Practicalities of leaving the Netherlands
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: Postnl.nl/klantenservice. 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).
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.
Dutch tenancy law is framed in such a way that the law protects the tenant from the premature termination of a rental agreement by the landlord. However, it does provide the landlord with the option to include a ‘diplomatic clause’. This clause provides a method for a landlord to terminate a rental contract in cases where the tenant is not willing to vacate the rented property voluntarily. The clause also normally gives the tenant the right to terminate a rental agreement prior to the termination date if certain conditions are met, such as: if you are transferred by your current employer to another location that is a specified distance or more from the current premises, e.g. 50km; or if your employment is terminated by your employer. However, it should be noted that you can only invoke the diplomatic clause if all conditions of the clause have been fulfilled.
Alternatively, a ’force majeure’ clause may be included, which gives you the right to terminate your agreement for unforeseen circumstances beyond your control, provided you inform the landlord or his/her agent in writing at least one full calendar month in advance. This clause essentially frees both parties from their obligations if the unexpected happens. You will normally be required to state the reasons for your desire to terminate the tenancy agreement. If the reason for the termination is a transfer or termination of employment, as described above, such notice should be countersigned by your employer. It is then at the discretion of the landlord if the reasons you provide are acceptable.
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. For example: you have a contract from 1 January 2017 until 31 December 2017, but wish to end the contract on 1 August 2017. In this case, you should send the letter or contact them by 1 May, informing them of the date you want the contract to end. You will then receive a letter from the company with instructions to pay charges for August to December 2017. 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: