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Your Free Guide

THE EXPAT’S GUIDE TO THE SOUTH NETHERLANDS Maastricht Region Edition The most comprehensive website for expats living and working in the South Netherlands. Newsletter: Subscribe to our monthly newsletter and get up-to-date news about the region! Social Media: Connect with us! Facebook - Holland Expat Center Twitter - @holexpatcenter LinkedIn - The Holland Expat Center You Tube - HollandExpatCenter Instagram - @hollandexpatcentersouth Events: Meet other expats living in the area, and get important information on expat-related topics! Check for more information about our upcoming events! Welcome Guide: Both a Brabant edition and a Maastricht Region edition of this guide are available. Stop by one of the locations for a FREE copy! 2

Holland Expat Center South • Maastricht Location Maastricht International Centre, Centre Céramique Avenue Ceramique 50, 6222 KV Maastricht +31 (0)43 350-5010 Opening Hours Monday closed Tuesday - Friday 09:00-17:00 (by appointment only) • Eindhoven Location Vestdijk 27a, 5611 CA Eindhoven +31 (0)40 238-6777 Opening Hours Monday - Friday 09:00-17:00 • Tilburg Location Stadhuisplein 128, 5038 TC Tilburg +31 (0)40 238-6777 Opening Hours Monday - Friday 09:00-17:00 Holland Expat Center South is closed on public holidays. Note: Information in this publication may be reproduced with written permission. Holland Expat Center South accepts no liability for any information contained in this guide.


ABOUT MAASTRICHT INTERNATIONAL CENTRE The Holland Expat Center South | Maastricht Region is situated at the Maastricht International Centre in Centre CÊramique (Plein 1992). Three institutes are located at the Maastricht International Centre: the Holland Expat Center South | Maastricht Region, the Cross-border Information Point Maastricht and Maastricht University’s Institute for Transnational and Euregional cross-border cooperation and Mobility (ITEM). The Maastricht International Centre will help internationals by giving them a soft landing in the region and will tackle the bottlenecks in cross-border mobility and cooperation. For more information visit



6 Introduction 19 Formalities 61 Housing 69 Taxation, Finance & Insurance 79 Education & Careers 95 Personal & Social Needs 109 Culture & Leisure 133 Checklists & Appendices 157 Holland Expat Center South

The Holland Expat Center South Partnership Program

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WELCOME TO THE SOUTHEAST NETHERLANDS! We are happy you have chosen to relocate to our region, where exciting career opportunities can be found in an environment that encourages “the good life”! “I found the Expat Center very helpful in preparing to come to work in Maastricht. They took a lot of time answering my questions and were readily reachable. I found all information I needed. Thank you!” 6 --Joachim Junghanss, Germany

This guide was created for international migrants who have recently arrived in the Maastricht Region. It is intended to make it easier for you to settle in and start to work in our region. However, each resident is unique in his or her needs and requirements, which is why we have partnered with trusted local organizations that can help make your relocation smoother. Throughout the guide, you will find sources for further information as well as Official Partners who can provide qualified advice or services that suit your particular situation. We encourage you to visit our Welcome Desk if you have any further questions, and to visit us online at to access current information on moving to and settling into the Maastricht Region. Kind Regards, The Holland Expat Center South Team


THE EXPAT PROCEDURE Requirements In order to make use of the Expat Center Procedure, expats or the company they work for, must be located in one of the participating municipalities. Furthermore, the employer must be registered as a recognized sponsor with the IND. Additional information on the recognized sponsorship and required visas can be found on the Holland Expat Center South's website.

Advantages of the Expat Center Procedure Employers can submit an application while the highly skilled migrant or scientific researcher is still in his or her home country, and the expat can begin to work almost immediately after their arrival in the Netherlands. In addition, non EU employees do not need to register at the town hall and the IND separately; the municipal registration and IND services are both offered at the Expat Center Eindhoven in just one appointment. Employees settling in the Maastricht Region can be invited by the Immigration and Naturalisation Service to pick up their residence permit during the IND office hours at the Maastricht International Centre in Maastricht, always on the 1st en 3rd Tuesday of the month between 9.30 hours and 12.30 hours.


EU citizens procedure • EU employees who work for a company that is a recognized sponsor registered with the IND, are eligible to register at the Expat Center. The employee must have an address in one of the participating municipalities. • The Expat Center provides employees with their BSN within three days after municipal registration at the Maastricht location. • Expats receive BSN via post.


Non-EU citizens procedure

12 days

• Employer files an application for residence permit TEV or VVR procedure. (If necessary, application for MVV.) • IND makes a decision and informs the Expat Center Eindhoven. • Expat Center Eindhoven receives a copy application and in compliance with the employer, makes an appointment for the expat. • Employer receives approval MVV. • Employer informs expat. • Expats using the TEV procedure must visit the Dutch embassy in their home country. (Those not using the TEV procedure can travel directly to the Netherlands.) • Expat arrives in the Netherlands.

Appointment: Expat receives residence permit and municipal registration. Expats using the VVR procedure will receive municipal registration, and the IND will take their fingerprints and photo at the Expat Center. The expat will pick up the residence permit during the second appointment at the expatcenter in Eindhoven or (if settling in the Maastricht Region) during the IND office hours at the Maastricht International Centre .

3 days • Expat receives BSN via post.


EVENTS Holland Expat Center South organizes events for expats living in the region. These events give expats an opportunity to meet each other, and to get important information on expat-related topics.



Our Newsletter for Expats is a monthly e-newsletter that provides up-to-date news about the region. We also offer a Newsletter for HR Managers.

Our social media outlets provide expats with an opportunity to keep connected with the Expat Center. We post important information on our Facebook page, including information about our upcoming events, and photos!

WEBSITE is the most comprehensive website for expats living and working in the South Netherlands. There is also an online agenda that keeps expats updated on upcoming events that are taking place in the region.


MAASTRICHT IS UNPARALLELED Maastricht is one of the oldest cities of the Netherlands and yet it is also very modern. The city combines a wonderful historic monumentality with progressive, forward looking policies. This makes Maastricht hugely attractive. Not only for the day trippers and the tourists, but also for students and new inhabitants from all over het world. As for its ambiance and location: Maastricht is the most foreign city in the Netherlands. It feels that little bit different to the rest of the country here, and it looks different too. For you as a newcomer to the region, there is another aspect which is of great importance. Here, we attach a great deal of value to the quality of life, to safety, and to social connections. But also to the dynamism with which we are building our future. The quality of the education offered, the degree of internationalization, the countryside of the region and the range of cultural facilities make Maastricht a great city to live in.



The city offers new inhabitants and knowledge workers plenty of opportunities for development. The knowledge economy is blossoming. Maastricht nestles in the economic heartland of South East Netherlands, an area that is responsible for 35 per cent of Dutch exports. The number of jobs within one hour’s drive of Maastricht is 2.2 million (Euregional), compared to the 1.7 million around Amsterdam. Zuid-Limburg has three campuses with around 300 knowledge-based companies where masterminds from the whole world settle down. But much more important than a summary of the facts & figures is the day to day reality of life in our region. The region borders other countries over a distance of more than 200kilometers, and only 4.5 kilometers adjoin the rest of the Netherlands. People here think and behave “cross-border” all their life. They go just as easily to buy a new winter coat in cosmopolitan Cologne as they go to visit a pop concert in Brussels. It is all more or less on their doorstep. All this has earned Maastricht its nickname of the “Fourth City of Europe” and it is also known as “Europe’s smallest metropolis”. This is partly due to the fact that in 1992 the European Union was set up in Maastricht by the world famous Treaty of Maastricht. We would encourage you to discover all this for yourself. And to help you, there are a large number of sources of information available. One of those is this guide, which gives you advice and information about the most essential aspects of life here. Go and discover the city: you will undoubtedly quickly feel at home here. Because Maastricht is unparalleled. Annemarie Penn-te Strake, Mayor of Maastricht 13

WELCOME TO INTERNATIONAL LIMBURG Welcome to the Southern-most province of the Netherlands, the most international in the country. But then, it can hardly be otherwise with our location. Limburg is almost more abroad than in our own country; and we are surrounded more by our foreign neighbours than our own compatriots. That is why in a city like Maastricht you will hear so many languages—not only Dutch or the singsong dialect of the Limburgers, but also French spoken by the French-speaking Belgians, and German spoken by the Germans. Plus, of course, English spoken by the many foreign students studying at the highly international Maastricht University and Zuyd University. Moreover, Limburg has only fairly recently become part of the Netherlands. Historically, our nationality changed frequently, because repeatedly foreign powers set their hearts on governing this special part of Europe.


In fact, one of the three musketeers, duke d’Artagnan – was killed at Maastricht’s city walls because King Louis XIV intended to take the city at any price. This king was so taken by the beauty and strategic location of Maastricht, he even left Paris and the extravagance and beauty of Versailles in order to oversee the siege personally. This location and its history make Limburg an almost unDutch province. We don’t have the typical polder landscape of Holland, but green rolling hills instead, and our cultural heritage is more Burgundian in nature. We consider ourselves a very European province, so formed as a result of finding ourselves for centuries at the crossroads between the German and Roman cultures, a situation that has taught us to step over borders and nationalities. This guide shows you the ropes of life in Limburg. It undoubtedly gives you good insight into the many special possibilities that this little bit of Europe can offer you—whether it be aspects of living, working, business, recreation or learning. This includes the presence of a United World College for perfect international education for your children. But above all, I hope that you will experience yourselves—once you start to live and work here— that for you as an expat, Limburg is a true European Eldorado: a home away from home.

Theo Bovens The King’s Commissioner for the Province of Limburg


WELCOME TO THE MAASTRICHT-AACHEN REGION It is very special to be able to address people who have just arrived, many for the first time, in this beautiful region. You have come from all over the world - for work, research or studies - to contribute to development and progress. This includes the development of your company and career, but also the development of your new region. The Maastricht-Aachen Region is known traditionally as a multinational region. At different times, the region has been Roman, Spanish, French, Swiss, German, Belgian, Austrian and Dutch. It is a unique piece of Europe in the heart of the Meuse-Rhine Euregion where more than 4 million residents from three countries speak four languages, and where the German and Latin cultures in Europe interact with each other. Because of this, many people quickly feel at ease here. There are many parts of the environment that are familiar to them because of the strong international character of the inhabitants and their great hospitality. 16


You will find that this crossroads of cultures provides unexpected and unfamiliar encounters which create excitement, renewal and progress. Our region’s ability to adapt to new circumstances and look for new possibilities is demonstrated best by our transformation from a mining economy to a sizeable knowledge centre. Let’s focus on the Dutch part of our region: Limburg. Together with Southeast Brabant, this area forms the Brainport region. This area, strong in innovation with a formidable manufacturing industry, provides 35% of Dutch exports, 45% of private investment in R&D, and 54% of all patents in the country. The knowledge density in the Maastricht Region and the surrounding Meuse-Rhine Euroregion is wholly unique in the world. Our ambition is to become a top-3 technology region in Europe by 2020 as well as a top-10 technology region worldwide. The goals that are set up for this within Brainport are clear and direct. We wish to create substantial improvement in the gross regional product, virtually banish unemployment and … attract new and highly qualified knowledge workers from all over the world. The LED (Limburg Economic Development Foundation) stimulates the economic development in the region. On behalf of LED and the region, we are very happy about your arrival. You are helping us to progress and develop. You bring new ideas, new energy, and new opportunities. In the end, it is you who will help our region reach our ambitions. And hopefully, you want to grow with us for a long time because the Maastricht-Aachen Region is a top technology region and pre-eminently THE great region to live and work in a multicultural hinterland. Jos Schneiders President Limburg Economic Development 17

“Enjoy the warm friendship of the Dutch, and be respectful of the local customs and culture.” -- Kandalam Ramanujachary, U.S.A.



WELCOME TO THE NETHERLANDS! The Netherlands has always been an outward looking nation. Its coastal location and proud seafaring tradition have ensured that Dutch navigators and adventurers have featured prominently throughout history in international exploration, colonisation and trade. This has given the country a role in international affairs that is disproportionate to its size, and has resulted in a cosmopolitan outlook and entrepreneurial attitude. The Dutch people have also developed a taste for the exotic, and have embraced foreign cultures while maintaining their own unique identity. 19


History of The Netherlands The land that now forms the Netherlands has been inhabited for about 100.000 years. However, the country’s recorded history really began around 57 BC with the Roman conquest, led by Julius Caesar. During that time, the Romans built the first military forts and cities, and introduced writing. Following the decline of the Roman Empire, the Netherlands became part of the Holy Roman Empire.

1000 BC - Local farmers began to drain and cultivate the land. Higher productivity allowed workers to become tradesmen. Markets developed, towns and cities grew rapidly, and a new mercantile middle class arose.

16th Century - The Netherlands became a possession of the Habsburg dynasty. 1548 - The Hapsburg ruler, Charles V, granted the Seventeen Provinces of the Netherlands nominal independent status. 1568 - Charles’ son Philip II of Spain, a devout Catholic, was appalled by the success of the Reformation in the region and the rise of Calvinism. He passed a sentence condemning all 3 million inhabitants of the Netherlands to death as heretics, which prompted a revolt. 1579 - Led by William of Orange, the Dutch declared full independence from Spain and formed the ‘United Provinces’. The Spanish lost control of the Netherlands after 20 years, but the war lasted another 60 years.

1000 BC 1400 1500 1430-1433 - Duke Philip the Good of Burgundy reunited the republics, which is considered the moment when the Dutch became a nation. The region’s trade developed rapidly, especially in the areas of shipping and transport.


INTRODUCTION 17th Century - The Golden Age The nation flourished, but a slow decline set in following full independence.

1806 - Napoleon restyled the Netherlands into the Kingdom of Holland, with his brother Louis as king. He quickly annexed the fledgling nation into the French Empire when Louis began to put Dutch interests ahead of those of France.

1648 - A peace treaty of Westphalia confirmed the independence of the United Provinces. The country became known overseas as ’Holland’, and became an important trading centre in Northern Europe, and founded colonies around the world.

1815 - Following the defeat of Napoleon, the country became an independent monarchy once again. This ‘United Kingdom of the Netherlands’ originally consisted of what is now the Netherlands and Belgium. The border between the current province of Limburg and Germany was established. 1830 - Belgium split off again, and the entire area of Limburg became a part of Belgium. 1839 - The province was again split into a Dutch and a Belgian part. 1848 - Unrest across Europe prompted King William II to agree to democratic reform, and the Netherlands became a constitutional monarchy.

