ACCESS NL > Relocating to the Netherlands > Banking in the Netherlands > How can I avoid scams?
Relocating to the Netherlands
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 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.
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 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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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)
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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.