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Home Moving to the Netherlands Visas & Immigration Work visas in the Netherlands
Last update on February 22, 2022

Not everyone needs a separate Dutch work permit to legally work in the Netherlands – find out if you need a Dutch work permit for your situation.

If you want to work in the Netherlands, your residency status and nationality will dictate if you need a Dutch work permit. Dutch work and residence authorization are closely linked, so your reason for moving to the Netherlands – for example, as a highly-skilled worker, employee, student, or family member – will determine what kind of authorization you need to legally work in the Netherlands.

The Netherlands has one of the most internationally focused, highly educated, motivated, and multilingual workforces in the world, and the demand for highly skilled workers remains high. There are incentives for international employees such as a tax benefit scheme (30% tax ruling) and a fast-track highly skilled migrants program. There are multiple Dutch permits for obtaining authorization to legally work and live in the Netherlands, for example, the highly skilled migrant permit, intra-company transfer permit, orientation year permit for foreign graduates, or the general work permit.

This guide provides an overview of these different Dutch permits:

Immigration updates 2015–2016

  • On 1 March 2016, two previous permits for graduates were merged into the orientation year permit.
  • Since 1 October 2015, more foreign nationals are exempt from requiring a Dutch provisional visa (MVV) to enter the Netherlands. New eligible persons include: those with a valid residence permit in another Schengen country who will work for a recognized Dutch sponsor, those providing cross-border services, and those applying for a start-up entrepreneur residence permit within the Netherlands.
  • Since February 2015, Japanese nationals no longer require work authorization to work in the Netherlands.

Moving to the Netherlands

For immigration to the Netherlands, it is important to distinguish between authorization to enter and live in the Netherlands and authorization to work.

The requirements for entering and staying in the Netherlands depend on your nationality and the duration of stay. Certain nationalities require a Schengen visa for short-term stays in the Netherlands (maximum 90 days in a 180 day period) or a combined entry and residence permit for long-term stays, although certain nationalities are exempt. Find out if you need a Dutch long-term entry visa (MVV).

If you don’t require an entry visa to the Netherlands, you can enter with just your passport for both short-term and long-term stays. If you plan to stay more than 90 days, however, you must apply for a Dutch residence permit. In some cases, mostly for Latin American countries, foreign citizens do not require an entry visa for short-term stays but do require a combined entry visa and residence permit for long-term stays.

Do you need a Dutch work permit?

Citizens from the European Union (EU), European Economic Area (EEA – EU plus Iceland, Liechtenstein, and Norway) or Switzerland do not need residence permits or work permits, except those from newer EU member Croatia, whose citizens need a Dutch work permit for their first year. Read more about EU/EEA/Swiss citizens moving to the Netherlands or long-term residence for Croatian nationals.

Citizens of Japan do not need work authorization to work in the Netherlands. They are only required to obtain a residence permit for long-term stays. Read more about Dutch residence permits.

Some foreign nationals – such as highly skilled workers, Blue Card holders, the self-employed, recently graduated students on an orientation year, or those coming to the Netherlands to join a relative who has permission to work – can obtain a residence permit that authorizes them to work, without requiring a separate work permit nor being subject to a labor market test. Conditions are outlined below.

Dutch work permits

Everybody else who wants to come and work in the Netherlands will need a separate TWV work permit (tewerkstellingsvergunning) in their name, in addition to a Dutch residence permit. See the types of Dutch residence and work permits below.

id=”Employees”>Working as an employee in the Netherlands: the single permit

For a stay of less than 90 days, your employer can apply for a separate short-term work permit for you, which you can use in combination with a Schengen visa or your passport.

For stays of more than 90 days, in most cases, your employer will be able to apply for a single permit (gecombineerde vergunning voor verblijf en arbeid or GVVA) in your name, which combines the Dutch residence and work permit in one application via the IND.

Generally, work permit applications are subject to a labor market test, which entails that you need to earn what is deemed a competitive salary, plus your employer will have to submit information to the Dutch immigration authorities about the company, the job contract, and the recruitment process to show the position could not be filled by an EU/EEA or Swiss national. For some work permit applications, the labor market test is not required, for example, in the cases of intra-company transfers, internships, and refugees.

Generally, single permits are issued for a maximum of one year. However, there are some exceptions, such as the intra-company transfer work permit, which can be issued for a maximum of three years.

If you change your job, the new employer must also apply for a work permit in your name.

However, the single permit procedure is not applicable to all work permit applications. For the following categories your employer still needs to obtain a separate work permit:

  • Seasonal workers
  • Students
  • Refugees
  • Service provider (in some cases)
  • Seafarers
  • Intra-company transferees

Working as a highly-skilled migrant

The Netherlands is keen to attract highly skilled workers – sometimes called knowledge workers – into the country. These are foreign workers who are deemed to be able to contribute to the knowledge-based economy. If you qualify, your employer won’t need a separate work permit for you but rather your residence permit will include authorization to work in the Netherlands.

To get a residence permit as a highly-skilled migrant, you must have an employment contract or assignment (or written agreement) for at least four months with an employer recognized by the Dutch immigration authorities and earn above a certain level of income. If you’re older than 30, this is currently €4,240 a month; if you’re under 30 it is €3,108 a month. Graduates eligible for or holding an orientation year permit need only earn €2,228 a month. These salary amounts are the 2016 thresholds and exclude holiday pay; the levels are reviewed each year so check the latest income requirements here.

The permit is valid for the duration of your employment contract or assignment, up to a maximum of five years, and can be extended.

For more information, see Dutch residence permits for highly-skilled migrants.

Self-employed and freelance workers

If you want to come to the Netherlands to set up a business or work as a freelancer, then you must apply for a residence permit (with work authorization) as a self-employed person or entrepreneur.

