FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS FOR PEOPLE WHO ARE NEW IN THE NETHERLANDS

If you are staying, or plan to stay, in the Netherlands for more than four months then you need to register (inschrijven) at the town hall in the municipality (gemeente) where you are living.

Whether you’re a Dutch citizen or an international, everyone living in the Netherlands is required to be registered at their home address. Being registered allows the Basisregistratie personen (BRP or Municipal Personal Records Database) to better handle emergency situations, to track the size of the Dutch population and to allocate the right municipal taxes to each household.

Receiving your BSN number

One of the most important reasons to register is that you will then receive your BSN number (personal public service number), which you need for all your administration in the Netherlands. This includes opening a bank account, receiving your salary, visiting a doctor, getting health insurance and applying for benefits.

How to register in the Netherlands

Most gemeenten require you to register within five days of arriving in the Netherlands. If you don’t have a fixed address when you arrive then you should register as soon as your rental contract is finalized.

If you are uncertain then it is wise to contact your gemeente to check the best approach. You will need to make an appointment to register. Call your local town hall and ask for an appointment for “registration from abroad” (inschrijven vanuit het buitenland). You will usually receive confirmation by post or email which will also list the documents you need to bring with you.

Gemeente (town hall) contact details

Below are the contact details of the main gemeenten in the Netherlands. For more visit the municipalities & city councils in the Netherlands page.

Amsterdam

Utrecht

Rotterdam

The Hague

Groningen

Nijmegen

Eindhoven

If you have EU citizenship or a valid residence permit and all necessary documents then you will usually be registered within five working days.

Documents needed to register

When making your appointment to register you will be told the exact documents you need to provide. The necessary documents usually include:

  • Your valid passport or ID card (not a driving licence).
  • Your residence permit (if applicable, either a sticker in your passport, a plastic ID card or letter from IND).
  • Your rental contract.
  • A certified copy of your birth certificate.
  • Your foreign marriage certificate, certificate of registered partnership or divorce (if applicable).

Note that town halls only accept official documents in Dutch, English, French or German, so you may need to get an official translation for other languages. Some documents, such as your birth certificate, may also require proof of authenticity (legalisatie) such as an apostille, which you will need to get before leaving your home country.

Registration & Renting in the Netherlands

If you are renting a room or renting an apartment, it is important to check if you can register at that address. It is unlikely that you will need to pay municipal taxes as they are usually covered in the monthly rent and are paid by the house owner. However, some owners may not allow registration at their property in order to avoid paying the increased taxes. It is unwise to rent a place where you cannot register as it can cause quite a bit of trouble down the track.

Penalties for not registering

Remaining unregistered or registering at the wrong address is not permitted. As of June 1, 2015 the Amsterdam gemeente has introduced fines of up to 325 euros for people who fail to register at the correct address, to notify the municipality of their change of address on time or to present all relevant documents.

Registering for a short stay

If you are staying in the Netherlands for less than four months but you are working or studying then you will need a BSN number, in which case you will also need to register.

Changing address

If you are not registering for the first time and you are just changing address within the Netherlands then you can register your new address on the websites of most gemeenten using your DigiD code, or at the town hall in your new town or neighbourhood.

Deregistering

About one month before departing from the Netherlands, expats need to de-register at their local town hall, also free of charge.

These forms cannot be obtained independently. They are included as an annex with the form for renewal (application for renewal of residence permit). You can download these forms or order them through the website www.ind.nl.

Because the legal rights and obligations differ per type of contract, you have to consider what option suites you most. To help you make this decision, the basic principles of the different contract options are explained below. For more information go to the section about types of agreements.

There are four rather common labour contract options. These are:

  1. Temporary labour contract;
  2. Permanent labour contract;
  3. Contract with an employment agency;
  4. Self Employed

Temporary labour contract
A temporary contract has a starting date and an ending date. The contract will end on the agreed date without a dismissal procedure. We strongly advise you to make sure that you get a contract in writing, although a verbal agreement is also valid. The employer has the obligation to inform you about the main issues covered in the labour contract in writing within one month after the commencement of the contract. Within the legal limits, employers and employees are free to decide what will be covered in the labour contract.

Trial period
The trial period is a very common part of a (temporary) contract with the employer. A trial period will apply for both parties and needs to be agreed in writing. If the duration of the temporary contract is less than two years, the maximum trial period is one month. Exceptions can only be made when a Collective Labour Agreement agrees to this. The legal maximum trial period is never any longer than two months. An extension of this period is not possible.

