ACCESS NL > Healthcare in the Netherlands > Dutch healthcare system > Temporary Immobility
I have just arrived in the Netherlands. What are the formalities I need to complete?
Dutch law stipulates that all new residents need to register within five days if they will reside in the Netherlands longer than four months. You must register in your city or town of residence (and change this registration if you move to another city or town). The following documents are usually required when registering at the local municipality office:
• Passport (or ID card for EU citizens)
• Proof of Occupancy
The following documents are not required in order to register. Both documents can be presented at a later date:
• A recently-issued original birth certificate
• If you are married or your spouse is accompanying you, a recently-issued original marriage certificate
You can find more information about registration procedures for each case in the official website of Den Haag. Please bear in mind that other municipalities may state different requirements. Once registered with the municipality, you will get a Burgerservicenummer (BSN). If you are planning to reside in the Netherlands less than four months, you will still need to register in order to get a BSN. Please note that the conditions and procedure to register may vary depending on your individual situation.
What is a BSN? Am I required to get one?
The burgerservicenummer – BSN (citizen service number) is a unique personal number issued to everyone registered with the basisregistratie personen – BRP (personal records database) of the municipality. Meaning, that if you are coming to stay in the Netherlands for more than four months you do require a BSN. It is required for starting a job in the Netherlands, enrolling in an educational programme, opening a bank account, using the health care system, applying for benefits and paying taxes, to name a few examples.
You will need to register at the gemeente (municipality) where you are living. You can make an appointment by calling the town hall or sending an email. Please note that it is advised to register as soon as you arrive to the Netherlands. Depending on the municipality the waiting time may be long but during your appointment you will get your BSN right away.
Do I need to legalise or translate my documents to register?
Documents from certain countries must be legalised or have an Apostille. An Apostille Certificate is an official certificate issued to documents so they will be recognised in member states without further Legalisation. It must be done in the country where the documents were issued and cannot be done in the Netherlands.
Authenticity stamp and the bureaucratic procedures linked to it will no longer be required when presenting public documents issued in one EU country to the authorities of another EU country. Under the new rules, citizens are also no longer required to provide a sworn/ official translation of their public document in many cases.
Find further information on: government.nl/topics/legalising-documents.
What is DigiD?
DigiD (short for Digital Identification) is a form of online ID that allows you access to many services and government websites in the Netherlands. This includes doing your taxes, applying for a government benefit, checking your Dutch pension or health insurance, and any other actions. The DigiD consists of a username and password that are linked to your personal public service number (BSN). Most information about the DigiD can be found at: www.digid.nl/en/about-digid.
You can find a more dynamic and simple explanation about DigiD on the following link (available in English, French, Arabic and Dutch): digid.uabc.nl/en.
Will my driving licence be valid?
Do you have a driving licence that was issued in one of the countries of the European Union (EU) or European Free Trade Association (EFTA) and do you live in the Netherlands? If so, you can continue to drive on this licence in the Netherlands for 15 years (from the date of issue of the foreign driving licence). This applies to the categories AM, A1, A2, A, B and BE. The driving licence must be valid for this to apply.
For the categories C1, C, D1, D, C1E, D1E and DE, the maximum period is five yearts as of the issue date of the driving licence. Has this period elapsed or is the period you can drive here shorter than two years at the moment at which you take up residence in the Netherlands? If so, you can drive in the Netherlands with the foreign driving licence for another two years as of the date you register.
On the website of Expat Centre Leiden https://www.expatcentreleiden.nl/living-here/getting-around/motor-vehicles-and-driving-license/driving-license you find furher useful information about the validity of your foreign driving licence.
If your driving licence was issued outside one of the countries of the EU/EFTA or in the Caribbean part of the Netherlands, you may use an international driving licence for up to 185 days after becoming a resident in the Netherlands. Before the end of that period, you must have obtained a Dutch driving licence.
The RDW (Dutch Road Transport Directorate) provides a listing of the EU/EFTA members as well as the most up to date information related to this topic: www.rdw.nl/information-in-english/driving-licence/driving-with-a-foreign-driving-licence. In some cases, you will be able to exchange your foreign driving licence for a Dutch one. You may submit an application with the municipality. The procedure is explained on the RDW’s website that we have mentioned above.
Please note that when exchanging a driving licence, you will be asked to hand in your old licence. A counter clerk will collect your foreign driving licence and give you a certified copy and a receipt. You will not receive your old driving licence back after the exchange. Instead, the RDW will return your driving licence to the issuing authority in your country of origin.
Persons with diplomatic status or working at certain international organisations (privileged card holders) may drive in the Netherlands without the need to exchange their foreign licence for a Dutch one. You will, however, need a valid foreign driving licence and an identity pass for privileged persons from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
I am entitled to the '30% tax ruling'. Will my driving licence be valid?
Anyone who is entitled to benefit from the ’30 percent tax ruling’ can simply exchange their licence, no matter where they are from. This applies to your partner and children registered at the same address too. Ask for an exchange form for the foreign driving licence at the municipality where you are registered. Please note that applications sent directly to RDW (Dutch Road Transport Directorate) will not be processed. You can find further information on the documentation that you need for the exchange on: www.rdw.nl/information-in-english/driving-licence/how-can-i-exchange-a-foreign-driving-licence
What is a 'Certificate of Fitness' (VvG)? And when is it necessary?
A Verklaring van Geschiktheid – VvG (certificate of fitness) may be required by the Centraal Bureau Rijvaardigheidsbewijzen – CBR (Central Office for Motor Vehicle Driver Testing) (Dutch only), when applying for a driving licence in the following cases:
- when a Dutch licence is first issued
- when a driving licence is exchanged and the country of issue do not belong to the European Union/European Free Trade Association (EU/EFTA)
- if you have a medical restriction
- if you are older than 75 years
You can find more details about when a VvG is required and how to proceed on the CBR’s website (Dutch only)
Which insurances are most important in the Netherlands?
There are a few insurances that are compulsory in the Netherlands:
- If you reside in the Netherlands, you have to apply for a basisverzekering (basic health insurance)
- If you own a house and have a mortgage, an overlijdensrisicoverzekering (term life insurance) is usually required by your mortgage provider
- If you have a car, a third party wettelijke aansprakelijkheidsverzekering – WA (legal liability insurance) is compulsory. However, to protect yourself against the costs of repair to your car if it is involved in an accident or if it is stolen, you are advised to take out fully cascoverzekering (comprehensive insurance), although this is usually more expensive
The following insurances are not compulsory but it may be a good idea to check whether to get them:
- Aanvullende verzekering (additional health insurance)
- Aansprakelijkheidsverzekering (liability insurance) including damage you cause to others or their goods, damage caused by your pet or damage abroad
- Rechtbijstandsverzekering (legal aid insurance)
- If you rent or own a house an inboedelverzekering (home insurance)
- If you own a house an opstalverzekering (residential premises insurance) will be needed to take out a Dutch mortgage
Depending on your situation, additional insurances can be taken out, such as an ongevallen inzittenden verzekering (personal accident insurance), schade inzittendenverzekering (personal damage insurance) or levensverzekering (life insurance).
I am a student who has just arrived to the Netherlands. What are the formalities that have to be completed?
All new residents, including foreign student, who will be staying in the Netherlands longer than four months are required to register with the gemeente (municipality). The following documents are usually required when registering:
- Passport (or ID card for EU citizens)
- Proof of address (i.e. rental contract or permission from the main occupant)
- For students who need to apply for a residence permit it is necessary to present the receipt sent by the immigration authorities (IND) to the school. The school should provide you with this document
Some schools participate in the centralised registration days, meaning that international students will be able to register at the basisregistratie persoonsgegevens – BRP (municipal personal records database) at their school of higher education.
International students can also get the student card. Once you have applied for the card, you will be able to get special student discounts in particular shops or places to eat. Check out the website studentenkorting.nl (Dutch only).
Visit the ACCESS FAQ’s of Higher Education in the Netherlands for further details.
Is there any insurance that applies to me as a student?
Dutch health insurance
International students studying in the Netherlands are usually not required to take out a Dutch health insurance. For more information you can visit the section Dutch medical insurance for students on the ACCESS FAQ’s.
Inboedelverzekering (home insurance)
This insurance can be used against loss, theft or damage of the contents of your residence. If you rent a room/apartment, you should check if your landlord has contents insurance and whether or not your contents are covered by the landlord’s policy. Valuable items may need to be covered by a special separate policy.
Aansprakelijkheidsverzekering (liability insurance)
In the Netherlands, it is very normal to have liability insurance; more than 90% of all Dutch citizens have this insurance. With this liability insurance, you are covered against any damage you unintentionally cause to another person or person’s property.
Can I bring my pet to the Netherlands?
According to the EU legislation on movement of pets, the maximum number of pet animals (dogs, cats or ferrets) that may be moved for non-commercial purposes cannot exceed five. Depending on the country of origin and destination of the move, different conditions must be met:
If you are travelling within the EU, you must meet the rules mentioned on https://europa.eu/youreurope/citizens/travel/carry/animal-plant/index_en.htm
When bringing a pet from a non-EU country , you must meet the rules mentioned on https://ec.europa.eu/food/animals/movement-pets/eu-legislation/non-commercial-movement-non-eu-countries_en
Can I take my pet with me on the passenger's cabin?
On flights of less than ten hours, many airlines will allow small cats or dogs to be taken with the passenger in the cabin (except travel to the UK and Hong Kong). Generally, the airline will only allow one pet per passenger and a maximum of two pets per cabin. The container for the pet must fit under the seat in front of you and must have a waterproof bottom and adequate ventilation. The Sherpa, Bergan and SturdiBag pet carriers are all airline compliant as long as the carrier is the proper size for your pet.
Please note that airlines will normally insist that you acquire a special travelling container for the pet animal. The rules regarding approved types of containers for cats, dogs, ferrets and birds flying in the cabin and as cargo were created by the International Air Transport Association (IATA) and for the most part have been accepted by the world’s airlines. We have listed below the minimum requirements for the containers but we suggest you to read the IATA requirements to travel with your pet:
- The container must be large enough for the animal(s) to stand, turn around, and lie down
- Both water and food bowls must be attached to the inside of the front door and be refillable from the outside of the container without opening the door
- The container must have ventilation on all sides for international travel and three sides minimum for domestic travel
- The container must have LIVE ANIMAL stickers on the top and sides in letters at least one inch tall
- NO WHEELS. If the container has wheels, they should be removed or taped securely so that the kennel cannot roll
- The container must be identified with your pet’s name and owner’s contact information. The best way to do this is to attach your pet’s information to the outside of the crate
- Make sure to attach an extra copy of your pet’s health certificate to the container
In addition, airlines often have their own regulations. Please check with your airline well in advance.
Do I need to register my pet in the Netherlands? And are there any costs involved?
Dogs must be registered with the gemeentelijke belastingdienst (municipal tax department), and a hondenbelasting (dog tax) is charged annually, calculated on the number of dogs in each household. You need to inform the municipality about the number of dogs you have. The number of municipalities charging dog tax is decreasing.
Although not compulsory, it could be a good idea to take out an insurance for your pet. Pet insurance can cover much of unexpected vet expenses in case of an injury, illness or damage to third parties. Some of the things you may consider when choosing a pet insurance could be:
- Does the policy cover all chronic, congenital and hereditary conditions?
- Is there a time limit on treatment per condition?
- Is there a cost limit on treatment per condition?
- Are there flexible coverage options to fit your budget and needs exactly?
- Does the insurance cover for damage or injury caused to third parties?
Where can I find dierenarts (veterinarian)?
There are good dierenartsen (veterinarians) and animal hospitals in the Netherlands. Ask neighbours or friends for a recommendation, or look up dierenarts in the Yellow Pages or on Google maps using the filter ‘search nearby’. You can also contact the ACCESS Helpdesk for a list of veterinarians in your area.
Should I clean up after my dog?
The Netherlands has opruimplicht (clean up after your dog) and there are fines for those who do not do so. Use a paper bag, a plastic bag or a special ‘pooper scooper’ available at pet shops, veterinarians and municipal offices. Be aware of more regulations on keeping pets within your municipality.
I find it difficult and expensive to park my car in many major cities. Is there a way for me to park my car easier and cheaper?
There is a severe lack of parking space in most big cities in the Netherlands. In an effort to reduce congestion, many cities have a park and ride scheme (P+R- locaties). The driver parks at an organised, out of town location and then finishes the journey via public transport to the city centre. ANWB (the Royal Dutch Touring Club) lists all park and ride schemes in an area. This scheme is very helpful to many people for finding a parking space more quickly as well as for spending less on parking fees. You find the parking space via the routeplanner of ANWB on https://www.anwb.nl/verkeer/routeplanner?displayType=instructions.
Each city in the Netherlands has a Municipal Parking Department for all affairs related to parking such as parking permits. Please contact your municipality for further details.
Are there any subscriptions to travel cheaper by public transport?
Subscriptions are available for a particular route, for a discount outside rush hours, for unlimited travel by train or by other means of public transport as well. If you don’t know which subscription fits best, you can use the information on the Dutch Railroads (Nederlandse Spoorwegen – NS) website. It is the principal passenger railway operator in the Netherlands: www.ns.nl/en/season-tickets.
It is highly advisable that you drop into a service counter and ask for help when deciding which subscription would be the most adequate for your situation. For more information visit the NS website.
What is the OV-chipkaart?
The smart-card system, the OV-chipkaart (chip card used to pay for public transport), is the form of paying for public transport. OV stands for openbaar vervoer (public transport). It resembles a bank card and contains an invisible chip and must be topped up before the start of any journey. The OV-chipkaart can be used on public transport all over the Netherlands.
For further details visit the website of the OV-chipkaart and select ‘English’ at the top right corner of the site to change the language: www.ov-chipkaart.nl.
How does the OV-chipkaart work?
The OV-chipkaart (chip card used to pay for public transport) must be purchased before you travel. To find a point of sale nearby visit the following website: https://www.ov-chipkaart.nl/en/service-points-finder
This address finder is very useful to find out where all specific OV-chipkaart services are located because services differ from location to location. Additional credit can be loaded onto your OV-chipkaart at vending and add value machines or at OV-chipkaart service points.
Cards must be validated at both the beginning and the end of a journey, by holding the card up to an OV-chipkaart reader. These are located in various parts of the buses and trams. The card readers for trains are located on the platforms or at the entrance of the station. At the start of your journey, hold your OV-chipkaart up to the screen. The sound and light signal indicates your card has been read. When disembarking, check out by holding your card up to the screen. Checking in and out is also required when you transfer from one form of transport to another, except when you transfer from train to train.
When using trains, you always need to have at least a certain minimum credit on your card to be able to check in the boarding fee can differ from one transportation company to another. The latest information can be found on https://www.ov-chipkaart.nl/en/travelling-on-balance
When you check out, the boarding fee will be refunded and you will be charged for the number of kilometres you travelled. If you do not check out, you will pay the full boarding fee. If you fail to check in or buy a valid ticket, you face a fine plus the fare for your journey.
What types of OV-chipkaart are there?
There are three different types of OV-chipkaart (chip card used to pay for public transport) to choose from:
- Personal OV-chipkaart: this card is intended for the frequent traveller. To apply for a personal OV-chipkaart, you can pick up a paper application form at the counters for public transport companies or apply online at the Ov-chipkaart.nl.
- Anonymous OV-chipkaart: designed for the infrequent traveller, this allows the holder to travel immediately, once you have added money to your card. It can be purchased at sales devices in stations, newsagents, supermarkets and public transport companies’ counters.
- Business OV-chipkaart: the business OV-chipkaart. This card is offered to employees of companies by business card providers. If you have a business OV-chipkaart and have a question, please contact your business card provider. The contact details can be found on the front of your card.
Can I travel by public transport if I don't have an OV-chipkaart?
For a single or round-trip ticket, you can purchase a single-use ‘smart card’ at the NS ticket machines and at service counters (NS Service Desk and Kiosks with ‘tickets & service sign’). This can be purchased at the station vending machines. This card allows for immediate travel, but cannot be re-charged or loaded. Please note that buying a single ticket is more expensive than travelling with an OV-chipkaart (chip card used to pay for public transport). The single ticket or ‘smart card’ is also available in other means of transport such as tram, bus and metro.
Alternatively most of the train companies operating in the Netherlands offers the option to purchase your ticket online (e-ticket). For instance NS, the principal passenger railway operator in the Netherlands, offers not only the option to print your e-ticket but also to download it on your smartphone. For this you will need the ‘NS Reisplanner Xtra app’.
I am a student. What is the student OV-chipkaart?
How can I find out which tram, bus or train I need and the departure times?
Via the website 9292.nl/en, you can plan your journey from door to door. All options, bus, tram, train, metro and ferry for your journey are given here. 9292 provides a helpful app in English. Bear in mind that most information in the public transport system is announced in Dutch.
How can I go to the railway station or from the railway station to my destination?
There are several ways to travel to and from the railway station:
- By bus, tram or metro
- By bike or moped
- On foot
- By car (shared or rental)
- By taxi or shared taxi
For more detailed information about this topic, please visit: NSinternational.nl/en/to-and-from-the-station.
What kinds of tickets are available for the train?
For the train you can use either paper cards or the OV-Chipkaart (chip card used to pay for public transport) The main tickets available are:
- Single ticket
- Return ticket
- Day travel card for the train
- Day travel card for all public transport (called Holland travel ticket)
- Bicycle day travel card
- Rail runner (cheap ticket for children aged 4 to 11 accompanied by an adult)
- Group ticket off peak hours (single ticket)
- Joint discount ticket off peak hours
You can find an overview of available tickets on https://www.ns.nl/en
It seems that everybody is biking in the Netherlands. Where can I buy a bike for myself?
All cities have one or more shops that sell and repair bikes. For a tweedehands fiets (second-hand bike) you can search online or visit one of the online auction pages such as Marktplaats.nl. Bike shops often have second hand bikes too.
What kinds of bikes are available?
The most common type of bicycle is the omafiets (grandma bike). However, you will see a lot of other types of bikes, including the following: stadsfiets (city bike), sportfiets (sport bike), elektrische fiets (electric bike), bakfiets (cargo bike), and mopeds.
Grandma bikes and city bike are most often used for everyday trips, including going to school and/or work, and running errands around town while a sport bike is a more convenient bicycle for longer trips.
An ATB (All Terrain Bikes) is most convenient for those who bike on difficult terrain. A special type of ATB is the MTB (mountain bike), which is not often used in the Netherlands because of its flat terrain, but it is convenient for cycling in the mountains.
An electric bike offers the possibility to get trapondersteuning (electric support while cycling). It is especially useful when it is very windy because you do not require as much strength for pedalling. Trapondersteuning means that you have to bike yourself, but the electric motor will support you. Depending on the type of electric bike, you can choose between no support, little support, average support or a lot of support.
A moped is a snorfiets when it has a light blue licence plate. A bromfiets rides on the roadway and can reach a maximum speed of 45 km/h. They have a yellow licence plate. By law, children younger than 8 years old can be passengers on a moped only when they are provided with a proper, safe seat that gives them adequate support for their back, hands and feet. It is not permitted to hold a mobile phone while operating a moped or any other electronic device. You are only allowed to use any device handsfree. This also applies to pedestrians . If you ignore this rule, you may get a fine.
Cargo bikes or bakfietsen are transport bikes with three wheels and a large front bucket. It is common to see parents transporting children around because the box is low to the ground making it is easier to transport more weight.
There are also four-wheeled vehicles, but they are not allowed on bike paths and have to follow the same rules as mopeds. They look like small automobiles and must have an overall weight of less than 350 kg (excluding the weight of the battery in electric vehicles). They can reach a maximum of 45 km/h and can be distinguished by their small size and a 45 km/h sticker that is displayed on the back of the car.
I have hardly any knowledge of biking. How can I learn to bike?
There are several bike schools all over the country that offer fietslessen (bike lessons). Most of them are called ‘fietsschool’ or ‘fietscollege’ (bike school).
Are there any special traffic rules for cyclists?
The following laws apply specifically for cyclists:
- Cycling is not allowed on sidewalks or pedestrian-only areas
- Use hand signals when preparing to make a left or right turn. Simply put your arm out in the direction you want to turn
- It is allowed to ride alongside another bicyclist, but cycling with three people in a row is not permitted
- Bicyclists share the bike paths with snorfietsen (mopeds). Be prepared for them by cycling on the right side of the bike path so that they can pass you.
- Brommers (mopeds with a speed of maximum 45 km/hour) are no longer allowed on the bike path. They have to use then main road. Snorfietsen (mopeds with a speed of maximum 25 km/hour) are not always allowed on the bike path. Signs indicate if this applies.
- Cycling is not allowed on highways
- Tunnels may or may not be accessible for cycling. If they are, there is usually a separate bike path
- Bicycle lights are mandatory, white or yellow in the front and red in the rear. You can get a fine when cycling without lights in the dark, at dusk or in poor visibility
What is the minimum age to ride a moped in the Netherlands?
If you want to ride a brommer or snorfiets (moped), you need to be at least 16 years of age. You also need to have a bromfietsrijbewijs (moped driving licence). A driving licence for a car is category B, for a moped is category AM. If you have a driving licence category A or B, you can ask to add category AM when you renew your driving licence. You don’t need to pass an exam for this.
Are there any special traffic rules for mopeds?
Brommers (mopeds) must use the main road rather than the bike roads. They are allowed on the bike lanes only if explicitly indicated by the blue traffic sign displaying a bicycle and a moped symbol. Both drivers of a moped and passengers are required to wear a helmet.
Mopeds have bells for a reason! Use the bell to warn bicyclists that you are approaching them and need to pass them, use it to warn pedestrians who are blocking the bike path, or to warn anyone else who might be in your way! Do not park your moped in places that have signs posted saying “Geen fietsen plaatsen” (no bike parking).
How can I open a bank account?
To manage your day-to-day finances, you will need a current or payment account called a betaalrekening in Dutch. Before opening a bank account, you need to be a legal resident of the Netherlands. You should register yourself with the municipality where you reside to make your stay legal (please have a look at our ‘First three months in the Netherlands‘ https://access-nl.org/relocating-to-netherlands/first-three-months/formalities/ for more information). As soon as you have completed your registration and have been given your burgerservicenummer – BSN (citizen service number), you can go to any bank of your choice to open a bank account.
In case of a delay in the registration process, ABN AMRO and Bunq offer the possibility to open an account without a BSN and provide it within 90 days. You can find more information about the procedure for Bunq on https://together.bunq.com/d/2970-why-do-i-need-to-fill-in-a-taxpayer-identification-number (note: a taxpayer identification number is in the Netherlands your BSN) and for ABN AMRO
The major retail banks in the Netherlands having their websites in English are ABN AMRO and ING Bank (limited information in English). Others in Dutch are Rabobank and SNS.
What are the requirements to open up a bank account?
You are advised to check with the local branch of your chosen bank for their specific requirements. The usual requirements are:
- proof of identity (passport or identity card)
- official proof of address, such as a tenancy agreement
- your burgerservicenummer – BSN (citizen service number).
- proof of your income, unless you are only opening a spaarrekening (savings account). Your contract of employment or three consecutive pay slips will be accepted by most banks as proof.
A valid phone number (preferably a Dutch number) for communication purposes if you are staying for more than four months. As a new client, the bank may wish to check your credit history. Hence, the bank may instigate a credit check and register you with the Bureau Krediet Registratie – BKR (Central Credit Registration Agency).
What are the accounts and services offered by banks?
The types of accounts offered are:
- Betaalrekening (current account)
- Spaarrekening (savings account)
- Vreemde valuta rekening (foreign currency account)
Other services that banks may offer include:
- debit (PIN) and credit cards
- internet banking (internetbankieren), also on your phone
- investments (beleggingen)
- private banking (requirements can differ per bank)
- insurance (verzekering)
- loans (leningen)
- mortgages (hypotheken)
- fixed-term deposits (spaardeposito’s)
- life insurance (levensverzekering)
How does a current account operate?
The betaalrekening (current account) is used for day-to-day banking activities, such as depositing or withdrawing money. Your salary is normally paid by your employer via electronic transfer into your current account. You can also use this account for paying for goods and services by direct debit or bank transfer. You normally do not earn any interest on a current account; however, most banks will charge a fee for its administration.
The current account operates from the day it is opened. After opening a current account, the bank will normally provide you with a debit card (PIN card) and an electronic identifier for use with secure internetbankieren (internet banking).
When your debit card is ready for collection, the bank will either send it to you by post or notify you when it is ready. For the latter, you will have to go to the banking personnel, presenting your passport or other acceptable identification document. Your PIN (Personal Identification Number) code will be sent to you separately by post. This is a personal four-digit number needed to access your bank account using the electronic identifier for internet banking, to check your balance and withdraw cash from a pinautomaat (bank cash machine or ATM) or to pay using your card for goods and services in shops and restaurants. The bank will expect you to memorise your PIN number, which must not be divulged to any other person. If you find it hard to remember your PIN number, you can change it at your bank’s cash machine.
What if I want to use my PIN card abroad?
Most banks allow you to use your debit (PIN) card whilst travelling in Europe. However, there is a block to use your card outside of Europe. This action is intended to prevent fraudulent activity. If you wish to use your debit (PIN) card to access cash or make payments whilst travelling to a country outside of Europe, you can change this setting to world. Alternatively, you can use your credit card to pay for goods or services whilst abroad. Normally there is no restriction on where you can use your credit card (as long as the seller accepts credit cards as a method of payment). Please note that you may be charged a fee for withdrawing money from a cash machine abroad using your credit card.
What if I have lost my bank card or had it stolen?
If you believe that you have lost your PIN card or had it stolen, then visit or call your bank right away. To find the telephone number to report a lost or stolen card, type on the search function of your bank’s website ‘verloren’ or ‘gestolen’. These contact numbers are usually available 24/7.
What is a contactless payment?
Contactless is a payment feature that has been introduced by banks in the Netherlands (as in other countries) on their payment cards. The aim is to make small value purchases quicker and more convenient for both retailers and consumers. The idea is that by using the contactless facility on the debit card, the customer’s payment transaction will be quicker, as no cash needs to change hands and entering a PIN (Personal Identification Number) is not required.
When making payments of €25 or less, you can simply hold the card against the reader to pay – rather than inserting a card into the chip and PIN machine and entering a PIN. In just a few seconds, the payment will be completed and the lights on the reader will illuminate, confirming that the transaction has been approved. For higher amounts you can also use the contactless payment feature, but you will have to enter your pin code.
To use this feature, you should look out for retailers who display this payment reader sign.
Are contactless payments secure?
Contactless cards are secured by the same advanced technology that underpins chip and PIN. Although a contactless transaction does not require a PIN to be entered, from time to time the terminal may ask that the cardholder undertake a full contact chip and PIN transaction. This is designed to deter fraudulent use should the card be lost or stolen; each time a PIN is used it re-affirms that the cardholder is in possession of their card.
Are credit cards issued by banks to all customers?
A credit card is a separate bank card used to effectively pay for goods and services or to access cash using credit from the bank. A bank credit card usually provides customers with the benefits of protection against fraud and can be used worldwide, including for internet purchases. The credit card will have a monthly spending limit and all costs incurred must be repaid within a given time period, if interest charges are to be avoided. There is normally an annual fee charged by the bank for owning a credit card. In the Netherlands, most commercial banks have an arrangement with either MasterCard or VISA. The bank may choose to give you a credit card straight away, or after a certain period of time whilst they establish your spending patterns and that you have a regular source of income.
How easy is it to pay using my credit card in the Netherlands?
Unlike in some other countries such as the US or UK, the facility to pay by credit card in shops, supermarkets and restaurants is less widely available in the Netherlands. This is because the retailer or restaurant is charged a fee by the credit card company. Hence, the Dutch tend to use their credit cards only for internet purchases, high value purchases and whilst travelling abroad to pay for items or to withdraw cash from cash machines.
What is internetbankieren (internet banking) and how to use it?
There has been a huge growth in the use of internetbankieren (internet banking). More than 70% of bank customers use internet banking and all Dutch banks offer this facility. Internet banking provides the benefit of being accessible 24 hours a day, 7 days a week (although some banks may operate with time restrictions).
Not only the traditional banks offer internetbankieren, but there are also some banks without any physical offices that only offer banking via the Internet. Examples are Bunq and Knab. These banks are just as legal as any other Dutch bank.
Not only is internet banking easy for paying your regular monthly bills, but it offers the possibility to monitor and manage your own bank accounts. Transfers into and out of your personal or savings accounts, international transfers, and managing your investments are just a few of the many things you can do online.
In order to access your bank account details online, you will need to log in to your bank’s website using your electronic identifier provided by the bank and your debit (PIN) card. Follow the instructions which appear on the computer screen to log in.
How can I access my bank details using mobile devices?
Most banks now provide an app which can be downloaded to your smartphone or tablet. The banking app allows you to access your bank services via the Internet, such as to check your account balance and view your transaction history, as well as conveniently make payments and look up your receipts and payments. You can also find out the status of your investments, inform yourself of the latest financial news and stock market.
Several banks even have an app to pay back small loans very quickly. Tikkie, an initiative from ABNAMRO, is the most popular one. It is a free app for iPhone and Android to send payment requests using WhatsApp or text messages. You only need a smartphone and a Dutch bank account. Recipients don’t need to have the Tikkie app installed themselves.
What is the currency in the Netherlands?
The monetary currency of the Netherlands is the euro, and Eurozone countries share the same euro bank notes and coins. There are seven bank note denominations (5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 200 and 500 euros) and eight coins denominations (1 and 2 euros and 1, 2, 5, 10, 20 and 50 euro-cents). In the Netherlands, very few establishments will accept the 500 euro note and most small shops including supermarkets will not accept 100 and 200 euro notes and coins of 1 and 2 cents notes either. If you pay cash, the amount will be rounded off to the nearest 5 cents, e.g. €10.13 will become €10.15 while €10.12 will become €10.10. If you pay with your bank card you will pay the exact amount.
Can you explain the numbering conventions used in the Netherlands?
The Dutch method of punctuating numbers and decimals is exactly opposite to the English system. Therefore, for example, twenty-five euros and fifty euro-cents would be written as €25,50 and five thousand two hundred euros would be shown as €5.200. Round figures are written with a comma and a dash after the number: e.g.15 euros is €15,-.
How to exchange foreign money in the Netherlands?
The wisselkoers (exchange rate) is fixed every day and will be posted wherever you exchange money. The rate does not vary from one company to the next, although the charge for exchanging money may differ. The most common place to exchange money is at GWK Travelex offices which can be found in all the major cities throughout the Netherlands (as well as Schiphol Airport). It is not possible to exchange foreign money at banks any more, as most branches do not handle cash other than to replenish their cash machines.
What is an acceptgiro?
Acceptgiro’s (transaction forms) are a widely-accepted method of payment in the Netherlands and have been used by businesses and domestic users for decade. It is based on a paper acceptgiro form, which is made available by a creditor (usually a business), but nowadays it can be used for online banking too.
Bills are generally paid by bank transfer. You receive an invoice and an acceptgiro form from the company concerned, sometimes with the payment details already filled in. You add your signature and fill in the number of your bank account and mail the form back to your bank. You can also drop your acceptgiro directly in the dedicated letterbox at the bank. Most people are now using it via internet banking.
Can I directly invest money in the stock exchange?
If you wish to make an investment, you will have to open a separate investment account. Your bank will normally offer you three different approaches. If you are experienced in making investments, you can simply instruct the bank to buy stocks and shares for you. Alternatively, you can ask the bank for advice before making any investment or you can let the bank make decisions regarding what investments to make on your behalf. This third option is called vermogensbeheer (managed portfolio fund). You will usually be given a choice of various types of managed fund, depending upon how much risk you are willing to take on your initial investment. Needless to say, the higher risk funds may yield larger returns, but normally require a commitment for considerable time (more than 10 years). Depending on the bank, you can directly purchase shares on the Nederlandse effectenbeurzen (Dutch stock exchange) as well as from some overseas markets. Managed funds will typically be managed by the bank’s own fund managers (and include investments in liquid assets, bonds, real estate and shares). The bank will charge a fee for administering your investment portfolio.
What types of loans are available?
A wide range of loan facilities is offered by the Dutch banks. Personal loans (usually for a fixed term and a fixed interest rate during the term of the loan), overdraft facilities and credit loans (the ability to withdraw as much as you need and repay in full whenever you can afford to do so) are typical. They offer varying degrees of flexibility, but it is better to discuss your requirements in detail with your bank before deciding which type of loan will suit you best. Insurance to protect your repayments is available should you become unable to pay due to disability, unemployment, etc. Generally, anyone between the ages of 18 and 65 years who is a resident in the Netherlands and in possession of a residence permit (where applicable) and has proof of a regular income is eligible for a loan. All loan applications are also checked and registered with the Bureau Krediet Registratie – BKR (Central Credit Registration Agency). The loans must be fully repaid before leaving the Netherlands.
Can you give me an overview of the Dutch tax system?
For those new to the Netherlands, the Dutch tax system can seem complicated. It is not helped by the fact that much of the online government information on tax is only provided in Dutch (the English pages are intended for non-resident taxpayers).
The Netherlands is a socially aware country and you can expect to pay a substantial proportion (up to 52%) of your salary in taxes. There are many other forms of direct and indirect taxation levied by the Dutch Government to raise revenue.
Direct taxation is applied to both individuals (who are either living, working or obtaining income in the Netherlands) and to commercial organisations.
What taxes will I have to pay in the Netherlands?
