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Working in The Netherlands

With its long successful tradition in worldwide commerce, the Netherlands applies the same open-minded principles to making its society work for both natives and newcomers. It is the country of green plains with its milk-cows, however, people do not wear clogs on a regular basis, nor do the women wear frilly dresses, have blond pig-tails or continually carry bunches of tulips with them. And English is spoken by almost everyone.

If you are seeking a job in the Netherlands or are looking to move here you will find that the Dutch reserve a warm welcome for foreign nationals. With its cosmopolitan atmosphere and long tradition as a trading nation, the Netherlands is an excellent country in which to live and work.

The Dutch way of living has to be experienced at least once in your life. There’s nothing quite like it!

Here is some useful information to guide you through the Dutch system. We hope this will help you to settle into your new working environment.

Your job search in The Netherlands

For some valuable tips on how to start your job search in Holland, read here.


Registration with the Municipal Authority is compulsory for everyone within 5 days after your arrival. You will then be registered in their personal records database (Gemeentelijke Basisadministratie GBA). This proof of residence is essential for many other formalities.

You will need to register in person at your place of residence and need to present the following documents: Your valid passport, rental contract (issued on your name), employment contract, if any, marriage and/or birth certificates (this applies to you and to all your family members staying with you). Registration is free. The GBA does not handle any residence permit applications. For residence permits you need to contact the IND (Immigratie- en Naturalisatiedienst).

Fiscal Number

The Burgerservicenummer (BSN) – citizen service number – is a unique personal ID number of every citizen who is registered in the GBA. As per November 2007, the BSN has replaced the old fiscal SoFi number and is initiated by the Municipal Authorities. You will automatically obtain a BSN number as soon as you register with the GBA. The BSN indicates that you are registered in the Dutch tax and social security system. Your employer will deduct tax and social security contributions from your salary and pay the amounts to the tax authorities (Belastingdienst). Therefore, you will need to have a BSN before you can start to work. You will also need the BSN to open a Dutch bank account. Having a BSN does not automatically mean that you are permitted to work in the Netherlands. You can contact the IND to check whether you need a work permit for the Netherlands.

Residence and Work Permit

The IND (Immigratie- en Naturalisatiedienst) will handle residence permit applications/issues. To check whether you need a residence permit (verblijfsvergunning) and/or a work permit (tewerkstellingsvergunning) you can consult their website, which provides comprehensive information in English and a Residence Wizard to help you through various procedures. Forms and brochures are also available for download.

Your country of origin, purpose of your stay in the Netherlands, your income and period of your stay in the Netherlands determine which kind of residence permit you need. Most temporary permits are issued for a year and are renewable. A permanent residence permit can be applied after five years legal stay in the Netherlands. The IND also deals with Highly Skilled Migrant residence permit.

Registration with the IND is not compulsory for EU nationals

Non-EU/EER and Swiss nationals require a residence permit. An authorisation for temporary stay in the Netherlands for longer than 3 months (90 days) may also be necessary.

EU nationals have free access to the Dutch labour market. Nationals of non-EU countries require a work permit, though exceptions apply. If your residence permit states “Work is freely permitted; work permit not required” (“Arbeid is vrij toegestaan; TWV is niet vereist”), you can start working without a work permit. Regulations have become more flexible in recent years for foreign nationals.


All residents of the Netherlands beyond the age of 14 must carry their ID at all times as a proof of their residency status (EU/EER nationals must have their passport with them).

Opening a Dutch bank account

An overview of all banks in the Netherlands can be found on (in Dutch only). You will need a valid passport/ID/residence card, GBA registration and your BSN number in order to open a Dutch bank account. A copy of your actual employment contract or recent salary statement may be required as well.

Health Insurance

Since 1st January 2006, the new Health Care Insurance Act (Zorgverzekeringswet) is applicable. Anyone living or working in the Netherlands is obliged by law to take out basic health insurance with a care insurer. If you are already insured for healthcare costs in your home country, it is still compulsory for you to have a Dutch insurance whilst you live and work in the Netherlands. Keep in mind that non-coverage is subject to a fine!

