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orientation tours settling-in services

immigration services

financial management

home finding

Peter Smith, IT manager, relaxes in the sun with his family after moving from Amsterdam to Moscow.

Relocation isn’t just a question of finding a house, especially for international expatriates! It’s about creating an enjoyable life in a brand new culture for themselves and their families. Our professional staff’s main priority is to make the difference between a normal service and a successful new start. By taking a proactive approach and having the right skills, they take care of the expat through the entire relocation process. This enables an employee to focus on his/her new job, quickly and stress-free and generates a healthy return on investment for the company he/she works for. We can make your and the expats’ life a lot easier! More information +31 (0)70 301 13 66 or go to

people relocating people Member of Voerman Group

WELCOME TO THE NETHERLANDS! Moving abroad is an exciting, life-changing experience. That is, once the practical aspects are settled. It first can be a daunting process while you try building a new life in an unknown language and culture. Where do you begin?


The Expat Survival Guide assists your first essential steps: finding a home and job, organising visas and finances, and enrolling your child(ren) in school. It offers practical information on getting started in the Netherlands and directs you to the people, companies and institutions that can help you along the way.


As the growing pangs subside, our online site www. complements this guide with relevant news in English, weekly features from expats, and essential lifestyle information for getting out in the Netherlands. You’ll find plenty of support with our housing and job searches, ask-the-expert section, free classifieds, A-Z listings, events, dating, and a thriving online community.

4 > SURVIVAL CHECKLIST 6 > RELOCATION: What kind of residence permit?

Expat centers; Relocation service providers. 14 > FAMILIES: Family reunification permits;

Au pairs; Childcare; Child benefits and allowances; Family activities. 17 > HOUSING: Renting; Buying; Popular expat

locations: Amsterdam, Eindhoven, The Hague, Amstelveen, Utrecht and Rotterdam. 34 > FINANCE: Bank accounts; Tax; Insurance;

Financial and tax advisors. 40 > EDUCATION: Primary, Secondary and higher

education; International schools 56 > EMPLOYMENT: Work permits, Employment


law; Working culture, Finding a job.

The Expatica Team

68 > HEALTHCARE: Health insurance, Healthcare

system; Having a baby; Health services. This guide is published by, a leading media organisation providing a complete resource for international living.

74 > HOME BASICS: Utilities; gas, water, electricity;

Communications: telephone mobile, internet. TV; Post offices 76 > TRANSPORT: Driving; Public transport. 78 > CONTACTS AND CALENDAR: Emergency

numbers, Public holidays, Groups and clubs. 84 > ADVERTISERS’ INDEX

Published October 2013 Expatica Communications B.V. Wilhelminastraat 15 2011 VH Haarlem Netherlands Editorial: Casey Marriott Layout & design: Benjamin Langman Publisher: Antoine van Veldhuizen Advertising sales: Distribution:

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronically or mechanically, including photocopying, recording or any information storage or retrieval system, without prior written permission from the publisher. Requests for permission should be addressed to Expatica Communications BV, Wilhelminastraat 15, 2011VH Haarlem, the Netherlands. Expatica makes great effort to ensure the accuracy of information contained in this guide. However, we do not take responsibility for errors or omissions or any damages, howsoever caused, which result from its use, and make no warranty of claims as to the quality or competence of businesses or professionals mentioned. Users are advised to take care when selecting professional services and to use common sense when adjusting to life in a new country.





The Netherlands consistently ranks among the top places in the world to live and work in. It may be a small country in size, but certainly not in impact. Famed for its liberal social policies, maritime trading traditions, battles to hold back the sea, robust multiculturalism and leading technological communications, the Netherlands is a mosaic of cultural intrigue. Living standards are high; the OECD’s Better Life Index shows high rankings for life satisfaction and work-life balance in the Netherlands. Dutch children, likewise, are ranked as the happiest in the developed world, topping two surveys conducted by UNICEF. To newcomers, Dutch society might seem open and informal, but some complex social rules are at play. Ostentatious behaviour is frowned upon, egalitarianism is valued and Dutch people “like to be as normal as possible,” according to Martijn de Rooij, author of The Dutch I Presume? The Dutch saying ‘Doe maar gewoon dan doe je al gek genoeg’ (just act normal, that’s crazy enough) is an anthem against eccentricity. No Dutch city has yet reached a million inhabitants and each retains a unique character and architectural style. The capital is something else entirely, and in terms of atmosphere and attitude, Amsterdam and the Netherlands could be two different countries. International residents tread a well-worn path to the ‘Lowlands’. Out of a population of almost 16.8 million people, more than three and a half million have a foreign background ( This multiethnic characteristic of the country’s population has historic roots stretching back several hundred years, though most rapid changes in population demographics have come about in the last 40 years. Foreign policy has impacted domestic politics in recent years, causing two governments to collapse in the space of around two years. The last collapse in April 2012 resulted from a breakdown in coalition support over a budget plan to steer the Eurozone’s 2

fifth-largest economy back below the EU deficit ceiling of three percent, still projected to sit at 3.3 percent in 2014. Nicknamed the ‘land of compromise’ – due to the Dutch government’s traditional reliance on a coalition of two or more parties – a majority coalition formed for the first time in the last general election. The Netherlands strengthened its stance on austerity in the September 2012 elections with large gains achieved by pro-European parties, with the central-right liberal VVD taking 41 seats and the social-democratic labour party PvdA winning 39 seats. In contrast, losses were incurred by the previous coalition party, Christian Democrat (CDA), and its supporter, Geert Wilders’ Freedom Party (PVV), a nationalistic party known for its right-wing focus. With Mark Rutte continuing as prime minister, a coalition with Diederik Samsom’s PvdA gives the current Dutch government a comfortable majority to pass budget cuts, although further opposition support is needed to pass laws in the Senate. Recent economic downturn, however, has seen a large shift in public opinion towards cuts of up to EUR 6 billion planned for 2014. Change followed from politics to royals, with Queen Beatrix abdicating in 2013 after a 33-year reign. The Netherland’s national celebration, Queen’s Day (Koninginnedag), was particularly celebratory as it was tied to the coronation of the first Dutch king in 123 years. As Europe’s youngest monarch, King Willem-Alexander pledges to modernise the royal image, even forgoing the traditional ‘your majesty’ if people want. Now the Netherland’s biggest national celebration will be King’s Day, breaking the traditional date of April 30, which has honoured the previous Queen Juliana’s birthday since 1949, to celebrate the king’s birthday on April 27. Regardless, the ubiquitous oranjegekte (orange madness) will surely take over, where people wear orange shirts, hats, dresses and wigs to celebrate while enjoying the annual free



market (vrijmarkt), as it’s the one time when people can set up shop without a trading license. Culture and quality living combined make the Netherlands an attractive place for expats, who are are an intrinsic part of the country’s knowledge-based economy. The Dutch people are generally receptive, curious, cultured and friendly.

Population: 16,779,575 (January 2013 Density: 496/km2 (the highest in Europe) Administration: The constitution dates mostly from 1848, and revisions undertaken in 1983. Parliament consists of an upper chamber (eerste kamer) of 75 members elected by provincial councils and a lower chamber (tweede kamer) with 150 members elected every four years by proportional representation. The cabinet is the executive body and its constituents cannot be members of the cabinet and parliament at the same time. Monarchy: The House of Oranje-Nassau has governed the Netherlands since 1815 and King Willehm-Alexandar, born 1967, was crowned this year, along with his Argentinean wife Maxima, who will serve as the queen consort. Landscape: A fifth of the Netherlands is reclaimed from the sea

English is widely spoken – a survey by Education First ranked the Netherlands as third in the world for its English proficiency as a second language – but this can be a drawback for those learning Dutch. With many international companies headquartered in the Netherlands, there are plenty of employment opportunities.

(polders) and about a quarter of the country is below sea level. There are 20 national parks and a few modest hills, with the country’s highest point reaching 322 metres in Limburg. Agricultural facts: The Dutch cow is a revered milk machine, producing 35 litres a day. Tiny Netherlands is one of world’s top three largest agricultural producers, and responsible for just over 20 percent of the world’s potato exports. Media and culture: The Netherlands has the highest museum density in the world, with nearly 1,000 institutions. The television programme Big Brother is a Dutch invention and Paul Verhoeven is known internationally for his direction of RoboCop and Total Recall. Design: Dutch icons of style are nurtured in the revered Design Academy Eindhoven and the Rietveld Academy in Amsterdam, attracting large ratios of international students. Dutch design is admired for its minimalist, quirky and often humorous qualities.





Before the fun of exploring begins, there are some essential tasks to get through when you first land in the Netherlands. Use this checklist alongside the information set out in this Expat Survival Guide to help simplify easing into the Netherlands. More information is provided on REPORT TO IMMIGRATION You must register with the GBA at your local town hall within three days of arrival. If you need a residence permit, make an appointment with the IND quickly. Get ready for lots of paperwork and make sure your documents have all the right stamps. If you’re not sure which permit you need, we provide a quick overview on page 8. EXPAT BENEFITS Find out if you are eligible for the Dutch 30 percent ruling and use the services of the various expat centres to help you cut through the red tape on page 38. OPEN A DUTCH BANK ACCOUNT Opening a Dutch bank account will make your life easier (see page 34). You’ll need your passport and/ or residence permit, burgerservicenummer (BSN), proof of address, and evidence of income, such as an employment contract or payslip. FIND A HOME Our Housing section on page 17 will help you decide whether to rent or buy, and offers tips on dealing with housing agencies and where to live in the Netherlands. HOME BASICS After finding your home, you’ll need to sort out a broadband connection and water, electricity and gas services. We list the major suppliers and several useful websites to help you get connected on page 74.


EDUCATION Should you send your child to a local or international school? What learning opportunities are available to expats? Get the lowdown on education (onderwijs) in the Netherlands on page 40. JOB HUNTING If you’ve got a work permit (or don’t need one), you’re ready to begin. Sign up with agencies that specialise in finding work for expats or start your search online. We offer job-hunting tips and information on Dutch labour law on page 56. HEALTH Do you know what to do in an emergency or how to find a hospital, doctor or midwife? Did you know it is compulsory for residents to take out the Dutch health insurance Basisverzekering? Our Health section guides you through the Dutch health system on page 68. GETTING AROUND Find out about Dutch driving rules and regulations, if you can exchange your driving license, and how the Dutch public transport system works on page 76. MEETING THE COMMUNITY If you’re finding everything a little overwhelming, take heart: many others have been in the same position and made it through! Get out there, get active, and read out about groups, clubs and best places to make new friends for extra support on page 80!



Settling in, simply. We’re here to make it easier for highly skilled migrants like yourself to work and register in the Amsterdam area. Qualifying companies can start the paperwork before arrival and a single visit to the Expatcenter will complete the process. What’s more, our website has loads of valuable information on a wide range of topics including housing, education, taxes and healthcare. The cities of Amsterdam, Amstelveen, Almere and Haarlemmermeer are working with the Immigration and Naturalisation Services (IND) to bring you the Expatcenter services. To learn more please visit:





Regulations and procedures for expats and their families can seem daunting, but our guide aims to make the process easier and faster. The Netherlands is a bureaucratic country and proud of it. First of all, ensure that your documents are in order before you approach the two main bodies involved in registration and immigration: the GBA, where you must register your details into the Dutch system, and the IND, which implements immigration policy and makes decisions on residence permits. Check that your passport is valid for the period of your stay and that marriage and birth certificates are translated into Dutch, English, French, or German and sufficiently ‘legalised’. This is generally done with the addition of an apostille – an extra stamp on the original document required to certify foreign papers – which you obtain from the ‘competent authority’ in your own country. See the apostille section of REGISTERING WITH THE GBA: EVERYONE The gemeentelijke basisadministratie persoonsgegevens is the personal records database of the municipal authority. Anyone who intends to stay in

the Netherlands for more than three months (including EU/EEA/Swiss nationals) must register at the GBA within three days of arrival. Registration with the GBA triggers the start of other processes and proof of registration is essential for many more formalities. The information you provide is also shared between other public authorities, such as the tax office and police, to reduce supplying the same information repeatedly. The details you give when you register (such as the size of your apartment and family) determine charges for water and refuse collection, prompt the local health department to contact you regarding checkups for your children, and determines eligibility to register for social housing. The burgerservicenummer (BSN) (which has replaced the old fiscal SOFInumber) is also initiated here and you’ll need it to open a bank account, work, and claim benefits or healthcare.

Anyone who plans to stay in the Netherlands for more than three months must register at the GBA after they arrive.




Once you have completed this process, you can get a printout of your details (uittreksel), which proves your residence and rights, such as being able to vote in local and European elections. Documents required include a passport (valid for a minimum period of the length of your stay), rental contract (in your name), employment contract (if applicable), and birth and marriage certificates of all family members (with apostille and translation). Registration is free. You either register at your local municipality, or they will tell you where to go; highly skilled migrants in Amsterdam, for example, register at a specialised expat centre. You need to make an appointment, and all members of your family (regardless of age) must be present at the first interview. Once you’re registered, contact the IND to make an appointment regarding your residence permit (if required). You don’t have to repeat this process every time you move house; you can generally just visit a local office (stadsdeelkantoor) to update your details (which you are legally obliged to do).

You also need to de-register with the GBA when you leave the Netherlands, and give back your residence permit to the IND. IND The Immigratie- en Naturalisatiedienst implements immigration policy including applications for residence permits, Dutch citizenship, visas, and asylum requests. The official policy line is ‘strict but fair’ and efforts have been made to speed up the processes involved. The website has extensive information in English, a Residence Wizard for entering specific circumstances and downloadable brochures and forms. You need to make an appointment and visit an IND desk personally to be interviewed or have a sticker put in your passport. To collect a permit you also need to visit an IND desk in person. If you receive a letter stating the permit is ready, you can visit the IND desk without an appointment. Renewal forms are automatically sent to you. Office locations can be found on the IND website at (tel: 0900 1234561 or +31 (0) 20 889 3045 outside the Netherlands).

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WHAT KIND OF RESIDENCE PERMIT? A RESIDENCE PERMIT (VERBLIJFSVERGUNNING) Residence is related to the purpose of your stay. Your country of origin, purpose for coming to the Netherlands (work, study, marriage, reunification with family), income, age, and period of residency are some key factors in determining what kind of residence permit you need or are eligible for. There are more than 20 variations, with individual prices, so reuniting family can add up. Other requirements include proof of sufficient means of support, Dutch health insurance, and no criminal record or pending cases. The system was largely reformed in June 2013 under the ‘Modern Migration Act’, which saw processes streamlined, family prices lowered, and permit lengths extended. A temporary residence permit is issued initially for a set period up to a maximum of five years, and can be renewed. Residence permits are usually valid for the same length as your purpose of stay (for example, the length of your study programme or work contract, or that of your partner), otherwise one year is common. After five years of legal, continuous residence in the Netherlands, you can apply for a permanent residence permit or consider naturalisation. EU/EEA AND SWISS NATIONALS For stays longer than three months, EU/EEA/Swiss nationals must register with the IND. You will need to show your GBA registration, health insurance, a valid passport and proof of your purpose of stay in the Netherlands (employment declaration, marriage certificate, enrolment etc.). The registration certificate is a sticker in your passport, and may be required for certain applications, such as social security benefits or student grants/loans. Any of your non-EU/EEA/Swiss family members, as well as nationals of Bulgaria, Croatia and Romania, apply for a different permit: proof of lawful residence. After five years of residency, all EU/EEA/ Swiss nationals and family members (who have lived with them) are eligible to apply for the Permanent Residence for Nationals of the Union and their Family Members, which costs EUR 150. NON-EU/EEA/SWISS All non-EU/EEA/Swiss nationals require a residence permit to stay for more than three months, but may 8

also need a MVV (see below) for entry into the Netherlands. As of June 2013, both types of residence permits can be applied for at the Entry and Residence Procedure (TEV) in a single application before they arrive. Sponsors in the Netherlands, including family members, are also able to apply for either permit on their behalf. MVV (MACHTIGING TOT VOORLOPIG VERBLIJF) This is an authorisation for temporary stay that applies to migrants intending to stay longer than three months (90 days) and it can only be applied for while you are outside the Netherlands. An examination covering Dutch language and society (Civic Integration Examination Abroad, EUR 350) is part of the procedure but is not generally required for those coming for employment or studies (or their families). See www. for more details on the test. The MVV is a sticker (valid for six months) placed in your passport and its costs vary according to the purpose of your stay. WHO DOESN’T NEED AN MVV? When applying for a residence permit, there is no MVV requirement for nationals from EU/EEA/Switzerland, Australia, Canada, Japan, Monaco, New Zealand, South Korea, US and Vatican City. Citizens with a ‘long-term residence permit EC’ issued by another European Community (EC) state are also exempt, as are those who have held a Blue Card for 18 months in another EC state. CIVIC INTEGRATION ACT The inburgering (civic integration) legislation obliges foreigners who wish to apply for permanent or continued residency to speak the language by passing an integration exam in the Netherlands. Knowledge of the Dutch language, culture and society is required. The main exemption is for EU/EEA/Swiss citizens and their families. For information, check Foreigners requiring an MVV are obliged to take an integration exam before entering the Netherlands. There are, however, many exemptions listed on Knowledge migrants and those coming for work/study purposes are exempted while on temporary permits, as are those under 18 or over 65 years old. Visit for more



details. For information on taking the exam abroad, you can call +31 (0)70 3487575. The exam is taken at a Dutch embassy or consulate in your country (or, at the nearest Dutch mission). HIGHLY SKILLED MIGRANT SCHEME (KENNISMIGRANTEN) This scheme is initiated by an employer authorised to admit highly skilled migrant applicants – authorised companies are listed on the IND’s site – and it applies to jobs with a gross salary of over EUR 52,010, or EUR 38,141 for under 30s. These salary bands don’t apply to teaching and academic positions, which are also covered by the scheme. Footballers are explicitly excluded. Sponsors of highly skilled migrants apply for a residence permit (and MVV if necessary) on the worker’s behalf before they arrive. The employee can begin work once they pick up their residence permit on arrival, or if it’s not ready, have obtained the ‘residence endorsement sticker’ (verblijfsaantekening) from the IND. Foreign students who have completed a HBO/WO (higher education), Master’s or PhD in the Netherlands can file an application with the IND to remain for a year to look for a job.