1600 1700 1800 1795 - Napoleon Bonaparte occupied the country and encountered little resistance from a nation that largely supported his republican ideals.



1914 - The Netherlands remained neutral when World War I broke out. 1939 - The country declared its neutrality again at the outbreak of World War II. May 1940 - Nazi Germany invaded the country and remained for 5 years. 1944 - Maastricht was liberated on September 14. 1945 - The country was liberated on May 5.

1950-60 - The Dutch economy expanded rapidly, and immigration was encouraged, first from Italy and Spain, and then from Turkey and Morocco. Combined with immigration from former colonies (Indonesia, Surinam and Netherlands Antilles), the Netherlands became the multicultural society it is today. 1960-70 - Class and religious divisions began to break down. The Netherlands was a founding member of both the European Union (EU) and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). 1999 - The Dutch participated in the introduction of the Euro.

1900 1950



GOVERNMENT ● The Netherlands is a constitutional monarchy: the position of the monarch is laid down in the Constitution. ● King Willem-Alexander is the Dutch head of state and, together with the ministers, makes up the government. ● Equal rights for everyone are guaranteed by law, and egalitarianism forms a central belief of Dutch society. ● The ministers make up the Cabinet, which is chaired by the Prime Minister. ● The Council of State is the Netherlands’ oldest High Council of State. Founded by Emperor Charles V in 1531, it is still the government’s chief advisory body. ● All Dutch nationals older than 18 may vote and stand in elections for the House of Representatives. All residents can vote in the City Council Elections. ● Parliament (the States General) consists of two chambers: the Senate (the upper house, with 75 members, is elected by the provincial councils) and the House of Representatives (the lower house, with 150 members). ● All Acts of Parliament have to be passed by both houses of parliament. ● The Netherlands has many political parties, which is encouraged by the electoral system. ● The House of Parliament is elected by proportional representation. 23


Culture and Society ● Population is 17 million. ● Dutch and Frisian (spoken in Friesland) are the official languages of the Netherlands. Most Dutch people speak good English. ● The majority of the population is happy with their quality of life, and the social welfare system is recognised internationally as being excellent.

Climate The Netherlands is sometimes called the low sky country, as cloud cover can make winter days seem gray. The average temperature and rainfall in the Maastricht Region, throughout the year (in Celcius):











● Greetings: Virtually everyone shakes hands in the Netherlands, both upon greeting and upon departure. In informal situations (with friends or relatives) women and men may also exchange three kisses, on alternating cheeks. Men only exchange three kisses with women; not with men. ● Flowers: Dutch homes are often full of house plants, and flowers are frequently given as gifts when visiting friends or relatives. ● Communication: Many foreigners can find the Dutch direct and abrupt. However, there is no intention to be rude. The Dutch say what they mean and speak their minds! ● Meetings: Dutch society puts great emphasis on the need for people at all levels to have their say in decision-making processes, and on finding consensus. This can slow the decisionmaking process, but ensures that everyone’s view is heard. ● Punctuality: It is important to be punctual. Call if you are delayed, and avoid canceling meetings at the last minute. Don’t forget that meetings usually adhere to a strict agenda, and finish at an appointed time. ● Dress code: In sectors such as banking and law, the dress code is formal and traditional. But in many other industries



it is casual. The focus in the Netherlands is on content rather than form. ● Work-life balance: Dutch people value their personal time. Business lunches are preferred over dinners. If you want to motivate Dutch workers, time off works better than money! ● Dinner: It is common to bring a bottle of wine and flowers if you visit someone for dinner. The bottle is very often put to one side and will be enjoyed on another occasion. ● Telephoning: People say their name right away on the phone (usually both first and last name), at work and at home, both when answering and calling. ● Common expressions: ‘Gezellig!’ is a bonding expression used in social situations, which translates loosely to ‘Isn’t this nice?’ ‘Doe Normaal!’ is an expression, which means ‘Just behave normally,’ and has a strong resonance. This warning keeps kids and adults alike in check, and prevents them from stepping out of line and being too outrageous!



“There’s no getting away from the rain. You just have to embrace it and enjoy the green wonderful life it brings.” -- Lisa Jochim, U.S.A.


Europe at your feet HAMBURG



16.5 mln




82 mln


61 mln








10.5 mln






m il





64 mln



0k m

m il




airport harbour barge terminal population

Train connections AMSTERDAM 2 hrs. travel time 36 trains a day

ROTTERDAM 2 hrs. travel time 36 trains a day





LONDON 4 hrs. travel time 10 trains a day






1 hr. travel time 36 trains a day

FRANKFURT PARIS 2.5 hrs. travel time 12 trains a day

international high-speed railway (from Liège or Aachen) national railway local railway: every 15’, 20’ travel time


2 hrs. travel time 15 trains a day

Road distances from Zuid-Limburg (the Maastricht Region) to major European cities city Amsterdam Antwerp Berlin Brussels Cologne Düsseldorf Eindhoven Frankfurt Geneva Hamburg London Luxembourg Milan Munich Paris Prague Rotterdam

km 200 110 650 110 90 95 80 275 775 500 490 150 875 675 400 750 200

miles 124 68 404 68 65 60 50 171 482 311 305 93 544 419 249 466 124












Airport MAA


Landgraaf Nuth Meerssen



A79 Valkenburg a/d Geul



Maastricht Simpelveld EijsdenMargraten











"Maastricht is the inspiring mix of a charming old town with a vibrant young population." --Joana Pessanha, Portugal


History of Maastricht 50 B.C. - Around the beginning of the Christian era, the Romans expel the Celts from Maastricht and build a bridge over the Meuse. The name comes from the Latin, Maastricht Mosae Trajectum, or ‘passage through the Maas’. 380 - Bishop St. Servatius moves the bishop’s see from Tongeren to Maastricht. In the Middle Ages, his grave draws large numbers of pilgrims. 1204 - In the Middle Ages, Maastricht is granted city rights. During these years, Maastricht comes under the rule of the Duke of Brabant and the Prince Bishop of Liège ( joint rule).

1579 - The Spanish army -- led by Alexander Farnese, the Duke of Parma -- conquers Maastricht. 1632 - Stadtholder Frederik Hendrik establishes Dutch rule and makes Maastricht part of the Republic of Seven United Provinces of the Netherlands. 1673 - The French Sun King, Louis XIV, captures Maastricht. During the attack on the city walls, the famous musketeer d’Artagnan is killed. 1678 - Maastricht returns to Dutch rule. 1794 - Maastricht becomes part of the French Republic. The French abolish the system of joint rule and give French citizenship to all the residents.

0 1500 1800

1814 - Maastricht again comes under Dutch rule. General Dibbets succeeds in keeping Maastricht in Dutch hands during the Belgian revolt of 1830. 1830 - With the purchase of the first steam engine, Petrus Regout - a glass and pottery manufacturer in Maastricht - kicks off the Dutch Industrial Revolution.


19th century - The Netherlands slowly became industrialized, and Maastricht was one of the forerunners with its pottery industry (Sphinx Ceramique and Mosa). Industrial mining, mainly initiated by foreign companies, was started around Heerlen and Sittard-Geleen. Railways were built to connect the region with the other parts of the country and to transport coal.

1960s-1970s - The fast-paced economic and demographic development in Limburg came to an end when the mines were closed. There was an urgent need for restructuring and the region was successful in pushing a new plan through. This led to the establishment of Maastricht University, the Academic Hospital and the headquarters of several foreign companies throughout the south of Limburg.

1991 - The cooperative platform established by the Dutch, German and Belgian provinces in 1976 acquires legal status in 1991. That cooperation applies primarily to universities, colleges and the business community. 1992 - Representatives of 12 European countries sign the Treaty of Maastricht, leading to the introduction of the Euro currency. mid 1990s onwards - CĂŠramique area under development.

1976 - The State University of Limburg is established in Maastricht with the goal of breathing new life into the economy of Limburg after the closure of the mines. In 1996, it is renamed Maastricht University.

1900 1960 2000

2009-2026 - A2 project. Willem-Allexander Tunnel opened 15 December 2016. 2014 - The automotive factory in Born began to produce the BMW Mini and in August 2017 starts the production of the BMW X1



The Maastricht Region has four sub-regions, each with its own distinctive character, the urban agglomerations of Parkstad, Sittard-Geleen and Maastricht the Heuvelland and the rural rolling hills in between. Together they offer a complete range of culture and terrain within a compact region measuring a little over 25 square kilometres. As a result, the region functions as one interlinked urban area with a beautiful landscape park in the centre.

25 x 25 km:





30% foreign




















4 million inhabitants, 3 countries

3 languages, 11,000 km , 43,000 cross border workers,



22 higher education institutes and 200 museums



MAASTRICHT REGION ● The Maastricht Region is situated on the border between the Latin and Germanic languages and cultures of Europe. ● The main languages spoken are French, German, English and Dutch, alongside many dialects. ● The region lies on the dividing line between the Anglo-Saxon and Rhineland social and economic systems, bringing together the best of both worlds. ● The region is located on the border of the climatological and gastronomical region of European wine production, resulting in an unmistakable mix of southern joie de vivre and the downto-earth practicality of the Netherlands as a whole. ● This ‘contact between cultures’ has made the region what it is today: an open, multilingual, and innovative society, full of vitality. ● The Maastricht Region is home to 33,000 students -- a third of whom come from outside the Netherlands. ● With Brussels, Cologne and Düsseldorf less than one hour away, an international school and more; the Maastricht Region is the most European region of the Netherlands, and the most international region of Europe.



“While immersion in another culture and learning another language took me out of my ‘comfort zone’, at times, the journey expanded my horizons and gave me a deeper appreciation of countless things! Sharing this with others facing the same challenges, pleasures and perplexities has been great fun and has been the start of many life-long friendships!” -- Martha Tuninga, U.S.A.



EDUCATION ● University high in (inter)national rankings ● High schools always in top rankings ● United World College (unique in the NL): continuous international education from 2-22 years old

EUROPE ● By train: Brussels in 1.5 hours, Amsterdam in 2 hours, Paris and Frankfurt in 3 hours and London in 4 hours ● 8 airports are within one hour away ● 220 km border shared with foreign countries, only 6 km with the Netherlands

ECONOMY ● 42,450 companies, 280,000 jobs ● Region ranks in top-3 most innovative Dutch companies ● Labour productivity per FTE > € 116,000 (Netherlands: € 82,000) ● Three hospitals (research, care & cure) ● 6th place in top 40 best performing Dutch regions ● Brightlands Chemelot Campus, Brightlands Health Campus and Brightlands Smart Servies Campus are focus of Brainport Southeast Netherlands ● Brainport Southeast Netherlands: 35% export, 45% R&D turnover & 55% patents ● Brainport is one of three national growth areas



● EUR 500 million investment in campus development (solar, chemicals/materials, health) ● Decreasing unemployment rate: 6,4% (Dutch average 4,9%) ● 2.2 million jobs within an hours travel (Amsterdam 1.7 million)

CULTURE ● 28 museums, 17 concert halls, 14 theaters and 4 art cinemas ● Hosts the largest art and antiques fair in the world (TEFAF)

TO LIVE ● Internationally celebrated vineyards ● 11 restaurants with Michelin stars ● Number one Dutch holiday location ● Average price of single-family homes, approx. € 200,000 (Netherlands: € 275,000; Amsterdam: € 450,000) Source: Etil, Kennis en Economisch onderzoek (Rabobank), CBS, Atlas voor Gemeenten, NICIS, Brainport Network



Maastricht Maastricht took its first steps as a European settlement 2000 years ago. Founded by the Romans, in the sunniest and southernmost part of the Netherlands, it has grown into an internationally oriented city. Maastricht has a unique position and identity within the Netherlands and the Meuse-Rhine Euroregion. On one hand, the city adheres to the ‘northern’ concepts of efficiency and rationality, while also to the ‘Latin’ idea of taking things more lightly by putting them into perspective. This is also reflected in its cultural identity. In addition to its completely unique regional characteristics like carnaval and Magic Maastricht, the city takes up an exceptional cultural position at a national level, too. Maastricht is a city with countless churches, a Roman center and a broad spectrum of shops, culture and gastronomy. Almost all hot spots are within walking distance from each other. The city has more monuments per inhabitant than any other city in the Netherlands!



Maastricht is among the top three best shopping cities in the Netherlands. Visit a museum, stroll through the city park and relax on one of the terraces, or enjoy a locally brewed beer in one of the many cafes. Within the city, old buildings are intertwined with renovated buildings. Maastricht also features districts with highranking modern architecture. There are both old and surprisingly modern bridges, connecting the east and west sides of town. Maastricht is renowed for its rich gastronomy. The city and the surrounding areas have many restaurants, some of which have been awarded Michelin stars. Every year during the last week of August, Maastricht hosts Preuvenemint, the largest gastronomic festival in the country, on the Vrijthof square. Population: 122,400 39


Maastricht opens the door to European markets, especially the Meuse-Rhine Euroregion, by being a center for enterprises active in production, life sciences, shared service and call centers, and import and export services. ● Hosts The European Fine Art Fair (TEFAF), the world’s leading art and antiques fair. ● With its university and Zuyd Hogeschool, including a drama school, music and art academies and a hotel school, Maastricht is a real student city. ● Maastricht University is a strong science partner of the Maastricht Region, but also of domestic and international companies and scientists. It provides a stimulating environment, where research and teaching are complementary and have a strong focus on innovation. In collaboration with the University of Maastricht, the Maastricht Health Campus provides high-quality scientific and technological innovation in health care. The Health Campus works closely with the Chemelot Campus and RWTH Aachen University to bring Maastricht Region — together with Eindhoven and surrounding regions — into the top 10 of the world’s most innovative regions through the Bainport 2020 program. Current research projects aim to solve problems affecting tomorrow’s society, such as the pensions dilemma, the relationship between diet and cancer, and the issues of culture and identity in a globalizing Europe. 40


The concept of ‘hospitality’ is an important core value within the city marketing and branding policy of Maastricht. Hospitality is about showing people that they are genuinely welcome. Furthermore, people feel that hospitality is of economic importance; satisfied visitors stay longer, spend more money and come back more often. A highly hospitable environment also has a positive impact on the quality of life of residents and the business climate for companies and their employees.

