and advice in looking for a job in the Netherlands?
If you are actively looking for a job but unsure about how to proceed, thinking about the next step in your career, considering returning to work after a career break, or looking for a change of career, you may find support useful.
There are several professionals and companies offering career counselling or coaching for expats looking for work. ACCESS has several trainers who can provide you with job hunting support.
Where can I find more answers to questions I may have once I find a job?
Additional information on working in the Netherlands can be found on the government website: https://www.werk.nl/werkzoekenden/eu/. Here you will find comprehensive information about who may work in the Netherlands, searching and applying for jobs, contracts, qualifications and credential evaluation, and the Europass CV.
Where can I find job openings for students?
If you are a student and looking for a job, the following websites can be useful:
Your university may have an overview of job openings for students in the area of your studies. If you have done an internship, you can also ask if that organisation has anything for you.
Aside from the websites listed above, the general tips in this section for finding a job can be useful for students too.
If I want to apply for a job, would I need a work permit as a student?
If you are from the EU/EEA or Switzerland, you are free to work without restrictions.
Highly educated persons scheme
‘The orientation year for highly educated persons’applies to all recently graduated students in the Netherlands from non-EU countries.
The residence permit orientation year for highly educated persons can be submitted within three years after completing the studies or after obtaining the PhD.
The scheme gives those graduated in the Netherlands the opportunity to first return to their country of origin after having completed their studies, and to then come back to the Netherlands. A work permit is not needed, which means that if you hold a residence permit for the orientation year for higher educated persons you are allowed to work in the Netherlands without any restrictions.
More information is available on the IND’s website.
Work permit application
Should you need a work permit to work while studying, your employer needs to apply for it at www.uwv.nl/werkgevers.
Exception for internships
If you are studying at a Dutch host institution and you need to do an internship as part of your study programme, you do not need a work permit. Your host institution and your employer do need to sign an internship agreement. Please note that this exception does not apply for exchange students. For more information click here.
How can I find an internship?
If you are looking for an internship many Universities have a database of internship options. You can also find possible openings on (not exhaustive list):
- European Funding Guide: www.european-funding-guide.eu
Will I be paid during my internship?
Dutch employers are not legally obliged to pay you for your internship, though many give some kind of compensation, such as travel expenses. Others may be more generous and pay you a small amount. Depending on your educational background and the company’s own policies, you might get something between 180 and 450 euros a month. Be aware that you still have to pay taxes on anything you earn from an internship.
Do I need a work permit to work in the Netherlands?
Whether you need a work permit depends on your residency status and nationality. Dutch work and residence permits are closely linked to your reason for moving to the Netherlands – for example, as a highly skilled worker, employee, student or family member – will determine what kind of permit you need to legally work in The Netherlands.
Who applies for a work permit
If a visa and residency permit are required, your employer can initiate the procedures on your behalf. If you qualify for a gecombineerde vergunning voor verblijf en arbeid – GVVA (single permit for residence and work) your employer needs to apply to the Immigration and Naturalisation Service (Immigratie- en Naturalisatiedienst – IND). In other cases employers need to apply to the division Werkbedrijf (Public Employment Service) of the Government’s Employee Insurance Agency (Uitvoeringsinstituut Werknemers Verzekeringen – UWV). Visit the following website for more information:
The IND website also provides detailed information on coming to work in The Netherlands and the financial and other conditions that need to be met.
You generally need to have your residence permit before you can start to work. If you do not need a separate work permit, you can start working as soon as you get your residence permit. The maximum length of a work permit is one year and your employment status is indicated on it. After three years of employment on a Dutch work permit, you no longer need a work permit. Your residence document will state: ‘Arbeid is vrij toegestaan. TWV niet vereist’ (Employment freely permitted. No work permit required).
Who doesn’t need a work permit
- EU/EEA citizens plus those from Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland. Citizens of Croatia do need a work permit for the first working year
- Highly skilled migrants
- Self-employed workers (eligibility for residence is assessed by the IND)
- Workers on short assignment (journalists, guest lecturers, performers, musicians)
- Persons with a residence permit or passport sticker stating: ’Arbeid is vrij toegestaan. TWV niet vereist’ (Employment freely permitted. No work permit required).
- If you are allowed to work in the Netherlands, then your spouse/partner is usually allowed to work as well
Latest information about working in the Netherlands can be found at Werk.nl (in Dutch, with some English pages): https://www.werk.nl/werkzoekenden/eu/working-netherlands/.
Highly skilled migrants
To get a residence permit as a highly skilled migrant, your employer needs to be a ‘recognised sponsor’ by signing an IND statement. He or she then needs to apply for your residence permit. The residence permit will be issued for the same duration as your employment contract, or up to five years for indefinite contracts. No separate work permit is required.
EU Blue Card
Under the EU Blue Card Directive, certain workers can apply for an EU Blue Card, which is a residence permit (with work authorisation) for highly skilled migrants. Your prospective employer can file an application for you in the Netherlands.
To qualify for a Blue Card, you must:
- have an employment contract or assignment (or job offer) with a Dutch employer for at least one year
- have successfully completed a post-secondary higher education programme for at least three years. Foreign diplomas must be evaluated by a Dutch organisation such as Nuffic (visit the section about diploma recognition)
- earn at least certain amount of money. Figures can change annually.
The Blue Card allows you to work in the Netherlands without a work permit, but also grants limited intra-EU mobility rights. After 18 months, you can move to another EU country and apply for a Blue Card to work in that second country. The years accumulated as a Blue Card holder in different EU countries can count towards obtaining EU long-term residency status.
If you already have a Dutch resident permit (e.g. as a highly skilled worker), you may apply to change it to a Blue Card if you fulfil the requirements.
More information about the blue card is available on the website of the IND.
Does Dutch employment law apply to me?
Dutch employment law applies to you fully or partially, even if you have moved to The Netherlands with an expatriate employment contract governed by the law of your home country or if you are working for an international organisation.
What is a CAO (collective labour agreement)?
Most companies and organisations participate in a collectieve arbeidsovereenkomst – CAO (collective labour agreement). This is a written agreement between one or more employers and one or more trade unions about the labour conditions for all employees, such as wages, payment for extra work, working hours, probation period, pension, education and childcare.
The provisions in a CAO are often more favourable than those prescribed by law, but they may not contradict the law.
If there is no CAO, you need an individual agreement with your employer about the work conditions, preferably in writing. The rules set out in the law are the basis for this agreement, that is, the employment contract.
How do I know that my contract is in accordance with Dutch law?
You can contact the UWV with questions about your employment contract. You can also use the free legal services of ‘Het Juridischloket’, www.hetjuridischloket.nl.
Which information is usually included in an employment contract?
Any employment contract should include:
- Name and address of employer and employee and where you will be working
- Job title and job description
- Start/end dates. Contracts can be of fixed length (will include start and end dates) or indeterminate length (contract end with notice)
- Trial period – proeftijd (if any). If the contract is for more than six months but less than two years, the trial period is generally one month (unless agreed otherwise in the CAO). The maximum is two months
- Number of hours of work
- Overtime expectations
- Salary and compensation
- Holiday leave
- Pension contributions
- Social security contributions
- Coverage of additional expenses (e.g. public transport)
- Notice for termination for both you and your employer
It is important to carefully check all the conditions of your employment contract before signing.
I want to know whether or not the employers in the Netherlands are obliged to pay a majority of the employee’s travel to work expenses, and if they're not, is there a way I can claim it back in taxes?
It is not compulsory, but most companies in The Netherlands reimburse employee’s costs for commuting to work. In the collectieve arbeidsovereenkomst – CAO (collective labour agreement), company regulations or in your work contract you can find the applicable rules.
If you take your own car or bicycle to work, your employer can reimburse €0.19 cents per kilometre. These costs are not deductible from your income for tax purposes.
Travel costs are tax deductible if you receive insufficient or no reimbursement from your employer under the following conditions:
- you use public transport to and from work with both addresses being in the Netherlands
- you travel more than 10 km one way
- you have a declaration from the transportation provider (openbaar vervoer verklaring – OV-verklaring) or from your employer (reisverklaring) as proof that you have used public transport. Bear in mind that you should keep any paper tickets that you have used to travel to and from work
You can find an overview of all your trips and the costs at ov-chipkaart.nl (you can change the language to English at the top right of the website). This overview is kept for 18 months.
If you are unsure of what situation applies to you, visit the Belastingdienst website for more information on where to apply for the openbaarvervoerverklaring or reisverklaring. This will depend on the ticket you use (in Dutch only):
Please note that you cannot claim a deduction if the employer bought the tickets for you. If your travel expenses have partially been covered by your employer, you can only claim the part that has not been covered.
What are my legal rights and obligations when I have a temporary employment contract?
A temporary contract has a start date and an end date. The contract will end on the agreed date, though the employer is required to inform you in writing if the contract will be renewed at least one month before the end date. We strongly advise you to make sure that you get a contract in writing, although a verbal agreement is also valid in the Netherlands. The employer is obliged to inform you in writing of the main items covered in the contract within one month after the start of the contract. Within legal limits, both employers and employees are free to decide what will be covered by the contract.
Proeftijd (trial period)
A trial period is a common part of a temporary contract with an employer. The trial period applies for both parties and must be agreed in writing. If the duration of the temporary contract is less than two years, the maximum trial period is one month. Exceptions can only be made when a Collectieve arbeidsovereenkomst – CAO (collective labour agreement) applies. The legal maximum trial period for a permanent contract or a temporary contract of two or more years is two months, with no possibility of extension. Temporary contracts of six months or less cannot have trial periods. Also, a trial period is not valid if the employee is carrying out work that he or she has previously done elsewhere in the company. You can be dismissed during your trial period. Your employer does not need to give a reason. You also have the right to quit your job without notice or explanation during the trial period, since the trial period goes both ways.
An employer is not allowed to include a non-compete clause in a temporary contract. A rare exception can be made if the employer can prove a compelling business interest. This reason should be explicitly mentioned in the contract, along with a statement on the context in which the non-compete clause would apply.