A one-year permit also applies to Master’s and PhD students from abroad who obtained a degree in the last three years from a university listed in the top-200 of the most recent Times Higher Education World University Rankings, QS World University Rankings, or Academic Ranking of World Universities. During this year they do not need a separate work permit in order to work. This visa is non-extendable, therefore, the graduate must apply for a new residency permit if they find appropriate work or register as self-employed if they want to stay. Residency costs (June 2013) • Join a family member /relative /partner: EUR 225 • Work in paid employment /highly skilled migrant (with/without MVV): EUR 850 • Study /Scientific research: EUR 300 • Extensions: EUR 375 (work); EUR 225 (family); EUR 150 (children). • Permanent Residence: EUR 150 • Working holiday schemes: EUR 42 • Au pairs /exchange /graduated persons’ orientation year: EUR 600 These rates are a base only, and are subject to individual

EXPAT CENTRES IN THE NETHERLANDS Expatcenter Amsterdam World Trade Center Amsterdam | F Tower, 2nd floor Strawinskylaan 39, 1077 XW Amsterdam +31 (0)20 254 7999 | Expatdesk Rotterdam World Trade Center | 3rd floor, Room 377 Beursplein 37, 3011 AA Rotterdam +31 (0)10 205 2829 | +31 (0)10 205 3749 | Rotterdam Investment Agency located on same floor | Expatdesk Utrecht Keizerstraat 3, 3512 EA Utrecht +31 (0)30 246 8536 | | Expat Center for the Netherlands Startbaan 8, 1185 XR Amstelveen +31 (0)20 441 1426 | | The Hague International Centre City Hall (Atrium) | Spui 70, 2511 BT The Hague +31 (0)70 353 5043 | 10

circumstances and frequent change. It is best to refer to for the ful list of updated prices. INDEPENDENT PERMITS A non-EU national who has a residence permit based on a relationship (a Dutch partner, for example) can apply for a permit in their own right (Residence Permit for Continued Residence), provided they have lived together for three years prior, including one year of legal residence in the Netherlands. CHANGING PERMITS Most residence permits can be extended, with the exception of, for example, permits for working holiday schemes, au pairs or graduates’ orientation year. If you switch permits (residency based on a study/work permit to residency as a highly skilled migrant), you must apply for a new permit with the IND, with supporting documentation. Workers can change jobs without requiring a new residency permit, however, the IND must be notified and a new work permit obtained. IDENTIFICATION All residents over the age of 14 must carry an ID that shows their residence status ((for EU/EEA/Swiss nationals, just a passport). Expat Information Services Center (Almere) World Trade Centre Almere Area | P.J. Oudweg 4, 1314 CH Almere Stad +31 (0)36 548 5020 | | Expat Center Brabant (serving Eindhoven and Tilburg) Kennedyplein 200, 5611 ZT Eindhoven +31 (0)40 238 6777 | Nieuwlandstraat 34, 5038 SN Tilburg +31 (0)40 238 6777 | Expat Centre Leiden Stationsweg 41, 2312 AT Leiden +31 (0)71 516 6005 | Holland gateway Schiphol-based hub for international business in the Netherlands WTC Schiphol Airport | Schiphol Boulevard 167, 1118 BG Schiphol +31 (0)20 206 5920 | International Service Desk (Maastricht Region) Mosae Forum 10, 6211 DW Maastricht +31 (0)43 350 5010 |



Nijmegen Expatdesk Stadswinkel | Marienburg 75, 6511 Nijmegen +31 (0)24 329 2408 |

Expatcenter Twente World Trade Center Twente Spoorstraat 114, 7551 CA Hengelo +31 (0)74 250 3325 |


Eurohome Relocation Services Wolga 12, 2491 BJ The Hague + 31 (0)70 301 1366 |

LAWYERS Noordam Advocatuur Oranje Nassaulaan 5, 1075 AH Amsterdam +31 (0)20 689 8123 | Everaert Immigration Lawyers IJDok 23,1013 MM Amsterdam +31 (0)20 752 3200 | | RELOCATION COMPANIES De Haan Relocation Edisonweg 18, 2952 AD Alblasserdam +31 (0)78 692 0333 | | Interdean Relocation Services A Einsteinweg 12, 2408 AR Alphen aan den Rijn +31 (0) 17 244 7979 |

Noble Mobility A. van Leeuwenhoekweg 50, 2408 AN Alphen aan den Rijn +31 (0)17 274 5454 | Nova Relocation Het Kleine Loo 414T, 2592 CK The Hague + 31 (0)70 324 2524 Flightforum 3830, 5657 DX Eindhoven +31 (0)40 235 3500 | | PASBMS Relocation Services Schoutenlaan 62, 2215 ME Voorhout +31 (0)25 234 7876 | | Tulip Expats Services Malakkastraat 88/90, 2585 SR The Hague +31 (0)70 220 8156 |





A wide array of Dutch organisations assists people with special needs. The Netherlands has legislation protecting the rights of people with a physical, mental, emotional, or sensory impairment that ensures equal access to social, economic and transport systems and encourages full participation in society. In typical Dutch fashion, multiple ministries and organisations coordinate policy. Your doctor, city hall or one of the major advice centres (ANGO, CG-Raad or MEE) can point you in the right direction.

Dutch legislation encourages full participation in society. Experienced expats can also provide invaluable advice and support; start a thread on a forum such as Expatica Community, if existing threads don’t cover your query. TRANSPORT Old Dutch cities with narrow, uneven streets and bikes parked everywhere are not brilliant terrain for those in wheelchairs, but access is improving. Help is available getting to/through Schiphol airport ( and the railways (, and there’s a bureau for disabled travellers (030235 7822) to request journey assistance. Your gemeente site will give local information, often in English, for the location of disabled parking places and other access issues. Or look up zorg en welzijn and gehandicapten. EDUCATION Wherever possible, children are encouraged to attend mainstream primary schools under the ‘Going to school together’ policy, and are able to contribute their funding to the school of their choice, special or mainstream, to cater for their needs (known as the back-pack policy). A new Inclusive Education Act (Wet Passend Onderwijs) is expected to come into effect in August 2014 where all schools will be required to provide equal learning opportunities for every child.


Parents can also opt for a special school with a referral from a Regional Education Centre (REC). There are some 327 special schools, the majority having fewer than 200 children, although budget cuts in 2013 and integration efforts will likely change this. The language of instruction is Dutch, but children from a non-Dutch background can sometimes be taught in their mother tongue to help them settle in. You will find SEN teachers at international schools (public and private) where the language of instruction will be (mostly) English but you may have to fund the assistance. Contact the school directly in the first instance. For higher education, ‘Education and Disability’ is an expert centre ( FUNDING Many services (such as transport) are supported by government funding but there is also financial support for individual families: additional child benefit; healthcare and carer allowances; and adaptations to home or transport. Search for ‘special needs’ on the government social welfare site GOING OUT Wheelchair accessible hotels can be searched on the national tourist board (, and restaurants are listed on several sites (such as www., Good sources for sporty types include Stichting Resa ( or A combination of activities and accommodation can be found at HOLIDAY De Zeeland ( offers adapted sailing trips for wheelchair users and families and some campsites such as De Ruimte ( cater especially for children with special needs. Find out about accessible nature reserves and recreation areas at Staatsbosbeheer ( For farther travels, organised group trips are available at www.



ASSISTANCE ORGANISATIONS (LINKS MOSTLY IN DUTCH) AANGO: General Dutch Disability Organisation +31 (0)33 465 4343 |

NCTT: Dutch centre informing on public accessibility +31 (0)23 574 8357 |

MEE: Enter a postcode for local resources +31 (0)900 999 8888 |

Dutch Autism Network:

CG-RaaD: Dutch council for the chronically ill and disabled +31 (0)30 291 6600 |

Down Syndrome Foundation (SDS):

Accessibility Foundation: For internet accessibility for all +31 (0)30 239 8270 |

Handilinks: A useful portal with lots of related links Autism Association for Overseas Families: Deaf/Blind: Children: |

Valys: Regional assisted transport +31 (0)900 9630 |





Ranked first in the world for children’s well-being in two UNICEF surveys, the Netherlands is great for families. Many policies were updated in June 2013 under the ‘Modern Migration Act’. Partners or relatives in the Netherlands can apply on behalf of their family member(s) for provisional residence permits (for entry into the Netherlands) and temporary residency permits (for longer stays), if required. For the benefit of family reunification, the applications for both permits have now been streamlined into one procedure, which can be lodged before family members arrive. Partners also no longer need to be married to receive residency, cancelling a rule adopted in October 2012, but other conditions do apply. Fees were reduced in February 2013 for ‘family reunion and formation’ permit applications. Now the higher fees are focused on labour and highly skilled migrant permits, and fees for additional family members are significantly lower. If you need an MVV permit to enter the Netherlands, you may need to follow an integration programme, although many exemptions apply. Immigration policies have undergone fluctuations in recent years, so it is important to visit the IND website ( for the most up-to-date information and prices. You can find information under the ‘Residence Wizard’ and news sections. EU/EEA/SWISS NATIONALS AND FAMILY MEMBERS You need to first register at the GBA. When you reside in the Netherlands for more than three months, you should register at the IND; registration is free. You must ensure that all appropriate documentation (marriage certificates, birth certificates for you and your children etc.) is duly stamped with an apostille (if this is relevant for your country) and that you have valid passports for all family members. EU/EEA/Swiss nationals and their family members do not need a work permit. Exceptions include Bulgarian, Croatian and Romanian citizens, and family members who are not EU/EEA/ Swiss nationals themselves. Instead, after three months, an application for verification against EU law and a certificate of lawful residency must be submitted to the IND. This application is compulsory and 14

costs EUR 42 for a five-year period. This registration still requires Bulgarians and Romanians to be covered by work permits for their working first year until 1 January 2014, and for Croatians until mid-2015, after which no work permit is required. Non-EU family members have no restrictions on working. Visit www. or for more information. NON-EU/EEA/SWISS NATIONALS All non-EU/EEA/Swiss nationals must have their own residence permits. The application fee depends on your personal situation and visa type. Employees or highly-skilled migrants pay EUR 850 and EUR 225 per family member. These rates are subject to frequent change, so it is best to refer to Partners and family members generally receive the same conditions as the relative they are joining in the Netherlands. So family members of highly skilled migrants or labour workers do not need a work permit once their residency application is approved. SIGNIFICANT CONDITIONS You must be able to prove you can support your spouse or family. The IND publishes a table of required income levels. If you, along with your family, come to the Netherlands as a highly skilled worker, your contract will be sufficient to meet the requirements regardless of the length of employment. AU PAIRS Bringing an au pair to the Netherlands is restricted. One of the key rules is that the au pair cannot have previously worked for your family abroad, and if your au pair overstays you will be held responsible for repatriation costs. An au pair can stay in the Netherlands for one year for the purpose of cultural exchange and is not allowed to work outside the agreed au pair duties. The IND website ( has a section for au pairs who wish to come to the Netherlands as well as forms and guidelines for those who want to sponsor one. Here are some general facts; consult the IND website for more details.



Au pair: Over 18 and under 31; only light domestic duties to assist the host family in exchange for bed and board; maximum 8 hours/day, 30 hours/week; 2 days off; appropriate health insurance, TB test, if necessary; no previous Dutch residence permit for exchange purposes.

• Pre-school/playgroups (peuterspeelzalen):

Sponsor: Sufficient income to support family and au pair; signature on sponsor document; daily schedule for au pair agreed upon in writing.

• Employers: Some employers have their own daycare

CHILDCARE (KINDEROPVANG) It is never too early to register your child for daycare, for instance, when you are pregnant. Governmental policy (in English) can be found on OPTIONS • Kinderdagverblijf: Public daycare for children aged six weeks to four years. Centres are generally open from 8.00 to 18.00. Find a local one at Urban areas have a shortage so expect long waiting lists. • Private daycare: In large cities there are private facilities with longer (up to 24 hour) opening hours, which are considerably more expensive, as well as international nurseries and pre-school establishments.

Activities and play for ages two to four. This is more often a social thing rather than proper daycare but – if you can get a place – it might be sufficient if you intend to work part-time. arrangements or local daycare places. •A  fter-school care: Some daycare centres provide this (for children up to 12) but it is also provided by buitenschoolse opvang (BSO) and naschoolse opvang establishments (also on CHILD BENEFIT Parents living or working in the Netherlands with children under 18 are entitled to the kinderbijslag, a quarterly contribution to the cost of raising children from the Sociale Verzerkerings Bank (SVB). The amount depends on the number of children, age, special needs etc. but is not income-related. It can be paid into an international bank account (but this will take longer). Find information in six languages and a list of local offices at




Many changes in recent years have affected the amount and granting of childcare allowance. Changes to the Dutch Childcare Act in 2010 were a reduction in childcare allowance for private childminders and no allowance for live-in childminders. Private childminders need to show proof of formal training and/or experience, and first-aid training is mandatory. As of 2012, parents must also be in regular employment to claim allowances. Parents cannot claim allowances if they look after each other’s children or relatives provide care, and parents cannot claim more than 230 hours per child, per month for all types of care. There is a cap on the maximum hours parents can declare, which is linked to the number of hours worked by the parent who works the lowest contracted number of hours. In the event of sickness, holiday, parental leave, extra training, or part-time unemployment benefit, the number or hours worked remains unchanged as does the number of hours of childcare allowance granted. The same rules apply for both independent entrepreneurs and those employed by an organisation. Further rules were imposed by the Dutch Social Affairs Ministry in 2013. Now, higher fines will be imposed on parents who do not pass information to the Tax Office (belastingdienst) within four weeks after amending the number of childcare hours they receive. In 2013, the Government also repealed the employer’s contribution (werkgeversbijdrage) rate of 33.3 percent of the allowance. Now the amount depends on your (joint) income, and households with a total income above EUR 118,200 will no longer receive an allowance for the child receiving the most hours of day/afterschool care. Childcare allowance was also capped to a set of maximum hourly rates, ranging up to EUR 6.50 per hour depending on the type of care.

TOP TIPS FOR FAMILIES Get out and about! There are many playgrounds tucked between the houses, streets and shops but the Dutch transport system makes it easy to explore further afield. Good sites for finding out more about children’s activities include (choose jeugd from the genres) and ‘Out with Children’ ( Dutch publisher J/M produces a number of Kids Gids in Dutch (one in English) that will give you lots of ideas ( • Fun for free. Visit a children’s farm or kinderboerderij. These city farms often have educational and recreational activities during the week. • Cultural fun. Dutch museums often have audio guides for kids available in several languages. • Hit the beach. The Netherlands has 451 kilometres of (windy!) coastline accessible by car, bike, boat and public transport. • Theme parks – Dutch style. De Efteling is a huge park offering (scary/exciting) rides for older kids and a Disney-esque experience with folkloric touches for younger ones. • Top scoff. Who could resist poffertjes? Tiny puffed up pancakes served with butter and tons of powdered sugar.

photography with style. and pizzazz.

CHILDCARE ALLOWANCE Parents working (or studying) in the Netherlands are entitled to the childcare allowance (kinderopvangtoeslag) for children under 12. This is a contribution to the cost of childcare, whether for a childcare centre, afterschool care or a private childminder (gastouder). The allowance can reduce childcare costs up to a maximum of 90 percent, depending on income and number of children. Contact the tax office for details. 16




Finding the perfect home is not easy in the densely populated Netherlands. The Dutch housing market is characterised by the biggest social housing sector in Europe, which makes up 75 percent of the rental market and is strictly allocated. However, more houses have become available in the private rental sector in recent years, mainly because homeowners have rented their properties waiting for a better sellers’ market and social housing restrictions have changed. Competition for attractive housing in popular areas is fierce, so house hunters need to be ready to sign quickly if they find the right home. More than half of the housing stock in the Netherlands is owner-occupied – more in rural areas than major cities. In the past, governments have promoted house ownership with some success using financial incentives such as making mortgage interest tax deductible. The economic crisis and stricter mortgage regulations have slumped the housing market somewhat, although prices have reduced around 20 percent over the same time. Reduced transfer tax also makes buying a property cheaper than it used to be. In an effort to boost the Dutch housing market, the government reduced transfer tax from six percent to two percent.

RENT OR BUY? The usual advice offered is that if you are here for more than five years and are paying a significant rent (say EUR 1,700 a month or more), you are better off buying a house in the Netherlands. Buyers who may wish to retain the property and rent it out in the future should make sure that there is a scenario whereby – given the restrictive verordening (regulation) in Amsterdam – the legal rent that they are permitted to charge can cover costs. In the past, the main incentive for potential buyers was that mortgage interest payments were tax deductible if the house was a main residence, however the economic crisis has influenced stricter control of the mortgage market. As of January 2013, only interest payments for full-repayment mortgages over 30 years will be tax deductible, and the maxi-

mum tax rate for deductibility will be reduced by 0.5 percent per annum until 2040. Expats are advised to buy only if they will be in the Netherlands for five years minimum, mainly due to the recovery of start-up costs involved in buying property (in total, around six percent of the purchase price). If you are only here for a couple of years, renting is likely your best option. Contract costs are fixed, repairs and maintenance are the landlord’s headache and contracts can be ended if you need to return home. FINDING A HOME Properties to rent (te huur) and to buy (te koop) can be found in newspapers, and on online property portals and agency websites, including, the national database of the Nederlandse Vereniging van Makelaars (NVM), or the Dutch Association of Estate agents. There are many agencies specialising in expats (be wary of those that charge a registration fee), which can steer a path through the local market. The downside of using an agency is the commission or finder’s fee. A month’s rent (plus 21 percent tax) is the going rate. On the other hand, using a reputable agent can help you to avoid renting an illegal apartment, being removed by a handhavings action, not recovering your deposit, being bound by an unreasonable contract, or paying too much. If you’re baffled by real estate terminology, try a website like with searches in six languages. However, be aware that lists unscreened properties and there is no verification that the listing agent has actually seen them. Rental properties that are less than EUR 680 will fall under social housing restrictions, and most people will not qualify for these properties as they either earn too much or have no required link to the area. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. You can search for English language postings on



RENTING USING AN AGENT A good agent should be able to tell you about the market, city, price and quality of housing, as well as restrictions that apply to expats, arrange visits for you, negotiate with landlords, and provide a contract in English. Check their portfolio to ensure they have a range of properties to suit you. THERE ARE THREE SECTORS: The dominant distribution sector has rent-controlled social housing, and income and residency status play their part in allocation. These restrictions are applied by the local authority, of which all intermediaries should be aware of and apply in practice. Social housing is split into two sectors, depending on whether the property is privately owned, or owned by a housing corporation (woningcooperaties). • Housing corporations: While these properties are often considered to be the best value, there are many restrictions regarding who may live in them and waiting lists can be several years long. Only those with a total income of less than EUR 34,000 and valid residency will be eligible. •P  rivate distribution sector: You are only allowed to rent property in this sector when your total taxable household income (i.e. the combined income of all occupants) is EUR 43,000 or less. This is including holiday allowance, bonuses etc. Landlords are free to find their own tenants, and as such, residency status does not apply. •L  iberalised sector: most expats end up living in accommodation in this sector because there are fewer restrictions and easy to find – owners with low-priced rental properties usually rent easily through their own networks. RULES AND REGULATIONS • The Dutch rental system for housing, tenants and agents is intensely regulated but not necessarily reflective of current market conditions. Base rents (kale huur) are controlled by a ‘points’ system, woningwaarderingsstelsel, which scores everything from the floor space and heating system to location and property type to determine a rental value. However, the reality is that there are too few rental properties, which puts upwards pressure on some types of accommodation. You can find more on the points system by searching ‘huurwoning’ on 18

HOUSING or check what your property’s rent should be at • The government regulates base-rents up to EUR 681.02 a month (2013) and anything over this price is in the ‘liberalised’ sector (assuming it has the correct points/price ratio). • Signed the contract but now think you are paying too much? Contact a local huurteam. • Some landlords expect your employer to act as a guarantor. • Generally income conditions for cheaper housing apply. • Be cautious of sub-lets when searching solo. You may have problems registering with the GBA and be evicted with little notice. COSTS AND CONTRACTS Your rental contract should cover: • Status: is the property furnished, semi-furnished or empty? There may be an inventory and/or photos. • Duration of lease (e.g. one year). • Notice period and stipulations about how much notice should be provided. • Service charges (check ‘all-inclusive’. What portion is rent?). • Utilities (apportioned how?). If you agree to a monthly fee, including an advance for utilities, then make sure that utility use is metered for your property. Your landlord should show you an account (eindafrekening) of payments and real costs at least once a year. • A diplomatic clause if you have to leave because your employer has relocated you elsewhere. You need to be clear on when and how this clause can be used to allow you to escape your rental obligations. Expect to pay one or two months’ rent as deposit, a month’s rent in advance to the landlord, and a month’s rent plus 21 percent tax as commission if you use an agent. AGENT TIPS (PERFECT HOUSING) • Discuss your needs explicitly. • Select one, at most two, agencies: “We all talk to each other”. • Arrange viewings three weeks before you need to move in, no earlier. Oh, and have vision: “You may still have to look through the mess of the current tenant strewn randomly throughout every room.”