The various forms of direct taxation (for the individual) are:
This tax is deducted from your salary at the source and is also applied to other forms of earnings that you must declare. Income tax is a ‘tiered’ tax in that the percentage of tax taken relates to the size of your salary and is taken in steps. You can find the latest information on the belastingdienst (tax office) website.
You must pay inheritance tax if you are have inherited more than the exemption amount. The amount of money that you can inherit before having to pay tax is dependent upon your relationship with the deceased. In certain situations, you may not have to pay any inheritance tax.
You will be liable to pay tax on a gift you receive, if the value of the gift is over a certain amount in any one tax year.
If you buy a house or other property, then you usually have to pay transfer tax. The transfer tax applies if you are the legal or beneficial owner of: property, rights in real estate, shares in immovable bodies (i.e. buildings).
It should be noted that your personal situation (non-working partner for example), type of work, residency status and other assets and earnings (particularly from abroad) will affect your position with respect to what taxes you must pay.
What types of indirect taxes are there in the Netherlands?
On top of the direct taxation for individuals, there are also various indirect taxes charged by the Dutch government. Below are some of the main taxes which are likely to affect you:
- Tax on the value of goods and services sold to you that is Btw-belasting toegevoegde waarde (VAT). This is levied at either 9% or 21% depending on the nature of the goods or services
- Excise duty is levied on goods which contain alcohol, tobacco or on fuels such as petrol, diesel or Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG)
- Consumer tax is applied to some alcohol-free drinks, for example: fruit juices and vegetable juices, mineral water and beverages such as lemonade
- Taxes on purchasing or importing private cars and motorcycles whilst living in the Netherlands
What dates does the tax year cover in the Netherlands and when do I need to provide a tax return?
The tax year in the Netherlands runs from 1 January to 31 December inclusive. You are normally required to complete and submit your belastingaangifte (tax return) before 1 May following the end of the tax year.
How can I get help with my tax return?
In the first instance, especially if you are unfamiliar with the Dutch tax system and your ability to speak Dutch is limited, it may be advisable to employ a Dutch tax consultant who will be able to submit the tax return for you.
You can contact the ACCESS Helpdesk if you require help in locating a tax consultant in your area.
If you have any specific questions, you can also call the Belastingdienst (Tax Office) information line for residents on (055) 538 5385 or on +31 (0) 55 538 5385 if calling from outside the Netherlands. You may need to give your burgerservicenummer – BSN (citizen service number) when calling.
You can also visit your local Tax Office. However, this can only be done by making an appointment and usually requires you to contact them via telephone first. The location of your tax office can be found on: www.belastingdienst.nl/rekenhulpen/gvk.
How do I know if I must pay income tax?
If you have demonstrable ties to the Netherlands (for instance, you live here, you work here, and your family is based here), you are generally regarded as a ‘resident taxpayer’ from day one and therefore must pay inkomstenbelasting (income tax). If you live abroad but receive income that is taxable in the Netherlands, you are generally a ‘non-resident taxpayer’. Non-residents can also apply to be treated as residents for tax purposes (in order to gain access to the Dutch deductible items). An additional category of partial non-resident taxpayers covers those eligible for the so-called ‘30% ruling‘.
As a resident taxpayer, you are taxed on your income earned both in the Netherlands and abroad. Hence, you should always investigate if the Netherlands has a tax treaty with the country where you may be gaining an income to avoid double taxation, that is, being liable for tax on the same income or capital from more than one country.
You are normally required to submit an belastingaangifte (tax return) if you receive a declaration letter or form from the Dutch Tax Office. However, also in the situation that you do not receive a notification from the tax office and tax would be due, you are liable to submit a tax return. Even if not requested to do so, it may be advantageous to do a tax return as a refund may apply, for example if you can make use of some tax deductions.
How do I submit my tax return?
You can get a paper tax form sent to you by contacting the Belastingdienst (Tax authorities) information line for residents on (055) 538 53 85 or on 0031 55 538 5385 if calling from outside the Netherlands. Alternatively, you can download the form from the Belastingdienst (Tax authorities) website on www.belastingdienst.nl.
To file a return, you will need to use the online DigiD service. DigiD (pronounced ‘didjidee’) stands for digital identity. It is a system shared by government agencies that they can use to verify your identity. You can find more information here.
If you find the whole process of providing a tax return too challenging, you can pay for a Dutch tax consultant to complete and return your tax declaration on your behalf.
Particularly in the year of arrival and the year of departure, filing a tax return may result in a substantial rebate. Tax returns can be completed retrospectively for a period of five years.
How is my income assessed?
The types of income are treated differently for tax purposes on the tax return and categorised on the tax return into one of three boxes:
Box 1 – Income from business profits, employment and home ownership
This includes wages, pensions, social benefits, benefits provided by the employer (such as the provision of a company car) and earnings from renting out a house.
Box 2 – Income from substantial shareholding of a company
You must hold at least 5% of the company’s shares.
Box 3 – Taxable income from savings and investments, e.g. interest earned and dividend payments
The amount of tax payable is calculated by applying the various tax rates to the various taxable incomes in the boxes. The amount calculated is then reduced by one or more tax credits. For more information click here.
Can I claim any tax benefits against my declared income?
Everyone is entitled to a general tax credit. However, the amount that you will be entitled to is dependent upon your age. It should be noted that there is a larger decrease in general tax credit entitlement for those who are at the top income tax tier.
You may be entitled to other credits which will either be part of the income tax assessment or come under social security. In general, people who are not covered by the Dutch social security system are not entitled to the social security section of the tax credit. Examples of tax credits are:
- Salary/wage from employment
- Work bonus
- Income-related combination tax
- Single parent tax credit
- Parental discount
- Tax credits for AOW (state pension) beneficiaries
- Temporary tax credit for early retirees
- Young disabled discount
- Discount for green investments
Your employer will take the general tax credit into account when deducting wage withholding tax but not any other personal circumstances. You can claim other allowances and potential refunds when you file your tax return or request a provisional refund.
Where possible, partners are taxed individually but, when only one partner works, the other partner is generally entitled to a refund of general tax credit and deductible expenditure can be apportioned to take advantage of tax credits.
Details of income tax deductions and entitlements are provided (in Dutch only) on the Belastingdienst (Tax authorities) on Belastingdienst.nl and general information on taxes can be found on government.nl/topics/income-tax/types-of-income-tax.
We would always recommend that you seek professional advice to get the appropriate guidance depending on your personal situation. If you need a list of tax and financial advisors in your area, please contact the ACCESS Helpdesk here or check the Partner page.
Do I need to file my tax return even if I stay for short time?
As a general rule you must file your tax return if you receive an invitation from the Belastingdienst (Tax authorities). Therefore, it is not obligatory if you have been registered in the Netherlands only part of the fiscal year (1 January to 31 December inclusive).
The most common form to use is the ‘M form’ for those who arrived in the Netherlands and became a resident during the year. This cannot be filed in electronically with your DigiD. Therefore, if you did not receive an invitation but you still want to file your tax return, you will have to request to the Tax authorities to post it to you. More general information on the Dutch income tax system for non-residents is available on Belastingdienst.nl. The non-residential information pages are provided in both English and German.
What about my savings and investments? Do I have to transfer them to the Netherlands?
You can leave your savings and investments in your home country, but you have to inform the Dutch tax authorities about them when filling in your tax form. A holiday house or second dwelling in your home country will have to be declared too, but normally a double taxation deduction can be requested.
What is the 30% ruling and when do I qualify for this?
This is a tax allowance incentive for employees recruited from abroad who bring specific skills to the Netherlands. It acknowledges that additional expenses are incurred by expats (extraterritorial costs) in settling into a new country.
You can find an overview of the 30% ruling here .
We suggest to ask your tax advisor for information related to your situation.
When does the 30% ruling end?
The end date of the 30% ruling is stated in the documented decision issued to you and is usually up to a maximum period of five years. If you decide to leave your employer’s organisation before the end date, then the allowance ends on your last day of work. Your employer is not allowed to apply the 30% facility to income that you receive after your last working day.
Do I need to pay taxes if I bring my own vehicle to the Netherlands?
If you are not a Dutch resident, you may use your car, motorcycle, caravan or trailer in the Netherlands for up to three months without paying tax. If you want to use your car, motorcycle, caravan or trailer in the Netherlands for longer than three months, you must register your vehicle with the RDW (Dutch Road Transport Directorate) and submit a private motor vehicle and a bpm motorcycle tax declaration. Depending on your circumstances, you may be liable to pay belasting van personenauto’s en motorrijwielen – bpm (private motor vehicle and motorcycle tax) and its CO2 emissions efficiency.
What is the bpm?
If you buy a passenger car, motorcycle or delivery van in the Netherlands, or bring it to the Netherlands from abroad, you are liable to pay various taxes. One of these taxes is known as belasting van personenauto’s en motorrijwielen – bmp (private motor vehicle and motorcycle). If you buy a vehicle from a main dealer or importer, then bmp will usually already have been included in the purchase price for the vehicle.
If you bring your own vehicle to the Netherlands (importing it), you will be required to make a declaration and pay tax which is calculated on the value of the vehicle, its CO2 efficiency rating and the type of fuel that it uses. You may also be liable to pay customs duty and BTW (VAT), depending on how long you have owned the vehicle. You can gain an exemption from paying the bpm if you have lived in another country for at least one year and can prove that you have had the car in your possession for at least six months prior to moving to the Netherlands.
Please note that if you import your own vehicle, you cannot sell it within twelve months from the date of registration. If you do so, you will have to pay the tax which was exempted at the time you imported this car.
Who administers the social security schemes in the Netherlands?
The Social Security Office (Sociale Verzekeringsbank, SVB) is the organisation that administers the national insurance schemes in the Netherlands. Information on social security can be found on the organisation’s website ‘svb.nl’. Information pages are provided in several languages.
Who is covered by the Dutch social insurance system?
If you are going to live or work in the Netherlands you are in principle covered under the Dutch social security system. However, there may be exceptions. You can read more about the rules that apply to you on the official European Commission website.
As a rule, you only pay social security contributions in the country where you actually work (as an employee or self-employed). There are some cases when you can be working in the Netherlands but be paying your social security contribution in another country, such as:
- you work outside the Netherlands and do not have a Dutch secondment certificate
- you work as a civil servant for another country’s embassy or consulate, or for an international organization such as NATO, the European Union or Europol. Your family members will only be insured if they work in the Netherlands
- you work for the government of another country or for the Antillean or Aruban government. In that case, your family members will not be covered under Dutch national insurance either
- you work in international transport for a non-Dutch employer, transporting persons or goods mainly outside the Netherlands
- you are a musician, performing artist or sportsperson working in the Netherlands for a short period of time
- you are studying in the Netherlands temporarily and are not employed
Find out whether you are covered by social insurance in the Netherlands on the SVB:
What social security benefits are available in the Netherlands?
Social security benefits are determined based on your income and assets. These include everything you own including your bank savings (i.e. car, jewellery, properties). Please note that no claims can be made within the first three months of moving to the Netherlands. Below is a summary of the five insurance benefits and allowances provided by the Dutch Government through the Social Security Office – SVB (Sociale Verzekeringbank):
- Kindersbijslag (child benefit) – This is money paid by the government towards the expenses of raising a child. If you live or work in the Netherlands and you have a child or children under 18, you are eligible for the Dutch child benefit. It is available to all families independent of income or wealth. Click here for more information
- Algemene Ouderdomswet – AOW (state pension) – The AOW is a basic state pension for people who have reached their AOW pension age. If you live or work in the Netherlands, you will almost certainly be insured under the AOW scheme. Click here to know about the pension age in the Netherlands and eligibility
- Nabestaandenuitkering ANW (survivor benefit) – This benefit provides financial support from the government for people whose partner has died and has children younger than 19 and for children who are orphaned
- TOG allowance – This allowance is for children who are disabled or seriously ill and thus who often need more care than healthy children. If your child lives at home with you, you may qualify for this allowance
- Wet langdurige zorg WLZ (long term nursing) – Whilst it is compulsory for everyone who is living in the Netherlands to take out a basic health insurance, everyone who lives or works in the Netherlands is automatically insured under the Act for long-time care (WLZ). This Act provides reimbursement for care that is not covered by the regular health insurance.
Visit the Social Security Office (SVB) website for the complete list of available national insurance schemes and last updates.
If I claim social security benefits, will it affect my residence permits?
EU/EEA citizens generally have the same rights as Dutch nationals when it comes to social security benefits. However, receiving social security benefits can sometimes result in the withdrawal of your right to reside in the Netherlands. This is determined on case-by-case basis and could only happen if you have resided in the Netherlands shorter than five years.
Non-EU nationals in possession of a regular residency permit have also the same rights towards social security benefits. However, in some cases your Dutch residence permit may include a condition that you do not qualify to apply to any public funds.
What types of relationship contracts are there in the Netherlands for couples?
In the Netherlands partners can choose from two different official types of living arrangement that are regulated by law: they can marry or enter into a registered partnership with same or different gender couples. It is also possible to sign a cohabitation agreement and or to live together without signing any formal agreement.
Marriage and registered partnership
Huwelijk (marriage) and geregistreerd partnerschap (registered partnership) are very similar in this country. The partners have almost identical rights under the two systems and both relationships are formalised by law. To a large extent, the law specifies the partners’ rights and obligations, the conditions they must meet to formalise their relationship, and the procedures involved, including ending a relationship. There are no significant differences regarding children between marriage and registered partnership on the one hand but you do have them under cohabitation agreement on the other hand.
Cohabitation and cohabitation agreements
Even if a couple living together choose not to formalize their relationship, the fact that they live together still has legal consequences. There are implications, for instance, for income tax and social security deductions and benefits.
They may enter into a samenlevingscontract (cohabitation agreement) a written contract arranging a variety of matters related to living together and sharing a home e.g. a couple may agree to support each other financially and share the costs of running a household. They may also want to make arrangements about the use of each other’s bank accounts, or dividing or sharing their property. The couple may arrange these matters themselves, but it is often advisable to have an official cohabitation agreement drawn up by a notary. This is required in order to be eligible for certain benefits, such as the partner’s pension schemes and employment fringe benefits. You can learn more about the role of a notary on the links provided on the Legal matters introduction.
Since 2001 it has been possible in the Netherlands for two men or two women to enter into a marriage or a registered partnership. Both a registered partnership and a marriage between two persons of the same sex provide nearly the same rights as a heterosexual marriage and differ only with regards to children and adoption. Same-sex married or registered partner couples should be aware that their relationship and its legal consequences will not always be accepted in other countries.
Further information on types of relationship contracts and differences between the arrangements can be found on the Dutch Government’s website: www.government.nl/topics/family-law.
Who can marry in the Netherlands?
Anyone who has Dutch nationality can get married in the Netherlands, regardless of whether they live here and regardless of their partner’s nationality.
Two foreign nationals may marry in the Netherlands if one of them legally resides in the Netherlands. To prevent marriages of convenience, non-Dutch nationals who wish to marry or enter into a registered partnership must either have a permanent residence permit or obtain a statement from the Dutch police service for foreigners (vreemdelingenpolitie) regarding their status under the Aliens Act.
Couples of the same gender are also allowed to marry in the Netherlands.
The Dutch government’s website on marrying a foreigner in the Netherlands gives a good overview of the conditions that apply to various situations where two people want to marry under Dutch law.
What is the Dutch law on matrimonial property?
Unless stipulated otherwise with a prenuptial agreement, marriage automatically takes place in ‘general community of property’ meaning that that all property and debts are equally shared between the spouses, including assets obtained prior to the marriage, inheritances and gifts.
A prenuptial agreement may be made before the marriage. This must be drafted by a notary and entered in a matrimonial property register at the municipality where the marriage notice is placed. It is also possible to make a postnuptial agreement during the marriage.
What is the difference between marriage and registered partnership?
Marriage and registered partnership are both relationships formalized by law. The most important differences between the two kinds of arrangements were eliminated on 1 April, 2014, and what remains is primarily the absence of a religious ceremony in the case of a registered partnership, and the fact that a registered partnership and its legal consequences may not always be accepted in other countries. Furthermore, how to dissolve a marriage and a registered partnership differs in that a registered partnership can be ended without the involvement of the courts if you have no children under the age of 18. A marriage can only be dissolved by a court.
In principle, as in marriage, all possessions and debts are generally shared jointly in the registered partnership, but different arrangements can be made by instructing a notary to draw up a pre-partnership agreement, similar to a prenuptial one.
What are the steps to be followed and the costs to get married in the Netherlands?
If you plan to get married, you first need to notify the municipality. This is called ondertrouw (notice of intent to marry). This must be made at the gemeente (municipality) of residence of one of the partners involved. You need to do this at least two weeks before the intended wedding date and the wedding must take place within one year of the ondertrouw. If the one-year period expires, then another submission is required. Make an appointment with the ambtenaar van de burgerlijke stand (registrar) in the municipality in which you wish to marry or enter into partnership. The registrar will tell you which documents to bring for the meeting.
Furthermore, you will need to appoint at least two and no more than four witnesses. The witnesses must be 18 years or older.
Once the documents have been presented to the gemeente a date and venue for the ceremony may be selected. During this period the couple will meet with the official who will perform the marriage ceremony. In some areas, arrangements can be made with a marrying official for the ceremony to be held in English. However, the vows are legally required to be in Dutch.
The civil ceremony may take place in a gemeente other than that of residence but the municipality of residence must be informed so that arrangements for transferring documents can be made.
The ondertrouw is provided free of charge. However, there could be other costs involved such as an appointment at the ambtenaar van de burgerlijke stand and for various documents where costs are specific to certain situations. Please contact your municipality for more details.
What are the requirements to get married in the Netherlands?
The documents needed may vary depending on nationality, previous marriages and residence status in the Netherlands. It is advisable to find out well in advance what documents you need and whether they meet the requirements.
- A birth certificate
- Proof of identity, e.g. passport
- A marriage certificate in the case of a previous marriage, a divorce decree in the case of a previous divorce or a death certificate in the case of being widowed
- Completed witness forms for two to four witnesses
- A certificate of no impediment to marriage or a certificate of civil status proving you are not married elsewhere. This is available from your respective Consulate General or you may have to apply for the certificate in the last place you lived abroad. In most cases you will need to have the document legalised to make it legally valid in the Netherlands. Note: A certificate of no impediment to marriage is issued after a notice of marriage has been displayed at your Consulate General for 21 days and if no objection has been made about the proposed marriage. It is issued in Dutch.
Documents from abroad that are not written in Dutch, French, German or English must be translated into Dutch by a sworn translator in the Netherlands. Furthermore, documents from certain countries must be legalised or provided with an ‘apostille’ stamp. More information about this is available on the Dutch government’s website:https://www.government.nl/topics/marriage-cohabitation-agreement-civil-partnership
My partner and I are contemplating, registering our partnership. Can you please tell me how to go about with this and if there are any costs involved?
The registered partnership provides almost the same rights and responsibilities as marriage and they both have similar steps.
If you plan to register your partnership, you first need to inform the gemeente (municipality) of the city of residence of one of the partners involved. This is called ondertrouw (notice of intent to marry). You need to do this at least two weeks before the intended date of the partnership registration which must take place within one year of submitting the notice. If the one-year period expires, then you need to resubmit another notice of intent to marry.
The documents needed may vary depending on nationality, previous marriages and residence status in the Netherlands. It is advisable to find out well in advance what documents you need to meet the requirements by contacting your local municipality. Required documents for both partners are similar to the documents requested for the marriage.
My partner and I would like to have a religious marriage. What are the steps involved?
In the Netherlands, marriages may only be blessed by religious institutions after the civil marriage has taken place. It is up to the institutions to bless or solemnise the marriage. They are not obliged to do so. It is advisable to check with the religious institution of your choice.
Unlike a marriage, a registered partnership may not be blessed in a religious institution.
What is the applicable law in a divorce proceeding between spouses of different nationalities?
For every divorce element, different rulings determine which law is applicable. The most important divorce elements are: the divorce itself , child and spousal support, division of assets and property, children (parental authority, access rights) and pension. These rules are found in European Union regulations, conventions and the Dutch Civil Law. In most regulations, there are possibilities to opt for a certain law (for example on the divorce itself or the matrimonial regime), so be sure to get solid advice from a competent lawyer on this matter. Even if you share the same nationality, an international divorce will most likely incorporate aspects that may be subject to different national laws.
Sometimes filing a divorce in the Netherlands will suit you best; in other cases filing it abroad might be a better option.
If your partner has already filed for a divorce in any country, you cannot file for divorce anywhere else.
If you decide to file for divorce in the Netherlands, make sure that it will be recognized in your home country.
What is the jurisdiction of the Dutch Court in case of a divorce?
For two Dutch nationals, it is always possible to divorce in the Netherlands.
The Dutch Court has international competence when the two spouses live in the Netherlands, regardless of their nationality.
If only one of the spouses lives in the Netherlands and they don’t have a common Dutch nationality, the Dutch court is authorised as well, but in some cases it is necessary that one of the spouses has lived here at least one year. With ‘live’ is meant habitual residence. Only being registered in the Netherlands is insufficient to file for a divorce.
Once the Dutch Court is authorised regarding the divorce itself, the Dutch Court is also authorised regarding other divorce elements (assets, alimony, pension, etc.), except when it comes to children. Only when the children ‘live’ in the Netherlands does the Dutch Court have international competence. If not, the Dutch Court cannot make decisions about parental authority, access rights, etc.
What do we need to do to legally get divorced?
In the Netherlands, all cases of echtscheiding (divorce) have to be granted by the court. Since only a lawyer has the authority to file a petition for divorce with the court, the first thing that you can do is to seek legal advice from a good divorce lawyer or mediator.
According to the Dutch law, there is just one ground for divorce: irreparable breakdown of the marriage. The marriage can be said to have irreparably broken down if continuing to live together has become unbearable and there is no prospect of a restoration of marital relations. The judge is not interested in the question of blame at all. The behaviour that has led to the divorce has no influence on the decision as to how the assets should be split or how much alimony should be paid.
The divorce proceedings may be instituted by both spouses jointly (a joint petition) or by just one of them (a unilateral petition), and a divorce petition may be filed at any time after marriage: there is no requirement for the parties to have been married for a certain number of years or to have lived separately for a certain number of years.
If the divorce is by mutual request, is uncontested it is not necessary for you to go to court physically. The divorce settlement can be drawn up by a lawyer or a mediator, signed by both partners and sent to the court for authorisation via a lawyer, which is almost always given if both partners have signed the agreement. If you have children younger than 18 years, a parenting plan is a requirement. Furthermore, children from the age of 12 years have the right to be heard by the court. So even if you have a divorce with a mutual request and it is not necessary for you to go the court, children of 12 years and older will receive an invitation from the court to be heard.
If only one of you wishes to end the relationship, or you are not agreeing on topics regarding your divorce, there is a great chance that you have to go to court physically.
The divorce comes into effect when the court ruling has been entered in the Register of Births, Deaths and Marriages of your municipality by either you or your lawyer. This has to be done six months after the court ruling, it is not open for appeal anymore.
Who should take care of the children in case of divorce?
In case of divorce, you retain joint custody of the children, as during the marriage.
During the divorce procedure in the case of minor children, you need to make a ouderschapsplan (parenting plan) in which you state the following:
- How you will share responsibility for the care and upbringing of your children
- How you should inform and consult each other regarding important decisions such as the choice of school
- How the expenses related to the children are to be shared, and the amount of maintenance to be paid for the them
You must also include and discuss the children’s wishes.
If you do not wish to share parental responsibility you can petition the court to assign it to one of you. The court decides who will be granted responsibility, and if you have more than one child, the court will assign parental responsibility for each child independently. However, it is not common to assign the parental responsibility to one of you. The basic rule is that both parents have parental responsibility.
My partner and I have decided to terminate our registered partnership. What do we need to do?
If you do not have minor children, this can be done without going to court. You need to draw up and conduct an agreement. The lawyer or notary declares that this agreement had been conducted and it is recorded in the Register of Births, Deaths, Marriages and Registered Partnerships.
If you have minor children the same procedure applies as in the case of a divorce and you are obliged to draw up a parenting plan. The same rules as in the case of a divorce are also applied for maintenance and pension. For further information about divorce, separation and termination of a registered partnership visit the Dutch government’s website.
What are the legal aspects to take into account when registering a death in the Netherlands?
When a person passes away, it is important for the relatives to make an appointment with a notary/solicitor as soon as possible so that all legal aspects are covered within good time.
The notary, after checking the Centraal Testamentenregister(Central Register of Wills) and other population registers, issues a verklaring van erfrecht (certificate of succession) recording the names of the heirs. Once in possession of this certificate, you can access the deceased’s bank and/or giro accounts (banks may block any accounts in the name of the deceased).
You also need to notify employers, insurance companies, mortgage companies, pension funds and so on.
The declaration of death duties and capital transfer tax must be dealt with within eight months of the death by the heirs/beneficiaries (or the executor of the will). An heir/beneficiary should realise that they are liable for the consequences of accepting the estate from the time of death. This means that the value of any stocks and shares as it was on the date of death will be taken to settle the death duties and capital transfer tax, even if the value has changed considerably by the time of payment.
It is also advisable to contact the Embassy or Consulate of the deceased; they will be able to inform you or help you in dealing with all the formalities.
Losing a family member is a terrible blow at all times and having to rush around in search of documents, statements and legal advice in order to take care of the settlement of the estate only contributes to the aggravation. In some cases, you have to deal with the law of both the Netherlands and the law of your home country, e.g. if you have possessions (a house, land, etc.) in your home country or a third country. Facing a death is a stressful experience, especially if it happens in a foreign country. If you feel that you need to seek counselling, ACCESS provides a Counselling Service Network. Click here for more information.
Which documents are needed for registering a death?
When registering a death you will need to bring the following documents:
- A valid identity document of the person making the registration and of the deceased
- Your marriage certificate/partnership registration (if you were married to the deceased or had a registered partnership)
- A doctor’s statement concerning the death of the individual
- In case you want the funeral to take place later than six working days after the death has occurred, you need permission from the mayor. Check with the municipality which procedure should be followed.
What to do in order to repatriate the body of a family member?
Repatriation of a dead person to the home country requires the help of the relevant local Embassy or Consulate. Consular officials can assist you in having the remains returned, in obtaining appropriate documentation and in inquiring about the Dutch repatriation requirements.
Do I need to make a Dutch will whilst I live here or is the will I made in my home country valid?
If you are not a Dutch citizen and you already have a will that was made according to the laws of the country in which it was drawn up, in principle, the will is also valid in the Netherlands. The Netherlands is party to the Convention Providing a Uniform Law on the Form of International Will and usually recognises wills drawn up in another country. However, one of the conditions required is that the will has been drawn up in keeping with the law of that country. Verbal wills are not valid in the Netherlands.
It is advisable to consult a Dutch notaris (notary) who is familiar with the registration and execution of foreign wills so that he/she can check whether the contents of the will conflict with Dutch law.
The will is then filed with the Central Register of Wills (Centraal Testamentenregister), and you will be assured of its recognition and validity in the Netherlands.
If you want to make a will in the Netherlands and decide who is going to inherit your estate and other possessions you can do so only in the presence of a Dutch notary.
May I disinherit my child or my partner in my will?
You can disinherit your child but, in the Netherlands, he/she is always entitled to a legitieme portie (forced share) amounting to half of the portion the child would have received in the absence of a will.
You can also disinherit your spouse and he/she is not entitled to a forced share. However, to alleviate the consequences of disinheritance, the law gives the longest living partner the right to a suitable level of provision; for example, a spouse may make use of the house as long as he/she is living.
You can also make a vruchtgebruiktestament (usufruct will): your spouse will receive the use and enjoyment of certain goods without owning them.
Which law of inheritance is valid if my partner or I should die during our stay in the Netherlands? The Dutch law or the law of my home country?
In the Netherlands, you can determine who your heirs are in a will and, in principle; the inheritance is divided according to this will.
If there is no will, the inheritance law will determine who the heirs to the person’s estate are. In general, if the deceased was a resident of the Netherlands, the Dutch inheritance laws are applicable, even if the deceased was a non-Dutch national.
As this is a more complicated matter, it is best to seek advice from a lawyer who is specialised in international law of inheritance.
In the absence of a will, who inherits under the Dutch inheritance law?
Four categories of heirs are recognised in Dutch law: spouses or registered partners and children have priority entitlement to an equal share of the estate, followed by siblings, parents and nephews and nieces, and then by grandparents and great-grandparents, respectively. Relatives within each of these categories are only eligible to inherit property if there are no eligible relatives within the preceding category.
Each beneficiary can refuse the right of inheritance. This will likely be the case if there is a negative estate caused by debts.
It is also possible to accept an inheritance under benefit of inventory (beneficiair aanvaarden). If you accept an inheritance under benefit of inventory you are not liable for any debts, not even if you have enough assets to settle them. But you cannot dispose of the estate until it is certain that all the debts have been settled.
If the spouse and children were the heirs, the spouse would receive all assets and debts of the deceased person’s estate, and the children would have claim on their inherited portion. When the children reach the legal age (18 years old), they would be entitled to handle their inheritance on their own, but as long as they are minors, their living parent would be the legal supervisor.
Partners living together without a registered partnership do not qualify for inheritance, even if they have signed a cohabitation contract in the presence of a civil law notary.
Who would take care of the children if something were to happen to both parents?
If your children are minors, living here in the Netherlands and both of you die, then a legal guardian will be appointed by the Dutch court according to either a wish by the parent(s) stated in a will/deed or filed by them with the Gezagsregister (Dutch custody register).
This law will apply from the day you move to the Netherlands and become a resident. If you are not married, live together and have children, a will and a co-habitation agreement are recommended.
You can appoint a guardian in a deed drawn up by a civil law notary or in your will or by registering your choice of guardian at the Dutch custody register. The guardian who could be a family member or someone else is the person who has authority regarding minor children and he/she raises them and represents them. He/she also administers the children’s inheritance, but in case you think that this person doesn’t have the required expertise, you can appoint an administrator. You can also appoint an executor who will take care of winding up the estate on behalf of the heirs (e.g. taking care of the funeral, paying taxes, selling the house, etc.).
Do I need a residence permit to live and/or work in the Netherlands?
If you want to stay in the Netherlands for longer than three months and you are not an EU/EEA or Switzerland citizen, you need to apply for a verblijfsvergunning (residence permit).
To obtain a residence permit, you will need to contact the Immigration and Naturalisation Service (Immigratie- en Naturalisatiedienst – IND). Please note that the requirements for a residence permit are dependent on your personal situation and circumstances. You will also find details on: ind.nl/en/stay-or-live-in-the-Netherlands.
Diplomats and international organisations’ employees obtain a special residence document, which is issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Ministerie van Buitenlandse Zaken). These are for people who are working on Dutch soil as a diplomatic or consular official, or who are employed at an international organisation. They enjoy a special ‘privileged’ status, are not considered foreigners under the auspices of the vreemdelingenwet (immigration law) and are entitled to a special residency status by law. Check out the protocol guide for international organisations published by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Do I need a work permit in the Netherlands?
Whether you need a work permit depends on your residency status and nationality. Dutch work and residence permits are closely linked so 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. More information can be found on the section ‘Work permits‘ of the ACCESS FAQ’s.
What is the Civic Integration Act and who does it apply to?
The Civic Integration Act stipulates that most people from non-EU countries who immigrate to the Netherlands and live in the Netherlands must learn Dutch and understand how the Dutch society works. This is referred to as inburgering (civic integration). The aim of the Dutch integration policy is to have everyone in the Netherlands, including newcomers, feel a sense of community with each other and involvement with the Netherlands. The government wants people who settle in the Netherlands to take part in Dutch society regardless of where they come from or what they believe in.
The requirements and exemptions for taking the inburgeringsexamen (civic integration examination) are amended on regular basis, you should always check the latest information provided on www.inburgeren.nl/en.
For more information about this topic visit the ACCESS FAQ’s Learning Dutch for civic integration.
Should I buy or rent a house or apartment in the Netherlands?
You may consider the following points before deciding to buy or rent a house:
- The length of your stay: for a short period, it may be best to rent a house/apartment because of the costs associated with buying (approximately 6-7% of the purchase price) and potential renovation costs
- Your budget: if you wish to buy, the bank will consider your income and assets to determine your maximum mortgage amount
- Tax returns: depending on personal situation and taxable income
I want to rent or buy a property. Can you advise me how to find one?
The safest, most efficient way to find a rental property or to buy a house in the private market is to use the services of a makelaar (real estate agent) with experience in helping expats to find one for you. Visit several agents to get a feel.
You can start by contacting the NVM – Nederlandse Vereniging van Makelaars (Dutch Association of Estate Agents) on www.nvm.nl/overnvm/about (only a few pages in English, more information in Dutch).
NVM’s property site Funda.nl contains information about the houses in the various provinces; details can be selected by city, neighbourhood, building period, property type, size and price range. Here you will find both properties to rent and to buy (rent is called ‘huur’ and to buy is called ‘koop’)
If you need a list of estate agents in your area, please contact the ACCESS Helpdesk.
Check HousingAnywhere for accommodation in:
The Hague: https://housinganywhere.com/s/The-Hague–Netherlands
I need to find temporary accommodation for my family. Is it possible to find a short-term rental property in the Netherlands?
You can find short-term rentals with a minimum term of one week to a maximum of six months. They are nearly always fully furnished.
On arrival to the Netherlands, you need to register with the municipality. It is advisable to check with the landlord if he will allow you to register at this address. Otherwise, you can inquire with your employer if you can use their address for registration.