Term of notice
A temporary labour contract will end automatically and legally on the date agreed. For temporary contracts of six months or more, the employer must notify the employee in writing whether the contract will be renewed, and under what terms and conditions, at least one month before the temporary contract is set to end. The situation changes if one party wants to end the contract before the agreed date. In this case, the option for termination of the contract before the final date must be part of the contract. If the employer wants to end the contract before the date agreed, he or she needs to follow a legal dismissal procedure. You should contact the UWV Werkbedrijf for further information.
Repeated contracts with the same employer
When you have had three consecutive contracts with the same employer, the fourth contract is automatically a permanent contract, unless there has been a period of at least six months between the three contracts. If you have had a chain of temporary contracts, with less than six months between them, from an employer for 24 months or more, your contract automatically converts into a permanent one.
What are my legal rights and obligations when I have a permanent employment contract?
The most important difference between a temporary and a permanent contract is that a permanent contract has no end date. This means there is no indication of any intention to limit the duration of the contract, such as “for the duration of the project”. Hence, and unlike temporary contracts, there is no mention of an end date in a permanent contract. Also the “term of notice” will be different for a permanent contract, since your legal position is different. The differences for terminating a permanent labour contract are explained below:
- A permanent employment contract can be ended by one of the parties. The legal terms of notice need to be respected.
- The rules are different for employers and employees. The employee has the legal right to end the contract without a procedure but he or she must respect the legal and agreed period, which is usually a minimum of one month’s notice.
- Both employer and employee have the right to go to court and ask to end the permanent labour contract.
What are my legal rights and obligations when I have an employment contract with an employment agency?
The contract with an uitzendbureau (employment agency) differs fundamentally from a contract with an employer. The employment agency is your legal employer while you work in a company that hires you from the employment agency. In particular, your protection against dismissal during a certain temporary period is not regulated. On the other hand, both you and the company you are working for can terminate your employment at any given time during the agreed employment period. Uitzendbureaus have their own CAO (Collective Labour Agreement).
There is a Wet allocatie arbeidskrachten door intermediairs (Allocation of Workers by Intermediaries Act) that regulates issues related to uitzendbureaus. For example:
- Uitzendbureaus are prohibited from deducting any amount from an employee’s salary for the service of providing temporary work
- Uitzendbureaus must inform temporary workers in writing about the working conditions at the place of work in advance
Please note that a werving- en selectiebureau (employment/recruitment agency) is not the same as an uitzendbureau. If a placement is via an uitzendbureau, then the person works via the agency for the duration of the assignment, whereas with recruitment, you work for the company straight away and the agency receives a fee.
What are my legal rights and obligations when I have an on-call contract?
An oproepkracht (on-call employee) only comes to work when called upon to do so. The rules that apply depend on the type of contract. For instance, there are rules with on payment when no work is available, minimum hours guarantee or minimum wages for hours worked.
Types of on-call contracts:
- On a nulurencontract (Zero-hour contract) the oproepkracht is required to work when called upon and is paid for the actual hours worked, but must be paid for a minimum of three hours
- On a min-maxcontract (minimum- and maximum-hour contract) you have guaranteed working hours. The employee is required to work at least a minimum number of hours, weekly, monthly or annually. During peak periods, employers and employees may agree upon extra hours. Guaranteed hours, even if there is no work, are always paid
On-call employees are entitled to continued pay during sickness as well as when their employer temporarily cannot offer work. How much and for how long depends on their type of contact.
Employers can exclude the right to continued pay for a maximum of six months when they cannot provide their on-call employees with work. The CAO may state otherwise. Find more information about on-call employees at: business.gov.nl/regulation/on-call-employees.
What are the rules for dismissal?
A temporary employment contract ends on an agreed date or during a trial period. In both cases, there is no dismissal procedure.
An employer must have good reasons to dismiss you when you have a permanent contract. You can be dismissed:
- For (business) economic reasons, such as when a reorganisation takes place or a company closes down or relocates. This could include part of the company’s activities being closed down
- If you do not perform well or are no longer suitable for the job. However, you cannot be dismissed if this is the result of illness. Note: your employer must have repeatedly pointed out that you are not performing or have performed insufficiently, preferably in an appraisal or performance interview. You must be given time to improve your performance
- If there is a conflict with your employer and the relation between you and your employer is beyond repair
- If you have serious conscientious objections to your duties and your employer is not able to offer you a different job or suitable work
- If you are long-term occupationally disabled
- For improper conduct, for example, if you forge certificates, threaten colleagues, endanger yourself or others or if you do not observe the duty of confidentiality
- If you steal, commit fraud, refuse work without good reason or come to work under the influence of alcohol or drugs (summary termination)
- If you and your employer mutually agree to the dismissal
There are a number of restrictions for dismissal. You cannot be dismissed on the grounds of your gender or when you are pregnant. Your employer can only dismiss you:
- When he has a dismissal permit from the UWV Werkbedrijf.
- If he goes to court to dissolve your employment contract.
- In case of summary termination.
- During your trial period, or
- With your consent.
The employer needs permission for dismissal and has two options depending on the reasons for dismissal: via a district or cantonal court, if the working relationship is damaged, or the UWV, in case of economic reasons or illness. However, in case of summary termination, the employment contract ends with immediate effect. Your employer does not need permission from the UWV Werkbedrijf. He or she must immediately tell you why you have been dismissed.
If you have been dismissed, your employer must observe a period of notice, so you should be told in advance that you will be dismissed. The period of notice is often mentioned in your contract or CAO. If not, the following periods of notice should be observed:
- If you were working with the employer less than five years: one month
- If you were working with the employer between five and ten years: two months
- If you were working with the employer between 10 and 15 years: three months
- If you were working with the employer 15 years or more: four months
You can also agree with your employer that you will stop work immediately. You must both consent to this. If you resign, you must observe a notice period of one month. Your employment contract may state otherwise, provided it is in writing.
I have some legal issues with my employment contract. Where can I get a legal assistance?
If you cannot clarify any legal issues you may have regarding your contract with your employer, you can seek information and advice at het Juridisch Loket (the legal advice office) free of charge. If they conclude that you need professional legal assistance, they may be able to give you some suggestions. Het Juridisch Loket has offices in 30 locations throughout the country. The list is on their website as well as the contact details. It is possible to send an email by filling in the online form (in Dutch only). Sometimes this is not possible. In this case you can call them free of charge on 0800 8020.
It is good to know that individual labour disputes in the private sector are generally dealt with by a single District court judge. Individual labour disputes in the public sector are regulated by administrative law and dealt with by an administrative court. Labour law is an intricate and complex field subject to changes. Dutch labour law is protective of the employee’s rights. It is suggested to consult legal professionals when issues or disputes arise.
What are the official public holiday in the Netherlands?
The Netherlands has very few public holidays. Whether you are free from work on these days depends on the agreements made between employers and employees in the CAO (collaborative labour agreement) or those in your employment contract.
The Netherlands has one national holiday:
- Koningsdag (King’s Birthday)
In addition, there are a number of generally-observed public holidays:
- Nieuwjaarsdag (New Year’s Day)
- Tweede paasdag (Easter Monday)
- Hemelvaartsdag (Ascension Day)
- Pinksteren (Whit Monday)
- Eerste kerstdag (Christmas Day)
- Tweede kerstdag (Boxing Day)
What vacations am I entitled to in the Netherlands?
Every employee in the Netherlands is entitled to vacation with full pay. The right to vacation days is built up during the course of a year. The minimum number of vacation days to which you are entitled after one year is four times the agreed number of days you work each week (usually 4 x 5 = 20 days). If you have not yet been employed for one year by an employer, your vacation days will be calculated proportionately.
You will receive full pay during your vacation. In addition, you are entitled to a minimum vacation allowance. The vacation allowance is payable by your employer and is paid at least once a year (usually in May). Your employer must specify the amount of your vacation allowance on payment. The vacation allowance amounts to 8% of your income in money (basic wage, bonuses and allowances).
The CAO (collaborative labour agreement) might include other agreements about the number of vacation days, the payment and the amount of the vacation allowance.
Legal vacation entitlements can be saved up to six months. Any extra vacation entitlements (e.g. if you are entitled to more than the minimum number of vacation days) can be saved up to 5 years. It is also possible for an employee to exchange vacation days for money from the employer, but neither the employer nor the employee can force the other into such an arrangement.
Which possibilities are available for special leave?
Employees in the Netherlands are not only entitled to fully-paid vacation days, but also to several kinds of special leave such as:
- Emergency leave
- Parental leave
- Adoption leave
- Paternity leave
- Pregnancy and maternity leave
- Extraordinary leave
- Short-term compassionate leave
- Long-term compassionate leave
The sections below describe the legal regulations. A CAO may well have better regulations. Some types of special leave are fully-paid, while some others are unpaid.
Calamiteitenverlof (emergency leave )
You can take emergency leave when you suddenly and unexpectedly need to take time off, for example when the water mains in your house burst or your child becomes ill. The period should be reasonable, so the length depends on why it is needed. In some cases, a few hours will be enough; in other cases you might need a few days. During the emergency leave, your employer will continue to pay your salary.
Ouderschapsverlof (parental leave)
You are entitled to parental leave when you have been working for the same employer for at least one year and are caring for a child who is younger than eight. Both parents are entitled to parental leave. If you have more children, you may take parental leave for each child separately. You are also entitled to parental leave for your adopted children, foster children or stepchildren, provided the child is living with you. You can take up to 26 weeks parental leave up to your child’s 8th birthday. It is compulsory to take 9 weeks in the first year. These 9 weeks are paid for maximum 70% up to a maximum amount. The remaining weeks will be unpaid.
Adoptieverlof (adoption leave)
You are entitled to adoption leave when you adopt a child. Both parents can take adoption leave. When you adopt more than one child at the same time, you can only take adoption leave once. When you foster children, you can also take adoption leave.
You may take adoption leave between two weeks before and sixteen weeks after the adoption. The maximum leave is four weeks, in which you will receive an allowance that matches your salary, up to the maximum amount.