• Make your mind up. You like the place. You agree terms in writing. You take it.

lords. Steer clear of anyone asking for a cash payment or commission.

• Don’t be pressured, but be ready to move quickly.

Given the competition for housing, you need to be able to respond to adverts quickly and, if you can, take someone along with you when viewing. If you see a flat advertised in an estate agency window or in a newspaper with an estate agent contact number, make it clear you are only interested in that property – you shouldn’t have to pay a commission but you will still have to pay a deposit, share utilities etc. There may be room for negotiation. Always check that you can register with the GBA and check the contract details. The standard NVM (Dutch estate agent association) contract has an English version for comparison.

OTHER OPTIONS If the agent brokerage commission seems one financial burden too many, there are other ways to find property but you will need to put in lots of legwork and don’t expect the monthly rental price to be much cheaper. Most of all, you will need luck and timing is important. If you start your search too early (say a couple of months before you need to move in) good properties won’t still be available. Every avenue is worth exploring. Post a notice in the housing section of expat forums or Dutch internet sites with housing or reply to postings from private land-




STUDENTS Universities try their best to help students with housing but don’t play down the shortage issues. There are non-commercial agencies for students, housing corporations and antikraak (anti-squat) agencies that rent out accommodation. Check the city housing department or dienst wonen for more information about low-priced housing. There are often links to other useful room (kamer) internet sites and other sources. SHORT-TERM HOUSING Many cities in the Netherlands have aparthotels for corporate clients, which can sometimes be less anonymous than hotels. If you are looking for a private apartment for a couple of months, the websites aimed at tourists are also worth scouring as they have a wide choice of accommodation, including properties in the choicest of locations, which are priced accordingly. Short-stay regulations in Amsterdam make it ‘illegal’ to rent the majority of properties for less than six months. The only exceptions are where a property has been explicitly exempted or where the landlord has a short-stay permit and when a property was


built after 1 January 2008. Despite this, there are many properties listed for less than six-month stays that are illegal due to new rules. LIVING ON THE WATER Tempted by life on a houseboat or Dutch barge? The houseboat market is a very close-knit community so personal references will go a long way. There are many rules and regulations regarding permits and mooring conditions and, if you want to buy a boat, it will usually (certainly for newcomers) be a cash transaction. Track down a specialist agent to steer you through the procedures. Useful sites include www.waterwonen. nl and (which includes all kinds of boats for sale). Updated in cooperation with Perfect Housing.



BUYING It is common to appoint a makelaar to do much of the legwork: tracking down appropriate houses, arranging viewings, suggesting areas where there’s room for negotiation, and advising on potential pitfalls. Some properties come with specific regulations; some expats have bought property only to find they don’t have permission (woonvergunning) to live in it. Also, agents might advise you on which properties will soon come on the market. As with renting, find a makelaar who understands your needs and let them get on with it. The agent’s commission will be one or two percent of the purchase price. You can hunt on Funda (www. to get ideas of prices in particular areas or scour the pages of newspaper housing supplements. Proximity to work, schools and amenities all play their part. Be aware of the costs involved in renovating older property to current building standards or the quality required for renting. For leasehold properties, check out the ground rents. Tax is also levied on the deemed property value (WOZ), evaluated by the local municipality each year. See for useful information in English. ARRANGING A MORTGAGE (HYPOTHEEK) There are many different types of mortgage and the tax issues are complex. The general conditions for a mortgage up to four or five times your salary are: • You have a permanent residence permit (depending on nationality and employment contract, this may not be applicable).

COSTS The buyer generally pays costs (kk – kosten koper) but some costs are tax-deductible. Allow for around six percent on top of the purchase price. Once your offer has been accepted, a written agreement is mandatory, and a 10 percent deposit should be paid. Make sure your finances are in place first (i.e. that a mortgage lender will lend you up to X amount). On completion, both parties sign a transfer contract (akte van levering) and a notaris must register the property at the Land Registry ( Notary fees can range from EUR 1,000–3,000, so it pays to look around. An accredited translator must also be hired if one or more of the parties is not a Dutch citizen. The whole process can take just two to three months. Pre-sale agreement (koopovereenkomst). Prepared by vendor’s agent or lawyer (notaris) with a 72-hour ‘cooling off’ period. It will include details of when the 10 percent deposit should be paid, or when the bank guarantee has to be arranged. Valuation (taxatierapport). Designed for mortgage purposes; not a survey. Transfer or conveyancing tax (overdrachtsbelasting). Two percent of the purchase price (reduced from the former six percent by the government). Deed of transfer (transportakte). Mortgage contract (hypotheekakte). Agent commission (makelaarscourtage). Generally one to two percent, if applicable. A full structural survey is sensible; possibly fees for translation, plus 21 percent VAT on the total. Updated in cooperation with Finsens.

• You have a permanent employment contract or a continuation statement from your employer. • I f self-employed or a contractor, you have certified accounts for the last three years and forecasts for the following year. • The maximum mortgage level was reduced to 105 percent of the purchase price in 2013, and will be lowered by 1 percent annually until it reaches 100 percent in 2018.





Beautiful Amsterdam is a highly prized location with a diverse international population. More than 170 nationalities make up some 50 percent of the city’s residents. There are many distinct neighbourhoods densely packed together and the competition for housing is fierce. Amsterdam is expected to have a population of 850,000 by 2026. This growth will be made possible by new residential developments: IJburg and Zeeburgereiland in Oost and Bongerd and Overhoeks in Noord. CENTRE AND CANALS In the centre, apartments veer towards snug rather than spacious and stairs are steep. Prices on the canal ring (grachtengordel) lined with 17th- and 18th-century houses are vertiginous, although many expats enjoy the ‘typically Dutch’ experience in grandeur surrounds. JORDAAN This district just west of the grachtengordel and north of Amsterdam’s shopping district is an exceptionally desirable neighbourhood. Its beautiful canals and quirky, narrow streets are occupied by a bohemian mixture of artists, yuppies and expats, with a core of working-class locals. Prices have exploded in recent years and in terms of price per square metre, it offers poor value and accommodation is often cramped. In the bordering district of Westerpark, however, housing development on former industrial sites have filled the need for affordable three to four bedroom houses, with the benefit of a huge park nearby. DE PIJP Directly south of the centre lies the regenerated ‘Pijp’, or so-called Latin Quarter, which is a vibrant, funky neighbourhood that has benefited from government initiatives, most notably efforts to increase private-home ownership opportunities to the benefit of many expats. Rising prices reflect its newfound status as a desired neighbourhood


SOUTH (OUD-ZUID) Oud-Zuid is a popular upmarket location for expats with easy access to international schools, the Vondelpark and spacious, privately-owned housing. There’s a leafy, gracious-living feel with cafes and shopping streets to match. Duivelseiland is particularly desirable with apartment accommodation, numerous cafes and market shops. WEST (OUD-WEST) Across the park, housing is cheaper (and smaller) yet Oud-West is another area very popular with expats, particularly districts such as Helmersbuurt, which is a little more urban and edgy than Oud-Zuid and not as expensive for buyers. ZEEBURG, KNSM AND DOCKLANDS Behind Centraal Station lies a very different Amsterdam. Zeeburg (which comprises Oostelijk Havengebeid, the Indische Buurt and the new islands of Ijburg) offers architecturally interesting surroundings in one of Amsterdam’s hottest development areas. A little less family friendly, but a growing area. Further west and growing in popularity are KNSM Island and the Eastern Docklands. This former working port established on four artificial island peninsulas is becoming home to locals and expats who enjoy their modern accommodation options with a twist of traditional Dutch streetscapes and buildings. The area offers more space for your housing budget, while remaining easily accessible to central Amsterdam. Population: 799,442 ( International residents: 50.6 percent International schools: • Amsterdam International Community School: • British School of Amsterdam: • International School Amsterdam (in Amstelveen): • The Japanese School of Amsterdam: • Annexe du Lycée Français Vincent van Gogh: Links: • • (English site)



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Well connected and close to many hi-tech multinational companies, Eindhoven has a large expat community. Philips and Eindhoven go hand-in-hand but the city and surrounds also have a lot more to offer – as many expats have already discovered. In 2011, Eindhoven was dubbed the smartest city in the world by the Intelligent Community Forum (ICF) in New York, meaning the region makes best use of ICT and broadband internet. It’s not surprising then that the region accounts for around 45 percent of the country’s R&D (research and development) investments and is officially known as ‘Brainport’. Aimed to be among the top 10 regions by 2020 in terms of technology and economy, this southeast area is a hub for start-up companies and employment opportunities. Until the arrival of Dr Philips in 1891, Eindhoven was not much more than a collection of villages. Because of 19th-century urban planning decisions, there are no canals, and pre-1940 architecture was destroyed by wartime bombing. But over the years, things have changed immensely and for the better. Thanks to hi-tech multinational employers, there’s a large community of expats. Eindhoven also has a world-class Technical University and the Design Academy Eindhoven. There’s a vibrant nightlife along Stratumseind – the Netherland’s longest bar strip – but also strong links to the countryside close by and extensive sporting facilities. The renovation of the former Philips terrain, Strijp-S, will add an extra dimension of cultural, residential and commercial facilities to the city. Well connected, Eindhoven railway station is close to the centre and the airport is about 3 km away with good international access. CENTRE Accommodation is mainly in new, pricey apartments, which are popular with single expats and couples without children. People living in the centre have plenty of facilities, including a shopping mall and scores of international restaurants. International schools (attended by children from Den Bosch and Tilburg) and the PSV football stadium are also located here.


NORTH (WOENSEL) The area north of the centre is divided by wide, treelined boulevards, and is mainly residential in nature. Housing is mostly newbuild with apartments and terraced houses for all budgets. Woensel South is cheaper and the market is great for ethnic shopping. EAST Situated around the Karpendonkse Lake and Eckart Forest, the area has a range of housing including some exclusive detached properties. SOUTH The Philips High-Tech Campus is situated at Gestel along with the International Primary School, the Open-air Museum and the Tongelreep International Swimming Complex. VILLAGES The villages closely surrounding Eindhoven’s centre are popular with expat families. International schools are still within cycling distance and the sense of community is greater. Nuenen was home to Vincent van Gogh (1883-1885) and the older centre stretches around a leafy village green. Some detached housing; outer areas are newer and mid-priced. Veldhoven is virtually a southwest suburb (the other side of the A2 from Eindhoven). Housing is modern and in a range of price bands. Best is a contemporary, well-planned village with good access, while more rural retreats can be found in Waalre, which is surrounded by large areas of forest. The twin towns of Son and Breugel are usually mentioned in a single breath. Son has a pleasant old centre but the majority of housing is located in newer, greener (and more expensive) districts. Popular with expats. Population: 218,433 (The region has around 740,000 inhabitants) ( International residents: 30.6 percent International schools: • Regional International School (4-12) and International Secondary School Eindhoven Links: • •




Den Haag is a multicultural hub with four centuries of international integration. The city is a mixture of modern skylines with a historic city centre, and the scenery and activities are as diverse as its mix of residents. Den Haag is the third most populated city in the Netherlands, the capital of South Holland, the seat of government, and the home of the Dutch royal family. It is also an outpost for most of the world’s human rights organisations including the International Court of Justice. Many embassies are based here and, with numerous international schools, it’s a comfortable place for relocation. The city has its own hospitality centre for expat residents and information on its website (TheHague. com) is available in ten languages. It’s known as ‘s-Gravenhage (literally, the counts’ hedge), dating back to the 13th century when the Count of Holland’s hunting lodge was founded here. History, ritual and tradition play their part in this city, with terrific museums and cultural events. Smart areas nearby such as Rijswijk and Voorburg have a sprinkling of Michelin-starred restaurants, though Den Haag itself is most famous for Indonesian cuisine. Building development has been active in past years (, and newly-built residential neighbourhoods on the city’s outskirts, such as Leidschenveen-Ypenburg and Wateringse Veld, are expected to be in demand as the city approaches some 520,000 residents in 2020. WASSENAAR The gated villas of Wassenaar house diplomats and upmarket expats, as well as members of the House of Orange. This district is known by some as the Beverly Hills of the Netherlands, and it remains a favourite among expat families with large budgets for housing, situated in close proximity to several of the area’s international schools. ARCHIPELBUURT / WILLEMSPARK A city centre area of beautiful 19th-century houses and apartments full of character. Broad streets and big town houses and villas. This is embassy land and a top location where prices are premium and parking places problematic.


STATEN QUARTIER / DUINOORD A similar feel to Archipel, with charming, spacious, and elegant homes. A solid investment all-round. BENOORDENHOUT A green, quiet location but still close to motorway and other transport links with woodlands to the north and east. Traditional, beautiful 1930s villas inhabited by wealthy older residents. Considering the space and environs, it would be a good option for young families with children. Also in this area is Mariahoeve, which has the benefit of being on the train line. SCHEVENINGEN If you want something less genteel, head for the seaside town of Scheveningen with its casino and long, sandy beach. Population: 506 366 (1 January, 2013) ( International residents:50.1 percent International schools: • The American School of the Hague:; • The British School in the Netherlands (BSN/IBDP):; • Deutsche Internationale Schule:; • The European School of The Hague:; • HSV/The Hague International Primary School:; • The International School of the Hague:; • Le Lycée Français Vincent van Gogh:; • Szkola Polska/Polish Embassy School in The Hague:; • Sekolah Indonesia/The Indonesian Embassy School in the Netherlands: Links: • •




Prices are slightly cheaper than in Amsterdam but there’s more family-style housing with gardens and many green areas.

The extra space means parking is not a problem and many home have garages, with some 80 percent of housing built after 1960. Amstelveen’s population is booming, expected to reach almost 86,000 citizens by 2020. Another 2,100 houses will likely be built between now and 2020, with more than half on the edge of the Westwijk area. There are excellent shopping and local amenities, particularly for sporty types. Close proximity to both Schipol airport and Amsterdam make Amstelveen an appealing base for international companies, with high living standards attracting a growing expat community. The International School of Amsterdam is based here with more than 1,000 students from over 50 countries, and pupils attending Amsterdam’s other international schools (such as the British School) often live in Amstelveen. The area is flanked by Amsterdam’s largest park, the Amsterdamse Bos, and the CoBrA Museum adds of a dash of culture. HET OUDE DORP ‘The Old Village’ is the ancient hub of the original settlement (1278) with the Amsterdamse Bos to the west and the town centre to the east. There’s a mix of older detached houses, farms, terraced houses, and apartments. WESTWIJK Westwijk is a relatively new area of Amstelveen, which is more modern and spacious and lined with small 28

canals. The one central shopping zone in the centre of the neighbourhood preserves the feeling of a residential area. Larger detached family homes and villas are available here, in green and tranquil settings that offer a lot of individual privacy. These are premium properties, so expect to pay premium prices. ELSRIJK Directly north of the town centre, this is considered classic Amstelveen with its wide streets, huge trees and post-war housing next to small parks. There are terraces, semidetached houses and villas. PATRI MONIUM Running along the Amsterdamse Bos, there’s a mix of housing, shops and businesses in a variety of styles and periods. The Prinsessenbuurt in the north west of Patrimonium is known for large open spaces and detached houses set amongst some of the oldest small parks in the area. Population: 83,336 ( International residents: 13 percent International schools: • International School of Amsterdam: Links: •, •




Utrecht attracts expats and foreign companies alike with a high standard of living and an educated workforce. Arriving in Utrecht by train, you emerge into the country’s largest shopping mall, but don’t let that put you off. Utrecht’s medieval centre is a delightful place to live, with its unusual sunken canals and cellar bars. “A pleasant mix of urban excitement and small-town charm,” according to local convention centre Jaarbeurs. The vibe gets particularly lively at night due to the huge (70,000) student population. Utrecht is undergoing the fastest development rate in its history, focused on transforming from a medium-sized provincial city into a regional capital of European importance. It attracts international companies and residents alike, having the Netherland’s most highly-educated workforce and second-best standard of living, and since 2012, a specialised centre for expats ( However, house-hunting here can be even harder than in Amsterdam. To deal with the shortage, the city is in the midst of expansion projects such as in Leidsche Rijn, and around the railway station to the west, which will form a natural extension of the central district. Transport links are excellent, particularly by train, as Utrecht is HQ for NS (Dutch National Railways) and Utrecht Centraal is the biggest and busiest train station in the Netherlands. It is an easy commute to Amsterdam (25 minutes by train) and the service is regular (five trains an hour). The centre is prime territory for housing, particularly the museum quarter and Wilhelminapark with its well-maintained 1930s houses. IJSSELSTEIN Twenty minutes down the motorway is the popular suburb of IJsselstein, complete with a car-free medieval city centre and castle (now a museum). There are fast train connections to Utrecht and Nieuwegein and good cultural amenities. Nature lovers can enjoy the green heart of the Netherlands with bike trails through lovely countryside and along the river Lek. New housing was completed in 2012, and zoning has been approved for more.