What is the difference between a short-stay apartment and a hotel room?
In comparison to a hotel, a short-stay apartment may offer more comfort, more space and more privacy with lower rates. Short-stay apartments are a great solution for:
- flexible workers who are working on a project for weeks or months
- accommodating friends and families who are visiting
- new arrivals who first want to explore the city before renting long term
- a temporary stay while renovating or moving
How can I find a student room?
All student towns share the difficulty of finding accommodation at a reasonable price, especially in cities such as Amsterdam, Utrecht, Rotterdam and The Hague. Help should be available from the university that you are studying at; they often have dedicated departments to help students find a suitable accommodation. They may even have a department which helps foreign students. Your university is a good place to start your search. If your university cannot help you, see below other suggestions:
- Contact the municipality for information about low-priced rooms
- Look for non-commercial agencies for students. Consider renting an anti-kraak (anti-squatter house). An anti-squatter house is a way of using an empty apartment or house in order to avoid squatters taking possession of it. A small group of people live in the house temporarily for a low rent and with little legal protection
- Check websites such as Kamernet.nl/en or join facebook groups by keyword + location (e.g. search for ‘rental student rooms Amsterdam’ or ‘rent a room in Utrecht’)
- Check out if there is a room available at the Student Hotel in your city of residence
- Check HousingAnywhere for accommodation in:
The Hague: https://housinganywhere.com/s/The-Hague–Netherlands
Which neighbourhoods are popular for expats?
Most foreigners settle in the Randstad, which is the name for the areas that encompass Amsterdam, Haarlem, Leiden, The Hague, Rotterdam and Utrecht. Many international corporations are located in this region, as well as international schools, shops, churches and social clubs. Within the Randstad and in other parts of country, like Maastricht and Eindhoven, there are many options for various living spaces. Areas surrounding the international schools are usually very popular with expats.
I have just moved to the Netherlands and would like to hire cleaning staff. I want to do it the official way and hire a person/company with all the necessary paperwork. Can you please let me know how I should go about this and whom I should contact?
There are many companies in the Netherlands that provide legal and documented home cleaning services. Sometimes be difficult to find a trust-worthy one. You can start by asking advice from your neighbours or your relocation/real estate agent. If you decide to hire professional cleaners via a website, we suggest you to make at least two referral checks before handing over your keys. Please note that the rate for professional cleaners is approximately €25 per hour. Some websites provides information in English as well as Dutch.
If you need a list of such companies in your area, please contact the ACCESS Helpdesk here.
How can I avoid scams when looking for a rental property?
In general, it is most safe to rent via an organisation that is a member of the Dutch association of estate agents (Nederlandse Vereniging van Makelaars known – NVM). If you consider renting via an unaffiliated makelaar (real estate agent), the following tips can help:
- Does it sound too good to be true? Then it probably is
- Avoid landlords who only offer an email address, a mobile phone number and/or a Facebook page. Ask for a business address or a residential address, check the person or company via the internet and check the ID. Be aware that ID’s sent via email can be fake
- Visit the property before accepting it. If you can’t do this by yourself because you are abroad, ask somebody else to do it on your behalf
- Check who owns the house/apartment via the kadaster (property register) at www.kadaster.nl/web/artikel/producten/Eigendomsinformatie (mainly in Dutch). In order to obtain the information, a small fee has to be paid. If the landlord and the owner are not the same, ask for a written explanation that the landlord/agency is acting on behalf of the owner
- Before paying your landlord, make sure the keys work
- Pay by bank. If this is not possible, make sure you have a receipt signed by the landlord. When you pay in cash, consider recording the conversation via your mobile phone
- Keep a file of all emails and other document
- If your landlord doesn’t allow you to register with the municipality at that address, he is most likely doing something illegal
Not sure? Have further questions? Consult here the different organisations that offers the latest updates on rules and regulations as well as legal advise.
What are the standard practices for renting via a makelaar (real estate agent)?
In general, the minimum rental period for an unfurnished dwelling is one year, but sometimes a shorter lease is possible.
It is also standard that the tenant will get a diplomatenclausule (diplomatic clause). This means that if, on account of his/her work, the tenant will be transferred to a place 50 km or more removed from the premises or if he/she has to leave the premises for reasons beyond his/her control, the tenant is entitled to terminate this agreement prematurely. In this case, the tenant has to give the owner one to two full calendar months’ notice.
Rent is due before the first day of each month, and you pay it either directly to your landlord or to an agency that operates between you and the landlord.
Legally, the length of time required to terminate your contract is equal to the regular time period for which you pay your rent. For example, if the rent is paid every month, then the termination period for your contract is also one month. The period of termination may not be less than one month or more than three months.
When you sign the lease on a property, you often have to pay one month’s rent in advance as a deposit or a bank guarantee will be needed when renting a house. This amount is refunded if the house is in a satisfactory condition at the end of your stay.
The real estate agent is not allowed to charge you anything for helping. They often charge approximately one month’s rent (plus VAT) and call it service costs, but this is not allowed. If you rented an apartment in the past five years and you were charged agency fees, usually about a month’s rent plus taxes, this might not have been legal. If so, you might be able to claim a refund. More information how to do this is available on https://www.wooninfo.nl/english/reclaim-unjust-agency-fees/.
Am I required to pay a commission fee?
Usually the tenant does not have to pay a commission fee. If a rental agent works for both the tenant and landlord, he is not allowed to charge a commission to a tenant. He has to charge the landlord for this.
A rental agent is only allowed to work for both tenant and landlord if the tenant agrees with that in writing. There are two exceptions to the rule that tenants do not need to pay a commission:
- The rental agent assists in finding the so called ‘onzelfstandige woonruimte’, i.e. housing without your own front door (such as student rooms) and/or without exclusive use of a kitchen, bathroom and toilet
- If a rental agency is not working for the landlord, but only for the tenant. In these situations, it is allowed to ask a commission from the tenant
If you rented an apartment in the past five years and you were charged agency fees, usually about a month’s rent plus taxes, this might not have been legal. If so, you might be able to claim a refund. More information how to do this is available on https://www.wooninfo.nl/english/reclaim-unjust-agency-fees/.
What is the process of finalising the deal while renting a property?
In the Netherlands, verbal agreements regarding renting a house are still binding but a written agreement is preferred. The prices quoted on the listings are usually negotiable, and your agent will negotiate a contract with the owner’s agent. This will often be done verbally. A written contract will be made to finalise the deal. Once the contract has been signed by both parties and the rent and the deposit have been paid, then the property is yours.
How about taking possession?
We advise you to insist on a formal check by the owner or the agent. Under normal circumstances, a checklist will be filled in regarding the condition of the house, furnishings and fixtures, and the condition of the exterior/garden. To avoid any conflict when you leave the property, it is advisable to check the following beforehand: the inside of the kitchen and bathroom cabinets, curtains and carpeting are clean, and the garden is neat and tidy. The central heating and chimneys should have been checked and serviced. You are expected to hand the house back to the owner in the same condition as you received it. It is best to take photos with dates as evidence for your records so getting back your deposit later should not be an issue. Also the meter stand readings for the electricity, water and gas should be noted.
I have rented a house and some repairs are needed. Who is responsible for this: the landlord or I?
When you rent a property, the landlord is responsible for almost all repairs. Only some small things like painting the walls inside and replacing the toilet seat are at your expense. Generally, these small things don’t cost much money. If you experience anything that needs to be repaired by the landlord, you need to inform him about that.
What should I do when I want to hand the property back to the landlord?
When you want to hand the property back, make an appointment for an inspection by the landlord. If the property is in a good condition, you can hand over the key and you will get your deposit back. If the landlord blames you for certain problems and you don’t agree, make sure you can prove with documents that the problem is not your fault and already existed when you took possession of the property. The checklist you filled in when you took possession can be very useful in this.
I have some issues and contract disputes with my landlord on the room/house that I am renting. Can ACCESS provide me with some legal advice or is there a legal authority that I can go to or consult regarding these issues?
ACCESS cannot offer legal advice directly. However, the following organisations can assist you concerning disputes with your landlord:
- Fair rent commission (Huurcommisie): this is an independent organisation that mediates differences between you and the landlord about maintenance, rental price and costs of additional services. You can visit their website on www.huurcommissie.nl (in Dutch only) or contact them for free and in English. Their telephone number is:0800-4887243 (free of charge). The huurcommissie deals with issues between tenant and landlord both for social housing and for free rent.
- Dutch Legal Desk (Het Juridisch Loket): this is a legal desk that will help you with legal questions including those about property rentals. You may contact them via their website Juridischloket.nl (in Dutch only) or call them at 0800 8020 (free of charge)
- WOON: this is an independent not-for-profit organisation formerly known as Wijksteunpunten Wonen and merged with Amsterdams Steunpunt Wonen. It offers free advice and support on tenancy rights if you live in Amsterdam. It is funded by Amsterdam city council and their services, and other services have expanded to include support for homeowners and potential buyers. You can visit their website on www.wooninfo.nl/english.
If you need a list of lawyers in your area who could offer you legal advice, please contact the ACCESS Helpdesk here.
I have signed my rental contract but I realise only now that some things in the contract are not fair. What can I do about it?
When you have signed a rental contract, it is final. However, if there are any issues in the contract that are against the law, the law is always binding. If you think this might be the case, it is best to seek legal advice. You should, of course, discuss the issues with your landlord and see if he is willing to change the contract.
The contract is in my partner’s name and she/he is leaving the Netherlands. May I continue living in the house?
If a rental contract is in your partner’s name and she/he is planning to move out, you will not be allowed to continue living there unless you can get the name in the contract changed. Best practice is to put both the names in the contract initially.
How can I get water, electricity and gas connections?
In many cases, the utilities (gas, water and electricity) will already be available in your home and you only need to transfer them into your name. Your makelaar (real estate agent) will usually help you with transferring contracts of your new home to your name. We suggest you to bear in mind the following:
- Note and check the meter readings when moving into another house as bills are based on the previous year’s consumption for the property. Discrepancies are corrected at the end of the year and refunds or additional bills are issued accordingly
- Gas and electricity are both supplied by the same provider; water is arranged separately
- If the rent is inclusive, check your contract carefully for what is covered
Should you need to set up a account see below the pre-requisites:
- A passport or ID card (proof of identity)
- Proof of occupancy (rental contract, house deeds)
- A bank statement or proof of residence available from the municipality’s personal records database (Basisregistratie Persoonsgegevens (BRP))
Please note that he Dutch energy market is privatised, thus enabling you to choose or change your supplier. Regulatory authorities ensure fair practices and tariffs.
Products, tariffs and services may vary from company to company. Should you decide to change company, remember to check and be aware of the conditions for cancelling a contract or switching providers. Here some tips for choosing a service provider:
- Check the term of your contract to know when you can switch for free. If you want to switch immediately check the cost of doing it before the term in the contract ends
- Check what you’re paying for electricity and gas as opposed to what you consume
- Compare the prices and contracts of various energy companies
- Determine whether you want the contract for a definite period or indefinite
- Check whether you want grey or green energy
- Check whether you have a fixed price or variable price to pay
- Keep an eye on special promotions or discounts
- Check the terms and conditions of the contract carefully
- Check whether there are any hidden costs, for example, energy tax, standing charges and transportation costs
- Check the payment options, for example what is the cost of paying by giro
- Find out which water company is covering your area at www.vewin.nl (enter your postcode on the top-right box ‘Zoek uw waterbedrijf’)
- Compare energy suppliers in the Netherlands: Energievergelijken.nl (Dutch only)
- Click here to know more about how to connect to all utilities and billing-related queries
How can I get connected to telephone, Internet and TV?
In the Netherlands, telephone, Internet and TV are available digitally and/or via cable. Many providers offer bundles of all three services. It is important to bear in mind the length of your stay and your location, as not all providers have a complete country network. Satellite television is also an option, but you need to fix a satellite dish in the right direction and there are regulations covering this
For both landline and mobile telephone, there are several providers offering subscriptions. For mobile phones, you can also choose for a prepaid option instead of a subscription but they are usually more expensive. Top-up cards can be bought at most telephone stores and supermarkets. It is also possible to top up your prepaid credit via the Internet and by phone. Nowadays, if you have a subscription with a mobile company in an EU country you can use internet and phone calls at the usual rates. Calls within the EU have no roaming costs anymore.
It is advisable to compare price, quality and always read the small print. You can compare tariffs and conditions at the following websites:
- For All-in-1 bundles & Internet+phone subscriptions visit: Breedbandwinkel.nl/expats (in Dutch only)
- For a comparison of prices of different providers visit: Bellen.com (in Dutch only) or Prijsvergelijken.nl/compare-broadband
For your information 0800 numbers are toll free; 0900 numbers are charged (per call or minute).
Are there any special rules for collecting household waste?
In many cities households have two separate waste containers: green for organic waste (groente-, fruit- en tuinafval, GFT) and grey/brown for all remaining waste (restafval). Both containers are emptied once a week or alternating weeks. If your municipality has decided that household waste should be compulsorily separated, you will receive a fine for non-organic waste placed in the green container.
You need to put your waste/bins outside your house at the time set by your municipality. If you don’t, you may be fined.
Glass, paper, plastic (including cans) and clothing/textiles, medicines and batteries, small electrical appliances and bulbs can be deposited in special containers in your neighbourhood. Other types of waste (oversized household waste, domestic chemical waste etc.) can be brought to one of the city’s garbage and recycling stations.
If you live in an apartment building with rubbish bins or underground containers, you can throw away your rubbish in these containers anytime. Be aware of any specific rules that may apply to the tenants of the building.
What factors should I take into account before buying a house or apartment?
A very important factor when buying a property is that you are clearly aware of the property’s legal standing. This means that you need to check whether it is eigen grond (freehold) or erfpacht (leasehold) property. If your potential house is freehold, then you fully own the plot and the house. Leasehold would mean that you only own the house but not the plot (this is the case for apartments as well). This means you will be paying an annual fee for renting the plot. Your real estate agent can provide this information.
Existing houses are usually sold as ‘kosten koper (kk)’. This means that all additional costs such as overdrachtsbelasting (property transfer tax) and notariskosten (notary costs) must be paid by the buyer.
New houses are usually sold as ‘vrij op naam (V.O.N.)’. This means that the purchase price includes BTW (VAT), property transfer tax and notary costs.
Bouwtechnisch onderzoek (construction inspection)
It is strongly advised to ask an expert for a bouwkundig onderzoek (construction inspection). This person will check things such as:
- crawl space (if accessible) and floors, drainage, ventilation, piping in crawl space
- state of the facades, roof, chimneys, window frames, gutters, roof, and chimneys
- determination of the presence of lead pipes and risk carbon monoxide
- fire safety and asbestos suspected.
The real estate agent who sells the house often recommends someone to do this. However, this person may not be independent. Therefore it is best to ask your own real estate agent for an expert. If you don’t have a real estate agent it may be useful to ask advice from the Vereniging Eigen Huis https://www.eigenhuis.nl/#/ (Dutch only). This is an interest group for home owners
Things to consider when buying a house or apartment
When buying a house or apartment, take the following things into consideration:
- Research appropriate neighbourhoods considering: housing prices, access to public transportation, green spaces, distance/time to your work, location of schools
- View properties during the day then again in the evening to notice any potential problems and have a sense of the area
- Limit your viewings each day
- Be sure to take photos and jot down notes
- Ask questions and strike up conversations with the estate agent, the seller and people in the area
- Take into account your estate agent’s advice
- Inquire about: who owns the property, how long it has been on the market, how many viewings there have been, how many bids have been made, why it is for sale, and how quickly it needs to be sold
- If possible, do not get into a bidding war and avoid sealed bid offers
What costs are involved in buying a house or apartment?
It pays to visit a bank or mortgage broker for free advice before you start considering buying property to get an idea of the total costs involved. In general, about 10% of the purchase price will be needed on top to pay for various taxes and fees:
- Hypotheekkosten (mortgage fee): around 1%
- Taxatierapporten (valuation/appraisal costs): if a mortgage is needed. Costs between 300-1,000 euros
- Makelaarkosten (real estate agent fees): not always involved but if it applies, costs vary between 1-2 percent of the price of the property
- Notariskosten: the notaris (notary) is needed to register the sale and the mortgage. It is usually between 1,000-3,000 euros
Note that the deposit on the property is 10% of the purchase price, paid six weeks after the purchase agreement has been signed. This may be replaced by a bank guarantee issued by a Dutch bank.
What other costs should I consider before buying a house in Netherlands?
When you buy a house, you have to pay the overdrachtsbelasting (property transfer tax) which is calculated based on a fixed percentage of the sale price agreed with the seller. No overdrachtsbelasting has to be paid if you get (part of) a house through divorce, marriage or inheritance. Currently (2021) the overdrachtsbelasting (transfer tax) is 2%.
Which process should I follow when buying a house?
Buying a property in the Netherlands is relatively straightforward but there are some steps you need to take.
Finding a makelaar (real estate agent)
Buying a property without a makelaar is legal but not advisable. In the Netherlands you can work with only one makelaar, unlike other countries. When house hunting, submit a list of the characteristics you are looking for in a house to your makelaar. This enables your makelaar to make a selection of interesting properties for you to visit. To make sure that you get proper help, contact a makelaar who is experienced at buying houses for expats.
The makelaar can help you from the beginning to the end of the house hunting process, including the technical inspection, the negotiations, the understanding of the bidding system along with the administrative work that comes with buying a house.
Is it compulsory to have a written contract to buy a house or is a verbal agreement binding as well in the Netherlands?
When buying, a verbal contract is no longer binding (contrary to rental agreements). A purchase agreement will need to be drawn up. After signing, you have three working days to change your mind and you also get a couple of weeks to obtain a mortgage from a bank.
I have made an offer and signed a ‘contract of sale’ for a house. Can I still withdraw the offer?
Yes, there is a lawful period which is valid for three working days. During this period, you are legally allowed to turn down the property.
It is also standard to have a clause that allows you to pull out in case you cannot secure a mortgage. Always check if this clause is in your contract. In case you are unable to get a mortgage, you need to provide proof of this from two different banks; otherwise you face financial liabilities up to 10% of the deposit.
I am considering buying an apartment. I have heard that I will become a member of a VvE (Vereniging van Eigenaren, Association of Owners). Can you explain what this is and what they do?
A Vereniging van Eigenaren – VvE (association of owners) is responsible for, and makes decisions about, the common parts of a building and the ground that belongs to it. Their work consists mainly of making decisions about maintenance and use of these common areas. For apartments, it is law nowadays to have a VvE. The fire insurance for the building is always arranged through the VvE. The details of the property and the obligations towards it will be registered in your purchase contract.
What does a notary do in the Netherlands?
Notaries occupy a special place in the world of legal professionals in the Netherlands, alongside advocaten (attorneys-at-law), deurwaarders (bailiffs) and belastingconsulenten (tax advisors). Notaries are authorised to draw up deeds, especially concerning: family law, property law and corporate law
Under the Dutch legal system, a notaris (notary) is required to weigh up and balance the interests of all the parties to a legal transaction. A notary is independent of all parties. For example, when a property is transferred, a notaris acts for both the seller and the buyer.
What legal services does a notary provide?
Apart from providing legal advice, a notaris (notary) also records agreements, either because the law requires it or it is in the parties’ request. The formal deed drawn up by a notary constitutes definite proof that the date and the parties’ signatures are correct. A notary is required to retain the original deeds and to issue the parties with certified copies.
The law requires a deed for a number of agreements and legal transactions such as transferring a property in the Netherlands and creating or cancelling mortgages. Normally, the procedures involved are as follows:
Lawful period to ‘think over’
This is known in the Netherlands as wettelijke bedenktijd. Through this act, a verbal agreement should be written down in a voorlopige koopakte (provisional purchase deed). This is valid for three working days so that the buyer can change her/his mind. During this period, you are legally allowed to turn down a property, and you can hire experts to inspect the property. Ask your agent for further details.
Agreement of sale
Once the deal has been made, the selling agent will draw up a koopakte (purchase deed) and will invite you to sign the purchase deed. Ensure that you have thoroughly and carefully read through the purchase deal. Do make sure that all the agreements are mentioned in the purchase deed before you sign. Only in Amsterdam is the notary involved in this part of the process and can help you with legal advice on judicial questions and terms of sales, etc. In the rest of the Netherlands the selling and purchase agent will do this part together with their clients.
Once all the parties involved have signed the deal, the notary will organise the transfer. He or she will draw up the akte van levering (the terms of delivery) for the handover. He or she will also help with the hypotheekakte (deed of terms and conditions of mortgage). The buyer is free to choose his or her own notary. The purchase deed includes a penalty clause in case any of the parties do not comply with its terms.
It is advisable to discuss the marital situation or registered partnership with the notary; it may have legal consequences while selling the property. A marriage or registered partnership in ‘general community of property’ means that all the property and debts of each partner are shared. The same holds true if you have an official cohabitation agreement older than five years, unless you have a notarised statement indicating otherwise (i.e. a prenuptial agreement or similar).
Once both the parties have signed the deed of purchase, the deal is closed and the property is technically yours. A verbal agreement is not binding. An important clause in the purchase deed is that the deed can be cancelled if the buyer cannot obtain the necessary finances – the financial clause. This financial clause has an expiration date normally after five weeks; within that period the mortgage has to be finalized. Between the provisional and the final purchase deed, which is usually on the day you get the key to the house, all details referring to the mortgage are finalised. Your mortgage provider will request an appraisal report (by an independent real estate agent) for assessing the value of the mortgage in relation to the value of the property.
The notary will register all deeds at the kadaster (land registry). This includes the leveringsakte (deed of conveyance) and the hypotheekakte (mortgage deed). All necessary papers will be drawn up by the notary, such as a deed of transfer. He or she will check all these papers for you.
Deposit or prepayment
A waarborgsom (deposit) of 10% of the purchase price or more has to be transferred by the buyer to the notary after the sale agreement has been made. In the meantime, it is wise to get a home inspection done by a technical expert. The deposit is made by the buyer to the account of the notary. A bank guarantee is also accepted as an alternative to a deposit. Before the final payment you can ask your agent to note down the meter readings and check the house to be sure that it has been vacated as agreed.
The levering or judicial transfer of ownership of the property is done by the notary on the day of the transfer mentioned in the purchase deal, and takes place at the office of the notary. The actual delivery of the property occurs when the keys are handed over.
How much do I pay for a notary service?
Notaries are free to set their own fees. The fees are based upon tariffs or rates, (which vary depending on the sale price of the property and on the amount of the financial loan) and it is sometimes possible to negotiate the notary fees and the percentage charged by the notary. It is advisable to contact more than one notary, in order to compare fees.
What is the difference between the private market and the social housing market for rental properties?
There are two markets for rental properties in the Netherlands: the private rental market and the social housing market.
In the private market, properties are usually rented out by private persons and commercial companies.
The rent usually excludes user’s costs, i.e. utilities, municipal levies for rubbish collection, garden maintenance and other extra costs.
Property listings in the Netherlands always mention the number of kamers (rooms), which includes the living room and the bedrooms. For example, a driekamerwoning (three-room house) is a two-bedroom house.
There are three types of rental homes: ongemeubileerd (unfurnished), gestoffeerd (partly furnished) and gemeubileerd (fully furnished).
Sociale huurwoning (social housing) is generally only available to low income families, and there are long waiting lists for properties. Due to these long waiting lists (many years), it is very difficult for expats to rent such a housing. If you do qualify for social housing, you may also qualify for a huurtoeslag (housing benefit). Find more information here.
What are the conditions to qualify for social housing?
Please note that conditions may change from one year to another but here you have the main ones:
- There is a maximum gross income a year that you can have
- Sociale-huurwoning refers to houses with a lower rent than private housing.
- You need to register at a housing corporation
Find more information at the Government’s website version in English: www.government.nl/topics/housing/rented-housing.
How can I get a huurtoeslag?
If you meet the requirements, you can apply for a huurtoeslag (housing benefit) from the Dutch government. The main aim of the benefit is to enable people with a low income to afford a place to live. In order to qualify for the benefit, you:
- must be over 18 years of age
- your rent, joint income and capital (yours and any person registered at the same address) must meet certain criteria (they should not be too high). In 2021 the maximum annual income is 40,024 euros.
- must be living in a rented property and pay maximum of 752.33 euros (in 2021) – Including servicekosten (service costs).
- must be the tenant of an independent property (e.g. an apartment)
- must be registered in the gemeente (municipality) as a tenant of this particular property
If you qualify, you should apply for the housing benefit by completing an application form at the Belastingdienst (Tax Authorities) website. If your application is successful, your benefit will be calculated based on your personal income and the personal income of any family members or partners who live with you, as well as the cost of the rent and any running costs. The size of your family and the number of children you have will also be taken into account if these family members live with you.
Please note that the mentioned requirements may vary if you are between 18-23 years old or you receive the AOW pension. Find the last up-to-date information regarding the income and eligibility requirements for the house benefit here (in Dutch only).
What insurances are compulsory for my home?
Anyone who has bought a house is obliged to take out opstalverzekering (residential premises insurance). This is a condition to get a mortgage. If you have bought an apartment, your Vereniging van Eigenaren – VvE (homeowners association) should provide the insurance. Otherwise, you have to arrange this insurance yourself.
A popular insurance in the Netherlands is the so-called inboedelverzekering (household contents insurance), which covers damage to your household goods caused by fire, burglary, explosion, storms, water, and various other factors. The sum insured will usually be subject to the average value of the contents in a house, so it is important that the sum insured is up-to-date.
The owners of furnished rented properties usually pay the residential premises insurance for expats renting a house or apartment. Check this with the owner.
Should I consider taking out additional insurances for my home and my possessions?
If you are renting a place, it is advisable that tenants take out at least a inboedelverzekering (household contents insurance) for coverage of their personal possessions.
Either if you are renting or own a house, you could consider to take out the following insurances:
- Aansprakelijkheidsverzekering (liability/third party insurance): coverage of the damages that you, family members or pets cause by accident (i.e. damage to the apartment you are renting or to the neighbours)
- Rechtsbijstandverzekering (legal aid insurance): to cover for the legal costs that may arise from a possible dispute (i.e. disputes with the landlord, the neighbours or the municipality)
Your bank or financial advisor can help you. If you need further information you can also contact the Dutch association of insurance companies (Het Verbond van Verzekeraars) on 070 333 8500 or via the online form available at Verzekeraars.nl (website available in Dutch and English).
How do I get a loan for buying an apartment or a house?
Buying residential properties, e.g. an apartment or a house in the Netherlands, can be expensive. Therefore, unless you have a large amount of savings, you will probably need to take out a loan or mortgage with a lender to enable you to purchase your property. Even if you are only temporarily living in the Netherlands, it may be practical to purchase a property as your home during your stay. You will then have the option to either sell or rent out the property when you leave. If you want to rent your property out, you need permission of your bank. The type of hypotheken (mortgages) that you will be entitled to access will depend on your income level. The banks offer a wide range of mortgages but these are the elements that you should consider:
- the amount you borrow (the capital)
- the amount of interest you pay on the loan
- the duration or ‘term’ of the mortgage
By considering these three factors, you need to decide the most appropriate method for you to repay the loan. All the major Dutch banks provide mortgage lending facilities for individuals wishing to purchase a residential property.
Are there restrictions on how much I can borrow for my mortgage?
The total amount that you will be allowed to borrow will be determined by your bank or mortgage provider. This will depend upon a combination of how much you can afford to repay each month and the duration (term) for repayment. A longer repayment term will typically reduce your monthly payments, but will ultimately cost you more in the total interest paid on your loan.
Due to recent stricter mortgage guidelines published by the government and the Financial Markets Authority, the Dutch banks and other mortgage lenders are now required to operate within a new code of conduct. This provides standards on how much you can borrow based on your income. This code ensures that the affordability of your mortgage is guaranteed. Through these measures, the number of people in the Netherlands with mortgage payment problems is one of the lowest in Europe.
What are the types of mortgages available in the Netherlands?
From 2018, you can only take out a mortgage that is a maximum of 100% of the value of your house – including 2% overdrachtsbelasting (property transfer tax). This is referred to as ‘Loan to Value’ (LTV).
At first glance, the variety of mortgages on offer from the banks may seem bewildering. However, most of these mortgages come in one of two general categories: capital repayment and interest payment; and only interest-only repayment .
Capital repayment and interest payment
Mortgages which are based upon repayment of both the capital (value of the loan) and interest are tailored by the banks to provide various repayment profiles. In essence, they all expect you to pay both the interest on the original loan and the value of the loan itself within a given time period (term). A typical mortgage term can be up to 30 years, but will depend on your age and circumstances.
One popular type of capital and interest repayment mortgage fixes the amount that you repay each month on your capital loan over the term of the mortgage and is termed a lineaire hypotheek (linear mortgage). Hence, in the beginning, the amount that you pay each month will be high, as you will be paying off a fixed amount of your capital and a relatively high amount of interest (relating to the amount of capital owing). However, the monthly payments will decrease over time as the capital of the loan is paid off and the corresponding interest reduces. The benefit of this type of mortgage is that it can be repaid relatively quickly. However, as the size of the interest repayment reduces with time, you will find that you will not be able to claim as much tax benefit (as the payment of the capital is not tax deductible).
An alternative type of capital and interest repayment mortgage is an annuïteitenhypotheek (annuity mortgage). With this mortgage, the total amount that you pay each month is fixed over the repayment term. The benefit of this type of mortgage is that the repayment remains the same each month and thus makes it easier for you to manage your monthly expenditures. In the beginning, most of the monthly repayment will be just the interest on the loan, whilst later in the mortgage term you will start to pay off a greater proportion of the capital. Tax is only deductible on the interest of the mortgage. Hence, you will find that the proportion of your monthly repayment – on which you can claim a tax relief – will reduce during the given time period.
Remark: currently annuity mortgage and linear mortgage are the only kinds of mortgages that are eligible for hypotheekrenteaftrek (interest tax deduction), whereby the loan is repaid within 30 years.
With an interest-only repayment mortgage, you only pay back the interest on the value of your mortgage each month. The benefit of this mortgage is that the payments you make each month will be lower and thus more affordable. However, as you are not paying off any of the capital (value of the loan), you are not in a position to own your house; that is, unless you are confident that you will have sufficient funds to pay off the original loan as a lump sum at the end of the mortgage term.
It should be noted this kind of mortgage is no longer deductible from your income for tax purposes. Banks are no longer eager to offer this type of mortgage anymore. However, you can take over your old mortgages to your new house and continue having an interest-only or bank savings/investment mortgages or a combination and keep the eligibility of the interest deduction.
There are other types of mortgages based upon payment into an investment fund. The idea is that you only pay off the interest on the loan and at the same time contribute into an investment fund. At the end of your investment term, you should have acquired a sufficiently high return on your investment to (hopefully) be able to pay off the capital of your mortgage.
Other mortgages link repayment of the interest on the loan to paying for an insurance product, such as life insurance, or paying into a savings policy. The idea is essentially the same as above, in that you acquire sufficient funds over the term of the mortgage to pay off the original loan.
Remark: These products are not available anymore within the mortgage advice for starters. Existing mortgages containing these kinds of products may be continued.
How can I decide which mortgage is best for me?
If you are unsure of which mortgage is best suited for your needs, it is suggested that you seek advice from one of the following:
- a bank or mortgage lender
- an independent specialised hypotheek adviseur (mortgage broker)
- a professional financial advisor
In helping you to determine which mortgage is most appropriate for your circumstances, you need to ask yourself the following questions:
- How much do I want to borrow?
- How much can I afford to pay each month?
- How long do I want to take to pay off the mortgage? (This will be dependent upon a variety of factors such as your age, how long you intend to live in the Netherlands and the security over your future employment)?
- When, how much and how do I want to redeem my mortgage?
- Which risks do I want to be insured against?
- What type of mortgage do I want?
- How important are the overall interest costs, risks, flexibility and tax benefits to me?
How is the interest on my mortgage calculated?
The amount of interest you pay on your mortgage is based upon the interest rate agreed with your bank or mortgage lender which is applied to the value of the loan. Most Dutch mortgages are offered for up to a term of 30 years. Within the term, the bank will normally allow you to choose how long you wish to fix the rate of interest on your mortgage. This can typically be anywhere from one to 20 years. Hence, if you think the current interest rate will be reduced in the future, you may elect to fix the rate for only a few years. Conversely, if you think the interest rate will go up in the future, you may wish to fix the rate for a longer period. It should be noted that banks will offer a spread of rates depending on the duration that the rate is fixed. The interest rate quoted will typically rise with the increasing length of time that it is fixed; this is to cover the lender’s risk if the benchmark interest rate (set by the European Central Bank) rises in the future.
At the end of the fixed rate period, you are entitled to agree to a new fixed rate with your lender.
What type of information is required when getting a mortgage?
The requirements for getting a mortgage will depend on the bank or mortgage provider you choose. Generally, people originating from an EU member state country and who have a permanent employment contract do not experience any difficulties in getting a mortgage.
The bank or mortgage provider will want to know about the property that you wish to purchase. They may ask for you to pay for an independent inspection report on the property before they make any decision on whether to grant you a mortgage.
From January 1, 2017, homebuyers aged between 18 and 40 can receive the schenkingsvrijstelling (parental gift tax exemption). This is a gift of up to 100.000 euros and it is tax-free. It can be received from their parents or others as a contribution towards buying, renovating or paying the mortgage on a property.
