Working in the Netherlands

So you are looking for work in the Netherlands, or you have already found a job and will be relocating soon? There are few things you need to take into consideration before buying your train or plane ticket.

For non-EEA citizens
Any person whose nationality is within the European Economic Area (EU plus Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein) as well as Switzerland is allowed to work in the Netherlands. If you come from outside the EU, make sure you have legalized copies of important documents such as your birth certificate, diplomas etc. You must also apply for a visa before coming to the Netherlands. You may only work in the Netherlands if:

  • You have a residence permit that says ‘Work freely allowed’. On your passport you should also have an official sticker saying ‘Work freely allowed’.
  • You have a valid combined permit for residence and work (gecombineerde vergunning voor verblijf en arbeid or GVVA).
  • Your employer has a valid work permit for an employee from outside the EEA. You must then also have a valid residence permit, e.g. an authorization for temporary stay (machtiging tot voorlopig verblijf or MVV).

For some groups of foreign employees, exceptions are made so that they can work more easily in the Netherlands:

  • International corporate workers, students, trainee assistants and musicians.
  • Asylum seekers and knowledge workers, i.e. highly-skilled, specialized workers.
  • Non-European students studying in the Netherlands, who want to do an internship.

A separate application procedure applies to senior managers, specialists, sports coaches, athletes and artists.
When a company from another EEA country provides services in the Netherlands and legally employs persons from a third country, a work permit is not needed.

Arriving in the Netherlands
If you want to live and work in the Netherlands, you need to register with the municipality (gemeente) immediately after arrival, either as a non-resident (if you stay for less than four months) or a resident (if you stay longer than four months). Make sure you bring your passport to the municipality where you register. There you will receive a BSN (Burgerservicenummer). You will need this unique personal number almost everywhere, e.g. to:

  • Find work.
  • Open a bank account.
  • Go to the doctor or hospital.
  • Enroll your children in school.

At the municipality you also register your home address; you will need to bring proof of address. The next step is to open a bank account. Furthermore, when living and working in the Netherlands, health insurance is mandatory, so take this out as soon as possible – see page ….

Once you’ve found work, make sure the employment conditions are crystal clear. See to it that you always receive a written copy of these agreements. The standard conditions include:

  • Statutory minimum wage.
  • Holidays and holiday pay.
  • 70% wage payment in case of illness.
  • Maternity leave.

In many sectors, further stipulations and legal requirements are laid down in a collective labor agreement (CAO). These include rules about the minimum wage, the maximum number of hours you are allowed to work per day and per week, night shifts, health and safety regulations, working for a temp agency and many more. Additional employment perks, which you receive on top of your actual wage, are also included in the CAO, and can include an end-of-year bonus, additional vacation days, full wage payment in case of illness and a company car, phone or laptop.