LEIDSCHE RIJN Officially part of the city of Utrecht, Leidsche Rijn consists of the two small villages of Vleuten and Meern and includes the entire agricultural area between those villages and Utrecht itself. Considered the largest new development in the Netherlands, some 30,000 houses and new space for industry and companies are being built in Leidsche Rijn. In effect, this means that a medium-sized town, which will house 100,000 people, is being built out of nothing. Great effort is being made to create an environmentally friendly town with high quality housing. An underground motorway is the pride of the project. NIEUWEGEIN Lying 7 km south of Utrecht, Nieuwegein was a new town created in 1971 to cope with the expanding population of Utrecht. There is a variety of housing styles from classic Dutch brick homes to modern high-rises, and if you need to drive to work, easy access to nearby motorways (A2, A12 and A27). To the east is Houten, a fast-developing town, where some third of its population is under 20. DE VECHSTREEK This beautiful area is north west of Utrecht and close to the Loosdrechtse Plassen lakes. Popular with young families and retirees, Breukelen and Maarssen are connected to Utrecht by local rail and bus services. Older villages include Oud-Zuilen (built around a castle) and Maarssen-Dorp. Maarssenbroek contains newer housing estates with local amenities and services in place. Population: 322,000 (1.2 million in the whole region) ( International residents: 32 percent International schools: • IS Utrecht: Links: • •





Rotterdam is one of the most dynamic, booming cities in the Netherlands, with a growing expat population and a refreshing lack of tourists. Most of the city was destroyed by WWII bombs and, rather than rebuilding in traditional style like many Dutch cities, Rotterdam has been radically modernised. The city has extensive urban development in the pipeline, with 13 ‘VIP’ projects set to upgrade and beautify existing facilities – particularly along the waterfronts – and add some 56,000 houses to the urban mix. CENTRE The city centre offers characteristic buildings dating back to about 1900 alongside minimalist newbuild in various guises: simple buildings with shared staircases, spacious villas, and modern apartments, some with water views. KRALINGEN If you’re young, single or ‘dinky’ (two incomes, no children), the neighbourhood of Kralingen is likely to appeal. Fifteen minutes east of the centre, Kralingen’s multi-million-euro mansions stand cheek by jowl with student digs and council housing. Near a lake and woods, the area has a very international feel and a huge variety of affordable to upmarket housing. KOP VAN ZUID Also favoured by young expats, Kop van Zuid (‘Head of South’) is the trendy extension of the city centre on the southern bank of the Nieuw Maas; great for executives wanting to get to work quickly in the mornings. Like London’s Docklands, it’s a mix of renovated old warehouses and smaller, newer housing and apartments. Upmarket urban prices apply.

you out of the city to meadows or the river Rotte. Hillegersberg is located around two fair-sized lakes, where there is endless boating and sailing in the summer, and skating in the winter. OTHER SUBURBS Schiebroek (west of Hillegersberg), and the newer, up-and-coming Prinsenland and child-friendly Ommoord (in the northeast), are becoming favoured expat sites. For those looking to rent rather than buy, it is relatively easy to find family accommodation at reasonable prices in Ommoord. Prinensland is more affordable than downtown living, but still a bustling area, as is multicultural Oude Westen, a lively and creative neighbourhood near Central Station. Population: 616,528 ( International residents: 48.7 percent International schools: • Rotterdam International Secondary School: • American International School of Rotterdam: (childcare added in 2013) • De Blijberg (primary school with international department): • Japanese School of Rotterdam: Links: • (add /expatdesk for services in English) • (event guide)

HILLEGERSBERG Rotterdam’s jewel is Hillegersberg, a leafy suburb on the northeast of the city. The area escaped wartime bombing, leaving the old village centre and elegant residential streets intact. Homes in Hillegersberg are expensive but enduringly popular, sought after by the Dutch and expats alike. It is home to several of the international schools. Hillegersberg is only 10 minutes from the city centre, thanks to the excellent bus and tram network, or 20 minutes by car. Conversely, a few minutes on your bike brings 30


find your way

Photo Rotterdam Image Bank

Rotterdam is a friendly and welcoming cosmopolitan city. You will be pleased to discover that Rotterdam is also an exciting and accessible place to settle in. The city’s flair and its multicultural society attract many new expats every year. The Expatdesk Rotterdam offers tailormade information that is important for living and working in Rotterdam. By using our Expatdesk you can greatly simplify your relocation to Rotterdam. Our services are free of charge. The city will welcome you with open arms! To learn more, please contact us or visit our website or facebook page.


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Money matters can be complex in the Netherlands. The Dutch tax system is anything but simple. The Netherlands is home to some of the world’s banking giants. Before you open a Dutch bank account, you should have no problem obtaining cash from an overseas account using an ATM or geldautomaat. They dispense money (in several languages) and accept a wide range of debit and credit cards. The amount you can withdraw and any extra service charges will depend on what kind of account you have and where it is. There should be no charge if you are using a card from one of the 17 Eurozone countries (Britain is not one of them). If you want to exchange cash, good rates can usually be found at the Post Office (postkantoor) or a GWK exchange office. Other banks and bureaus mostly don’t offer such good rates and/or have higher commission. The Netherlands has had the euro since 2002 and paper denominations are EUR 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 200 and 500, though you may encounter problems using anything bigger than a EUR 50 note. The coins, with an image of Queen Beatrix on the back, come in denominations of EUR 1, EUR 2, and 5, 10, 20 and 50 eurocents. Coins for 1 and 2 eurocents have been discontinued but prices will be quoted exactly – for instance, as EUR 37, 21 – but will be rounded up to the nearest 5 eurocents for giving change. On bank statements, the exact figure will appear.

BANK ACCOUNTS The main Dutch banks are: • ABN-AMRO: • ING Bank: (Postbank merged with ING in 2009) • Rabobank: • SNS: ABN-AMRO, which was nationalised, has the most information in English online and a special expat package but you should generally have no problem conducting business in English at any of them. SNS Reaal was also nationalised in early 2013. Documents generally required: • valid ID, plus residence permit if applicable; • BSN burgerservicenummer. You’ll get this when you register with the GBA or direct from the tax office; • Proof of address (bevolkingsregister extract, utility bill, rental contract etc.). If you want to open anything other than a savings-only account you may also need evidence of income, such as an employment contract or payslip.

The credit rating of new clients may be checked Credit cards can’t be used in supermarkets, with the Central Credit and train ticket booths only accept chip-and-pin Registration Office cards or cash. (BKR). An account can be opened in your name and your partAll major credit cards are accepted but not everyner’s (they will also need identity documents). where. Hotels, restaurants, large department stores A private bank account is a privérekening. Various and tourist attractions present no problem, but you cards are on offer but the bankpas is standard. You can’t use a credit card in the supermarket. Cash is must pick up the pass personally (with ID). A fourstill widely used, but the most common method of digit PIN code (pincode) will either be posted seppayment used in shops, supermarkets, bars and arately or given to you on pick up, but it can be restaurants is pinnen, using a debit card with a PIN changed at a bank. When you pay by pin, you swipe code. In some cases, a magnetic swipe card might your card through the machine and punch in your not work, for example, train ticket booths only accept four-digit number. chip-and-pin cards or cash. 34



CHIPKNIP Next to many ATMs is a Chipknip machine where you can load your card with ’virtual cash’. Chipknip was intended as a fast, convenient way of paying for small transactions since, unlike with pinnen payments, you don’t need a PIN. However, the Chipknip system will be phased out in 2014, as pinpas is increasingly being used for small transactions. CREDIT CARDS Commercial banks usually have an arrangement with Mastercard or VISA but you will generally need to be a customer for a while before getting one. A credit card will be more expensive than other bank cards and you will be encouraged to pay off the card swiftly and consistently. INTERNET BANKING Online banking is common in the Netherlands. You will usually be issued with a calculator-sized device into which you slot your bankpas and enter your PIN, then exchange numbers with the online login system to gain authorised access to your account. You can pay bills directly or set up direct debits (automatische overschrijving) for regular payments. There is usually information in English but you can also get step-bystep tuition at the bank. ACCEPTGIRO A common method for paying bills, this is a yellow payment slip attached to the bottom of an invoice into which you enter your bank details and sign. You can pay online into the account on the slip or ‘post’ it at the bank, where there’s a box for them. From early 2014, these will only be acceptable with IBANs (International Bank Account Numbers).

Previously renowned for a high degree of confidentiality, offshore banking is expected to change with the US Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA), which will require foreign banks to share account information of US citizens with the Internal Revenue Service. For expats based in the Netherlands, the tax situation can be complex. Dutch tax residents pay tax on their worldwide income and there are wealth, inheritance and gift taxes. Nonresidents however, generally pay tax on Dutch-sourced income, but if you are a US citizen or green card holder and have the 30 percent ruling, you can be considered as a non-resident or partial non-resident taxpayer. In such a case only offshore banking might offer some advantages. Pensions, investments and savings can all be arranged through a licenced independent financial adviser (IFA) or a bank. Interest rates for savings can be fixed or variable; some banks’ websites provide tools to predict investment returns. The type of fund and level of appropriate risk will obviously depend on individual circumstances, and it is advisable to consult an adviser to ascertain your ‘Risk Profile’. In the current economic climate, there are additional risks to depositing money offshore: recent bank mergers, differing protection schemes and deposits held in a different country to the bank’s service centre can mean investors are unclear about how safe their deposits are. Before settling on a bank, expats would to wise to ask themselves the following basic questions: Which bank is my money in, who owns it, what is its credit worthiness, and which jurisdiction does it fall under?

OFFSHORE BANKING The term ’offshore banking‘ originates from the Channel Islands (Jersey, Guernsey etc.) but is generally used today to refer to any tax haven (such as the Netherlands Antilles). Essentially, it is any account held in a bank located outside your country of residence in a low tax jurisdiction offering certain financial benefits for expatriates who may wish to reduce their tax liability. However, accounts can be held in a variety of currencies and there are usually a diverse range of savings and investment products.




TAX The Dutch tax system, especially for an expat, can have many variables. The Netherlands is a socially conscious country, and you can expect to pay a substantial proportion (up to 52 percent) of your salary to the taxman. But your personal situation (non-working partner, for example), type of work, residency status and other assets and earnings (particularly from abroad) affect your position considerably. In many cases, you will still be filing a tax return in your home country and will be entering the land of double taxation agreements. There are many expat financial specialists who can complete your tax forms for you or provide other consultancy services. Other useful information can be found on the Expatica website (Ask the Expert) where financial experts answer readers’ questions. The Ministry of Finance publishes a guide (in English) on the Dutch Taxation System ( The tax office is the Belastingdienst ( and their website has information in English. In general tax returns are submitted digitally, except the M form which must still be filed on paper (for residents in the Netherlands for part of the year only). The M form must be filed in the year of migration. The deadline for the tax return is 1 April, for the M form 1 July. If you are not able to file before 1 April, you can request an extension. To file a return, you will need a digital signature or DigiD ( or the services of a tax consultant. The DigiD is essentially a personal login that you use with all government agencies enabling some transactions (paying parking fines, applying for permits etc.) to be done over the internet. Authentication requirements may vary according to the sensitivity of information in transit. Particularly in the year of arrival and the year of departure, filing a tax return may result in a substantial rebate. Tax returns can be completed retrospectively for a period of five years. RESIDENCY STATUS If you have demonstrable ties to the Netherlands (for instance, you live here, you work here, or your family is based here) you are generally regarded as a ‘resident taxpayer’ from day one. If you live abroad but receive income that is taxable in the Netherlands you are generally a ‘non-resident taxpayer’. 36

Non-residents can also apply to be treated as residents for tax purposes (in order to gain access to Dutch deductible items) and an additional category of partial non-resident taxpayers covers those eligible for the so-called 30 percent ruling (see below). As a resident taxpayer you are taxed on your assets worldwide. THE BOX SYSTEM Different categories of income are treated differently for tax purposes on the tax return and there are three types of taxable income: • Box 1: Income from profits, employment and home ownership. This includes wages, pensions, social benefits, company car, and WOZ value of owner-occupied property (maximum 52 percent) • Box 2: Income from substantial shareholding (5 percent minimum holding – 25 percent rate) • Box 3: Taxable income from savings and investments. Income from property for instance, owned but not lived in as a main residence, is taxed here: not the actual income but the value of the asset (fictitious return: 4 percent taxed at 30 percent = 1.2 percent). The amount of tax payable is calculated by applying the various tax rates to the various taxable incomes in the boxes. The amount calculated is then reduced by one or more tax credits. TAX CREDITS AND ALLOWANCES Everyone is entitled to a general tax credit (EUR 2,001 in 2013) and may be additionally entitled to other credits. The employed person’s tax credit is age and income-related (maximum EUR 1,723 in 2013); the single parent’s tax credit is EUR 947 plus a maximum EUR 1,319 under additional circumstances. The general tax credit comprises an income and social security element (to which you are only entitled if you have compulsory Dutch social security coverage). Your employer will take these into account when deducting wage withholding tax but not any other personal circumstances. You claim other allowances and potential refunds when you file your tax return or request a provisional refund. PARTNERS Where possible, partners are taxed individually but, when only one partner works, the other partner is generally entitled to a refund of general tax credit and deductible expenditure can be apportioned to take advantage of tax credits. Under certain conditions, unmarried couples may qualify as tax partners also, for example if they have a child or own a home together. Details are listed on


Looking for international tax and legal assistance? > Dutch tax returns > Accounting > Payroll > Business set-up > 30%-ruling > Tax advice

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30 PERCENT RULING This is a tax incentive for employees, recruited from abroad who bring specific skills to the Netherlands. It acknowledges the additional expenses incurred by expats (extraterritorial costs) by allowing the employer to grant a tax-free lump sum to cover these costs up to a maximum of 30 percent of the sum of wages and allowances. Applications (completed by both employer and employee) should be made to the Belastingdienst Limburg Kantoor Buitenland in Heerlen. The conditions for qualifying for the 30 percent ruling were changed as of 2012 to be more relevant to the intended focus group. MORTGAGES AND TAX IMPLICATIONS When arranging a mortgage it is important to look at the whole picture: interest, cost of life insurance, savings plan and investment accounts. If you are intending to sub-let, you may need to pay off a substantial part (say 30 percent) of the mortgage to get permission from the lender. When your interest rate comes up for renewal, it is important to check that it is still competitive. Tax implications include: • Interest payments are tax-deductible if the property is your primary residence and the loan is used for acquisition of the house. • There is no capital gains tax in the Netherlands but increases in the value may impact your mortgage relief if and when you use the profits to buy another house in the Netherlands. • Tax is levied on the deemed rental value of the house (WOZ) determined by the local authority. Expenses in financing the purchase of a house are tax-deductible. DIGID To file your taxes electronically, or indeed any other official form (local taxes etc.), you need a DigiD registration number. The website has an English section. GOVERNMENT The Ministry of Finance provides details of the Dutch Government’s financial policies including the 30 percent facility at CUSTOMS Information in English regarding duties payable and procedures for individuals and businesses. If you move to the Netherlands from outside the EU or if you wish to bring your car, you can download an application form from the website for exemptions on ‘removable goods’. Tax section updated with the help of Arjan Enneman, Managing Director Expatax BV, and Expatica’s tax expert on our Ask The Expert online service. 38


You can arrange insurance through your employer or a private insurance company. Aside from obligatory medical insurance required by everyone (see the Health section), self-employed persons are expected to arrange additional specific insurances, although in some cases welfare benefits are applicable. National insurance schemes available for all residents are explained at HOUSE AND HOME Homeowners or house insurance is known as woonhuisverzekering. A standard policy covers fire, storm, flood and theft. In terms of flood, there is a distinction between damage from rainwater flooding (covered) and water damage due to a breakdown in the dykes, for example (not covered). Houseboat dwellers come under separate conditions. CONTENTS An annual household contents policy starts at about EUR 20 depending on what is covered. This insurance is known as inboedelverzekering. Higher priced items such as art, jewellery or antiques need to be individually valued and insured separately. DRIVERS By law, you must have at least third-party insurance for your car. You might also want to insure your car against theft, fire and damage/injury to yourself and your vehicle. This is known as allriskverzekering. LIFE INSURANCE Known as levensverzekering, it is similar to schemes in most other countries. OTHER TYPES OF INSURANCE Third-party liability insurance (aansprakelijkheidverzekering) protects you if your cleaner drops your precious china, or your child spills grape juice on your neighbour’s oriental carpet. More than 95 percent of the Dutch population has this insurance, and it is often included in combination packages for either homeowners or tenants. Many Dutch households also have legal insurance (rechtsbijstandverzekering), guaranteeing (cheaper) access to legal advice. It insures against costs of lawsuits and personal and labour disputes. Although most insurances are similar to those offered elsewhere in the world, the Netherlands is distinctive in the high level of insurance taken out by the population. Many large insurers offer combination packages that can bring down costs.



Het Verbond van Verzekeraars The national association of insurers If you need advice, call the Dutch Association of Insurers on +31 (0)70 333 8500 or speak to your bank or financial advisor. BELASTINGDIENST The website for the tax authority has extensive information in English and downloadable forms and

FINANCIAL AND TAX ADVISORS Expatax Keizerstraat 3, 3512 EA Utrecht | +31 (0)30 246 8536 | Finsens Herengracht 136, 1015 BV Amsterdam | +31 (0)20 262 4300 | ABN AMRO 0900 8170 | +31 (0)10 241 1723 | Amsterdam | +31 (0)20 343 4002 The Hague | +31 (0)70 375 2050

brochures. There are separate offices for resident and non-resident taxpayers. Email queries are not possible. TaxLine: 0800 0543 – This is the central information line for residents (only Dutch spoken); Information for non-resident tax issues: +31 (0)55 538 5385. This covers businesses and individuals based abroad who are liable for Dutch tax and also those classified as non-residents for tax purposes.

Corvus Tax Naaldwijkseweg 101, 2691 RD Westland | +31 (0)17 424 0811 | J.C. Suurmond & zn. Tax consultants Jupiter 65, 2685 LV Poeldijk | +31 (0)17 424 4725 | Ralph’s Tax Service Koningin Juliana Plein 10, 2595 AA Den Haag | 11th Floor +31 (0)65 779 7684 | Spectrum IFA Group Strawinskylaan 3051, 1077 ZX Amsterdam | +31 (0)20 301 2119 |

Rotterdam | +31 (0)10 402 5888


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The Netherlands is committed to choice in education. Compulsory education under Dutch law applies to children of all nationalities from 5 to 18 years who are residing in the Netherlands. The school system is, however, quite unusual.

CHOOSING A SCHOOL There’s a commitment to educational choice in the Netherlands. Schools following particular religious or pedagogic principles have had equal state funding to public schools since 1917 and the number of privately run schools more than doubles public ones, with one in five schools comprising less than 100 pupils. International education is available at both Dutch and private schools throughout the country.

LOCAL OR INTERNATIONAL? Your finances, location, nationality, the age of your children, and how long you are likely to stay in the Netherlands are the main factors you should take into account when selecting a school. Many companies reimburse international school fees as part of a relocation package, and the reimbursements could be exempt from income tax (though not for all schools).

Some 87 percent of children attend early education at the age of three, and most children are enrolled by the age of four (when children are invited to attend five orientation days). Children are leerplichtig (under a learning obligation or leerplicht) at five years old for 12 years full-time education and one or two years part-time (until the attainment of a diploma). School inspection reports can be viewed online (this applies to state schools and Dutch international schools only) at under Zoek Scholen, enter the name of the school and/or town. The visual representation of green (good) and orange (weak) will at least give you some idea of performance. In the Pisa/OECD international rankings for 15-year-olds in 75 countries (published in December 2010), the Netherlands was ‘above average’ for mathematics (11th), reading (10th) and science (11th).

TYPES OF SCHOOL Source schools at or via your city’s website (onderwijs = education).

While teenagers might appreciate the educational and social continuity provided by an international school, younger children might get a greater sense of belonging by attending a local school if you plan to stay for a while.

State-run schools (non-denominational) provide secular education, but they can also offer teaching around specific philosophic or pedagogic principles (Montessori, Steiner etc.).

By learning good Dutch they will connect to their new world more easily. You certainly won’t be the only non-Dutch parent in the playground.

Public schools are governed by the municipal council or a public legal entity or foundation set up by the council.

APPLYING FOR A SCHOOL Register your child as soon as possible at the school of your choice. Technically, public schools are not allowed to refuse admission. Popular schools, however, have waiting lists (you can register a child from the age of three) and the municipality can assign catchment areas based on postcodes.