Term of notice
A temporary labour contract will end automatically and legally on the date agreed. This means that there is no dismissal procedure involved. A different situation occurs if both parties or one of them want to end the contract before the agreed date. In this case, the option for termination of the contract before the final date has to be part of the contract. If the employer wants to end the contract before the date agreed, he or she needs to follow a legal dismissal procedure. In this case, it is advisable to contact the local Employment Office (WERKbedrijf or CWI) to get further information.

Repeated contracts with the same employer
If four temporary contracts with the same employer have been agreed within less than a three-month break between each contract, the rules for a permanent contract will start to apply. If this is the case, please contact the local office of WERKbedrijf or CWI for more information.

Permanent labour contract
The most important difference between a temporary labour contract and a permanent labour contract is the fact that a permanent labour contract has no ending date. This means there is no indication of any intention to limit the duration of the contract – such as ‘for the duration of the project’. Hence, and unlike temporary labour contracts, there is no mention of an ending date of the contract in a permanent contract. Also the ‘term of notice’ will be different for a permanent contract, since your legal position is different. The differences concerning termination of a permanent labour contract are explained below:

A permanent labour contract can be ended by one of the parties. The legal terms of notice need to be respected.

The rules are different for employers and employees. The employee has the legal right to end the contract without a procedure, but he or she has to respect the legal and agreed period, which usually is a one-month notice minimum.

The employer needs to apply for a dismissal permit. The term of notice depends on the duration of the contract on the day the employer applies for the dismissal permit. We advise you to contact the local office of WERKbedrijf or CWI for more information if you are confronted with this situation.

Contract with an employment agency
The contract with an employment agency (uitzendbureau) differs fundamentally from a contract with an employer as described above. In the temp construction the employment agency is your legal employer while you work in a company that hires you from the employment agency. In particular, your protection against dismissal during a certain temp period is not regulated. This on the other hand means that you and the company you are working for can terminate the employment at any given time during the agreed employment period. Employment agencies have their own Collective Labour Agreement. There is an ‘Allocation of Workers by Intermediaries Act’ that regulates issues related to employment agencies e.g.:

  • Employment agency employers are prohibited from charging temporary workers money (or any other consideration) for being given temporary work.

Employment agencies must inform temps in writing about the working conditions at the place of work in advance.

Do you have Dutch health care insurance? Then you may be eligible for a health care benefit. You must be over 18, have the Dutch nationality and your income may not be too high. Do you reside in the Netherlands but work abroad, and do you not have Dutch health care insurance? Then you are not eligible for a health care benefit. Would you like to apply for a health care benefit? You can do this at the Dutch Tax Administration.

Everyone in the Netherlands is obliged to take out health insurance, even if you are only living and working temporarily in the country.

Foreign health insurance
It is often recommended that during the initial period of your stay in the Netherlands, you keep the insurance you had in your country of origin. This is on the condition it covers your possible costs here, so be sure to confirm that in advance.

If you are a resident of the Netherlands, you are, in principle, obliged to take out Dutch health insurance,even if you are already insured back home. This ensures that every person is protected against the financial risks of illness and hospital admission. You are free to chose your own health insurer(zorgverzekeraar)offering the basic package (basisverzekering) and are allowed to change insurers once a year. To register for health insurance, you will require a social security number(burgerservicenummer or BSN).

Please note: If you are not covered by Dutch health insurance, you risk being fined and billed retroactively for the months you were not insured.

Health coverage
The foundation of the Dutch healthcare system is the mandatory basic health insurance policy (basisverzekering). The coverage of this standard package is determined by the government and includes medical care by specialists, GPs and midwives, hospital care, medication, rehabilitation, dental help for persons younger than 22, mental healthcare and necessary medical help during a holiday or business trip abroad.

Health insurance companies have an obligation to accept everyone for this package, irrespective of gender, age and health. Health insurance companies also offer additional premium plans (aanvullende verzekering). These may cover things such as physiotherapy, spectacles, dental care for persons 22 years and older, and alternative medicine. You will always have an excess or deductible (eigen risico) of at least €150.

You can take out health insurance with any one of a number of insurance companies. Check whether your employer offers corporate health insurance. For a comparison of insurances and prices, consult the following website (only in Dutch): www.kiesbeter.nl.

More information
If you would like to know more about your specific situation, please contact the:

  • College for Health Insurances at  +31 (0)20 797 8555 for questions relating to health insurance
  • Sociale Verzekeringsbank at  +31 (0)20 656 5352 for questions relating to social security

More information on the healthcare insurance system in the Netherlands can be found in the Ministry of Health’s English brochure (click here).

