Home Moving to the Netherlands Visas & Immigration Visas and residence permits for the Netherlands
Last update on February 19, 2021

Which Dutch visa or permit do you need to visit, live, work or study in the Netherlands? Here’s an essential guide to apply for the correct Dutch visa or permit for your individual situation.

You may need to apply for a Dutch visa if you’re moving to the Netherlands to live, study, work or join a relative or partner. This guide explains the conditions of the different types of Dutch visas to help you choose the right permit. Typically, your nationality and reasons for coming to the Netherlands dictate the Dutch visa you need.

The information here is for guidance only. You should seek specific advice from the Immigration and Naturalization Service (IND), or from a legal immigration expert such as Expat Management Group, a group of recognized legal experts in the Netherlands who deliver specialized services in all professional aspects of expat mobility management. Read on to find out which Dutch visa you need to enter the Netherlands.

In this guide we answer some important questions about Dutch visas and permits:

Expat Management Group

Expat Management Group are immigration specialists with a global network of lawyers who will assist you with all your expatriation needs, whether you are a company bringing employees, would like your family to join you, or are considering getting a Dutch passport.

Who needs a Dutch visa or permit?

EU/EEA/Swiss citizens

The Netherlands is one of the countries making up the Schengen Area: Austria, Belgium, Czechia, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, 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. 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.

If you have dual nationality, whether or not you need a visa depends on which travel document you enter the Netherlands with.

For stays longer than four months, EU/EEA/Swiss citizens must register with the personal records database (BRP). They then get a citizen service number (burgerservicenummer or BSN), which is a social security and tax number.

If you’re staying for less than four months, you don’t need to register but you must 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) or +31 77 465 6767 (from outside the Netherlands).

For more information, see our guide for EU/EEA/Swiss citizens moving to the Netherlands; different conditions exist for long-term residence for Croatian nationals.

Partners and close relatives of EU/EEA/Swiss citizens

If you want to join a close relative (e.g., 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), 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 to receive a certificate of lawful residence; it is a document proving you are allowed to legally stay in the Netherlands and work without a Dutch visa.

Non-EU/EEA/Swiss nationals

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/or a residence permit to stay for more than three months.

Which Dutch visa or permit do you need?

Short-stay Dutch visas: transit and up to three months

For those stopping briefly in the Netherlands 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 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: more than three months

If you want to stay in the Netherlands for more than three months, you may need a long-term entry visa (MVV) to enter the Netherlands. This is in addition to a residence permit. You may also 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). Both permits are granted at the same time; you get the MVV, which allows entry, and you collect the residence document from an IND desk within two weeks of 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 process, see our guide to Dutch provisional residence permits (MVV).

Dutch residence permits for different purposes of stay

You must apply for a residence permit depending on your purpose of stay. Each Dutch permit has its own conditions, requirements, restrictions, and length of validity. For more information, read the relevant article depending on your individual circumstances:

Return visa

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, 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.

Permanent residence

Once you have been living in the Netherlands for five uninterrupted years, you can apply for permanent residence:

Dutch work permits: Who can work in the Netherlands?

All EU/EEA/Swiss citizens, with the exception of Croatians (see below), can work without restriction in all sectors. If an employer asks for proof of lawful stay in the Netherlands, show them this document from the IND which explains that EU/EEA/Swiss citizens are no longer required to register their long-term stay in the Netherlands. Should you or your employer still have questions, here is our guide on contacting the IND Netherlands.

For the time being, there are 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 are due to end on 1 July 2018. For more information, please read long-term residence for Croatian nationals.

Third-party nationals generally can only work in the Netherlands if an employer gets a work permit in their name. The IND Netherlands now offers a single permit that acts as a combined residence and work permit, known as the GVVA, which is generally issued for employees coming to the Netherlands for more than three months. Usually, it is the employer who applies for it and the permit is issued for up to three years.

Some people cannot qualify for the single combined permit, and employers must apply for a separate work permit (TWV). Read Expatica’s guide to Dutch work permits.

Exceptions: 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 organize 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 at the same time, 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. You can read about each type of residence permit to find out if you need a work permit.

Dutch citizenship

Once you live in the Netherlands for five straight years (three years if you’ve been with a Dutch spouse or partner for three years), you can become a Dutch citizen through naturalization. You must fulfill certain conditions, such as proving you can write and speak Dutch, renouncing your previous nationality (with some exceptions), and proving that you have had no criminal convictions in the past five years.

You apply via your local municipality although the application is processed by the IND Netherlands. The process can take up to a year. More detail is explained in Expatica’s guide on Dutch citizenship.

What is the IND Netherlands and why would I need to contact IND?

The IND Netherlands is the final decision maker on applications for residency permits, naturalization applications, and persons seeking asylum. The IND Amsterdam, IND Rotterdam, IND Eindhoven, and the IND in other major Dutch cities are able to help with your individual situation and can be contacted via various methods.


Many people have a sponsor ­­– a person or organization – who has an interest in them coming to the Netherlands. These could be an employer, educational 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.

There are two types of sponsors: non-recognized and recognized. Only organizations, institutions, and companies can be recognized sponsors (fees apply); individual persons cannot. Certain organizations must register with the IND to hire foreign employees. Registration is optional, however, for permit applications for those in paid employment, seasonal labor, traineeships, or holders of a European blue card.

A recognized sponsor can be a:

  • mandatory recognized sponsor – for the purposes of study, exchange (including au pairs), highly-skilled migrants, and certain scientific researchers.
  • voluntary recognized sponsor – employers who have foreign employees in paid employment, for seasonal labor, traineeships, or holders of a European blue card can apply for recognition voluntarily; recognition is not obligatory but optional.

For Turkish citizens with a highly-skilled migrant permit, a mandatory sponsor is not required.

Recognized sponsors have certain legal obligations, including a duty to inform IND of any changes (e.g., change of employer), keep administrative records, and be responsible for repatriation costs if someone overstays their visa. Find the IND’s list of recognized sponsors, which can also be a useful job-hunting source.

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; not all permits are extendable, however. If you can’t extend it but want to stay in the Netherlands, you must apply for a new residence permit or leave the country. Find out what to do when you want to leave the Netherlands.

Lost or stolen documents

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 (e.g., proof of employment). All foreign documents must be translated and legalized; read how to prepare supporting documents for Dutch visa applications.

It costs a fee to process this – currently €132 for adults and €51 for children under 18 in most instances. For the latest fees, click here. Allow eight weeks for the IND Netherlands to respond.

Costs of Dutch visas and permits

See here for the up-to-date costs for handling different types of applications and for the latest information on income requirements to obtain certain permits. Prices are reviewed bi-yearly: on 1 January and 1 July.

For more information

The Immigration and Naturalization 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 Netherlands 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
Postbus 287

The IND’s twitter account @IND_NL is also for general queries between Monday to Friday 9am–5pm.