Explore Maastricht Midweekend Maastricht celebrates the Midweekend from Sunday until Thursday. It is about that weekend feeling, but then during the week. With exceptional accommodation, entertaining activities, and unique experiences - only accessible with your Maastricht Midweekend Pass - you can put together your personal weekday stay in Maastricht. The Maastricht Midweekend Pass provides tourists and expats who reside for an extended period of time in Maastricht, the possibility to discover the new weekend of Maastricht. Being a newcomer to the city, you can now explore Maastricht with your Midweekend Pass. For more information, visit: maastricht-midweekend To request your Midweekend Pass, mail to:



MAASTRICHT’S DISTRICTS Belvédère Belvédère is a developing neighborhood, and is the home of the harbour ’t Bassin. Highlights: The Timmerfabriek with the Muziekgieterij and Bureau Europa, the Frontenpark and Lumière

The Markt Square This is the heart of Maastricht. Highlights: The contemporary architecture of the municipal offices and the 17th century city hall.

Vrijthof Streets The Vrijthof square is the most famous square in the Netherlands, and the backdrop for the Preuvenemint culinary festival, André Rieu’s concerts, and the Theater aan het Vrijthof. Highlights: The St. Servaas basilica and the St. Janskerk.

The Stokstraat Quarter The Stokstraat Quarter is exclusive and charming, and its reminiscent of the city’s Roman past. It borders the Onze Lieve Vrouweplein square, with the Onze Lieve Vrouwe basilica, where visitors light candles in honor of Maria Stella Maris. Highlights: A former slum, Stokstraat is now known as an exclusive shopping area.



Wyck Wyck is an upcoming district near to the train station and has a unique atmosphere that is filled with stylish shops and restaurants. Highlights: train station building, small boutiques and restaurants (e.g. Harry's), delicatessen

Céramique Céramique is Maastricht’s newest district. Highlights: The Bonnefantenmuseum, Centre Céramique and Theater de Bordenhal.

Jeker quarter Surrounded by the old city walls, this quarter is house to many students from Maastricht University, Maastricht Drama Academy and the Maastricht Academy of Music. Highlights: De Bisschopsmolen, art shops and galleries.

Sint Pieter/Villapark Sint Pieter is bounded by the Sint Pietersberg hill, the Jeker valley, and the city park. It’s an easy walk from the city centre over St. Pietersberg hill and past the sloping vineyards into Belgium. Highlights: The 300-year-old Fort St. Pieter and the marlstone caves.



"Make sure you befriend the Expat Center when you arrive in Maastricht. They will help you with everything concerning your move, integration in the city, and even future plans." -- Ahmed Hassan, Egypt



Sittard-Geleen Sittard-Geleen is a merged municipality in the transition area between Middle-Limburg and the Maastricht Region, where the Netherlands is narrowest. It is one of the four municipalities of the Netherlands that has a common border with Germany as well as with Belgium. Sittard-Geleen is home to the Sportzone, a cluster of sports facilities that benefit the entire region. It also has its own professional football team, Fortuna Sittard (first division), which has its stadium in the heart of the Sport Zone. For more information, see Section 8: Culture & Leisure. The once small and separate villages of Sittard, Geleen and Born have become a modern city with museums, shopping malls, festivals and regular weekly markets. Go to Geleen for festivals and shopping, while Sittard—with its historic city center and many theatres, monuments and museums—offers another kind of cultural adventure. Nature lovers are strongly advised to check out Daniken, a vast recreational area popular among the locals for its nice woods, children’s farms, and extensive walking trails, as well as for the former stone factory Plinthos. Sittard also has excellent walking and cycling facilities in the surrounding areas, such as Windraak and Limbricht woods. It is also worth visiting the fascinating zoo in Born, where swans, geese, ducks and other birds show off their beauty. Population: 93,154 45


Venlo Venlo is located in Northern Limburg, next to the German border. It is at the heart of the region, and is the center of knowledgeintensive and manufacturing industries. Its landscape and unique culture make it a unique spot in the Netherlands! The city has four urban centers: • Venlo dates back to 1343, and has a long-established trading center. It is a city that is the beating heart of Northern Limburg and one of the major links in European goods traffic. • Blerick is a major residential area and has extensive industry parks. • Tegelen is the center of traditional industries. • Belfeld is a small country community with a rural character. Located on the river Meuse and at the hub of major highways, Venlo has a long tradition as a trading city. At the end of the nineteenth century, the Venlo horticulturalists discovered the extensive German market. Since then, the Venlo area has developed into a center for agribusiness. The exporting horticulturalists showed Venlo the way. Venlo developed into a transport city and later became a logistics hub. The industrial development of Northern Limburg started in Tegelen. Its main exponents are the clay and metalworking industries. This tradition has been kept, and Venlo is now home to a significant high-tech and manufacturing industry with Océ as its leader. Population: 100,991





“ 48

Unite with other expats as soon as you arrive and share the experience.” -- Natalia Lutovinova, Russia


Heerlen Previously a city of colliers, visitors to Heerlen can today enjoy the theater, festivals, concerts, modern art and historical museums, shopping or spend a night out in Pancratius Square. But you can also go hiking or biking in its green rolling hills, woods and moorlands.

• The coal mines were closed in the early 1970s. • Heerlen has many shops, boutiques, international fashion chains and department stores in the city center. Weekly markets are held on Tuesday and Saturday. • One of Europe’s largest furniture shopping boulevards, the ‘Woonboulevard’, is located near the A76 motorway. • In addition to collections of modern art, Schunck offers temporary exhibtions of avant-garde or urban art. The Glass Palace building was designed by Peutz in the 1930s. • The Castle of Hoensbroek is a medieval castle that offers an impression of living the life of the count of Hoensbroek. • The Nederlands Mijnmuseum is a museum located on a former mine. Find out what work and life was like for miners and their families. • Dating back to the Roman Empire, Heerlen was a small settlement known as Coriovallum. See the remains of Roman thermal baths and many other objects at the Thermenmuseum. • Walk or cycle on the Brunssumerheide, to Germany! For bicycle routes, visit and • Children will enjoy a day in Kinderstad, a large indoor playground.



• Those who like climbing should visit the indoor climbing hall at Neoliet. • ‘The Promise’ is for people who are into inline skating or skateboarding. Population: 86,835

Brunssum Brunssum was once the beating heart of the mining industry in South Limburg. The characteristic old parks in the city are a heritage of this wealthy period. During the mining era Brunssum welcomed many internationals, laying the foundation for the wealth of the region and resulting in the present high percentage of local family names from all over the world. After the closure of the coalmines, NATO chose the former (landfill areas / waste tips / mining areas?) as the location for their new Central European Headquarters. Since then, Brunssum has continued to host the NATO headquarters: for over 50 years now. One consequence is that there is a large international presence in everyday life in Brunssum, for instance in the Afnorth International School. At present Brunssum has just under 30,000 inhabitants but with all the facilities you need in a city. With a large and unique nature reserve reaching into the city limits (Brunssummerheide), and with nature parks around the city stretching over the German border, there is plenty of room for easy living. Switch off after a hard week’s work and take your bike, your dog or your kids and go for a hike or a run out of doors.





With numerous playgrounds and parks in the city itself, and the many elementary schools and sports facilities, Brunssum provides an ideal place for families to live. Or it could be the ideal home-base for a (stay) holiday in the region: somewhere from where you can travel to Cologne, Liege or Brussels in an hour, but where you can just as easily relax at home. Population: 28,289

Heuvelland In the rolling hills of Limburg, it is possible to discover towns and villages hidden away among meadows, woodland and colorful orchards. In 2005, the Heuvelland was declared one of the most beautiful areas in the Netherlands. At the Drielandenpunt, see where the Netherlands, Germany and Belgium meet! At 322.5 meters, Vaalserberg is the highest point in the Netherlands.

Roermond Roermond has a rich cultural heritage that is located in the ‘Maasplassen’ lake district, on the banks of the Meuse, the Roer and Swalm. It is also an excellent destination for shoppers, and hosts an agenda of cultural events throughout the year. Roermond is also home to many health and education facilities. The church of St Dionysius in Asselt and the Museum of History and Culture, the Roermond Designer Outlet Centre. The municipality boasts a wealth of listed buildings, such as churches and guild houses. Its skyline is dominated by the St. Christopher Cathedral, which dates back to the 15th century. The Munster Church and the ‘Minderbroederskerk’ (the Franciscan Friars’ Church) were built in the 13th century, and the Stadhuis (city hall) dates back to 1700.



• The Hanseatic town of Roermond has belonged to the duchy of Guelders for many centuries and remains the seat of the bishop of Limburg to this day. • Roermond is encircled by a broad green belt, and offers many opportunities for hiking and cycling. • Its town center has been designated as a conservation area. • The town is steeped in history, and offers a wide range of shops and charming squares. - Its many cozy terraces and picturesque restaurants enhance its inviting character. • An extensive 3,000 hectare chain of lakes known as the Maasplassen is a favorite boating and recreation area at the edge of the city • The banks of the Meuse are the backdrop for exclusive homes and hotels, restaurants and favorite spots for tourists. • The famous Pieterpad long distance walking route stretches from Groningen, through Roermond and on to the Pietersberg. • The enchanting valley of the Leu (“Leudal“) has been designated as an area of especial scenic interest. Staatsbosbeheer (a national organization which controls and conserves Netherlands forests) organizes tours in the countryside of Swalmen. Qualified guides lead groups through the Swalm valley, either on foot or on bicycle. Population: 57,044





“Don’t get struck by the extreme oddity when suggesting a get-together with a Dutch person and finding them pulling out their agenda (or for the more modern folk, their smart-phones) to schedule a date, even weeks ANTWERPEN ahead!” -- Niki Andreadaki, Greece















Brainport Network One distinctive part of the Maastricht Region’s history is its mining past. Following the closure of the mines in 1965, the core activities of the region switched from coal and petrochemicals to service provision, knowledge, high-quality materials and life sciences. One of the driving forces in that transformation process is Brainport Network: the economic development program for the southeastern part of the Netherlands. This part of the country already ranks 13th place among the world’s top technological regions. Its objective is to reach the top 10 within 10 years. The most important developments in the fields of Chemistry & Materials and Life Sciences take place on two Limburg campuses: Brightlands Chemelot Campus and the Brightlands Maastricht Health Campus. Both were established by the collaboration of education and businesses, with support of the provincial government. This major investment in the Maastricht Region economy is also supposed to boost employment. In 2016, unemployment in Limburg was below the Dutch national average 2017 (4.8% compared to 5.4%). In fact, the expectation is that the Maastricht Region will experience a shortage of workers! This is also due to the ageing of the population; a phenomenon which the entire country and the rest of Europe are confronted with, but which is progressing faster in the Maastricht Region. From an economic perspective, the Meuse-Rhine Euroregion (3.5 mln Inhabitants) is a significant player, with a Gross Regional Product of €195mln in 2016. In comparison, the Randstad (7.1 mln Inhabitants) has a GRP of €262 mln, while the US state of Mississippi has €99 million. 56

Business Contact Points South-Limburg Businesses create a dynamic and vibrant city. The municipalities of Sittard-Geleen, Heerlen and Maastricht are therefore keen to facilitate startups and established businesses in their areas. All three municipalities have set up a front office specifically to represent the interests of businesses in their contacts with local government. These offices in Sittard-Geleen (Ondernemerscontactpunt), Heerlen (Bedrijvencontactpunt) and Maastricht (Bedrijfscontactpunt) may not operate under the same name, but they all guarantee a (free) professional service to all businesses in their respective cities. This service includes, for example, assistance with finding a suitable location for a business, upgrading existing commercial premises or answering enquiries with regard to starting up a home-based business. These expert staff members are familiar with the procedures and routes to be followed inside the municipality and often outside the municipality as well, and can refer enquiries to the right person or the right internal or external bodies. They can also give advice on the municipal regulations that are likely to affect your business (e.g. zoning plans). In the event that you have to follow a licensing procedure, they can help you assess the feasibility of your application and monitor progress for you.

Contact Maastricht Sittard-Geleen Heerlen 57


“We received a lot of help from the Maastricht Business Contact Centre. They didn’t refer us to a website, they really took care of us and gave us personal advice. FAB is now doing very well.” -- --Riku Erkkila of the Famous American Bistro (FAB)





“The best advice I can offer expats, especially if they are coming from the U.S or Latin America, is to not underestimate the cultural differences, both at work and at play, and how they impact you on a personal level.� -- Michael Lee, U.S.A.



2. FORMALITIES There are many formalities involved with moving to another country. What you are required to do depends on your nationality, family composition and your work situation. Good preparation is vital. Consult the Holland Expat Center South, your HR Manager or International Office for details.



WHAT TO EXPECT ● Most people go through the ‘culture shock curve’. ● Your arrival and the first few weeks are exciting – this is the ‘tourist phase’. ● After that, many people feel their mood begin to dip: the honeymoon period is over, but lots of things are still difficult and ‘not like they were back home’. ● Finally, you start to participate fully and comfortably in the new culture.



2.1 Upon Arrival Within days after arriving in the Netherlands, you must register in the Municipal Personal Records Database and collect a BSN (Burger Service Nummer or Citizen Service Number). This will be done during your appointment at Holland Expat Center South. Take the following items to your appointment: ● Birth certificates (legalized) Tip! Check the website of the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs for legalization procedures with your country of origin. ● Marriage certificate (legalized) ● Valid passports Tip! Make sure that your passport is valid for as long as possible. ● Dutch housing rental or purchase contract (or consent of the principal occupant)

2.2 Residence Permit ● Non-EU citizens must apply for a residence permit. ● Valid ID must be carried at all times by everyone over the age of 12. A student ID or drivers license is not sufficient. You need a passport, Dutch ID card or a Dutch residence permit. ● Migrants will make their permit application directly to the Immigration and Naturalisation Service (IND), with help from their employer. In some cases, this application can be done before the work permit has been issued. Consult your HR Manager/International Office for details. ● It may be possible to pick up your residence permit at Holland Expat Center South. 63


2.3 Work Permit Depending on your country of origin and residence status, a work permit might also be required. Getting a visa, work permit and residence permit can take 1-4 months. Permits for highly skilled migrants can be obtained within two weeks. Both partners are usually permitted to work, though there can be some exceptions. The rules about living in Limburg and working in Belgium or Germany, and visa versa, are complex. For information download the VKW Limburg’s “Expat Manual to Working and Living in Belgium, Limburg”: Publications/5779/VKWlimburg. If you live around the border region, contact the Cross-border information point (Grensinfopunt) Maastricht at the Maastricht International Centre or at

2.4 BSN Every person registered in the Netherlands has a personal registration number: a BSN. Babies are issued with a BSN when they are included on the population register just after birth. Migrants are issued with a BSN when they register at the municipality after they arrive in the country. A BSN is required to get insurance, open a bank account, receive your salary, and to apply for benefits.