Kraamverlof or vaderschapsverlof (paternity leave)
After your partner has given birth, you are entitled to two days of paternity leave and since 1 January 2015 you are also entitled to extra 3 days leave to support your partner. This leave is paid.
Zwangerschaps en bevallingsverlof (pregnancy and maternity leave )
Pregnant employees are entitled to pregnancy and maternity leave for at least sixteen weeks. The period of leave depends on the due date and on the date the baby is actually born. You can take pregnancy leave from six weeks before the date the baby is due but it should start no later than four weeks before the baby is due. After giving birth you are always entitled to at least ten weeks of maternity leave, even if the baby is born later than it was due. A few examples:
- You stopped work six weeks before the baby was due. The baby is born one week early. You will then have five weeks of pregnancy leave and eleven weeks of maternity leave, totalling sixteen weeks of leave
- You stopped work six weeks before the baby was due. The baby is born two weeks after it was due. You are then entitled to eight weeks of leave before giving birth and ten weeks thereafter, totalling eighteen weeks of leave
- You stopped work four weeks before the baby was due. The baby is born two weeks after it was due. You are then entitled to six weeks of leave before giving birth and twelve weeks thereafter, totalling eighteen weeks of leave.
During your leave, you will receive an allowance which matches your salary up to a maximum amount.
Buitengewoon verlof (extraordinary leave) – not covered by labour law
In some situations, you can request paid leave for special circumstances that are not covered in labour law. Although this category of leave is not part of labour law, it is often part of a CAO, work contract, or company regulations. Ask HR or your employer what the possibilities are to take the following extraordinary leave.
- Marriage – When you get married, you have the right to paid leave for two to four days. The number of days depends on your CAO. The four days of leave can be split when you are having a civil wedding and a church wedding on different dates. When you register for ondertrouw (marriage license), you are usually entitled to a paid leave day. Again, this is dependent on your CAO. You have the right to one paid leave day for the marriage of a member of your immediate family. This also applies for extended family members.
- Major Wedding Anniversary – You have the right to one paid leave day for your own wedding anniversary as well as for the wedding anniversary of your parents, parents-in-law, and adoptive parents. This only applies to the 25th, 40th, 50th, and 60th wedding anniversaries.
- Moving – You generally get two paid leave days to move, but this can vary according to your CAO.
Kortdurend zorgverlof (short-term compassionate leave )
You are entitled to short-term compassionate leave if you have to look after a parent, a sick child who lives at home or your partner, but only if you are the only person who is able to provide the care at that time. Unlike your partner and child, it is not necessary for your parent or parents to be registered at your address. You are also entitled to short-term compassionate leave to look after your adopted child, your step child or foster child if he or she is ill, providing he or she lives with you and a foster care contract has been signed.
Every twelve months, you are entitled to no more than twice the number of hours you work in one week. For example, if you work 36 hours a week, you can take up to 72 hours short-term compassionate leave every twelve months. During any short-term compassionate leave that you take, you will continue to receive at least seventy per cent of your salary from your employer.
Langdurig zorgverlof (long-term compassionate leave )
You are entitled to long-term compassionate leave when you are employed and you are caring for your partner, child or parent who has a life-threatening illness. Life-threatening means that the life of the person concerned is, in the short term, at serious risk. Every year you are entitled to long-term compassionate leave for a period of up to twelve weeks, during which you are allowed to reduce the number of hours you work to at most half of your usual working hours. You will not receive wages for the number of hours that you are taking as long-term compassionate leave.
I receive unemployment benefits from my own country. How do I maintain this once I move to the Netherlands?
In general, to receive unemployment benefits you need to stay in the country which pays them. Under certain conditions you can transfer your benefit(s) to another EU country, that is continue to receive your unemployment benefits from the country where you became unemployed. You can find more information at:
In brief, the rules require that you have a U2 form before you leave your country of origin, register as a jobseeker in your new country of residence, fill in your U2 form and submit it to the national unemployment agency in your new country. See below what you may bear in mind:
Staying abroad for three months
You can carry on receiving your unemployment benefit for at least three months from the EU country where you were last working – and up to a maximum of six months, depending on the institution paying your benefit.
Staying abroad longer than three months
If you want to stay abroad for longer than 3 months, you will need to apply for an extension from the national employment service in the country where you became unemployed: they may extend the 3-month period up to 6 months.
Apply for the extension as early as possible. You must apply before the end of the initial 3-month period. For full information please see :
Before leaving, you must:
- have been registered as an unemployed jobseeker with the employment services in the country where you became unemployed for at least four weeks (exceptions can be made)
- apply to your national employment services for a U2 form (formerly E 303). This is an authorisation to continue receiving unemployment benefits while looking for a job in another country:
On arrival in the new country, you will need to:
- register as a jobseeker with the national employment services within seven days from the date on which you ceased to be available to the employment services in the country you left. In the Netherlands, you will have to contact the UWV Werkbedrijf (Public Employment Service). More information at: https://www.werk.nl/werkzoekenden/eu/working-netherlands/uwv/index.aspx
- submit your U2 form when you register
- agree to any checks made on unemployment benefit claimants in your new country, as if you were receiving unemployment benefits there
I receive unemployment benefits in the Netherlands. How do I maintain this once I move abroad?
Applications for benefits under the Werkloosheidswet – WW (Unemployment Insurance Act) have to be submitted to the Government’s Employee Insurance Agency (Uitvoeringsinstituut Werknemersverzekeringen – UWV). If you move to another EU country or a country that belongs to the EEA in order to find a job there, you can take your WW-uitkering (Dutch unemployment benefit) with you for a maximum of three months. For more detailed information please have a look at https://europa.eu/youreurope/citizens/work/unemployment-and-benefits/transferring-unemployment-benefits/index_en.htm. Before you leave, you need to arrange this with Public Employment Service (UWV Werkbedrijf). Please bear in mind that the employee who becomes unemployed after resigning from a job is not entitled to receive this benefit.
More information at the UWV website (in Dutch only): www.uwv.nl/particulieren/werkloos/index.
Find the contact of the administration that you may have to get in touch on the country that you are moving to at: europa.eu/youreurope/citizens/national-contact-points.
I am currently unemployed. Am I entitled to an unemployment benefits?
If you become unemployed due to no fault of your own, for example as a result of the termination of a contract for temporary employment or if you are made redundant, you are entitled to a WW-uitkering or werkloosheidsuitkering (unemployment benefit). These benefits are intended to be a temporary form of subsistence income whilst you search for new employment.
Government’s Employee Insurance Agency (Uitvoeringsinstituut Werknemersverzekeringen – UWV) determines whether you are entitled to a benefit, the amount you will be paid and how long the payments will continue. The amount and duration of your benefit will be determined on the basis of your previous salary, your age at the time you became unemployed and your work history. When determining if you are eligible for a benefit, UWV will, amongst other things, check if you have become unemployed through your own fault.
Information on receiving unemployment benefits can be found by visiting the UWV website (in Dutch only):
What are the requirements to be eligible for unemployment benefits?
The WW (unemployment insurance act) insures employees and civil servants in the Netherlands who become unemployed. If you are eligible for the WW-uitkering (unemployment benefit), you will receive 75% of the wage most recently earned (up to a maximum) in the first two months, thereafter 70%. To be eligible for the unemployment benefit, you must be available for work and satisfy the following criteria:
- You are insured for unemployment. This is usually the case if you were an employee within a company or organisation operating in the Netherlands
- You are below the retirement age of 65 and above the age of 26
- Your working hours have been reduced by your employer by at least five working hours per week and you are no longer entitled to be paid for these lost working hours
- You are immediately available for paid work
- Before becoming unemployed, you have worked for at least 26 weeks during the past 36 weeks (if you are a citizen of a European Union state or European Economic Area country and you have worked for less than 26 weeks in the Netherlands, the UWV will take into account the time you have worked in your previous resident country over the applicable 36-week period)
- You are not receiving a sickness, incapacity (IVA) or disability (WAO) benefit that precludes you from working
For occupational groups such as artists, musicians and film employees, a lower requirement of employed weeks applies. The length of your entitlement to this benefit depends on your employment history.
What is the procedure for claiming unemployment benefits?
Applications for a WW-uitkering (unemployment benefits) are processed by the Government’s Employee Insurance Agency (Uitvoeringsinstituut Werknemersverzekeringen – UWV).
The application for a WW-uitkering (unemployment benefits) is a three-stage process as follows:
You can apply for your unemployment benefit from 1 week before your last working day and up to 1 week after your last working day. Applying later than this can have an impact that your benefit will be lower. You can apply via the internet at werk.nl/werkzoekenden/uitkering-aanvragen/ww/ (in Dutch only).
You will need a DigiD (digital identification code). If you are not registered with DigiD, you can find out how to get one here. Please note that the application for your DigiD can take up to five days to process.
Once UWV has received your unemployment benefits application, you will receive an email from them as confirmation of receipt. You will then receive an email with information about what to do to quickly find a new job and how to use your personal UWV environment (Mijn UWV) and the Werkmap. Werkmap is the environment where you can place a CV, look for jobs, and track your job search activity.
You can track the status of your application for unemployment benefits on Mijn UWV if you are logged in with your DigiD (mijn.uwv.nl/iam/inloggen/).
UWV will contact you if they need extra information from you in order to assess your request.
UWV will get back to you with a decision letter within 4 weeks after you’ve submitted your application. The letter will contain information on whether you will receive an unemployment benefit, how high this benefit will be, and how long the benefit will last.
When you receive unemployment benefits, UWV will be monitoring that you are actively seeking a job. One of your obligations as a job seeker with unemployment benefits is to submit your job search activities to UWV via your Werkmap on werk.nl. Make sure to apply for a job at least 4 times per 4 weeks.
What is the transitievergoeding (transition compensation)? And do I qualify for it?
