Before you can travel to the Netherlands, there are some formalities that first need to be seen to.
First of all you will need to check the validity of your passport. Secondly, authorities might have to place a sticker in your passport, so please make sure there is a minimum of 2 empty pages available for this.
Dutch immigration law has a compulsory identification card requirement; all foreign & national residents of 14 years of age or older are required to carry a valid identification card at all times.
The compulsory identification requirement also mandates that parents are responsible for proper identification for any child under the age of 14.
A foreign driving license is not accepted as valid proof of identification. A European driving license will be accepted by the traffic police but not on other occasions.
The procedure that will need to be followed will depend on your nationality, length/duration of stay and whether or not you meet the criteria to be considered as a highly skilled migrant:
- Do you need a work permit?
- Do you need a visa or MVV (MVV is an authorization for temporary stay)
- Do you need a residence permit?
- Do you need legalized documents?
- The ‘UWV Werkbedrijf’ is responsible for work permits.
- ‘IND’: The Immigration and Naturalisation Service is responsible for MVV and residence permit applications. The IND also issues residence cards.
- The Dutch embassies abroad are responsible for the issue of visas and MVV’s (in cooperation with the IND).
- The ‘Gemeente’ (Town Hall) is responsible for registration of persons and issues Social Security numbers (BSN).
- The Expat Centers execute the combined immigration procedure: a foreign employee can collect the residence permit and register with their city of residence in just one visit.
Work permit and MVV
If the purpose of your intended stay in the Netherlands is for work and you are not a citizen of one of the member states of the European Union or the European Economic Area or when you have the Croatian nationality, you will need a work permit.
For highly skilled migrants, te work permit is included in the residence permit. We will elaborate on this further under the residence permit chapter.
As of 1 January 2014 regular work permits will be granted for 1 year only, with the possibility to extend up to 3 years. The legislator now requires the UWV to subject every job held by foreign nationals to an annual evaluation against the status of the employment market. Effective from 2014 employers with foreign employees for whom work permits have been granted that have been evaluated against the status of the employment market, will find themselves in an annual cycle of vacancy listing, advertising, and retraining to hire replacements of Dutch or European nationalities. Moreover, the UWV will no longer have to check whether registered job seekers are actually available and suitable; registration is enough to dismiss applications for work permits. As a result the UWV will not as readily grant work permits, even if employers have made intensive recruitment efforts. Important note: the above does not apply for intercompany transfers!
Besides the work permit, depending on your nationality, you may also need a short term visa or an authorization for temporary stay (MVV) to enter the Netherlands. Please note that it is strongly advised not to stay in the Netherlands during this application procedure. The MVV procedure can take from 2 weeks to a maximum of 3 months, depending on the type of application.
Visa, including MVV
The MVV is an entry visa, required for a stay of more than 3 months for most non-EU nationalities. After you have collected your MVV from the Dutch Embassy or Dutch Consulate General (within three months after the notification/approval) you have a time frame of three months to arrive in the Netherlands. After your arrival you will have an appointment with the IND or Expatcenter in order to receive your residence permit (RP) or residence sticker. This is the follow-up procedure for the MVV. (Highly skilled migrants will receive a notification on their visa which will allow them to work immediately after arrival in the Netherlands. The visit at the IND or Expatcenter is still required to collect the ID (RP) card.
With your passport including the valid MVV Visa, you are allowed to travel freely through the Schengen area during the validity of the Visa (max. 3 months). You can enter the Netherlands more than once.
When collecting your MVV(visa) at the Dutch embassy or consulate your fingerprints will be scanned and a photograph will be made. The embassy or consulate will forward this to the IND in order to produce the residence permit (ID card).
Required documents at the Dutch Embassy or Consulate General
In general, the following documents are required:
- 1 or 2 passport photo(s). Please note that there are very strict requirements for the photos
- Legalized birth certificate/marriage certificate/partnership certificate/non married certificate not older than 6 months. The documents should be translated in Dutch, English, French or German.
- Proof of medical insurance covering the Schengen countries for at least the first 90 days. It must at least provide coverage for urgent medical care, emergency hospital treatment, and repatriation (= flying you home) on medical grounds with a minimum coverage of € 30.000 (thirty-thousand).
- Proof of employment in the Netherlands
As procedures per country may differ, the embassy or consulate in your country may request further documentation.
Business, tourist visa for short stay (Schengen visa)
The Netherlands is a member of the Schengen Agreement.
