Moving to the Netherlands to join a partner or family member

Moving to the Netherlands to join a partner or family member

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If you have a family member living in the Netherlands find out if you're eligible to join them with a 'family reunification' Dutch residence permit.

If you have a partner, spouse or relative who is residing in the Netherlands – either from the European Union (EU) or a third national country (non-EU) – you can typically apply for a Dutch residence permit to join them. However, the application process and the conditions to qualify will depend on your nationality and the nationality of your family member living in the Netherlands. Different processes apply depending on whether you and your family member are from the EU or outside the EU.

This guide answers some important FAQs:

Who can move to the Netherlands to join family?

If you are the spouse, partner or close relative of a national from the European Union (EU), the European Economic Area (EEA – the EU plus Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway) or Switzerland, you are eligible to apply for a residence certificate that allows you to live and work in the Netherlands on the basis of EU law. Certain conditions apply, which are listed below. If you are from the EU/EEA or Switzerland yourself, you do not need any permit but a different procedure applies.

If neither you nor your family member is from the EU/EEA or Switzerland, you will typically need to apply for a Dutch resience permit, although different conditions must be met. Proceed to the second part of this article to learn how you can qualify for a Dutch family reunification residence permit.

Moving to the Netherlands to join EU family

Moving to the Netherlands to join EU/EEA or Swiss family members

Even if you are not an EU/EEA or Swiss national yourself, you have the right to apply for a residence permit to come and live in the Netherlands with a family member who has EU/EEA or Swiss citizenship.

Certificate of lawful residence
If you want to stay in the Netherlands for more than three months, you may apply for Verification against EU law and obtain a certificate of lawful residence (proof of legal residence). This is a document that demonstrates that you are allowed to live in the Netherlands legally and that you can work without restriction in any sector, without the need for an employer to hold a work permit in your name.

Conditions for joining EU/EEA/Swiss relatives
You are eligible to apply for verification against EU law and the certificate of lawful residence if you are the spouse, (registered or unregistered) partner, child under 21, parent or grandparent of an EU/EEA/Swiss citizen who has lawful residence in the Netherlands.

If your family member is a Dutch national, in most cases the EU verification procedure will not be available to you, even though the Netherlands is a member of the EU. Instead, you must apply for a residence permit. See the complete guide to Dutch visas and permits to see which permit could apply to your situation.

The exception to this is if you have already lived with that person while they were living in another EU/EEA country or Switzerland, and they are now back in the Netherlands. If your partner can be considered as having 'lived as an EU citizen' in another EU country, the EU verification procedure will be open to you.

How to apply for EU verification
You must apply in person at your local IND office. Make an appointment by calling the Immigration and Naturalisation Service (IND) at 088 0430 430 from within the Netherlands or +31 88 0430 430 from abroad.

Although EU citizens are no longer required to complete any immigration formalities in the Netherlands, your EU family member must complete a 'notification' to sponsor your verification. You can then file your application.

Documents
For your appointment, you should prepare the following documents:

  • your valid passport/travel ID;
  • proof of your relationship with the relative who is the EU/EEA/Swiss citizen (eg. a marriage or partnership certificate, a tenancy agreement to prove you have lived with your partner for at least six months before applying, or a declaration from a recognised authority regarding your relationship);
  • proof of your relative's lawful residence in the Netherlands (eg. EU registration);
  • proof that your relative has sufficient funds to cover your stay – see the income requirements here;
  • proof that you are registered in the Dutch municipal personal records database (BRP).


Foreign documents must be legalised (authenticated) and in Dutch, English, French or German. For information about legalising documents and translation, read how to prepare supporting documents for Dutch visa and permit applications.

Form
You have to complete the form called ‘Application for Verification against EU Law (certificate of lawful residence)'. You can download the form here.

Fees
It currently costs EUR 50 to apply, and if your application is refused, you won't get a refund. Fees are reviewed bi-yearly, so check the latest fees here.

Timescale
The IND can take up to six months to make their decision.

EU/EEA/Swiss family members: Your rights once you hold a certificate

Your certificate will give you the same rights as your relative with EU/EEA/Swiss nationality.

Working
You can work without any restrictions in any sector without a work permit.

How long does the certificate last?
You will be issued with a certificate valid for five years.

Shortly before it expires, the IND will inform you that you can apply for an extension (find out how you can extend your permit). After five continuous years of residence, however, you may be eligible to apply for Dutch permanent residence or Dutch citizenship.

If your circumstances change
You may be allowed to continue living in the Netherlands even if your circumstances change. For example, if you separate or get divorced from your partner, you can still stay in the Netherlands if you can prove you were together for three years before the separation/divorce and had been living for at least one year in the Netherlands.

You should contact the IND about your individual situation; you can call 088 0430 430 from within the Netherlands or +31 88 0430 430 from abroad. The IND's twitter account @IND_NL is also open for general queries between Monday to Friday 9am–5pm.

You can also read the complete guide to Dutch visas and permits to find out if you're eligible to apply for a new residence permit with a different purpose of stay.

Moving to the Netherlands to join family

Dutch residence permit to join non-EU/EEA or Swiss family members

If you do not have a relative who is an EU/EEA or Swiss national and you want to join your family member in the Netherlands, you'll need to fulfil certain specific conditions to be allowed to live there.

If you're a close relative (eg. spouse, partner over 21 or child under 18) of a third country national who is already or will live and work in the Netherlands, and you want to remain with them in the Netherlands for longer than 90 days, you will typically need a Dutch residence permit to stay. In addition to the residence permit, depending on your nationality, you may also need a provisional residence permit (MVV) to enter the Netherlands.