 

In the Netherlands there are two statutory forms of insurance that are relevant to the field of medical care and nursing:

  1. the Zorgverzekeringswet (Zvw, Health Insurance Act) covers the costs of ‘normal’ medical care such as G.P. visits, hospitalisation and pharmacy prescriptions. The Zvw is also referred to as basic insurance;
  2. the Algemene Wet Bijzondere Ziektekosten (AWBZ, General Exceptional Medical Expenses Act) covers the costs of exceptional and in particular expensive care, such as long-term nursing and home-care. The AWBZ is one of the national insurances in the Netherlands.

As a resident in the Netherlands, in principle you will automatically be insured for the AWBZ and you will be obliged to take out basic insurance. This can be obtained with one of the many health insurers.

You will pay a percent contribution for both the Zvw and the AWBZ, for example, via a deduction from your wages or via a tax assessment. In addition to this you will also pay – directly to the health insurer – a flat-rate contribution for the Zvw for yourself and for every co-insured family-member who is older than 17 years of age; the size of this contribution varies per health insurer. Lastly, per calendar year there is a €150 personal risk that applies for every insured person.

If you have too little income to be able to pay the full Zvw-contribution, then you can apply for financial compensation from the Dutch Tax Authorities: the so-called care allowance.

Exceptions
You may come from a country with which the Netherlands has entered into an agreement in the field of social security; this applies in any case to all EU countries. In this case your personal circumstances may be such that you are not eligible for direct insurance via the Zvw and the AWBZ. For example, because you still have statutory health insurance in your former country of residence. The health insurer with whom you register can provide you with more information about this.

IND only deals with people that immigrate to the Netherlands. Contact the embassy of the country you want to move to.

Since 13 April 2005, the rule for family members of a highly-skilled migrant – like the highly-skilled migrant him/herself – is that they don’t need a working permit to work in the Netherlands. Visit the website www.ind.nl for more information.

Maternity leave is regulated in the Netherlands. You are entitled to 16 weeks paid maternity leave, starting 4-6 weeks before your due date (you must stop working a minimum of 4 weeks in advance). This extends to 10 weeks after the birth, dependent to a certain degree on the child being born on time. Your partner has the right to two days paternity leave. Parental leave is also regulated. Both you and your partner may take unpaid parental leave.

You can’t be fired because you are pregnant, nor during your leave, nor within the first six weeks after your maternity leave. You can only be made redundant in very special cases.

This Protocol Guide is issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs as part of our efforts to be a transparent and good host to our distinguished guests. It contains practical information based on the Dutch authorities’ interpretation of the rules for privileged persons.

To download the Protocol Guide (June 2018) click here

This Protocol Guide is issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs as part of our efforts to be a transparent and good host to our distinguished guests. It contains practical information based on the Dutch authorities’ interpretation of the rules for privileged persons.

If you have obtained your diploma in another country and want to work in the Netherlands, you probably need to know what a particular credential is worth in terms of the Dutch system. The Netherlands has two centers of expertise in the evaluation of international credentials: Nuffic (for higher education) in The Hague and Colo (for vocational education) in Zoetermeer.

Depending on your plans on how to make use of your qualifications in the Netherlands, you can use either of these centers. It is therefore highly recommended that you first call the Information Center for Credential Evaluation (IcDW) for general advice. The centers of expertise have set up this Information Center.

When you are entitled to live and work in The Netherlands and you are officially registered as a jobseeker at a local office of UWV WERKbedrijf, the WERKbedrijf can support you in getting the necessary answers regarding your qualifications and diploma validation.

Nuffic 
Nuffic’s full name is Netherlands Organization for International Cooperation in Higher Education. Within Nuffic, the Department for International Credential Evaluation is responsible for comparing education and assessing diplomas. Nuffic’s work also involves the evaluation of credentials and competencies. The aim of Nuffic’s work is to remove obstacles standing in the way of students and workers who wish to be internationally mobile and either enter or leave the Netherlands.

Nuffic also carries out projects in the field of credential evaluation, and – on the basis of international treaties – has been appointed by the education ministry to act as national information centre regarding matters of recognition. It does this in two international networks: the European Commission’s NARIC network (National Academic Recognition Information Centres) and the network of the Council of Europe and UNESCO/CEPES known as ENIC (European National Information Centres on Recognition and Mobility).