All schools have brochures and websites where they announce ‘open days’ when you can visit the school.


PRIVATE SCHOOLS Most private schools are denominational (Roman Catholic, Protestant, Islamic, Hindu) or follow specific philosophic principles, as above. Private schools are governed by a board or the foundation that set them up. Financially, they have the same status as public schools and are basically free, although schools ask for a small contribution for things such as school trips.


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SPECIAL SCHOOLS By August 2014, all schools will be required to cater to any child’s needs under the ‘All Inclusive Act’. Participation in mainstream schools has been encouraged through other policies for several years. Additionally, there are schools for children with special needs and also special needs teachers at Dutch schools. Lighthouse Special Education caters to the international community with special needs children providing extensive assistance in English. Entry is by referral.

iPAD SCHOOLS Under a new teaching model ‘Education for a New Era (Dutch acronym: 04NT), seven so-called ‘Steve Jobs Schools’ opened across the Netherlands in August 2013, with more planned. Ipads and educational apps replace everything from books to blackboards and flexible teaching models are used.

COSTS Primary and secondary state education is free, with parents being asked to contribute a ‘voluntary’ nominal amount, which varies from school to school with additional payments for lengthier school trips and lunchtime supervision (tussenschoolse opvang) and after-school care (naschoolse opvang), which the school is supposed to provide or sub-contract.

EDUCATION POLICY The Ministry of Education, Culture and Science sets quality standards, attainment targets and social objectives but individual schools ‘fill in the details’ of the curriculum and budget allocation. Education policy includes combating school segregation, integrating special needs children, tackling early school leaving, addressing teacher shortage and raising the quality of schools that do no meet the Education Inspectorate’s standard.

DUTCH PRIMARY EDUCATION (PRIMAIR ONDERWIJS OR BASISONDERWIJS) There are eight years of primary schooling. Children are placed in group one upon entry, and move up a group every year; different age groups may therefore be in the same class depending on when each child started. In the last year, children are tested on their numeracy and language skills in a test made mandatory in 2013 (held in April). Additionally, ‘Group 8’ children in 85 percent of primary schools (basisscholen) sit the CITO test ( in February, which advises their next level of education. The government 44

sets attainment targets in six curriculum areas: Dutch, English (taught in Groups 7 and 8), mathematics, social studies, arts and sports. New targets include citizenship, technology and cultural education.

DUTCH SECONDARY EDUCATION (VOORTGEZET ONDERWIJS) From 12 years, pupils choose from vocational or pre-university diplomas based on their ability. In the first years all pupils study the same subjects (to different academic levels), known as the basisvorming, followed by a second stage (tweede fase) in which specialist profiles are selected. VMBO (a further four years of school): Prep school for vocational secondary education; those who achieve the highest level (theoretische leerweg) can enter HAVO studies. VMBO graduates must continue studying until age 18 or until they obtain a basic qualification (min. MBO level 2). MBO: Secondary vocational education. MBO programmes vary from one to four years depending on the level (1–4). If a student has successfully completed the Dutch VMBO or the international middle school programmes IGCSE or IB-MYP, but is not admitted to the IB-Diploma Programme, the MBO can prepare pupils for work or, if level 4 is achieved, professional studies (HBO). A number of English-language programmes are offered. HAVO (five years): Senior general secondary education. Provides entrance to higher professional education (HBO) at ‘vocational universities’. VWO (six years): Pre-university education. Prepares students for academic studies at a research university (WO). VWO schools can be athenaeum, gymnasium or lyceum (a combination of the first two), a difference being that Greek and Latin are core subjects in gymnasium programmes. Just under a third of the 659 secondary schools are run by the public authority. English is a compulsory subject. VMBO pupils study one modern language and HAVO/VWO pupils at least two. Other core areas include mathematics, history, humanities, arts and sciences.

SCHOOL HOLIDAYS Major holidays for state schools are set nationally with staggered start/finish times between three regions. Private international school holidays can be different. For school holidays per region, look up onderwerpen/ schoolvakanties on




To be a community where learning is at the heart of everything we do.

International Community School

We are a Primary and Secondary school offering international education in English. We cater for students aged 4-19 and offer a highly reputable school programme called the International Baccalaureate (IB). Our school strongly believes in high quality and accessible education and we are able to offer our programmes at a highly competitive rate. We are located in Amsterdam and -as a community school- make good use of its educational opportunities. • The International Primary Curriculum (IPC) for children aged 4 - 10 years • The International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme (IBDP) for children aged 16 - 19 years Prinses Irenestraat 59 1077 WV Amsterdam T: 020 - 57 71 240 E:

• The International Baccalaureate Middle Years Programme (IBMYP) for children aged 11 - 15 years • Dutch language lessons

fully accredited by

w w w . a i c s . e s p r i t s c h o l e n . n l

4th graders Sydney and Katy and 3rd grader Aspen

Inquiring Minds. At ISA we foster curiosity, creativity, and a passion for learning that inspires students to look beyond simple answers and facts, to pursue real understanding. What lies behind the numbers? Why? How many different strategies can we use to approach a problem? Learning at ISA is about asking the right questions, going deeper, and making connections. It’s about lighting a spark for learning that will last a lifetime.

Exciting and developing young minds Sportlaan 45 - 1185 TB Amstelveen - The Netherlands - Tel. +31 20 347 1111 -




INTERNATIONAL SCHOOLS These provide education for global nomad students of any nationality. Dutch International Primary Schools (DIPS) and Dutch International Secondary Schools (DISS) provide international education at a reasonable fee because of a subsidy from the Dutch government. They are designed for non-Dutch families living in the Netherlands for a limited time, and Dutch families returning from, or preparing for, an overseas assignment. These schools teach either the International Primary Curriculum (4 to 11 years); the IGCSE (11 to 16 years) or the International Baccalaureate programmes at primary (4 to 11 years) and middle years’ level (11 to 16 years). All DISS teach the IB-Diploma programme (16 to 18

INTERNATIONAL SCHOOLS LISTING ALKMAAR AREA The European School Molenweidtje 5, 1862 BC Bergen NH +31 (0)72 589 0109 | ALMERE Letterland International Primary School Roland Holststraat 58, 1321 RX Almere +31 (0)36 536 7240 | Secondary Dept. at International School Almere Heliumweg 61, 1362 JA Almere-Poort +31 (0)36 760 0750 | AMSTERDAM AREA Amsterdam International Community School Prinses Irenestraat 59-61, 1077 WV Amsterdam +31 (0)20 577 1240 | Annexe du Lycée Français Vincent van Gogh Rustenburgerstraat 246, 1073 GK Amsterdam +31 (0)20 644 6507 British School of Amsterdam Anthonie van Dijckstraat 1, 1077 ME Amsterdam Jan van Eijckstraat 21, 1077 LG Amsterdam Fred. Roeskestraat 94A, 1076 ED Amsterdam +31 (0)20 679 7840 | International School Amsterdam Sportlaan 45, 1185 TB Amstelveen +31 (0)20 347 1111 | The Japanese School of Amsterdam Karel Klinkenbergstraat 137, 1061 AL Amsterdam +31 (0)20 611 8136 |


years). A new curriculum, IBCC, offers an alternative to the IB-DP in the final two years (

INTERNATIONAL SCHOOLS (PRIVATE SECTOR) These schools teach either an international curriculum (as above) or the national curriculum of a specific country (UK, US, French, German, Japanese, Korean, Iranian, Indonesian, Polish), sometimes in native language. Facilities (swimming pools, football pitches) are often spectacular compared to the Dutch schools.

BILINGUAL EDUCATION (TWEETALIG ONDERWIJS TTO) There are 101 schools with a VWO bilingual stream, plus more than 25 HAVO. Only students that master the Dutch language at an appropriate level will be admitted ( ARNHEM / NIJMEGEN Arnhem International School Primary Dept. at Dr. Aletta Jacobsschool Slochterenweg 27, 6835 CD Arnhem | +31 (0)26 323 0729 Secondary Dept. at Lorentz Groningensingel 1245, 6835 HZ Arnhem | +31 (0)26 320 0110 BREDA (incl. Zeeland and West Brabant) International School Breda Mozartlaan 27, 4837 EH Breda +31 (0)76 560 7870 | BRUNSSUM (Limburg) Afnorth International School Ferdinand Bolstraat 1, 6445 EE Brunssum +31 (0)45 527 8220 | EERDE (near Zwolle) International School Eerde Kasteellaan 1, 7731 PJ Ommen +31 (0)52 945 1452 | EINDHOVEN International School Eindhoven Oirschotsedijk 14b, 5651 GC Eindhoven +31 (0)40 264 5367 | +31 (0)40 242 6835 | ENSCHEDE International School Twente Tiemeister 20, 7541 WG Enschede Primary Dept. +31 (0)65 052 0750 | Secondary Dept. +31 (0)53 482 1100 |



International School Hilversum Alberdingk Thijm

The International School Hilversum is an internationally oriented school with over two decades of experience in international and bi-lingual education. We are a small, friendly yet professional international community of 600 students and 70 staff members. • Coordinated programmes of study for 4-19 year olds and: - International Baccalaureate Primary Years Programme - International Baccalaureate Middle Years Programme - International Baccalaureate Diplome Programme • Transition to and from other national and international systems • Easy access by public transportation • Many extra-curricular activities • Cultural exchange and excursion programmes • An outstanding succes rate (over 95% pass rate) International School Hilversum ‘Alberdingk Thijm’ Emmastraat 56, 1213 AL Hilversum The Netherlands Tel: +31 (0)35 672 99 31 Fax: +31 (0)35 672 99 39 Email:

Learning through diversity

Rotterdam International Secondary School

SH-ad Expatica 70x100-070912.indd 1

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Bentincklaan 294, 3039 KK Rotterdam +31 (0) 10 890 7744,, THE NETHERLANDS EXPAT SURVIVAL GUIDE 2014 | WWW.EXPATICA.COM



GRONINGEN Primary Dept. at Groningse Schoolvereniging Sweelincklaan 4, 9722 JV Groningen +31 (0)50 527 0818 |

Deutsche Internationale Schule (German School) Van Bleiswijkstraat 125, 2582 LB Den Haag +31 (0)70 354 9454 |

Secondary Dept. at International School Groningen Rijksstraatweg 24, 9752 AE Haren +31 (0)50 534 0084 |

Le Lycテゥe Franテァais Vincent van Gogh Scheveningseweg 237, 2584 AA Den Haag +31 (0)70 306 6923 | +31 (0)70 306 6930

THE HAGUE AREA (Den Haag) Haagsche Schoolvereeniging Admissions: + 31 (0)70 318 4965 |

The Indonesian Embassy School in the Netherlands Rijksstraatweg 679, 2245 CB Wassenaar +31 (0)70 517 8875 |

International Primary Dept. Nassaulaan 26, 2514 JT Den Haag +31 (0)70 318 4950 Koningin Sophielaan 24a, 2595 TG Den Haag +31 (0)70 324 3453 Van Nijenrodestraat 16, 2597 RM Den Haag +31 (0)70 328 1441

HILVERSUM Violenschool Primary Int. Department Rembrandtlaan 30, 1213 BH Hilversum Frans Halslaan 57A, 1213 BK Hilversum +31 (0)35 621 6053 |

Lighthouse Special Education (Primary) Curriculum: Individual SEN-program taught in English Amalia van Solmstraat 155, 2595 TA Den Haag +31 (0)70 335 5698 | The International School of The Hague Wijndaelerduin 1, 2554 BX Den Haag +31 (0)70 338 4567 (Primary) +31 (0)70 328 1450 (Secondary) The European School of The Hague Languages: English, Spanish and Dutch Secondary Dept. to start in 2014. Houtrustweg 2, 2566 HA Den Haag +31(0)70 700 1600 | The American School of The Hague (also IB Diploma) Rijksstraatweg 200, 2241 BX Wassenaar +31 (0)70 512 1060 | The British School in the Netherlands (BSN) (also IB Diploma) Admissions and enquiries: +31 (0)70 315 4077 Primary Dept. Vlaskamp 19, 2592 AA Den Haag Diamanthorst 16, 2592 GH Den Haag Vrouw Avenweg 640, 2493 WZ Den Haag-Leidschenveen. Secondary Dept. (also IB Diploma) Jan van Hooflaan 3, 2252 BG Voorschoten +31 (0)71 560 2222

International School Hilversum Alberdingk Thijm (Secondary) Emmastraat 56, 1213 AL Hilversum +31 (0)35 672 9931 | LEIDEN AREA | LEIDERDORP Leiden International Primary School at Elckerlyc Montessori Klimopzoom 41, 2353 RE Leiderdorp +31 (0)71 589 6861 | OEGSTGEEST International School Het Rijlands Lyceum Apollolaan 1, 2341 BA Oegstgeest +31 (0)71 519 3555 | MAASTRICHT United World College Maastricht Discusworp 65, 6225 XP Maastricht NL +31 (0)43 241 0410 | ROTTERDAM American International School of Rotterdam Verhulstlaan 21, 3055 WJ Rotterdam +31(0) 10 422 5351 | De Blijberg窶的nternational Primary Department Graaf Florisstraat 56, 3021 CJ Rotterdam +31 (0)10 448 2266 | Rotterdam International Secondary School at Wolfert van Borselen Bentincklaan 294, 3039 KK Rotterdam +31 (0)10 890 7744 | The Japanese School of Rotterdam Verhulstlaan 19, 3055 WJ Rotterdam +31 (0)10 422 1211 | UTRECHT International School Utrecht Notebomenlaan 400, 3582 CN Utrecht +31 (0)30 870 0400 |




“I love coming to school. Everyone’s friendly and the lessons are fun.” From expats to locals seeking an international education, the British School of Amsterdam provides top-class British schooling for children of all nationalities aged 3 to 18. Our curriculum leads to the respected British A-Level qualification accepted by universities worldwide. Every day is an open day at the British School of Amsterdam. Contact:, +31 (0) 20 67 97 840, or see

Onyinye Age 9 English / Nigerian


WANT TO SHARE YOUR EXPERIENCES ABOUT LIFE IN THE NETHERLANDS? WE’D LOVE TO HEAR FROM YOU. EXPAT VOICES: Just fill out our easy online questionnaire about life in the Netherlands, and we’ll publish your interview on Expatica! JOIN EXPATICA’S COMMUNITY: Connect with like-minded members of the international community at community.expatica. com. Expatica’s online platform features profiles and connectivity with other Expatica members, an updated forum, plus functionalities for groups, events and instant messaging. Try it out, make friends and have fun! GET SOCIAL ON EXPATICA: Expatica balances the information you need with the entertainment you want: News, events, articles, blogs, jobs, dating and lots more! Follow us on Facebook at ExpaticaNL or Twitter @expaticaNL to get Expatica’s tailored news feeds for international living.




HIGHER EDUCATION Third-level education, as it is known in the Netherlands, is offered at a vocational level (HBO, a ‘university of applied sciences’ or hogeschool) and at an academic level (WO, at a universiteit). Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees are available at both HBO and WO institutions, but only universities (WO) offer PhD programs. There’s a huge range of courses taught in English (more than 1,500). You can see what’s available and where on Nuffic (Netherlands organisations for international cooperation in higher education:, which includes extensive information about the Dutch higher education system. There is a small, third branch of higher education offering international education (IE), comprising courses designed especially for international students. Institutions are either government funded or government approved. There are also privately financed institutions that are not recognised. NVAO is the organistion that accredits institutions ( HBO Around 416,000 students are enrolled at 42 ‘universities of applied sciences’ or hogescholen, which provide practical-based programs, lasting four years. Students can prepare for particular professions in one of seven sectors: agriculture, engineering and technology, economics and business administration, healthcare, fine and performing arts, education/teacher training and social welfare. For more information, visit

in English. Students should first contact the institution offering the course, which will specify what education qualifications are required for admission. A quota system is in place for oversubscribed courses; places are allocated by a lottery. At you can apply online for third-level courses, which are subsidised by the Dutch Ministry of Education. University programmes consist of a Bachelor’s or undergraduate phase lasting three years and a Master’s or graduate phase lasting one to two years. Many Dutch universities have partner institutions in other countries, so students can study part of their course abroad. QUALIFICATION ACCREDITATION Diplomas and certificates awarded overseas need to be accredited by the Dutch authorities. Often the school where you have applied takes care of this. If not, the IDW ( offers this service for a fee. Non-native English speakers are required to pass an English language test at a specified level, most commonly the TOEFL, IELTS or Cambridge Test.