For people from outside the EU, the bank or mortgage provider may want to consider the following aspects:
- The kind of residence permit you have
- The level of security afforded by your employment contract and what type of job you have
- Who is your employer? Generally, it is easier to get a mortgage if you work for a well-known, larger company than for a small company
- How much you currently earn after tax and pension deductions (take-home pay)
- What other significant expenses you currently have, e.g. paying for a car, any bank loans etc. and your general financial situation
- The nationality of your partner (is he/she Dutch or not?)
When do I start to repay my mortgage?
You usually begin repaying your mortgage within a month of completing the purchase of your home. The bank will normally collect your monthly mortgage payments by direct debit.
What happens if I find that I can no longer afford to pay my mortgage?
It should be remembered that your house is considered by the mortgage lender as security against the loan. Therefore, effectively you do not own your house until the mortgage is paid off in full. Should you default on your monthly payments (due to personal circumstances, e.g. getting into debt, becoming unemployed or divorced), the lender has the right to repossess and sell your house to pay off the remaining debt. However, this is very much a last resort for the lender.
The banks will always explore possibilities with you to address your current difficulties, before taking the more drastic action of repossessing and selling your property. If a bank does decide to sell your house and the sale value is less than the remaining mortgage value, you will still be expected to pay off the difference (with interest).
The National Mortgage Guarantee (Nationale Hypotheek Garantie –NHG) is provided by the Homeownership Guarantee Fund (Waarborgfonds Eigen Woningen – WEW). The main aim of the fund is to promote the responsible purchasing of private property. Hence, if you take out a mortgage to buy a house, you may be eligible for the NHG coverage. The NHG is only applicable for mortgages up to a certain limit. A summary in English can be found at www.nhg.nl/english-summary/Information-for-consumers/What-is-nhg. You may have to check the Dutch version in order to find the current maximum value.
If you are forced to sell your property by your mortgage lender and the value of the sale is less than the original mortgage loan, then the NHG may settle your outstanding debt with your mortgage provider.
Can I claim mortgage tax deductions on my mortgage?
The interest that you pay on your mortgage might be hypotheekrenteaftrek (tax deductible) from your earnings. If you are on a Dutch payroll and are considered a resident taxpayer, meaning you pay taxes in The Netherlands, you are entitled to the same benefits that Dutch citizens have. The mortgage relief or tax deductible has always been a contentious issue in Dutch politics and this tax benefit may become more limited in the future.
For your personal tax situation, it is advisable to look at the Belastingdienst (Tax Authorities) website (in Dutch only) or contact them on the English speaking telephone help line by calling 055 538 5385.
Can you tell me the most important things about Dutch etiquette?
- Dutch manners are frank which can be described as a no-nonsense attitude, informality combined with adherence to basic etiquette. This might be perceived as impersonal by some other cultures but is the norm of the Dutch culture. As always, manners differ between groups. Asking about basic rules will not be considered impolite
- Shake hands with everyone present – men, women, and children – at business and social meetings. Shake hands again when leaving. Introduce yourself if no one is present to introduce you. The Dutch consider it rude when you do not identify yourself
- The Dutch value privacy and seldom speak to strangers. It is more likely that they will wait for you to make the first move. Do not be afraid to do so
- The Dutch expect eye contact while speaking with someone
- Food does not play a major role in hospitality as it does in many other cultures. It is not considered essential for making someone feel welcome. Do not expect to be served a meal unless the invitation specifically mentions a meal
- Men should wait until all women are seated before they sit. Allow the hostess to start eating and drinking before you eat
- The Dutch prefer fashions that are casual, unpretentious, conservative and subdued. A traditional suit and tie are required only in certain circles of business and government
- When invited to someone’s home, bring a small gift for the hostess. Bring children a small gift or candy. Sending flowers before or after the party is also appropriate
Are there any Dutch traditions I should know about?
The most important Dutch traditions are:
- Carnaval (carnival) is most celebrated in the Catholic regions, mainly in the southern provinces such as North Brabant and Limburg. The Dutch Carnival is officially celebrated on the Sunday through Tuesday preceding Ash Wednesday
- Elfstedentocht or Eleven cities tour (200-kilometer skating tour on real, natural ice along the 11 cities and villages in Friesland, a province in the northern part of the Netherlands). The last one was held on 1997 but Dutch people still hope that the canals will froze again in winter to hold this tour.
- Koningsdag (King’s Day) is officially celebrated on 27 April (the king’s birthday), unless it falls on a Sunday. On King’s Day there are celebrations throughout the Netherlands
- Dodenherdenking (Remembrance of the Dead) on 4 May. It commemorates all civilians and members of the armed forces of the Kingdom of the Netherlands who died in wars or peacekeeping missions since the outbreak of World War II
- Sinterklaas (Saint Nicholas) on 5 December. In the days leading up to 5 December (starting when Saint Nicholas arrives by steamboat in late November, all the way from Madrid), young children put their shoes in front of the chimneys and sing Sinterklaas songs. On the evening of 5 December, Sinterklaas brings presents to every child who has behaved well in the past year (in practice, just as with Santa Claus, all children receive gifts without distinction)
- Beschuit met muisjes (rusk with candy coated aniseed) is a widespread tradition when people come to visit a new-born baby and its mother. Beschuit is a typical Dutch biscuit, muisjes are sugared anise seeds. For a boy the muisjes are blue and white in colour, while for a girl they are pink and white.
Some of these traditions are also public holidays in the Netherlands.
What are the public holidays in the Netherlands?
The Netherlands has only a few official public or bank holidays. Most of them take place between April and May. Here you have an overview:
- 1 January: New Year’s Day
- March/April: Easter
- 27 April: King’s Day
- 5 May: Liberation Day (it is a national holiday only every five years)
- 40 days after Easter: Ascension Day
- 7 weeks after Easter: Pentecost
- 5 December: Saint Nicolas’ Eve
- 25-26 December: Christmas
I would like to keep up to date with events which are coming up. Where do I sign up?
The links provided below are mainly international parties, which are hosted around the Netherlands. You can sign up on the website, and they will keep you updated with upcoming events:
Most municipalities also offer event listings on their website in English:
- Amsterdam: iamsterdam.com
- Delft: Delft.nl/delften
- Groningen: International Welcome Centre Groningen https://iwcn.nl/residents/social-leisure/meeting-people/
- Holland Expat Center South: hollandexpatcenter.com/nl/
- Leiden: visitleiden.nl/en
- Maastricht: maastrichtportal.nl/en/
- Rotterdam: Rotterdam.nl/english/
- The Hague: Denhaag.com/en
- Utrecht: Utrecht.nl/english
What kinds of childcare are available in the Netherlands?
There are many options for childcare available to you in the Netherlands. Below you will find some general information relating to the most popular examples:
- Family, child and informal care is homecare with members of the family, a childminder or other caregiver
- Playgroups are informal groups that usually meet weekly and provide parents of children from newborn to three years with the opportunity to meet other parents and chat over a cup of coffee, while their children play together in the same room
- Oppas (babysitter) can be useful for evenings and shorter periods of time. Most neighbourhood magazines and local expatriate websites post small ads with names offering babysitting services. Check with schools or neighbours for recommendations. You can also use the services of an oppascentrale (babysitting agency). Some agencies ask for a membership fee for 6-12 months. The advantages are that you can nearly always get a sitter and the costs are usually reasonable. The disadvantages are that it may be a different person every time and their experience in looking after young children may vary
- Nannies are in-home professional childcare providers who have either extensive experience in caring for children or have graduated from a nanny school. Most nanny training programmes include first aid and cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) certification, as well as instruction in health, nutrition and recreation. Note that it is the responsibility of the employing family to pay the social security for the nannie, which may be expensive. In the Netherlands there is only one word for babysitters and nannies: oppas
- Gastouderopvang (childminder service) is available for children of all ages. The service is provided by a childminder who is connected to a host parent agency. The gastouder (childminder) can care for the children in their own home or in the homes of a care centre and can accommodate up to six children simultaneously. Please note that a private childminder must provide proof of formal training and/or experience and should also have completed a first aid training course
- Au pairs are people aged from 18 to 26 years (usually female) who are placed with a family to provide childcare and some light housework in exchange for a room, board and a small amount of spending money. Au pairs usually work on a one-year contract. Most families find their au pair through a professional agency, which normally takes responsibility for checking the references and language proficiency of their au pairs
- Kinderdagverblijven (nurseries) for children up to four years old . These are usually open between 07:30-18:00.
- The 24-uurs opvang (24 hour reception care) primarily for children of parents who work irregular shifts which can provide day, evening, night and weekend care
- Flexibele dagopvang (flexible day care) for children aged up to four years old in which day care is provided for a fixed number of sessions per week, but there is some flexibility as to when this is undertaken (depending on the needs of the parents)
- Peuterspeelzaal/peutergroep (preschools ) for children between two and four years old. A few times a week, the toddlers spend a few hours playing and doing activities with other children
- Naschoolse opvang or buitenschoolse opvang (after-school care centres ) is provided after normal school hours (from 7:30am to 6:30pm) and school holidays for children aged between four and 12 years old. The children get something to eat and drink, participate in various activities and get guidance on homework
I am a looking for a day care centre for my children. Can you suggest some day care centres for me?
Regardless of what form of day care you prefer, there are several kinds of care that your children can get and these include (but are not limited to): playgroups; babysitters; child-minding; nurseries; flexible day care; pre-schools and after school care. To find a suitable day care near you, you can visit your stadhuis (town hall) or check on one of the following websites: Nomadparents.com/finder or Kinderopvangkaart.nl (in Dutch only).
In some areas in the Netherlands, you will be able to find international day care or playgroups providing childcare in English or other languages. If you need a list of day care centres in your area, please contact the ACCESS helpdesk at helpdesk[at]access-nl.org or visit any of our helpdesks available at the Expat Centres.
How much does day care cost and can I get help with its cost?
The cost for childcare depends on your personal situation. The tool here will give you an idea what to expect.
The Dutch government reimburses a substantial portion of the cost of childcare. The childcare benefit is called kinderopvangtoeslag. The amount that you will be entitled to receive is dependent on several factors such as the number of children, family income and the working hours of parents. There are four conditions to be entitled to receive kinderopvangtoeslag:
- you and your partner are employed, studying (part-time or fulltime) or taking a civic integration course. For single parents different rules apply, depending on how much time the child spends with you. In some situations you may be considered as co-ouder (co-parent). More information about this is available on https://www.belastingdienst.nl/wps/wcm/connect/nl/toeslagen/content/toeslagen-co-ouderschap (Dutch only)
- you have an unemployment benefit, disability benefit or social welfare andare studying (part-time or fulltime) or doing an internship as part of an official programme to find a job again
- your child goes to day care, buitenschoolse opvang (after-school care), or is taken care of by a private childminder which are registered on the Nationaal Register Kinderopvang (national register for childcare) – Find out whether a day care /private childminder is registered at www.landelijkregisterkinderopvang.nl (in Dutch only)
- you apply within three months from the date that the childcare started
For further information about the conditions to receive the childcare benefit look at https://www.belastingdienst.nl/wps/wcm/connect/bldcontenten/belastingdienst/individuals/benefits/moving_to_the_netherlands/my_child_goes_to_a_childcare_centre/
The childcare benefit (kinderopvangtoeslag) should not be confused with the child benefit (kindersbijslag). Child benefit is a government allowance towards the expenses of raising a child. You are eligible for this allowance if you live and/or work in the Netherlands (or abroad but employed by a Dutch employer) and have a child or children under 18 years of age. There are no income or asset criteria.
I am in need of a nanny/babysitter/childminder/au pair for my children. Can you suggest some options for me?
Babysitting agencies are listed in the phone book, the online yellow pages at Detelefoongids.nl (in Dutch only) or in local newspaper advertisements under ‘oppascentrales’. Please be mindful when choosing someone to care for your child. Always ask for and check references, and have a telephone interview before inviting someone to your home.
How much does baby-sitting cost in the Netherlands?
Fees depend on several aspects such as:
- age (teenager or adult)
- experience of the child minder
- geographic region
- number of children
- daytime, evening or after midnight. Usually during daytime and after midnight the fees are higher than in the evening.
If housekeeping duties are also required, a higher fee is common.
Are there any groups or organisations for expats in the Netherlands?
The international community in the Netherlands is large and expansive. There are numerous interest groups, national club organisations, professional network groups, short courses and programmes in languages other than English. Search for these when you arrive, or even better before arrival, so you can make a plan of activities to help you, the partner also settle into your own routines, find your own interests, make your own life here and meet the people who can support you in the process.
If you are looking to develop your network and interests engaging in useful voluntary work or join social clubs and societies could be a good start. Below is a selection of sites to start your search for groups which appeal to you. If you still cannot find one which suits your needs or interests, click here for more tips on how to build social life and make friends in the Netherlands.
Sourcing clubs & activities
Angloinfo South Holland: Angloinfo.com/south-holland
Eventbrite: https://www.eventbrite.com/Expatica: Expatica.com
I am Expat: iamexpat.nl
The Hague OnLine: Thehagueonline.com
Connect International: Connect-int.org/home.php (North Holland)
Newcomers are encouraged to meet local Dutch people. You might seek those having similar interests and/or experiences. In time, you will be able to meet and connect with your neighbours, your hosts so to speak. Furthermore, we encourage you to subscribe to and read the ACCESS Magazine. Written by internationals, it provides wide-ranging information about the Netherlands. Even if you cannot speak to your neighbours in Dutch, you can learn about this country which will be a great conversation starter. ACCESS Magazines are available free from our website.
How can I make my international calls cheaper?
There are several ways to make your international calls cheaper:
- Video call programs or apps
- The 0900 numbers: There are several companies that use 0900 numbers to provide cheap international calls. These 0900 numbers are paid service numbers and prices for using them can vary. You pay an initial connection charge and then the costs for the call (normally per minute or per second). Check Bellen.com for a comparison of prices for different providers
- Discount telephone cards. In the Netherlands there are many discount telephone cards available (belkaarten or telefoonkaarten; also known as ‘calling cards’). These can be purchased at telephone shops, post offices and tobacco shops. They have a fixed purchase price, but call costs may vary depending on the destination being called and the method of access. Some cards offer special rates to a particular world region – such as the Americas, Europe, Africa or Asia. It therefore pays to purchase a card which offers the cheapest rate to the destinations you most frequently call. Most cards have an expiry date, and a limited period of use, once activated. The cards can be used with domestic landlines, mobile phones, and with public pay-phones. Unfortunately, not all companies offering these cards are reliable. Some charge additional, unannounced costs or the card expires before the official expiry date.
I am travelling on a regular basis to my home country. How can I use my mobile phone both in the Netherlands and in my home country?
For many members of the international community, it may be important to be able to make and receive calls while travelling to other countries. Roaming charges do not apply when travelling in the EU, meaning that you will pay the same prices as at home. For data and calls limits while abroad, check with your phone provider.
International roaming agreements via cellular operators allow foreign operators to use their networks so that they have a broader international coverage. However, mobile phone providers charge rather high costs for making phone calls or data transfer with smartphones abroad. Even when somebody calls you when you are abroad, you have to pay for the call. This also applies for listening to your voice mail.
The best alternative is to buy a local prepaid SIM card once you are abroad (on the condition that your mobile phone is simlock free). You now have a local mobile number that you can pass on to family and friends. If they live in the Netherlands, they can make cheaper calls by using special 0900 numbers. They are only charged for the costs of calling the 0900 number. It works in a similar manner as making cheap international calls via your landline.
Unfortunately, not all mobile telephones are compatible with networks in different parts of the world. The USA, Canada, Latin American and African countries use a different network to the Netherlands. Depending on the bands of your mobile phone and those used by the country where you travel, it can happen that you cannot use your Dutch mobile telephone there. Please contact your Dutch mobile telephone provider for more information. The standard mobile nowadays is Triband which is useable in most countries. A Quad-band, also known as ‘world phone’, allows global use.
Can I use my mobile phone in my car?
Drivers and riders of motorised vehicles, mopeds and vehicles for people with disabilities are not allowed to make or receive telephone calls without an aid, such as a headset or ‘hands-free’ car kit. Sending and receiving SMS and e-mail messages is also not permitted. You are not even allowed to hold your telephone in your hand when on the move. If you need to make or receive a telephone call while driving and you have no hands-free car kit, you must park your vehicle alongside and then make/receive the call.
This law applies not only during actual driving, but also while moving slowly for example in a traffic jam. You may use a mobile telephone while being parked or otherwise stationary. Violation of this law carries a fine.
How can I find a post office? I have been looking around but I don’t see any signs indicating a post office.
The Dutch post office used to be an office where you could obtain all postal products and services and some services not related to mail. These post offices do not exist anymore and have been replaced by smaller postal shops located in other shops, such as bookstores, tobacco shops and supermarkets.
These post shops are still called post offices and offer all products and services from PostNL (the main provider of postal and parcel services in the Netherlands) and sometimes a few other services as well. You can locate a post office or find other postal services on the location finder.
How can I find an English-speaking huisarts?
The majority of huisartsen (GPs) in the Netherlands are Dutch but many have a good command of English. However, in areas with a large number of expatriate residents there are health care centres specialised in providing a specific service for expats.
As soon as you have your health insurance, it is important to register right away with a huisarts (GP). You can find a doctor or medical centre in your area at: www.zorgkaartnederland.nl/zorginstelling (in Dutch only) or at www.kiesuwhuisarts.nl/(Dutch only) . You can also contact the ACCESS Helpdesk on +31 (0)85 4000 338, 10:00-16:00, Monday to Friday, or send an email via this form.
How can I find a doctor that speaks my language (no English-speaking)?
All doctors during a patient consult have a choice to contact the ‘tolkentelefoon ‘(interpreters phone). This organisation Global Talk has many interpreters and translators able to translate over 200 languages. Besides translating documents, the translators can assists doctors/specialists during their doctor/patient consultation. Please note that you will be charged for this service. You can find more information at: https://www.globaltalk.eu/
Alternatively, you can ask a Dutch-speaking friend to accompany you to the doctor’s appointment.
How can I contact my huisarts (GP) outside normal opening hours?
Healthcare in the Netherlands is accessible 24/7.
If you call your huisarts (GP) outside normal opening hours (usually after 5 p.m., before 8 a.m. and during the weekend), a recorded telephone message will usually provide contact details for an on-duty huisarts or the number of the doktersdienst (medical advice service). Often these messages are recorded in Dutch, so it is helpful to have a Dutch speaker available to listen to the message.
I am dissatisfied with my huisarts. Can I change to another huisarts?
If your huisarts (GP) is working in a group practice and you prefer one of the other GPs in the practice, you can schedule your appointments during his/her office hours.
If you want to change to a new GP, it is suggested to check if he/she is willing to accept you as a patient. Some GPs don’t accept new patients because their practice is full. Acceptance also depends on the distance between the practice and your home address in order to provide house visits when necessarily. Once you are sure that you can go to the GP of your choice, ask your former GP to send your medical file to the new GP.
I want to see a medical specialist. How can I arrange that?
The first thing you need to do is ask for a referral from your huisarts (GP). A referral is necessary to be able to visit a medical specialist. Once you have a referral, you can make an appointment. Depending on the specialisation and the facilities of the hospital, there may be waiting time from a few weeks to a few months. Health insurance companies may offer mediation to access treatment as soon as possible.
An alternative to seeing a medical specialist in a hospital is visiting one in an independent clinic. Here ambulatory and acute care are provided, but without major surgical or pre- and post-operative care facilities.
On your first visit to the medical specialist, you may be required to complete a questionnaire about your medical history and various lifestyle factors. If this is the case, the information will be registered in the hospital’s patient database.
I want to go to a medical specialist but my GP does not want to give me a referral. Can I visit a medical specialist without a referral?
If you want to visit a medical specialist without a referral, your health insurance may not cover this and you may have to pay for the costs yourself. You should check with your health insurance company what the coverage is.
Please keep in mind that the GP acts as a gatekeeper to wider Dutch healthcare and received 3 years of specialist training after 6 years of basic medical education. The huisarts treats less complicated problems and can determine which specialist(s) to consult if necessary. The GP can also answer most of your general health questions. He/she will also perform, for example, standard gynaecological or paediatric examinations and minor surgeries.
There is also a chance that you will not be able to make an appointment, even if you are willing to pay for the costs yourself. This is because some practices refuse doing it due to the complex administration involved.
How can I contact my dentist outside normal opening hours?
If you call your usual tandarts (dentist) outside normal opening hours, a recorded telephone message will usually provide contact details for an on-duty dentist. Often these messages are recorded in Dutch, so it is helpful to have a Dutch speaker available to listen to the message.
What kind of accommodation and facilities can I expect when I need hospitalisation?
Most hospital accommodation is in shared rooms or wards of up to six patients. Wards may be mixed gender. Single-occupancy rooms are available in some hospitals, but they are mainly available for patients who need this for medical reasons. You can expect the following:
- A private television is often available but you will be charged for its use
- You will need to bring your own nightwear, toiletries and other personal items. We suggest to leave valuable items such as bank cards and jewellery at home
- All food, medication, bedding and towels will be provided by the hospital
Is hospitalisation covered by my insurance?
If you need hospitalisation, the costs are covered by your basic insurance. If you have a natura (in kind) policy, you will only be covered if you go to a hospital that is contracted by your insurance. It is advised to contact your insurance company to find out which hospitals are contracted. In case of emergencies, the costs are covered regardless of the kind of insurance (in kind or restitution).
In all cases, you have to pay your eigen risico (deductible) first.
Can I go to the accident and emergency department in a hospital without referral?
Yes, it is possible to visit the eerste hulp afdeling (accident and emergency department) in a hospital without a referral. If the situation allows, it is best to contact your huisarts (GP) or your local out-of-hours huisartsenpost (GP centres that open outside office hours) phone line first. Many problems can be treated by a GP without the need to visit the accident and emergency department in a hospital.
What should I do in case of emergency?
For life-threatening situations, you can call 112. This number works for emergencies throughout continental Europe (Great Britain has a different emergency number).
How can I call an ambulance?
In the Netherlands, you cannot call an ambulance yourself. Only your huisarts (GP) or the emergency services can call an ambulance.
In my home country, my doctor prescribed me some medicine. How can I get this medicine in the Netherlands?
Medicines in the Netherlands are not always the same as those prescribed in other countries. If you are taking medication prescribed to you in another country, it is best to show it to your huisarts (GP) and/or apotheker (pharmacist). In particular, many brand names and packaging will be different in the Netherlands though the content may be identical.
Which vaccinations are common in the Netherlands and how can I arrange to get them?
All early childhood vaccinations are given at the consultatiebureau (child health clinic) and are free of charge. The rijksvaccinatieprogramma – RVP (national immunisation programme) currently includes vaccinations for the following diseases:
- DKTP: combined vaccination for D = Diphtheria, K = Whooping Cough (kinkhoest), T = Tetanus, P = Poliomyelitis
- HIB = Haemophilus influenza type B
- BMR = Bof (Mumps), Mazelen (Measles), Rode hond (Rubella: German Measles)
- Men C = Meningitis C
- Pneu = Pneumococcal vaccination. The pneumococcal vaccine protects against 10 types of pneumococcal bacteria which can cause pneumococcal disease in young children.
- Hep B = Hepatitis B vaccination
- HPV = Human Papilloma Virus (only for girls)
For an updated list, visit the Dutch government’s site https://www.rivm.nl/en/national-immunisation-programme
For general vaccination information, you can approach the Municipal and Regional Health Service (GGD).
The GGD is the municipal health organisation for preventative healthcare. Once you have registered at the town hall, the GGD will let you know automatically which immunisation programme (if any) you need to follow.
I would like to have additional shots for my child or for myself that are not standard in the Netherlands. How can I arrange this?
You will have to contact your huisarts (GP) or visit a specialised vaccinatie bureau (vaccination centre). Please bear in mind that you will probably have to pay for additional shots yourself.
Where can I find help for mental health problems?
If you have mental health problems, you need to discuss this with your huisarts (GP). He/she can provide you with a referral to a psychologist. You will need this referral in order to get the costs covered by your health insurance.
Depending on the severity of your problems there are three options:
- If you have minor issues, your GP or an assistant of the GP specialised in mental health problems can help you
- If your problems are moderate, your GP will refer you to a psychologist for treatment according to the basic Geestelijke Gezondheidszorg – GGZ (mental health care)
- If your problems are very serious or complicated, your GP will refer you to a psychologist specialised in complex mental health care (specialistische GGZ). This usually involves a longer and multidisciplinary treatment
ACCESS offers a Counselling Service Network (CSN) of licensed professionals with practices all over the Netherlands. Counsellors are men and women who are psychologists, mental health counsellors and social workers from a variety of cultural backgrounds. All counsellors have a minimum Master’s level degree with at least two years’ supervised work experience. Every month, two ACCESS counsellors are on-call; they can provide a free referral to a member of the ACCESS CSN who can best assist you. You can find out here which counsellors are on call.
Some insurers have helpdesks which will assist you in finding a registered practitioner who speaks your language or who shares your cultural background. Otherwise you can check the Counselling Service Network (CSN) to find a practitioner in your area.
Can I get mental health treatments reimbursed?
If you need psychological help, the costs are covered by your basic insurance. Keep in mind that if your basic insurance is of natura (in kind) policy, you will only be covered if you go to a psychologist who is contracted by your insurance. It is suggested to contact your insurance company to find out which psychologists are contracted.
In certain cases, you may have to pay your eigen risico (deductible) first.
Sometimes the health care professional at the GP’s practice can help you. This counts as a treatment from the GP and is exempted from your eigen risico.
You get only reimbursed if your mental health provider is recognised in the Netherlands. This means he/she needs to have a so-called BIG (Beroepen in de Gezondheidszorg , Professions in Healthcare) registration.
If you don’t get reimbursed because your mental health provider is not BIG registered, you may be able to deduct the costs from your taxes (depending on your income). Please check with your tax advisor if you qualify for this.
Please note that some treatments are not covered such as:
- Treatment for problems related to work, school or relationship
- Intelligence tests
- Treatment for dyslexia
- Coaching, training, courses
- Educational assessments
- Treatment for obesity and eating disorders
- Physical examination for e.g. driving license, sports
I am pregnant and will be giving birth in the Netherlands. What practical preparations do I need to make?
The Dutch philosophy is that childbirth is a natural, physical process, not a medical condition. Prenatal care is usually provided by a verloskundige (midwife). The role of the doctor or gynaecologist in a normal pregnancy in the Netherlands is minor, and in most cases they do not get involved at all, unless there are complications. Therefore, the first priority is to find a midwife. It is best to register with your midwife by week 8-10 or as soon as you arrive in the Netherlands.
You can search the online ‘Yellow Pages’ (in Dutch only), under ‘verloskundigenpraktijk’ or talk to your huisarts (GP) – he/she will be able to point you in the right direction.
There are a few other things that you should consider:
- Make sure you know what your health insurance coverage covers for you.
- Register yourself with a kraamzorg (postnatal maternity care) agency, preferably before week 12 of your pregnancy. Your midwife can direct you to organisations that they partner with, and your health insurance provider must be contacted to ensure your chosen maternity care agency or ‘so-called’ kraamcentrum is approved by them.
- Decide where you want your baby delivered. The Dutch are big believers in home births, so make it clear if you want to give birth in a hospital. You have the flexibility of changing your mind at the last minute if you decide to go for a home birth.
In addition to midwife visits, it may also be advisable for you to consider attending a childbirth preparation course. ACCESS offers this course in The Hague, Amsterdam, Rotterdam and Utrecht. Visit the ACCESS website for further information.
Will my Dutch health insurance cover childbirth costs if I am already pregnant when I move to the Netherlands?
Maternity care is covered by basic insurance, and pregnancy is covered even if it is a pre-existing condition.
If you have just moved to the Netherlands and have applied for health insurance, it might take some time before you are insured. In that case, it is still possible to see a midwife. You will probably have to pay for the visit. If the appointment is on or after the starting date of your insurance, the costs will be reimbursed as soon as you receive your insurance number.
If a hospital birth is for a medical reason (i.e. you have been referred to secondary care), your health insurance company will normally cover the total costs. Choosing a hospital birth when there is no medical reason is not covered by the basic health insurance. Some additional insurance policies cover these costs or a part of it – check your own health insurance to establish exactly which costs are covered. For more information please click here
Can you please tell me what services I can expect from a midwife?
In the Netherlands, maternity care is organised in a so-called ‘primary, secondary and tertiary care model’. Primary care, for low-risk women, is usually performed by verloskundigen (midwives) and huisarten (GPs), where GPs are responsible for only about 0.5% of all births. Secondary care consists of gynaecologists in hospitals.
Hence, midwives in the Netherlands are the lead medical professionals for providing care to women with ‘normal’ or uncomplicated pregnancies. They are independent practitioners (like GPs) who can work independently in a private midwifery practice or as part of a group.
After registering with a midwife, you will initially receive a check-up once a month. As the pregnancy progresses, the midwife will want to see you more frequently. In case of complications or an increased risk of complications during pregnancy, labour or in the postpartum period, the midwife will refer her client to a gynaecologist who will take over responsibility.
As an independent practitioner, a midwife can legally practice obstetrics without the supervision of a medical doctor. He/she is the sole healthcare provider during pregnancy, labour, delivery and the initial postpartum (postnatal) period. In short, he/she will help ensure that you and your baby are safe during pregnancy and through to delivery. Among other things, you can expect a midwife to:
- Record you and your partner’s medical history, as well as that of your extended family
- Monitor your weight and blood pressure, the foetal growth, position and heart beat
- Check your blood iron levels
- Discuss your plans about delivery, i.e. whether you plan to give birth at home or in an outpatient clinic (hospital or birth centre)
- Assist you during labour, delivery and the initial post-partum period
Please note that you do not need a referral from your GP. You will find midwives listed in the Yellow Pages (in Dutch only). Alternatively, you can talk to your huisarts (GP) – he/she will be able to help you finding one in your local area.
It is reassuring to know that you can always change your midwife during your pregnancy if it does not click, or you feel that your birth plan cannot be carried out as you want.
If there are medical reasons for it, the midwife will refer you to the gynaecologist who will supervise all phases of care and the delivery will take place in a hospital.
How can I find a native English-speaking midwife?
Most midwives in the Netherlands have a good command of the English language. Your huisarts (GP) should be able to refer you to an English-speaking midwife, so please do not hesitate to ask him/her for a referral or recommendation. We also suggest that you visit the English pages of the Royal Netherlands Organisation of Midwives website.
Which prenatal tests are usually carried out in the Netherlands?
In the case of a low-risk pregnancy, you will be offered two ultrasound scans: one in the first term or trimester (0-13 weeks) to determine a due date and one anomaly scan at twenty weeks. Both scans are covered by your health insurance. Some midwives perform an additional scan at 30 and/or 36 weeks, but this is not done in all cases. Usually there needs to be a medical reason to have additional ultrasound scans. The scans are sometimes made by the midwife herself in her own practice; otherwise, you will be referred to a primary care ultrasound centre.
As a pregnant woman living in the Netherlands, you have the option of having your child tested before birth. In this way, you can opt for tests that screen for Down’s, Edwards’ and Patau’s syndromes. It is worth noting that not all pregnant women opt for screening tests, but all will be offered them.
- If you decide to have your child tested for Down’s, Edwards’ and Patau’s syndromes, you can choose to have:
- A combined test: a blood test between the ninth and fourteenth week and an ultrasound scan between the 11th and 14th weeks of pregnancy.
- The NIPT (non-invasive prenatal testing): a blood test that can be performed in the eleventh week of pregnancy or later.
- Parents who are expecting a child can have their unborn baby tested for spina bifida or other genetic disorders. The ultrasound is performed between the 18th and 22nd weeks of pregnancy.
For more information about the costs of these tests, we suggest that you consult this website (in Dutch only) linked to the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport (Ministerie van Volksgezondheid, Welzijn en Sport).
Should I follow a prenatal course?
Prenatal courses are organised to educate expectant women and their partners in the preparation for labour, offering you tools to manage your labour pain, optimal positions for birth, tips for recovery after birth and how to be a new mother. They usually last between four to eight weeks and are often followed by a postnatal session. It is recommended to register by week 16, as the classes can often fill up quickly.
A prenatal course provides the opportunity to meet other expectant mothers or couples, but the class you choose and how helpful it is once labour starts may depend on your knowledge of the language (courses will be available mainly in Dutch but also in English). Therefore, it is important to choose a prenatal course carefully.
In larger Dutch cities, you can find prenatal courses offered especially for internationals. ACCESS offers childbirth preparation courses in various cities. These courses are tailored specifically to the international community and are conducted in English. The courses provide an informative practical insight into pregnancy, childbirth, postpartum and breastfeeding and explain how the Dutch healthcare system works. The courses also have the added advantage that you are able to meet other international couples.
If you want to take part in the course, you need to be in your third trimester, i.e. be at least 26 weeks pregnant. More information about the ACCESS-run childbirth preparation courses is available via this link. Alternatively, if you wish to find a prenatal course in your area, you can ask the Helpdesk to locate one nearest to you.
Where can I learn more about breastfeeding?
A good place to start is to contact your kraamcentrum (maternity care agency) as many of them have lactation specialists and offer their own breastfeeding courses for expectant mothers. They will also be there to offer support and advice during the first week of your baby’s life. To find your nearest maternity care agency, please look at the list provided on the ‘kraamcentrum’ tab on the official kraamzorg website (in Dutch only).