Contact information:

Monday to Friday from 09:00 to 12:30 hrs at the Information Centre for Credential Evaluation (IcDW)
P.O. Box 7338 2701 AH Zoetermeer, the Netherlands, telephone +31-79 3217930, fax +31-79 3217929
E-mail: info@idw.nl
www.nuffic.nl
Colo 
Colo is the association of national bodies responsible for vocational training for the private sector. Colo represents 18 bodies, or ‘knowledge centres’, each of which is organized around one sector of business or industry.

Colo also has its own department for international credential evaluation, which is a centre of expertise on diplomas, certificates and other qualifications awarded in other countries. Colo assesses these qualifications by comparing them to the Dutch qualifications that can be acquired through vocational and adult education. This service has an official character. The Dutch Ministry of Education has appointed Colo as the national information centre regarding the EU Directives for a General System, which regulates access to certain professions within the member states of the EU and the EEA. Colo’s credential evaluation department belongs to a number of international networks which foster mobility and transparency in qualifications. These include Netref (European Network of National Reference Structures for Vocational Education).

Contact information:

E-mail: www.colo.nl or info@idw.nl
www.idw.nl

If a supply is not exempt and is not subject to the reverse-charge mechanism either, it is automatically taxed at one of three possible rates: the 0 percent rate, the 6 percent rate or the 21 percent rate (as of 1 october 2012).

0 percent rate

The 0 percent rate applies to entrepreneurs who do business outside the Netherlands. This usually involves the supply of goods to other countries. See under “You are performing an intra-Community supply from the Netherlands” and “You are exporting goods from the Netherlands” to learn in which cases you may apply the 0 percent rate. By applying the 0 percent rate you apply a kind of exemption, but are still entitled to deduction of input tax.

6 percent rate

The low rate of VAT is 6 percent. This rate applies, for example, to the supply, import or intra-Community acquisition of:

  • food, drink (excluding alcoholic beverages) and the ingredients used in their production
  • cattle, sheep, goats, pigs and horses
  • medicines
  • books, daily newspapers and magazines
  • agricultural and horticultural seeds
  • ornamental plants

The following services are also taxed at 6 percent:

  • passenger transport;
  • paintwork on dwellings that are over 15 years old
  • hairdressing services
  • bicycle repairs
  • the letting of holiday homes
  • performances by performing artists
  • the granting of admission to:
    – circuses
    – travelling fairground attractions
    – musical and theatrical performances
    – sports events

21 percent rate (as of 1 october 2012)

In all other cases, you should charge VAT at the basic 21 percent rate. In other words, the 21 percent rate applies to supplies that are not exempt (see under VAT Exemption), not subject to the reverse-charge mechanism (see under VAT Transfer Regulation), not zero-rated and not taxed at 6 percent.

The Immigration and Naturalisation Service (IND) is entitled, on behalf of the State Secretary of Justice, to pronounce a foreign national undesirable pursuant to Article 67 of the Aliens Act 2000. A pronouncement of undesirability is an (administrative) measure for the purpose of preventing foreign nationals who are not or are no longer permitted to stay in the Netherlands from entering or remaining in the country.
In most cases, this concerns foreign nationals who have committed an offence.
The pronouncement of undesirability makes it an offence for the foreign national to reside in or return to the Netherlands without authorisation.

Balancing of interests
The assessment (on the part of the IND) of whether a foreign national will be pronounced undesirable takes into account the interests of the parties involved. In this respect, national interest (public order and national security) is examined on the one hand, and the interests of the foreign national and (if applicable) his or her family on the other hand.

Immediate effect
A decision in favour of a pronouncement of undesirability is issued to the foreign national in person by the police (together with a leaflet regarding pronouncement of undesirability). If it is not possible to issue the decision in person, the decision shall in any event be published in the Dutch Government Gazette.
A decision in favour of a pronouncement of undesirability shall take immediate effect. The foreign national who has been pronounced undesirable must immediately leave the Netherlands of his or her own accord (obligation to leave the country independently).
Any foreign national who stays in the Netherlands whilst he or she is aware or may reasonably assume that he or she has been pronounced undesirable, is guilty of an offence pursuant to Article 197 of the Penal Code and may be sentenced to a maximum of six months’ imprisonment.
Once the prison sentence has been served, the foreign national who has been pronounced undesirable may be removed, if the identity and nationality of the foreign national have been established and (replacement) travel documents are available.
A foreign national may lodge an application for review in respect of a pronouncement of undesirability. The foreign national shall not, however, be permitted to stay in the Netherlands pending the outcome of such an application. If a foreign national has definitively been pronounced undesirable and has left the Netherlands, after a given period he or she may submit an application in writing for the withdrawal of the pronouncement of undesirability.