WO There are 18 research universities offering international degrees and short courses, with some 240,000 students involved in intensive, academic studies. For more information, visit and COSTS Fees depend on your nationality and age. There’s an EU fee for EU/EEA nationals, which is set by the Dutch government, but tuition fee loans are available. Otherwise you pay the institutional fee (three or four times higher). The fees at private institutions can be substantially higher. HOW TO APPLY There are more than 55,000 international students studying in the Netherlands – Germany tops the international student list – and information on fees, qualifications and study programmes is widely available 50



The future of international education‌

> First class international education for students 11-18 years in our IB Middle Years and Diploma Programmes > Fully integrated into the wider school population > Students are challenged to their full potential in a culturally diverse environment > A broad and balanced curriculum to prepare students for university entrance worldwide

with a Dutch Touch

> Adjoins the city of Leiden and is closely linked to both The Hague and Amsterdam Apollolaan 1, Oegstgeest, The Netherlands. Tel. 00 31 (0) 71 519 35 55

International Education with a Dutch Touch

The International School of The Hague

Innovative International Education



Telephone: +31(0)70 328 1450




BUSINESS EDUCATION Amsterdam Business School University of Amsterdam International Office: MBA/MIF Plantage Muidergracht 12, 1018 TV Amsterdam +31 (0)20 525 5655 | + 31 (0)20 525 4056 | European University Business School • EU Geneva Quai du Sujet 30, 1 201 Geneva, Switzerland +41 (0)22 779 2671 |

School of Business and Economics Maastricht University Minderbroedersberg 4-6, 6211 LK Maastricht  + 31 (0)43 388 2222 | Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University Burgemeester Oudlaan 50, 3062 PA Rotterdam | J-building +31 (0)10 408 2222 | | The Hague University of Applied Sciences Johanna Westerdijkplein 75, 2521 EN The Hague +31 (0)70 445 8888 |

• EU Munich Theresienhohe 28, 80339 Munich, Germany +49 (0)89 5502 9595 |

Vlerick Business School Bolwerklaan 21, 1210 Brussel, Belgium +32 (0)2 225 4111 | |

• EU Barcelona Ganduxer 70, 08021 Barcelona, Spain +34 (0)93 201 8171 |

Webster University Boommarkt 1, 2311 EA Leiden +31 (0)71 516 8000 | |

• EU Online Campus: |

Rotterdam Business School MBA Rotterdam University Kralingse Zoom 91, 3063 ND Rotterdam +31 (0)10 794 6229 | +31 (0)62 150 2419 (M) |

Maastricht School of Management Endepolsdomein 150, 6229 EP Maastricht +31 (0)43 387 0808 | |

rials o t u te T n a n Tor

Learn Dutch and explore Holland 52


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EDUCATION LINKS Information on the Dutch education system LEREN and Science • Ministry ofNEDERLANDS Education, Culture • Eurydice | International schools Educaide: The Professional Helpdesk for International Education in the Netherlands PO Box 96911, 2509 JH Den Haag +31 (0)65 598 8998 | | Foundation for International Education in the Netherlands Information on studying and funding • • (add /International_visitors for English) Higher education in the Netherlands NEDERLAND • LAND •

Portals for vocational training • • Masters / PhDs • • Online applications Non-Dutch diploma evaluation

CREATIVE HIGHER EDUCATION SAE Institute Amsterdam Johan van Hasseltweg 31, 1021 KN Amsterdam +31 (0)20 622 87 90 | SAE Institute Rotterdam Kratonkade 5, 3024 ES Rotterdam +31(0)10 411 7951 | |



Dutch as a second language the Netherlands the Netherlands - the country - culture -




LANGUAGE SCHOOLS Delken&Boot Abeelhof 16, 3053 KL Rotterdam +31 (0)10 422 1481 (M) | +31 (0)64 201 4510 | +31 (0)62 454 0378 | Dutchessa Francois Valentijnstraat 474, 2595 WN, Den Haag +31 (0)6 8177 2950 | | NedLes Nieuwe Herengracht 145, 1011 SG Amsterdam +31 (0)20 624 3510 | +31 (0)62 558 5653 (M) | Talencoach Keizersgracht 8, 1015 CN Amsterdam +31 (0)20 331 3738 | | Tornante Trainingen Riederlaan 200, 3074 CL Rotterdam +31 (0)10 742 0465 |

University of Amsterdam Talen Roetersstraat 25, 1018 WB Amsterdam +31 (0)20 525 4637 | | Top Taal Joan Muyskenweg 22, 1096 CJ, Amsterdam +31 (0)20 716 3690 | |

LANGUAGE WEBSHOP Dutch I presume Akeleizoom 3, 3355 BR Papendrecht +31 (0)78 700 1206 |

CORPORATE TRAINING Outspoken Communication +31 (0)88 111 9333 | University of Amsterdam Talen Roetersstraat 25, 1018 WB Amsterdam +31 (0)20 525 4637 | |

Institute for Dutch Language Education University of Amsterdam P.C. Hoofthuis Spuistraat 134, 1012 VB Amsterdam  + 31 (0)20 525 4642 | |





Expats are an essential component of the Dutch workforce, although office life has its cultural quirks. The Dutch workforce (7.93 million people) is internationally oriented, highly educated and multilingual. Workers’ rights are strongly protected, although recent economic recession has pressured unemployment figures upwards to 8.5 percent (June 2013) and influenced a rise in flexible contracts. However, the demand for highly skilled workers remains high and there are incentives for international employees, such as the 30 percent ruling (a tax benefit scheme) and a fast-track programme for highly skilled migrants (no separate work permit application required). A number of beneficial policies were implemented under the ‘Modern Migration Policy Act’ in June 2013 ( If a worker needs a Dutch entry and/or residence permit, employers in the Netherlands can register with the IND and apply for the necessary papers on the employee’s behalf. Applications are fast-tracked to two weeks for companies that are ‘recognised’ by the IND ( has a list). Policies are also aimed to reduce the frequency of residency permit renewal, for example, it’s possible to change employers without needing to obtain a new residence permit (although the IND must be informed and a new work permit obtained). WORK PERMITS If you are a non-EU/EEA/Swiss national and want to work in the Netherlands, in most cases your employer will need to apply for a work permit (tewerkstellingsvergunning or TWV). There are a number of exceptions, some of which are listed below. The permit is specific to the job and employer, and is issued for a specific employee and for a specified period (up to five years), although extensions can be applied for. The IND site ( has detailed information on coming to the Netherlands to work as an employee, as well as the financial and other conditions that need to be met. You can start work once your employer has been issued a work permit and applied for a residence permit, if needed. You do not need to wait for the IND’s decision on your application, but you must get a ‘residence endorsement’ passport sticker from the IND while you wait. 56

If the residence permit application is rejected though, the work permit is no longer valid. The consequences of illegally working can be severe for both employer and employee. WHO DOESN’T NEED A WORK PERMIT? The main exceptions are: •E  U/EEA/Swiss nationals (except Bulgarians and Romanians, who need a work permit for their first working year (until 1 January 2014) and the ‘proof of lawful residence’ permit; Croatians follow the same procedure, although restrictions will apply until 1 July 2015 or longer). • Highly skilled migrants. • Self-employed workers (their eligibility for residency is assessed by the IND). • Workers on short assignment (performers, musicians, guest lecturers, journalists etc.). • Those with a residence permit or passport sticker/ card stating ‘Arbeid vrij toegestaan. TWV is niet vereist’ (free to work, no work permit is required). PARTNERS: WHO CAN WORK? If your spouse/partner or family member is allowed to work in the Netherlands, then generally you can too. How quickly you can start work depends on the status of your working partner (EU/EEA/Swiss resident, knowledge migrant etc.), and whether applications for MVV/residency for you and your partner are filed at the same time (advisable). You may need to wait until you have received your residence permit before you can start work. WORK PERMIT THROUGH EMPLOYER Work permits are initiated by employers who apply to the UWV WERKbedrijf ( with supporting evidence, such as copies of advertisements, postings on the Internet, or statements from agencies. Your employer has to show that the position cannot be occupied by an EU/EEA/Swiss national. This supporting evidence is not necessary in case of in-company transfers, internships and most scientific jobs. For a company to apply for a work permit, the candidate must be aged between 18 and 45.


If a MVV/residency permit is required, your employer can submit your application to the Admission and Residence Procedure (TEV) on your behalf, before you arrive. They will request information from you for the application, such as copies of your passport/ ID and education qualifications. After three years of employment with a work permit and a residence permit in the Netherlands, the employee is free on the labour market. Employers can employ you without needing a separate work permit. When you renew your residence document, your new labour market position will be mentioned as ‘Arbeid vrij toegestaan. TWV is niet vereist’. CHANGING JOBS Any changes in your work or partnership status must be reported to the IND. When applying to extend a residence permit, your circumstances will be assessed again in reference to the original application. If you change jobs, the same rules apply as for the first permit you were granted. So if you worked with a separate work permit, your new employer needs a new work permit as well. If you worked as a highly skilled migrant, your new employer needs to be eligible to apply for residence permits based on the highly skilled migrant scheme.

The main exception is that, after three years working on any given residence permit that allowed you to work (such as partners’ permits or employee permit, excepting highly skilled migrants), you no longer need a separate work permit. For highly skilled migrants, after three years of legal stay you can change your purpose of stay into ‘labour’, which allows you to work without a work permit and without meeting the requirements for the highly skilled migrants scheme. If you have a highly skilled migrant residence permit and you change jobs, you do not need to change your permit. Your new employer will need to send proof to the IND that you still meet the requirements of the highly skilled migrant scheme and send in your contract to prove that you still earn the required salary. It is essential to apply for a new residence permit before the old one expires; the IND will notify you in advance. Your ‘sponsor’ (whether an employer or a partner) can be penalised by the IND up to a year after your permit expires, including contributing to repatriation costs. A ‘residence gap’ in your permit situation may affect your eligibility for permanent residency, where five years of continuous stay is required.




HIGHLY SKILLED MIGRANTS To be able to employ expats under the highly skilled migrant scheme, employers must sign a statement with the IND. If the employment contract is issued for an indefinite period, the residence permit will be issued for a maximum of five years. If it is a fixed-term contract, the residence permit will be for the same period. If you residency permit is not ready when you arrive, you are legally permitted to work in the interim period if you visit an IND desk and get a passport sticker that proves your application is being processed. Partners of highly skilled migrants can work without a work permit, though they do require a residence permit before commencing work. SELF-EMPLOYED/ENTREPRENEURS Conditions for granting residency based on self-employment (for non-EU/EEA/Swiss) are that ‘your business activities serve an essential Dutch interest’. A point system is used to assess this. Your personal experience, business plan and what you expect to offer to the Netherlands (innovation, job creation, investment etc.) are taken into account. You will also need to prove you have the appropriate qualifications for carrying out your business. If you have a residence permit for an independent entrepreneur, you are also allowed to work as an employee provided the UWV WERKbedrijf has issued a work permit to your employer. Freelancers can also obtain this permit, but proof of assignments in the Netherlands is required. DUTCH AMERICAN FRIENDSHIP TREATY American citizens who wish to start up a business in the Netherlands can apply under this scheme, which has been in operation since 1956. They don’t need to satisfy the Dutch economic interest conditions as above, but they do need to be registered at the Chamber of Commerce (Kamer van Koophandel,, have accounts verified by a qualified accountant, a business plan and substantial capital, and they cannot apply for social welfare. The same conditions apply to Japanese citizens under the Treaty of Trade and Navigation. STUDENTS There are no restrictions on working hours for students who are EU/EEA/Swiss nationals; they don’t need a work permit. All other nationalities can only work if a work permit has been granted, and working hours are limited. Students can opt to work part-time throughout the year for a maximum of 10 hours per 58

week, or undertake seasonal work in June, July and August. The employer or agency must apply directly to the UWV WERKbedrijf for a work permit and the permit will be valid for the same period as the university registration. WORKING HOLIDAY SCHEMES Those (aged 18 to 30) from Australia, Canada or New Zealand can apply under these schemes to live and work in the Netherlands for one year. Conditions include proof of a return ticket or funds to buy one. JOB HUNTING Recruitment agencies are big in the Netherlands and several specialise in recruiting non-Dutch nationals. It’s worth exploring every avenue, from Internet job engines such as and www.unique. nl/umls (for jobs in your native language) to the popular, or even sector-specific sites (architecture, biotechnology, finance). The UWV WERKbedrijf portal has a useful list, including EURES, the European job mobility portal ( Expat community sites such as Expatica also have extensive employment listings ( Getting a job through personal contacts is quite common, so don’t be shy about making an enquiry to a company or dropping in at a branch of an agency or uitzendbureau. Vacancy (vacature) advertisements are covered in all Dutch newspapers and senior positions at international companies are often placed in English. The list of companies that are eligible for applying for highly skilled migrants is a useful source and can be found on the IND site ( SKILLS IN DEMAND Expats with French, German, Flemish, and Scandinavian language skills are always in demand, according to expat agency Undutchables. There is a (worldwide) shortage of engineers and those with technical skills. The job market is also strong for those in finance and IT, sales and marketing and customer service. Be flexible and open-minded; don’t write off specific areas or industries when job-hunting so you can get onto the working ladder. CONTRACTS AND EMPLOYMENT LAW The laws covering employment in the Netherlands are many and various. Your personal contract will determine your pay and specific conditions.



Stop by’s Employment section for information on work permits, management culture, applying for a job, and more. Check out our LISTINGS at:


Dutch legislation covers key areas such as trial periods, holidays, notice and dismissal, minimum wages, health and safety, and equal treatment. The system for dismissal is particularly unusual in being so protective of the employee: in most cases the employer needs permission from the UWV WERKbedrijf to fire you. Useful information regarding working practices, employment law and the minimum wage can be found on the Ministry of Social Affairs and Employment website ( or the UWV WERKbedrijf website ( If you want to check the market rate for your salary or calculate bruto/netto rates (before/after tax and social security deductions), try It is standard practice in the Netherlands to get extra wages (usually eight percent of your salary) for holidays (normally paid in May) and four weeks of paid leave.

• Employment contracts for an unlimited term can only be terminated by the employer with consent of the employee, the labour office (UWV WERKbedrijf) or the Court. The court and labour offices assess whether there are grounds for a valid termination. If an employer gives notice of termination without obtaining prior approval, the employee could nullify the termination. This rule is not applicable in the case of summary dismissal (such as fraud or theft by the employee). Courts are however very reluctant about accepting summary dismissals. It is therefore very important to contact an employment lawyer immediately if you are fired on the spot.

• The legal minimum number of holidays per year is four times the weekly working time. This means 20 holidays in the case of a full-time employee working a five-day week. However, it is common practice in the Netherlands for a full-time After three years of fixed-term contracts, employee to be entian employee will automatically receive an tled to approximately unlimited-term contract. 25 holiday days per year in addition to Dutch public holidays. A new law on holidays Sanne van Ruitenbeek of Pallas Advocaten provides recently introduced an expiration date of six the following important information on labour law: months for the legal minimum number of holidays. • If you work in the Netherlands, Dutch law is partly Employees should therefore take all their holidays and often fully applicable to your employment, within six months after the year in which the holieven if the law of another country is declared applidays were accrued. Should the employee not take cable in your contract. the holidays on time, the holidays will lapse without • The number of succeeding employment contracts any compensation or payment. The expiration date for a fixed term is limited to three. The total duraof six months is not applicable to the holidays that tion of fixed term contracts is limited to three years. the employee is entitled to on top of the legal If the duration of the contracts or the number of minimum number of holidays. These extra holidays fixed contracts exceed the legal limit, the employwill not lapse until after a period of five years. ment contract will automatically become a contract COLLECTIVE LABOUR AGREEMENT (CAO) for an unlimited term. This is a written agreement covering working con• If the contract is for less than two years, the trial ditions and benefits that is drawn up by employers, period cannot be longer than one month. The employers’ organisations and employee organisamaximum duration of a trial period is two months. tions (such as unions). A CAO operates at company During the trial period, both the employer and or industry sector level and the provisions (number employee are allowed to terminate the employof holidays, for example) are often more generous ment contract with immediate effect. than statutory requirements. It should state in your • The notice period for the employee is usually one contract whether a CAO is applicable; you don’t have to be a member of a union to benefit. If no month. If the notice period for the employee is extended, the notice period for the employer CAO applies – they all have to be registered – you should be double the notice period of the will need to negotiate your own terms and condiemployee. tions. The largest trade union federation in the Netherlands is the FNV ( 60


UNDUTCHABLES: FOR INTERNATIONAL BUSINESS JOBS Looking for international career opportunities in the Netherlands? Fluent in one or more languages other than Dutch? Seek international business experience or already have it? Whether you’re an enthusiastic starter or an experienced executive, we’ll match your talents with challenging jobs in the Netherlands. Grow your job search in international business today:

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WORKING CULTURE Work life and home life are kept separate, and office hours will be strictly observed. Newcomers working at Dutch companies are often surprised by the informal working relationships, horizontal management structures and (lots of) meetings (overleggen) at which every point of view must be discussed to reach a consensus. There’s a punctilious approach to these meetings, indeed social engagements of any kind: always carry your diary (agenda). Colleagues often lunch together (all part of working as an egalitarian team) or there may be a canteen. The working environment in an international company can be very different. Flexible working is common, particularly for families with children, however senior executive women are still some distance from the boardroom. In terms of gender diversity at the top level, “the Netherlands lags sorely behind other countries,” says cultural consultant Mary van der Boon. However, things are looking up. In 2012, the Netherlands implemented an EU initiative target of 30 percent of executive positions to be held by each gender by 2016, although it’s not mandatory and applicable only to large or listed companies. 62

CULTURAL COMPETENCY Many international companies have headquarters in the Netherlands. For senior executives, ‘crosscultural competency’ tests may be part of the selection procedure for international assignments. Following on from standard personality analysis programmes such as the Meyers Briggs Type Indicators, these tests analyse personality preferences and prejudices that could affect performance in a new cultural environment; technical competence to do the job is already assumed. Top firms are looking for executives who are openminded, flexible, mature, and show respect for, and interest in different cultures. CULTURALLY CORRECT CVS Concise, direct and professional communication is the style for job applications in the Netherlands. “Remember that a Dutch CV only states facts and figures,” said the former Centre for Work and Employment (www. UWV WERKbedrijf. One or two pages maximum in this order: • Personal details (address etc.); • Education (courses, not results);



• Work experience (the most recent first is popular with recruiters but some like to see career progression). Include job responsibilities. • ‘Leisure activities’ are valued “very much” by Dutch companies, according to the UWV WERKbedrijf. In your cover letter (which should be in Dutch if possible), include more about your motivation for the job, but keep the tone professional. If you’ve done your research, you should know what the company is looking for and how you fit in. SOCIAL SECURITY The Dutch social security system is one of the most comprehensive in Europe but access to the welfare system is becoming more restrictive. There are three strands: • National Insurance administered by the social insurance bank (, which includes old age pension (AOW) and child benefit (AKW); • Employee Insurance administered by UWV (www., including unemployment benefit (WW, see below), long-term disability (WIA) and sickness (ZW); and •S  ocial Assistance administered by municipalities ( Specific conditions apply to each benefit. Also, do check that your residence rights are not affected if you apply for benefits. Your official documents will need to be in good order. Consult the Ministry of Social Affairs and Welfare website ( for more information. UNEMPLOYMENT BENEFIT (WW) Your employment history will determine the amount and duration of payments. It comprises the first two months at 75 percent and thereafter 70 percent of your last earned salary (there’s a maximum daily rate of EUR 195.96 gross). You must have worked for 26 out of the previous 36 weeks before the first day of unemployment (may be fewer if you are a musician or artist, or not in regular employment). It can be restricted if other benefits are in operation. You apply for benefit online at or at a local office of UWV WERKbedrijf. VOLUNTARY WORK A volunteer is a vrijwilliger and there are many opportunities depending on your skills. Expat advice centre ACCESS is always on the lookout for volunteers in its offices in Den Haag ( 64

FINDING A JOB Expats seeking a new career challenge in the Netherlands will find ample opportunities. The Dutch employment market is mature, sophisticated and boasts an impressive array of both local and international companies spread across the Randstad region and beyond. It also has a vast network of specialist and generalist recruitment firms. Many newcomers choose to take the recruitment agency route for speed and convenience, as well as for the valuable contacts that established agencies can tap into. But how do you find an agency that is both tuned in to the local market and to your personal needs? WORKING WITH AGENCIES Specialist and generalist agencies openly advertise their services on websites geared to expats and are frequent advertisers on job boards and leading publications. Trade directories also carry agency listings and search engines like Google will help you navigate your way to various websites. So how can you ensure your partner agency will serve your needs? Here are some golden rules: • Maintain an up-to-date curriculum vitae (CV) in English that fully reflects your skills, education, work experience, and personal profile, and try to keep it as succinct as possible. If you really want to stand out, have a version translated into Dutch which some companies will appreciate. • Always support any application with a clear overview or motivation letter setting out your primary work requirements, personal qualities and career objectives. • Follow up any application if you hear nothing back within three to five days. • Always try to meet your agent in person as this can build rapport and trust – and make sure that your CV does not get sent anywhere without your permission. • Be clear about your work preferences and present yourself in a positive and personable light. • Stay flexible and be ready to attend interviews as opportunities emerge, but remain patient while your agent scours the market for the right opportunity. • Keep your agent informed of any personal developments that might affect the work they are doing on your behalf.


Connecting members of the international with companies and recruiters interested in your skills and expertise.