One of the best ways to look for breastfeeding courses is to find an English-speaking lactation consultant in your area. They specialise in breastfeeding issues, and they often also give group courses or individual sessions. Alternatively, ask your midwife if she/he knows any English-speaking breastfeeding courses in your area.
If you have any questions or problems, you can also visit the website of the Cooperating Breastfeeding Organisations (Samenwerkende Borstvoeding Organisaties – SBA): Borstvoeding.nl (in Dutch only). Here you can find links to the five main organisations involved in protecting, promoting and supporting breastfeeding in the Netherlands, as well as a tool to locate breastfeeding cafés near you.
Which are the options for delivering a baby in the Netherlands?
Low-risk women may choose whether to give birth at home, in a hospital or a birth centre. If you have an increased obstetrical risk, the birth will be supervised by a gynaecologist.
Thuis bevallen (home birth)
If a woman chooses a home birth, her primary care verloskundige (midwife) will attend her birth, aided by a kraamverzorgster (maternity aide). The insurance company usually provides a maternity box and the midwife will bring her own equipment, which always includes a neonatal resuscitation set and oxygen. If complications arise, the midwife will refer the patient to a gynaecologist in a hospital. Every hospital in the Netherlands accepts these referrals from primary care midwives.
Poliklinisch or geboortecentrum bevallen (hospital or birth centre)
The birth is attended by the same primary care midwife who provided care during the pregnancy. The midwife will also provide the postnatal care at home. In case of giving birth at a birth centre your own midwife will assist you. Birth centres are often part of a hospital. Both options are considered outpatient clinics, meaning the mother will usually stay less than 24 hours in the hospital or the birth centre.
Ziekenhuisbevalling (hospital birth with medical necessity)
Women who have an increased obstetrical risk be referred to a hospital and therefore there will not be extra costs. The birth will be supervised by a gynaecologist (in training).
You can find more information about the different places you can give birth here (in Dutch only).
What will happen if I choose to give birth at home?
Your verloskundige (midwife) will attend the labour and delivery. She will also help with preparations to ensure the safety and comfort of you and your child. Should any complications arise, you will be taken to hospital.
The Dutch health and safety regulations require that your bed is elevated with ‘klossen’. This way you have a means for adjusting the height of your bed to 80 cm from the ground to the top of your mattress. This is a requirement for the kraamverzorgende (maternity aide) when she comes to your house once your child is born (usually during the first week after birth).
There are Dutch online shops that provide all the necessary equipment for a home birth, the so-called ‘kraampakket’ and postnatal care. This equipment may also be useful even if you do not give birth at home. You can buy it at a drugstore or check with your insurance company if they cover or provide it for you. Alternatively, you can conduct an Internet search using the terms ‘thuiszorg’ (homecare) and ‘winkels’ (shops).
Can I choose to give birth in a hospital?
Most hospitals organise information evenings, including a tour of the maternity unit, which may help you make a decision. Always have a second hospital in mind in case the hospital of your choice is full.
Women usually return home within 24 hours of delivery and may be free to leave in as little as four hours after delivery. You will only be discharged once you feel confident and comfortable that you are ready to go home. A stay of less than 24 hours is considered outpatient clinic.
Sometimes giving birth does not go according to plan, e.g. your baby could be overdue and you have to be induced, or you might need a caesarean section. In that case, a gynaecologist will provide assistance. A hospital stay could vary from 24 hours to 10 days, depending on possible interventions during birth and/or necessary postnatal care.
You can contact hospitals in your area to enquire if they provide information evenings for internationals.
Will I be able to get pain relief?
In the Netherlands, only a third of women in labour are given pain relief, and caesareans are relatively low, there is 24/7 availability of epidural pain relief for women in labour, making it much easier to get an epidural. Please note that medical pain relief cannot be administered during home births. Midwives in the Netherlands are not qualified to administer anaesthetics and are restricted to using only non-prescription drugs. Your midwife can then refer you to a hospital or birth centre, but please be aware that there is not always an anaesthetist (the person who will be able to give you the epidural) available outside normal working hours.
During pregnancy, Dutch midwives provide information about medical pain relief, and they provide high quality continuous support during birth. In this way, they try to optimise their care and minimise the need for medical pain relief.
What is kraamzorg?
Every pregnant woman in the Netherlands has the right to postnatal maternity care. Kraamzorg (postnatal maternity care) is the term given to the medical service provided by a kraamverzorgende (maternity aide) to the new mother and her baby. Normally, 49 hours of serrvice is provided with a minimum of 24 hours and maximum 80 hours over a period of ten days following delivery. However, the hours you are entitled to it will vary depending on the particular circumstances.
What is the role of a kraamverzorgende (maternity nurse)?
The kraamverzorgende (maternity aide) is a trained medical professional who will provide a range of services that may include:
- Helping during a home birth
- Guiding the mother through the feeding, bathing and taking care of their child, physically as well as emotionally, teaching her how to recognise the baby’s needs and how to attend to them
- Monitoring the health of the mother and her newborn child, acting as a link between the family and the midwife/GP
- Ensuring the house environment is maintained to an appropriate level of hygiene by cleaning the toilets, the bathroom and the mother’s and baby’s rooms every day
- Helping with light household duties during her stay to ensure the mother gets sufficient rest
The exact details of what your particular maternity aide will help with, as well as the frequency and length of her visits, will normally be determined before the birth. This first (prenatal) home visit will take place at around the seventh or eighth month of the pregnancy. It allows both parties to discuss the expectant mother’s needs and expectations. Once the baby is born, you have the option of adjusting the agreed schedule to more or less involvement after consultation with the agency. Flexibility is the key here.
It is important to note that the maternity aide is trained to guide and assist, not dominate or interfere. They will adapt to your way of doing things, not the other way around. If you decide that you do not want to breastfeed, then that will be taken as your choice. No pressure will be applied for you to conform to a given dogma, and support will be provided if you want it.
How can I register with a kraamzorg?
It is suggested that you register with a kraamcentrum (maternity care agency) prior to the 12th week of pregnancy so that you can be assured of postpartum care. More recently, most agencies have started to accept registrations at any point during the pregnancy. However, you are strongly advised to register as early as possible with your preferred maternity care agency or so-called ‘kraamzorg agency’. The sooner contact has been made, the more time both parties have to make arrangements and communicate their needs and expectations.
Click here for more information about kraamzorg (in Dutch only). Fill in your postcode for a list of maternity care agencies in your area. Your midwife may also be able to direct you to a preferred agency. You must contact your health insurance provider to ensure your chosen maternity care agency is approved by them.
How much will the kraamzorg cost me?
Families generally receive an average 49 hours of care, spread over a ten-day period. The minimum number of hours to which you are entitled is 24 hours. The necessary hours of support that you will require is determined on the basis of the Landelijk Indicatieprotocol Kraamzorg (the National Recommended Protocol for Maternity Care). Your kraamzorgorganisatie (maternity care agency) or kraamverzorgende als zzp’er (independent maternity nurse) will explain this to you during the intake. Depending on your health insurance coverage, the payment that you make can be partially or even wholly covered. There is a statuary eigen bijdrage (own contribution) for kraamzorg at your home. If you decide to receive kraamzorg in a hospital or birthing centre without a medical indication, the cost will be much higher. Please check with your health insurance provider for further details regarding what costs are covered.
If you have a non-Dutch healthcare provider, you should get in touch with the kraamzorgorganisatie or kraamverzorgende, as they will be able to tell you more about your situation or contact your insurer on your behalf.
What is a 'doula' and what can she help me with?
A doula supports women and their families during pregnancy, childbirth and early parenthood. This support is practical and emotional, but non-medical in nature, as doulas are not medically trained. Hiring a doula is a relatively new phenomenon in the Netherlands.
The provision of continuous support during labour is associated with improved maternal and foetal health and a variety of other benefits, including lower risk of induction and interventions and less need for pain relief.
A postnatal doula will assist a new mother at home with emotional support as well as physical assistance around the home. After the birth, the doula will visit the couple once or twice to follow up on the birth. Some doulas provide birth hypnosis and other support strategies. All doulas are on call 24 hours a day for their clients and many provide an on-going postnatal support service.
Please note that only a few insurance companies offer to cover the cost of a doula. Visit the official website for doulas at doula.nl (Dutch only)
What check-ups will be done after the birth of my baby?
Your verloskundige (midwife) will visit you at home within a week of your child’s birth. If you have seen a gyneacologist instead of a midwife, you must go to their clinic for appointments, or arrange a visit to your doctor or midwife. You must check with the hospital to see if they organise this visit by a verloskundige; if not, you will be required to make an appointment with a local verloskundige yourself. The verloskundige is also responsible for the hielprik (heel prick test) where a sample of blood is taken from the baby’s heel to detect for hereditary illnesses. This occurs during the week when the kraamverzorgster (maternity aide) is caring for you and your baby.
You will have a final postnatal check-up six weeks after the baby is born at the practice of your verloskundige (midwife) or in the hospital.
What does a consultatiebureau (child health clinic) do?
Preventative healthcare is the primary goal of the consultatiebureau (child health clinic). It provides vaccinations free of charge and checks the growth and development of babies and toddlers up to four years of age under the guidance of resident nurses and doctors. Once your child is going to primary school (usually at the age of 4 as kindergarten is part of primary school), the check-ups are continued by a schoolarts (school doctor). Going to a consultatiebureau or schoolarts is not compulsory, but it is strongly advised. You are not required to follow the advice of the consultatiebureau or schoolarts should you feel that it is not good for your child.
As soon as you register your child’s birth, the child is automatically registered with your nearest child health clinic. This is done at the stadhuis (town hall) in the town where the baby was born, within the department of municipal population affairs. If your baby is not born in the town where you live, the procedure is different. When your baby is two weeks old, a child health clinic nurse (wijkverpleegster ) will pay an initial visit to your home. During this visit, the nurse will gather your child’s medical history, explain how the child health clinic system works, give you a copy of the ‘Groeiboek’ book (an English version called ‘growth guide’ is available on request). The growth guide outlines a baby’s first years of development, supplies important phone numbers, lists appointments you have attended at the clinic, records vaccinations, and charts your baby’s height and weight. It will also provide you with the name and address of your nearest child health clinic. If you do not have this book, your family doctor or midwife can direct you to your nearest child health clinic.
Please note that any vaccinations for your child will be given at the child health clinic. Click here for more information.
When do I need to register my child to the consultatiebureau (child health clinic)?
Once your baby/child has been registered in the gemeente (municipality) – because your child was born abroad and you just moved to the Netherlands or if you have just given birth in the Netherlands – you will receive an invitation from the consultatiebureau (child health clinic) in order to make your first appointment.
If your child is not registered at the municipality, for example if you have privileged status (representatives of other countries and staff of international organisations, including their families usually have this status), you can contact your closest child health clinic directly and register your child yourself. If you have a newborn, it can be worth asking your kraamzorgende (maternity aide) for help in doing so. During the first year, you will visit the child health clinic approximately eight times and then a few times each successive year until your child is four years old.
What maternity leave am I entitled to?
Employees are entitled to at least 16 weeks of paid zwangerschapsverlof (pregnancy leave) and bevallingsverlof (maternity leave), starting in most cases four to six weeks before the expected date of the child’s birth or due date. Please note that it is a government requirement that you must take pregnancy leave – meaning you must stop working – four weeks before the due date. After the birth of your child, you are entitled to take up to at least ten weeks of paid maternity leave, even if the baby was born after its due date. You are required to inform your employer at least three weeks prior to the beginning of your pregnancy leave .You will be required to submit a certificate, either from your doctor or midwife, to your employer in which the baby’s due date is stated.
Your employer will claim the maternity and pregnancy benefit (zwangerschaps- en bevallingsuitkering) on your behalf to the Government’s Employee Insurance Agency (Uitvoeringsinstituut Werknemersverzekeringen – UWV). This should be done at least two weeks before the start date of your pregnancy leave, and it is usually paid to the employer. However, if it is more convenient for you to get it transferred directly (e.g. your employment contract ends during your leave), check with your employer.
This benefit will match the mother’s salary. Please note there is a maximum daily amount that is updated yearly. If your normal salary exceeds this daily allowance, then your employer may make up the difference, but this is not mandatory. Find the latest information at the UWV website (in Dutch only): www.uwv.nl/particulieren/zwanger-adoptie-pleegzorg/zwanger-met-werkgever.
Partners are entitled to five days of kraamverlof or vaderschapsverlof (paternity leave) paid in full by the employer when their partner has just given birth and maximum five weeks unpaid leave after their child is born. These entitlements are equally applicable to married couples who already have children.
Both you and your partner may take ouderschapsverlof (additional unpaid parental leave). This is a leave entitlement that you can take in order to care for a child who is less than eight years of age. You must have been working for the same employer for at least one year. If you have more than one child, you can take parental leave for each child separately. Please note, this additional leave is not paid unless special arrangements are made between the employer and the employee. In addition both partners can take 9 weeks of parental leave in addition to the leave mentioned above. This leave will be partly paid and has to be taken within one year after the birth of the baby.
What other leaves-of-absence from work are there relating to my children?
The Dutch government provides several different arrangements to cover the rights for parents to take care of their child.
- Emergency leave (calamiteitenverlof): Employees are entitled to a short leave, with salary, when the employee cannot work because of very exceptional personal circumstances. You can be entitled to emergency leave, for instance, if your child becomes ill and you have to care for him/her at home, or if the child is ill and you have to collect him/her from school.
- Short-term care leave (kortdurend zorgverlof): In addition to emergency leave, short-term care leave is available to employees who have to look after a sick child, partner, family members or other persons living with them or a very close friend or neighbour; the employer must pay at least 70% of your salary.
- Long-term care leave (langdurend zorgverlof): If necessary, the employee can ask for an extension to the short-term leave to continue caring for the same person. However, this leave is totally unpaid and can be taken all in one block or spread over a maximum period of 26 weeks.
- Adoption leave (adoptieverlof): Parents adopting a child are entitled to a maximum of six weeks paid adoption leave. The same entitlement applies for foster parents, if it is clear from the start that the child will be joining the family on a permanent basis. Adoption leave can start up to four weeks prior to the handover of the child to the adoptive parents.
- 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 are entitled to parental leave up to 26 times your weekly working hours. The normal arrangement is that for one yerar, you work half of your normal hours. For example, if you work 32 hours per week, then forone year you will work 16 hours per week together while taking 16 hours parental leave per week. Parental leave is unpaid. In addition, both parents are entitled to nine extra weeks of parental leave. This leave will be partly paid.
- Geboorteverlof is the official name for vaderschapsverlof (paternity leave) You are entitled to one full week of paid paternity leave within four weeks after the birth of the baby. In addition you can a take a maximum of five weeks extra paternity leave, which is partially paid. Before you are allowed to use these five weeks, you must have first used the week of paid leave. You must use the additional leave within six months after the birth. During the extra paternity leave, you don’t receive a salary but a the benefit from the UWV (Uitvoeringsinstituut Werknemersverzekeringen, Employee Insurance Agency). This is 70% of your salary. If your salary is higher than a certain maximum, you will receive 70% of this maximum. You can read more about this on https://www.uwv.nl/particulieren/overige-onderwerpen/aanvullend-geboorteverlof-voor-partners/hoe-regelt-aanvullend-geboorteverlof/index.aspx (in Dutch only).
More information can be found at: business.gov.nl/regulation/leave-schemes.
How can I get kindersbijslag (child benefit) and how does it work?
The kinderbijslag (child benefit) is a government allowance towards the expenses of raising a child. You are eligible for this allowance if you live and/or work in the Netherlands (or abroad but employed by a Dutch employer) and have a child or children under 18 years of age. There are no income or asset criteria. The procedure to claim child benefits is:
- Following the registration of your child’s birth at your gemeente (municipality), your data will be forwarded to the Social Security Office (Sociale Verzekeringbank – SVB)
- Within two to four weeks, the SVB will contact you about applying for the child benefit by mail or by submitting your application online using your DigiD (your digital identification code giving access to hundreds of Dutch Government websites).
- After you have requested the child benefit, the SVB will send you its decision, stating the amount you will receive per child and the starting date for your child benefit.
- The amount that you will receive is based upon the age of your child, number of children you have, and whether there are any special needs.
- A quarterly payment is made into your bank account until your child reaches age18. When your child is older than 16, you will only continue receiving the child benefit if he/she goes to school and receives an income of no more than an annually fixed amount.
The child benefit is not exclusively for bringing up and caring of your own children; it also applies to adopted children, foster children, stepchildren or other children you bring up and care for as if they were your own. In this case, you must contact the SVB yourself to ask them to send you an application form. It is the same procedure if you arrive in the Netherlands with children who were born abroad. You can find the forms and further information at: https://www.svb.nl/en/child-benefit.
If your child lives outside the EU/EEA/Switzerland, the amount that you receive for the child benefit may be adjusted to the price level in your child’s country of residence. Should the amount you are receiving be changed, you should receive a letter from the SVB informing you of the new amount.
What is kindgebonden budget (child-related budget) and do I qualify for it?
If you receive the kinderbijslag (child benefit), you may also qualify for kindgebonden budget (child-related budget). This is an extra monthly contribution from the government for low-income families. The child-related budget is granted by the Social Security Office (Sociale Verzekeringbank – SVB) and paid by the tax authorities (Belastingdienst). If you are receiving the child benefit, the SVB will submit a claim to the Belastingdienst for a child-related budget.
Whether you are eligible for the child-related budget depends on your family income and assets. If you qualify, you will receive a letter from them within eight weeks. If you don’t hear from the Belastingdienst, it means that your family income is too high to get this benefit. However, if you think you are entitled to a child-related budget, you can request it online with your DigiD account via ‘Mijntoeslagen’. Further information is available https://www.belastingdienst.nl/wps/wcm/connect/bldcontentnl/belastingdienst/prive/toeslagen/kindgebonden-budget/voorwaarden/ (in Dutch only)
I am going to have a child. What should I do to register the birth of my child?
Registering the birth of a child takes places at your gemeente (municipality) in the city where your baby is born. This must be done within three working days from the date of the birth of the baby. If the birth occurs over a weekend or public holiday, you must register the birth on the first available working day. This service is provided free of charge. Normally the partner is required to register the birth; however, if this is not possible, e.g. because the father is not known, then somebodyb else who was present at the birth (such as a family member) may undertake this duty. If you are not married, it is suggested the father recognises the unborn child prior to its birth. This can be done at the townhall in the town where the baby will be born. If this is not done beforehand, then the mother will have to accompany the father to the townhall after birth.
Further information on the Dutch government website.
The Registrar of Births, Deaths, Marriages and Registered Partnerships will draw up a birth certificate. This is the legal proof of the child’s birth. You may also want to request an international birth certificate which can be issued for a fee.
Which documents should I bring to register the birth of my newborn child?
Registering the birth of a child takes places at the gemeente where your child was born (municipality). Please bring the following documents:
- Valid passport or identity card (ID card) of the person registering the birth. Or a driving license if the person registering the birth lives in the municipality where the birth is being registered
- Valid passport or ID card of the mother or a driving license if the mother lives in the municipality where the birth is being registered
The following documents are not compulsory when registering a birth. It may, however, be useful to take them with you:
- Birth notification from the hospital or midwife showing the child’s birth names and the date and time of birth
- Where applicable, a copy of the declaration of acknowledgement of parentage if the child was acknowledged before birth
- Declaration of surname choice if the child’s surname was decided when acknowledging the child before birth.
Which surname can I choose for my child?
For your first child, you can choose either the mother’s surname or the father’s surname. This surname will be given to all subsequent children. This is to ensure that all the children in a family have the same surname. You can choose your first child’s surname before birth or when registering the birth. Both parents must go to the Registrar of Births, Deaths, Marriages and Registered Partnerships to register the choice of surname. This cannot be done by one parent or in writing.
If you do not choose a surname, your child will automatically be given the father’s surname or the mother’s surname. This depends on the family situation:
Parents who are married or registered partners (of different sexes)
Your child will automatically be given the father’s surname. However, you can choose the mother’s surname instead. To do so, both parents must go to the Registrar of Births, Deaths, Marriages and Registered Partnerships to register the choice of the mother’s surname. You can do this before the birth or when registering the birth.
Unmarried parents (of different sexes)
Your child will automatically be given the mother’s surname. If you would prefer your child to be given the father’s surname, he must acknowledge the child. At the time of acknowledgement, you will also be asked for your choice of surname. To acknowledge the child and choose its surname, both parents must go to the Registrar of Births, Deaths, Marriages and Registered Partnerships. You can do this before the birth or when registering the birth.
Parents of the same sex (two men)
If you adopt a child with another man, you can choose either of your surnames. However, this only applies to your first child. Your other children will be given the same surname as your first child. You choose the surname of your child in court when formalising the adoption.
Parents of the same sex (two women)
If two women who are married or registered partners have a child, the following applies:
- The child was conceived through an anonymous sperm donation: the child is given the surname of the co-mother (the female partner of the biological mother). This only applies if the co-mother automatically becomes the child’s lawful parent when the child is born. The parents can also choose the surname of the biological mother.
- The child was conceived through a known donor and the co-mother acknowledges the child: the child is given the surname of the biological mother. The parents can also choose the surname of the co-mother by signing a declaration of surname choice.
Is my baby going to be insured automatically after birth?
This is not the case. You have to register your baby within four months after birth. The baby will receive healthcare free of charge until reaching the age of 18.
Do I need to make a will or change it upon the birth of my child?
After the birth of your child, it is suggested that you should consider making a will if you have not already done so. If the unexpected happens and both you and your partner die suddenly, it is in your best interests to stipulate in a legally-recognised document who should become the guardian. If no will exists in these circumstances, the Dutch courts may decide that your baby/child should be put into state care as an orphan. To make a will in the Netherlands, you should make an appointment with a Dutch notaris (notary). Please note that if you have already made a will, you are advised to amend it to reflect the fact that you now have a child (a dependent).
If you have already made a will in your previous country of residence or origin, this document will be recognised by the Dutch authorities as long as it conforms to the legal requirements of the country in which it was written and does not contain any stipulations which would conflict with any public order or public morality legislation in the Netherlands.
Please note that the Dutch court will automatically go through the process of establishing legal guardianship should both parents of the child die suddenly. However, this may take some time if your will was made in another country and thus not registered with a Dutch notary. It is thus suggested that you should make your close relatives (parents or siblings) aware of the existence of your will and where it can be found.
I am going to have a baby in the Netherlands. Will my child have Dutch nationality?
Children born in the Netherlands to parents who are not Dutch citizens will not normally have the right to Dutch nationality at birth. However, if either of the child’s parents is a Dutch citizen, then the child will acquire Dutch nationality at birth under the following situations:
- The mother is a Dutch citizen on the day of the child’s birth
- The father is a Dutch citizen on the day of the child’s birth. He is also married to or in a registered partnership with the non-Dutch mother
- The father is Dutch but not married to or in a registered partnership with the non-Dutch mother and he acknowledged the child before birth
Please note that it does not matter whether the child was born in the Netherlands or abroad.
My partner and I are living together but we are not married and I am going to have a baby. Will my partner be officially recognised as the father? And what if we get married?
In the Netherlands, if a man and a woman are not married or are not in a registered partnership, then the man will not automatically be recognised as the lawful father of any children that they may have. This is irrespective of the fact that the man is the child’s biological father.
If you are not married and your partner wants to be regarded as the child’s lawful father, he must go through the formal process of acknowledging that he is the child’s rightful father. This also applies if you are in a cohabitation agreement. Complying with the Dutch process of formally acknowledging the child may be important for giving the right of inheritance, nationality, determining parental access and/or parental guidance.
Further information on the subject can be found at the following Dutch government website: www.government.nl/issues/family-law.
In a marriage or registered partnership between two women, the biological mother is automatically registered as parent. How the co-mother can become registered as a legal parent, either automatically or by acknowledgement, is explained on the Dutch government’s website.
I want to travel with my baby. Does he/she need a passport?
All babies and minors are required to have their own passport when travelling to any country which is not part of the European Union Schengen area (note: not all EU countries are signatories to the Schengen agreement). Please note that if you are travelling within the Schengen area (see this website for a list of countries in the Schengen area), you are still advised to take your and your baby’s passport or ID card with you, so you can prove your identity, if required (e.g. if stopped by police).
Even if only one of the parents is Dutch, the child is still eligible to obtain a Dutch passport. However, if neither of you are Dutch citizens, your child is not entitled to a Dutch passport, irrespective of where the child was born. Under these circumstances, you should apply for a passport for your child from either your embassy or the national passport office in your native country.
What is included in the basic Dutch health insurance package?
Health insurance companies have an obligation to accept everyone for the basic package, irrespective of gender, age and health. It is compulsory for all residents of the Netherlands to take this package, but you may choose your own insurance company.
The coverage of the basisverzekering (basic health insurance) is determined by the government and is subject to annual review. However, insurance companies can decide themselves how the coverage will work. For example, some providers will only allow you to see local doctors, while others may offer the possibility to travel abroad for healthcare if the service is not available in the Netherlands.
It generally covers the following (but not always 100% of all costs):
- hospital care
- medical care by specialists, GPs and midwives
- dental care for children up to age 18
- therapists, such as speech therapists and dieticians
- mental health care
- maternity care
- necessary medical help during a holiday or business trip abroad, worldwide
If you want to get medical help abroad, please check with your health insurance company which costs are covered, as it depends on the country you are going to visit. Emergency care abroad is covered for a maximum of 100% of the Dutch tariffs. Please be advised to contract an extra travel insurance that covers the costs on top of the 100% when visiting, for instance, the USA where healthcare costs are much higher. Click here for a list of Dutch health insurance providers.
Are there different health insurance policies? And what is the difference?
Some Dutch health insurance companies are restricting free choice of health care providers (doctors, physiotherapists, pharmacies, psychologists, hospitals and clinics). The implication is that when you go to a non-preferred provider, the insurance company will usually not reimburse the full cost. The reimbursement varies from 100% to 40%, depending on the company and particularly the health insurance polisvoorwaarden (policy).
You can choose between two types of health care policies:
- The natura polis (in-kind policy) will only allow you to go to providers that the company has contracted and they will pay your medical bills directly. If you decide to go to non-contracted providers, they will reimburse you for a much lower percentage and/or amount or you will not be reimbursed at all
- The restitutie polis (restitution policy) is more expensive because it honours the freedom of choice of provider. Therefore, you choose your own healthcare provider and pay the bill yourself. Later you will submit it to your insurance company for reimbursement. It will usually cover between 80% and 100% of what the health insurance companies consider a fair price. There is not any regulatory system that checks the health insurance companies on how they determine what the current rate is. These vary widely among the various insurance companies.
It is usual for all GPs to be contracted under the healthcare system (meaning that you can go to any huisarts (GP) and it will be covered by your insurance). That is not the case for all specialist care and paramedical services. The restitutie polis is more expensive than the natura polis, but it can be worth exploring further.
Is dental healthcare covered by the insurance?
Dental care is covered in the basisverzekering (basic healthcare insurance) for children under the age of 18. If you are 18 years or older, dental care can be covered by taking out a tandarts aanvullende verzekering (additional insurance dental care). The premium and coverage vary per health insurance company. In most cases, orthodontics are not covered.
Can I get additional coverage for my health insurance?
Not all health care is covered by the basic health insurance. You can opt for a aanvullende verzekering (additional health insurance) to cover physiotherapy, glasses, contact lenses, tandarts (dentist) or other services. Some insurances may also cover alternative medicine such as homeopathy and acupuncture. The coverage and premium differ per insurance company.
Additional health insurance is not obligatory and you are not obliged to take out the basic health insurance and additional health insurance with the same insurance company. However, insurance companies sometimes charge extra administration costs if you want to take out an additional insurance without the basic insurance. Please note that health insurance companies are not obliged to accept everyone who applies for additional health insurance. An insurance company can refuse to accept you as a client or can ask you about your health before accepting you.
How will my children be insured?
Children under the age of 18 are always covered under their parent’s premium for the basic package and dental care. Parents must register their child with an insurance company within four months of its birth.
Do I need a Dutch health insurance or can I use an international health insurance?
When you are legally living or working in the Netherlands for longer than four months, it is compulsory to get a Dutch health insurance, the so-called basisverzekering (basic insurance). If you have an international health insurance, please be aware that this might not be accepted, as it is not recognised as a valid Dutch health insurance. Upon arrival, it is best to have a look in your policy to see what the coverage of your international health insurance is.
The following rule applies:
If you are insured under the Wet Langdurige Zorg – Wlz (Long-term Care Act) you are obliged to take out a Dutch health insurance. You can ask the Social Security Office (Sociale Verzekeringsbank- SVB) if you are insured under this act.
Do I need to take out Dutch health insurance if I am on a short-term stay?
If you are temporarily residing in the Netherlands (fewer than four months), you are not allowed to take out a Dutch health insurance. In that case, you should make sure to extend the international or travel insurance from your home country.
If I don’t have a Dutch health insurance policy yet, is there a way to get my medical costs reimbursed?
You need to have a Dutch health insurance within four months from the day you have a residence permit and are registered with the gemeente (municipality). Please note that you will pay Dutch health insurance from the day you registered. Meaning, if you registered on 1 January but you take out the Dutch insurance on 1 March, you still have to pay for January and February. You can arrange reimbursement for health care costs incurred during that period.
If obtaining a verblijfsvergunning (residence permit) takes a while, it is possible to take out a voluntary and temporary health insurance. This is a health insurance for those who do not have a verblijfsvergunning yet. An example of such an insurance can be found on the website of insurance company Oom https://www.oominsurance.com/to-the-netherlands/schengen-visitor-insurance/
I just took out a Dutch health insurance policy but now the insurance company wants me to pay the premium for a few months retrospectively. Can they do that?
If you take out a Dutch health insurance, you have to pay from the day you registered with the gemeente (municipality). Therefore, you may have to pay insurance premiums to the insurance company retrospectively. Please note that most insurance companies should allow you to pay the amount you owe in instalments.
What will happen if I don’t take out Dutch health insurance?
If you don’t take out Dutch health insurance within four months after registering in the Netherlands, you will get a letter from the CAK, the Dutch Healthcare Institute, reminding you to take out health care insurance within three months. If you fail to do so, you will have to pay a penalty. Then you will get another three months to take out a health insurance. If you still haven’t done that after this time, you will have to pay a second penalty and the CAK will arrange a health insurance for you. The verzekeringspremie (insurance premium) will be higher than if you had taken out health insurance yourself. Please note that this premium will be automatically deducted from your income during 12 months.
Is there a deductible (eigen risico)?
The eigen risico (deductible) is the amount you have to pay yourself before you receive a reimbursement from your health insurance company. Everyone over 18 years of age is required to pay a deductible on the basic insurance coverage. The deductible is decided by the government and updated annually.
You can voluntarily raise your deductible; then you will receive a discount on the insurance premium. The higher your voluntary deductible, the lower the premium you will be charged. While this may be attractive for relatively healthy individuals, it may become a risk on the long run. For example, if you get ill or get involved in an accident, the insurance company is able to claim the total of the deductible in one payment.
Does the deductible apply to all types of care?
The eigen risico (deductible) does not apply to all care from the basic health insurance. The following care services are excluded from the deductible:
- Visits to your huisarts (GP) or huisartsenpost (GP centre that opens outside office hours). Tests or prescribed medicine are not excluded from the deductible
- Maternity care and assistance at delivery
- Loans of medical equipment
- Certain care for some chronic diseases like diabetes type 2
- Healthcare for children under the age of 18
- Follow-up check-ups for organ donation and travel costs for organ donation
Find more information at the government’s website (in Dutch only):
Can I use my Dutch health insurance abroad?
When you are traveling in the EU/EEA (including Switzerland) and carry Dutch health insurance, you are entitled to the same health care as the locals. However, administration and reimbursement for public health care will be easier if you have the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC). You can apply for the EHIC with your health insurance company and you will need to show it if you go to see a doctor or get hospital treatment abroad. Please bear in mind the following:
- EHIC is accepted only by doctors or hospitals under the local public health care system or so-called ‘statutory’ health care system. Therefore, private health care is not covered. If you are unsure, check with your insurance company about where you can go
- Healthcare systems vary from one country to another. Therefore, you may have to pay the care bills directly for treatment and get them reimbursed later on
- Usually only emergency care abroad is covered.
- If you are travelling abroad specifically for medical treatment you will be covered under different rules.
If you work in the Netherlands but reside in another country, different rules apply. In this case you can ask your Dutch health insurance company for an E106 form. With the 106 form, you are entitled to the statutorily insured medical care in your country of residence without having to pay a premium. However, costs will not always be reimbursed 100%. For more information, please contact your Dutch health insurance company.
Information for EU citizens
Information for Dutch residents
My residence permit has expired and my application to renew it has been rejected. Can I still get medical help here?
If you are living illegally in the Netherlands, you can get urgent medical help without paying. The doctor decides which help is urgent in each individual case.
What is a basic Dutch health insurance?
The basisverzekering (basic health insurance) covers general medical care such as visits to the huisarts (GP), hospital stays, most prescription medicine and various medical appliances. The coverage included in a basic health insurance is determined by the government. However, insurance companies can decide for themselves what to cover in the aanvullende verzekering (additional health insurance).
Some Dutch health insurance providers offer special health packages for students. Few companies are offering special health insurance packages for students who don’t need to take out a Dutch health insurance are:
www.loonzorg.nl , /www.aonstudentinsurance.com/students/en/ and /www.oominsurance.com/to-the-netherlands/oom-studying-in-the-netherlands-insurance/
Do I need to take out a Dutch health insurance if I am studying?