Read about Dutch provisional residence permits (MVV) and temporary residence permits to find out if you need an MVV for entering the Netherlands, or if you only need to submit an application for a Dutch residence permit. If you need both permits, you or your relative (your sponsor in the Netherlands) can apply for them in one application process, known as the Entry and Residence Procedure (TEV).

If you are over 18, you cannot come to the Netherlands for the purpose of staying with your parent but must have another basis of stay, 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).

Conditions to apply
To join your spouse or partner in the Netherlands, you must fulfil the following:

  • You and your spouse/partner must be 21 years or over (there is an exception for Turkish nationals).
  • You must be married or in a civil partnership, or be able to prove that you are both single and in an exclusive, long-term relationship.
  • You must live together as soon as you arrive in the Netherlands, run a joint household and be registered at the same address at the Municipal personal records database (BRP).
  • Your partnership must also be registered in the Netherlands at the BRP.
  • If your spouse/registered partner holds a temporary permit with non-temporary purpose of stay, he or she must have been in the Netherlands for at least one year (this doesn't apply if the permit is for an employee, entrepreneur, highly skilled migrant, study or scientific researcher).
  • Your spouse or registered partner must prove he or she is able to support you financially for at least one year at the start of your application. Currently there is a monthly minimum threshold of EUR 1,646.57 for a couple, but amounts are reviewed bi-yearly. See the latest income requirements here.


If you're a minor joining a parent, you must be: 

  • the biological or legal child of your parent(s) and have a parental relationship with them;
  • under 18 and single;
  • going to live with your parent(s), who must have sufficient means to support you for 12 months.


Depending on your nationality, you may be required to take the 'Civic Integration Abroad' exam before you can go to the Netherlands, although exemptions apply. The exam tests your knowledge of Dutch language and culture and comprises three tests: knowledge of Dutch society, speaking skills and reading skills. In principle, if you are required to obtain an MVV (Dutch entry permit) and if you are older than 18, you are required to take the exam. You can be exempt if your sponsoring family member is in the Netherlands for the purpose of employment, alongside a number of other exemptions. You should confirm whether you must take the exam as far in advance as possible, to avoid delays in your travel plans.

How to apply
If you're applying for an MVV/residence permit through the TEV procedure, then you need to apply to your Dutch embassy or consulate in your own country. There is an exception if your family member is working in the Netherlands as a highly skilled migrant.

If you only need to apply for a residence permit, then a sponsor (such as your family member in the Netherlands) can apply to the IND on your behalf while you're still in your home country, or you can wait until you arrive in the Netherlands and make an appointment at your regional IND desk. You should file your application as soon as possible – the IND strives to make a decision within 90 days but it can take even longer, and you will not be able to work until a residence card has been issued. For IND addresses, click here

If you are applying for a residence permit yourself, you can download the form here.

If your sponsor is applying on your behalf, the form can be downloaded here.

Documents
These include: 

  • copies of the identification pages of your spouse/partner/parent's passport or ID card;
  • copies of your spouse/partner/parent's residence permit;
  • proof of your spouse/partner/parent's income (eg. employment contract);
  • copy of your marriage/partnership certificate, or signed declaration of your unmarried status if you are not married or in a registered partnership, or your birth certificate if joining your parent(s);
  • a sponsor's declaration – for example, a letter confirming your relationship.


Any foreign documents must be authenticated or ‘legalised' by authorities in your originating country and be in Dutch, English, French or German. For more information on how to legalise or translate your documents, read how to prepare supporting documents for Dutch visa and permit applications.

Fees
Application costs depend on nationality, but in nearly all cases the fee will be EUR 233 for a spouse/partner and EUR 50 for each dependant child, although prices are adjusted annually. See the latest fees here.

The fee is to process your application, so you won't get a refund if your application is rejected. There may be additional administrative fees payable to the Dutch embassy or consulate handling your application, for the civic integration exam and for legalising documents etc.

Timescale
It can take the IND 90 days to process your application.

Third-national citizens: Once you have your Dutch residence permit

Working
As a rule, family members receive the same work authorisation as their sponsoring relative. Therefore, if your spouse/registered partner is allowed to work on the basis of a work permit, then you will also require a Dutch work permit. If your family member is a highly skilled migrant and is free on the labour market, you can work without limitation and without a work permit, too. Read more about Dutch work permits.

How long does the permit last?
Your permit will be valid for the same time period as the relative/spouse you are joining, up to a maximum of five years, and can be extended. Find out how you can extend your permit. After five continuous years of residence, you may be eligible to apply for Dutch permanent residence or Dutch citizenship.

If your situation changes
If you came to the Netherlands to be with your partner or spouse but you no longer live with them, you will have to apply for a new residence permit if you want to stay in the country. Any changes to your situation that affect the residence rights of you or your family must be reported to the IND within four weeks. Failure to do so could lead to penalties for you or your relative.

Read the complete guide to Dutch visas and permits to find out if you're eligible to apply for a new residence permit with a different purpose of stay.

For more information

The Immigration & Naturalisation Service (IND

See the IND website for more information and to find your nearest IND desk; in general, you cannot visit an IND desk unless you have an appointment (with the exception of collecting your permit).

For queries or to make an appointment, 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.

Immigratie-en Naturalisatiedienst
Klantinformatiecentrum
Postbus 287
7600 AG ALMELO

The IND's twitter account @IND_NL can also be contacted for general queries between Monday to Friday 9am–5pm.


Expatica / Updated by immigration lawyer Christine Sullivan, Fragomen Worldwide

This information is for guidance only and you should seek specific advice from the Dutch embassy or consulate in your home country.

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Updated 2016.

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