The basic health insurance is covered by private health insurance companies. You can choose your own health insurance provider and you are free to change your insurance company once a year. Some employers may offer collective health insurance at reduced rates for its staff and you may be eligible to join the scheme. The health insurance companies are obliged to accept everyone for insurance under the basic health insurance package irrespective of their health and age. The health insurance company will need your BSN number to process your coverage.

The health insurance includes a standard package of essential healthcare, which is the same with every insurance company. However, as coverage is quite basic, an additional insurance might be useful. The insured pay a nominal monthly premium to the health insurer. The premium payable may vary, depending on the health insurance company. The employers make a compulsory payment towards the income-related insurance contribution of their employees. You must also pay a contribution for any registered family members over the age of 18.

Please see the Health Insurance page from the website of the Government of the Netherlands to gain insight into the health insurance system.


If you live and work in the Netherlands, you are subject to Dutch income tax (resident taxpayer). This also applies in cases where you live abroad and receive income from the Netherlands which is taxable in the Netherlands (non-resident taxpayer).

All taxpayers are entitled to a general tax credit against the tax owed. The general tax credit is already taken into account by your employer when withholding wage tax and national insurance contributions. Tax partners are entitled to this tax credit individually. You may also qualify for supplementary tax credits.

The 30% ruling is a tax advantage for foreign employees working in the Netherlands. If a number of conditions are met, the employer is allowed to grant a tax free allowance amounting to 30% times 100/70 of the gross salary subject to Dutch payroll tax.

The Tax and Customs Administration (Belastingdienst) provides more information on their website (also available in English).


As with any other European country, quality, availability and price of housing, varies greatly according to the region. There are several relocation agencies in the Netherlands who can help you find your "nest" for a fee. Another option is using a Real Estate agent (Makelaar) specialized in the rental market, or look through adverts in different media such as newspapers or the internet (most popular media). You can also check out various expat information services such as IamExpat Housing.

If you are planning to stay for a long period (minimum 3 years), buying may be a good alternative to renting. There are distinct benefits as mortgage interest is fully deductible on your income tax return when you use the property as your main residence. Expenses related to the mortgage (notary, registration, bank and appraisal fee) are also deductible.

Travel & Transport

The Netherlands offer good road networks and public transportation which makes it easy to get around.

Schiphol is the Dutch international airport, but the Netherlands also boasts many regional airports such as Eindhoven, Groningen, Maastricht and Rotterdam.

The train station at Amsterdam Airport Schiphol is located underneath the Arrival Hall which makes it very convenient to take the train to get to your destination. The Dutch railway network is quite extensive and allows you to travel fast between city centres by intercity trains or express trains and local trains which also stop at intermediate stations. Visit the website of the Dutch Railways, Nederlandse Spoorwegen, for detailed information on schedules and fares. For information on the high speed trains, please check

Public transportation can be paid for with the Public Transport Smart Card (OV-Chipkaart) which is valid for travel by tram, bus and metro. The card can be purchased at the ticket office and vending machines at the station. More information can be found on or via 9292ov.

Thanks to the excellent and affordable public transportation, taxis are hardly used in the Netherlands. Taxis are run by various taxis companies and are available at a taxi rank or on call via a local taxi company.

Groups & Clubs

There are many expat groups and clubs in the Netherlands. You will find a selection below. For a detailed list please check Expatica.

Metric Conversion

Useful Phrases

English Dutch Translation
Good morning Goedemorgen
Good afternoon Goedendag
Good evening Goedenavond
Goodbye Tot ziens
Yes / No Ja / Nee
Please Alstublieft
Thank you Bedankt / dank U wel
Excuse me Pardon
I don't speak any Dutch / I speak a little Dutch. Ik spreek geen / Ik spreek een beetje Nederlands.
Do you speak English/French/German? Spreekt U Engels/Frans/Duits?
What / Where is ...? Wat / Waar is ...?
Do you have ...? Heeft U ...?
What does it cost? Wat kost dit? Hoeveel kost het?
Can you tell me ...? Kunt U mij zeggen ...?
I would like to order. Mag ik even bestellen.
What time is it? Hoe laat is het?
Open Open
Closed Gesloten
Could I have the menu, please? Kunt U mij de spijskaart even geven, alstublieft.
Could I have the bill, please? De rekening alstublieft.

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