Learn about the process of getting your documents certified before applying for permanent residence in the Netherlands.
When applying for residency in the Netherlands, you will need to provide supporting documents from your home country to prove your identity. Generally speaking, these will need to be certified by your government before they’ll be accepted by the Dutch immigration authorities.
In this guide we explain how you can get an identification document certified ahead of your move to the Netherlands. A important word of advice: it pays to get started with the process right away to avoid delays later.
Documents required for a Dutch visa: the basics
When you apply for a permit to visit or stay in the Netherlands, you will be asked to provide supporting documents. These must be properly authenticated in your home country, and be provided in a language approved by the Dutch authorities: Dutch, English, French or German.
Find out more about residence permits in the Netherlands in our full guide on Dutch visas and permits.
How to get an apostille stamp
You can get your documents – a birth, marriage or civil partnership certificate, bank statement, etc. – legalized with an ‘Apostille’ (pronounced ‘a-poss-teel’) certificate or stamp. This stamp means your documents will be recognized as authentic in a whole host of countries.
That’s because there is a reciprocal agreement between 105 member states signed up to Convention 12 of The Hague Convention, whereby member states recognize foreign documents ‘apostilled’ by other member states.
Generally, certification services can only be provided by your home country’s government. For example, this is carried out by the Foreign & Commonwealth Office in the UK, and the Department of State in the US.
You will usually need to pay a fee to have documents certified – and how much it will cost you varies significantly from country to country.
How to get your documents legalized
Unfortunately, the process isn’t always as simple as getting in touch with the relevant government department. Before a document can be legalized by the government, it will usually need to signed by an official from the issuing body (e.g. a medical report should be signed by a doctor from your country’s professional medical association) and/or certified by a lawyer or notary public. Only then can you submit a document for official legalization (the Apostille stamp).
This sounds cumbersome, but the situation was much more complicated before the agreement (and still is for countries not part of The Hague Convention). Documents required certification from several agencies, authorities, schools, etc. in both your home country and the country of destination. The process is much more streamlined now.
How to find an apostille in your country
To find out how to get a document legalized, you should check your government’s website. While some countries provide fast service, you should try to start this process a few months before you apply for your permit to ensure everything is ready in time.
Below, we explain how the certification process works, and where to go to get more information in the United Kingdom, United States of America, and Australia.
Finding an apostille in the United Kingdom
In the UK, you’ll need to apply to the government’s Legalisation Office to confirm a signature or stamp is from a certified UK public official.
The service costs a fee of £30 (€34) per document, plus courier costs of £5.50 (€6.25) per 1.5kg. To have the document delivered to a European country, the courier cost increases to £14.50 (€16.50) per 1.5kg,.
The UK government says it takes two working days to process documents on its standard service (4-5 days in October due to high demand). It also offers a £75 (€85) same-day business service, for which documents must be taken to and from an office in London.
You can find out more by using the UK’s document legalization service.
Finding an apostille in the United States
In the USA, apostilles and authentication certificates are provided by the US Department of State’s Office of Authentications.
Authentication services can be requested by mail, appointment (for urgent cases) or pick up and drop off at the Office of Authentications. The postal service takes around 12 business days once the Office of Authentications has received your documents.
In the US the prices are much lower than in the UK, with a fee of $8 (€7) for each document you submit.
You can find out more on the Bureau of Consular Affairs website.
Finding an apostille in Australia
The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade deals with authentications in Australia, though staff in Australian Passport Offices are also authorized to provide these services.
Certification services are available by mail or in person, and if you choose the latter option you’ll need to make an appointment at the Passport Office.
The government doesn’t provide specific details of how long the process takes, though it does say that you should expect delays during peak holiday periods and the end of the school year.
Apostille and authentication services in Australia cost AUS$81 (€50).
You can find out more on the Australian government’s smart traveller website.
General apostille information
For more information about legalization of documents in the Netherlands, you can call the Ministry of General Affairs on +31 77 465 6767, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.rijksoverheid.nl / www.government.nl.
How to get your documents translated
All documents provided to authorities in the Netherlands must be in Dutch, English, French or German.
If they’re not in one of these languages, they must be translated by a translator sworn in by a Dutch court, and submitted along with the original documents. If this process doesn’t take place in a Dutch court, the translation will also have to be legalized in the country of origin, as above.
You can find a list of interpreters and translators who have been sworn in by Dutch courts on the WBTV website
For more information on apostille stamps
The Immigration & Naturalisation Service (IND)
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.
The IND’s twitter account @IND_NL is also for general queries between Monday to Friday 9am–5pm.
PayingIt helps so-called knowledge migrants/highly skilled workers get here and get started. They work with you to get visas, residence permits, and work permits. They can’t create the documents for you or do the legwork (that has to be done by you, in your home country, before you come to the Netherlands), but they can make everything else much clearer and less stressful, by taking on all the administrative tasks necessary to get you here and started in your job. In about six weeks from the moment the employment agreement is signed, they will have your invitation letter. That is what you use to get your entry visa to be able to travel to the Netherlands.
If you have a signed employment contract, here’s what they need from you:
- Photocopy of your passport;
- Signed antecedents certificate (statement regarding any criminal history);
- Copy of education certificates/diplomas. They must be in English;
- Job description;
- List of required job skills.