As of 1 July 2015, the transitievergoeding (transition compensation) was introduced. This compensation replaces the severance payment in cases of termination of an employment contract by the employer either via a court or the Government’s Employee Insurance Agency (Uitvoeringsinstituut Werknemersverzekeringen – UWV).
You are entitled to a transition allowance if you are dismissed or if the temporary contract is not renewed on your employer’s initiative. This right also exists if you resign yourself due to serious culpable acts or omissions on the part of your employer.
From 1 January 2020, you are entitled to a transition payment upon dismissal from the first day of your employment contract. The transition compensation is calculated as follows:
From your first working day, you will receive 1/3 monthly salary per entire year of service.
The transition payment for the remaining part of the employment contract is calculated according to the formula: (gross salary received on the remaining part of the employment contract / gross monthly salary) x (1/3 gross monthly salary / 12). This formula is also used to calculate the transition allowance if the employment contract has lasted less than a year.
Example: An employee is dismissed during his probationary period. The employment contract lasted a total of 5 days. The gross salary over these 5 days is € 800. This is considered as the monthly wages.
The calculation is then as follows: (€ 800 / € 800) x (1/3 x € 800) / 12) = 1 x (€ 266.67 / 12) = € 22.22. The employee will, therefore, receive € 22.22 transition compensation for the 5 days that he was employed.
If the dismissal took place after 1 January 2020, you can make use of the Transition Allowance Calculation Tool (in Dutch only) on rekenhulptransitievergoeding.nl/.
There are some exceptional cases in which the transition compensation does not apply, as follows:
- you are less than 18 years of age on dismissal and you have not worked more than 12 hours per week during your employment,
- your temporary contract is expiring, and you and your employer agree in advance that your contract will be continued within a maximum of six months and that the new contract can be terminated prematurely,
- your employer is bankrupt, has a moratorium, or is involved in a debt rescheduling scheme for natural persons,
- you have reached the age of retirement,
- you have been dismissed due to a serious culpable act such as theft or fraud,
- your collective labour agreement (collectieve arbeidsovereenkomst – CAO) contains an equivalent provision for a transition payment.
For further information, please visit the government’s website (in Dutch only):
What type of benefit is available if I don’t have any revenue/income?
The Wet Werk en Bijstand – WWB (Work and Social Assistance Act) grants a minimum income to anyone legally residing in the Netherlands who has insufficient means to support themselves. Social assistance is provided to a household and not to an individual. Therefore, if someone within the household has an adequate income, the household is not eligible for assistance. This means that someone without income living with a partner or parents with adequate income is not entitled to a grant. Social assistance is exclusively reserved for those in financial difficulty (due to no household income) to prevent hardship or poverty. Applications for social assistance should be submitted to your municipality. Depending on your country of origin and the time you have been in the Netherlands, applying for WWB might result that the Immigration and Naturalisation Service (Immigratie- en Naturalisatiedienst – IND) withdraws your residence permit.
What kind of benefit is available if I become ill?
Employers must pay at least 70% of the salaries of sick employees for the first two years. In the first year, sometimes 100% of the salary is paid. The first two days of sick leave may be at the expense of the employee, but this needs to be set out in the employee’s contract or in the collectieve arbeidsovereenkomst – COA (collective labour agreement).
The Ziektewet- ZW (Sickness Benefit Act) serves only as a ‘safety net’ for employees who do not have an employment anymore and in some special situations such as:
- Employees who have lost their job in the first or second year of their sickness
- Temporary workers on sick leave who do not have a permanent contract with their employment agency
- Home workers
- Student trainees
- Unemployed persons who receive a benefit from the Government’s Employee Insurance Agency (Uitvoeringsinstituut Werknemersverzekeringen – UWV)
- Sickness prior to or following the 16 weeks of maternity benefit (female employees are entitled to benefits for pregnancy and delivery under the Wet arbeid en zorg (Work and Care Act) amounting to 100% of the daily wage for a period of at least 16 weeks)
- Bankruptcy of the employer responsible for continuing to pay the salary
- In the event of sickness in the first five years of having taken on a person who is partly incapacitated for work
- Sickness due to organ donation
After 104 weeks of sickness (two years), a review takes place to determine whether the employee qualifies for the benefit under the Wet Werk en Inkomen naar Arbeidsvermogen – WIA (Work and Income according to the labour capacity act). See more information on this section.
If you become ill in the Netherlands and want to recuperate in your own country, you need permission from your employer’s health and safety service (ARBO service) or from UWV. A doctor checks if this will not delay your recovery.
Applications for benefit under the sickness benefit act have to be submitted to the UWV. You can contact them on 0900 9294, or visit their website (in Dutch only) at: www.uwv.nl.
What kind of benefit is available if I remain ill for a long time?
The period of sick leave during which the statutory wage will continue to be paid is two years. During this period, both the employer and the disabled worker must do all they can to improve the worker’s chances of returning to work and to make use of all opportunities to reintegrate the worker into the employment process. After two years, there is a review for Wet Werk en Inkomen naar Arbeidsvermogen – WIA (Work and Income according to the labour capacity act) qualification.
Under this Act, a fundamental distinction is made between employees who are both fully and permanently disabled after two years and those who are temporarily disabled.
An employee who is both fully and permanently incapacitated is no longer able to earn their own living; due to sickness, their work capacity has diminished to less than 20% income protection under the regulation governing income protection for individuals registered as completely disabled, Regeling inkomensvoorziening volledig arbeidsongeschikten – IVA.
A person can also qualify for IVA before the two years of sick leave have expired if it is clear that the relevant criteria have been met (i.e. the individual is totally and permanently incapacitated). The IVA is 75% of the last full daily wage.
Employees with a partial occupational disability can be divided into employees who after two years of sick leave are less than 35% disabled and employees with a substantial occupational disability, i.e. who are at least 35% incapacitated. Employers are responsible for maximising the employment capacity of employees who are less than 35% occupationally disabled. After two years of sick leave, workers who are partially disabled (at least 35%) may qualify for disability benefits under Regeling werkhervatting gedeeltelijk arbeidsongeschikten – WGA (the regulation governing the re-employment of partially disabled workers). The benefit depends on how much you are disabled and – if you still have a job – your wages.
Applications for the WIA have to be submitted to the Government’s Employee Insurance Agency (Uitvoeringsinstituut Werknemersverzekeringen – UWV) at: www.uwv.nl/particulieren.
My payroll agency does not arrange pensions for its employees. As I am not a Dutch citizen, I am having a serious issue with a pension arrangement. Can you advise me on this matter? What should I do to set up a scheme?
During the years you have been living in the Netherlands, you and your partner build up an Algemene Ouderdomswet – AOW (state pension) , that is a basic state pension. In addition to this, you can set up a private pension for yourself and your partner. You can do this via a bank or an insurance company. They can advise you about the possibilities in your situation. Find more information about it at the Social Security Office (Sociale Verzekeringbank – SVB) website. That is the organisation that implements national insurance schemes in the Netherlands: www.svb.nl.
What is the pension age in the Netherlands and who is entitled?
The Algemene Ouderdomswet – AOW is a basic state pension insurance scheme. Everyone who lives or works in the Netherlands is insured automatically, regardless of nationality. As a rule, everyone who has reached the pension age and lives or has lived in the Netherlands is entitled to an AOW pension. You will be paid a pension from the day you reach the pension age that applies for you. If you do not live in the Netherlands at that time, you may only get a part of your AOW, depending on the treaties between the Netherlands and the country where you live.
For every year that you are insured, you build up rights to 2% of the full AOW pension. If you have been insured for the full number of years (which is 50) you will get a full AOW pension. If you have lived or worked outside the Netherlands, you are likely to have been uninsured during certain periods and may get a lower pension as a result.
In 2021 the statutory retirement age is 66 years and 4 months. In 2022 it will increase to 66 years and 7 months; in 2023 to 66 years and 10 months; in 2024 to 67 years. As from 2025 the pension age will be linked to the average life expectancy and thus could be greater than 67. Five years before your retirement date, the pension age will be final. You can calculate your expected retirement date on https://www.svb.nl/en/aow-pension/aow-pension-age/your-aow-pension-age.
The AOW is not designed to be a standalone income for retirees in the Netherlands and should be supplemented by a company/occupational pension (labour-based pension) or private pension scheme, or both.
Can you give me some key insights into Dutch business culture?
The Netherlands has a formal business culture in which honesty, efficiency, productivity and courtesy are highly valued. Expatriates from some cultures may find the Dutch businesspersons direct, blunt and not what they may be used to. Most decisions and agreements are made in open meetings rather than behind closed doors. Contacts and networks are important and you should try to arrange introductions through a third party. Find below additional information:
- Appointments should be made well in advance. Normal business hours are 09:00 to 17:00, Mondays to Fridays, although many workers start and finish earlier. Always turn up on time, as punctuality is expected
- Conducting business affairs over lunch is unusual in the Netherlands. Lunch is usually a quick snack, where most office workers bring their own sandwiches from home
- Normal business attire varies considerably between industries. Unless you are aware that informal dress is the norm in your business area, wear a conservative suit for interviews and meetings
- People should be addressed by their personal or professional titles with family names, unless you are invited to use first names. Academic titles are not normally used in speech
- Team structures tend to be flat, without much hierarchy, despite different levels of pay scales and responsibility
- Respect is gained through speaking one’s mind and being direct, thus avoiding wasting time. This directness of approach can sometimes be misconstrued as aggression or even rudeness but it is a tool for enabling the meeting to efficiently reach an agreed solution
- The Dutch can have some antipathy towards those who use pre-meeting lobbying techniques in order to arrive at group position to expound in the meeting. This pre-meeting lobbying, endemic in many cultures, can be seen as devious and underhanded and lead to accusations of ‘hidden agendas’ and inflexibility
- There is a relatively strong separation made between work and private life
- Colleagues do not tend to socialise very much immediately after work, and most do not invite business guests into their family life at all
The ACCESS trainers network also provides Dutch culture training. Other websites such as ExpatFocus.com or Interculturalprofessionals.com can also provide you with information and consultancy services about Dutch business culture.