THE INTERVIEW PROCESS Once you’ve set yourself up with your preferred agencies and the enquiries are starting to flow in, you need to prepare yourself for interviews. As an expat, one of your primary concerns may be about language. Fortunately, many HR personnel and other hiring managers in the Netherlands speak English at a high level, but this should not stop you from speaking clearly and slowly. Avoid using jargon or colloquial expressions. Just like in your home country, prospective employers expect interviewees to be well-presented, enthusiastic and well-informed. You should research the company in advance, and while most good agencies will prepare you in the best possible way based on their intimate knowledge of the company, self-preparation is equally important. Always attend an interview armed with a list of relevant questions. When you receive a job offer that fully matches your expectations, your agent will help you to assess the various aspects of the offer, including salary level, benefits, role progression, and career development. Unless you are fully convinced it is the right job for you, allow yourself two or three days to consider all of the angles. Starting a new job in a foreign country might be a daunting prospect for some, but the Dutch are very tuned into working with foreign nationals and you can be reassured that your new co-workers will be supportive of their new ‘international’ colleague. Finally, make an effort to learn some Dutch as it will pay dividends in the long run! Text on finding a job courtesy of Madison Parker International – Professional Resource Solutions




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General medical care in the Netherlands is of a high standard but non-interventionist in nature. The Dutch healthcare system has undergone radical change in past years. It is now mandatory for everyone to purchase at least a base level of insurance (basisverzekering) or run the risk of a warning and fines. However, you are free to choose your own health insurer (zorgverzekeraar) or change companies. Health-care plans are renewed yearly on 1 January. You must take out insurance with a Dutch insurer within four months of arrival, or once you have registered with the IND (EU/EEA/Swiss nationals and family members) or obtained your residence permit (non-EU/EAA/Swiss nationals), even if you already have an existing policy that gives you cover in the Netherlands. Certain students, employers and work arrangements can be exempt from this requirement, but you should check carefully whether your situation qualifies. In the Dutch healthcare scheme, children under 18 are included in their parents’ insurance at no additional cost, unless they begin working.

(‘choose better’) and you can compare health insurance (zorgverzekeringen) policy costs and find the cheapest package (goedkoopste basispakket). Both websites are in Dutch. BASIC INSURANCE The basic insurance covers general medical care (visits to the huisarts - family doctor -, for example), hospital stays, maternity care, dental care for children up to age 18, most prescription medicine, and various appliances. Basic coverage is around EUR 100 a month. The government tweaks this package on a yearly basis.

You will need extra coverage for extensive dental treatments, physiotherapy or anything else the government considers to be your own responsibility, and it is in these additional areas that companies compete. You can change the extras each year, effective 1 January, so let your provider know before then if you would like to make a change. Some insurance companies have policy documents in English. If you work at a company, it is worth checking with colYou must purchase compulsory Dutch insurance leagues whether there is a collective scheme as soon as you have received your residence that provides health permit or registered with the IND. insurance at a discount. Some employers cover (some) costs. A Dutch insurance company cannot refuse to cover you for the basic package, regardless of your age or state of health. The standard basic coverage is set by the government, although providers can vary in cost and how they deliver these requirements. If your income is under a fixed minimum level, you can apply for a healthcare allowance (zorgtoeslag) from the tax authorities (belastingdienst). Visit (in Dutch) for details and application forms. For general details, the Health Insurance Information Centre ( has information in English, as does the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport ( You can find a list of insurers at; at 68

If you are self-employed, you may want to take out extra cover. Always check that the healthcare supplier (such as a physiotherapist) is registered with your particular insurer before starting treatment. It is possible to purchase the additional coverage (aanvullende packet) from a different insurer than your basic insurer. This may make things more complicated when processing bills, but it can sometimes lower your overall costs, or allow you to purchase additional coverage tailored for the needs of international persons residing in the Netherlands. The standard insurance package includes a mandatory excess or deductible.






This is a contribution made by the policy holder towards the cost of an insurance claim. Family doctor visits, obstetric and postnatal care, and children’s dental services are exempted from the deductible, so those expenses are ordinarily paid in full by the insurer. In 2013, the deductible amount was raised to EUR 350 per adult. This means that you will pay the first EUR 350 of bills each year, in addition to your health insurance premiums. You can choose a higher ‘own risk’ (deductible) amount, in which case your monthly health insurance premiums can be up to EUR 25 lower. DOCTOR A huisarts is a family doctor and you need to register with one convenient for you. The idea was that they were no more than 10 minutes away in case of house calls. However, as house calls are rarely done these days, some people choose a huisarts close to work, or travel further to a family doctor they feel comfortable with. Some doctors will turn you away because their practices are already full. Your insurance company can provide a list or check the local gemeentegids (a guide to everything in your area). Sound out friends and colleagues for recommendations. It is important to register with a huisarts when you arrive in the Netherlands, even if you are not ill and 70

rarely use a doctor. If you have not registered with a family doctor and then become ill, you may have difficulty finding a nearby doctor who is taking patients, which can delay your care and extend your illness. You’ll need a referral from a huisarts to receive non-urgent medical treatment from a hospital or other specialist health provider (like a cardiologist), if you would like to have those costs covered by your Dutch medical insurance. Many practices have a spreekuur (or consultation hour) where you can consult your doctor without an appointment. At weekends or during holidays you’ll hear a recorded message on their telephone telling you how to contact on-call medical services. These are often only recorded in Dutch, so if you don’t speak Dutch it is best to have a Dutch speaker call for you. In case of urgent matters, your huisarts can alert the hospital (for instance, if you’ve broken your ankle while skating, they can call ahead to organise someone to take an X-ray). Don’t expect a lot of medication. For instance, Dutch doctors are generally reluctant to hand out antibiotics. DENTIST A dentist (tandarts) can also be located via your insurance company and this is one area where you want to check your policy carefully.



An annual check-up for adults may be included in the basic insurance package (but not the hygienist fees, for instance). You can pay for additional cover. Dental care for those under 18 is covered in basic insurance. Just as with the family doctor, it is important to register with a dentist to ensure you can be seen if an urgent dental problem should arise. Dentists are in short supply in the Netherlands, so many practices are full and not taking new patients. Expats may find anesthesia is less forthcoming than in their own country, although this varies between dentists. ORTHODONTICS Extra health insurance is usually necessary if you want this to be covered by your insurer. If you or a family member is arriving in the Netherlands with orthodontic appliances already in place, some research will be necessary to determine which orthodontist can continue the care here, as there are various types of orthodontic systems and equipment, and not all practitioners use all of them. GGD: HEALTHCARE FOR CHILDREN The municipal health service (Gemeentelijke Gezondheidsdienst, covers all aspects of children’s growth and development up to 19 years old. On the website you can search for your local GGD, but if you have young children, they’ll probably find you first via your registration with the GBA. Inoculations and checks from birth to age four take place at the consultatiebureau, which is usually part of the GGD. Expect a big check-up just before starting school. Childhood immunisations in the Dutch scheme have changed often in the past 10 years. You may wish to check whether the Dutch immunisation scheme is the same as the one from your home country, especially if you expect to return while your children are still school age. Immunisations different from those on the standard plan can be arranged, although that must sometimes be done via the family doctor rather than the consultatiebureau. HOSPITALS Accident and emergency is SEH (spoedeisende hulp) at the hospital, or for first aid EHBO (eerste hulp bij ongelukken). The emergency services line is 112. In some cases, there is a HAP, or huisartsenpost (family doctor post) that you must visit before being admitted to the emergency department, in

case the matter is something that the family doctors can handle without involving hospital care. If you need an ambulance, your doctor or the emergencies services must call one for you, otherwise it might not be covered by your insurance. For a hospital admission for non-emergency treatment, keep your insurance company informed and check your policy. Your insurers will require a referral letter from your huisarts. You usually personally make the appointment with the specialist at the hospital. PHARMACIES Once you have located a huisarts, you need to locate a nearby pharmacy (apotheek) where you will pick up prescriptions. If this pharmacy deals with your particular insurance scheme, you won’t have to pay bills directly. Pharmacy services vary, so look for one that has the services you need. For example, many can deliver medications to your home free of charge, and some also offer services such as secured pickup boxes accessible with a key, so that you can retrieve prescriptions after hours. Pharmacies in the Netherlands expect patients to register with them, meaning that they take your contact and insurance information and then consider you a long-term client (although it is possible to fill prescriptions elsewhere, if needed). If you have been treated at a hospital, you can sometimes fill your prescription at an onsite pharmacy. This will often save a lot of time and hassle, especially after business hours. Pharmacists are able to give advice for minor complaints. Opening hours vary but the address of the nearest out-ofhours pharmacy will be indicated on the door. Drogists supply over-the-counter remedies. You can also order prescriptions online ( and are just two examples), or find your nearest pharmacy at www. (click on ‘zoek een apotheek’ and enter your postcode). HAVING A BABY The Netherlands has a strong tradition in prenatal care and natural childbirths. Around one fifth of babies are born at home (which means some 80 percent are born in a healthcare setting, so don’t worry if a home birth doesn’t appeal to you!). Your insurance company will supply you with a special package for giving birth at home, which just arrives automatically at your door.




A midwife, an independent medical practitioner, will generally be your sole care provider during your pregnancy and delivery. There are also increasingly more doulas available these days, an experienced woman who can give support and continuity of care, complementary to the midwife or obstetrician. They are (not yet) covered by insurance though. Search for one. Expectant mothers with certain sorts of medical conditions or complications will be handled by an obstetrician (gynaecologist), which will automatically take place in the hospital.

FINDING A MIDWIFE OR OBSTETRICIAN/ GYNAECOLOGIST The majority of women giving birth in Netherlands are cared for by a midwife (verloskundige or vroedvrouw) during pregnancy and childbirth. Gynaecologists/obstetricians are part of the care process for women who have (or are expected to have) complications or multiple pregnancies. If your caregiver is a midwife, you can choose to have your baby at home (thuisbevalling) or at a hospital with a midwife (poliklinische bevalling).

If your caregiver is an obstetrician then the delivery will take place in the hospital, although the specific arrangements within the hospital vary from hospital to hospital. When locating a midwife, word of mouth is best but your huisarts might be able to make a recommendation. You can also visit the website of the Royal Dutch Association of Midwives ( If the supervision of an obstetrician/ gynaecologist is needed, your huisarts New mothers receive home assistance after giving or midwife can assist you in locating one. birth, from general childcare to household help. Few hospitals in the Netherlands have newRegular check-ups take place with the primary born intensive care units, so if complications are caregiver (midwife or obstetrician). Prenatal testing anticipated with the baby, it is often preferable to and genetic screening are not routine for women select a healthcare provider already located at one under 35 unless there is some medical history that of those hospitals. This minimises the risk that you puts her or the baby into a higher risk category. If and your baby will end up in two different hospitals you need further tests according to Dutch practice, after the delivery, as well as eliminating the risks of your caregiver will arrange that. The routine pretransporting a fragile newborn to a different hosnatal testing recommended in the Netherlands is pital. different from the guidelines in many other counIt is important to let your caregiver know your feeltries. If you are not comfortable with skipping some ings about pain relief, as it is infrequently offered of the testing, then discuss this with you caregiver. in the Netherlands but can be arranged for hospiIt may be possible to arrange the testing, although tal births. While some women complain that the you might be required to pay for it yourself. Dutch childbirth system is becoming too medicalShould you prefer a hospital birth, just let your midwife know. However, you should also check that your insurer will cover a poliklinische hospital birth. Some hospitals have birth centres, where the environment is made more ‘homely’. If you do deliver your baby in a hospital, you can often be back at home the same day for postnatal care.

There are many types of birth preparation classes, some of which are offered through a local homecare (thuiszorg) organisation. ACCESS runs a number of popular ones, from childbirth preparation to postnatal classes. Pregnancy yoga is extremely popular, offering a variety of approaches, from gentle breathing and relaxation exercises to more energetic stretching. One of the best things about taking a class is meeting other parents-to-be and sharing experiences, information and concerns.


ised, and others that it is not medicalised enough, most are positive about the postnatal care (kraamzorg). Once your baby has arrived, you will be given assistance at home by a maternity nurse (kraamverzorgster). She will monitor you and your baby’s health, teach some general childcare and set up a daily routine. Best of all, it may include household help. The amount of kraamzorg varies (from a few hours a day for eight days to full-time care) and a representative will come round to discuss what is appropriate just before birth.



The insurance generally covers the costs. It is important to register for kraamzorg early in your pregnancy, as they are sometimes in short supply. Find more information on MATERNITY LEAVE New mothers are entitled to 16 weeks paid leave in the Netherlands, and in some cases more, particularly if there are medical issues. During this time, they are entitled to 100 percent of their earnings up to a cap of EUR 174,64 per day, paid out

by their employers or the Uitvoeringsinstituut Werknemers Verzekeringen (UWV). Pregnant women must take pregnancy leave (zwangerschapsverlof) at least four weeks before their due date, although up to six weeks is possible. After the birth, women are entitled to 10 weeks of maternity leave (bevallingsverlof), even if the child is born later than expected. Self-employed mothers are also entitled to pregnancy and maternity leave, but the amount depends on the hours worked in the last 12 months.



ONVZ Zorgverzekeraar De Molen 66, 3995 AX Houten +31 (0)30 639 6222 |

Don’t wait for an emergency before registering with a family doctor. Find one at

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• Amsterdam region: +31 (0)880 030 600. • The Hague: +31 (0)70 346 9669 • Rotterdam: +31 (0)10 290 9888

Now Health Suite G3/4, Coliseum Building Watchmoor Park Surrey, GU15 3YL +44 127 660 2110 |

Amsterdam also has an emergency number for nights, weekends and public holidays: +31 (0)20 592 343




Information line (not all areas, though they can locate the right number): +31 (0)900 1515

• ACCESS: – ACCESS publishes an excellent Babies and Toddlers book. • Midwives: • Doulas: • Homecare (thuiszorg):

MEDICAL 112 is the emergency number (for fire, police and ambulance).

HOSPITAL A hospital is a ziekenhuis and a complete list of hospitals and medical centres for the Netherlands can be found at

• Amsterdam: +31 (0)900 821 2230 • The Hague: +31 (0)70 311 0305 • Rotterdam: +31 (0)10 455 2155

INSURANCE For more information about your specific situation, you can contact the following: • College for Health Insurances at +31 (0)20 797 8555; • Sociale Verzekeringsbank at under contact, type in your postcode and get the phone number for your area and specific situation (for questions regarding social security).

PHARMACY To locate an apotheek, visit




SETTING UP HOME UTILITIES In many cases, the utilities (gas, water and electricity) will already be connected and you just have to transfer them to your name. If you are paying an inclusive rent, check your contact carefully for what is covered. WATER There are two elements of water payments: a consumption charge based on actual water usage (which is estimated if you don’t have a meter) and a municipal tax for services (sewage, pollution, etc.). To see which water company covers your area, visit and fill in the box Uw drinkwaterbedrijf with your postcode, or ask at your local gemeente. • Amsterdam: Waternet: 0900 9394 • Den Haag/Leiden: Dunea 088 347 4747 • Rotterdam: Evides 0900 0787 • Utrecht: Vitens 0900 0650 • PWN Waterleidingbedrijf Noord-Holland: 0900 405 0700 ELECTRICITY AND GAS The energy market is liberalised, so you are able to choose (or change) suppliers. Most have ‘green’ options, where energy is bought from alternative sources such as wind, water and biomass. Regulatory authorities ensure fair practices and tariffs. The Netherlands Authority for Consumers and Markets ( provides a complete list of gas and electricity suppliers on their website (Onderwerpen > Energie > Energieleveranciers > Vergunninghouders elektriciteit/gas). MAIN SUPPLIERS: • Dong Energy: • Eneco: • Energie Direct: • E.ON:  • Essent: • Greenchoice: • Nederlandse Energie Maatschappij: • Nuon: – main supplier for Amsterdam • Oxxio: You can compare energy prices via (English) or energiewijzer (Dutch – also provides consumer information and a help/complaint centre). 74

COMMUNICATION There is a huge range of options from many suppliers with combination deals for telephone (bellen), Internet and TV, charged under a single monthly fee. TELEPHONES KPN is the main supplier for landlines. The easiest way to get connected is often to visit a KPN winkel (shop) with appropriate identification and they can set it up. There are many additional services such as discounts for favourite numbers, or combination deals with Internet and TV. For low cost international calls, you can have calls charged via a cheaper provider. For instance, you can rent a line from KPN but direct long-distance calls through Tele2 or OneTel, or register with bell1649 (, or use an international calling card, which you can buy from independent call shops. In all these cases, you key in a combination of codes before dialling overseas. Internet telephony (such as Skype) is a cheaper option. To use a public phone, you’ll need to buy a phone card from a supermarket or newsagent. MOBILE TELEPHONES The cheapest deal for a mobile will be via a contract (abonnementen) with one of the main suppliers. Shop around or compare the latest rates on www. (in Dutch). You’ll need proof of identity, address, income and a bank account to sign a deal. A prepaid phone is more expensive but you can top it up with cards from supermarkets. If your phone is unlocked, you can buy a Dutch SIM. Every phone has a unique IMEI serial number (enter *#06# to find out yours). You’ll need this when reporting a stolen phone. 0800 numbers are toll free; 0900 numbers are charged (per call or minute). INTERNET Connectivity in the Netherlands is among the highest and fastest in Europe. All kinds of dial-up, ISDN, ADSL, and cable options are available, and can be combined with telephone and TV deals. Depending on the current TV channel deals, you might go for a TV option from one supplier and telephone/ Internet from another. You can compare deals at It will take a few weeks to set up, and you need a cable connection. There are Internet cafes dotted about and many more with WiFi.



Dutch libraries also provide Internet for a small fee; if you are in Amsterdam, the central library (www. offers free Internet for members (yearly fee EUR 17,50) and splendid views. TELEVISION Cable TV is cheap and accessed by more than 90 percent of the population. Main providers include Ziggo and UPC, and included in the standard package are BBC 1, BBC 2, BBC World, and CNN alongside Dutch channels which include the government-owned Nederland 1, 2 and 3 and RTL 4, 5, 7, and 8. You’ll also receive Veronica and Net 5 (quality films and drama including popular US serials), plus National Geographic, the Discovery Channel and popular children’s channels. Local TV channels are another option. For Amsterdam, it is AT5. Subtitling, rather than dubbing, is used except for children’s TV. For more films, sport or other interests, you can select different options for extra payment. Check out for coverage in your area (by postcode) or compare combination packages at or at any of the suppliers. You get a media box and then pay for your chosen option. CanalDigitaal is a provider of satellite TV but you will need to be able to fix a dish facing east and check there are no restrictions on satellite placement with your gemeente. INTERNET / PHONE / TV SUPPLIERS • CanalDigitaal:

POST OFFICES Post offices are marked with an orange sign that says postkantoor or PostNL and generally located inside shops, newsagents or tobacconists (postagentschap). Formerly TNT, the company changed its name in 2011. Stamps (postzegels) can be bought in all of the above places and in some of the larger supermarkets, or printed online through Post-boxes are orange and are scattered throughout shopping areas and neighbourhoods. On the post-box there are two slots: the right (streekpost) is for ‘local’ delivery and you’ll see a list of postcodes that indicate the areas included; the left (overige bestemmingen) is for everywhere else, including international destinations. Priority service is used all for mail outside of the Netherlands; for faster delivery, Spoedservice offers next day delivery to certain international destinations, and guaranteed within the Netherlands by 10am the next day. PostNL (National) 0900 0990 (10 ct/pm) (English language section – also offers online postal services)

USEFUL WEBSITES • Advice: • Film:

• KPN:

• Government info:

• Tele2:

• News, information, community:

• Telfort:

• Opera:

• T-mobile:

• Restaurants:

• UPC:

• Royal family:

• UPCLive:

• Social networking:

• Vodafone:

• Weather:

• Xs4all:

• Website links – by category:

• Ziggo:

• Telephone directory/Yellow pages:

SETTING UP HOME HEMA ( is a Dutch Institution for all household matters. Blokker is cheap (www.blokker. nl) and lKEA ( has many branches across the country.





