Moving to the Netherlands: Guide to Dutch visas and permits
Which Dutch visa or permit do you need to visit, live, work or study in the Netherlands? Here's an essential guide to choosing the correct Dutch visa or permit for your individual situation.
You may need to apply for a Dutch visa or other permit if you are considering moving to the Netherlands to live, study, work or join a relative or partner. This guide explains the requirements and conditions of the different types of Dutch visas and permits to help you choose which permit you need for you individual situation. Your nationality and reason for coming to the Netherlands will dictate the Dutch visa or permit you need.
The information given here is for guidance only and you should seek specific advice from the Immigration and Naturalisation Service (IND) – see below for contact details.
Find out which Dutch visa or permit you need to visit, live, work or study in the Netherlands.
Who needs a Dutch visa?
The Netherlands is one of 26 countries making up the ‘Schengen' area: Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and the Netherlands. They have one common visa and no border controls between them, so citizens in the Schengen area can travel freely to the Netherlands.
If you're a citizen from one of the countries in the European Union (EU), European Economic Area (EEA; EU plus Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway) or Switzerland, you don't need a visa to visit, live, work or study in the Netherlands – however long you stay – unless you’re from the newer EU member, Croatia (see below).
If you have dual nationality (and passports), whether or not you need a visa depends on which travel document you'll be using to travel to the Netherlands (even if you're not living there at the time of travel).
However, for stays longer than four months, you are expected to register with the personal records database (BRP) in your local municipality and get a citizen service number (burgerservicenummer or BSN), which is a social security and tax number. This number is needed to register with the tax authorities and you may also be asked for it by your GP, in hospitals and pharmacies. You can read more information about the BSN here.
If you’re staying for less than four months, you are not obliged to register but you will still need to get a BSN for all official matters. Ask at your municipality or you can call the government information service on 1400 (from within the Netherlands).
For more information, see our guide for EU/EEA/Swiss citizens moving to the Netherlands.
If you're from Croatia and intend to stay in the Netherlands for longer than three months, you need to be registered in the personal records database (as above) but you also have to apply for verification against EU law and obtain a certificate of lawful residence (proof of legal residence in the Netherlands).
For the time being there are also work restrictions for Croatian citizens: you may only work in the Netherlands if your employer has a work permit for you for the first 12 months. After 12 months’ continuous, legal employment, you can work freely in the Netherlands without a permit. These restrictions will be reviewed in 2015 and may be in place up until June 30, 2020.
For more information, see our guide on long-term residence for Croatian nationals.
Partners and close relatives of EU/EEA/Swiss citizens
If you're a close relative (eg. 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.
However, you will need to apply for verification against EU law and a certificate of lawful residence (proof of legal residence). This is a document that proves you are allowed to stay in the Netherlands lawfully, and that you can work without restriction in any sector without the need for an employer to hold a work permit in your name.
For more information, read our guide for non-EU/EEA/Swiss nationals joining EU/EEA/Swiss relatives.
If you are a ‘third party national’, that is, not from the EU/EEA or Switzerland, and you’re not coming to join an EU/EEA or Swiss relative in the Netherlands, then you will probably need a provisional residence permit (MVV) to enter the country and a residence permit to stay for more than three months. For more information, see below.
Working in the Netherlands
All EU/EEA/Swiss citizens, with the exception of Croatians (see above), can work without restriction in all sectors. If an employer asks for proof of lawful stay in the Netherlands, show them this letter from the IND, which explains the changed circumstances as of 2014, where EU/EEA/Swiss citizens are no longer required to register their long-term stay in the Netherlands.
Third party nationals (that is, those from outside the EU/EEA/Switzerland) will usually only be able to work in the Netherlands if the employer has obtained a work permit in their name. There is now a single permit that combines the entry visa and residence permit (the TEV procedure, detailed below) issued by the IND and the work permit (the TWV) issued by the UWV (Uitvoeringsinstituut Werknemersverzekeringen), the Netherlands Employees Insurance Agency.
This combined residence and work permit, known as the GVVA, is for employees coming to the Netherlands for more than three months. Usually it is the employer who applies for it and the permits are issued for up to three years.
Some people cannot get the single combined permit, and employers must apply for a separate work permit if the employee is a:
- seasonal worker;
- highly educated person/graduate on an ‘orientation year’;
- family member of single permit holders;
- person who has transferred intra-company;
- person with EU long-term residence;
- person staying less than three months.
Who doesn't need a work permit?
If you come to the Netherlands on a residence permit as a ‘highly skilled migrant', or as a graduate spending a year searching for work, you can work without the employer needing to organise a separate work permit for you. If you come as a scientific researcher, the research institution doesn’t need to get a work permit for you, however, if you work for another employer, your other employer will need to get one.
In some cases, family members enjoy the same rights as their relative living in the Netherlands; so if their relative or partner has already been granted permission to work, they can also work without the need for an employer to hold a work permit in their name. See the information on specific residence permits (below) to find out whether you will or won't need a work permit, depending on which permit is applicable to your situation.
Dutch visas and permits overview
Short-stay Dutch visas
If you will be stopping briefly in the Netherlands (even for a few hours) en route to another destination or staying for up to three months, depending on your nationality you may need to get a short stay visa.
There are two types of short stay visa: the A-visa and the C-visa:
- The A-visa is for transit only and is needed by passengers of certain nationalities who are making a stopover in a Dutch airport en route to another country, outside of the Schengen area. It only allows you into the international zone of a Dutch airport. If you are leaving the airport, even for a day, you will need to get a short stay C-visa.
- The C-visa (sometimes called a ‘tourist visa') allows you to stay in the Netherlands (or any other country in the Schengen area) for up to three months (90 days) within a six-month period. During this time you can work if your employer has a work permit in your name but you can't apply for a residence permit on this visa. You have to leave the Netherlands and apply from your home country.