Conditions to obtain a BSN: ● You may only obtain a tax and social security number for yourself or your children under 16. ● You must provide a Dutch address. ● You must present a valid passport. EU nationals can present an EU ID card. A driver’s license is not accepted as an identity card. ● You must be present in person. If you are not a national of an EU member state, Liechtenstein, Norway, Iceland, or Switzerland, you must have a note/sticker in your passport that permits you to stay and work in the Netherlands. Apply for this at the Immigration and Naturalisation Service Desks (IND) or Holland Expat Center South in Eindhoven.

2.5 Driving in the Netherlands ● Residents of the Netherlands are not allowed to drive a car registered in another country (after a certain period of time, usually up to 6 months). The following are required to drive a car in the Netherlands: ● A valid driver’s license ● Third party insurance ● Car must be registered



Exchanging a driver’s license Some internationals are able to exchange their driver's license for a Dutch one: ● You are a registered resident of the Netherlands with a valid residence permit (if applicable) ● Expats who have the 30% ruling status (nationality does not matter) ● You are a citizen of the EU/EEA or Switzerland; Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, United Kingdom ● You are from a country with a special drivers licence agreement; Taiwan, Israel, Japan, Singapore, South Korea, Canada - province of Quebec, Aruba, Jersey, Isle of Man, Monaco, Netherlands Antilles Citizens of most European countries can normally continue to use their existing licence from their home country until it expires. EU/EEA citizens can drive on their licence for 10 years after date of issue. If the licence is already over nine years old at the date of registration with the municipality, you may use it for another two years as long as it has not expired. To exchange the licence for a Dutch one, which will require the following: ● Fill in an application form at the municipality. ● A CBR Statement of Health. ● If you apply under the 30% facility you will also need a statement from the tax office. ● Check with your embassy to see if you needed additional documentation, translation or authentication. 66


Driving test Those who do not fit in the above categories are legally allowed to use their foreign driver’s license for 185 days after arrival, then they must pass the regular Dutch theory and driving tests. ● It is possible to take both the theory and driving tests in English, Dutch or Turkish. ● Dutch driver’s licenses are generally issued for 10 years.

The theory test includes 25 questions on traffic awareness (you must get 13 correct), 30 questions on traffic regulations and 10 questions on traffic insights (you must get 35 out of the 40 questions correct). Make a reservation on the CBR website (

Holland Expat Center South can assist you with any questions you may have about living and/or settling into the South Netherlands. We are a nonprofit governmental agency; there is no charge for this assistance!



"Maastricht's international environment is unique and at par with a vibrant metropolis. There is always something to tickle your brain cells thoughts and ideas are always shared in the form of formal exchanges as well as casual chats at the coffee table." -- Mueid Alraee, Oman


3. HOUSING The housing available in the South Netherlands will probably not be the same as you are used to. How you see this depends on your experience in your home country!



● Europeans comment that housing is expensive and the gardens are small. ● Americans frequently find that the rooms are small (particularly children’s bedrooms), and are more likely to choose from the higher end of the market. ● Those coming from places such as Singapore -- where land is also at a premium -- may see things differently! ● The Netherlands is one of the most densely populated countries in Europe, with almost 400 people per square kilometer. ● The high population density explains why many houses are small and compact. ● Dutch builders are extremely skilled in maximizing the use of space. ● Dutch homes vary from studio apartments, to traditional apartments, and larger detached and semi-detached houses. ● One bathroom per household is common. ● Showers are more common than baths. ● Dining rooms are a luxury. (Normally, there is an open kitchen and living room with a dining area.) ● Utility rooms are only found in larger houses. ● Houses are well insulated, and newer buildings will have double-glazed windows.



3.1 Housing The Maastricht Region has a wide range of housing available. The prices are lower than in Amsterdam, The Hague and Rotterdam. Not every house has a garage, but most new apartments have a parking space below the apartment building, which may or may not be included in the rent. On-street parking in the city may require a parking permit, which is obtainable at the municipality.

3.2 Renting The housing market in the region is mainly controlled by commercial real estate agents. There are also non-commercial woningcorporaties (housing agencies). Suitable accommodation is usually readily available. However, it may be more difficult to find accommodation during August/September and January/February, due to the arrival of students and university staff. If you plan to arrive during these months, begin to look for accommodation as early as possible.

Types of rental properties There are three types of rental properties available in the Netherlands: ● Kaal (Bare): No decorations and furniture, flooring or light fixtures. ● Gestoffeerd / ongemeubileerd (Unfurnished): Only decorations, such as carpets and curtains. ● Gemeubileerd (Furnished): Completely decorated and furnished with all appliances. 71


Rent varies widely, but in the private market you could expect to pay the following (excluding service costs and utilities):

semidetached house

€1200 and more

3 bedroom terraced house

€900 and more

€600 - €1200 2 bedroom apartment

€1000 - €1450

€300 - €800 studio apartment

detached house

Expats should insist on the ‘diplomatic clause’, which allows them to break the contract quickly if they need to return to their home country unexpectedly. 72


Major points to look for in a rental contract, include: ● The correct rental price, and whether it includes service charges and energy bills, etc. ● The correct deposit (1-2 month’s rent is normal) ● The correct date of entry. ● The duration of the contract. Most are fixed for one year, with a notice period of one month from either party. ● Who is responsible for maintenance and repairs. Make sure it is clear who looks after the garden as well as the building. ● If the house belongs to someone who might want it back at an inconvenient time (e.g. someone on assignment outside of the Netherlands), it may be better to fix the contract for a longer period.

3.3 Buying a House The difference in monthly payments can make purchasing an attractive option for those planning to stay in the Netherlands for a longer amount of time. Advantages of purchasing a house: ● Buying property helps to build up personal assets. ● Historical figures show that the real estate market in the Netherlands grows faster than inflation, which makes it an attractive investment. ● Due to inflation, mortgage debt will also decrease slightly. ● The Dutch tax authorities provide an annual tax benefit for home owners. Most of the time expats will receive the maximum tax refund.



3.4 Utilities Each address has a single supplier for water. When you move into your new home, the water meter must also be read, and you must notify the supplier that you are the new resident. Your real estate agent can usually help you complete the required forms. It is not always necessary to have a land-line telephone. Nowadays, quite a few expats are choosing to live without one, and use their mobiles to stay in touch. All mobile phones will work in the Netherlands, but it is still advised to switch to a Dutch SIM card when you arrive to avoid paying more for calls. Go to a mobile phone supplier in town to get a new card and phone if required. Internet is available through the telephone line or through cable. In each case there are a number of different suppliers. At every address there is one single cable supplier. Ask the outgoing resident or your real estate agent who this is. Most cable suppliers also sell digital TV, internet and telephone services. But you must first purchase basic cable TV from them.

3.5 Waste and Recycling Several kringloop (recycling) schemes exist in the Netherlands, although these may vary slightly depending on the community in which you choose to live. Many areas have a policy that each house should have recycling facilities within 500 meters. 74


“Try to embrace your new surroundings, explore your city for ‘hidden gems’ and don’t be afraid to ask the locals for advice ... people are almost always willing tell you the good things about their city.” -- Yolanda, U.S.A.



When you purchase certain bottled drinks, you will pay a small deposit, which is refundable when you return the empty bottles to the grocery store. There are machines located inside grocery stores where you can deposit these empty plastic bottles. You will receive a receipt, which you can use to pay for your groceries. Bottle banks for recycling either white, green and brown glass, and plastics can be found outside many supermarkets. There are also collection points for unwanted clothes and shoes often located near grocery stores. Before donating your items, put them in a tied plastic bag. Bins for used batteries and light bulbs can be found inside certain stores, including most grocery stores. Among the large municipalities, Maastricht ranks number 1 in the Netherlands in the field of waste separation. The city is very proud of its status, particularly because the title is thanks to its residents. The high degree of waste separation has several advantages. First, it reduces the impact on the environment. In this way, waste can be turned into raw materials for new products. Secondly, it saves its residents money. The more waste is separated, the lower the processing costs -- and the reduction in costs is passed directly onto the residents. Maastricht has approximately 60 recycling depots where you can dispose of glass, cans, plastic bottles, containers, textiles, paper and cardboard, free of charge. Leaving waste beside the containers is strictly prohibited and will be punished by a fine. If the container is full, please take the waste to another recycling point nearby. 76


Residents with a smartphone can report littering, pollution, vandalism and other damage via the 'Maastricht meldt' app. Please check with your local municipality for the waste disposal rules and regulations and collection dates.

Waste disposal pass Large waste that cannot be recycled or disposed in the bins located at a depot, has to be trown away at a waste collection center, called a millieupark. To make use of the waste collection center, you will need a regional waste disposal pass, called an afvalpas in Dutch. You must present this pass at the entrance. Without a valid pass you will not be admitted. Contact your municipality to find out more about the locations of waste collection centers or apply for a waste collection pass.

Waste calendar The waste calendar is an annual overview of the dates and times on which the council will collect different types of waste in your neighbourhood or district. waste-calendars/



“Be aware that the Dutch tax office is legally only allowed to communicate in Dutch, and therefore you will have trouble finding anyone within the organisation that will speak English to you. Try to get a Dutch friend, colleague, or classmate to help translate documents or make phone calls for you.� -- Claire Muurmans, Canada


5. TAXATION, FINANCE & INSURANCE Getting settled will also involve finding your way through the financial system and insurances, and paying taxes.



5.1 Banking A Dutch bank account is necessary for those who are going to live in the Netherlands for some time. A number of banks offer services to private customers, with branches in cities and villages. In general, the opening hours of banks are 09:00-17:00, Monday to Friday. Some branches are also open on Saturday. Banks offer the following services: ● Automatic cash dispensers at banks and everywhere in the city ● Personal and Internet banking ● Insurance ● Mortgages You must go to the bank in person to open a bank account, but it is not always necessary to make an appointment. Simply ask at the information desk to see an advisor. The following are required to open a bank account: ● Passport ● Proof of address (confirmation of registration from the Town Hall or a rental contract) ● A letter confirming employment (from employer, or a copy of work contract) ● BSN Students may be able to open a Dutch bank account WITHOUT a BSN, due to agreements made between some universities and banks. Contact your university for more details.



BANKING ● Payment in shops is generally done by debit card or cash, while restaurants frequently also accept credit cards. ● Payment of household bills is by direct debit, internet banking or by acceptgiro.

When choosing a bank, check if they have a branch in – or good contacts with – your home country. This can be useful for money transfers, and other cross-border transactions. It is also a good idea to keep a bank account in your home country.

Change your money at a GWK Travelex.



5.2 Making Purchases There are various ways to pay for purchases in the Netherlands: ● A Pinpas (debit card) has a Personal Identification Number, issued for use with your bank account. The amount paid is transferred directly from your account to the payee’s account. A maximum daily limit can be negotiated with your bank when you open your account. Debit cards are accepted in most shops, restaurants and cash dispensers. Banks now offer contact-free card payment for small amounts. This is useful for parking charges etc. ● Credit cards are not widely used in the Netherlands. They are generally not accepted in supermarkets, and are mainly used for bigger purchases, and in restaurants, airports and clothing shops. ● Personal cheques and eurocheques are not commonly used in the Netherlands. ● Acceptgiro is when a company selling the item or service sends a paper invoice to the customer, who fills it in and sends it to their bank. This system is rapidly being superseded by direct debit. ● All banks offer Internet banking, but only some offer this service in English. ● Some banks have safety-deposit boxes available to customers (for a fee). ● Dutch banks can arrange an international money transfer. You will need to provide your international banking codes (ABA number for the US, IBAN or BIC for European banks) that is printed on your bank statements.



5.3 Taxation Your employer is obliged to withhold a wage tax from your salary. In most situations this will be sufficient and it is unnecessary to pay anything extra, and no refund will be given. ● The Dutch tax year runs from 1 January to 31 December. ● Your organization will make sure that by the end of February of the next year you will receive your annual salary statement at your home address or in a digital form. This document is important when filing taxes with the Dutch tax authorities, which you may want – or be obliged – to file before 1 May of that same year. It is required to file a tax return in the Netherlands if you: ● Have received an aangiftebrief (invitation) from the Dutch tax authorities to do so. You will receive a form by the Tax Office by post. ● Have other sources of income (for example other salaries, savings, investments, etc.). Visit the Tax Office website or contact the Tax Office.

5.4 The 30% Tax Facility Highly skilled migrants and scientific researchers may be eligible for an advantageous income tax regulation known as the ‘30% facility’. ● 30% of income is entirely free of tax for a certain period of time.



Under the 30% ruling you can opt to be treated as a non-resident taxpayer. This results in not having to pay income tax on income savings and investments.

● This 30% allowance is meant to cover the extra costs incurred as a consequence of living abroad (socalled ‘extra territorial costs’). ● An application for the 30% ruling must be made by the employer and the employee. ● Each case is specific. Discuss your eligibility with your HR Manager. ● Under the 30% ruling, an employer may provide a tax-free allowance of 30% of the total salary of an employee. ● The affect of the 30% tax facility is that the highest tax rate (52%) is reduced to 36.4%. The purpose of this facility is to attract highly skilled professionals from foreign countries who have skills and experience that are scarce in the Dutch labour market. The main criteria to be eligible for the 30% tax facility are: ● Salary level ● Education level ● Relevant work experience



â—? Extra costs linked with being an expatriate may not be compensated tax-free in addition to the 30% allowance (e.g. housing, flights home, language courses, etc.).

5.5 Other Taxes Value added tax (BTW) The Dutch standard VAT rate is 21%, and applies to most goods and services. This rate is average in comparison to the rate in other EU member states. A 6% tax rate applies to some items, including food and beverages (excluding alcoholic beverages), water, pharmaceutical products and medical aids for persons and animals, books and magazines, passenger transport, hotel accommodation, cinemas, and zoos. However, the VAT rate for sporting events, theatre visits and musical performances is 19%. A 0% rate applies to exports and intra-community (EU) supplies.

Real estate transfer tax When buying a house in the Netherlands, you are obliged to pay a real estate transfer tax (normally at a rate of 6%). This real estate transfer tax is not deductible for income tax purposes, and is usually included in the total amount of the mortgage loan that the bank will offer.

