Dutch immigration and residency regulations

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Our guide to getting a visa for the Netherlands and Dutch immigration and residency regulations.

The Netherlands is a bureaucratic country and proud of it. Therefore for expats and their families the regulations and procedures can seem daunting.  The Dutch government has even admitted that its immigration system is "complex and unwieldy" but since 2004 the system has become increasingly streamlined with legislation designed to attract and select more educated and highly skilled migrants. This is some guidance as to how you can make the process easier and faster.

First of all, ensure that your documents are in order. Check that your passport is valid for the entire period of your stay and that marriage and birth certificates are translated into Dutch, English, French or German and sufficiently ‘legalised' -containing an extra stamp on the original document, known as an apostile, which you obtain from the ‘competent authority' in your own country. For further information see the apostille section of www.hcch.net.

EEA and Switzerland
Citizens of the EEA (EU plus Iceland, Norway and Lichtenstein) and Switzerland (but excluding Romania and Bulgaria) can live and work freely in the Netherlands and are not obliged to report to the Aliens Police upon arrival, as other nationals are required to do. However you must be able to show:

  • Passport or other valid travel document
  • Financial means demonstrating that you will not have to rely on public funds during your stay (if your are not working)
  • Health insurance coverage (if you are not working)
  • Proof of employment or work (if applicable)

Although EEA, Swiss citizens and their family members do not need a residence permit to live in the Netherlands, it can be very useful to have one as banks, utility providers, government organisations and employers often ask for one.

Once you have lawfully stayed in the Netherlands for 5 years you qualify for a long-term residence document. Again, although not strictly required, this can be beneficial in some circumstances, such as when applying for a mortgage, as lenders will often request a long-term residence document.

Romania and Bulgaria
Citizens from Romania and Bulgaria can enter the country without needing a visa but, if staying for longer than 90 days you should apply for a residence permit (proof of lawful stay) with their local council – asking for an ‘Application for assessment under European Community law’ form.

Family members of EU citizens
Similar to other European countries, the Netherlands allows family members of EEA citizens to live freely in the country. This covers spouses or registered partners, grandparents, parents-in-law or grand or great-grandchildren of EEA or Swiss citizens.

Children over the age of 21 or antecedents (parents-in-law, grandparents etc.) must demonstrate that the EU family member provided for them or lived with them in the country of origin.

You should apply for a residence document type I (proof of lawful residence), which can be done by submitting an ‘Application for assessment under community law’ form to one of the Immigration and Naturalisation Service desks.

The residence document entitles family members to exactly the same rights as the EU citizen. If that person has a residence endorsement sticker, then you will be granted a residence document with a 5-year term.

Non-European Nationals
To enter the Netherlands you will need authorisation for temporary stay, known as MVV (Machtiging tot Voorlopig Verblijf) and allowing for visits of longer than 90 days. It must be applied for in the country in which you are living and includes an examination covering Dutch language and culture (Civic Integration Abroad, EUR 350). See www.naarnederland.nl for more details of the test. MVV costs vary according to the purpose of your stay. It is valid for six months and issued as a sticker that is placed in your passport.

Some nationals do not need to apply for an MVV in order to enter the Netherlands and can stay for up to 90 days. These are: Australia, Canada, Japan, Monaco, New Zealand, South Korea, USA and Vatican City.

If you are planning on staying for longer than 90 days, you should apply for a temporary residence permit (VVR) at the IND within 3 working days of arriving in the Netherlands. They will require you to produce your temporary stay visa (MVV). The VVR allows individuals to stay in the country for longer than 90 days and the IND will affix a sticker to your passport indicating whether or not you are allowed to work and whether you require a work permit or not. It will take 2 – 3 weeks before you receive a decision.

Applying for a registration certificate – IND desk
Firstly, you and your family must already be registered on the population register in Municipality Administration (GBA) where you live. You can do this by contacting the Department of Civil Affairs or the Aliens Police office in your municipality. You can then make an appointment with the Immigration and Naturalisation Service (IND) by calling 0900-1234561.

The IND will check your documents and the registration form they have sent you and if everything is in order they will issue a registration certificate immediately. This is a sticker, placed in your passport or other proof of identity.

Once your registration certificate has been issued by the IND they will notify the municipality who will additionally provide you with a Citizen Service Number (Burger Service Nummer – BSN). This allows you to take out insurance, open a bank account, receive your salary or apply for benefits.

A registration certificate is valid indefinitely and does not need to be extended. However, remember that it is conditional on your passport or identity document, so that if you renew your passport you must also obtain a new registration certificate.

Documents required for both the population register and application for a residence permit:

  • EU citizens must have a valid passport or identity card;
  • non-EU citizens must have a valid residence permit (verblijfsvergunning) or be in the process of applying for one;
  • applicants must reside in the municipality for at least four continuous months in the six-month period following registration;
  • applicants need proof of unregistering from the register of previous habitation (mainly applicable to EU citizens);
  • applicants need a tenancy agreement, or signed statement and a photo copy of the passport of the main occupant, stating that they are allowed to register at that address, or a document that proves that they are the owner of a house, a deed of ownership or a deed of transfer;
  • applicants need a legalised copy of their birth certificate;
  • applicants need a legalised copy of their marriage certificate.

Civic Integration Act

The inburgering (civic integration) legislation obliges those who want to stay with a family member who already resides on permanent grounds in the Netherlands to speak the language by passing the integration exam abroad. Some elementary knowledge of the Dutch culture and society is also required. The main exemption is EU citizens and their partners (also Switzerland, EEA, people under 18 and over 65). Passing the exam is also a requirement for those who apply for permanent residence. Knowledge migrants and those in the Netherlands for work/study purposes are exempted while on temporary permits.

Visit www.hetbegintmettaal.nl for more details. For information on taking the exam abroad, you can call +31 (0)70 3487575.




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