How can I take my pension to another country when I leave the Netherlands?
Your pension can be split into two parts:
- The general old age pension (AOW). If you leave the Netherland, you stop building up your AOW. You will then get a reduced AOW pension when you reach the age at which you are entitled to this benefit. At the time you are retired, you might be able to receive the AOW you built up during your stay here. However, this is only possible if you are living in a country with which the Netherlands has a treaty at the time of your retirement. For an overview of the current regulations for several countries please look at https://www.svb.nl/en/aow-pension/claiming-an-aow-pension-if-you-live-outside-the-netherlands/you-are-going-to-live-outside-the-netherlands.
- The pension built up via your employer. If you leave the Netherlands, you might be able to transfer the pension you built up here to a pension fund in your new country. This is called international value transfer of your pension. It is advised to ask an expert to check if this is possible and if it is beneficial for you. He can also inform you about the steps to take.
For more information on this subject please visit the following website:
Where can I find out about opportunities to do useful voluntary work or join social clubs?
There are many organisations across the Netherlands suitable for volunteers from the international community. ACCESS was specifically set up to provide support to the English-speaking international/expat community, but there are many more organisations throughout the Netherlands which are looking for and value the contribution of your time/expertise.
Several local organisations are increasingly providing volunteering opportunities, for which little to no Dutch is required, and which are available to the international community. Here you have some examples:
- In The Hague: www.volunteerthehague.nl and www.xpatarchive.com
- In Amsterdam www.vca.nu/english and www.stcamsterdam.nl/en/home
The major cities also have a wide range of clubs and societies covering a diverse range of activities and cultural interests. Information can be obtained from ACCESS or via internet sites and Facebook aimed at the international community. For groups located in your area, you can also contact the ACCESS Helpdesk.
For general information on volunteering in Netherlands, you can contact the national Dutch volunteer office on (085) 4000 338 and check the daily papers for ads regarding volunteering opportunities.
What kind of volunteer work is available in the Netherlands?
Volunteering was generally considered an activity to improve the well-being of others without any remuneration. It used to be thought of as being rooted in a positive attitude: working because you want to and not because you have to. It has now been expanded to a process of learning and developing. It takes many forms, and can be performed by a wide range of people in many areas, while giving the feeling of satisfaction that comes from giving back to a community, being helpful, being busy, meeting new people and developing skills. There are many interesting volunteering positions you can apply for in the Netherlands through different organisations.
The main popular volunteering areas are:
This encompasses volunteer work that aims to improve infrastructure and services like sanitation, water, permanent shelter, electricity, schools, gardening, reliable roads, and more.
Environment & wildlife
These are the services directed towards environmental and wildlife management. They can involve environmental monitoring, re-vegetation, weed removal and several other ecological restoration related processes. Raising awareness about the environment also falls under the same category.
Schools or education
Volunteering in schools may involve helping underprivileged children and adults to develop life-changing skills (like learning English, which can significantly improve the prospects of people living in developing countries), being a classroom helper, helping with fundraising efforts, etc. You can also participate in fun activities like drama productions, one-off events and chaperoning on field trips.
There are other areas where volunteers are utilised:
- Community theatres, museums and monuments
- Libraries or senior help centres
- Clubs and organisations like school clubs, youth organisations, rotary clubs, sports clubs
- Restoration activities for parks, and other public spaces
- Places of worship
Volunteering can be done within an organisation, out in the field and from home, with tasks such as writing, graphic designing, emailing and social media.
Are there also volunteering opportunities if I can’t commit for a longer term?
There are also many volunteering opportunities that require a short-term commitment, such as the ‘NLdoet days’ www.nldoet.nl (in Dutch only) and one-off festivals, such as the International Film Festival in Rotterdam (IFFR). The above-mentioned sites will also have information about such opportunities.
You can also check if there is a Vrijwilligers Centrale – VC (volunteers’ centre) located in your area. They are usually stichtings (foundations) subsidised by the government that offer a wide range of volunteer opportunities.
Do I need a work permit in order to volunteer?
Citizens of non-EU/EAA countries require a valid working permit. Be sure to inform the organisation you want to volunteer for whether or not you have a work permit.
Please note: holders of a tourist visa are not allowed to do voluntary work. Also, if you are receiving unemployment benefits, you may not be allowed to volunteer without prior consent from UWV WERKbedrijf (Public Employment Service).
If I get a small fee for my volunteer work, is this tax free?
If you get a small fee for your volunteer work, it is tax free only if you receive a maximum of €180 per month or €1,800 per year. Should you receive more, then you have to pay income tax. In order to be able to take advantage of this tax break (on the €1,800), the organisation with which you volunteer must have a so-called ANBI status and must provide you with the required documentation for your tax return. Please keep in mind that these figures are for 2021, but can change annually.
As a foreigner, am I entitled to start a business in the Netherlands?
Yes, as a foreigner you can start your own business in the Netherlands, or bring your business from abroad. There are certain conditions that need to be fulfilled, the primary being legal residence, and ‘permission’ to work in the Netherlands. This differs to the ‘Start-up Visa‘ through which a resident permit is related to the business brought to the Netherlands.
Legal residence – condition number one
Legal residence is always the basic requirement, which may mean obtaining a residence permit, and often also an entry visa/permit.
The type of enterprise (legal form): whether a one-man business, a Dutch private limited company (BV), or a branch-office of a foreign company, makes no difference when it comes to residence requirements. The rules do not differ either if you start an enterprise shortly after arriving in the Netherlands, or after having been employed in the Netherlands for some time.
The law on residence differs for EU/EEA citizens and those of other countries.
Citizens of EU states, Iceland, Liechtenstein, and Norway (known as the European Economic Area states, EEA) and Swiss citizens do not need a residence permit to enter, stay, live and work in The Netherlands. Passport or ID card are sufficient proof of rightful stay.
Citizens of other countries intending to stay longer than 90 days usually need an entry permit, (MVV), and a residence permit, issued by the Dutch Immigration Authority, IND, (Immigratie en Naturalisatie Dienst), the authoritative source on residence permits. The information is available on their website:
MVV –provisional residence permit
Non-EU/EEA or Swiss nationals, who want to stay in the Netherlands for more than three months will typically require a Dutch residence permit. Unless exempt, an entry permit (MVV) is also required, as well as an integration exam beforehand.
More information about the MVV is available on https://ind.nl/en/pages/mvv.aspx
Can I renew a residence permit for entrepreneurs?
A residence permit for entrepreneurs is valid for two years. Renewal is straightforward, provided you meet the initial conditions, and:
- your business is still active
- you still earn sufficient income
- your personal situation did not change
- you did not apply for unemployment benefits
- you were not charged with any violation of the law
With this residence permit you are exclusively allowed to work for your own enterprise. If you take up any other form of work/employment, you need to apply for a separate work permit (TWV tewerkstellingsvergunning)
In some cases there will be an additional proof requirement:
Director or major shareholder
To be deemed as self-employed when acting as director or a major shareholder of a company, you must additionally prove you have at least 25 percent interest in the company, be liable for risks and be able to influence the level of your income. If this is not the case, your relationship with the company would be considered as an ’employee’ and you would be required to obtain a work permit for employees.
If you are applying to work as a freelancer you must additionally prove that at the time of application you have one or more work assignments in the Netherlands that you, as a freelancer, are going to carry out. For an explanation of what is considered a freelancer see https://ind.nl/en/work/working_in_the_Netherlands/Pages/Self-employed-person.aspx
If you intend to provide healthcare services you are subject to regulation by the Individual Healthcare Professions Act (BIG) and must be included in the BIG register. With this registration a healthcare provider with a foreign diploma may operate in the Netherlands as a self-employed person.
What is the Start-up visa? And can I apply for it?
The Netherlands has a start-up program for non-EU entrepreneurs who intend to start an innovative business in The Netherlands. The program is considered a lighter version of the strict point-based program.
Entrepreneurs obtain a temporary residence permit for one year to develop their idea into a business plan with the support of a facilitator.
The following conditions apply:
- the business must be supported by a facilitator in the Netherlands.
- a step by step plan of how to develop your idea into a business
- the applicant must have sufficient funds to live in The Netherlands
- be registered with the trade register of the Chamber of Commerce (KvK)
- the product or service should be innovative
- Innovation: Three aspects are reviewed to measure innovation:
- the start-up operates in an innovative way
- the product or service is new in the Netherlands
- the start-up uses new technology in its production, distribution and/or marketing process
- After one year, the start-up should apply for a new residence permit as a self-employed entrepreneur under the points-based system.
- Startups can submit a favourable recommendation from their business facilitator that will replace the points-based system. If successful, the new permit will be granted for five years.
The facilitator plays an important part, but the entrepreneur is the one who takes an active role in the development of the business, the Netherlands Enterprise Agency (RVO) grants the status of facilitator for one year based on certain criteria.
Visit the following website to find out about potential facilitators: english.rvo.nl/subsidies-programmes/residence-permit-foreign-startups/where-find-facilitator
For more specifics on this topic consult the following links:
How to apply for a self-employed residence permit?
If you require an Provisional Residence Permit (MVV visa Machtiging tot Voorlopig Verblijf) you must file an application at the Dutch embassy or consulate in your home country or in a country where you are legally residing.
If you need to apply just for a residence permit, you can wait until you arrive in the Netherlands. You can apply by making an appointment at your regional IND desk. You can also apply prior to your arrival if you want to start work as soon as you arrive
If you are applying for the start-up visa, you do not require an entry visa (MVV) regardless of your nationality, provided all the requirements for residence are met.
For details about applying for a start-up temporary residence see:
The applications are costly, and fees are not refundable if residence is not granted. As the fees are subject to change it is best to check the IND website for current rates.
What issues should I consider in order to set up and develop a business?
Once you have established that you fulfil the conditions for residence it is good to get well acquainted with the legal requirements for setting up a business in The Netherlands.
Informing yourself about the Dutch economy, business climate, regulations and practices, and the socio-political and cultural environment in which you intend to set up your business is a must. So is market research, for orientation about your future place in the complex business mosaic.