Road tax When buying or importing a vehicle, you usually have to pay road tax.



The amount of road tax depends on: ● Type of vehicle ● Weight (the heavier, the more expensive) ● Fuel used (petrol, diesel, LPG or LPG/petrol) ● The province in which you live ● Eco-friendliness of the vehicle You have to pay a road tax from the time your name is transferred to the vehicle registration certificate.

Vehicle purchase tax (BPM) The purchase, lease or rent of vehicles and motorcycles might be subject to a special tax (the so-called ‘BPM’). The amount of BPM due depends on the Dutch list price and eco-friendliness (CO2 emission) of the vehicle.

Child daycare allowance Child daycare costs may be subsidized by the Dutch authorities when both parents are working. In order to be eligible for the kinderopvangtoeslag (benefit) you need to fulfill certain conditions. The benefit is income dependable. You can apply for the child daycare allowance with the Tax Authorities. (Ask for a kinderopvangtoeslag aanvraagformulier.) When your employer grants a child daycare allowance, this will be considered as taxable income.

5.6 Local taxes Categories of local taxes are: ● Onroerende zaakbelasting (property rates) - Paid by the owner. ● Afvalstoffenheffing (trash disposal) - In some areas 86


this depends on how many times you put your bin out for collection each year! ● Hondenbelasting (dog tax) - Is dependant on the number of dogs and the municipality where you reside. ● Rioolrecht (sewage disposal) ● Straatverlichting (street lighting) The majority of municipal taxes in Limburg are collected by the BsGW. Rates vary per municipality. Further information can be found on or by telephone +31 (0) 88 - 8420420

5.7 Health Insurance Every adult living in the Netherlands and paying income tax here is legally obliged to have at least basic coverage of health insurance, within 4 months after municpal registration. ● Children (18 and under) receive the basic coverage free of charge, and do not need to have their own policy. However, they must be named on the policy of one of their parents, and will receive the same optional coverage as that parent. ● Students can get student insurance via the international office of their university.

Types of policies ● Naturapolis (Standard Policy) Bills are paid directly to the health care provider by the insurer, and the insurer can select the health care provider. ● Restitutiepolis (Refund Policy) The bill must first be paid by the customer and claimed back from the insurer. The patient may choose where care is received. The type of policy will affect the premium. The refund type is more expensive. 87



The following are included under basic coverage:

The following are not covered:

● Medical care (except travel vaccinations ) ● Medication (not all brands) ● Hospital costs ● Psychological help (with a referral letter from local doctor) ● Dental care (Limited dental care for adults 18+) ● Ambulance transport ● Pregnancy, birth care and midwifery services

● Basic dental care and dental surgery ● Flu vaccinations and travel vaccinations ● Extended physiotherapy


● The first Dutch social legislation dates back to 1800. This was only a minor law that set down rules for employing young people and women, but it was the first in what would become the world’s most extensive and generous body of social legislation.

● Today, the social system is under extreme pressure because it has become too expensive to operate. ● In recent years the system has undergone radical reform to prevent abuse and reduce sick leave.

● The current system is still regarded as one of Dutch society’s finest achievements.

In some cases it is possible for expats to opt-out of paying for social security in the Netherlands. Obtain form E101 or certificate of coverage before departure.



Own-risk In 2011, a national own-risk system became obligatory. An ownrisk charge of €385 per year per person (18 and older) has to be paid to the health insurance supplier. There are exemptions: EU citizens who can provide an E106 from their home country can get a treaty policy and will be insured up to the level of Dutch basic coverage. Those with a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) will also have access to Dutch health care, but note that an EHIC is not always sufficient.

5.8 Private Insurances (Other Insurance) ● Third-party insurance is a legal requirement for vehicle use in the Netherlands. Fully Comprehensive Insurance coverage and variants between the two extremes can also be purchased. Car insurance is paid for the car not for the driver. Once a vehicle is insured, anyone who meets the specifications of the policy (in terms of age, etc.) is insured to drive it. Conversely, the driver is not automatically insured to drive other vehicles. ● Although not a legal requirement, most people in the Netherlands have Personal Third-party (WA) Insurance. This covers circumstances where you or your family may accidentally injure a third party or damage their property, such as if a tree falls in your garden and damages a neighbor’s house.



● House Insurance (opstalverzekering) is usually paid by the owners of furnished rented properties (confirm this with the owner), but tenants will still need contents insurance to cover their personal possessions. ● House Contents Insurance covers personal possessions inside the house. Even in furnished accommodation it is normal to take extra insurance for unusual items. Check your insurance policy for details of what is covered. ● In the case of litigation, Legal Costs Insurance covers legal fees and provides legal support when needed.

5.9 Social Security The Netherlands has a fairly typical European Social Security System in that it is expensive to run, but offers good benefits to those in need. The main principle is that everyone should be able to play an equally active role in society, and some people need help in doing so: the old and disabled, low-income families, young people without qualifications, and minorities. In general, for seconded workers to be eligible for Dutch social security, the following conditions apply: ● The employee must be covered by social insurance legislation in their country of origin immediately prior to their secondment. ● The employee must be a national of one of the countries that has social security agreements with the Netherlands: the EU, Switzerland, Norway, Australia, Bolivia, Canada, Chile, Israel, Morocco, Tunisia, Turkey, US, South Korea, Liechtenstein, Iceland, Bosnia, Macedonia, Cape Verde, Croatia, New Zealand, and Serbia.



â—? The employee must have an employment contract with the seconding employer (i.e. the employer in the host country). â—? The employer in the country of origin remains liable for all costs related to the secondment. This means, among other things, that the employer must arrange for payment of social insurance contributions in the country of origin. A. The secondment may not last more than 12 months. In some cases this can be extended. B. The purpose of the secondment must not be to replace another seconded employee. C. The employer must carry out substantial activities in their home country.



“Even if you are in the Netherlands for a little while, don’t hesitate to invest your time in becoming a real citizen: study the language, explore the town and surroundings, meet with as many local people you can. It will definitely be enriching experience that stays with you forever” -- Valentina Litovchenko, Russia



“The Italian schools where my children went before were a great cultural experience, but to have my children study in English and to be surrounded by all the nationalities that are here in Maastricht, was an incredible opportunity. -- Martin Paul, Germany


6. EDUCATION & CAREERS The philosophy behind Dutch education reflects Dutch society. It aims to encourage students to be open-minded, and to be able to think and to learn in a creative manner.



DUTCH PRIMARY EDUCATION ● The curriculum is broad, and progress is monitored by standard testing (CITO). ● In the final year of primary school, parents, children and teachers decide together, with the help of standardized national tests, which type of secondary school is most appropriate for the student. ● Children aged 4 can start to attend school, and are required to attend after they turn 5 until the age of 18. ● The school year begins in August and is broken up by holidays.

DUTCH SECONDARY EDUCATION ● The school week is more dynamic than in many countries. Students start and end their day at differing times, according to their studies. An increasing number of Dutch schools offer their more academic students a bilingual education. In this system, about 50% of subjects are taught entirely in English. ● Dutch schools offer relatively little in terms of sports facilities or extra-curricular activities. Most Dutch children belong to a sports club outside of school. ● University high in (inter)national rankings ● High schools always in top rakings ● United World College (unique in the NL): continuous international education from 2-18 years old



6.1 Dutch Primary Education Most primary schools are public or nominally faith-based (Protestant, Catholic, Muslim, or Jewish). One third of all children go to a public school. There are also specialized schools that teach according to a specific method, for example, Montessori, Jenaplan, Vrije Scholen, or Dalton. Parents may send their children to a public school or to a specialized school, which are run by the local authorities and are for everyone regardless of religion or philosophy. There are various language support groups for children, including the Maastricht Japanese Supplementary School (MJSS) and Armenian, taught by Stichting Ani. Other schools offer language lessons in Chinese or Arabic.

6.2 Dutch Secondary Education The Dutch system streams students earlier than elsewhere, not only in terms of academic ability, but also in terms of a future career. Children usually attend a secondary school from ages 12 to 18. There are three main types of secondary schools in the Netherlands: ● VMBO (pre-vocational secondary education) ● HAVO (senior general secondary education) ● VWO (pre-university education) The summer holiday for primary schools and secondary schools is six weeks. Holidays are staggered across three national regions (north, central and south).



6.3 International Schools Most international schools use the curriculum and exam structure of the International Baccalaureate Organisation or International Primary Curriculum. Students are either the children of expat parents who may only be in the Netherlands for a few years, or the children of Dutch parents who may be moving abroad in the near future, or are returning from an expatriate assignment. Advantages of an international education: ● Provides social interaction with a broad spectrum of the international community. Tip! International schools linked to a Dutch school can also help long-term expat children foster contact with Dutch students. ● Dutch is offered as a second language, and sometimes a Dutch stream is offered. ● They link better with other educational systems. Tip! This is an important consideration for those who plan to return to their home country or elsewhere after a couple of years. ● The staff are experienced in educating children who are only there for a short amount of time. ● Dutch schools often have interrupted school days where children come home for lunch; international schools do not.



INTERNATIONAL SCHOOLS ● There are 21 international schools in the Netherlands, and one in the Maastricht Region: UWC Maastricht. ● Some are subsidized by the Ministry of Education and are bound by ministry rules, while others are privately operated. ● Privately operated schools are generally more expensive than government-funded and Dutch schools (which are also government-funded and largely free). ● In general, private international schools only have Englishlanguage education. ● Many international schools employ remedial teachers and have facilities for children who need extra attention. ● AFNORTH International School in Brunssum for children of active duty military from USA,UK, Canada and Germany and for children from a NATO or Department of Defense background stationed in the area.



“Learn Dutch as it will help to integrate and you will feel more part of the community.” -- Bina Champaneria, United Kingdom



Fees vary from school to school, but employers sometimes contribute partly to the cost of educating their employees’ children. Speak to a tax consultant regarding tax exemptions and implications of school fees.





International primary education In the Maastricht Region, international primary education is offered at UWC Maastricht. ● The curriculum framework meets the Dutch educational legislation. However, within this framework schools can use the International Baccalaureate Primary Years Programme (IBPYP), the International Primary Curriculum (IPC), or the British system. ● Private schools, such as British or American institutes, can choose to follow the curriculum and exams used in their country of origin.

International secondary education Students prepare for the International General Certificate of Secondary Education (IGCSE) examination over four or five years, or take part in the International Baccalaureate Middle Years Program (IBMYP). Students who pass this stage can then embark on the two-year International Baccalaureate (IB). After the IB or equivalent exam, students are qualified to take part in English-language education abroad, or can opt to study at Dutch higher education institutions. International secondary education in the Maastricht Region is offered at United World College Maastricht.

6.4 Studying in the Netherlands The Netherlands has first-class colleges and universities that provide a wide variety of courses. Many classes are available in English, including all Master’s classes. The Maastricht Region is home to Maastricht University, Maastricht School 104


of Management, The United Nations University – Maastricht Economic and Social Research Institute on Innovation and Technology (UNU-MERIT), and Zuyd University of Applied Sciences. Elsewhere in the Netherlands (Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Utrecht, Leiden, Wageningen, Nijmegen, Eindhoven, Tilburg, Groningen and Twente) are top universities with specific orientations.

6.5 Language Courses Nearly all Dutch people speak good English, and if they hear you speak with a foreign accent, they will probably turn to English immediately! Nevertheless, learning some of the local language is highly recommended. It will help you to settle in, and the locals will appreciate that you have made the effort! To get official recognition of your Dutch language skills (in order to work for instance) you must follow a course that offers exams within the NT2 (Dutch as a Second Language) structure. This is administered by the Dutch Ministry of Education, Culture and Science.

6.6 Volunteering There are a lot of opportunities to volunteer in the Netherlands. Many organizations require volunteers, including the food bank, museums, schools, cultural organizations, sports clubs, and charities.



Volunteering is a platform to learn the language, interact, and can be very rewarding. It is possible to do volunteer work for one or more days per week, or for a fixed number of hours each month. Whether you wish to do volunteer work on a regular basis or just once, the choice is yours!

6.7 Working in the Netherlands There are international companies with offices located in the Maastricht Region. For internationals, these companies are good choices for employment. But first, check to see if your work permit allows for you to work. ● Depending on your profession, you may need to get your qualifications and certificates verified by the Dutch authorities. ● Many jobs require good written and spoken Dutch. However, it may also be possible to put your ‘foreignness’ to good use by doing work that requires your specific language and cultural skills. For example, teaching language classes or importing/exporting. The Dutch Ministry of Education, Culture and Science has appointed Nuffic’s International Recognition Department to serve as the national information centre for academic and professional credential recognition.



“For some people, arriving in the Maastricht region is the first step of an expat career. They often fall in love with the natural environment soon while having trouble accommodating in a social structure that’s so different from what they’re used to.” -- Barry Mellor, United Kingdom



‘Sometimes this is just the only thing you want to do, to catch-up with locals and expats, to give yourself the chance of knowing each other while exploring a new location and getting informed about upcoming events with beautiful performances!’ -- Betty Ajdadilish, Iran


7. PERSONAL AND SOCIAL NEEDS Moving to a new country is an adventure. Among the many questions that you undoubtedly have, are complex as well as simple ones. Where can I do my daily shopping? How can I expand my social network? Is there an expat organization for me to join?



7.1 Dutch manners Greeting people: corporate environment When someone is introduced to you, shake their hand and state your name. When you leave, shake hands again and thank the person in question for the visit or meeting. At the next meeting, shaking hands is not necessary, but especially in business situations, is a common thing to do.

Addressing people: formal and informal Dutch people begin to call people by their first name quickly. The Dutch do not use titles when talking to someone. In writing, state the title, only in an official letter. The only exception is the Dutch King and Queen who will always be addressed as His and Her Majesty!

Greeting friends: the 3 Dutch kisses Friends and family kiss each other on the cheeks two or three times, every time they meet. This is not compulsory! Tip: If you do not want to be kissed, just extend your hand for a handshake!



Dining out When invited, the Dutch make it clear whether you are a guest and therefore do not need to pay. Otherwise, expect to ‘go Dutch’ and pay for your share, or to split the bill according to the number of diners. A waiter(ess) is beckoned by raising a hand, making eye-contact and calling ‘Sir’ or ‘Madam’.


Going Dutch

In restaurants and cafés, give 5-10% of the total bill, if the service was good. Leaving some small change on a restaurant table is a common way of giving a tip to the serving staff. If you are not satisfied, do not give a tip at all! Tips are generally not expected in bars, but are not uncommon. Taxi drivers generally receive a 3-5% tip.

