How to immigrate to The Netherlands

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Immigrants are citizens who come from other countries to live in the Netherlands for jobs, family reunification or other purposes. Not all foreign nationals are allowed to settle in the Netherlands automatically. You may need a residence permit to live here, which can be obtained under certain conditions. For example, if you immigrate for family reunification, you need a Dutch spouse or a partner who is legally residing in the Netherlands and has enough income. The Department for Immigration and Naturalisation Service (IND) reviews residence permit requests.

Step 1: Contact the IND

So the Netherlands is your new intended home for whatever reason–you have to contact the IND and let them know you’re coming (as soon as possible). When immigrating to the Netherlands this is the first step.

When you first contact the IND (Department of Immigration and Naturalization) after 45 minutes of waiting, a representative will respond to your request by phone. If you have an appointment scheduled. Even if the IND usually turns to English to handle the call, it is critical that we try to incorporate the Dutch language at least, sooner the better. For this you can say: “Ik wil graag een afspraak maken.” (I would like to schedule an appointment). But it is also possible to schedule an appointment online.

Step 2: Register in The Netherlands

It’s fairly straightforward to register as a Dutch citizen. Five days after the first day in the Netherlands, they say to register at the town hall – but don’t worry, almost no one finds a place quickly. While immigrating to the Netherlands this is another important step.

Registration is easy, you’re going to have to take everybody from your family who lives with you at home. Every member of your family has to carry a valid passport. You also need to get your birth certificate or marriage certificate with a rental agreement.

Registering in The Netherlands is easy, just google ‘registration (insert city i.e. Amsterdam)’ and it should come up with the municipality. Then it will tell you what number to dial on their website. You should ask for an appointment to register at your municipality once you call them. They’ll tell you when you get your appointment. All you have to do now is take what they tell you to bring to the appointment.

Step 3: Becoming a Dutch Citizen

If you want to apply for Dutch citizenship, you need to contact the town council. There is a fee for this: a family costs € 1,091 and a single individual costs € 855. Getting citizenship in a foreign country is a tremendous step towards advancing your skill set as an individual. You are required to pass a civic integration test and provide documents (passport, birth certificate, residence permit) in order to make this dream a reality. It may take a long time (months) for these forms of proof to be approved or issued with an apostille stamp, but it costs $80AUD or $100USD.

You can become a Dutch citizen by naturalization once you have lived in the Netherlands for five consecutive years (three years if you have been with a Dutch spouse or partner for three years). You must satisfy other requirements, such as proving that you can write and speak Dutch, renouncing your previous citizenship (with some exceptions), and demonstrating that in the past five years you have not had any criminal convictions.


Step 4: Residence Permit

You are presented with a V-number when you start the process of obtaining a residence permit. With your residence permit (VVR) not to be mistaken. Your V-number is your foreign national listing. In letters from the IND and on the back of your residence file, you can find the number as a reference. You may apply for your residence permit on the immigration website (IND).

Warning: Triple check the date for renewals of your residence permit. The format for Dutch dates are dd-mm-yy. Because of the difference in U.S. date formats and Dutch date formats, my dad had to start his residency process all over again

Step 5: MVV Authorization (Long Stay Visa)

Okay, so you’re here now and you’re planning to work and enjoy a semi-Dutch chilling life. You will need a “Long Stay Visa” to stay in the Netherlands for a period longer than 90 days (3 months). If you immigrate a long stay visa, it is a good way to ensure that you have enough time to organize lucrative jobs and effectively crack the Netherlands housing market.

Your employer may have to obtain either a regular residence permit or a residence permit and a temporary residence permit (abbreviated MVV in Dutch) depending on your country of origin. An MVV is a visa that allows you to reach the Netherlands and immediately start working. (click here to find out if you need an MVV)

The IND can take up to 90 days to decide on your combined residence permit application and the MVV submitted on your behalf by your employer.

If your application is successful, collecting your MVV will take you another three months. You will need to provide the Dutch embassy with your international passport and a recent passport photo to get it. You should be ready for the visa passport within 10 days.

Your MVV allows you to enter the Netherlands within three months of receiving it, and within the first five days of your arrival you will have to register with your local municipality.

Step 6: Work Permit (GVVA)

You must apply for a GVVA permit, whether you or your boss. You generally don’t have to do it yourself in most cases. Your work permit is no longer valid, though, when you quit this job. It’s based on a task.

Work permits include:

  • Orientation year (for those who have a Master’s or PhD within 3 years, at a university in the top 150 worldwide – then they can apply to find work in The Netherlands for a year)
  • Entrepreneur permit (for people who want to start their own business and must have personal experience with it and would add to the Dutch market)
  • Single permit (workers and trainees for over 3 months)
  • Highly skilled migrant permits (for highly skilled workers that are needed – need to also be specialized, have a degree, passport, health insurance and have work experience)

To highly skilled migrants, there are certain salary criteria. Currently, if you’re under 30 the minimum montly salary is € 4,240 and if you’re 30 or older, it’s € 3,108. A quick note: these figures are earnings to pre-tax, or gross income, and exclude holiday pay.