Different rules apply depending on whether you are under the age of 30 or older.
Students under the age of 30
If you are a student under the age of 30 and you are in the Netherlands for study purposes only (and don’t have a part-time job or paid internship), you are not required to take out a Dutch health insurance. Keep in mind that everybody in the Netherlands must be insured for medical care expenses. Therefore, you will have to make alternative arrangements for healthcare insurance. See below some of the arrangements you may have to do in order to be insured:
- Stay insured for your medical care through a national health system in your home country. If this is the case, make sure this provides adequate coverage during your stay in the Netherlands. If you are from an EU/EEA country or Switzerland, you are probably eligible to receive a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC). This card provides coverage for necessary medical care costs while in the Netherlands. Check with your insurance company if that is an option. You can apply for the EHIC in your home country. More information is available on the European Commission website
- Take out a private insurance policy. There are private health insurance packages on the market especially for international students
If you have a paid internship and/or a part-time job next to your study, you are required to take out a basisverzekering (basic health insurance) with a Dutch health insurer. Some companies offering special health insurance packages for students who don’t need to take out a Dutch health insurance are :
www.loonzorg.nl , /www.aonstudentinsurance.com/students/en/ and /www.oominsurance.com/to-the-netherlands/oom-studying-in-the-netherlands-insurance/
Criteria for students aged 30 years or older
If you are 30 years of age or older, the following two criteria determine if you need to take out a Dutch healthcare insurance:
- If you are employed, you will need to take out Dutch public healthcare insurance
- If your stay is classified as a permanent stay, you will need to take out Dutch healthcare insurance
Your stay is classified as a permanent stay if your social, economic and legal base is in the Netherlands. This is generally considered to be the case if your stay lasts longer than one year.
Stays of less than one year are generally considered to be temporary. However, to assess whether your stay is permanent or temporary, the Social Security Office (Sociale Verzekeringbank – SVB) takes a range of factors into consideration. Circumstances that may lead to your stay in the Netherlands being classified as temporary include regular return visits to your home country (including holidays), having a partner in your home country and maintaining a residence in your home country. In other words, your particular situation will always be taken into account.
If you want to be sure where you stand, you can always submit your case to the SVB.
I have received a letter from Zorginstituut Nederland requiring me to take out a Dutch health insurance. I am student and I am exempt to take one out. What should I do?
Even if you do not fall under the requirement to take out Dutch healthcare insurance, you might still receive a letter from the National Healthcare Institute (Zorginstituut Nederland) notifying you to arrange Dutch public healthcare insurance or risk a fine. It is important to contact the Social Security Office (Sociale Verzekeringbank – SVB) right away to request an investigation of your insurance situation.
If you are required by Dutch law to obtain the basisverzekering (basic health insurance), visit the section Dutch health insurance on the on the ACCESS FAQ’s.
What is zorgtoeslag (healthcare allowance)?
The Dutch government provides a healthcare allowance called zorgtoeslag. This is only for people considered having a low income. If you have a Dutch healthcare insurance and you are over 18 years of age, you can apply for this allowance. The amount of this allowance depends on your income and on your household size (i.e. whether you are single, a single parent or a couple). The amount is decided by the government and changes annually. If you are eligible to receive a healthcare allowance, you can apply for this benefit on the Tax Office (Belastingdienst) website via ‘Mijn toeslagen’ using your DigiD account.
You do not have a DigiD yet? Here we explain what is a Digid and how to get it.
What are the requirements to receive zorgtoeslag (healthcare allowance)?
You qualify for zorgtoeslag (healthcare allowance) if you meet the following conditions:
- You are 18 years or older
- You have a Dutch health insurance
- You are Dutch or you have a valid residence permit
- You and your partner’s income is not too high
- You and your partner’s savings are not too high
The exact amounts of income and savings change annually. For an overview of the current amounts, please have a look at the website of the Tax office (Belastingdienst) ,
www.belastingdienst.nl/wps/wcm/connect/bldcontentnl/belastingdienst/prive/toeslagen/zorgtoeslag/ (Dutch only)
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.
There are a significant number of international companies and organisations based in the Netherlands where, for ease of operation, English is the main working language. These include non-commercial organisations, non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and affiliates of the United Nations and the European Union. Major cities such as The Hague, Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Eindhoven and Utrecht as well as the Schiphol area have many such employers based in their areas. Also, certain available jobs may target languages other than Dutch or English. For example, French and German are always in demand. 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 europass.cedefop.europa.eu.
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 or two pages maximum, as it will give a valuable first impression of you, your skills and the experience that you have on offer. Often companies will be inundated with CVs and will speed-read or scan through the CVs, so make sure your CV markets you in the best possible light.
There are other non-governmental websites that gives tips on how to write a CV and more information about Dutch CVs.
In the Netherlands, a cover letter accompanying an application is often known as a motivation letter. The purpose of a motivation letter is to introduce yourself to the company, clarify why you are interested in the role and the organisation, and how your skills and experience could benefit their organisation. A motivation letter usually has the following structure:
- Your reason for applying
- Explanation of why you believe that you are the right candidate for the job and what attracts you to the company
- Conclude with a sentence stating that you look forward to meeting them to explain in greater detail that what you have outlined earlier 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 an impressive grade list.
What steps should I take to prepare myself for my interview?
Here are some useful tips for preparing for an interview. Some may be obvious and some may be different from the way you would prepare yourself in your own country:
- Know the exact name, 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 during the interview; 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 take care of your own appearance 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 be also 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.
During the interview:
- Dress formally in business wear – although the Dutch tend to dress informally, an applicant should always be formally dressed
- Be aware of your body language
- Make eye contact when talking to the interviewer
- Answer with a simple yes or no but also do not over-answer questions
- Make negative remarks about your present or former employers
- Inquire about salary or other remuneration during your first interview unless the interviewer mentions it first
- Be offended when asked about your private life (employers search for long-term commitment)
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).
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 advisable 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.
I am planning to stay here for a long time. Should I send my children to a Dutch or an international school?
If you are planning to stay here for a long time, a Dutch school could be an option, depending on the age of your children. If your children have previously attended a school in another country and are used to lessons in English, or if you anticipate that your children will return to another country’s educational system in the future, it might be in the best interests of your children to go to an international school or one of the privately-run schools for expats here in the Netherlands.
However, if your child is at the beginning of primary school, a Dutch school might be an option. Some of them offer special courses to learn Dutch for newly-arrived foreign children ages 6-11 at the opvangscholen (reception schools). These are ordinary basisscholen (primary schools) with a special class for learning Dutch: the reception group. Every week they are taught to speak, comprehend, read and write Dutch by someone who is experienced in teaching foreign children. When children are not attending lessons in the special reception group, they attend regular classes at the school for subjects such as math, history, science, arts and crafts, etc. You can find such a primary school on https://www.lowan.nl/po/scholen/ (Dutch only). Keep in mind that if you are looking for a school in The Hague to search for “Den Haag” (in Dutch).
Children from 12 years of age are usually required to attend Internationale Schakelklas – ISK (bridging schools). Children will usually be assessed for their linguistic skills in the Dutch language before they are allowed to enrol in an ISK school. Depending on their age and ability in mastering the Dutch language, children will typically spend between 1.5 to 2 years attending an ISK school before transferring to the mainstream Dutch educational system. You can find such a secondary school on https://www.lowan.nl/vo/scholen/ (Dutch only). Keep in mind that if you are looking for a school in The Hague to search for “Den Haag” (in Dutch).
The following website https://utesinternationallounge.com/dutch-education-explained-by-genoveva-geppaart/ provides you with an overview of Dutch education.
I have a 14 year old daughter who is coming to live with me in the Netherlands. She does not speak any Dutch. Therefore, can you recommend a Dutch state school where my daughter can learn the language as well as being taught the normal academic subjects?
From 12 years of age, Dutch children will normally choose from more vocationally-based training to pre-university diplomas depending on their academic ability. In the first year, pupils will study the same curriculum, but to different academic depth. This is known as the basisvorming. In the second year specialist profiles are selected based upon the chosen academic route for the child. As all classes in Dutch schools are taught in Dutch, those children who do not have a good command of the Dutch language will be at an obvious disadvantage.
Therefore, after registering with the municipality in which they live, those children who meet the following criteria are usually required to attend ‘bridging’ schools known as Internationale Schakelklas – ISK:
- Have lived in the Netherlands for less than two years
- Need tuition to become competent in speaking the Dutch language
- Are between the ages of 12 and 18
Children will usually be assessed for their linguistic skills in the Dutch language before they are allowed to enrol in an ISK school. There are ISK schools located throughout the Netherlands. There is no list of ISK’s anymore. Best is to check with your municipality.
The ISK schools prepare pupils for intake into secondary education or vocational education, depending on the age of the students. The aim of these schools is to teach children as much Dutch as possible over a two-year period, so that the children are capable of going on to learn to the same level of academic ability in the Netherlands as they would in their home country. At the ISK schools the teenage children will be given dedicated lessons to learn Dutch for approximately 16 to 20 hours per week.
In addition, to the teaching of other academic subjects such as mathematics, geography, history and economics, art and culture, the ISK schools also provide additional support for the students. This support is often in the form of a dedicated mentor and access to other specialised services, for example a speech therapist for those children who experience difficulty in pronunciation of the Dutch language.
Depending on their age and ability in mastering the Dutch language, children will typically spend between 1.5 to 2 years attending an ISK school before transferring to the mainstream Dutch educational system.
What are the principle aims of Dutch primary school education and what subjects will my child be taught?
The Dutch government has set kerndoelen (attainment targets) which define what children are expected to have acquired in the way of knowledge, understanding and skills by the end of primary school. Whilst these attainment targets describe in general terms the skills and knowledge a child must have acquired, the referentieniveaus (benchmark levels) for mathematics and language specifically prescribe the degree of proficiency that a child must attain in any given year of schooling.
The core curriculum for all basisscholen (primary schools) must include the following subjects:
- English (from group 7 on- 10/11 years years old)
- Arithmetic and mathematics
- Social and environmental studies (including, for instance, geography, history, science – including biology, citizenship, social and life skills – including road safety, healthy living, social structures – including political studies, and religious and ideological movements)
- Creative expression (including, for instance, music, drawing and handicrafts)
- Sports and movement.
Schools are free to offer other subjects such as French, German or religious studies, but these subjects are not required by law.
I want to raise my children bilingually. Are there any Dutch schools that teach (partly) in English?
There are an increasing number of schools providing bilingual lessons. Most of them are secondary schools. In the Netherlands, Tweetalig Onderwijs – TTO (bilingual education) came into existence in 1989. In most cases, TTO refers to bilingual (mostly English-Dutch) and Voorbereidend Wetenschappelijk Onderwijs – VWO, where this is the pre-university stream in Dutch secondary education.
In the TTO schools, a wide variety of subjects such as history, geography, math, physics, biology, chemistry, economics, IT, arts and music are taught in English. Bilingual lessons are taught over the preceding six years leading up to university entrance. Whilst in the last three years, students will focus upon the academic subjects that they will be examined on (in Dutch), some of the lessons will still be provided in English. Bilingual students also have the opportunity to sit the internationally recognised International Baccalaureate (IB) English Certificate. A successful result qualifies these students to enrol at English-speaking universities.
The aim of bilingual education is to prepare students for an increasingly global environment. Hence, whilst foreign language skills are important, the lessons are taught in a broad, internationally oriented context.
It should be noted that the Dutch bilingual school system has been set up with the emphasis upon native speaking Dutch children becoming competent in speaking English as their second language rather than vice versa.
If I send my children to an international school, what kind of diploma will they have when they have finished secondary school?
Some programme/diploma/exam options are international in nature. Others are more closely aligned to a particular country. In certain instances, students may opt for two diplomas (the school’s diploma and an external diploma). Many options may qualify students to pursue tertiary education in the Netherlands or abroad (The IB diplomas – IBDP and IBCP – are globally recognised as providing the student with a well-balanced pre-university education). At the age of 16, students can be admitted onto the following options:
- IBDP – International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme (full diploma programme or individual courses/certificates)
- IBCP – International Baccalaureate Career-related Programme
- EB – European Baccalaureate
- English A-Levels
- APID – Advanced Placement International Diploma (originated in the United States; full diploma programme or individual courses)
- A school’s/country’s own programme/diploma/exam options/graduation requirements
- A school’s own programme/diploma/exam options/graduation requirements plus full or partial IBDP or APID
Do all international schools teach in English?
In general, most international schools teach in English, but there are also schools that teach children in their native language, e.g. the German, French, Indonesian, Japanese and Korean schools.
What are the options for my child’s secondary and higher education options in Dutch schools and universities?
During the final year of primary school (normally in April/May), Dutch children take a mandatory test. The aim of this test is to assess the extent to which a child has progressed in his or her proficiency of the Dutch language and in mathematics. The results of the test, together with the teacher’s assessment over the preceding years, will determine which type of secondary education would be most appropriate for the pupil. The secondary and higher education options are:
- VMBO: practical secondary education
- HAVO: senior general secondary education (entrance to HBO – university of applied science)
- VWO: university preparatory education (entrance to hbo – university of applied science or wo – research university)
VMBO (preparatory secondary vocational education)
The VMBO (voorbereidend middelbaar beroepsonderwijs) prepares its students for a more vocationally based secondary education at a MBO (middelbaar beroepsonderwijs) senior school or, in some cases, a more general secondary education at a HAVO (hoger algemeen voortgezet onderwijs) senior school. A pupil will spend four years in VMBO education and whilst in their second year choose their preferred vocational direction. At the MBO they will be taught subjects that will prepare them for various occupations ranging from shop manager to mechanic or nursing assistant.
Pupils who successfully complete the theoretical, combined or middle-management vocational programme at the VMBO level can enrol in professional and middle-management training. Holders of a middle-management MBO certificate may go on to study at the HBO level (higher professional education).
HAVO (senior general secondary education)
A HAVO (hoger algemeen voortgezet onderwijs) education takes five years and prepares students for a professional education (hoger beroepsonderwijs – HBO).
VWO (pre-university education)
A VWO (voorbereidend wetenschappelijk onderwijs) education takes six years and prepares students for a research university education . In the first two years, students follow a common curriculum. All students at a VWO school must study three languages (French, German and English) up to the end of their third year. At the end of the third year, the students choose an academic ‘profile’ package, which includes both compulsory and optional subjects.
Find more information about foreign education systems and international baccalaureate as well as overviews of foreign diplomas in comparison with Dutch diplomas on: www.nuffic.nl.
I am moving to the Netherlands soon. I am considering home schooling for my children. Is this allowed in the Netherlands?
In the Netherlands, all children aged 5-18 are required to attend school. Hence, ‘home schooling’ is not allowed. There are, however, a few situations in which an exception can be made. If you have objections to the view of life (e.g. religion) of every school in your area, you need to give a declaration to your municipality about this. You can contact your municipality for more information about the content of the declaration.
If your child is physically and/or mentally unable to attend school, you need permission for home schooling from your municipality.
Nederlandse Vereniging voor Thuisonderwijs – NVvTO is the Netherlands home schooling association. It is an organisation of parents (and other adults who function as such) who wish to home school their children whilst in the Netherlands and have done so in the past, or plan to do so in the future. More information regarding this can be found on Thuisonderwijs.nl/english.
Who is the leerplichtambtenaar and why did I get a letter from this person?
The leerplichtambtenaar is an official in charge of checking that the rules regarding leerplichtwet (compulsory educational law) are followed.
According to Dutch law, schools are responsible for monitoring and controlling all absences of their children from school. They are legally required to inform the leerplichtambtenaar (official in charge) when any child misses more than sixteen hours of school over a period of four weeks. The school may also inform the leerplichtambtenaar if a child has been late twelve times for school.
Once the leerplichtambtenaar has received such information from the school, he/she will contact the parents to determine what action may be taken.
Only in a few specific circumstances can schools grant permission for children to miss school during the school year.
Schools may grant permission for a child to be absent from school for events such as weddings, funerals, religious holidays and moving house. For every other absence, it is compulsory for the parent to ask for permission from the head of school in advance.
School attendance records are regularly inspected by a leerplichtambtenaar, who tends to also check for pupil absentees right at the beginning or end of the school term, as they are regarded as very suspicious periods.
My child has been diagnosed with a learning or behavioural difficulty/physical handicap. Are there any schools here in the Netherlands that cater specifically for children with special needs and how can I find one?
There are special needs schools throughout the Netherlands. Regional centres of expertise (regionale expertisecentra, REC) have been set up to cater for children with special needs. If you are unsure of what kind of support is needed for your child, a good place to start is your huisarts (GP). They will be able to provide you with an assessment. Please note that a letter from the GP will be helpful to find the appropriate support. The same applies if you have a child with a diagnostic already settled in a certified institution abroad.
Children who are physically healthy but have learning difficulties or exhibit mild behavioural problems will normally begin their schooling in a mainstream primary school. This is in line with the Dutch national education law that children with special needs (kinderen met rugzakje) must be given a place at a school that suits their abilities and potential, even if they need additional support. Meaning that a child with special needs cannot be refused at a regular school unless there is a severe physical disability, chronic illness or serious behavioural problems. The school will have up to six weeks to evaluate if the child can be admitted. Only in the case that the school cannot provide with the appropriate support, you will then be referred to another regular or special school. You can find further information about this topic at the government’s website (in Dutch only): www.rijksoverheid.nl/onderwerpen/passend-onderwijs/vraag-en-antwoord/hoe-krijgt-mijn-kind-passend-onderwijs
Special schools are funded by the Dutch government in a similar manner to the mainstream schools. The municipality is given responsibility for providing places at these special schools. There are two types of special schools:
- Speciaal basisonderwijs – SBO (special primary education) schools, which cater for children who require support with their learning or who have mild behavioural needs such as: low IQ, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), delayed learning development, etc
- Speciaal onderwijs – SO (special education) for specific special needs or children who require intensive supervision. For example because they have a disability, chronic illness or disorder
An organisation called MEE can help you find, among other things, an appropriate school for your child. They specialise in supporting people with learning difficulties or physical handicaps. Their website is Mee.nl (in Dutch only). However we have listed below some of the centres and schools that can provide additional support to children with special needs in case you wish to do your own research:
Dedicated Special Education International School in the Hague (ages 2½-13)
- Special International Primary Education: Lighthouse Special Education (ages 5-13). Find more information at Lighthousese.nl
- Inclusive Pre-school (part of Lighthouse Special Education): Three Little Ships International Pre-school (ages 2½-5). Visit Threelittleships.nl
International schools with special education department
- International School of Amsterdam
- The British School of Amsterdam
- Amsterdam International Community School
- American School of the Hague https://www.ash.nl/experience/inclusion
- The British School of the Netherlands
- The International School of the Hague
- European School the Hague
- Nord Anglia International School Rotterdam
Support groups and expert centres
- AAOF Autism Association for Overseas Families offers support and advise in English on the facebook page Autism Netherlands – AAOF
- ADHD Parent support group for international parents on Adhd.eseng.nl
You can find further information about this topic on this article from Amsterdam Mamas.
How can I find a children’s therapist/psychologist or a special educator?
There is a Dutch website with the list of addresses detailing where you can get additional help for your children. The kindertherapeuten (child therapists) are available all over the Netherlands and you can locate them on the interactive map here (in Dutch only).
ACCESS also has a Counselling Service Network (CSN) which consists of licensed English-speaking professionals with practices all over the Netherlands. Counsellors are men and women who are psychologists, mental health counsellors and social workers from a variety of different cultural backgrounds. All counsellors have a minimum of a Master’s level degree with at least two years supervised work experience. Please visit the ACCESS website for more information.
Where can I find an after-school language programme in my mother tongue for my child at primary/secondary level?
To get information about additional education in your mother tongue, it is suggested that you contact your embassy. Please visit the website of the Dutch government for a list of embassies and consulates in the Netherlands.
What kind of after school/leisure activities are available in English in the Netherlands?
Having interests outside of school is an important part of Dutch society. There are many kinds of after school and leisure activities for children, such as arts, music, libraries/reading, many different sports, swimming, horse riding, parks and playgrounds, playgroups, scouting, and activities in community centres. However, the availability of these activities for non-Dutch speaking residents will very much depend upon where you are living in the Netherlands. Typically the major cities, with a high population of expats, will have clubs and societies that work in English as well as Dutch. For specific activities in your area, please contact the ACCESS helpdesk. It is worth it to note that some international schools have after school programs.
I gained my diploma in another country. How can I evaluate and/or have it recognised in the Netherlands?
In the Netherlands, two centres of expertise work together on evaluating foreign diplomas:
- Nuffic: the Dutch organisation for internationalisation in education
- SBB (samenwerkingsorganisatie beroepsonderwijs bedrijfsleven): which is the cooperation organisation for vocational education, training and the labour market
To know the worth of your diploma in the Dutch system, you can visit the Internationale diplomawaardering – IDW (international credential evaluation) website at www.idw.nl/en/home. See below a sum-up of the different possible situations:
You have a foreign diploma and you want to study in the Netherlands
You should first contact the institution where you plan to study. They will arrange for your diploma to be evaluated. Ask the institution if there are any costs related to the evaluation. If diplomas are evaluated at the request of one of the regularly- subsidised educational institutions, there is normally no charge. However, if the request comes from a private organisation or individual, a fee is charged.
Visit the Nuffic website www.nuffic.nl/en/diploma-recognition. This organisation can evaluate any diploma from any country and let you know if you are eligible to study in the Netherlands.
You have a foreign diploma and you want to work in the Netherlands
- If you are unemployed and are looking for a job in the Netherlands, you should go to the Public Employment Service (UWV Werkbedrijf). Find information on their website (in Dutch with some English pages): www.werk.nl. The UWV Werkbedrijf will request a diploma evaluation on your behalf and tell you which documents you need to supply. They will pay the fees for the evaluation
- If you have a job in a non-regulated profession and are looking for another, you can apply to the IDW for a diploma evaluation. You will have to pay for the evaluation fee yourself
- If you wish to practise in a regulated profession in the Netherlands, you will have to get in touch with the official body that grants admission to the profession in question. You can see on www.nuffic.nl/en/diploma-recognition/recognition-of-your-profession-in-the-netherlands if your profession is regulated in the Netherlands and, if so, which organisation you need to contact
You have a foreign diploma and you are interested in its value in the Netherlands. You do not know yet if you want to work or study in the Netherlands.
You can request a diploma evaluation from UWV Werkbedrijf under the same procedure as if you were looking for a job in the Netherlands.
If you still have questions, Nuffic and SBB have created the Informatiecentrum DiplomaWaardering – IcDW (information centre for credential evaluation). You may contact them via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or calling on 079 321 7930.
Do I need a residence permit to study in the Netherlands? And how long can I stay?
If you are not a EU/EEA (European Economic Area) or Swiss citizen, you will need a Provisional Residence Permit (MVV) or/and a residence permit (VVR). Only a recognised educational institution can submit an application on behalf of a student. The educational institution is your recognised sponsor. A residence permit for study purposes is issued for the duration of your study programme plus three months for the administrative completion of the programme, and, if applicable, the preparatory year. The maximum period of the validity of the residence permit is five years. Before the end date of your residence permit, your recognised sponsor may apply for an extension of your stay for the duration of your study programme.
More information about the procedure is available on https://ind.nl/en/study/Pages/study-at-university.aspx.
How does it work once I have a residence permit for studies purpose?
Dutch Higher Education Institutes (Universities and Universities of Applied Science) have to monitor their students’ study progress. Institutes are asked to check if students have achieved enough study credits in their first year –during the propedeuse (foundation course). The amount of credits varies per study. Check with your university or university of applied science for the amount of credits for your study.
If a student has not achieved enough credits for a good reason in one year, due to sickness or family problems, then a one-time exception can be made. In all other cases, you are not allowed to continue your studies at that institute. The University is also obliged to report the student to the Immigration and Naturalisation Service (Immigratie- en Naturalisatiedienst – IND) service which can withdraw the international student’s residence permit.
Where can I find a list of universities for international students?
In the Netherlands, you can find many institutions for higher education. These include: research universities, universities of applied science, university colleges and some other educational institutions. You can find a list of all these institutions on www.studyinholland.nl/education-system/dutch-institutions.
As an international student, can I get the studiefinanciering (student finance) from DUO?
In the Netherlands, a studiefinanciering (study grant) does not exist any more. Students who do not have enough money to pay for their study can take out a loan to an interest. You can check the interest that applies to you on https://duo.nl/particulier/repaying-your-student-loan/interest.jsp . More information is available on duo.nl/particulier/student-finance/index.jsp. You can also check the ACCESS FAQ about financial support for students.
Please note that you can still apply for the student travel product (studentenreisproduct).
Is it possible to get financial support if I undertake further study in the Netherlands?
If you wish to pursue an undergraduate or postgraduate degree in the Netherlands, there are several ways to obtain funding without visiting the bank. The Dutch government, foreign governments, the EU and private companies finance different programs that offer beurzen en subsidies (scholarships and grants) to support you while studying:
Huygens Scholarship Programme (HSP)
HSP is a scholarship programme for international students with exceptionally high grades who want to study in the Netherlands during the final phase of their bachelor’s or during their master’s studies. For more information and the application procedure visit Nuffic, the Dutch organisation for internationalisation in education.
Nuffic operates an online search engine with information on a range of Dutch scholarships for international students. Select the country and type of course to find a list of available grants. Grants are often related to specific universities and/or degree programmes.
Higher education grants
Some higher education institutions have special funds for students. Once you have selected the university or professional higher education institution of your choice, contact their careers service or international office to receive information about available grants. You can apply for a contribution towards tuition or course fees for EU and EEA students or for a loan to help pay for the fees. Visit the Education Executive Agency – DUO (Dienst Uitvoering Onderwijs) for more information about study grants and the restitution of tuition fees.
The Holland Scholarship is financed by the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science (Ministerie van Onderwijs, Cultuur en Wetenschap) as well as several Dutch research universities and universities of applied sciences. This scholarship is meant for international students from outside the European Economic Area (EEA) who want to do their bachelor’s or master’s in the Netherlands.
European Funding Guide
The online-platform www.european-funding-guide.eu supports students and PhD candidates finding financial aid for their academic studies. The database contains a great variety of scholarships that support students, e.g. paying their cost of living, financing their semester abroad or supporting them during their dissertation. In addition, the platform provides numerous templates for applications and articles about how to apply for a scholarship.
I would like to study or do a short course in the Netherlands. What are the possibilities if I don’t speak Dutch?
There are many opportunities in the Netherlands for you to study or do a short course in English. Nuffic has a database of about 2,000 international study programmes and courses in English ranging from short training seminars to postgraduate degrees. You can find the database on the Nuffic website here.
In addition, many masters’ programmes and higher degrees at the major universities in the Netherlands are taught in English.
I would like to do a study or a short course that is not available in English. However, my Dutch is still at a low level. What can I do?
If this study or course is really important to you, you may consider to follow an (intensive) Dutch course on the level of NT2 (Dutch as a second language). Once you have passed the exam, your Dutch should be good enough to do a study in Dutch. Please keep in mind that it may take at least a year if you need to start (almost) from scratch.
Many universities also offer special Dutch courses or even a bridge year to help you prepare for the study you want to follow. Check with the university of your choice for the options available.
I would like to study online. Is that possible in the Netherlands?
Most courses and studies require that you attend classes on a regular basis in addition to online learning. If you want to do a course which is only online, you could consider following a Massive Online Open Course (MOOC). This is an online course on university level provided by a university in the Netherlands or abroad. Many MOOCs are offered at Coursera.org. You can also choose to enrol in a study or course from an Open University abroad.
I would like to do a study at a medium vocational education level in English. What are the options available?
There is a gap in the Dutch education system for those who would like to follow medium vocational education (MBO education) in English. There are some schools that offer bilingual courses on the MBO level, but most schools do not have a regular programme taught fully in English. Some schools (such as Mondriaan) offer these courses from time to time.
Here are a few examples of programmes offered in English:
1. Mondriaan International Stream
Mondriaan offers an international hotel management course on a pre-bachelor level in The Hague.
2. Summa International
Summa College is an MBO school in Eindhoven that offers international programmes every year, taught completely in English, and has been increasing the number of courses. Website: www.summacollege.nl/en/home
We suggest you look at websites for choosing a study track and search for English programmes (www.studiekeuze123.nl, in Dutch). You can also have a look at the MBO schools’ map (www.mboraad.nl/kaart-mbo-scholen, in Dutch) or send us an email and we will check which courses are available.
Are there any facilities for students with special needs (disability, chronic illness)?
Whether you have ADHD, dyslexia, need a wheelchair or have another kind of special need, studying is still possible. All research universities and universities of applied science have facilities available for you. It is best to discuss your needs with the university. Together you can decide what is necessary for you to be able to study.
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 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 the state pension age. This age depends on your date of birth. You can check which the state pension age applies to you on the website of the Sociale Verzekeringsbank (SVB) .
- 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.
I am an expat. Are there any government subsidised Dutch language courses available?
Municipalities sometimes offer free Dutch classes. They can also refer you to subsidised classes. If you know already some Dutch and want to improve it, you can also find a volunteer to help you. Your municipality can inform you about the possibilities.
You can find the costs for the inburgering exams on https://www.inburgeren.nl/en/paying-for-integration/index.jsp. These costs are in addition to the costs for general Dutch lessons and the inburgering course. It should be noted that there is no standard fee for attending inburgering courses to pass the examinations. You are advised to check with your chosen school to determine how much they will charge.
Depending on the size of your annual income, it may be possible for you to take out a loan from the Education Executive Agency – DUO (Dienst Uitvoering Onderwijs). There is a maximum value of €10,000 that you may be entitled to borrow over a three-year period. However, the amount that you can borrow will depend on how much money you earn. The more money you earn, the less money you can borrow. DUO will pay upfront for the costs of your training and taking the final examinations. You will then be required to pay back the money owed in monthly installments at a certain interest rate. More information about borrowing money to learn Dutch is available on https://www.inburgeren.nl/en/paying-for-integration/
For further information about the conditions and the application form visit the government’s website at Belastingdienst (Tax Office) website.
Is it important to learn Dutch? I am in doubt as to whether I should learn Dutch as everyone here seems to speak English.
If you are planning to stay in the Netherlands for several years, it is advised that you consider learning Dutch. Although there are jobs advertised for non-Dutch speakers, increasingly more employers in the Netherlands are now looking for people who are competent in speaking Dutch as well as another language.
Learning at least some Dutch will help you to better manage your everyday life, e.g. going shopping, visiting places of interest, reading notices and understanding simply written Dutch communications, being able to converse with your neighbours and to communicate with Dutch native speakers who may “not speak English so well”. Most Dutch classes also introduce various aspects of Dutch life and culture into their content, which gives you the added benefit of gaining an insight into living in the Netherlands, by joining a language class you will most likely be with other newcomers, what better way to make friends than through bonding over some of the weirder pronunciations for Dutch words.
Learning the Dutch language to a more proficient level will provide the additional benefit of making it easier to integrate into Dutch society. You will find it easier to participate in Dutch sport/society clubs, understand the latest news and current events through the various media such as Dutch newspapers, TV, local radio and on social media. You will be able to read formal correspondence, e.g. letters sent by your utility suppliers, your bank or insurance company or from the local government. You should not set your language goal to be 100% proficient in six months. Think of learning Dutch as a gradual process of new words entering into your conversation This will give you a better idea of what is being said in the workplace amongst your Dutch colleagues or in the shops without feeling like an outsider.
What is the most effective way for me to learn Dutch? I am not a natural linguist, so I might find it hard to learn Dutch.
Whilst it should be remembered that every person’s learning style is different and that their personal circumstances may dictate how much time they can spend each week on learning Dutch, the general consensus of opinion is that the best way to improve quickly is by attending an intensive course of two or more lessons per week with additional homework.
It is important that you feel comfortable with your learning surroundings. Therefore, you may prefer to attend a course given in a classroom with other students, rather than having one-to-one tuition. Alternatively, you may wish to begin with some free online learning courses to gain confidence and hear accents, before you move to the classroom situation.
On www.studyinholland.nl/life-in-holland/start-learning-dutch you can find a selection of institutes that offer lessons to learn the basics of Dutch.
Once you have mastered the basics of the Dutch language and have gained confidence in speaking, you may wish to consider finding local Dutch people who would be willing to talk with you for practice. There are websites where you can search to find a native speaking Dutch person who is also interested in learning/practising English or your native language. Check Conversationexchange.com or Mylanguageexchange.com. Public libraries often also offer opportunities to speak Dutch on a regular basis in a taalcafe ( language cafe) and advise you about how to learn Dutch. Check with your local library to find out what they offer.
You should be aware that just because you have found someone who is willing to speak Dutch with you, it does not necessarily mean that they are a good teacher of the Dutch language. You may find you learn new words (slang) that can be very useful in day-to-day interactions but may not be grammatically correct.
It is not compulsory for me to learn Dutch but I would like to learn it. Can you suggest some good language institutes and learning centres for me?
There are many language schools in the Netherlands, offering everything from basic survival Dutch to courses that prepare you for proficiency exams.
There are several types of language institutes in the Netherlands:
- Private language schools
- Language departments within privately-run schools for the expat community
- Dutch public universities (volksuniversiteiten)
- ROCs (Regionaal Opleidings Centrum)
Course levels range from A1 (beginner) to C1/C2 (near native) and some providers also include specific courses which are tailored for certain professions. Some schools are accredited. You can use the ‘language-learning.net’ website to locate a Dutch language school near to you; it is limited to universities.