Women in the Netherlands enjoy the same privileges as men. Enjoying lunch or dinner with a (male or female) friend will often end up in going Dutch (splitting the bill).

Making a telephone call When a Dutch person answers the telephone, they will state their first and last name. The name is usually preceded by ‘met’, which means ‘you’re speaking with’. Do not make personal calls before 09:00 or after 22:00. On Sundays, do not call before 10:00 and avoid meal times (18:00–19:30).



Making friends Many internationals find it hard to start making friends in a new country. But there are many opportunities to meet new people! For example: ● Because of their school activities and play dates, small children can make it easier for parents to get to know each other. ● Join a community group or club. Many neighborhoods have community centres where a lot of activities are organized for the neighborhood’s residents. This is a good way to get in touch with the Dutch. ● Learning some Dutch will help you in getting to know the Dutch!

Socializing with neighbors Neighbors can answer questions and help you with practical things. Introduce yourself to your neighbors by inviting them to your house for coffee or tea, or a glass of wine in the evening. In general, your neighbors will in turn invite you over to their house. Let your neighbors know when you are having a party or renovation, or something else that may cause them any inconvenience. The Dutch value their peace and quiet, so they like to stick to a 23:00 rule: They can complain after 23:00!



DINNER PARTIES If you are invited to a Dutch home for a dinner party, observe the following rules: ● Bring a small gift for the host/hostess. This can be a bottle of wine, flowers, chocolates, or something from your home country. ● Be on time. Arrive no more than 15 minutes late. Don’t be too early either because your host might not be ready! ● Wait until you are served or asked to serve yourself. ● Never start to drink immediately. The Dutch usually raise their glass and drink the first drink together. ● When you have finished eating, place your knife and fork side by side at the 15:15 position on your plate. ● When you have a business meeting or dinner, you do not have to bring anything, unless it is held at someone’s home. ● If you do not know what to wear, or if you do not know if and what you have to bring, just ask your host(ess)! You can also ask one of the other invitees for advice.



The Dutch corporate environment In general, common business contact, meetings or negotiations will be quick and efficient. But somethings can be surprisingly different from the way you are used to. Important to know: ● The Dutch place great importance on planning and efficient use of time. This means that you must be on time. ● Shake hands before and after meetings. ● Exchange business cards during or after a meeting or conversation. There are no fixed rules for this. ● Time is money and the Dutch are prudent. Keep presentations short and argumentation brief. ● Academic or professional titles are not mentioned in conversations or in general letters, but are included on business cards. ● The usual Dutch office lunch is short and simple. It will usually consist of sandwiches with ham and cheese, milk or coffee, and yogurt or fruit as dessert. ● Once decisions are made, implementation is fast and efficient. ● Commitments are taken seriously and are honored. Deliver on your promises. ● Spouses are sometimes included in a business dinner, though business is not generally discussed if spouses are present. ● Birthdays are celebrated at work. Take something to share (cake or something else). Your colleagues will take time to enjoy the treat and some coffee! ● Many Dutch companies give their employees a package for Christmas. In general, these packages contain food, drinks, and more practical items.



Dress codes ● The Dutch generally prefer clothing that is casual, unpretentious, conservative, and subdued. ● Corporate rules can require a traditional suit and tie. ● When conducting business, foreign men may wear a suit and tie, though a sports jacket is also acceptable. Women will wear a suit or dress. ● Taking off your jacket in an office is acceptable, but do not roll up the sleeves of your shirt. When leaving an office, put your jacket back on. ● Outside office hours, Dutch people like to walk around in T-shirts and jeans. ● For the theater, Dutch usually dress casually.

● Compliments are offered sparingly, and to say that something is ‘not bad’ is to praise it. ● Feel free to express your opinion. The Dutch might argue with you, but seldom take offence. ● The Dutch speak directly and use a lot of eye contact. To a foreigner, they may appear abrupt, but it is just their manner of communicating. ● Smoking is prohibited in many areas. If you smoke, always ask before lighting up. ● Do not discuss money or prices, or ask personal questions when you hardly know someone.



TYPICAL DUTCH FOOD ● Beschuit met muisjes are crackers with pink/blue and white balls on them called muisjes (mice). Eaten when a baby is born; blue for a boy and pink for a girl. ● Stamppot is a typical winter dish, made of mashed potatoes and vegetables, such as carrots and onions (hutspot), chopped green cabbage (boerenkool) or sauerkraut (zuurkool). Stamppot is eaten with rookworst (smoked sausage) and gravy. ● Erwtensoep (pea soup) is eaten when the weather is cold. It is a tradition to eat it after ice-skating! ● Asperges (asparagus) are a typical spring delicacy. The Dutch like to eat them with ham, eggs and a hollandaise (melted butter). ● Hagelslag (chocolate sprinkles) is a Dutch product, used abroad only as cake decoration, but the Dutch eat it on sandwiches! They come in many flavors. ● Kroket is a crispy crust that is filled with meat. The Dutch eat it with broodje kroket (bread) or at dinner with french fries. ● Bitterballen are a smaller round version of the kroket, and are usually eaten as a party snack. ● Stroopwafels are two thin waffles with syrup between them that tastes like caramel. ● Haring is eaten raw! On markets and in shopping malls you will find stands selling haring with freshly chopped onions. ● The consumption of dairy products is extremely high, which according to some scientists accounts for the high average height of Dutch men and women! 116


Dutch food The Dutch have always been internationally orientated, and nowadays you will find meals from all over the world on Dutch dinner tables, especially among younger people. The Dutch generally eat three meals a day. Dinner (around 18:00) is the main meal for most people, but some rural families and older people retain the tradition of eating the main meal at lunch. For them, the evening meal is light and often consists of bread, cold cuts, cheese, and a salad.

Typical food & drinks from Limburg ● Vlaai is a pastry filled with fruit or rice pudding that can be eaten at many occasions with coffee or tea. ● Zoervleisj is a stew typically made with horse meat. Although marinated in vinegar, the taste is sweet because of the addition of peperkoek (gingerbread) and Limburgse stroop (Limburg syrup). It is available in many cafes and Dutch snack bars with French fries. ● Knien in ‘t zoer is something similar to Zoervleisj, but made with rabbit. ● Sjoes is a pilsner with about a quarter of dark beer in it.

Post offices There are no longer separate post offices in the Netherlands. Instead they are located inside certain grocery stores and bookstores. Postage stamps can also be bought online. To mail a letter, find the orange mailboxes, which can be found on some streets and shops (e.g. Primera). Mailboxes are usually emptied Monday-Friday after 17.00. Mail within the Netherlands will usually be delivered the next day. 117


There are two types of postage stamps available: The Netherlands and International. Registered post and packages also have rates for “world” deliveries. Postal service locations can be found via

7.2 Childcare There is a law that deals with the quality, management and finances of childcare in the Netherlands. It starts from the principle that childcare is a matter for parents, employers and authorities. Employers can reimburse (tax-free) one third of the costs. Ask for reimbursement from the national authorities. (The childcare centre must be accredited and registered in the place where you live.) There are many options for childcare: ● The Peuterspeelzaal (toddler group) for children 2-4. Children play together twice a week, usually for 2 ½ hours each visit. The costs are modest and are often relative to income. ● * Kinderdagverblijf (daycare centre) for children 0-4. Children may be present for a half or an entire day. ● * Buitenschoolse Opvang (Afterschool Care) Primary schools must offer afterschool care, and often work together with an established daycare centre. If the location of the afterschool care is not walking distance from the school, then taxis are hired to transport the children. ● * A Gastouder (host parent) offers childcare in a domestic situation, either at the host parent’s home or at the child’s home. Host parents often take care of a few children at a time.



Information about the Childcare Subsidy can be found in Chapter 4: Taxation. * The costs are subject to the childcare subsidy regulation.

7.3 The Dutch Health Care System The Netherlands has good quality health care. Some important things to know: ● The huisarts (family doctor or General Practitioner) is central in the Dutch health care system. This is the biggest difference for some newcomers. ● Antibiotics and other medications are prescribed with great reserve. This has resulted in a very low incidence of antibiotic-resistant infections. ● Tests are not done automatically and annual check-ups are only part of the basic service (if they are necessary). Private clinics offer this service, but they are expensive and are not covered by Dutch insurers. ● Pregnancy and childbirth are considered natural conditions. (Pain relief is only available in a hospital.) ● The relationship between patient and medical services is constantly changing and responding to individual patient needs. Do not be afraid to ask for the information/services that you want or feel comfortable with. Your insurance company is a good source of information about what is possible and what is not. ● Family doctors treat patients for non-surgical problems, and many also perform minor surgical procedures. They can answer most general health questions, and serve as a link with other medical services. On their referral, you can visit a specialist, whom you can choose, provided your insurance 119


company has an agreement with that specialist. (If not, you will have to pay a contribution yourself) ● Register with a doctor once you know where you will be living. Finding a doctor can be difficult because many doctors have a waiting list. You are entitled to an orientation consultation before deciding which practice you would like to join. ● Especially in smaller towns, once you have registered, it can be difficult or near impossible to change doctors. ● Outside regular hours call the Centrale Huisartsen Post (CHP) to consult a doctor or a pharmacist.

Emergencies For emergencies dial 112. You will be connected to a central operator who will inquire what services are needed and transfer you to someone who can assist you.

Pregnancy and childbirth Many Dutch women give birth at home, but more are opting to give birth in a hospital. If you want to give birth in a hospital, first check that your insurance will cover this.

First-line (primary) midwife Midwives work according to a strict protocol, and train for four years. You can choose to have your baby either at home or in hospital, under the care of your own midwife. Only with a medical indication are you referred to a second-line midwife in a hospital. Then you are under the care of a gynecologist, but will mostly be seen by and cared for by the second-line midwife. Prenatal care is usually provided by midwives (you may be referred by your family doctor), who will support you throughout your pregnancy and during delivery. Some screenings (blood tests, 120


ultrasounds or amniocentesis) are done in specialist centres, but they are not standard. After delivery in a hospital you are normally sent home relatively quickly. However, you are entitled to kraamzorg (home nursing). Remember to register with the Home Care Association or with kraamverzorgingscentra (private nurses).

Dental care Your dentist does not need to be located in your neighborhood. Generally, your dentist will contact you for a check-up every six months, and will perform most routine procedures. Orthodontists and oral surgeons have waiting lists. Anaesthesia is usually only given upon request, and dental cleaning is not always part of the basic treatment. If it is not, you can visit a dental nurse for this.

Pharmacies and medication A chemist or drogist (drugstore) supplies non-prescription medications, baby items, general toiletries, cosmetics, etc. An apotheek (pharmacy) is the only outlet for prescription drugs. Pharmacies also sell other items such as over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and special baby foods, and will provide advice on taking medication. The Dutch system is rather restrictive. You may find that a prescription is necessary for medication you were able to buy over the counter in your home country. The easiest time to register with a pharmacy is at the same time that you register with a doctor. Pharmacies have 24/7 coverage, based on the same system as doctors. 121


Alternative medical services Alternative medicine is becoming increasingly popular in the Netherlands. The various forms of alternative medicine (manual therapy, acupuncture, homeopathy, chiropractic medicine, traditional Chinese medicine, etc.) are organized in associations. ● Consult the Association of Alternative Medicine ( to verify that you are dealing with a regulated practitioner. ● More alternative treatments are being covered by medical insurance companies. ● Ask your insurer for a list of alternative doctors they cover. ● Many alternative medications are sold in drugstores.

Homecare Thuiszorg (homecare) associations provide for all domestic medical services. They are often organized as kruisverenigingen (home nursing associations) where you can borrow medical equipment as well as hire nurses. Consultatiebureaus (health clinics for babies) are often part of these associations. In these clinics every newborn baby and young child is checked regularly by specially trained doctors who provide immunization programs and other pediatric care. The child will be referred to a specialist for specific problems.

Health screening A nationwide program screens: ● Women aged 30-60 every 5 years for cervical cancer. ● Women aged 50-75 every 2 years for breast cancer. ● All men and women from 55-75 every 2 years for bowel cancer (being phased in until 2019). Screening for other cancers is not routine in the Netherlands. If you are in a high-risk group (due to family history, previous illness, etc.) you will be monitored and screened regularly, and if necessary, you will be sent to a specialist. 122


Academic medical centres For more complex diseases, you may be referred to an academic medical centre. Certain hospitals have specialists who all speak English. Interpreters are available in the hospital, and can be present at your consultation. This service must be requested. Health Care Insights: ● Life expectancy at birth male/female (years): 81/86 ● Child mortality male/female (per 1000 below age 5): 4/4 (2015 figures) ● Adult mortality male/female (per 1000 aged 15-60): 69/54 (2013 figures) ● Total health expenditure per capita (PPP intl. $) 5395 ● Total health expenditure as % of GDP: 12.7 (2012 figures) Source: WHO Statistics report 2015

7.4 Religion The Netherlands is a tolerant nation, and every individual has the right to practice their religion or conviction. Traditionally, the South Netherlands was strongly Roman Catholic. But during the second part of the 20th century, a rapid secularization took place in the province, as it did in the rest of the country. Although there has been a big decrease in the number of people who attend church, the traditions are still part of the culture. (For instance, Carnaval.) Today, there is a growth in the number of residents who practice Islam and other religions. For a list of places of worship that offer services for the international community, please visit our website. 123


7.5 Bicycles A network of bicycle paths covers the entire country, and makes getting around by bicycle convenient and relatively safe. Cycling is also an enjoyable and healthy way to get around! ● It is not required to wear a helmet. ● It is illegal to be intoxicated while cycling. (You can lose your driver’s license.) ● Always watch out for motorcycles and scooters. ● New and second-hand models are widely available. ● Write down the frame number and take a photo of your bike, in case it is stolen. Bicycle theft is common. To help prevent your bicycle from being stolen, invest in a good lock and use it! You can also make your bicycle stand out by decorating it (with flowers and/or painting it in a distinctive color). Bicycles that stand out are less likely to be stolen! Keep the original purchase documentation safe if you have any.



7.6 Public Transport The Dutch public transport system is good, and many people use it every day. The country is small, and with the exception of the major rivers that cross the landscape, has few significant barriers to land transport systems. For train information, go to For travel advice on public transportation, go to

Trains Trains are run by the national Nederlandse Spoorwegen (NSDutch Railways) and run between all major Dutch cities. A yearly discount card gives you a 40% discount on train fares. The discount is only valid Monday-Friday, after 09:00, and on Saturday and Sunday. Monthly and annual season tickets are also available.