Drive if your car has Dutch registration and you hold a recognised licence, otherwise there’s an excellent public transport system Once you are a resident of the Netherlands (registered in the municipality database) you cannot drive a car registered in another country. You must also be at least 18, have third party insurance and be driving a legally registered vehicle. EXCHANGING A DRIVING LICENCE To exchange (omwisselen) your existing national driving licence (rijbewijs) for a Dutch one, you must fit into one of the categories below. Otherwise you can use it for 185 days after becoming a resident, during which time you need to take the CBR theory and driving tests. You can take both the theory and practical exam in English. ‘Drivers in international traffic’ – essentially tourists or short-term visitors – are considered non-residents and do not need a Dutch driving licence, although non-EU nationals should check with their Dutch embassy if an international licence is required (essentially a translation of your national licence). Dutch licences are generally issued for 10 years. Foreign licences from EU/EFTA countries can be used in the Netherlands for 10 years from the date of issue, or 15 years if issued after January 2013. You may like to exchange it anyway: it is a valid proof of identity in many cases. LICENSES THAT CAN BE EXCHANGED: • Aruba, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Republic of Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, (States of) Jersey, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Isle of Man, Monaco, Netherlands Antilles, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and UK. •S  pecific licenses from Taiwan, Israel, Japan, Singapore, Andorra, South Korea, Canadian Province of Quebec. • Residents with the 30 percent ruling status (whatever nationality). Expat employees may also be eligible to exchange their foreign licence if the Tax Office considers them to provide specific knowledge that is either unavailable or rare on the Dutch labour market. 76

Apply at a municipal office for an ‘Aanvraag omwisseling voor Nederlands rijbewijs’ form (or download it prior from – you must be registered in the municipality database for at least 185 consecutive days, and non-EU/EFTA nationals must additionally present an ‘Eigen Verklaring’ (a CBR statement of health). If you are 70 years or over (or 75 as of 2014) you’ll need a medical examination, which the CBR may request for non-EU/ ETFA/Swiss nationals also. There are fees for this. If you are applying under the 30 percent ruling you will need a statement from the tax office’s international department in Heerlen. Check with all departments if additional documentation is required for your certain situation, and if any documents require translation or authentication. You will generally forfeit your original licence (unless applying under the 30 percent ruling). You need a special licence for a bromfiets (moped), snorfiets (light moped), or brommobiel (mobility car) (unless you have a licence of the A or B category) and you must be 16 or over to get one. For all information on driving licences and tests visit www. or (English information section). REGISTERING AND OWNING A CAR The hefty disincentive for bringing a car into the Netherlands is the private motor vehicle and motorcycle tax (BPM) levied as a percentage of the value of the car. Exemption certificates are dealt by customs (www. There are many implications affecting car tax calculations: consult the website for full details (in English). Also note that you, as a Dutch resident, may not drive in a vehicle with foreign registration plates – you will be considered to be evading the import duty on the vehicle and road tax, and risk being heavily fined. All cars must be registered with the RDW (Rijksdienst voor het Wegverkeer). If you bring your vehicle from abroad, it must first be reviewed at an RDW inspection station, after which registration is handled through the same office. This means getting Dutch registration plates, registration documents and paying the BPM. To register ownership of a Dutch registered car, you can go to any post office or RDW–TV (Tenaamstellen



Voertuigen) certified company with all the usual identification documents and a certificate of ownership, vehicle registration documents, statutory liability insurance (WA) and safety certificate (APK). For second hand vehicles, there is a transfer certificate (overschrijvingsbewijs). A seller should ensure their previous ownership certificate has been officially invalidated. After registering your car, you will receive a bill for road tax (motorrijtuigenbelasting) from the tax office. The vehicle’s registration certificate (kentekenbewijs) and the certificate of ownership (tenaamstellingsbewijs) must be in the car at all times when on the road. The APK test (at an RDW-approved garage) measures the road-worthiness of your vehicle. For insurance, check the yellow pages or other sources for suppliers of autoverzekering. TRAFFIC AND PARKING You drive on the right. Unless otherwise marked, the speed limits are 50 km/hr in the city, 80 km/hr on other roads and 100, 120, or 130 km/hr on motorways. Traffic is an issue ( and so is parking, for which you generally need a permit. There are various options for paying for parking: by cash, chip or via your mobile phone. See, www. or Many Dutch drivers are members of motoring organisation ANWB (, which can provide breakdown cover (wegenwacht) at home or abroad. There are park and ride (P+R) schemes in most cities and the car-sharing scheme Green Wheels is a popular option ( CONTACTS • The Department of Road Transport:, 0900 0739, or +31 (0) 598 393330 (outside the Netherlands) • Information on driving licences: • Theory and driving tests:, 0900 0210 • ‘Road Traffic Signs and Regulations’ brochure: do a search on to download. • Common traffic offences: PUBLIC TRANSPORT The Netherlands has excellent public transport links, and the swipecard payment system OV-chipkaart is the official transport payment system for the metro, bus and tram throughout the Netherlands.

The smart-card system is slowly overcoming residents’ initial concerns, although there are calls to simplify the system. There are two types of cards: anonymous, which you can buy from the OV-chipkaart machines, or personal, which you can apply for online. Your pass can be loaded from one of the OV-chipkaart machines strategically placed at train and metro stations. You can arrange for your personal card to ‘load’ automatically from a bank account. You pay for the distance travelled by swiping it upon entering and leaving your transport station. Personal products, such as season or discount tickets, can be loaded to your personal OV-chipkaart and you are automatically eligible for discounts. The OV-chipkaart website ( also has an English language section where you can find lines of action should you lose your card or forget to swipe out (you will automatically be charged the maximum travel price but refunds can be requested). Helpline: 0900 0980 (EUR 0.10/min). TRAIN The Nederlandse Spoorwegen ( is the national train company. NS offers season tickets and discounts for off-peak travel (dal voordeel abonnement), which includes a 40 percent discount off the price of tickets, not only for you but for up to three other people travelling with you. Visit an NS counter for more information. Tickets are checked regularly and fines are heavy. You save 50 euro cents by purchasing your train ticket via the ticket machines (also in English) rather than at the counter. You can now travel on the NS with your OV-chipkaart. Make sure you have a minimum EUR 20 uploaded to an anonymous card and that you swipe out on arrival or you travel costs could triple! If you forget to swipe out, you have up to six hours to go back and check out, otherwise you must claim back the added costs. Call 0900 202 1163 for help with claims (EUR 10/min). For smaller cities, you can organise a treintaxi when you buy your train ticket. This is a shared door-to-door taxi service at a fixed price (EUR 5). Credit: Driving section updated with the help of Michael Davidson of The International Driving School of The Netherlands (





112 is the number for emergency police, ambulance or fire. You will be asked for the address and city where you are calling from and the nature of the emergency. You can find more information on Dutch fire services at POLICE: ( The non-emergency number is 0900 8844. You will be connected to your local police station. If your passport has been stolen, contact your embassy immediately for instructions as to what to do next. You generally need to make a statement at a police station to start any kind of official procedure (insurance, applying for a new passport etc.). HELPLINES Access – Invaluable resource for all international residents. 0900 2 222 377 (20c per minute)

WATER EMERGENCY: Contact your local gemeente for serious water or sewage issues. If the problem is in the length of pipe between the street and your house, this is the local water board’s responsibility (visit www.vewin. nl and type your postcode in the box under Uw drinkwaterbedrijf). Otherwise search the yellow pages (gouden gids) for a loodgieter (plumber). LOST AND STOLEN: • American Express 020 504 8000 • Diners Club 020 654 5500 • VISA 0800 022 3110 • MasterCard/EuroCard 0800 022 5821 • Lost property Schiphol: 0900 0141

Alcoholics Anonymous – National: +31 (0)20 625 6057 Gay & Lesbian Switchboard – National: 020 623 6565 Helpline for children and teenagers – 0800 0432 SOS 24-hour helpline – 0900 0767 Staffed by Dutch volunteers but many speak English. Gas and electricity emergencies – If you suspect a gas leak (gaslucht) or have a power problem (stroomstoring) the national line is 0800 9009 or, for serious emergencies posing a public threat, call 112.





There are a few regional variations except for the orange madness of King’s Day, which takes over the whole country. Queen’s Day – set to become King’s Day in 2014 – is the big national holiday, where everyone dresses up in orange, and parties. There are a few regional variations in holidays, with carnival celebrated in February and March in Catholic areas.

Easter Sunday / Monday (Pasen) Sunday/Monday, 20/21 April 2014. King’s Day (Koningendag) Saturday, 26 April 2014

For all Dutch citizens:

National Remembrance Day (Dodenherdenking) [Not an official holiday.] Sunday, 4 May 2014.

Sinterklaas [Not an official holiday.] Thursday, 5 December 2013 (Sint arrives in the Netherlands on Saturday, 16 November.)

Liberation Day (Bevrijdingsdag) Monday, 5 May 2014. [Official holiday every 5 years. Next: 2015]

Christmas Day (Eerste Kerstdag) Wednesday, 25 December 2013.

Ascension (Hemelvaart) Thursday, 29 May 2014

Boxing Day (Tweede Kerstdag) Thursday, 26 December 2013.

Whitsun (Pinksteren) Sunday, 8 June and Monday, 9 June 2014.

New Year’s Day (Nieuwjaarsdag) Wednesday, 1 January 2014

School holidays: > Wanneer zijn de schoolvakanties?

Good Friday (Goede Vrijdag) [Not an official holiday.] Friday, April 18, 2014.






•H  elpline (Amsterdam, English): 020 423 3217

• English-speaking mother and toddler group:

• Helpline (Amsterdam, Japanese): 020 423 3218


• Helpline (Den Haag, English): 070 346 2525

• International parent and toddler group:

Autism Association for Overseas Families (NL) | BIRTH/BABIES/TODDLERS Parenting in Holland – links, information, Q&As: Almere: • ABCDE – Almere Baby Club for Dutch and English: Amsterdam: • Childbirth preparation courses:

Voorschoten: • Voorschoten Toddler Group: BUSINESS/PROFESSIONAL • Amsterdam American Business Club (AABC): • Australian Business in Europe: • Connecting Women (The Hague): • European Professional Women’s Network (Amsterdam chapter):

• International Playgroup:

• International Business Club for the Eindhoven region (IBUC) Junior Chamber International (Amsterdam):

• The Playgroup:

• Netherlands British Chamber of Commerce:

Delft: • Delft Maternity and Motherhood Assistance: Den Haag: • Birth preparation/baby massage: • Pre-school (English):

• Rotary Club Utrecht International: • Society of English-Native-Speaking Editors: • Toastmasters Club: CULTURE • Anglo American Theatre Group (Den Haag): • InPlayers (Amsterdam):

• International childcare centre:

• International Drama Group of English-Speaking Associates (IDEA) (Dordrecht):


• Reading Circle Eindhoven (RCE) (Eindhoven):

• English Speaking Contact Group:


Nijmegen/Arnhem: • Information and assistance for the English-speaking community:

• Gay Amsterdam: • Gay Tourist Information Centre: • PinkPoint (Gay Information Centre): • The Love Exiles Foundation:




Expand your dating horizons. Register for FREE at:


CLUBS BY NATIONALITY Australia: • Australians abroad in Holland:

SOCIAL • Amsterdam Expat Meetup Group:


• English speaking contact group of Haarlem:


• Expatica Forum:


• Expatica Date:


• Legal Aliens:


• Leiden Expats Club:


• Leiden expats Meet in Eindhoven:

• Irish Club: Latin America: • C LO Stichting Centro Latinoamericano de Orientacion: New Zealand:

WOMEN’S CLUBS • American Women’s Club of Amsterdam: • American Netherlands Club of Rotterdam:

• New Zealand’s Global Network:

• American Women’s Club of The Hague:


• MOPS in Holland (Mothers of Preschoolers):

• Singapore Netherlands Association: Spain: • La Asociacion Hispanica de La Haya: South Africa: • The South African Club in the Netherlands:

• Australian and New Zealand Women’s Club:

• The Petroleum Wives Club of The Hague: • International Women’s Contact Amsterdam: • International Women’s Contact Utrecht:


• International Women’s Contact The Hague:

• British Society of Amsterdam:

• International Women’s Club Breda:

• British Club of The Hague: • St Andrew’s Society:

• Pickwick Women’s Club of Rotterdam:

POLITICS/ACTIVIST • Amnesty International:

• ‘s-Hertogenbosch’s International Women’s Club:

• Democrats Abroad:

• Women’s International Group Zeeland:

• International Women’s Club South Limburg:

Visit for our full listing of groups and clubs, which covers: Advice & Information; Activist; Art & Photography; City; Food & Wine; Educational; Family; Gay & Lesbian; Language; Literary; Music Clubs; National; Political; Professional; Regional; Religious; Social; Clubs; Sports Clubs; Theatre Clubs; Writing; Women’s.







ABN AMRO . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 42, 43 Amsterdam Castle Muiderslot. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 41 Amsterdam International Community School . 45

ONVZ. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9, 69 Outspoken Communications. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 23


Rotterdam International Secondary School. . . . . . 47 Rotterdam School of Management . . . . inside back cover Rots-Vast Group. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 33

British School of Amsterdam. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 49

C Corporate Housing Factory. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . back cover

D Dutch I presume. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 53

E easyNL. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 53 Eurohome Relocation. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . inside front cover European University. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 47, 50 Expatax. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 37 Expatcenter Amsterdam. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5 Expatdesk Rotterdam. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 31 Expatica Date . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 81 Expatica Jobs . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 59

S SAE Institute. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 41 Smeets Gijbels. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15 Sonar Appartementen. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 27 Stoit Groep. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 25 Studio Twisk. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16

T The International Job Fair . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 65 The International School of The Hague. . . . . . . . . . . 51 The Mobile Life . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 67 Tornante Trainingen. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 52 Tulip Expat Services. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9



G&D&Y Housing. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 23 Get social on Expatica. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 49

Undutchables . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 61


Waterstones. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11 Webster. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3, 54 Witlox International Tax Advice. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 39

Havaa Apartments. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 23 Holland Handbook . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 67 How to be Orange . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 67



X Xpat Journal . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 67

Interhouse. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 20 International School Het Rijnlands Lyceum. . . . . Oegstgeest. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 51 International School Hilversum. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 47 International School of Amsterdam. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 45

M Maastricht School of Management . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 55 Madison Parker. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 63

N NOVA Group . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7



NEED MORE GUIDES? The Expat Survival Guide will be distributed this year to over 40,000 expats in the Netherlands, through embassies, international companies, expat housing and relocation companies and international schools. If you are involved in managing expats, or run a bookshop, cafe, bar, or restaurant frequented by expats, and would like to distribute the Expat Survival Guide, then please contact us at to order your free guides. Delivery is also free within the Netherlands.


Once the practical aspects are dealt with, life in your new country can really begin. Exploring and settling in brings its own set of joys and challenges, and provides you all the information you need to happily live, work and love in the Netherlands.


The Dutch cliché rings true: Museums, tulips and windmills number in the thousands in the Netherlands, and that’s only the start of sights to see!’s Lifestyle section covers cultural sights, restaurants and activities in the Netherlands to get you out, about and active! Raw herring not to your taste? Dutch food offers an array of interesting and international cuisine, and you can never beat getting Gouda and Edam from the source. Check out the top Dutch foods on



Raising bilingual children? Suffering culture shock? Expat life is rewarding but it’s not without challenges. Get a dose of daily or weekly guidance by signing up to Expatica’s newsletters, where hand-picked blogs written by seasoned expats and relevant news features are delivered straight to your inbox.






Don’t let your visa expire! has an extensive online immigration section to guide you step-by-step on how to apply or extend your visa.


Location, location, location. In just a couple of hours you can be strolling the Champs-Élysées, eating Belgian chocolate or cruising the Rhine.


From Amsterdam (Noord-Holland) The Hague (South Holland) Eindhoven (North Brabant) Groningen (Groningen) Amsterdam Amsterdam

To Rotterdam (South Holland) Utrecht (Utrecht) Tilburg (North Brabant) Almere-Stad (Flevoland) Brussels (Belgium) Paris (France)

Distance (km) 57.74 56.3 29.64 131.06 207 500


WORK The Ranstad and Eindhoven are hotspots for internationals but with the Netherlands’s advantage of short daily commutes and good connections, it’s not uncommon to live and work in different regions. Travel from Amsterdam to the Hague or Utrecht in just 30–40 minutes. GRONINGEN

Wouldn’t it be great to find one centralised location for jobs relating to international workers in the Netherlands? See who’s hiring on Expatica’s job search portal: http://jobs. If you want to enhance your job opportunities in the Netherlands, keep an eye out for Expatica’s 2014 Job Fair. Our 2013 fair introduced more than 2,000 people to recruiters and advisors in the Netherlands for employment and relocation advice.




Are you getting the correct expat tax benefits?’s Employment and Finance sections can guide you on Dutch legislation, or ‘Ask the Expert’ for information specific to your situation.


Is staring incessantly flirty or freaky? Should you dress-up or dress-down? And will you be expected to ‘go Dutch’? Push your love life in the right direction with’s articles and surveys on expat dating etiquette.





Finding love in a foreign country can be challenging when you don’t know the game rules. Meet like-minded singles on Expatica’s online dating site for expats: netherlandsdating. Lost in translation? Learning Dutch culture can do wonders for cross-cultural relationships: You wouldn’t be insulted when called a ‘little fart’ if you knew it was a Dutch endearment. Search ‘Dutch culture’ on for social quirks to etiquette. How much can you get to know someone in three minutes? Find out at Expatica’s SpeedDate events. Meet heaps of people in a friendly and relaxed environment without the awkward hours of hanging around a bar.


Good company is only matched by great food. Did you know the Netherlands has two three-starred Michelin restaurants?


Serviced Apartments the easy way!

corporate housing factory properties available across the Netherlands +31 (0)88 11 69 500

bookings @

Corporate housing factory is the serviced apartment provider nationwide in the Netherlands. We help you find a comfortable home for short, medium or longer stays. High quality corporate housing We want you to experience corporate housing the way we think it should be, with our experience, professional staff, services and partners. With a variety of flavors we can make your or your employee’s stay an unforgettable one. Serviced Apartments Our serviced apartments are fully furnished, energy and internet included and combined with services and facilities providing you comfort, sport and relaxation. Ideal for a temporary stay in the Netherlands without the usual worries or hassle. We offer our serviced apartments from one week onwards. Comfortably located as a ‘hub’ for frequently doing business and still being able to enjoy life in the vibrant cities of the Netherlands!

Please do not hesitate to explore your wishes with our team and line up for a care free experience. Check our website:

NL Expat Survival Guide 2014  

This newly updated guide provides a selection of essential information for new expats to the Netherlands. For the reader’s convenience, the...