Who can attend classes at a volksuniversiteit?
Volksuniversiteiten (Dutch public universities) are open to everyone regardless of previous training, age or background. Courses are followed in groups in an informal atmosphere. Although the wide variety of courses offered at a volksuniversiteit (Dutch public university) are taught by expert teachers, they do not lead to a diploma or degree. There are about one hundred Dutch public universities, reaching about 200,000 students annually. All are autonomous, non-profit foundations. Some local governments have subsidised these schools with financial or material aid, so fees from school to school will vary. You can find schools near you at Volksuniversiteit.nl.
It should be noted that the courses offered by these public universities can sometimes be quite intensive. Therefore, students who have little or no experience in studying other languages before starting to learn Dutch may experience difficulty in keeping pace with the progression of the course.
Can I teach myself Dutch?
Dutch is not as difficult as it seems at first glance. Learning Dutch can even be fun if enough time is taken to understand the dynamics of the language and attempts are made to speak Dutch whenever possible.
If you do not want to commit yourself to attending a classroom-based Dutch course, you can always learn from home at your own pace. The internet has endless tools for learning languages, many of which are available free of charge. In the library you can find books and audios about learning Dutch. Watching TV is another good way to learn words and common phrases. Most language teachers recommend that you should start by watching children’s programmes, because they use simpler vocabulary and sentence construction. You can also turn on the Dutch subtitles on your television to gain a better understanding.
Is there any organisation that can help me practice my Dutch and help me feel at home?
The Netherlands Gilde (Guild) is an umbrella organisation of approximately 65 guilds. Gildes are voluntary associations whose members are 50 years and older. Members share professional or hobby knowledge, expertise and experience with others. Individuals, non-profit organisations and entrepreneurs have free use of their services. Gildes’ volunteers offer conversational practice opportunities to non-native Dutch speakers, or people trying to learn Dutch, providing that they are able to sustain a basic discussion which is the equivalent of Level A1 . Find more information at ‘gilde-nederland.nl’.
Alternatively, it may be possible to find a volunteer who is willing to help you practise your Dutch at a buurthuis (community centre). A community centre is normally run as a trust or stichting (foundation). These community centres are located throughout the Netherlands. Using Google, you should be able to locate your local community centre.
What are the different levels in the Dutch language?
In the Netherlands, the different levels for Dutch are the six levels from the Common European Framework Reference (CEFR). The levels are:
A1 and A2: basic user
B1 and B2: independent user
C1 and C2: proficient user
For a more detailed description of every level, please look at www.coe.int/en/web/common-european-framework-reference-languages/table-1-cefr-3.3-common-reference-levels-global-scale
I want my children to learn Dutch. How can I arrange that?
Because of the stage of their brain development, children usually find it easier to learn a new language than adults. However, there is a misconception that children will effortlessly pick up a new language. Developing the linguistic skills of their parent’s mother tongue and simultaneously learning a new language, such as Dutch, requires the conscious effort, reinforcement, and support of the parents, teachers, and family members.
There are several ways to enable your children to learn Dutch:
- Send them to a Dutch language training club such as the Dutch club at Basisclub.nl/en or visit Dutchforchildren.nl
- There are an increasing number of schools that provide bilingual lessons. Most of them are secondary schools. Officially, bilingual education is forbidden at primary schools, but there is an experiment with bilingual education in 17 primary schools which runs until the end of the school year 2022/2023.
- If your child is attending day-care or a playgroup, you might want to consider a Dutch group. In this way children will learn Dutch while they are playing
- Use of internet, special computer programmes and Dutch television
If you want your child to attend a Dutch school, some of them offer special courses for newly-arrived foreign children who speak very little or no Dutch. Find more information about opvangscholen (reception schools) in the Education FAQs section.
Most of the international schools in the Netherlands now have learning Dutch as part of their course curriculum. As there is often a wide spectrum of abilities in speaking Dutch in these schools, the approach that is sometimes taken is to arrange classes for the children by proficiency rather than age, or for older children by their ability level within a year grouping.
Do I need to deregister with the municipality before I leave the Netherlands?
For EU/EEA or Switzerland and non-EU citizen
When you first arrived in the Netherlands, you were obliged to register with the Basisregistratie Personen (BRP) ( municipality’s personal records database) of your city or town of residence. Similarly, when you leave the Netherlands, you must deregister. This is important as the gemeente (municipality) will need to remove your personal details at the same location. The municipality will also be obliged to inform other government authorities of your departure.
The first step is to report your intended departure to the stadhuis (town hall). You are advised to check with your municipality about the required notice period for notifying them that you intend to leave the country. The notice period may vary from one municipality to another. For the The Hague municipality, you are required to deregister yourself and/or other members of the family no more than five days in advance of your leaving date. One adult member can deregister the whole family. This can be done in person or in writing. The municipality will then update your details. However, if not all the family members that reside at one address are moving abroad, then everyone who is leaving the Netherlands (including children 16 years of age or older) must appear in person at the municipality’s Department of Public Service counter to report their move.
If you intend to visit your town hall in person, you will need to bring your passport or other valid proof of identity. You will probably be asked to give your current address as well as your future forwarding address. The deregistration process may vary slightly from one municipality to another. Some municipalities may ask you to complete a form notifying them of your imminent departure prior to visiting the town hall.
If all family members are leaving the country, you may have the option to inform the hall town in writing. For the Den Haag municipality, a letter can be sent which contains the following information:
- Your old and new addresses
- List of names of all your family members
- The date of departure
- You must also supply a copy of your proof of identity with the letter
Once you have deregistered from the BRP as a resident, your personal data will move to the non-residents part of the BRP, the Non-residents Records Database (RNI). This is for people who do not live in the Netherlands anymore, or who live in the Netherlands for less than 4 months. You can ask for a proof that you deregistered. You can apply for this proof from one of the following RNI-municipalities with a Non-residents Records Database:
• The Hague
The international extract is available in Dutch, Spanish, Italian, Turkish, French, German and English.
If you have a Dutch residence permit and are leaving the country on a permanent basis, then you must return your residence permit as follows:
- either at the airport ID checkpoint in the Netherlands
- or by post to the Immigration and Naturalisation Service (Immigratie- en Naturalisatiedienst – IND)
Note that the residence permit is state property and thus it is your personal responsibility to ensure that it is returned as part of the deregistration process. Find the address of return and more information about this matter here.
It is advised that when returning your residence permit by post, you send it with a short accompanying letter and make a copy of both the front and back of the card for your future reference.
When you deregister with the municipality they will notify all the other governmental institutions like the UWV, SVB, kinderbijslag, etc.
For commercial services such as utilities, you will need to notify them. If you cancel your parking permit before the end of its validity period, you could be eligible to claim some money back, for this you need to cancel the parking yourself. Keep in mind it can take up to six weeks before you get your money back, so you may need to keep a bank account open for this period.
Diplomats, consular officials and employees of an international organisation
At the start of your assignment, you will have been registered with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Ministerie van Buitenlandse Zaken – BZ). Similarly, on departure you must deregister with the Protocol Department. When the posting of a privileged person comes to an end, the employer (embassy or international organisation) should send a ‘note verbale’ to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, informing them that the posting of the person and/or of members of his family has come to an end. The ‘note verbale’ also informs the Ministry of Foreign Affair whether or not the person(s) is(are) departing from the Netherlands. The BZ ID card(s) should also be returned with the ‘note verbale’.
What happens to my DigiD? Does everything get deactivated?
The DigiD is linked to the government database; therefore they should get a notification from the municipality about your deregistration. However, you will still be in the records database because this is a unique login connected to your social security number in the Netherlands. The DigiD will expire after three years if it has not been used. If you choose to come back to the Netherlands after that time, you will need to reactivate it.
In order to claim back employment tax after leaving the Netherlands, you will need to keep your DigiD activated. Take into account that you cannot activate a new DigiD account from abroad unless you are a Dutch citizen or the nationality of an EEA country (EU plus Norway, Liechtenstein and Iceland).
What if I only intend to live abroad for part of the year?
If you intend to live abroad for more than eight month, i.e.: have a second residence outside of the Netherlands, you are required to report your move abroad to the municipality. Please note that this eight-month period does not need to be continuous. The move needs to be reported on the day of departure or a maximum of five days prior to the move. You will then be deregistered from your address in the municipality.
When reporting your intended move to the municipality, you will be required to state your new residential address abroad. If at the time of this notification, you do not have a fixed address abroad, you will be obliged to specify where you will be staying (e.g. the address of a hotel, family member or friend). The report will be processed on the same day you report your move. This information may vary depending on your nationality and marital status.
For confirmation concerning your situation, we suggest you to call the Immigration and Naturalisation Service (Immigratie- en Naturalisatiedienst – IND) office. Please note that for Dutch citizens the period is six months (foreign residents).
I have left before deregistering with the municipality - What should I do?
If you leave the Netherlands without deregistering at the stadhuis (town hall) of your municipality, then it is essential that you contact the municipality where you were registered in the Netherlands as soon as possible in order to resolve the situation. Otherwise, you will continue to be deemed as officially resident within the Netherlands and can be liable for taxation and national insurance payments on this basis.
I have a Dutch bank account. Do I need to close it before I leave?
Some Dutch banks operate internationally and have branches in other countries, whilst others focus their business only in the Netherlands. Ask your bank if there are possibilities to continue operating your account in your new country and what services will be available there.
If you arrange to transfer an account, make sure that you will be able to withdraw cash and make any payments on time in the new country.
You may wish to keep your Dutch bank accounts open for a period of time after you leave the Netherlands. In principle, this should not be a problem for the major banks, especially if you wish to keep a spaarrekening (savings account) open with the bank, as long as you have notified them of your change of address. Your bank may choose to put some restrictions on the operation of your betaalrekening (current account) and the use of any credit cards.
If you are planning to transfer large amounts of money abroad, such as following the sale of your house, make sure you choose the cheapest option available to you as the differences in commission and exchange rates can make a large impact on the transaction. If you sell your house, the Dutch solicitor will typically need to transfer the money to another solicitor (perhaps to buy another property in your new country) to avoid suspicion of money laundering. Your bank should be able to provide advice.
Sometimes, insurance companies offer special deals for expats. In this case, you might be able to continue your current insurance policies abroad. Check what possibilities are available with your insurance company. Some insurance premiums (especially for cars) are cheaper in other countries, so check first before continuing with a Dutch policy.
Can I get my post redirected to my new home address abroad?
It is a good idea to inform in advance about your new home address those who may correspond with you by post. However, it is unlikely that you will remember everyone who may wish to contact you. Therefore, to ensure that any important mail does not get lost (i.e. sent to your old address in the Netherlands) after the move, you should apply for any mail with your old Netherlands address to be automatically redirected to your new home address.
Postnl provides a postal redirection service as part of its relocation package. You can apply for this service online by visiting their website at: https://www.postnl.nl/ontvangen/post-doorsturen/doorzendservice/. Please note that this website and the corresponding online form are only available in Dutch, so you may prefer to visit one of Postnl’s post offices to speak to someone in person if you are not very proficient in Dutch. Postnl does charge a fee for the forwarding service.
What should I do with my Dutch car?
If you want to take your car with you, you must cancel your Dutch vehicle registration at one of the regional offices of the RDW (Dutch Road Transport Directorate) before leaving the Netherlands. To find the RDW office nearest to you click here (in Dutch only).
For more information you can visit the RDW page in English.
You will need to present three documents to cancel your registration:
- A valid form of identification
- Vehicle registration certificate part 1B
- The transfer certificate (a copy of part II) of the vehicle registration certificate. You also need to bring the vehicle kentekenplaten (registration plates) of the car you want to export
After you have filled in an export declaration, you will receive from the RDW:
- Proof that the vehicle registration certificate part 1B has been cancelled
- The completed export declaration.
- If you are moving to a non-EU country, you may be able to take advantage of the so-called ‘removal goods facility’. In that case, you do not have to pay import duties in your new country. Whether you will be charged import duties or not depends on the regulations of the country you are moving to. Contact the embassy or consulate of this country for more information or alternatively search for the information on the government’s official website for tax and customs/duty
What do I need to do with my rental property when I leave?
Normally, the specific legal aspects to consider when terminating a rental contract, such as the notice period, are written into the contract. If you are the tenant, read the terms and condition carefully to be sure you are not overlooking anything. First consider the notice period should you give to the landlord in order to terminate the rental agreement. You should do this exactly as the relevant contract clause indicates. In some cases, if you are thinking of terminating the contract before the agreed rental period is completed, there may be a financial penalty to pay. For other rental contracts, you may find that you are only obliged to live for a given period of time, e.g. one year in the property. After this point, you are free to serve notice of your intention to end the rental agreement, even if the contracted termination date has not yet been reached.
After giving notice, you should expect the property owner or his/her agent to arrange for an inspection of the accommodation with you at least two weeks prior to the date you wish to vacate the premises. A comparison will be made of the state of the property with the details provided in the inspection report drawn up at the start of the tenancy agreement. A transfer report may be issued by the owner or his/her agent which specifies any maintenance and restoration work that is required to be undertaken by the tenant prior to termination of the tenancy agreement.
Another important aspect is the refund of the deposit. Theoretically, the owner should refund this amount in full. However, the owner has the right to make deductions for damage to the property or to cover any rental arrears or any services or utilities provided by and paid for by the landlord and not included in the rental fee.
Sometimes, the rental contract requires you to clean the carpets, windows, curtains, cooking appliances, etc. before leaving the house. A cleaning company can help you with this. To find a cleaning company in your area, have a look in the Gouden gids (yellow pages) or your local newspaper under schoonmaakbedrijven (cleaning companies). Ask if they also carry out work for particulieren (individuals)
What options do I have with property that I own?
If you own property in the Netherlands, you have two obvious possibilities, i.e. either sell it or rent it out. There are benefits and downsides for both options.
If you decide to sell your property, you will need to consider how long it may take to find a buyer and any potential difficulties that you may experience if you are unable to complete the sale before you leave the Netherlands. Whatever you decide, it is advisable to make use of a makelaar( real estate agency). Estate agents in the Netherlands have their own trade association, the Nederlandse Vereniging voor Makelaars– NVM (Dutch association of estate agents) is a recognised body with their own code of ethics which its members are obliged to follow. The association can provide information on registered agents in your area, which you can find by visiting their website at: www.nvm.nl. All estate agents who are members of NVM also have access to Funda.nl which is a popular residential property website in the Netherlands.
Once a price has been verbally agreed with a potential buyer for your property, an official presale agreement or koopovereenkomst (contract of sale) must be prepared. Your estate agent will normally arrange this in conjunction with a lawyer or notaris (notary). The buyer and the seller will normally use the same notary as this saves on cost and paperwork. Both parties are required to sign and the buyer is allowed three days to withdraw without penalty. Once this three-day period has passed, the lawyer will be given the contract of sale and will set a date for completion.
If completion is likely to take more than two months, you can ask the buyer to pay a ten percent deposit at the time that the purchase agreement is signed. Once both parties are ready to complete the sale of the property, an akte van levering (transfer contract) will be signed by both parties demonstrating the change of ownership for the property. As soon as this deed is signed, the notary will register the details of the change of ownership with the Land Registry.
If you have a mortgage remaining once you have sold your property, you should check the terms and conditions of the contract to see whether or not it is advisable to pay off the balance early, or if there are any financial penalties or restrictions.
Depending on the type of mortgage you have, it may be more beneficial to continue the mortgage going once you leave the country, especially if you decide to rent out the property. You are advised to make an appointment with your mortgage provider to discuss the most convenient and sensible options open to you. We suggest you to check whether you are allowed to have a mortgage when you are no longer resident and that you can rent the property with the given mortgage.
How do I sort out my utilities commitments before I leave?
As soon as you know that you are leaving the country, but at least two weeks in advance, notify (by email or telephone) the companies providing you the service for electricity, gas and water, telling them that you wish to terminate the service from a specific date. They will send you a form to fill in (you might be able to do this online). Afterwards, they will send you an account statement detailing the total amount payable or indicating the amount that will be reimbursed to your bank account. If you are renting a property, this may be done by the rental agent or landlord when you vacate the property.
How do I end my Dutch telephone contract agreements
For landline connections, you should call the company providing the service to inform them when you wish to terminate the service. It is advisable to let them know, at the latest, one month in advance.
If you have signed a one-two-year contract, check the terms for ending it. Normally, you should notify your provider three months in advance of the reasons for wishing to end the contract. However, you may find yourself in one of two different situations:
- If you wish to cancel the contract at the end of the contract period, you must still give three months notice before the contract is due to end.
- If you wish to cancel before the end of the contract, you must send the letter three months in advance of the date when you want the contract to end. However, you will probably still be asked to pay the charges for the remaining months until the end of the contract. Your mobile phone provider may also offer the capability for you to cancel your contract online.
How do I end my TV/internet contract agreements?
Normally, you should contact your provider informing them of the date that you wish the service to be cancelled. Depending on the type of contract you have with the provider, they will then write to you confirming the date the service will be disconnected.
Before cancelling your internet connection, it might be a good idea to open a free web-based email address that can be used worldwide, such as Gmail or Yahoo, so that you can still send and receive emails (assuming you have internet access) until you have arranged a new email account in your new country of residence.
What should I do with things I can’t sell?
After you have decided which clothes, furniture and other belongings you wish to take with you, you need to consider what to do with everything else. Some items can be sold to friends, colleagues or to other people via internet sales sites such as Ebay.nl or Marktplaats.nl (both sites are in Dutch only) and at second-hand stores. Of course, even then, there will be some unwanted belongings for which you cannot find a buyer. There are collection (recycling) points in all major towns and cities throughout the Netherlands where you can leave any unwanted clothes or shoes. You will often find these recycling points near shopping centres. If your clothes are good quality, you can donate them to the Salvation Army. You can find out how to donate your unwanted items to the Salvation Army family stores at Satruck.org. Alternatively you can take household items to a charity shop (e.g. Kringloopwinkel). You can check the telephone book to find a charity shop in your area or visit their website at Kringloopwinkel.nl (in Dutch only). They may agree to collect large heavy items at an agreed time.
If an item is worn out, it is probably best to just dispose of it. Small items such as clothes, pots and pans can be put in the normal refuse bags. If you have larger items to dispose of, you will need to contact the waste collection company of your municipality to make an appointment for grofvuil ( the collection of large waste itemsl). They will tell you when it will be collected and how much it will cost.
Who should I contact for help with moving house?
If you feel overwhelmed by all the arrangements that need to be made, you can opt to use a relocation company to assist you in this process. They can also advise you on such matters as contacting an international removal company and offering advice and help with getting settled in your new country.
Most relocation companies offer departure services, moving services and settling-in services. They can also advise whether your belongings should be transported to your new country by air, boat, rail or road.
If you want to use a removal company, you need to bear in mind that prices and services vary considerably from one company to another. It is therefore important to be clear about what services your require and to ask for written offers from at least three different companies. Some companies are more experienced than others at managing the movement of household items internationally. Long-distance shipments are sometimes expressed in terms of standard international container sizes, whereas more local moves will normally use one or more trucks.
In general, the price depends on:
- The nature of the items being transported, volume and approximate weight.
- The distance to be travelled.
- The type of furniture and number of heavy or fragile items.
- The number of staff required to conduct the move.
- The floor on which you live or are you going to live; presence or absence of an elevator and general ease of accessing the premises.
- The extra services that are offered (e.g. packing, unpacking, providing you with boxes and containers- most companies will provide these to your home in advance).
It is essential to make an inventory of what needs to be moved:
- Make a list of everything that you want to move.
- Make a list of valuable items and their worth for the removal company’s (and your own) insurance, with photographs.
The removal company will normally come to your house to estimate the volume and weight of your possessions as well as the number of boxes needed, before giving an estimate of cost. You may feel that you wish to pack some of your items yourself, and you can ask for boxes in advance to do this. However be aware that if you pack and seal the box yourself it will not be covered by the insurance of the packing company.
It is advisable to insure your inventory for the move. Removal companies often offer this insurance as part of the service, but the disadvantage can be that they might question every claim you make. Make photos of your belongings before packing, because they can be used as proof in case of damage.
What should I bear in mind when leaving the Netherlands if I have a pet?
If you are going to fly out from the Netherlands, be aware that an airline can only carry a limited amount of animals on each flight. You may need to book it in advance to make sure you are able to fly in the same flight. Check with your dierenarts (vet) that the pet has its international passport and that all vaccines are up to date. Some countries ask for a blood sample to be taken in advance in order to verify that the pet has no diseases before allowing the pet to enter the country.
Check the blog Pettravel.com for advice on travelling with your pet. Some useful information about relocating with your pet and EU regulations can be found in the following links:
How do I sort out my tax situation?
If you decide to move to another country or repatriate back to your own country of origin, this is usually regarded by the Dutch authorities as emigration. However, there are situations in which you would not be deemed to have emigrated, at least not for tax purposes. In such situations, the Belastingdienst (Tax Office) continues to regard you as a resident of the Netherlands.
In order to determine whether your move abroad qualifies as emigration, it is important to establish your permanent country of residence. The regulations governing the status of ‘domicile’ or ‘living abroad on a temporary basis’ will help you determine whether your situation constitutes ’emigration’. More information about the regulations is available here .
It is also possible that you will be obliged to pay tax in the Netherlands after your emigration . This will be the case if you have an ongoing income which is generated from within the Netherlands. Under these circumstances, you will be regarded as a foreign taxpayer. Examples of such income are:
- Income from employer based in the Netherlands, e.g. if you commute from a neighbouring county to your regular place of work in the Netherlands.
- Pension or social security benefits that you receive from the Netherlands, income from immovable property that you own in the Netherlands, e.g. renting out a property owned by yourself
If you move from the Netherlands to another country, you will be unable to file your return digitally for the tax year of your move. Instead, you will be required to use the M form. You will either have been sent this form from the Dutch tax office prior to your move; or you can download a copy from their website. It should be noted that the ‘explanatory notes’ for the M form are only available in Dutch. However, most of the information required to complete the M form can be obtained by consulting the ‘explanatory notes’ for the C form (which is available in English and can be downloaded from the website, under the ‘tax return’ subject heading): here.
As I am now leaving the Netherlands, can I get a tax rebate?
Your tax liability will be assessed for the full tax year in which you leave the country. Therefore, the tax assessment of the income that you received whilst you were resident in the Netherlands (and any ongoing income from the Netherlands) will only be made at the end of the tax year by the Belastingdienst (Dutch tax office). Depending on the information that you have provided in the M form tax return, you may be eligible for a tax rebate which will be paid to you in the following tax year. To claim a tax refund an active DigiD is necessary. Please be aware that you cannot get and/or activate a DigiD once you have deregistered in the Netherlands, unless you have Dutch nationality or the nationality of an EEA country (EU plus Norway, Liechtenstein and Iceland).
The country that I am moving to requires me to provide a translation of official documents which are in Dutch (birth certificate, marriage certificate, etc.). How do I do this?
When a translation of an official document has to be submitted to official bodies, either in the Netherlands or abroad, it is often stipulated that the translation must be ‘certified’. That is that the document has been translated by a certified professional translator and that the translation is complete and accurate. In the Netherlands, translation of formal documents such as birth certificates, marriage certificates or any official documents must be conducted by someone who is a “sworn” (beëdigde) translator. This is someone who has taken an oath before one of the Dutch District Courts that he/she possesses a formal qualification in translation and who meets a number of statutory requirements regarding qualifications, education and conduct.
Please note that in many countries, official documents may require some form of verification to prove their authenticity, i.e. the documents must be “legalised” though a court. In the Netherlands, there is the ‘apostille’ process, which is actually a simplified form of legalisation. An apostille which is issued in the Netherlands is recognized by all signatories to the ‘Apostille Convention’. Many countries have signed the Convention since its inception and in principle, no other formalities are required. Apostilles can be issued in Dutch, German, English, French, Spanish or Italian. For countries which are not signatories of the Convention, a formal legalisation process must be followed where a Dutch court authenticates the document. Further declarations are made by the Ministry of the Interior and Kingdom Relations, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the consulate or High Commission of the country in which the document is to be presented. Under certain circumstances, it may be worth noting that when moving to another country, if an apostille is required, it can only be given by the document’s country of origin. A Dutch document may have an apostille from Netherlands; however, a birth certificate from the US, for example, requires an apostille issued in the US.
If you require the services of a sworn translator or an office for an apostille and have difficulty finding one, please contact the ACCESS Helpdesk at helpdesk[at]access-nl.org which will provide assistance locating one in your area.
For how long does my passport need to be valid for me to be able to leave and enter another country?
The requirements for entry into a given country will vary and are determined by your citizenship. For EU citizens entry into most countries outside of the EU normally requires the holder to be in possession of a passport which is valid at least six months. If your passport expires sooner than that, you need to renew your passport before you can leave. Hence, it is advisable to check the entry requirements for the country you are going well in advance of your departure.
Will I still receive social security benefits when I leave the country?
To be eligible to receive most of the social benefits provided by the government in the Netherlands, you need to be living in the country. Hence, if you have been receiving benefits and you move abroad, in general you will lose the right to these benefits.
As a rule, everyone who lives or works in the Netherlands is covered by the Dutch national insurance scheme which is administered by the Social Security Office (Sociale Verzekeringbank – SVB). Through this scheme, you build up rights to an old age (AOW) pension and qualify for child benefits and survivor benefits.
However, if you leave the Netherlands, you will cease to be covered by the Dutch national insurance system. This will mean that:
- You will not be able to continue to build up to a full AOW pension
- You will not be able to claim a Dutch child benefit
- If you pass away before your spouse, your partner may not receive any income from the National Survivor Benefits Act (ANW), or they may only get a reduced amount, depending upon your new country of residence
Here are some guidelines regarding certain benefits:
General Old Age Pensions Act (AOW)
For some countries, e.g. within the European Union (EU), European Economic Area (EEA) or Switzerland, the level of pension that you will have built up during your stay in the Netherlands will be paid to you when you reach pensionable age. For other countries, your full pension rights may be restricted or your payment rights may be stopped altogether after your move.
Child Benefit Act (AKW)
You will cease to receive AKW payments for your children once you and your family leave the Netherlands. If you remain in the Netherlands, but your child moves to live abroad permanently, then you will also lose your AKW entitlement. This will occur when you deregister your child from the municipality. When you first arrived in the Netherlands, you were obliged to register with the Basisregistratie Personen (BRP, the municipality’s personal records database). You can change your status online by logging onto the ‘My SVB’.
Disability Insurance Act (WAO/WIA)
In general, you will lose your right to a disability benefit (WIA) when you leave the Netherlands. However, the Netherlands has treaty agreements with certain countries including those of the EU, EEA and Switzerland where you will be entitled to continue receiving a benefit.
If you receive any other social benefit, you need to contact the organisation that pays the benefit to find out whether it can be continued after you have left the Netherlands.
In all cases, you are legally obliged to inform the organisation that pays your benefit about your plan to leave the Netherlands.
National Survivor Benefits Act (ANW)
If you or your partner dies after leaving the Netherlands, the surviving spouse may be entitled to receive a partial ANW benefit
To obtain contacts and/or special information that may apply to your situation visit the SVB website
I have Dutch health insurance. Will I still be covered once I have left the Netherlands?
When you live in the Netherlands, you are in most cases required to take out a compulsory private health insurance policy with a commercial insurance provider. In addition, if you were earning an income whilst resident in the Netherlands, you also provided a contribution to the Dutch social security system for health insurance (ZVW) through your taxes. However, when you leave the Netherlands to go to live in another country, your existing Dutch insurance policy will normally no longer be valid. Some Dutch health insurance companies do provide specific health insurance products for those wishing to live abroad/emigrate. This will mean that you will need to change your health insurance policy with your provider.
You should contact your Dutch health insurance company about your move to notify them of the change (so that no further payments are made for your current policy) and to discuss the possibilities of having health insurance coverage in your new country of residence.
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.
What benefits are available in the Netherlands for low income households?
If you work or study in the Netherlands you may be entitled to a benefit. You can apply to the Belastingdienst (Tax Authorities) in order to receive a contribution towards the costs of your Dutch healthcare insurance (zorgtoeslag), rented house (huurtoeslag) or children (kindgebonden budget). Visit the Belastingdienst’s website in order to find general information on how benefits work.
What are the emergency numbers in the Netherlands?
In the Netherlands there is no 24 hours medical service. During office hours you can contact your GP. After office hours and in the weekend, every municipality has a so called huisartsenpost that can be contacted for medical problems that can’t wait until your own GP is available again. We could list the numbers of the huisartsenpost in several cities, but when you call your GP after office hours or in the weekend, you will be referred to the huisartsenpost and the phone number will be given. The same goes for dentists. In most cities there are several vets who offer after hours service and some even offer 24 hour service. They are all commercial. The common rule for huisartsen and dentists is also for vets. In general you call your own vet if your pet has problems. If he/she is not available, you can call an emergency service. This is also often listed on the website of your vet.
You can find all emergency numbers here.
List of useful numbers in the Netherlands
ACCESS Counselling Service Network
(also see Counsellor on Call)
0900 222 2377
Parnassia The Hague
070 – 391 6391
PsyQ International (8.30 until 17.30 and on Tuesday and Thursday from 8.30 until 20.00)
088 357 3478
(Netherlands Association for Outpatients’ Mental Health Care)
020 – 611 6022
Centre for Domestic Violence Amsterdam
020 626 3800 (8.00 – 23.00)
Emergency 06 10599458
070 – 362 0496
0900 899 8411
(Weekdays 09:00 – 23:00
Weekends 15:00 – 23:00)
020 – 675 7575
The Hague (24hr)
070 – 345 4500
010 – 436 2323
Zoetermeer (20:00 – 02:00)
079 – 352 3737
030 – 294 3344
Some of these organisations are run by Dutch volunteers. If the volunteer cannot speak English, one will be found who can help. If the answer is a tape in Dutch, listen carefully – how to reach someone in person will be explained.
0900 204 2040
(in English, Monday to Wednesday : 09.30 – 15.30, thursday and Friday: 13.30 to 15.30)
Alcoholics Anonymous (24hr)
020 – 625 6057
Alcohol and Drug Abuse
Amsterdam (drugs, alcohol)
Jellinek Drug and alcohol help center
088 505 1220
Triora 088 358 3741
Rotterdam (drugs, alcohol & clinic)
IGHD verslavingzorg 010 423 2711
Centre for Domestic Violence Amsterdam
020 626 3800 (8.00 – 23.00)
Emergency – 06 10599458
The Hague (24hr, everyday)
070 – 392 5774
Rotterdam (24hr, everyday)
010 – 476 1680
Child Line (02:00 – 20:00 everyday)
Drugs Advice Clinic
020 – 570 2355
The Hague Parnassia
070 – 391 7800
Lost and Found
Go to www.verlorenofgevonden.nl, register what you lost and see if it is found. Always do a theft online declaration via www.politie.nl in case of theft or visit the policiebureau.
Report an object you found at: www.verlorenofgevonden.nl, and keep it at home. If no one comes to collect the object after one year, you can keep it. Handing in at the police station is no longer possible from January 2013.
For more information visit www.verlorenofgevonden.nl or thehague.com.
0800 – 0313
030 – 283 5555
Giro Pass/Giros (24hr) (ING MAstercard)
058 – 212 6000
Visa Card issued inside NL (ABN AMRO)
020 – 660 0611
Visa Card issued outside NL
0800 022 4176
020 – 504 8000
Amex (after 20:00 and weekends)
020 – 504 8666
In a taxi
Amsterdam – 020 – 677 7777
The Hague – 070 – 555 5555
Rotterdam – 010 – 462 6060
In public transport or places
Embassies and Consulates
Find your Embassy or Consulate in the Netherlands: www.government.nl/issues/embassies-consulates-and-other-representations
How can I build a social life in the Netherlands?
Meeting new people in a new city is not an easy task. Fortunately there are easy ways to build social life and make friends.
Invite your colleagues or partner’s colleagues
You may have moved to a new city or country for your job or have followed your partner’s career opportunities. Why not inviting some colleagues for coffee, lunch or dinner? They may share interesting tips about your new home country and the Dutch life, and maybe a common interest on a sport or artistic activity. As well, if your employer or partner’s employer organise events, do not hesitate to participate to network.
Join a sport team, a course or a club
Are there any hobbies such as drama play, dance or photography you would like to do? Find out about sport, artistic clubs, even ones in English in your city by contacting your municipality, i.e. thehague.com, or expat helpdesks, talking to other expatriates at work, school or in the neighbourhood, or searching on expat websites and forums such as Expatica.nl.
Join events organised by expat associations
If you have kids going to school chat to other parents. You might discover associations led by people of the same nationality or first language. For instance, if you have kids at the American School of The Hague, you may probably hear about the American Women’s Club of The Hague. And if you have babies you can join baby groups, which organise coffee & toddler mornings, etc.
There are numerous international communities/associations in the Netherlands. You may find one that interests you. These associations organise social networking events, i.e. going out for a drink or a meal, group discussions and events such as fairs.
Join a Dutch or English course
Improving your English could be a way into expat communities. While learning the Dutch language gives you a better understanding of Dutch habits and the ability to socialise with your neighbours, it is also crucial if you are looking for employment. It also gives you a chance to meet new people, probably in the same situation as yourself.
To go further check out here some examples of sourcing clubs and activities for expats available in the Netherlands.
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:
IND website: ind.nl/en/work/working_in_the_netherlands/pages/self-employed-person.aspx
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.
