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How to Relocate to the Netherlands

The Netherlands is an alluring destination for many job seekers as it boasts a robust job market, good economic conditions, outstanding living standards and multicultural vibe in the urban centers. On top of this, it is a hub of international labour as many offshore and international firms such as the ING group, Philips, Unilever and Aegon have branches or bases in Holland and usually advertise English-speaking positions. Another reason Holland is a key attraction for work immigrants is that the salaries and compensation packages in the country are notably well above average plus there are excellent social welfare structures and benefits.

Last but not least, the country scored an astonishing 91% in terms of residents’ happiness based on several factors such as housing, income, environmental quality, personal security, and life satisfaction.

If you are thinking of relocating to the country of tulips, windmills and clogs, here are the steps to follow to successfully settle there:

Ensure you are Eligible for Living and Working in the Netherlands

EU/EEA/Swiss Nationals

First of all, if you are an EU national you do not need a residence or work permit to stay in the Netherlands. Only citizens of Croatia still need a work permit in order to work in the country.

Non-EU/EEA/Swiss Nationals

If you're a close relative (e.g. spouse, partner, grandparent or child under 21) of an EU/EEA/Swiss national who is living in the Netherlands (but are not an EU/EEA/Swiss national yourself), and you want to join him or her, you also have the right to live and work in the Netherlands without the need for a permit.

Unless you are from an EU/EEA member state or Switzerland (or you're a close relative of someone who is, regardless of your own nationality), if you want to work in the Netherlands, you will usually only be able to do so if the employer has obtained a work permit in your name. The work permit (usually known as a TWV) is in addition to the residence permit, and only an employer can apply for one on your behalf.

There are some exceptions to this rule, for example, if you come to the Netherlands as a ‘highly skilled migrant', or as a graduate spending a year searching for work, or as a scientific researcher, you can work without a work permit.

Legalised Foreign Documents

The Dutch authorities only accept legalised foreign documents. A legalised document means that it was issued with the proper authority and that the signatures it bears are genuine. It is possible that certain documents need to be signed by several different authorities in order to be considered legalised. Usually, you can get your document legalised with the issue of an apostille stamp. A document bearing the apostille stamp is valid in more than 100 countries which are parties to the apostille convention.

Register with the Municipality 

If you plan to live in the Netherlands for more than three months, you need to register at the City Hall in the town or city where you live. To register with the municipal office you will need:

- valid passport;

- a legalized or 'authenticated' birth certificate*;

- a legalized or 'authenticated' marriage certificate* (in case you are married)

- proof indicating your address of residence in the Netherlands.

When registering with the municipality you will be automatically given your Citizen Service Number (Burgerservicenummer, BSN). This BSN is your personal tax identification number. It is required when you start working in order to register your taxes and social security contributions with the Dutch government.

Arrange Housing Issues

In Holland you can take advantage of both social and private (not-subsidised) housing opportunities. Tenancy agreements define the terms and conditions agreed by the tenant and the landlord and cover security of tenure, rent, rent increases, maintenance, service charges, etc.

If you spend a large proportion of your income on rent, you may be eligible for housing benefit. You can apply to the Tax and Customs Administration. To be eligible for housing benefit, your rent must be no more than €699,48 a month. The limit for people under 23 is €389,05 a month. In general, the eligibility criteria for housing benefit take into account your income, your assets and your personal circumstances, for example the number of occupants.

Other Important Notes:

Importing a car

If you are importing your own car in the Netherlands you will need to pay for and acquire a vehicle registration certificate, pay motor vehicle tax BMP (Bijzondere Verbruiksbelasting van Personenauto's), obtain Dutch number plates, and have valid insurance.

Health Insurance

In Holland you are legally obliged to take out healthcare insurance. This usually includes a standard package which covers medical care, hospital treatment, medication, help to stop smoking etc.  

The DigiD

Apply for a DigiD username and password to easily prove your identity every time you access a number of government and public service services websites. After applying for a DigiD, you will receive an activation code at your home address. Your DigiD is valid for 3 years.

Learn Dutch

Although the majority of Dutch population speaks English, it is a plus for you if you start attending Dutch classes as you will feel more at home. You can earn the NT2 diploma after successfully completing the exam course. Several municipalities offer free Dutch and integration courses to foreign people looking to advance their Dutch speaking and writing skills as well as mingle with local culture.

All in all, bear in mind that relocating in the Netherlands may involve several bureaucratic processes so you really need to confirm what documents or costs are needed for each of the steps outlined above. However, local people will always willingly offer their help to make sure you feel comfortable with your living experience in the country. 


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