A guide to the rules and registration required for EU/EEA and Swiss citizens coming to live and work in the Netherlands.
If you are a national from the European Union (EU), European Economic Area (EEA; EU plus Iceland, Liechtenstein, and Norway) or Switzerland, you do not need a residence permit to come to, or stay in the Netherlands so long as you have a valid passport or national travel ID and are not deemed to be a risk to public order or national security. If you are staying for more than four months, you need to register with the personal records database in your local area and get a Citizen Service Number (burgerservicenummer or BSN); see details below.
Different rules apply, however, for the newer EU member Croatia. Croatian citizens need a work permit for their first 12 months of employment; they can also opt to apply for verification against EU law if staying longer than three months.
EU/EEA/Swiss citizens can also bring family members to the Netherlands. If you are coming to the Netherlands with relatives who are not EU/EEA or Swiss citizens, you also have to register with the Immigration and Naturalization Service (IND) and your relatives will also have to apply for verification against EU law.
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Verification against EU law
Anyone from the EU/EEA, Switzerland and Croatia can come to the Netherlands freely with a valid passport or travel ID. If you wish to stay for longer than three months, you can choose to apply for verification against EU law and request a certificate of lawful residence, but this is not obligatory. Fees typically apply. Details on how apply for verification against EU law are provided in Expatica’s guide to long-term residence for Croatian nationals in the Netherlands.
If an employer needs proof of your lawful stay in the country you can download this letter (in Dutch) from the IND to give to them; it explains that obtaining verification against EU law is not an obligation as of 2014.
Registration in the Netherlands
If you plan to be staying in the Netherlands for longer than four months, you have to register with the municipal personal records database (BRP, formerly the GBA) via your local municipality (gemeente) within five days of your arrival in the Netherlands. You must register in the town where you’ll be living as the registration is connected to local taxation. Your partner/spouse and children need to register too.
You’ll need to show proof of your identity such as your passport or national travel ID document – a driving license is not acceptable – and evidence of your address in the Netherlands, such as a property lease agreement or letter from a person you are staying with. You may also be asked for a certified copy of your birth certificate. Registration is free but you may need to contact the gemeente beforehand to make an appointment.
After registering, you will be issued with a Citizen Service Number (BSN).
Citizen Service Number (burgerservicenummer or BSN)
Everyone living in the Netherlands has a Citizen Service Number (burgerservicenummer or BSN), which was previously known as the Tax and Social Insurance Number (sofi or sofinummer). 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.
Your BSN is a unique number needed for all official matters in the Netherlands, such as opening a Dutch bank account, paying tax and social security contributions, applying for benefits, using the healthcare system, enrolling your children in a school. You must inform the authorities of any change of address.
If you’re staying in the Netherlands for less than four months you do not have to register with the local authorities, but you can still apply for a BSN at the non-resident desk of your local municipality, or call the government information service on 1400.
You can read more information about the BSN here.
Registering with the IND – for those with non-EU/EEA/Swiss relatives
If you are coming to the Netherlands with relatives who are not EU/EEA or Swiss citizens, you will have to register with the Immigration and Naturalization Service (IND). You will need to contact the IND and complete this form. See the IND website for more information and to find your nearest IND desk; you need to make an appointment if you want to visit an office in person. Your relatives will also have to apply for verification against EU law using this form.
Dutch health insurance
Most people will need to apply for compulsory Dutch health insurance even if they are covered by insurance from their home country. Everyone staying in the Netherlands is obliged to have a basic health insurance policy in order to access the Dutch healthcare system. You have four months to take out insurance after arriving in the country. You can choose your own insurance provider and you may wish to extend your cover with additional private insurance.
Dutch companies are obliged by law to offer everyone the same basic package and can’t deny any application on the grounds of a pre-existing health condition or age.
There are some exceptions. You may not need to apply for Dutch health insurance if you:
- are staying in the Netherlands temporarily (for less than a year) and have a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC), although you should get an S1 form to prove your entitlement to healthcare.
- are a student or researcher, in which case you need to have either an EHIC, insurance from your home country or private insurance specially for students/researchers.
- have been seconded to the Netherlands by your company and are covered through the employer.
- have a policy from your home country which is acceptable to the Dutch authorities.
To apply for Dutch health insurance you will need your Citizen Service Number (BSN), proof of residence and your passport or national travel ID document when you apply to an insurer. You can apply online or over the phone.
For more information on Dutch health insurance, what it covers, and how to find an insurer, read Expatica’s guide to health insurance in the Netherlands.
EU/EEA and Swiss citizens working in the Netherlands
Unless you’re a citizen of Croatia, citizens from EU/EEA countries or Switzerland can work freely in the Netherlands in any type of work. If an employer needs proof of your lawful stay in the country you can download this letter (in Dutch) from the IND to give to them instead.
There are work restrictions for Croatian nationals
As a Croatian citizen, you can 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 2018 and could remain in place until June 30, 2020.
DigiD: accessing online government services
You can register to access online government services though the DigiD website. You’ll need your BSN to do so.
Permanent residence for EU/EEA and Swiss citizens
After five years’ continuous residence in the Netherlands, EU/EEA and Swiss citizens (including Croatian citizens) and their family members can apply to stay in the Netherlands permanently. For more information, see Expatica’s guide to Dutch permanent residence.
For more information
The Immigration & Naturalization Service (IND)
See the IND website for more information or 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. You need to make an appointment if you want to visit an IND office (except when picking up your residence permit); find your nearest IND desk. The IND’s twitter account @IND_NL is also for general queries between Monday to Friday 9am–5pm, or you can email.
7600 AG ALMELO
Burgerservicenummer (BSN) – for information about the Citizen Service Number