Make sure you get a formal written work contract as verbal agreements can also be reached and workers end up with no proof of terms. Work contracts are essential, employers can be quite flexible in the Netherlands. Also, even if you are sick or unable to work, your employer is obliged to pay up to 70% of your wages, even though the first two days of sick leave are sometimes unpaid.


You will work without the employer needing to arrange a separate work permit for you if you come to the Netherlands on a residence permit as a ‘ highly skilled worker ‘ or as a candidate spending a year searching for work. When you come as a professional investigator, you do not need a work permit from the research institution, but if you work for another company at the same time, you will need to get one from your other employer.

In some cases, family members enjoy the same rights as their relative residing in the Netherlands; so if permission to work has already been given to their relative or spouse, they can also work without an employer being allowed to keep a work permit in their name.


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Step 7: Health Insurance

Health insurance usually runs at about € 100 a month, but if you’re used to bulk-billing or the sometimes penalty, you might be shocked by Dutch health insurance. The more expensive the more it is covered.

Health insurance in the Netherlands is privatized and mandatory. If you have started to work, your employer may have a preferred health insurer that will cover most employees unless they have their own. Health insurance can bill you for all months of work without being paid. When you take up Dutch health insurance late, this can really sting. It will still need you to be compensated if uninsured for all of your hours of work.

Step 8: Integration

DUO conducts the integration test, which collects your contact details when you register at your home address from the municipality.

Upon registration, you only have one year to develop your language and literacy skills, or risk a fine. DUO fines are based on the number of hours that you’ve studied an integration course. If you have studied absolutely none of the Dutch language then you’re risking a fine of up to € 1,250, so you might want to start Learning Dutch fast. The penalty for failing to complete the test on time does not exceed € 1,250. DUO has even produced another fine for refusing to sign the participation agreement, even threatening to cut off student loans for foreign students.

For every hundred, the number decreases every hundred hours studied minus about 200EUR. It will still cost you a lot, but here’s the odd thing–if you fail the test twice but have been practicing an integration course for over 300 hours, DUO won’t issue a fine. In those 300 hours, you are believed to have picked up plenty, even if you fail their test for the second time.

Here’s a rundown of all the conditions you’d have to follow if you don’t want to integrate.

Step 9: Dual Citizenship

This is controversial because most people are unable to do so. It means that in order to become Dutch (a major and sometimes dangerous move), you must give up your nationality. When you renounce your citizenship, you must submit a request and declaration, which means that you leave your country and join another country. There are exceptions to this rule, and during your application you must declare and prove them. Exceptions are:

  • You are not allowed to give up your nationality in your home country
  • You are officially registered as a refugee
  • You are a married or registered partner of a Dutch citizen
  • It’s impossible to contact the authorities in your home country
  • You cannot revoke your nationality for a special reason – needs to be accepted
  • If your nationality is not recognized in the Netherlands
  • If you will lose important rights in your country if you were to give up your nationality
  • If you were born in the Netherlands or Dutch Caribbean and you’re still currently residing there
  • If you have to complete military service to give up your nationality
  • If you have to pay a considerable amount of money to give up your nationality

There’s a rigorous process to go through and with this one the demands are pretty steep, consider the choices carefully. The official statement is that the Dutch government wants as much as possible to limit dual citizenship.

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Step 10: Permanent Residency

So for the long haul, you’re really in it, you’re looking for permanent residency. The real way to immigrate to the Netherlands.

No one gives up their citizenship, so they can apply for the pemanent residency. With this, you can live in the Netherlands forever, but in Dutch elections, apart from municipal elections, you can’t vote. It can also be revoked if you spend too much time outside the Netherlands, you need to renew it every five years as well. These are the conditions for this!

To apply for permanent residency, an integration degree is expected, showing full integration over a period of 5 years. As we said, the certificate may be difficult to stop. One year after registering in the Netherlands, you are required to take the exam.

Step 11: Learning Dutch

Most of the time seeing a full Netherlands phrase is overwhelming, re-upgrading your vocabulary with useful Dutch phrases is important for every immigrant. In case you haven’t yet noticed, we put a couple of very useful learning kits in this article for you to start learning as soon as possible! To learn Dutch in The Netherlands, we recommend NLTraining.

201 Dutch Verbs: Fully Conjugated in All the Tenses (Barron’s Verb Series)

The most commonly used Dutch verbs are presented, one to a page, completely conjugated, and arranged alphabetically for quick and easy reference. Commonly used Dutch idioms that use a verb are presented at the bottom of the page of the appropriate verb.

Essential Dutch Grammar (Dover Language Guides Essential Grammar)

This is the first Dutch grammar specifically designed for the adult with limited learning time whose objective is broader, more fluent everyday communication. Avoiding archaic, highly literary and seldom-used forms, this grammar helps those with some knowledge of Dutch use phrases and vocabulary more effectively. For the beginner, it provides all the grammar really needed for speech and comprehension.

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Joël E. Crosby

Joël E. Crosby

I'm an entrepreneur, social media influencer and aspiring author.

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