Buses The region has extensive urban bus networks that connect outlying districts and nearby villages with their city centres.

OV-Chipkaart The OV-chipkaart (OV-chip card) which costs â‚Ź 7.50, nonrefundable, is the means of payment for public transport system in the Netherlands. The size of a bank card, it contains an invisible chip and can be loaded with credit.



Types of cards: 1. Personal: Like a personal ID card, it has your photo on it and personal information, such as your name, birth date and BSN. It is non-transferable, and can hold travel products based on the age of the holder (e.g. students or senior citizens). When lost or stolen, it can be blocked within 24 hours. Purchase it online at 2. Anonymous: This card is transferable between persons. However, only one person can use it at a time. It costs €7.50 and credit can be added to it as needed. When lost or stolen it cannot be blocked. Purchase it at the service desk at the train station. 3. Single-Use OV-chipkaart: Made of stiff paper, these have replaced the old paper-tickets. There is a small extra charge for buying these cards. This option is best for tourists or occasional travelers.

Check in and check out ● Hold your OV-chipkaart up to the OV logo on the card reader. You’ll hear a beep and see a green light. On the screen text will appear such as, ‘Goede reis!’ (Have a nice journey!), and an amount is deducted from your credit balance. ● Do not check out if you change trains during the same trip. ● Do check out if you change means of transportation (bus to train). Please note that if you travel using different transportation companies (some local and national trains, for instance) you may need to check in and out more than once.



At the end of your trip, check out in the same way. Hold your OVchipkaart up to the OV logo on the card reader. Again you’ll hear a beep. The real cost for the trip is now deducted from your credit balance. If you do forget to check out, you can apply for a refund via

Airports Maastricht-Aachen Airport is served by several low-budget carriers, and has direct flights to and from a number of European cities. For other destinations, there are five other international airports within an hour’s drive, or Amsterdam Schiphol at 2.5 hours.

Taxis Taxis can be recognized by the lit ‘taxi’ sign on their roof, and their blue license plates (most Dutch vehicles have yellow plates). They cannot be hailed on the street, but there are taxi stands at most train and bus stations, and by hotels. To have a taxi pick you up from your home or office, phone a local company.

Automobiles With a network of highways connecting major towns, the road system makes getting around easy. During rush hour (08:00-09:30 and 16:00-17:30), roads can become very busy. Nevertheless, except when there are major disturbances, such as road accidents or construction work, traffic usually flows smoothly. Information about importing and registering a vehicle, and buying a car, can be found in Chapter 2: Formalities.



Road rules Dutch road rules conform to most European regulations: ● Drive on the right and overtake on the left. ● Unless otherwise indicated, vehicles coming from the right have priority. ● Mobile phones may only be used with a hands-free system while driving. Merely holding a mobile phone in a moving vehicle is considered an offence. ● The maximum speed in towns is 50 km/h, outside urban areas is 80 km/h, and on motorways is 130 km/h. (Except where otherwise stated.) ● Bike paths run along most roads and around roundabouts. When turning (or leaving a roundabout) ALWAYS look out for bicycles crossing your path. In most cases they have right of way.

Parking ● In metered parking areas (P zone), purchase a parking ticket from a machine (found on the side of the road). Display your parking ticket in the front of your car’s window or risk a fine. In many areas parking tickets are now digital; a paper ticket may not always be needed. ● In parking garages, paying machines are located by the stairwells, and can be paid in cash or with a Pin card stairwells. Payment can be made in cash or with card. Submit your paid parking ticket into a machine before exiting the parking area. ● Placing your car in a spot for disabled people can result in a € 370 fine. ● ‘Park and Ride’ facilities are located near main train stations.



I like the fact that everything here is so well organized.” -- Lucia Lobont, Romania



7.7 Expat Networks & Social Clubs There are a number of groups in the region especially for expats and their families. ● International Women’s Club South Limburg is a non-profit organization, with all kinds of activities such as cooking, walking, and painting. Women are from all over the world and of all ages. ● Lions Club Maastricht Mondial is a point of contact for expatriate executives and professionals working at the growing number of international companies in the Maastricht area. Like all Lions Clubs, the members also spend a lot of time and effort supporting local and international charity projects. ● Alliance Française is an association for people interested in the French language, culture and society. ● Circulo Cervantes is for people interested in Spain and the Spanish culture. ● Welcome Meet&Greet, Magic Meet&Greet and Let's Catch Up are aimed to bring people from the region together in an informal setting. ● Maastricht Babel is a bi-weekly informal gathering for people wanting to practice. ● Student Language Exchange offers informal Dutch language courses.



● International Student Network (ISN) ● Maastricht International Playgroup is a non-profit playgroup comprising expatriate and local parents from the area encompassing Maastricht, Liege and Aachen. Moms, dads and kids meet on Wednesday mornings in Maastricht. ● Internations is an expatriates community. ● Jules Maastricht fulfills the primary needs of students, staff and student associations from the moment they arrive in Maastricht, to the point they are ready to leave. ● COC Limburg is an interest group for gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgenders. ● 045netwerken (Former Open Coffee Club Heerlen) is for networking in the Parkstad region. Check Facebook. ● Kiwanis The Maastricht-Mergelland branch meets on the 4th Wednesday evening of the month. ● The Rotary Club Maastricht meets on Tuesday evenings. ● Maastricht Wildcats American football team in Maastricht ● Maastricht Region ● Netherlands America Institute Limburg (NAIL) is a platform for American and Dutch citizens in Limburg.



“Try to remember that you are a guest in the Netherlands. Be respectful and kind and the Dutch will return this to you as well. Everyone has been so very kind to me.” -- Lisa Jochim, U.S.A.


8. CULTURE & LEISURE The Maastricht Region is uniquely positioned at the crossroads of the Latin and Germanic cultures, and features a wide variety of artistic and cultural venues and programs. For those who prefer the great outdoors, the countryside in the region is surprisingly green, and is a lovely area for those who like to bike, or walk, or simply drink a beer on a picturesque terrace on a small Limburg village market square.





8.1 Dutch Holidays The Netherlands has a Christian background, and therefore celebrates many Christian holidays. On those days, companies and schools are closed. To avoid major traffic jams during holiday periods, school term dates vary by region, and depending on the type of school. Belgian holidays are sometimes different. On some days traffic can be unexpectedly busy.

School holidays Children get a lot of days off from school in the Netherlands! There is also a ruling that a school is allowed a number of free days to allocate to their discretion. It is therefore possible that you could have two children in different schools with different days off! Luckily, there are national holidays that are the same throughout the entire country. Schools are divided into three holiday regions: ● North, Central and South ● Limburg belongs to the Southern region. Summer holidays are 6 weeks long for primary schools, and longer for secondary schools. The summer holidays do not always start on the same date in every region. In addition there are public holidays which are usually included in the other school breaks: ● Autumn (1 week) ● Christmas (2 weeks) ● Carnaval (1 week) ● Easter (usually only Easter Sunday and Monday) ● April / May holiday period (1 or 2 weeks), sometimes combined with Easter ● King’s Day April 27 135


8.2 Music You will find a number of venues in and around the Maastricht Region, where rock concerts, classical music, jazz and other sorts of musical performances take place. Centrummanagement Maastricht, in cooperation with Ondernemend Maastricht, organizes ‘Lazy Sunday Concerts’. In collaboration with 4 cultural partners (Philharmonic Orchestra of South Limburg, Opera Zuid, Jazz Maastricht, and Conservatorium), these concerts take place at various locations on Sunday afternoons. Please see for more information.

8.3 Theater/ballet The major cities in the Maastricht Region offer a variety of theatres where performances and concerts are offered every week. Local, national and international artists perform their acts on stages in the region. Some examples of the smaller locations: ● Theater and dance performances take place on the old factory floor of the cement factory AINSI, located just outside Maastricht. ● While the focus of Magisch Theatertje is on puppet shows, it is also a theater workshop. ● Theater for kids, youth and adults is offered at Pitboel Theater in Sittard. ● Cabaret and performance theater take place at Theater Vistazo in Sittard. ● Open air theater in Valkenburg, with concerts and other performances throughout the summer months 136


CULTURE & EVENTS INFORMATION CHANNELS For an up-to-date list of events and cultural activities happening in the Maastricht region, please check out these websites: ● - Tourist information office in Maastricht ● Week In, Week Uit week-uit - Online weekly cultural agenda for the Maastricht egion. (In Dutch with English summary) ● Uit Sittard-Geleen – Online guide to cultural activities in Sittard-Geleen. (In Dutch) ● VVV Zuid Limburg - Tourist information office for the South Limburg area. (English, Dutch and German)


HASSELT Theater aan het Vrijthof Kumulus Lumière Euroscoop Pathé Maastricht Muziekgieterij, Maastricht a stage for pop music where rehearsal rooms can also be rented.


Bonnefanten Museum Marres Centre Céramique Natuurhistorisch Museum Maastricht www.nhmmaastricht.n Museum De Domijnen Schunck - Glaspaleis Thermen Museum Heerlen Discovery Center Continium Cube Design Museum






Hanenhof, Geleen a partycentrum


Ernestos, Sittard home to musical performances and Mexican food Volt, Sittard a pop stage De Domijnen Theater Sittard


Cultuurhuis, Heerlen offers tickets for cabaret, theater, dance, movies, workshops, and festivals. Parkstad Limburg Theaters, Heerlen offers theater performances in the Parkstad area. Nieuwe Nor, Heerlen a pop stage in Heerlen where cultural projects are also initiated.

Woetsjtok, Brunssum a live music club.


HEERLEN KERKRADE Exit in G/Oefenbunker Landgraaf presents concerts

AACHEN Fraiche, Vaals VAALS

a party and concert hall



8.4 Cinema Cinemas in the region offer mainstream movies as well as arthouse productions, and even movie-theater performances in smaller venues. Most films are shown in their original language with Dutch subtitles. Foreign films aimed at younger children are shown in two versions: ● the original (subtitled) version ● a version dubbed into Dutch Make sure to specify which version of the movie you want to see when buying tickets for a children’s movie.

8.5 Museums ● The Bonnefanten Museum is Limburg’s museum for antique, modern, and contemporary art. Even the spectacular building, designed by the Italian architect Aldo Rossi, is worth a visit. ● Marres offers special exhibitions devoted to contemporary art and design. The beautiful house and large ecological garden are worth a visit on their own. ● Centre Céramique (library/exhibitions/cultural heritage) always offers a fascinating exhibition, a concert, or a variety of other activities. The building itself, designed by the architect Jo Coenen, and the view from the upper floors are also well worth seeing! ● At the Natuurhistorisch Museum Maastricht you can take a trip through time from the carbonaceous period and the Cretaceous Sea, with the giant mosasaur fossil, to the



aquarium with fish species presently inhabiting the streams of Limburg. ● Museum aan het Vrijthof is housed in Maastricht’s oldest non-religious building, and displays five centuries of Maastricht’s cultural history. ● Museum De Domijnen is a relatively young museum for contemporary art and city history, and archeology in Sittard. Full of curiosities, quirkiness and creativity, the history of the city and region and the newest developments in the international contemporary art are displayed. ● Schunck - Glaspaleis is a new kind of multidisciplinary cultural institution. It specializes in Modernity and Urban Culture within international contemporary art and culture. The Glaspaleis is a unique edifice built by the architect Frits Peutz in 1935 that is included in the Unesco index of the 1000 most significant architectural monuments of the 20th century. ● The Roman heritage of Coriovallum is presented and preserved at Thermen Museum Heerlen. The site itself is the predecessor of the current town of Heerlen and presents many items that were found in the direct vicinity. ● At the Continium Discovery Center in Kerkrade, and at the Cube Design museum and the Columbus discovery theater, visitors can find out for themselves what science, technical progress and new ideas represent in their own daily lives. ● Cube Design Museum is Holland’s first museum entirely dedicated to design. It displays meaningful design that has an impact on the world. A visit to Cube will provide an insight in the design process, it will inspire visitors to take an active part in thinking about shaping the world. 141


If you plan to visit a lot of museums in the Netherlands, consider buying a Museumkaart (Museum Card), which will get you unlimited free access for one year to most museums in the country.



“Nothing beats sitting next to a Cookie Monster in the bus, on my way to office on a Carnaval morning. Even though I don’t participate, it is great to watch!” -- Deniz Akman, Turkey



ART SCHOOL ● Art school Kumulus offers short courses and workshops in fine & digital arts, music, ballet & dance and theatrical lessons.

SHOPPING ● Opening hours vary slightly. Monday from 13:00 to 18:00. Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday from 10:00 to 18:00. Thursday from 10:00 to 21:00. Sunday usually from 12:00 to 17:00 or 18:00 ● Shops in larger communities stay open (until 21:00) one evening each week, for koopavond (shopping evening). ● Most shops in Maastricht are now open on Sundays from 12:00 to 18:00. ● Supermarkets are usually open Monday to Saturday until 20:00 or 22:00. A lot more supermarkets and do-it-yourself stores are also open on Sundays. 144


Here is a small sample of events that take place in the Maastricht Region: ● During Carnaval, for three days, cities are transformed into vibrant and colorful street celebrations! ● Pinkpop (June) in Megaland is the oldest and most popular open-air festival in Europe. ● The Preuvenemint (last week of August) transforms the Vrijthof square into the Netherlands’ largest open-air restaurant. ● The Gulpen Beer Festival celebrates beer in the small town. ● The Sint Rosa Festival Sittard is a religious town festival, consisting of special Sunday church services and processions, which takes place over 10 days in Sittard. ● Wittem Art Days (September) offers a diverse program of chamber music, literature, visual art and readings. Held in the monumental library of the monastery of Wittem, which has been declared by the Province of Limburg as a cultural stage. ● The Sacred Music Festival is dedicated to religious music, and includes concerts, film screenings and theater performances. ● Kerststad in Valkenburg (late November): The Community Grotto and Velvet Cave Grotto serve as scenery for Christmas markets, and there is a Christmas parade.



8.6 Activities for Children The Maastricht Region is packed full of activities for children!

Castles Kasteel Hoensbroek (Hoensbroek Castle) is one of the largest and most beautiful castles in the Netherlands. Its oldest section dates back to 1250!