Then comes the concrete phase: developing a business plan and preparing for fulfilling the administrative prerequisites that will turn your business idea into a reality.
A business plan is a requirement for non-EU/EEA/Swiss nationals for starting their own business in the Netherlands. Even when legally not required, a business plan is a good idea because it enables you to look at your enterprise in its entirety. No matter how small or big the business, it will help you identify areas of strengths and weaknesses.
Banks require a business plan for granting loans. Even if financing your business is not a problem, a business plan will help to understand the full implications of setting up a business and contribute to its professional and efficient start-up.
There are many issues you will need to consider, among which: checking whether you require specific professional qualification, selecting a legal form for your business, choosing a trade name, taxation and insurance, employment laws, registering at the Chamber of Commerce, finding business premises with the zoning plan in mind, checking environmental and safety regulations related to your business, creating business accounts.
Here are some institutions and organisations that provide useful information for your market research:
Central Bureau of Statistics: www.cbs.nl/en-gb
The CPB Netherlands Bureau for Economic Policy Analysis regularly reports about the Dutch economy and provides forecasts: www.cpb.nl/en/data Only a limited number of publications is also available in English. Most publications are only in Dutch.
Half-yearly Economic Developments and Outlook is published by the Dutch central bank DNB:
If you prefer it, there are also many business consultants and market research firms that can help you on this phase.
What are the fundamental requirements that I will need to comply with in starting a business?
The Chamber of Commerce (KVK) has created a guide in English to help you starting your own business. Below we have summarised the most relevant information. https://www.kvk.nl/english/starting-a-business-in-the-netherlands/
Business.gov is a recently launched website initiative, providing answers to the many questions related to starting a business in the Netherlands. They also have several online webinars which can be watched for added information: business.gov.nl
The Citizen Service Number
You need to have a Citizen Service Number (BSN) issued by the municipality in which you reside. The BSN is used by all public organisations in your dealings with them.
Providing a business plan is one of the prescribed criteria for entrepreneurs who are not EU, EEA and Swiss nationals and wish to begin their own business in The Netherlands.
The starting point should be a clear idea of your goals, targets and expected clients. According to typical advice, the main issues that need to be addressed are:
- which legal form best suits the enterprise
- which products or services will you offer– DO’s and DON’Ts
- who will be your clients
- promotional activities to get contracts;
- how to optimize visibility toy our target group
- prices and fees
- financial plan (available budgets, expected turnover, investments)
- which insurances do you need
- permits and/or licenses required
- form of administrational
- what should be included in your General Terms and Conditions – if applicable?
Choosing a good company name for your company is very important but not easy. A few tips:
- Your business name should fit you and your company, now, but also in the future.
- It is best if the company name is short, to the point, easy to remember and to search on the internet.
- Make sure that your company name is unique and does not already exist as brand or domain name. Check in the Commercial Register. (You will find a tool in the KvK link below, Dutch only)
- Be alert to cultural sensitivity and inappropriate or silly words in Dutch. Think about how the name sounds in English and other languages should you ever consider taking your business abroad.
Find out more about how to choose a business name on the KvK’s website:
Entrepreneurs in the Netherlands have to choose a legal form for their business. That applies also to self-employed professionals and freelancers. The choice will determine, for example, liability and tax obligations.
Types of legal forms
There are legal forms with and without corporate (legal) personality. An important difference is that forms without corporate (legal) personality involve debt liability for both the company assets and your private assets. For legal entities liability is tied solely to company assets. Visit the question different types of legal forms to get more detailed information on this topic.
How can I choose the legal form or business structure for my company?
In order to make a decision on which legal form your company will take you will have to consider issues such as:
- Will you be the only owner of the company?
- Will you work with partners?
- Will the company have stakeholders or financial partners?
There are two legal forms or business structures: legal form without corporate personality and legal form with corporate personality: Legal forms without corporate (legal) personality or unincorporated business structures (Rechtvormen zonder rechtspersoonlijkheid)
Sole proprietor or sole trader (Eenmanszaak)
Most people decide to set up an Eenmanszaak, literally one-man-business, when starting their own enterprise. It’s quick and easy to do, and often offers more tax benefits than setting up a private limited company (BV), especially in the early years. The downside is that you are personally liable for your business debts and that you cannot have shareholders under this legal form.
In an Eenmanszaak (one-man business) you will be the fully independent founder and owner. More than one person may work in a one-man business, but there can only be one owner. A one-man business can also employ staff. The Dutch term ‘Eenmanszaak‘ only refers to the legal form and has nothing to do with the number of people employed by your business.
All you need to do is register with the Dutch Chamber of Commerce (KvK). You will be listed in the Commercial Register (Handelsregister).
You can set up only one Eenmanszaak but you can operate under various trade names, perform different commercial activities and work from multiple premises.
As the owner of an Eenmanszaak you are responsible for everything concerning your enterprise; for every legal act and all its assets and liabilities. No distinction is made between private and business property so creditors are entitled to recovery from your business and personal assets.
You will have to pay taxes on your profits and to pay social insurance contributions (volkverzekeringen). You will be entitled to an AOW pension.
Business with partners
If you are looking to start a business with other self-employed individuals there are three options:
- General partnership (VOF)
- Limited partnership (CV)
- Professional partnership (Maatschap)
General Partnership (VOF) and Professional partnership (Maatschap) will be merged into one entity called “partnership “.
More information about this change is available on https://business.gov.nl/amendment/difference-professional-partnership-general-partnership/ It is not yet known when this change will come into force as both the House of Representatives (Tweede Kamer) and Senate (Eerste Kamer) still need to approve the proposed change.
In a General partnership (VOF) you and your partner(s) are associates or members of the general partnership. Partners are classed as self-employed entrepreneurs. This is one of the most used legal forms and it works very similarly as the Eenmanszaak. See below the general guidelines:
- Each partner contributes something to the business: capital, goods, efforts (work) and/or goodwill. No minimum start-up capital is required
- A partnership contract is not a statutory requirement for the formation of a general partnership, but it is advisable
- An important characteristic –joint and separate liability of the partners. Each partner can be held fully liable – including private property – if the general partnership fails to meet its obligations. Creditors may seek recovery from your business property and your private property and the property of the other partner(s). Restrictions agreed upon have to be officially registered in order to gain legal effectiveness towards third parties
- Each partner will pay his own income tax on his profit share
A Limited partnership (CV) is a special type of general partnership (VOF). The difference is that the CV has two types of business partners: general, who are running the business, and limited or sleeping partners who are only financially involved usually as investors; they cannot act on behalf of the partnership. The name of a limited partner cannot be used in the trade name of the limited partnership.
- General partners can be held fully liable if the partnership fails to meet its obligations. A limited partner can only be held liable for the maximum sum contributed to the partnership.
A Professional partnership (Maatschap) is a form of cooperation established by professionals such as doctors, dentists, lawyers, accountants, physiotherapists etc., in order to share the income earned and the expenses. The partners are referred to as ‘maten’ instead of ‘partners’. Each ‘maat’ contributes personal efforts, capital and/or assets.
- Each partner can enter into a contract, thus binding the partnership: all partners. Each partner can be held liable for an equal part. If a partner acts beyond his authorization, the other partners will in principle not be held liable; the partner in question is the only partner that has bound himself
- Creditors having a claim on the partnership can only seek recovery for equal parts from the individual partners
- Each partner pays income tax on his profit share
Legal forms with corporate (legal) personality or incorporated business structures (Rechtvormen met rechtspersoonlijkheid)
Incorporated business structures are also known as legal entities because they require a legal form in the shape of notarial deed. There are five different types:
- Private limited company (BV)
- Public limited company (NV)
- Association (Vereniging)
- Foundation (Stichting)
The Private Limited Company (BV) is the most common legal form under this business structure. It is seen as the entrepreneur, while the person appointed director merely acts on behalf of the BV and cannot be held personally liable (with some exceptions) for his acts. This is. A private limited company can be incorporated by one person – a sole shareholder BV – or by more persons. The capital of a BV is divided in shares.
- There are a number of requirements for the incorporation of a BV which takes place through a notarial deed. The deed should include the articles of association of the company
- The shareholder’s liability is limited to the total sum of his participation. Since the BV is a legal person, having its own independent rights and obligations, the persons involved – directors and supervisors – cannot be held liable for the debt of the company. The company’s creditors cannot seek recovery from the private assets of these officers. A company director or officer may be held liable as a private person if he has acted negligently or culpably
- The BV pays corporation tax, also referred to as company income tax, on the profits earned
Are there any entities that can give support for starting a business?
There are many forms of support in The Netherlands for starters in business – from official state organs and bodies, public and private institutions and organisations to various business networks.
For accurate and up to date information it is advisable to first refer to the proper governmental authorities and the Chamber of Commerce. They are equipped and ready to provide information and counsel on all aspects of setting up a business. You can also always go to the business desk in the town hall of the larger Dutch cities.
The most relevant basic information can be found on their websites:
The Chamber of Commerce (KvK) has an English language section on its website which provides comprehensive information about setting up and developing a business in the Netherlands. You can also take advantage of the KvK’s Starter Centre to speak with a free advisor. The KvK organises workshops for starters. Information can be found on their website (in Dutch only): www.kvk.nl/evenementen/
The Netherlands Enterprise Agency (RVO) helps start-ups with grants, finding business partners, know-how and compliance with laws and regulations. You find an overview on: english.rvo.nl/topics/startupsandscaleups
The Startup Officers Network comprises officers who work for ministries, large municipalities, provinces and other government organisations and who serve as points of access for start-ups who want to cooperate with the government.
For information on the Dutch government particular focus on support for innovating and ambitious businesses see:
What taxes do I have to pay under an unincorporated business structure?
As a self-employed entrepreneur you are responsible for your tax affairs. It is important to know all about the taxes that have to be paid and deductions and exemptions that may apply.