Are the costs for giving birth covered by my Dutch health insurance?
In most cases the costs for giving birth are covered by the Dutch health insurance. However, you will have to pay the costs yourself if you decide to give birth in a hospital or birth centre without a medical necessity for doing so. Sometimes the additional insurance covers some of the costs. Please check with your insurance about what is covered.
How do I use my bank PIN card?
When you open an account with the bank, they will give you options regarding types of bank cards. The basic debit card (bankpas, betaalpas or pinpas) is used for withdrawing cash and for paying for goods and services in shops and restaurants. At the kassa (check-out points) in most shops in the Netherlands you will see a small numeric keypad. To pay with your debit card, insert the card and enter your PIN code (Personal Identification Number). The amount that you have spent will be debited from your account immediately. When making payments of €25 or less, you can simply hold the card against the reader to pay – rather than inserting a card into the chip and PIN machine and entering a PIN code. In just a few seconds, the payment will be completed and the lights on the reader will illuminate, confirming that the transaction has been approved. For higher amounts you can also use the contactless payment feature, but you will have to enter your pin code.
You can also use the PIN card at a bank cash machine. The withdrawal limit may be lower if the cash machine is not from your own bank and you may incur a service charge. Your PIN card and PIN code are also needed to operate your internetbankieren (internet banking) login device.
What is IBAN?
The IBAN code, which stands for ‘International Bank Account Number’, has been introduced to standardise the identification of bank accounts within the European Union. In the Netherlands, the IBAN reference number consists of your current bank account number preceded by the country code NL, a 2-digit control number and the (abbreviated) name of your bank. For example: NL89-BANK-0123-4567-89.
What is PSD2?
The Payment Services Directive (PSD) regulates payment services in the European Economic Area (EEA). Originally introduced in 2007, the revised version that came into force in 2019 is known as PSD2.
The most important changes for consumers are:
- Webshops are allowed to charge additional costs for the payments, but only the costs that the webshop has to make for that payment. An exception has been made for credit cards. In addition it is allowed to charge extra costs to discourage use of inefficient payment methods.
- Access to your banking account by third parties. The bank must give third parties access to your bank account under the condition that you have given permission for that. This third party must have permission from the Dutch banking authority (De Nederlandse Bank) or a banking authority from another EU country. An example of this is a party that offers digital expenditure books. Such a company has direct access to all your banking accounts, even if you have accounts with several banks (if you give this company permission to have access to all your bank accounts). In such a way you can get a complete overview of your income and expenses.
Can I pay in a shop by using my mobile phone?
Several banks offer the function to pay in shops using your smartphone. The systems used for these mobile payments require a special app that serves as a wallet. This is usually linked to your bank account, which allows your phone to serve as a debit card.
What is iDeal?
iDEAL offers the possibility to make online payments in a reliable, secure and easy way. Payments can be made by using the mobile banking app or the online banking environment of your own bank. iDEAL is a direct online transfer from your bank account to the bank account of a company.
What happens with my money if my bank goes bankrupt?
If your bank goes bankrupt or runs into trouble, you will not lose all your money. This is because there is a guarantee system in place to help account holders: the Deposit Guarantee Scheme .
All banks holding a banking authorisation granted by De Nederlandsche Bank (DNB) are covered by the Deposit Guarantee Scheme. Your money is safe with a maximum of €100,000 per person and per bank. In general this only applies to your current account and your savings account. Investments are usually not covered. Please contact your bank for more information which accounts are covered.
If your bank has its main office in another country, the rules of that country apply when it comes to a Deposit Guarantee Scheme. It is important to check if your bank has a Dutch licence or a licence from another country. You can find an overview of all banks covered by the Dutch Deposit Guarantee Scheme on https://www.dnb.nl/en/supervision/public-register/WFTDG/index.jsp
What are the types of housing in the Netherlands?
There are five main types of dwellings in the Netherlands:
- Vrijstaand (detached)
- Twee onder een kap (semi-detached)
- Rijtjeshuis (terraced /town house)
- Appartement (apartment)
- Woonboot ( houseboat)
The most common type of dwelling is the rijtjeshuis. This is a family home, two or three stories high, with a front and back garden, adjoined by two, three or more identical homes.
A standard Dutch house has two rooms in addition to the kitchen, living room, toilet and bathroom. Most Dutch people live in urban areas, yet the limitation of space is putting pressure on rural areas too. Many city dwellers would love to live amidst the water and the greenery of the countryside. Since space is limited in the Netherlands, many people live in low- or high-rise flats.
Due to Covid-19, my contract has been cancelled and now I am unemployed. Am I eligible to claim [unemployment] benefits?
Those who have lost their job because of the Covid-19 pandemic can apply for unemployment benefits as temporary income while searching for new employment.
Regulations regarding unemployment benefits have not changed, so the conditions for unemployment benefits need to be met:
- The “26 out of 36 weeks” requirement: employed for at least 26 out of the 36 weeks before the first day of unemployment
- Under 65 years old
- Available for work
Unemployment benefits can be requested at the Government’s Employee Insurance Agency (Uitvoeringsinstituut Werknemersverzekeringen – UWV) which will determine whether you are entitled to benefits, the amount and duration based on your previous salary, age and work history.
It is important to apply immediately upon losing a job or within one week. If the application is made later, the amount of the benefit is lower, temporarily.
The obligation to seek a suitable job remains a condition while receiving unemployment benefits during the negative economic effects of the Covid-19 pandemic. The UWV advises that you actively look for information and ways to find employment even in difficult times. It can also provide assistance in searching for work.
Information about unemployment benefits and a complete guide to applying online is on the UWV website: www.uwv.nl/particulieren/index.aspx. Both the website and application form are in Dutch, but assistance is provided in English and other languages.
If you do not qualify for unemployment benefits, you could ask for financial or other assistance from social services in your municipality. Options and conditions can be found on your municipal website.
For more information related to social benefits:
Also, have a look at our articles on what to do when you lost your job because of Covid-19 and Covid-19 and how it affects your work.
What should I do with my business when I leave the Netherlands?
If you move to another country and you have a business in the Netherlands you need to deregister your business here (assuming all activities in the Netherlands will end). This needs to be done at the Kamer van Koophandel (Chamber of Commerce). You can find more information about this on https://www.kvk.nl/english/report-a-change/deregistering-a-company-or-legal-entity/
You can find a checklist of things to do when you close your business on https://business.gov.nl/ending-your-business/closing-down-your-business-or-bankruptcy/checklist-for-closing-down-your-business/
I’m leaving the Netherlands and I cannot visit the town hall in person. How do I de-register during the Covid-19 pandemic?
Deregistration options can vary by municipality. For example, in The Hague you can deregister in person or via post, whereas in Amsterdam you also have the option to deregister using your DigiD. Therefore, depending on your municipality, you may deregister in one of three ways:
- In person at the municipality in which you live: Please note that due to Covid-19, procedures may differ from normal. Municipalities are open by appointment only; therefore you need to ensure you book an appointment online or by telephone. Please bring your passport or country ID card with you. You will receive a printed confirmation of deregistration from the municipality.
- Online: Report your move and deregister online using your DigiD. Follow the Dutch instructions for reporting your move.
- By post: By sending a deregistration notification to the municipality in which you live. Please download the deregistration form of your municipality, fill it in and send it to the gemeente address of the municipality where you were registered. For your information, you can only deregister by post when all the members of a family at one address are moving abroad together. If this is not the case, then everyone who is leaving the Netherlands (including minors) must appear in person at the department’s counter to deregister.
If you have a Dutch residence permit and are leaving the country on a permanent basis, then you must return your residence permit as it is a property of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. You can send it by post to the Immigration and Naturalisation Service (Immigratie- en Naturalisatiedienst – IND):
IND Bureau Documenten
P.O. Box 7025
8007 HA Zwolle
Before mailing the document, you must make it invalid by making a cut in the document or perforating it. Do not cut the document in half. It is also possible to hand in your residence document at the IND desk in your region. Please call the IND 088 043 04 30 (Monday-Friday, 9:00-17:00) to make an appointment.
For more information related to deregistering, check:
Our family is relocating to the Netherlands. How do we register during the Covid-19 pandemic?
Due to Covid-19, the municipalities and other administrative offices in the Netherlands have restricted their services to emergencies. It may take longer to receive an answer by mail or phone. You can visit a municipality office only if you have an appointment; walk-in hours are not available.
For non-EU citizens, a BSN (Burgerservicenummer – Citizen Service Number) can only be issued after your residence permit has been approved by the Immigration and Naturalisation Service (IND). Please note that during the Covid-19 pandemic, the IND will only schedule an appointment for collecting your first residence permit (card).
For more information related to registration, check:
I received a letter to collect my updated residence card. I went to the office and it was closed. How can I collect the residence card during the Covid-19 pandemic?
Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the IND offices have limited appointments available. At present, the IND will contact clients in order to schedule an appointment. The IND will only schedule an appointment for collecting your first residence permit (card).
This is in case you have received a positive decision on:
- your application for a first residence permit and you have entered the Netherlands with a provisional residence permit (mvv), or
- your application for a first residence permit, you have entered the Netherlands without a provisional residence permit (mvv) and the IND has already taken your biometrics (fingerprints, passport photo and signature), or
- your application for a first residence permit for asylum, or
- your application for a first residence permit for asylum for your family members (family reunification, journey to join an asylum seeker).
In the instances above, the IND will call you to schedule an appointment. You can only contact the IND yourself in order to provide biometrics after you have received a positive decision on your application for a first residence permit and you have entered the Netherlands without a provisional residence permit (mvv).
Until further notice, it is not possible to schedule an appointment for any other services or products. In case of emergencies, you can call the IND information line at 088 043 04 30 (Monday-Friday, 9:00-17:00). More information about IND operations during the Covid-19 pandemic is available on the IND website: ind.nl/en/pages/coronavirus.aspx
For more information related to the residence card:
I have recently moved to the Netherlands and I don't have a BSN number. Is it possible to have health insurance without a BSN number?
It is not possible to obtain Dutch health insurance without a burgerservicenummer (BSN – citizen service number).
If you are coming to stay in the Netherlands for more than four months, you are required to have a BSN. It is required for starting a job in the Netherlands, opening a bank account, using the health care system, applying for benefits, etc. When you are legally living or working in the Netherlands for longer than four months, it is compulsory to get Dutch health insurance, the so-called basisverzekering (basic insurance).
If you are temporarily residing in the Netherlands (fewer than four months), you are not obliged to take out Dutch health insurance. If you do not have a BSN, you are not registered in the Netherlands, but if you still would like to take out Dutch health insurance, you will need to apply at the Social Security Office (Sociale Verzekeringbank – SVB). If you are working, it is likely that the request will not be accepted. In that case, you should make sure to extend the international or travel insurance from your home country.
If you have further questions, contact the SVB on 020 656 4848.
For more information related to your first three months in the Netherlands:
I recently arrived in the Netherlands just as the many restrictions started. I have tried to register with several doctors and have been unsuccessful. What can I do?
Registering with a general practitioner (huisarts) is advisable but not required. Registering may be complicated as many practices may be full. Together with health insurers, health care providers and patient organisations, the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport (Ministerie van VWS) ensures that there are sufficient facilities and that people have sufficient choices. However, you must find your own doctor.
To search for a local doctor, check the ZorgkaartNederland website (in Dutch) and enter your postcode. For more information you can contact your health insurer or your municipality.
For more general information about relocating to the Netherlands, specifically the formalities needed for your first three months of stay:
Can you tell me if there is any financial support for freelancers due to lost income caused by Covid-19?
The Dutch government has set up schemes that can help organisations and self-employed people during this pandemic. For an overview of the measures, consult:
www.kvk.nl/corona/het-coronavirus-check-hier-je-regelingen/ (both websites are in Dutch).
The three schemes most relevant to freelancers are:
- Tozo (Temporary bridging measure for self-employed professionals): This loan is intended for self-employed professionals (such as entrepreneurs, including self-employed persons). If you meet the conditions, you will be able to apply for a temporary benefit to bridge the loss of income from 1 March 2020 onwards in the municipality where you live. If you meet the conditions, you can request support through your municipality for additional living and/or working capital benefits. The living allowance supplements income for up to three months to the social minimum if your total income has fallen below the assistance level as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. Depending on your income and household situation, this can amount to a maximum of €1,500 (net). There is no capital or partner test, and you do not have to repay the income support for living costs later. You can apply for a working capital loan up to a maximum of €10,157 to solve liquidity problems. You can go to your municipality website for your application via a digital application form. This concerns the residential municipality, not the municipality where your company is located. Some municipalities use a separate organisation for implementation.
- TOGS (The Entrepreneur Affected Sectors Allowance Covid-19): This scheme is a one-off payment of €4,000 (tax free). For more information and to apply, please follow this link: www.rvo.nl/subsidie-en-financieringswijzer/tegemoetkoming-schade-covid-19 (in Dutch). The allowance is intended for small and medium enterprises (with and without personnel) which suffer damage due to forced closure, limited meetings and/or restricted travel. You are eligible if you meet the conditions and the main activity of your company corresponds to one of the SBI codes specified in the scheme. The allowance is provided per company, not per location. To claim this scheme, the company must have been founded and registered with the Chamber of Commerce as of 15 March 2020. If you meet the criteria, you can submit an application at RVO. RVO approves your application within three weeks, after which you are paid. You have three months for your application. You can find more information about which entrepreneurs are eligible on RVO.nl.
- TVL (The Reimbursement Fixed Costs for SMEs): This scheme helps SMEs with a maximum of 250 employees to pay part of their fixed costs. It is a compensation for fixed costs like rent and maintenance, for businesses with more than 30% turnover loss due to the corona crisis, and with one of the selected SBI codes (the same ones that are eligible for TOGS): business.gov.nl/subsidy/corona-reimbursement-fixed-costs-smes/.
For more information about these measures, consult the following sites (some of them are only in Dutch):
I am on a highly skilled migrant visa and due to the current Covid-19 situation, my contract has been terminated. What is the situation with my residence permit if I can’t find a job within 3 months?
Holders of highly skilled migrant residence permits need to leave the country if they do not find a job within three months of becoming unemployed and cannot reside in the country on another basis. The job search period starts on the day the employment contract was terminated, not on the last day of actual work.
Overstaying a residence permit means being in the country illegally, which could have consequences for any future request for residency.
Those who no longer have the right to stay but are unable to leave the country due to Covid-19 travel restrictions need to ask for an extension of their residence document. If that is not possible, the government announced that it will be less strict in controlling people staying longer than is allowed. They are, however, expected to try to go back to their countries. For help in returning home they should contact their embassy or consulate in the Netherlands.
For general background information, please check our FAQ section on legal matters concerning immigration:
At this time of the Covid-19 pandemic, I would like to help in any way possible. Are there any volunteering opportunities?
There are volunteering possibilities even during the Covid-19 limitations and restrictions. It is best to look on the Internet and social media, in particular for initiatives in one’s own area and neighbourhood.
Some organisations, like the Red Cross, are looking for volunteers. Existing and new volunteer platforms offer information where volunteers are needed and ideas about how to offer help. Most of the websites listed below are in Dutch.
The Red Cross needs volunteers in times of Covid-19. You should check in your region whether you can volunteer as an English speaker. In The Hague region, with its large community of internationals, English and other non-Dutch speakers are welcome. The volunteers can spread information about Covid-19, help people in quarantine and perform other tasks.
Those who would like to volunteer at the Red Cross can register at ready2help.rodekruis.nl/ or send an email in English to: Ready2Help@redcross.
Extra handen voor zorg connects former health professionals with organisations in need:
NL voor elkaar, the biggest Dutch volunteer platform, has a ‘hulp’ initiative:
Coronahelpers provides information about Covid-19 help by province. It enables matching those who are willing to help with those needing help. You can fill in the form to offer your services in the city of your choice: https://www.coronahelpers.nl/.
Gewoon mensen die mensen willen helpen is a smaller platform for volunteering opportunities close to home (by postcode). Those who need help and those offering help come together through posts on the platform: www.gewoonmensen.nl/ik-wil-helpen.
Vereniging Nederlandse Organisaties Vrijwilligerswerk (The Dutch Association of Volunteer Organisations) oversees all voluntary work in the country. It has an overview of all regional volunteer centres (vrijwilligerscentrale) in the Netherlands.
Vrijwilligerswerk.nl enables searches for volunteering by region and on nationwide websites: vrijwilligerswerk.nl/zoekvrijwilligerswerk/default.aspx.
The Amsterdam Volunteer Centre has Covid-19 help information: www.vca.nu/coronahulp/.
Handjehelpen: (for The Hague) www.handjehelpen.nl/vrijwilligers/helpen-tijdens-corona.
Volunteer The Hague: volunteerthehague.nl/home
For general information on volunteering in The Netherlands:
The landlord is selling the property. I am in the "high-risk" category for contracting the virus. What legal rights do I have to stop the landlord and others from coming into our home?
In the event of sale, the obligations of the tenant with regards to property viewings may be stated in the general terms and conditions of the lease contract. A mutual agreement with your landlord due to Covid-19 is possible. In case of not getting an agreement, we recommend seeking professional advice or get legal guidance. A number of organisations can assist you concerning disputes with your landlord.
For additional information:
Can I be evicted if I lose my job?
No one can be thrown out of their home during the Covid-19 pandemic, except in case of criminal activity or extreme nuisance.
Temporarily, tenants who have lost their income and are unable to pay the rent cannot be evicted. For tenants with permanent rental contracts, a judge’s permission is needed. If your landlord still wants to evict you, it is best to get in touch with a lawyer at the public legal advisory service Het Juridisch Loket or the Legal Expat Desk.
Losing a job is not a basis for eviction, but not paying the rent is. If you no longer have an income and have no financial resources to continue paying the rent, you need to try reaching an agreement with the landlord about a mutually acceptable arrangement until you find employment or other sources of income.
You are expected to actively look for a solution that will enable you to take care of your needs and fulfill your obligations, like paying the rent. You should check to see if you qualify for unemployment benefits while looking for a job. If you receive the benefits, you may be able to pay the rent at least partially until you find work again.
If you do not qualify for unemployment benefits, financial and other forms of support are available through municipal social services. Information about types of support and conditions can be found on municipal websites.
The following FAQs on our website regarding social benefits, unemployment, and housing may also be of interest to you:
What should I do if my temporary lease ends due to Covid-19?
You can ask for an extension of up to three months and maybe longer. Under emergency legislation enacted due to the Covid-19 pandemic, rental contracts (leases) can be extended for three months, until 1 September 2020 at the most, and potentially another three months.
The Emergency Act applies to temporary rental agreements of fewer than two years for regular living space and five years for room rental. It relates to the rental period that expires between 31 March 2020 and 1 July 2020.
The landlord can terminate a temporary rental contract by informing the tenant in writing one to three months before the end date. The tenant also has the right to terminate the contract prematurely.
Under the Emergency Act, there are several possibilities, depending on when the landlord informs the tenant:
- If the landlord had informed the tenant before 12 March 2020, the lease can only be extended if the landlord and tenant agree in writing. The extension can be for one to three months, at the latest until 1 September 2020. If the parties cannot agree, the original end date applies.
- If the landlord informed the tenant in the legally prescribed manner after the Emergency Act came into effect, he must also inform the tenant about the possibility of extension under the Emergency Act. Within one week of the landlord’s notification, the tenant can request an extension of the contract in writing for one to three months, maximum until 1 September 2020.
The landlord has one week to refuse the request, but only for the following reasons. The landlord:
- has sold the property to a third party and has undertaken to transfer the property to a third party free of rent and use
- has re-rented the property and the lease commences
- wants to live in the property himself and no longer has any other accommodation
- wants to renovate the property, which is not possible without termination of the rental, and has undertaken with third parties to make the house available for rental and use
- wants to demolish the property and has undertaken with third parties to make the house available for rental and use for that purpose on a date that is before the expiry of the extension requested by the tenant and the landlord has entered into the obligation before 1 April 2020.
The landlord can also refuse the request for an extension if the tenant has not behaved as a good tenant.
The emergency law provides for the possibility of extending rental contracts after 1 September 2020 so that already extended contracts can be extended once more.
Additional information about legal matters and housing:
Can Covid-19 be a ground for terminating a rental contract prematurely on my behalf?
In the absence of court judgments on the matter, there is no certain answer. Based on general legal considerations, it is possible to say that Covid-19 could be considered force majeure for dissolving a rental contract prematurely, but only if the pandemic, which is an unexpected event beyond human control, has made it impossible to fulfil contractual obligations such as, for example, the payment of rent.
Whether the fulfilment of contractual obligations has become impossible, and due to Covid-19, needs to be established on the circumstances of each case.
Lawyers point out that the fact that performing contractual obligations, such as paying the rent, has become more costly or difficult because of coronavirus is not reason enough to invoke force majeure.
Can Covid-19 be a ground for terminating a rental contract prematurely on my behalf?
In the absence of court judgments on the matter, there is no certain answer. Based on general legal considerations, it is possible to say that Covid-19 could be considered force majeure for dissolving a rental contract prematurely, but only if the pandemic, which is an unexpected event beyond human control, has made it impossible to fulfil contractual obligations such as, for example, the payment of rent.
Whether the fulfilment of contractual obligations has become impossible, and due to Covid-19, needs to be established on the circumstances of each case.
Lawyers point out that the fact that performing contractual obligations, such as paying the rent, has become more costly or difficult because of coronavirus is not reason enough to invoke force majeure.
I have a Dutch health insurance and would like to change to another insurance company. How can I arrange this?
You can change your health insurance company only once a year and only on 1 January. There is one exception: you can change your health insurance company during the year if you switch from one collective employer’s agreement to another (i.e. if you switch jobs).
You have to cancel your health insurance before 31 December. Your new health insurance company may offer to cancel your old insurance on your behalf. If they don’t offer this, it is best to send an aangetekende brief (registered letter) well in advance. A health insurance company is obliged to accept you for basic insurance, unless there are some payments overdue/outstanding at the current health insurance company. In such a case, the new company can refuse you basic health insurance.
The new health insurance company is allowed to refuse you for additional health insurance if you don’t meet its requirements. Therefore, it is advisable not to cancel your current additional health insurance until you have received an email or letter that the new company accepts you for additional insurance.
I am temporarily immobile. How can I arrange help?
Depending on your personal circumstances you may need the following kinds of help:
* help with personal care or nursing care. Personal care (persoonlijke verzorging) would be assistance with getting dressed/undressed and getting washed. Also nursing care (verpleegkundige zorg) such as giving injections, treatment of wounds, etc. This kind of help is called thuiszorg or wijkzorg and is covered by the basic health insurance. If you have an in kind (natura) policy, only help from organisations that have a contract with your health insurance company is covered. It is best to contact your health insurance company to find out with which organisation in your neighbourhood they have a contract. If you have a restitution policy, you can also get help from organisations that don’t have a contract with your insurance company. If your insurance company feels their costs are too high, they will only reimburse up to a certain maximum.
The help will be given as long as necessary. The organisation you choose will come to you, discuss what you need, how often (once a day, twice a day or more often) and how long they will come. The organisation that will help you takes care of the necessary paperwork.
* help in doing the household (dishwashing, doing the laundry, ironing, dust cleaning, etc.). This is covered by the Social Support Act (Wet Maatschappelijke Ondersteuning, WMO). You must contact the municipality as you need to have approval from them first. The municipality will decide how many hours help you can get.
Keep in mind that the Dutch system (both for personal care and for doing the household) expects your partner/children help you as well as people from your network (friends, neighbours). Usually people from your network are willing to help occasionally, but not for weeks or months.The health insurance company and the municipality will try to give you as little help as possible saying you can ask your network to do the rest. Be realistic what your neighbours are willing to do for you.
If you need any tools such as crutches, a toilet chair, a wheelchair, a pillow to avoid decubitus (wounds caused by sitting/lying very long in one position) etc. it is advised to contact Vegro, www.vegro.nl. (Dutch only) or Medipoint www.medipoint.nl (Dutch only). These organisations have shops all over the Netherlands which offer a wide choice of tools you might need, and they can also help you when you call them. They can also advise what would be useful considering your situation. In most cases you can borrow what you need free of charge as long as you need it and it will be delivered to your place.
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.
What will happen to the pension rights I have built up?
The pension rights you have built up in the Netherlands are not affected by Brexit. As for your pension rights built up in the UK, we suggest contacting your pension provider in the UK.
I am a UK national and living in the Netherlands. How can I ensure that I can stay here?
If you only have British Nationality (you do not also have an EU Nationality) and you did not legally reside in the Netherlands before 31 December 2020, you are now considered to be a ‘third country national’. The rules/regulations for whether you will be allowed to come reside and/or work in the Netherlands have changed. The IND (immigration department) website explains this here.
If you already lived in the Netherlands on 31 December 2020, you had the opportunity to ask for a Withdrawal Agreement Resident Permit (WARP) until 1 October 2021. If you haven’t done this you may loss any rights under the Withdrawal Act. You can call the IND Brexit Information Line for further information (088) 04 30410.
Is my British driving licence still valid?
If you are living in the Netherlands, your British driving licence is no longer valid. You need to exchange it with your municipality for a Dutch driving licence. You can find more information here.
We are non-EU family with working visas here in the Netherlands. Our child would like to do a study in English at a Dutch university. Is our child eligible for study finance?
In the Netherlands, citizens from outside the EU/EEA do not qualify for study finance. However, you can see if your child can get a scholarship or grant. You can read more about it on our website .
How can I arrange a parking space lot near my house?
Parking space is limited in the Netherlands. In general you need to request a parking licence near your house from the municipality. This gives you the right to park near your house but you need to look for a place every time you want to park your car. In addition, you can see if there is a parking garage nearby and try to rent a place there. It is best to check with your municipality for further detail.
How are parking spaces lots organised in the Netherlands?
In most places it is paid parking. This is indicated along the road. You need to get a ticket from the ticket vending machine and pay on your return for the time you parked your car.
Sometimes there is a parking meter. Here you need to decide in advance how long you intend to park your car and pay for that time. If you park longer than expected, you need to add money to the meter to avoid getting a fine.
In areas where paid parking is not in force, you may find there is a Blue Zone. Within this zone, you are only permitted to park for short periods of time by clearly displaying a blue parking disc. You can buy them at large department stores. Before leaving your car, mark your time of arrival on the blue parking disc. You can recognise a blue zone by a nearby road sign. On this sign you can see the maximum parking time permitted, as well as any additional conditions such as specific hours during the day.
Where can I find a list of international schools in the Netherlands?
When you are considering international education for your child, you can find a school in your neighbourhood on https://sio.nl/find-a-school-on-map/.
Which municipal taxes do I have to pay?
In addition to national taxes, every resident in the Netherlands has to pay local taxes as well. Every year your municipality sends you a tax form that covers your local tax contributions for the year.
If you rent a house
If you are renting a house, it is likely you have to pay two local taxes: household waste tax and water tax.
Household waste tax (afvalstoffenheffing) is used for the collection and processing of your household waste
Water tax (waterschapsbelasting) is billed separately by the water board (hoogheemraadschap) in your area. It is used for cleaning water, sanitation and flood prevention.
If you own a house
If you own a house you have to pay afvalstoffenheffing and waterschapsbelasting too.
In addition you have to pay sewage tax (rioolheffing) and property tax (OZB, onroerende zaak belasting).
The rioolheffing is used to pay for waste water and for rainwater that ends up in the sewer.
The OZB is a percentage of the value of your house and is used to maintain the local infrastructure.
Where can I find after school care for my child?
In the Netherlands out-of-school care (buitenschoolse opvang, BSO) is usually arranged outside the regular school system. However, primary schools are legally obliged to offer this if parents ask for it. As most schools don’t have the resources and staff to do, they will refer you to a specialised organisation. Many out-of-school organisations have waiting lists. It is therefore advised to contact them well in advance.
The Dutch government reimburses a substantial portion of the cost of BSO. This benefit is called kinderopvangtoeslag. The amount that you will be entitled to receive is dependent on several factors such as the number of children, family income and the working hours of parents.
You can find more about the kinderopvangtoeslag in the FAQ about childcare .
What to do when I hear the sirens?
Every first Monday of the month you at 12 (noon) you will hear the sirens. Iit is just a test and it takes 1 minute and 26 seconds. YThe alarm has nothing to do with attacks from an enemy anymore. Nowadays, it is a warning in case of a huge fire or an environmental disaster.
If you hear the sirens on any other day or time other than the first Monday of any month, do the following:
- Go inside. If you are outside, working or shopping, go inside as soon as possible, for example enter a shop or any other building.
- If you are in a car, leave your car and go into a building. In case this is not possible (e.g. you are on a highway), stay inside the car and close all windows and ventilation/air conditioning.
- Leave your children at school.
- Offer others the opportunity to hide with you.
- Close the windows and the doors. Also close other openings in your house and if possible turn the air conditioning off.
- Do not make phone calls unless absolutely necessary.
- Listen to the regional radio. The government will inform you via this channel what is going on and what you need to do. If you don’t understand Dutch, ask your neighbours or other people near you what you need to to.
In case of a national emergency, listen to NPO Radio 1 (see www.radio-frequentie.nl/radio-1/ for a frequency list) or watch TV on channel NPO 1 (also known as Nederland 1). The frequency of channel NPO 1 depends on your location and your television provider.
You can find additional information on what to do in case of emergency and how you can prepare for one at this website www.crisis.nl (Dutch only)
In addition NL-alert is used to inform you about disasters. It tells you what’s going on, what you should do and where you can find more information.
You receive NL-Alert on your mobile phone. NL-Alert can also be seen on an increasing number of digital advertising displays and digital signage at train, bus, tram and metro stops. A handy factsheet about NL-alert can be found on the website of the government
How does the Dutch school system work?
Dutch education is , like in many other countries, divided into primary education, secondary education and tertiary education.
In the Netherlands, primary school starts with kindergarten at age four. From age five it is compulsory to attend school fulltime. There are hardly any private schools in the Netherlands. Schools can have a certain religious orientation such as Protestant, Catholic, Islamic, Hindu, any other religion or no religion at all. In addition, schools can follow a certain educational philosophy such as Montessori, Jenaplan, Dalton or Vrije School (internationally also known as Waldorf). Children with special educational needs will find offerings more frequently in primary than in secondary schools.
There are four options for secondary school:
- Practical education (praktijkonderwijs)
- Preparatory secondary vocational education (voorbereidend middelbaar beroepsonderwijs, VMBO)
- Senior general secondary education (hoger algemeen vormend onderwijs, HAVO)
- Pre-university education (voorbereidend wetenschappelijk onderwijs, VWO)
After secondary school there are several options:
- Medium level professional education (middelbaar beroepsonderwijs, MBO) for those who have finished VMBO. Like VMBO this has four levels.
- University of Applied Science (hoger beroepsonderwijs, HBO) for those who have finished HAVO (or MBO at the highest level)
- Research University (universiteit) for those who have finished VWO ( or first year -called propedeuse – at HBO)
You can find a more detailed description of the Dutch education system on https://utesinternationallounge.com/dutch-education-explained-by-genoveva-geppaart/
My daughter is in group 8 of a Dutch primary school. She is capable of the HAVO or VWO track in secondary school, but her Dutch is insufficient for this level. What options are available?
If your child is capable of HAVO or VWO but her Dutch level is insufficient, a kopklas can be the solution.This year following group 8 focuses on improving children’s Dutch and enabling them to attend the most appropriate secondary school. Choosing this class requires high motivation by both parents and child, and it is best to discuss this option with your child’s teacher.
What can I do when I am dissatisfied with the medical specialist?
When you are dissatisfied with the medical specialist, it is suggested to discuss it with him/her first. If this doesn’t solve the problem, you can file a complaint. Every hospital and clinic has a procedure for this.
If you have second thoughts about the medical solution provided by the specialist, you can ask another doctor for a second opinion. Depending on your preferences this can be a doctor in the same hospital or clinic or somewhere else. You need a new referral for this from your GP.
Does the Netherlands offer cancer screening?
The Netherlands has three cancer screening programs (bevolkingsonderzoek):
- breast cancer screening for women aged 50 to 75
- cervical cancer screening for women aged 30 to 60
- bowel cancer screening for men and women aged 55 to 75
These programs are free and participation is voluntary. You can find more information on https://www.bevolkingsonderzoeknederland.nl/en/
Do you have a partner but is he/she not officially registered as partner?
If you are not married, but are living together without formal registration of your relationship this can cause problems if you pass away. In such a situation your partner doesn’t inherit anything (unless you have laid it down in a will) and your partner will not be entitled to a part of your pension (unless you informed your pension fund about your partner). Legally your partner doesn’t have any rights.
In order to avoid this, it is suggested to officially register your relationship with a notary or -if you don’t want that- ask advice. A notary can help you.
How can I avoid scams?
- if someone calls you saying they are from your bank, call them! Don’t use the number they called you but check the number of your bank’s customer service and use that number. Then check if they called you. If it is really the bank who called you they will understand and be happy you are careful. This also appies if any other financial organisation calls you.
- if you receive an email/text message or other message (e.g. WhatsApp) from a family member or friend asking urgently to pay a bill or give them a loan, CALL this person on his/her usual number and check. You will recognise the voice of the person and can be sure it was (or wasn’t) really this person.
- if you receive a bill you didn’t expect (e.g. from the taxes, your energy supplier, phone company etc.) don’t pay immediately but check your administration. If this doesn’t help, CALL the organisation sending you the bill on their usual number (not the number on the bill as it could be fake) and check.