Work permits in the Netherlands
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 toegestan. 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 toegestan. 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.