The requirements for working in the Netherlands vary depending on where you’re from, how long your stay in the Netherlands will be, and what type of employee you are. An important criterion is whether you’re from a European Economic Area (EEA) country or Switzerland, or not.
EEA and Swiss nationals
If you’re from the EEA or Switzerland, you’re free to live and work in the Netherlands without the need for a work or residence permit. You do, however, need a valid passport or identity document. Aside from this, the only requirements are that you:
- Register at the municipality you’re living in. This will give you a burgerservicenummer (BSN, or citizen service number), which is necessary to find work
- Get a DigiD, which you’ll need to make arrangements on the websites of the government and healthcare institutions
- Get appropriate health insurance (more on this below)
For non-EEA+Swiss nationals (including British nationals!), things get a little more complicated, so we’re here to break it all down for you.
Visas and work permits
Visas are permissions granted by the government that allow you to enter, stay in or leave its territory. Whether you need a visa and what type you’ll need highly depends on your situation. You can find a good overview of the different options here.
A work permit allows foreign nationals to pursue employment in the Netherlands. According to Dutch law, non-EEA+Swiss employees, interns, volunteers, freelancers, civil servants and self-employed persons all need work permits.
Stays of less than 90 days
If you’re going to work in the Netherlands for less than 90 days, you’ll first need a short-stay visa. You must apply for this at a Dutch embassy/foreign representation in the country where you are currently (continuously) residing (or a neighbouring country if yours doesn’t have a Dutch embassy).
In addition to the visa, your employer will most likely need to apply for a tewerkstellingsvergunning (TWV, or work permit) on your behalf. Only your employer can do this, you can’t do it for yourself, so you must arrange everything through them. If you were hired through an intermediary, then they will have to arrange your TWV.
Stays of more than 90 days
When you plan on staying and working in the Netherlands for more than 90 days, you’ll need a different permit: the Gecombineerde vergunning verblijf en arbeid (GVVA, or combined residence and work permit). This is simply a combination of a residence permit and the TWV. In this case, either yourself or your employer can apply for the GVVA; this is done through the Immigratie- en Naturalisatiedienst (IND, or Immigration and Naturalisation Service).
There are also some minimum wage requirements for employees from outside the EEA+Switzerland.
If you’re a student from outside the EEA+Switzerland, and have a valid residence permit for your studies, your employer will need to apply for a TWV, even if your stay is for longer than 90 days.
As a non-EEA+Swiss student, Dutch immigration law restricts the number of hours you may work. You may either:
- Do seasonal work full-time (but only in June, July and August), or
- Work part-time throughout the rest of the year, but no more than 16 hours a week
You may not do both. However, freelancers can work unlimited hours
As we mentioned above, it is up to your employer or the employment agency to apply for your work permit; you cannot do this yourself. The application must be accompanied by:
- A copy of your residence permit for study purposes, and
- A statement from your university/institution confirming that you are enrolled as a student.
It will take about five weeks to process the application.
Employers may be hesitant to hire non-EEA+Swiss nationals due to the ‘complicated’ procedure of applying for a work permit; however, simplified rules are now in place for the work permit application procedure, but employers may not always be aware of them. If possible, you can inform them of this if you struggle to find an employer who is willing to apply for a TWV on your behalf.
Recent graduates (zoekjaar hoogopgeleiden)
The Dutch authorities grant those who recently graduated from a Dutch institution (with a bachelor’s or master’s degree) a zoekjaar hoogopgeleiden; this means ‘search/orientation year for highly educated persons’ and is exactly what the name implies: a period of time granted after completing your studies to look for work in the Netherlands or explore other educational opportunities. You should apply for the orientation year yourself and pay a fee.
It’s only possible to apply for the zoekjaar once per study, so if you complete multiple studies, you can apply for it after completing each one. You must also apply within three years of completing your degree in the Netherlands. This FAQ sheet is a great resource for more information.
Working in NL, but not residing
If you plan on working in the Netherlands, but reside in a different country, your employer will also have to apply for a TWV for you.
During your stay in the Netherlands, if you enter into employment where you get at least the Dutch minimum wage, you will need to get Dutch health insurance. More specifically, getting Dutch health insurance is mandatory for expats or students when they:
- Have a temporary, part-time or full-time job (including paid internships and volunteering) with a Dutch employer
- Are self-employed in the Netherlands
- Pay income tax in the Netherlands
When determining your insurance status, it does not matter whether your employee lives in the Netherlands or abroad. Furthermore, if you live in a different EEE country + Switzerland, but work (remotely) for an employer in the Netherlands, you will still have to be insured in the Netherlands.
For more information about taking out Dutch health insurance, check out our health insurance section.
Do you need a Dutch bank account when you start working in the Netherlands? In order to receive your salary, it’s important for you to have an IBAN; as a result, having a Dutch bank account is not strictly necessary, so long as the account you choose gives you an IBAN number. Our section on Dutch bank accounts covers this more in depth.
Do I have to speak Dutch to get a job?
No! Maastricht is a very international city and there are plenty of job opportunities for those who don’t speak Dutch.
Naturally, though, international students will be in a different position from Dutch students: there are going to be some jobs that require fluent Dutch. But realistically, the restriction is minimal, and not knowing Dutch will not prevent you from finding a job.
Nevertheless, learning some basics can help impress employers and integrate more fully into the community. Maastricht University and Zuyd University students are eligible to take part in a social Dutch course offered by Maastricht University (the course is free for 1st year UM students, both bachelor’s and master’s, and costs €157 per module for Zuyd students). This is a great opportunity to get some basic Dutch under your belt, and earn points with the locals!