There is no form to apply for Dutch nationality. You have to file a naturalisation petition with your municipality. However, you can order a brochure with general information on the subject through the website www.ind.nl. For general questions, you can also contact our Public Relations department (afdeling Voorlichting) of the IND (Dutch Immigration Service)

Any citizen of an EEA member country can work and live in the Netherlands, though certain conditions must be met and exceptions might apply. Though there are numerous ways to find jobs, the Internet is becoming the dominant medium. ‘Short and businesslike’ are the keywords for your CV and application letter. In addition, the candidate’s motivation is one of the basic selection criteria for Dutch recruiters. Last but not least: make sure to check if your educational diploma’s and degree’s are valid in the Netherlands.

Who can apply for jobs in the Netherlands?
EEA nationals
In principle, the EU & European Economic Area (EEA) allow for the free movement of money, goods, services and persons. This means that its inhabitants are allowed to live and work in any other member state. This free movement of persons already exists between most of the member states of the EU/EEA. These are currently: Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, Denmark, Germany, Finland, France, Greece, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Liechtenstein, Luxemburg, Malta, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, United Kingdom, Poland, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Slovenia, Slovakia and the Czech Republic.

EEA nationals working in the Netherlands have the same rights as nationals of this country regarding pay, working conditions, access to housing, vocational training, social security and trade union membership. Families and immediate dependants are entitled to join them and have similar rights.

Citizen Service Number (formerly Sofinumber)
In order to work in the Netherlands you need a Citizen Service Number (Burger Servicenummer or, in short, BSN) after January 1st, 2007. This number means you are registered in the tax and social security system. You can apply for a Citizen Service Number at the local office of the Tax and Customs Administration.

If you work in paid employment, your employer will deduct social security contributions and tax from your wage and pay these amounts to the concerned authorities. This payment occurs in advance of the income tax return, which you have to complete once a year. For more information and the addresses of tax offices visit www.belastingdienst.nl or phone 0800 0543 (from the Netherlands) or +31 555 38 53 85 (from abroad).

Residence Permit and Identification
Citizens from EU/EEA member states, do not need a residence permit in order to be allowed to work in the Netherlands. Once you have been in the Netherlands for more than 3 months, you should register with the IND. For more information consult the IND website www.ind.nl . On this website you will find a ‘residence wizard’ through which you can find out about the rules for residency in the Netherlands for yourself and any family members.

Even if not directly needed, a residence permit can come in handy: sometimes employers ask for it before they enter into a contract with you, banks also ask for it when you open a bank account and other official institutions ask for this document as well. You can apply for a residence permit at the IND office nearest to where you are residing. As of 1 January 2005 everyone aged 14 or older must be able to submit valid identification documents to prove his or her identity. If you are a national of one of the EU member states or of the European Economic Area, you can identify yourself with a passport or an EU/EEA aliens document.

If you are a national of Bulgaria or Romania you are required to apply for a residence permit (proof of lawfull residence).

A transaction is regarded as an export transaction if it involves the shipment of goods to a non-EU destination. The transaction is zero-rated, irrespective of whether the goods are sold to a private individual or an entrepreneur. You are entitled to apply zero-rating only if you have documentary evidence to prove that the goods are actually being exported.

Export declaration

If you are exporting goods, you must declare the transaction to Customs. You may submit an export declaration yourself, but you may also arrange for a customs agent to do so on your behalf. You may also declare the export at a customs office on the EU’s external border. For further information, please contact the Tax Information Line. Please note that this is a Dutch-language line.

If you are unemployed and receive unemployment benefits, sickness benefits or disablement benefits, you are entitled to pregnancy and maternity benefits. You apply for these at the Social Security Agency UWV.

If you quit your job you may be eligible for pregnancy and maternity leave. The requirement is that the baby should be due or be born less than ten weeks after you quit your job. You are entitled to sixteen weeks pregnancy and maternity leave.

If your contract expires during your pregnancy you may be entitled to unemployment benefits. You need to apply for this at the Social Security Agency UWV. The application should state that you are pregnant and a certificate to prove this should be included. You could then be entitled to pregnancy and maternity benefits, which you will receive for a period of sixteen weeks, six weeks before childbirth and ten weeks thereafter. After that you will receive unemployment benefits.

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