You should set up your business accounts on time. Business owners in the Netherlands have an obligation to keep business records for up to seven years. They include records of invoices, invoices to pay, expenses connected with business activities, income and private use of goods and services. It is important to note that you are not required to hire an accountant. However it may be wise to do so as the Dutch the tax system and regulations are complex.
The legal forms that falls under this business structure are Eenmanszaak, General partnership (VOF), Limited partnership (CV) and Professional partnership (Maatschap). These are the taxes that will need to be paid every year:
- VAT – Value-added tax or sales tax (BTW)
- Income tax (Inkomstenbelasting)
- Payroll tax (Loonheffing)
It is compulsory for businesses to charge VAT (BTW) when invoicing their clients. There are exceptions. If you teach educational courses or provide educational training, you may be VAT-exempted for these activities. Services rendered by journalists, composers and authors are also VAT-exempt, just like medical services and products.
If the “Small-sized entrepreneurs regulation” (Kleine ondernemersregeling) applies in your situation, you will pay less VAT or no VAT at all.
For better understanding see:
The profit made in unincorporated business structures is taxed as income tax. Each partner of a partnership will pay her/his own income tax on his/her profit share.
Entrepreneurs, recognised as such by the Tax Authority, are entitled to special tax allowances and will then pay less income tax, some of which are:
- Entrepreneurs allowance (zelfstandigenaftrek)
- Starters allowance (startersaftrek)
- Small-scale investment allowance (kleinschaligheidsinvesteringsaftrek)
- Tax-deferred retirement allowance (oudedagsreserve)
The criteria and standards to be met are explained at (in Dutch only):
If you employ staff, as the employer, you will have to deduct payroll tax at the source and pay to the Tax Administration. The payroll taxes are composed of the: wage tax, national insurance contributions, employed persons’ insurance scheme contribution and income-dependent Care Insurance Act contribution.
For more details about taxes see:
What taxes do I have to pay for an incorporated business structure?
Incorporated business structure, including BV, pay corporation tax. If you have a BV, you will have to pay corporation tax and dividend tax. In the event you work as an employee in your own BV, your BV will have to deduct income tax for you and pay this to the Tax Administration.
As the tax system and regulations are complex, and the tax forms are in Dutch, it may be wise to hire a tax consultant or use one of the specialised agencies. Some of them provide services at affordable prices especially to small businesses.
What kinds of financial support for starters is available in the Netherlands?
A solid financial plan will significantly increase your chances of getting the money that you need for starting a business.
There are numerous funding schemes, loans and subsidies for starters and small and medium size businesses in The Netherlands. Information about funding and loans is available here: business.gov.nl/financing-your-business/funding-and-loans/
Funding is available from the Dutch government, from European sources and from private investors and banks.
There are several large banks (ABN-AMRO, ING Bank, Rabobank,) which offer business/starters packages. Expect to pay a monthly fee. These banks often also offer insurance (liability, personnel, disability etc.).
More information on how to open a bank account here.
The following site enables comparison by publishing price-performance overviews of business bank accounts (in Dutch only):
The Chamber of Commerce (KvK) has a Help Desk Business Finance. Also business desks in the town halls of the larger cities in The Netherlands as well as expat centers in Amsterdam and The Hague, for example, offer a wealth of information about starting a business including financing options.
General information about subsidies, various types of programmes and tips about how to apply can be found at:
Another starting point could be to make inquiries in the province in which you are setting up your business. There are numerous regional development corporations (RDCs), or regionale ontwikkelingsmaatschappij (ROM), around the Netherlands that invest in private businesses. For more information and relevant links please see:
There are also various subsidies and tax reduction schemes that you can profit from as a small, starting enterprise. There are subsidies for environmental initiatives, art and culture, research and innovation, etc.
The Netherlands Enterprise Agency ( RVO) provides personal advice and assistance to business owners about relevant subsidies, tax benefits, partners, knowledge and legislation. For more detailed information you can visit the following links: english.rvo.nl/topics/startupsandscaleups
What insurances should I consider as a self-employed professional?
Before starting a business, you should evaluate the possible risks in your particular line of work and insure them. An independent entrepreneur runs risks unknown to employees, such as not having any income when unable to work due to illness or accident, or being held responsible for mistakes or damage caused.
There are various types of personal and business insurance:
A healthcare insurance (basisverzekering) is mandatory in The Netherlands. Every resident of the Netherlands pays a nominal premium of approximately EUR 1,300 per year on a basic health insurance. This premium is paid directly to the health insurance company of your choice. Extra insurance is needed to cover various risks. More information on the FAQ about Duth Health insurance.
You could also consider partial or private invalidity insurance and accident insurance.
Every inhabitant of the Netherlands aged over 65 (soon to be age 67) receives AOW, a national old age pension. This is a basic pension, which may not be sufficient to live on. Therefore, be advised to build up a supplementary pension through a pension insurance scheme. You could take out an annuity policy or another type of savings scheme.
For more information visit the Dutch government website:
Professional types of insurance include: business and professional liability insurance, business liability insurance, professional liability insurance, legal expenses insurance, insurance for goods, machinery and equipment; buildings insurance, credit insurance.
For more information visit the Dutch government website:
Can I transfer my business to The Netherlands?
If you run a one-man business in your country of origin and you can prove it, for example by submitting a copy of registration in a commercial register in that country, you can bring this enterprise to the Netherlands and have it registered at the Chamber of Commerce as a Dutch eenmanszaak.
Other legal foreign entities or foreign business forms are simply registered as a foreign legal entity with commercial activities. Please note that IND rules on residence always apply.
Can I change the legal form of my company?
Yes, although changes in the legal form have fiscal and administrative consequences. They need to be reported to the tax authorities and the Chamber of Commerce and may entail application for new municipal license.
You can find the forms related to this topic on the KvK’s website:
How do I terminate/dissolve my company?
For various reasons the time may come, or you may decide to stop with your business. You may wish to close down or sell, or find yourself facing bankruptcy. It is also good to know what happens in case of your death, or succession within the family.
When closing down or selling you will need to settle your debts, follow the rules on dismissal if you have employees and you will have to file a final tax return.
- Debtors can be granted a six month statutory grace period for paying back their debt. This has to be done by the court. Keep in mind that the court doesn’t always grant this. During that time creditors cannot claim any money or confiscate any goods. If you are no longer able to pay your debts and you have an Eenmanszaak or are partner in a partnership (maatschap or vennootschap), you are personally liable for your business’s debts. You can appeal to your municipality for debt restructuring. If this fails you can appeal to a court for debt restructuring. For more information: business.gov.nl/regulation/debt-restructuring/
- If you have employees you are expected to follow dismissal procedures. There are various dismissal procedures that you should familiarize yourself with.
- Finally, you will have to file a final tax return. Settling your tax obligations may vary depending on how/why the business is being terminated, whether it is closing down, being sold, or whether it is an issue of family succession or death or divorce.
If you are closing down your business you need to report that to the Chamber of Commerce (KvK) which will pass on the information to the Belastingdienst (tax office). They will send you a written confirmation. In case you do not receive it, you need to inform them yourself.
You must also:
- close the accounts of your discontinued business
- file the annual reports and accounts up to and including the cessation date as soon as possible
- make a final calculation and submit a final VAT return
You need to send in final tax returns for all relevant taxes, such as income tax, VAT or any other type of tax. If you have built up a retirement reserve, you need to settle that with your income tax. If you withdraw goods from your business for private use, you must pay VAT on these goods.
Selling your business
If you transfer your business (or a part of your business), you must calculate the discontinuation profit (stakingswinst) and pay income tax on that amount. As well as being relevant for income tax, wage tax and VAT purposes, selling your business may also have capital gains tax consequences or affect social insurance benefits.
For further details visit the Dutch government website:
If you are no longer able to pay off your debts, then another procedure applies:
You can petition the court to be declared bankrupt. You can do that for yourself or for the company you represent. You do not need a lawyer to submit the application to the court.
If you have two or more creditors, they can file for your bankruptcy through a lawyer.
All your assets are seized in a bankruptcy. Depending on the legal form of your business, you may also be declared personally bankrupt.
If the court declares you or your company bankrupt, it will appoint an official receiver. That will be the only person allowed to administer your company from the day that you have been declared bankrupt. The receiver can sell your assets and divide the proceeds among your creditors. The receiver can decide whether you have to stop your work at once or at a later moment in time. The receiver can also give permission for certain activities you are allowed to do., for example, concern selling, concluding contracts or paying or collecting bills.
For further details visit the Dutch government website:
What are the general residence requirements for entrepreneurs?
To qualify for a two-year residence permit as a self-employed entrepreneur, the business should serve an essential Dutch interest.
That is assessed by the IND upon advice of The Netherlands Enterprise Agency (RVO), a part of Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs, which uses a point-based-system to grade the enterprise in three categories:
- personal experience
- business plan
- added value to The Netherlands
Each of these criteria is allotted points. With 90 points out of a possible 300, the applicant is eligible for a residence permit.
There are exemptions according to your nationality:
Long-term EU resident EC
In a number of EU Member States it is possible to obtain long-term resident EC status, a European type of permanent residence permit.
With that status you do not need to score points under the point-based system when applying for a residence permit for entrepreneurs. You do need to present evidence that your enterprise has a viable chance of success in the Netherlands, by providing:
- a business plan including: market analysis, product/service, pricing, structure of organization, financing
- proof of expected turnover: prognosis made by a registered bookkeeper/accountant over the next 3 years
- the necessary licenses to practice your profession
- copies of degrees/diplomas if applicable
- copy of the long-term resident EC permit issued by another EU Member State
The list of EU states that grant resident EC status can be found here:
Citizens of the US and Japan
They are exempt from the criteria and point system, based on inter-state treaties. They must develop and direct an enterprise in which they have made (not borrowed) an investment of at least 4.500 euros. They also need to have full control of the funds and be subject to the entrepreneurial risk.
Nationals of Turkey
Are exempt from the point system, based on a treaty with the EU. They do, however, need to submit information and evidence required by the prescribed criteria.
In order to avoid initial rejection it is necessary to be well informed and fully understand the set criteria when applying for this type of residence permit.