Find out how to apply in our guide to short-stay visas for visiting the Netherlands.
Long-stay Dutch visas and permits
If you want to stay in the Netherlands for more than three months, unless you're a national from an EU/EEA member state or Switzerland, you may have to apply for a provisional residence permit (MVV) to enter the Netherlands and/or residence permit – and may have to take an integration exam.
Not everyone needs an MVV. If you do, you can apply for the MVV and the residence permit at the same time in one single process called the Entry and Residence Procedure (TEV) procedure. Both permits are granted at the same time; you are issued with the MVV, which allows entry into the country, and you collect the residence document from an IND desk within two weeks of your arrival.
If you don’t need an MVV, you can still apply for a residence permit through the TEV procedure from outside the Netherlands or from the IND after you arrive.
To check whether you need an MVV or residence permit, and for information on the application processes, see our guide to provisional residence permits (MVV) and temporary residence permits.
If you are going to work as an employee in the Netherlands, you can now apply for the residence permit and work permit in a single permit (the GVVA). More information is detailed in our guide to residence permits for employees.
If you're a close relative (eg. spouse, registered partner over 21, or child under 18) of a non-EU/EEA or Swiss national who already has permission to live and work in the Netherlands, you may need a visa to enter the country and you will need a residence permit to stay. If you are over 18, you cannot come to the Netherlands for the purpose of staying with your relative but must have another reason, for example, you have a job, want to work as an au pair or are enrolled in study (see below for permits for different purposes of stay). For more information, read our guide to residence permits to be with a non-EU/EEA/Swiss family member.
If you're already in the Netherlands and wish to leave the country temporarily but your current residence permit expires while you're away, or you have a pending visa application (say to replace a lost residence document or a change of purpose of stay), you may need a return visa to get back into the Netherlands. The validity of the visa depends on your circumstances, and can range from three months up to a year. Read more in our guide to return visas to re-enter the Netherlands without a valid permit.
Once you have been living in the Netherlands for five uninterrupted years, you can apply for permanent residence.
For more information, read:
Dutch resident permits for different purposes of stay
You can apply for a residence permit for different purposes of stay. Each has its own conditions, requirements, restrictions and length of validity. For more information, read the relevant article depending on your individual circumstances:
- Joining a relative or spouse who is from EU/EEA/Switzerland
- Joining a relative or spouse who is a non-EU/EEA/Swiss family member
- Resident permits for employees
- Resident permits for self-employed/freelancer/entrepreneur
- Resident permits for highly skilled migrants
- Resident permits for scientific researchers
- Resident permits for seasonal/short-term contract workers
- Resident permits for study purposes
- Residents permits for graduates' orientation year
- Residence permits for Master's and PhD graduates
- Resident permits for au pairs
- Resident permits for exchange programmes
Many people will have a sponsor – a person or organisation – who has an interest in them coming to the Netherlands (such as an employer, education institution or family member). The sponsor may act on your behalf, submit residence permit applications and lodge objections or appeals if an application is rejected. Some organisations can (or indeed, must) be ‘recognised' or registered with the IND (who hold a list of recognised sponsors). These recognised sponsors have certain legal obligations, including a duty to inform IND of any changes (eg. change of employer), keep administrative records, and be responsible for repatriation costs if someone overstays their visa.
Find the IND's list of recognised sponsors.
Renewing or changing your residence permit
If you hold a residence permit, the IND will contact you shortly before it expires and you may have the opportunity to extend it (although, not all permits are extendable). If you can't extend it but want to stay in the Netherlands, you will have to apply for a new residence permit – or leave the country.
Find out what to do when your residence permit expires or you want to leave the Netherlands.
If your permit is lost or stolen, you can apply to the IND for a replacement. You'll have to submit a copy of your passport, the police report and a passport photo, along with other documents pertinent to your own situation (eg. proof of employment). All foreign documents must be translated and legalised; read how to prepare supporting documents for Dutch visa and permit applications.
It costs a fee to process this – as much as EUR 250, depending on what document has been lost or stolen. For the latest fees, click here. Allow eight weeks for the IND to respond.
Once you have lived in the Netherlands for five, uninterrupted years (three years if you’ve been with a Dutch spouse or partner for three years), you can become a Dutch citizen through naturalisation. You must fulfil certain conditions, including:
- being over 18;
- possessing a permanent residence permit;
- being able to write and speak Dutch (demonstrated by passing the Civic Integration Exam at level A-2);
- not having been in prison or similar in the previous four years;
- renouncing your previous nationality (with some exceptions);
- being asked to change your name if it’s deemed difficult to write or pronounce for Dutch people.
You have to apply via your local municipality although your application will be processed through the IND. The process takes about a year. If successful you have to attend a citizenship ceremony, where you make an oath of allegiance, and declare and affirm in Dutch that you will to observe the laws of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. You’ll be handed the decision formally. You then have all the same rights as every other Dutch citizen. You can apply for a Dutch passport at your municipality.
Costs of Dutch visas and permits
See herefor the up-to-date costs for handling different types of application and for the latest information on income requirements to obtain certain permits
For more information
The Immigration & Naturalisation Service (IND)
See the IND website for more information and to find your nearest IND desk.
For general and specific queries, you can contact the IND by phone Monday to Friday, 9am–5pm on 088 0430 430 from within the Netherlands or +31 88 0430 430 from abroad.
7600 AG ALMELO
The IND's twitter account @IND_NL is also for general queries between Monday to Friday 9am–5pm.
The information given here is for guidance only and you should seek specific advice from the Dutch embassy or consulate in your home country.
Need advice? Post your question on Expatica's Ask the Expert service to see if we can help.
Updated from 2013.
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