The permit will be valid for two years but can be extended. If you take on work not related to setting up your business, then your prospective employer must obtain a work permit in your name.

You must obtain permission from the Dutch authorities to work as self-employed, and in most cases be able to prove it serves an essential Dutch interest. Freelancers must show that they have assignments lined up, medical professionals have to be on an official list called the BIG register, and if you want to set up a company, your business plan and finances will be assessed by the Netherlands Enterprise Agency. There are special arrangements for American citizens and startup entrepreneurs.

Work permits for graduates and students

Students can work while studying but there are restrictions for non-EU/EEA/Swiss nationals and Croatian nationals, who can only work up to 10 hours per week throughout the year, or full-time in seasonal work in June, July, and August only. In both cases, your employers will need a work permit in your name. Read more (link to student article).

If you graduated with a Bachelor’s or Master’s degree from a Dutch university, you may apply for an orientation year residence permit within three years after graduating, which allows you to live in the Netherlands for an additional year to look for work. During this time you can work without a work permit and without any restrictions – you are free on the Dutch labor market.

Similarly, you can obtain the one-year orientation permit if you have:

  • Completed a PhD program in the Netherlands lasting at least 12 months
  • Been awarded a Master’s degree or a PhD of at least 12 months at a foreign institution ranked by specific accreditation program
  • Held a Dutch residence permit as a scientific researcher, or worked as a scientific researcher on a highly-skilled migrant residence permit
  • If you completed the Dutch development aid policy program, Erasmus Mundus Master’s course, or a program under the Law of Specific Culture Policy.

At the end of this orientation year, if you wish to stay on and work in the Netherlands, you may or may not need a work permit; it all depends on what type of work you’ll be doing. If you’ll be working as a highly-skilled worker or scientific researcher (as outlined in this article), then you won’t need to obtain a separate work permit but only a residence permit with work authorization. If you’ll be working in regular employment, your employer will need to get a work permit in your name.

Permits for scientific researchers

If you have been accepted into a research program at a recognized research institute and have the appropriate qualifications for access to a university doctoral program, the institute can apply for a residence permit for scientific research on your behalf. You won’t need a separate work permit – instead, your residence permit will be issued with the authorization to work.

Research permits are issued for the duration of the research, up to a maximum of five years, and are extendable.

While you don’t need a work permit to carry out your research, if you do take on any other type of work then your employer will need to obtain a work permit in your name.

Working as an au pair

If you want to come to the Netherlands to work as an au pair, your residence permit (with work authorization) must be arranged by an au pair agency recognized by the Dutch immigration authorities. You can only work up to 30 hours a week for the host family and undertake previously agreed daily tasks – you can’t do any other type of work. Au pair residence permits are valid for one year, and are not extendable. If you wanted to stay on and work in the Netherlands beyond a year, you would need to apply for a different type of residence permit or leave the country.

Working holiday schemes

Canadians, Australians and New Zealanders can apply for one-year working holiday schemes, while some other nationalities can live in the Netherlands for one year under private exchange programs.

For more information, see Dutch residence permits for exchange programs.

Seasonal labor and short-term workers

Seasonal workers are those who come to the Netherlands for up to 24 weeks a year to work in seasonal employment. Your employer will need to get a work permit in your name, as well as a residence permit in the event of long-term stays.

EU Blue Card

Under the EU Blue Card Directive, certain workers can apply for an EU Blue Card, which is a residence permit (with work authorization) for highly skilled migrants. Your prospective employer can file an application for you in the Netherlands.

To qualify for a Blue Card, you must:

  • have an employment contract or assignment (or job offer) with a Dutch employer for at least one year;
  • have successfully completed a post-secondary higher education program for at least three years (foreign diplomas must be evaluated by the Dutch organization such as Nuffic);
  • earn at least €4,968 a month (2016 threshold, excluding holiday pay).

The Blue Card not only allows you to work in the Netherlands without the need for a work permit, but also grants limited intra-EU mobility rights. After 18 months you can move to another EU country and apply for a Blue Card to work in that second country. Additionally, the years accumulated as a Blue Card holder in different EU countries can count towards obtaining EU long-term residency status.

If you already have a Dutch resident permit (e.g., as a highly-skilled worker) you may apply to change it to a Blue Card if you fulfill the requirements.

Family members

If you have a partner or relative who has permission to live and work in the Netherlands, you may also be able to get a residence permit for the purpose of family reunification, which would give you the same rights as your family member. If they have permission to work, you may be exempt from needing a separate work permit.

Dutch work permits

Read more:

When can you start working in the Netherlands?

If you don’t need a separate work permit, you can work as soon as you receive your residence permit (with work authorization), which you can collect after you arrive in the Netherlands. If, for any reason, there is a delay in processing the permit, you can go to a Dutch immigration service IND desk (call 088 0430 430 or +31 88 0430 430 from abroad for an appointment) and get a residence endorsement sticker put into your passport. This allows you to work while your permit is being processed.

If you do need a separate work permit, you will need to wait for the work permit to be approved before you can start your working activities.

Once you have been in the Netherlands for more than five years

After living in the Netherlands for more than five consecutive years on a residence permit, it may be possible to obtain permanent residence status. This gives you the right to work for any Dutch employer or as a self-employed worker without the need for a work permit. Your residence document will state that you are free to work in the Dutch labor market without a work permit (Arbeid vrij toegestaan. TWV is niet vereist).

For more information, see:

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 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 can also be contacted for general queries between Monday to Friday 9am–5pm.


Certain employers can register with the IND to sponsor foreign workers. You can see the IND’s list of recognized sponsors.