What is the inburgeringsexamen and who has to take it?
The inburgeringsexamen (civic integration exam) can be taken out before coming to the Netherlands or once you start living here:
- The in het basisexamen inburgering buitenland (basic civic integration examination abroad) that is taken in your country of origin or habitual residence before you travel to the Netherlands if you require an authorisation for temporary stay (MVV)
- The inburgeringsexamen (civic integration examination) that is taken in the Netherlands. This is necessary if you want to become a permanent resident in the Netherlands or a Dutch citizen
Basic civic integration examination abroad
This is a test designed to assess basic knowledge of the Dutch language and Dutch society. You take the exam in Dutch, at Dutch embassies and consulates-general in your country of origin or habitual residence, i.e. the country in which you are entitled to reside for longer than three months, for instance on the basis of a residence permit. You have to take the exam before you travel to the Netherlands. The exam must be taken by foreign nationals between the ages of 18 and 65 wishing to remain in the Netherlands if they come from countries whose residents require an authorisation for temporary stay (MVV). Check what applies to your personal situation on the Immigration and Naturalisation Service (Immigratie- en Naturalisatiedienst – IND) website: ind.nl/en/Pages/basic-civic-integration-examination-abroad.
There is a specific website ‘Naar Nederland’ (to the Netherlands) that you can consult, which provides information for people who wish to prepare to take the basic civic integration examination abroad. Information pages are provided in English as well as Dutch. On this website are sample questions for the exam, there is also study material that you can buy for more examples and learning.
As the law is amended on a regular basis, you should always check the latest information on the IND’s website links mentioned on this section. The Dutch government website can also provide you with further information: www.government.nl/topics/new-in-the-netherlands.
Civic integration examination
If you were not born in the Netherlands, already possess a residence permit and you want to stay in the Netherlands for an extended period of time or permanently (i.e. you may wish to become a Dutch national), you may need to prove that you have integrated in Dutch society by taking the civic integration exam. If you need to go through this process, you will have to register with the Education Executive Agency – DUO (Dienst Uitvoering Onderwijs).
Once registered, you will receive a letter from DUO that tells you the start date of your integration period. You then have three years to complete the integration process. Within this period, you must pass several tests which comprises the overall integration exam. After taking each test, you will receive the results within eight weeks. If you are successful in passing all of the tests, you will receive a confirmation letter from DUO. This letter will specify where and when you can pick up your diploma. If you fail any of the tests, you will be allowed to take it again. However, you will be asked to pay again for the test.
You can find examples of tests as well as exercises on www.naarnederland.nl/, a government website about inburgeren.
You are usually exempted from taking the civic integration exam if you:
- are younger than 18 years or older than 65 years
- are from the European Union, a country in the European Economic Area, Switzerland or Turkey
- resided in the Netherlands and attended school for 8 years or longer between the ages of 5 and 17
- have a diploma or certificate that shows that you have a good knowledge of the Dutch language and how Dutch society works. Please check with your municipality to see what are the valid exemptions
- are staying only temporary in the Netherlands for study or for work
For more information on integrating into the Netherlands and registering for the civic integration examination, we suggest that you visit the DUO website which is available in both English as well as Dutch: www.inburgeren.nl/en.
What are the different types of civic integration exams?
There are three types of inburgeringsexamen (civic integration exams). The first two can be used to apply for a permanent residence or Dutch passport.
- The integration exam tests one’s knowledge of Dutch and Dutch society at level A2
- The Dutch as a second language state exam NT2 (als tweede taal staatsexamen) is intended for adults and young adults from foreign countries who would like to work or study in the Netherlands. The examination consists in four exams (reading, listening, speaking and writing) and results in a diploma. This certifies that the candidate has adequate proficiency in the Dutch language to start a study programme in Dutch or to work. You can follow Programme I (if you want to do professional work or want to follow a course) or programme II (if you want to do work at a higher professional or university level)
- The vocational diploma (beroepsonderwijs diploma) is designed for those who want vocational training such as engineering, health care, social professions, etc. This programme takes longer than the other options because it requires the individual to focus on the chosen vocational subject in addition to becoming competent in the use of the Dutch language. Professional qualification (MBO-1 and MBO-2) is awarded upon successful completion of the course
What skills will I be tested on during the integration examination?
There are four categories for the exams, broken into six individual exams. You do not have to do all six exams on the same day. It can be less anxiety and give you more confidence if you space the exams over a period of days/weeks. If you pass all exams, you will receive the integration diploma.
Please note that if your integration period started after 1 October 2017, you will have to do a participation statement before taking the integration exams. This is a small course in which you will become acquainted with the rights, obligations and the fundamental values of Dutch society. Before you begin your exams, you will get an email from DUO identifying a person at the gemeente (municipality) to help with your participation statement. The course concludes with participants signing a declaration of participation declaring that they have been informed of, and will respect, the values and basic rules of Dutch society. Should you refuse to sign it, you will receive a penalty of €340. If you have further questions or if you do not get assigned a person we suggest you to contact your gemeente.
Once you have signed your participation statement, you can take the integration exams. These are:
Examination 1 – Reading, listening and speaking skills
These are three individual exams, which are booked separately.
- Reading the Dutch Language – You are required to read short passages of text and answer questions about each passage. The exam takes 50 minutes
- Listening and understanding the Dutch Language – You are asked questions about videos that you are shown on the computer and you listen to spoken text. The exam takes 45 minutes
- Speaking Dutch – In the exam, you are asked to view videos on a computer and provide verbal answers to questions. The exam takes 35 minutes
Examination 2 – Writing skills
In this exam, you must write your answers on paper. The aim of the exam is to demonstrate that you are able to write in Dutch. You will be asked to write some short letters and fill in a form. The exam takes 35 minutes
Examination 3 – Kennis Nederlandse Maatschappij (knowledge of Dutch society)
You will be asked questions about the Netherlands. For example, about finding work or renting a house or about schools in the Netherlands.
During the examination you are shown some short videos on the computer. Each video will show a typical situation in the Netherlands. After each video, you are required to answer multiple-choice questions. The exam takes 45 minutes.
Examination 4 – Oriëntatie nederlandse arbeidsmarkt (orientation on the Dutch labour market)
It is about working and looking for work in the Netherlands. You are required to undertake various assignments at home or at school. After each assignment you must send a results card back to DUO. From the results cards, DUO will assess whether you completed your assignments to the required standard. You will then be asked to have an oral examination with a person from DUO in which you will be asked questions to test your understanding of the Dutch labour market. This exam will take about 40 minutes. There is no practice exam available for this final exam.
The inburgeringsexamen (civic integration examination) can be taken at six locations throughout the Netherlands:
Where can I attend an Inburgering course?
There are different schools and private institutions that offer civic integration courses. On this website (in Dutch only), you can find officially registered schools/institutions which are certificated to give this course. You must follow the course here if you meet the requirements to get this course free of charge. In addition to the Education Executive Agency – DUO (Dienst Uitvoering Onderwijs), some municipalities such as The Hague and Amsterdam provide information and facilities to help you to learn Dutch. It may be a good idea to pay a visit to your municipality or have a look on their websites.
Please note that many private language schools offer civic integration classes, however reimbursement of their fees is not possible.