Border posts and checks have been removed between the the countries that form the Schengen area. A common Schengen visa allows (business) visitors access to the area. Holders of a valid residence permits to a Schengen state enjoy the freedom of travel (NOT to work) to other Schengen states for a period of up to three months consecutively.
Persons originating from countries for which a visa is mandatory are obliged to apply for a Schengen visa for a visit to the Netherlands. This visa is (in principal) issued for a period of three months and has to be applied for at the Dutch embassy. The applicant is required to prove his or her purpose for visiting the Netherlands and he/she has to show that return to the country of origin is guaranteed.
Apart from the Netherlands the following countries also form part of the Schengen territory:
Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France & Monaco, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovenia, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland.
The foreigner is allowed to stay in the Schengen area for 90 days in a 180 days period.
For every planned stay in the Netherlands the previous 180 days will be reviewed.
During the stay in the Schengen area the foreigner is not allowed, at any time, to have spent more than 90 days in the 180 days previous to that specific timing.
This is controlled at the external borders of the Schengen area, usually the border crossing point at an airport, by the border police.
The European Commission has developed a handy tool, the short-stay calculator, http://ec.europa.eu/dgs/home-affairs/what-we-do/policies/borders-and-visas/border-crossing/schengen_calculator_en.html. This makes it easy to calculate how many days, after the entry, the foreigner can stay in the Schengen area. This tool can also be used to plan the trip.
Please note: this tool is not legally binding. The border control will always check if other admission conditions are met.
It is possible for non EU citizens to obtain a residence permit based on employment. The most important condition is that the employer obtains a work permit from the Dutch employment office (the UWV) for the employee. The basic assumption for issuing a work permit is that a Dutch national interest is served by allowing the employee into the labour market. The consequence of this assumption is that the UWV will only issue a work permit if the employer can illustrate that he has not been able to find a suitable Dutch or EU candidate for the position. The requirement of recruitment efforts is not applicable for employees who are transferred within the company.
Highly Skilled Migrant
A highly skilled migrant is a migrant who comes to the Netherlands to work and earns a certain gross monthly salary.
The salary requirements for 2019 are:
a. Gross € 3299 per month (excl. holiday allowance) when the highly skilled migrant is below the age of 30 years.
b Gross € 4500 per month (excl. holiday allowance) when the highly skilled migrant is 30 years of age or older.
c. Gross € 2364 per month (excl. holiday allowance) when the highly skilled migrant has successfully concluded a recognized education at a higher vocational or university in the Netherlands within 1 year before the application.
Persons who meet the salary criteria can be allowed residence as a Highly Skilled Migrant under the condition that their employer has been accepted as a recognized sponsor.
Other categories who may fall under the highly skilled migrant procedure are; post-doctorates under 30 years of age, PhD students and university teachers under 30 years of age.
The advantages of the highly skilled migrant procedure
- Fast access to the Netherlands (in principle the visa/residence permit will be granted within 2-3 weeks)
- No need for a separate work permit
- Application for residence permit via the employer
- Faster issue of the residence permit
- Residence permit will be issued for the full contract period (with a maximum of 5 years).
- A granted highly skilled migrant permit for the main applicant means that the spouse is also free to work on the Dutch labour market.
Job-seeking year for foreign graduates
Foreign students from outside the EEA who have successfully completed an education in The Netherlands are granted a period of one year in order to search for a job as a highly skilled migrant. The graduates must find a job as a highly skilled migrant during this year. During this period the graduate must be self-supporting (using their own money or income through a job). Graduates who find a job as a highly skilled migrant within one year after graduation will be eligible for a residence permit under this category. The minimum starting salary for this category is gross € 2.364,00 per month excluding holiday pay.
Job-seeking year for highly educated employees
Foreign nationals with at least a (foreign) Master’s degree can obtain, under certain conditions, a residence permit for a maximum of one year to search for a job as a highly skilled migrant in the Netherlands. This is possible until 3 years after their graduation.
The highly educated employee can change his one year residence permit into a highly skilled migrant residence permit after he/she has found a job in this category.
There are several Expat Centers in the Netherlands. Most of them combine the IND function and municipality function. It is an accelerated procedure which enables employees and their family members to register in the municipal database and to leave behind biometric details/ collect a residence sticker/ collect the residence permit (depending on the personal situation) in just one visit. This procedure is only allowed for employers who are a recognized sponsor. The Expatcenters are currently located in Amsterdam, Groningen, the Hague, Eindhoven, Maastricht, Leiden, Rotterdam, Hengelo (Twente) Utrecht and Wageningen. Some include services for surrounding municipalities.