Further details on how the Dutch government determines whether you are an entrepreneur can be found at:
What are the steps to start my own business in the Netherlands?
Registration with the Dutch Chamber of Commerce (KvK Kamer van Koophandel)
Before you are allowed to start your business operations you must register your enterprise in the Dutch Trade Register at the Chambers of Commerce (KvK). Registrations in the Trade Register are public.
All entrepreneurs are required to register with the Chamber of Commerce (KvK). You qualify as an entrepreneur if you supply goods or services independently with the intention to make profit.
Self-employed without personnel (ZZP) and freelancers also have to register if their business satisfies the criteria for an enterprise. If unsure about whether you need to register your business contact the KvK.
You need to choose the legal form of your business before registering it at the KvK. A checklist of what you need to do when starting your own business is available on https://business.gov.nl/starting-your-business/checklists-for-starting-a-business/how-to-start-a-business-in-the-netherlands-a-checklist/
You should register with the Chamber of Commerce:
- No later than one week after starting your business; OR
- One week prior to starting your business; OR
- Earlier, in which case, the registration (with Chamber of Commerce registration number) will become official one week before the start of your business.
There is a registration fee that cannot be paid in cash.
You can register at the KvK by filling in an online form before you make the necessary appointment that will complete your registration procedure. At the appointment you will receive your KvK registration and VAT number. The appointment can be made online or by telephone.
In principle there is no need to register separately with the Dutch tax office (Belastigndienst) as that is automatically achieved when registering with the KvK. You will receive a VAT-number (btw-nummer) and a KvK number (identification number for legal entities and associations). If you are unsure whether the registration with the Dutch tax office has been done, we suggest you to check it with the KvK officer.
You do need to register separately with the Tax Authority (Belastingdienst) if you are starting a business as a limited company (BV) or a foundation (Stichting), because different criteria are used to establish whether you are an entrepreneur for VAT or income tax purposes.
Licences and Permits
Most businesses operate without permits or licenses, but for some, like the catering business, transport, or a taxi firm, a license is needed. If your products or business operations affect the environment an environmental permit may be required.
Permits and licenses are issued by the municipality or the provincial authorities.
Regulated professions and professional competence requirements
A diploma or permit is usually not needed for starting a business in The Netherlands. There are, however so called regulated professions and professions subjected to professional competence requirements.
A regulated profession is one you can practice only if you meet the professional qualifications established by law. The legal profession is a typical example. The list is long and can be checked here:
Professional competence requirements apply to professions, such as: personnel in healthcare and child care, architects and town planners, financial service providers, bailiffs, bus and lorry drivers, driving instructors, crew of seagoing vessels, security guards and other.
European agreements on mutual recognition of diplomas enable access to regulated professions in member states.
You can have your foreign credentials evaluated by IDW (International Credential Evaluation): www.idw.nl/en/
See comprehensive information at: business.gov.nl/regulation/professional-qualifications/
For some businesses/professions it is advisable to register at, or become member of an umbrella organisation. For example, tourism.
A tour operator will find it hard to attract customers without registration at the General Dutch Association of Travel Agencies, (ANVR), which prescribes travel and booking terms conditions, or membership of the Travel Guarantee Fund Foundation (SGR) which guarantees repayment in case of default of the tour operator. Over the years both memberships have become almost a necessity.
Can I apply for a start-up permit if I currently have highly skilled migrant status in the Netherlands?
Yes, provided all other conditions are met. In principle, if the purpose of your stay changes you can apply for a different, that is new, residence permit. One condition in this regard is that they are supervised by a reliable business mentor (facilitator) in the Netherlands. Some facilitators work on commercial basis (not all), alternative is you go through the self employed person procedure: ind.nl/en/work/pages/self-employed-person.aspx
If you have a highly-skilled migrant (kennismigrant) residence permit and would like to start your own business under the start-up rule you can apply for the start-up residence permit if you fulfil the requirements for the start-up scheme.
For frequently asked questions see: ind.nl/en/Documents/FAQ_Startup.pdf
Can I have the 30% ruling if I start my own business?
If you are working for an employer under the 30 per cent ruling, you can continue to make use of the 30 per cent ruling if you start your own business in The Netherlands.
One of the requirements is that you, as an entrepreneur you are employed by your own private limited liability company (BV), that is, that you are on the payroll of your company. It is important that the company is a legal entity paying taxes in the Netherlands. It is advised to consult an expert in this.
For more information on the conditions please see:
Will I be entitled to Dutch state pension (AOW) when I retire?
If you live in the Netherlands at the time you retire, you are entitled to AOW. As you haven’t lived in the Netherlands all the time you will receive a reduced AOW. If you don’t live in the Netherlands any more when you retire, you may be entitled to AOW if you live in a country that has a treaty with the Netherlands regarding social security. You can check what the regulations are for the country you are living in on https://https://www.svb.nl/en/aow-pension/claiming-an-aow-pension-if-you-live-outside-the-netherlands/deductions-from-your-aow-pension-if-you-live-outside-the-netherlands.
My employer doesn’t offer any pensions. How can I arrange a pension myself?
Yes, you can do so. However, if you arrange something in the Netherlands, such as a lifetime annuity, it may cause problems getting the money when you have left the Netherlands. Therefore, it is important to get in touch with a financial advisor who is familiar with problems expats may have.
I am an international employer. How can I arrange a pension plan for employees who often move from one country to another?
Almost all pensions are based on the system in a particular country. This is also true for the Netherlands. There are several ways to arrange a pension yourself, e.g. if you are self employed but when you leave the Netherlands it is not sure if you can continue with it. For example, a lifetime annuity (lijfrente) is generally considered as an option but getting it paid outside the Netherlands is very difficult due to regulations.
For international employers there are options to arrange an international pension plan. Companies offering this are usually international banks and insurance agencies. Examples are Swiss Life https://www.swisslife-global.com/corporate/solutions/expats.html, TMF Group https://www.tmf-group.com/en/services/family-wealth/executive-pensions-and-compensation/and Mercer https://www.mercer.com/what-we-do/wealth-and-investments/defined-benefit-pension-plans.html. These pensions can be called international pensions, mobile pensions or offshore pensions.
What is the process of joining ACCESS as a volunteer?
The process of becoming an ACCESS volunteer starts with our Information Sessions. The ACCESS Information Session consists of two parts: an informative presentation on ACCESS, its organisational structure and our volunteers, followed by individual interviews where skills and expectations can be discussed. Here, candidates will learn about us, what we do, how we do it and why we do it. It is an opportunity for you to get to know us, and for us in turn to get to know you. Following the information session each applicant will have a short interview session. You can find more information on our website.
What does ACCESS offer to its volunteers?
Volunteering for ACCESS is a rewarding way of using your existing skills and adding to your experience during your stay in the Netherlands. Furthermore, it provides you with an opportunity to meet people, create community and give back. More information about the benefits of volunteering at ACCESS is available on our website .
When are the information sessions scheduled?
If you are interested in volunteering at ACCESS, you can find the dates of the information sessions on our website.
How can I register for information sessions?
Information about how to register for our information sessions can be found on our website.
How is the Dutch pension system set up?
The Dutch pension system is made up of three pillars: Pillar 1 – The State or AOW (Algemene Ouderdomswet) pension, which is the basic pension paid out when one reaches the retirement age. The state pension is administered by the SVB (Sociale Verzekeringsbank). Workplace or company pensions funded by both employer and employee contributions. They are private or collective pension schemes connected to a specific industry, company or independent professional pension funds and are mostly managed by pension funds or insurance companies. Employees are entitled to choose their scheme preference within their pension fund. Updating your employer details with your pension fund is vital. More information is available on this website . Pillar 3 – Private pension schemes are funded by personal contributions that are voluntary. Self-employed individuals and employees in industries that do not have collective pension funds contribute to this option.
To summarise: If you have lived or worked in the Netherlands, you will receive a state pension (Pillar 1) which will be calculated proportional to the number of years that you have worked in the Netherlands.
If you receive pension benefits from a work pension fund (Pillar 2) depends on if you signed a pension agreement with your employer and if you keep track of your Dutch pension scheme. How much you will receive depends on your salary and the number of years you worked. Should you die, your partner may be entitled to a part of your Dutch pension. If you are not married, it is essential to inform the pension fund you want your partner to be egilible of a part of your pension after your death. If you fail to do so, your partner may not be egilible to receive any money from the pension fund.
You will only receive benefits from personal/individual pension (Pillar 3) if you took out a private pension.
How to claim your AOW pension?
If you live in the Netherlands, you will receive a letter about claiming your AOW pension about four months before you reach your AOW pension age. After you receive this letter, you can claim your AOW pension. If you submit a claim earlier, your claim will not be processed.
If you live outside the Netherlands, you should apply for your AOW pension six months before you reach your AOW pension age. How to apply will depend on the country where you live.
I have heard employees receive a holiday allowance. How much do I get and when?
In the Netherlands, all employees receive at least 8% holiday allowance over their gross income during 12 months. It is common to pay it every year in May, but another payment date is possible too. If you have worked extra hours and got paid for this, the holiday allowance is also calculated over this income.
What should I do when I am ill and unable to work?
When you are ill and unable to work, you need to inform your manager as soon as possible. Every organisation has its own rules regarding when you need to inform your employer. Sometimes you need to call the administration. You don’t have to give any medical information. The company doctor (bedrijfsarts) will invite you to see him if your illness lasts longer than just a few days or a few weeks. He will also advise your employer if you can do your work or if there are any limitations to take into account (e.g. fewer hours, no physically heavy work). If you would like to discuss anything with the bedrijfsarts when you are not ill, you can make an appointment. Sometimes employers don’t like this, but you have the legal right to see a bedrijfsarts.
Your manager will probably ask you if there is any work that needs urgently looked after by a colleague and when you expect to be back at work. When your illness lasts longer than 6 weeks your employer must get in touch with you to make a reintegration plan. This plan has to be finished six weeks after you became ill.