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Visas and Permits in The Netherlands

Members of the EU, European Economic Area (EEA) and Switzerland do not require a visa to visit or work in the Netherlands.

Visitors from Australia, New Zealand, the United States and Taiwan do not require a visa for stays of less than 90 days, although they will not be able to work without a work permit.

The Dutch Embassy in your home country will be able to provide you with the latest information about visa requirements. If you are already in the Netherlands, questions can be asked at the local municipality.

If you are planning to visit the country for longer than 90 days or work in the Netherlands then you must register with the gemeente in the area where you are living. Failure to do this could incur a fine of up to €400.

EU citizens automatically have the right to residency, but non-EU citizens do not. If you are not an EU citizen but are married to someone from the EU (or in a recognised partnership), then you should be able to obtain a residence permit with little difficulty. Otherwise your best option for obtaining residency is to find a sponsor.

The registration process is free, although from the moment that you register you will be liable for Dutch tax and you will have to take out compulsory Dutch health insurance.

To register, you need proof of identity (such as a passport) and a proof of address (such as a tenancy agreement or property deed). If you are accompanied by your spouse you must also bring along your marriage certificate. Your birth certificate and those of any children that you have with you will also be required, but these can be provided at a later date. Original documents in English are usually accepted, although you may have to get them legalised by your home country. Some EU countries can provide a bilingual copy of your document free of charge.

Upon registration you will be issued with a proof of residency certificate called a bewijs van bekendmaking. This will include your unique identification number (burgerservicenummer, BSN, formerly called sofinummer). You will need this in situations where you have to prove your residency status, such as opening a bank account, registering with a doctor or accessing free legal help. You should also give this number to your employer. Visit www.burgerservicenummer.nl for more info.

Non-EU nationals must also register with the Immigration and Naturalisation Service (IND). Registration is recommended but not mandatory for EU citizens. Failure to register means that you are not entitled to social assistance and cannot apply for a government grant or loan. Many telecoms companies refuse subscriptions without evidence of such registration. Childcare allowance and mortgages can also be harder to get if you don’t register.

IND registration is free. Simply call 020 889 3045 to make an appointment. Note that the number given on the IND website — 0900 123 4561 — is a premium rate number.

During the phone call you will be asked what the reason is for your stay in the Netherlands. An appointment will be arranged at the IND office closest to your address. A confirmation letter and registration form will be sent to you.

The IND website has more information, including a small section in English.

A sticker will be placed in your passport as proof of your registration with IND. This sticker remains valid for the entire duration of your stay in the Netherlands. There is no need to extend or renew it.

If you only bring along your European identity card — rather than your passport — a separate document will be issued to confirm your registration.

Work permit

EU citizens have the automatic right to work in the Netherlands. Non-EU citizens married to EU nationals can also seek work permits, once they are registered.

If you fall outside of these categories, then the best option for working in the country is to try and find an organisation that will sponsor you.

Under the country’s Foreign Nationals Employment Act — Wet Arbeid Vreemdelingen (WAV) — employers must first try to recruit within the Netherlands and in other EU countries before seeking workers from elsewhere, although this provision does not apply to inter-governmental organisations.

A work permit can be obtained by your employer from Uitvoeringsinstelling Werknemersverzekeringen (UWV), which is also responsible for social benefits. Further information is available at www.werk.nl.

You must be aged between 18 and 45 to be eligible for a standard work permit.

The maximum duration of a work permit is three years. Employees who have worked for three consecutive years in the Netherlands, with full residency status, will generally be granted an extension to this period. If you are allowed to work in the Netherlands, then your spouse or partner is usually allowed to work as well.

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