Some Expat Centers charge a fee for their service!
Depending on your nationality, you may have to undergo a tuberculosis (TB) test at the Dutch GGD (Municipal Health Service) and, if necessary, receive treatment. This is a mandatory part of your immigration procedure and the permit will be granted to you under the express condition that you will indeed undergo a TB-test within three months after arrival to the Netherlands. If you refuse to do so, you will not be granted a residence permit. This does not apply to foreign nationals of one of the EU/EEA Member States, Australia, Canada, Israel, Japan, Monaco, New Zealand, Surinam, Switzerland, the United States of America or Vatican City.
Citizens of the European Union, European Economic Area and Switzerland (except for Croatia) will no longer need a registration sticker in their passport from the Immigration and Naturalisation Service (IND). A passport or ID card is sufficient to proof lawful stay in The Netherlands. However registration at the town hall is an obligation when your stay exceeds 4 months.
EU citizens from Croatia still need a work permit and have to submit an EU application at the IND.
Collect original documents for registration at Dutch authorities
Before the authorities can accept your official documents (birth, marriage, divorce and/or death certificates, divorce/custody papers and non-married affidavit), the following rules need to be followed:
- If possible, apply for international certificates which are multilingual. Documents in another language than Dutch, English, French or German must be translated by a certified translator.
- The certificates may not be older than 6 months when submitting them to the Dutch authorities. If they are older than 6 months, they need to be re-issued (certified copies) by the relevant authorities of the country of birth.
- Depending on the country of issue the certificates may need to be legalized. This means that they bear a mark to verify that the issuing authority was indeed competent to issue the document.
Often the original document can be legalized by means of an apostille stamp. The legalization can be obtained through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs or Ministry Justice in the country where the original documents were issued. An apostille may not be older than 6 months.
In some cases, double or triple legalization is required. The legalized documents then also need to be validated by the Dutch embassy or consulate in the country where the original documents were issued.
Visit town hall for registration / BSN (social security number)
After arrival in the Netherlands, you must report to the civil affairs counter at the town hall in the municipality where you will reside and register as a Dutch resident. All family members that need to be registered must be present. Depending on the municipality, registration at the town hall may be either by appointment or on a “walk-in” basis. For the registration you will need the following documents:
- Original and legalized/apostilled certificates, f.e. marriage, divorce, birth and/or and custody papers (not older than six months);
- Original and fully signed lease or purchase contract of your house, or in case you are staying at a hotel or friend’s house a letter stating you are staying at that address and have their permission to register at that address.*
- i/a copy employment contract
- For registration in Rotterdam you also need to hand in a statement from the landlord or ‘verhuurdersverklaring’.
- Please note that most municipalities do not accept registration on a hotel address.
Temporary registration on the business address is usually allowed when using an Expatcenter
BSN (personal public service number)
The BSN is a personal code which registers you with the government.
Everyone who maintains a relationship with the government does require a BSN. The BSN plays a pivotal role in government information management, enabling personal data to be exchanged effectively and reliably between the government and citizens and/or between government organisations. Upon registering at the town hall into the municipal personal records database, a BSN will automatically be allocated to you in the system. Your personal BSN will be provided to you either during the town hall appointment itself or sent to your home address, which can take up to 4 weeks after registration. This varies per municipality.
Short term residents (up to 4 months) will be able to obtain a BSN number at one of the 18 municipalities offering a non-resident register (RNI). Bringing a valid passport or ID card + proof of foreign address to the appointment will be sufficient.
If the employee is staying longer than 4 months he should register (again) at the town hall, usually by appointment. For a long term registration other requirements will be applicable (such as residence permit, proof of occupancy, legalized birth certificate, legalized marriage certificate, if you are divorced, legalised divorce papers).
Extension of the residence permit
It is recommended to apply for an extension at least 8 (preferably 13) weeks before your residence card expires. It is more and more common that the Dutch Immigration authorities send you a notification before the expiry date, but this is not always the case.
Sometimes it’s required to apply for a return visa. This visa allows you to return to the Netherlands. The main reasons to apply for a return visa is when you have applied for an extension of your residence permit, but you have not received approval as of yet and your current residence has expired or will expire during your travel.
Immediately prior to departure from the Netherlands, employee and family members are required to de-register at the town hall and to inform and surrender their residence ID cards to the Immigration and Naturalisation Service (IND). If applicable the work permit must be cancelled with the UWV Werkbedrijf.
The 30% tax ruling
Implications of the 30% ruling
Employees who are seconded to another country or come to work in the Netherlands from another country are known as extraterritorial employees. If these employees meet certain conditions, they are eligible for a special expense allowance scheme: the 30% facility.
Under this facility, the employer may provide 30% of the wages as an allowance including compensation for the additional costs of the employee’s temporary stay in another country. (This is subject to the condition that the employee is not entitled to double tax relief in respect of those taxable wages. In other words, these wages must be fully taxable in the Netherlands.)
However, the employer is not obliged to pass on the advantage of the ruling to the employee. Your employer is also entitled to partially or fully take the benefit.
Your ‘regular employment income’ is the basis for calculating the 30% tax free reimbursement.
There are regulations regarding pension premiums, but your bonus, holiday allowance, benefits in kind and company car all fall under the ruling.
Severance payments do not fall under the 30% ruling definition of ‘regular employment income’ and therefore cannot fall under the 30% tax ruling.
Other benefits from the 30% ruling
Under the 30% ruling you can opt for ‘partial non-residency status’. You are then considered to be a non-resident tax payer in Box 2 and Box 3.
For box 1 you are considered a resident tax payer. You do not pay income tax on assets in Box 2 and3 (except for real estate located in the Netherlands and substantial shareholding in a Dutch resident BV) and you are entitled to the partnership ruling in Box 1.
With the 30% ruling benefit you will be able to exchange your driving license without the requirement to take a test/exam. The exchange of the license is required in many situations.
Effective in retrospect
The 30% ruling will become effective in retrospect if the application is submitted within 4 months after the commencement of your employment contract. When the application is submitted after 4 months (after your working start date in the Netherlands) it will become effective as of the first day of the month following the month of application.
The maximum duration of the ruling is 8 years and will be reduced by other periods you have stayed in the Netherlands. Each year the tax authorities may ask the employer to prove that the employee still meets all the conditions. With unchanged circumstances this is usually just a formality.
When you change jobs you will be able to reapply for the ruling, provided that you still meet the conditions regarding specific skills, salary and provided that the new employment did start within 3 months of terminating the previous one.
Master degree/ PhD
When you are under 30 years of age and you have a master degree from a science education university you might be eligible for the lower salary criteria. Your Master’s diploma might need to be evaluated (by IcDW – Information Centre for Credential Evaluation). Please do realize that as soon as you turn 30, the higher salary criteria will apply.
When you have a PhD (dr. title) from the Netherlands and you find a job within one year from graduating, the requirement of being hired from abroad will be dismissed.
Implications on benefits and tax
The reduction of your gross salary by 30% has implications on your disability or unemployment benefit, tax refund (residential mortgage loan), social security, pension etc, as these benefits are based on your
An employer can pay the tax-free allowance to cover extraterritorial expenses. If the 30% facility applies, it’s not required to retain documentary evidence. If the 30% facility is used, it’s not allowed to pay the actual extraterritorial expenses tax-free.
If the total extraterritorial expenses exceed the allowance paid under the 30% facility, there is a possibility to reimburse the actual expenses. In that case, however, it’s required to provide evidence for these extraterritorial expenses. If it can be demonstrated that the expenses exceed 30%, the expenses actually incurred can be reimbursed free of tax. In this connection, there is no time restriction for the reimbursement of double housing costs.
No extraterritorial expenses
The following items do not qualify as extraterritorial expenses and therefore cannot be reimbursed free of tax:
- Secondment allowances, bonuses and comparable allowances (foreign service premium, expat allowance, overseas allowance)
- Capital losses
- Purchase and selling costs of a property (reimbursement of house purchase costs, broker’s fee)
- Compensation for higher tax rates in the country of work (tax equalization)
Tax-free reimbursements in addition to the 30% facility
In addition to the 30% facility, the school fees for an international school or for the international department of an ordinary school can be reimbursed free of tax.
This is permitted if:
- The curriculum at the school (department) is based on a foreign system
- The school (department) is in principle only open to children of seconded employees
The following costs, amongst others, may also be reimbursed free of tax:
- Removal costs and the costs of the temporary storage and transfer of the household effects
- Costs of a familiarization visit by the employee to the business in the country of work
- Costs of the application for or conversion of a work permit or a highly skilled migrant permit
- Commuting expenses (expenses for ‘regular’ commuting)
- Telephone line rental costs
- Costs of business meals
Employee insurance contributions
The 30% facility also applies to the employee’s insurance contributions. If your employee is insured in the Netherlands under the employee insurance scheme, you are not required to deduct employee insurance contributions from the amount of the 30% tax-free allowance.