Attractions Gaia Zoo (Kerkrade): This award-winning zoo will take you all over the world in one day to let you discover many special and unique animals. Enjoy a day at SnowWorld (Landgraaf) in the world’s largest indoor ski resort! De Valkenier (Valkenburg) is a theme park that has many indoor and outdoor attractions. Mosaqua (Gulpen) is a subtropical water landscape with waterslides, a Junglebad for toddlers, whirlpools and also a large sunbathing area. Sprookjesbos (Valkenburg) is a small enchanted forest where you can stumble upon Sleeping Beauty, Sinbad the Sailor or Little Red Riding Hood! Kasteelpark Born is a park where you can come across deer, porcupines and monkeys.



Ontdekhoek (Discovery Corner) Sittard offers children ages 4-14 years old, more than 30 experiments to choose from! Kinderstad (Heerlen) is a large indoor playground. Drielandenpunt Vaals is the highest point of the Netherlands, and where three countries border! You will find the Drielanden-labyrint (three countries-labyrinth) in which you can get lost forever, and a water playing field. Mondo Verde (Landgraaf) is a family park with world gardens, a dinofauna, a zoo and a fun park. www.



There are many cycling routes that are marked and easy to follow. This can be a fun way to discover green areas outside the towns and cities with your children.

Organized activities Schools in the Netherlands offer few after-school activities. To find music lessons, sports (other than gymnastics and swimming lessons), drama, art, etc, contact a neighborhood club. Most cities have their own muziekschool (music school). It is also common to arrange private music teachers for home lessons through your school. Swimming lessons are common, and children usually learn to swim beginning at the age of five. Baby swimming is also popular. Accredited swimming schools teach courses for national diplomas. Visit the music schools, scouting clubs, or sports club (hockey, tennis, horse riding, and ballet) near to where you live, or ask neighbors where their children go. This can also be a great way to integrate with the locals!

8.7 Sports The Maastricht region is known beyond its borders to travelers and cyclists, owing to its topography that is unique for the Netherlands. A comprehensive network of well-signed walking and cycling routes has been created throughout the region.



Hiking Individual hiking routes are between 2-20 kilometers long, and lead through beautiful parts of the region. The routes are marked by small colored posts. The Maastricht Region has a unique range of plants and animals, numerous monuments, and an interesting culture. There have been many walks created with stories about the region! There are special trail maps that contain useful information and interesting knowledge about South Limburg, which you can discover while hiking. Trail maps are available at the branch offices of VVV Zuid-Limburg. Organized hikes include: ● Wandelronde van South Limburg in May ● Night of Gulpen in June ● Heuvelland 4 daagse in August Hiking tours are also organized almost every Sunday by regional hiking clubs, including the LWB (Limburgse Wandelsport Bond).

Cycling The newly created green metropolis is a true cyclist paradise in the Meuse-Rhine Euroregion, leading past marvelous, partly cross border, nature reserves and numerous cultural monuments. Limburg is a popular place for cyclists, and a paradise for bikers. Cycling is a part of the fabric of society in the region. Many international cycling teams have set up their training camps in Sport Zone Limburg and the surrounding hill country. USA Cycling has even selected the Sport Zone as its permanent training centre for the next 10 years.



The rolling hills of South Limburg are also an ideal setting for races. ● The World Road Cycling Championships have been held there no less than six times. ● The Tour de France has passed through several times. ● Every year there are numerous races both for amateur cyclists and professionals, for example, the Amstel Gold Race, Limburgs Mooiste and the Eneco Tour.

The finish of the Amstel Gold Race has been held just after the Cauberg in Valkenburg, a relatively short but very steep rise, which has also been the scene of the road cycling World Cup four times. On the day before the race, amateur racing cyclists are given the opportunity to cycle the route.

Moutain biking There is also a comprehensive and well-marked route network for mountain biking available in the region. A highlight for mountain bike fans is a tour through the Mergelgrotten in Valkenburg.



Sporting Events in the Maastricht Region ● Kennedymars, a walk of 80 km within 20 hours, takes place on the Saturday before Easter. ● The Amstel Gold Race is a road cycling race that takes place in April, and is part of the newly established UCI ProTour (a series of major cycling races throughout the year). ● IRONMAN Maastricht Limburg, a triathlon starting and finishing in Maastricht in the summer (July / August) ● The Limburgs Mooiste is a race for amateur cyclists that attracts thousands of cycling enthusiasts every year. It attracts cyclists from all over Europe and is one of the largest events of its kind. ● At Nacht van Gulpen, participants start their walk of either 40 or 80 km at 04:00 and see the sun rise.

There are also good sports facilities in the region, including: ● Sportzone Limburg is a top sports and leisure environment where you can combine life as a student or a career with a passion for sport. It also welcomes those who enjoy leisure sport. ● Fitland XL Sittard is a modern new complex that features a wellness resort and hotel. It has an auditorium for international elite sport, fitness facilities, dance studios, offices and meeting rooms, a climbing wall and boulder room, restaurants and bowling lanes.



â—? The Royal Dutch Cycling Union, the Dutch Handball Federation, and the Dutch Triathlon Federation have all established their national training centres in Sportzone Limburg. Its focus is on sports with roots in the region, including: cycling, handball, athletics, triathlon, table tennis, indoor football and field hockey. It also has links with other regions, e.g. Weert and Horst aan de Maas, a hub for equestrian sport. Sportzone Limburg also offers modern training facilities for leisure sport. Everyone is welcome, including people with physical limitations, who are particularly welcome at Sport Estate De Haamen in the municipality of Beek, Sportzone Limburg. De Haamen focuses on the elderly, the chronically ill, and people with physical limitations. There, they have access to a range of facilities that cannot be found elsewhere in the region.



SPORTS TEAMS ● Sportzone Limburg hosts top sporting events every week. Top-calibre teams include the OCI Lions handball club, among the best in the Netherlands; Unitas; and Scoop, a leading field hockey club. It also has its own professional football team, Fortuna Sittard (first division), has its stadium in the heart of the Sport Zone. Roda JC, a premiere division team, has its stadium in Kerkrade. In addition, Sportzone Limburg hosts numerous one-day sporting events. Sportzone Limburg consists of numerous sports and other organizations, businesses, educational and care institutions and four municipalities (Beek, Schinnen, Sittard-Geleen and Stein), as well as the Province of Limburg. Together, they are creating ideal conditions for the talent centres and sports facilities and the resulting opportunities for the leisure economy, knowledgesharing and innovation. ● There are educational institutions right in the area offering everything from pre-vocational to vocational and higher professional training, and, for graduates, the opportunity to find a good job in a high-tech environment with one of Sport Zone Limburg’s major employers, for example, Orbis Medical Centre, Chemelot/DSM, Sabic or Maastricht University. These organizations put Sport Zone Limburg at the top of the international league tables as an innovative region, certainly in the fields of health care and materials. Sportzone Limburg is a hotspot for talent development and elite sport in Limburg. It is renowned not only in the Netherlands but also across the Dutch borders.



8.8 Ideas for trips further afield South Limburg is an excellent base from which to explore other places in the Netherlands and Europe. Here are some ideas: ● Drive to Paris in 4.5 hours, or to Brussels or Cologne in 1.5 hours. ● Traveling to southern destinations (Spain, Italy, Portugal, Greece and Turkey) is now accessible through low-cost carriers flying out of Maastricht-Aachen Airport. The airport can be easily reached from Maastricht by car (+/- 15min) or bus (+/- 30min).

Cities in other European countries ● Belgium: Antwerp Brussels Hasselt ● Germany: Aachen, Berlin Cologne ● Italy: Rome Milan ● Great Britain London ● France Paris ● Spain Barcelona



Rijksmuseum Van Gogh Museum Stedelijk Museum

Boymans van Beuningen Kunsthal

Kröller-Müller Arnhem

De Hoge Veluwe




“We are very happy to have a Welcome Desk at the Expat Center where you can come and ask us all sorts of questions! Our aim is to answer all of your doubts and curiosities, so please don’t hesitate to stop by! We would be more than happy to help you to feel at home!” -- Eleonora, Italy


CHECKLIST & APPENDICES The following list can help assist you during your first few months of living in the South Netherlands.



1 Upon Arrival What to do upon arrival in the Maastricht Region.

Formalities ● Apply for and collect your work permit (if applicable). ● Register at the municipal offices where you will be living. ● Collect your BSN from the local municipal offices. ● Collect your residence permit from the IND (if applicable). In some cases, the above can be done at the Expat Center location in Eindhoven or Maastricht

Transport ● Register imported vehicles with the Dutch authorities. People registered as living in the Netherlands may not own and drive a ‘foreign’ vehicle here.

Children ● Enroll children (ages 5 - 16) in school.

Health care ● Register with a local doctor and dentist. You also need to register with a pharmacy.

Social security, tax and insurance ● Register for health insurance. ● If you have an E101, ask your insurer for an E106 (or E128 or EHIC) and arrange registration. ● Register with the Dutch authorities. Your employer will do this for you. ● Set up vehicle insurance. ● Apply for the 30% tax facility (if applicable). 158


2 Settling In What to do when settling into the South Netherlands.

Formalities ● Exchange your driver’s license for a Dutch one (if applicable). ● Be sure to make a copy of your licence before exchanging it; you do not get it back. ● Note expiration dates of all permits and licenses, and make sure you reapply on time!

Social security, tax and insurance ● Apply for Child Benefit (If applicable) ● Apply for Spouse Tax Credit (If applicable)

3 Packing Lists What to pack: ● Transformers. Mains electricity is 220V and 50 Hz AC. Most US (and some other non-European) electrical appliances will not work without a transformer. (North American electrical supply, for example, is 110V and 60 Hz.) ● Adaptor plugs. These are helpful while you settle in as it will take time to change all of the plugs. All Dutch electrical sockets use plugs with two circular pins – standard throughout much of Northern Europe (except the UK and Ireland). ● Lamps. If you move into unfurnished accommodation, it is likely that all of the light fittings and bulbs will have been removed. Bring a number of lamps to provide light until you have installed new fittings. In Dutch houses, ceiling lighting is often limited. A flashlight may also prove useful. 159


● Light Bulbs. If you bring lamps with bayonet fittings, also bring a good supply of light bulbs as you can only buy screw-in bulbs in the Netherlands. ● Office equipment. If you want to use US format stationary, bring stocks with you. (The European format is different.) ● Measuring. Dutch measurement tools are metric. ● Medication used. Plus a three-month supply. ● Any medical condition requiring attention. Bring medical records.

What not to pack: ● Appliances more than 60 cm wide. This is the standard space in modern European kitchens. ● Non-European appliances. Spare parts may not be available if they break down. ● Electrical appliances. Those designed to run on a 60 Hz cycle that include a clock (microwave, clock radio, etc.) The 50 Hz frequency means they will not keep correct time. ● Non-European VCRs and televisions. Dutch standards are PAL. ● Washing machines that require hot water intake. Dutch homes only provide connection to the cold water supply. ● Clothes dryers may exceed wattage limits. ● Mobile phones that do not work at 900 MHz or 1800 MHz. Dutch SIM cards can usually be fitted into non-Dutch phones. ● King-size beds that cannot be dismantled. Dutch staircases are often narrow and steep. ● New furniture and equipment from outside the EU. It must be more than six months old to avoid import duty. ● Large oven pans or storage containers. Dutch kitchens are often small.



â—? Cars owned and/or used for less than 6 months will be charged an import tax.

More Information Common sources of information in the Netherlands: is a practical guide for internationals moving to the South Netherlands. Its purpose is to support international knowledge workers and their partner and family to make the transition to a new home in a new country as smooth as possible. Community Guides (stadsgidsen or gemeentegidsen) are places where all public services in your community can be found. They give full listings of doctors, libraries, pharmacies, hospitals, etc., in the area. They also provide invaluable information you may wish to refer to in your daily life, including details about garbage collection, recycling facilities, and other community schemes. You should be given a guide when you register in your community. If not, ask for one from your local Town Hall. The Yellow Pages (Gouden Gids) is where commercial information can be found, including the names and details of shops, car dealerships, businesses, services, Internet providers, and so on. See Tourist Offices (VVV’s) are a great source of information on upcoming events, leisure activities, culture, nightlife, shopping, etc. 161


Visit their website or go to their tourist information office. See and For any questions related to formalities, immigration procedures, or your financial and insurance situation, it is recommended that you talk to your HR contact person. Much of the information you need can be accessed, but may be dependent on your individual case (e.g. nationality). Your national embassy is another reliable source of information. (See page 165 the Appendices for websites.) We have also mentioned several expat groups and clubs in the region. Many of them are nationality based and could be useful in answering your questions. Remember, whatever problems you may experience when you move, there is probably someone out there who has already been through exactly the same thing, and will have useful advice! The Immigration and Naturalisation Services (IND). You will be required to visit the regional office or the Holland Expat Center South in Eindhoven or Maastricht, in order to: ● Apply for a temporary residence permit. ● Collect your residence document. ● Collect a residence sticker. ● Seek information about regular residence in the Netherlands. More information: For opening times and the latest information regarding the IND office in your region, go to:



ACCESS is a not-for-profit organization supporting the Expat Community in the Netherlands. Their free information and range of services, including publications, courses, counseling referrals and community events can help support you. See




“Living in the Netherlands is an ongoing process, getting better every day!” -- Citlali Alonso, Mexico



Consulates and Embassies Argentina Australia Austria Belgium Brazil Bulgaria Canada Chile China Colombia Cyprus Czech Republic Denmark Finland France Germany Greece Republic of Hungary Ireland India

Israel Italy Japan Korea Mexico New Zealand Norway Poland Portugal Russian Federation Slovakia South Africa Spain Sweden Switzerland home. html Taiwan United Kingdom United States of America



Useful Search Terms English City/Town Hall Dentist Doctor Drug Store/Chemist Emergencies Eye Doctor Hospital Gynaecologist Pharmacy Pregnancy Furniture Store Garden Centre Gas Housing – Rental Plumber (Real) Estate Agent Utilities Companies Waste/Garbage Fire Station Immigration Consultants Insurance Companies Lawyers Legal Aid Notary Police Stations Tax Advisor Tax Office


Dutch Translation Gemeentehuis Tandarts Huisarts Drogist Spoedeisende hulp Opticien Ziekenhuis Gyneacoloog Apotheek Zwangerschap Meubel winkel Tuincentrum Gas Huur huizen Loodgieter Makelaar Nutsbedrijven Afval Brandweer Immigratie consultants Verzekeringsbedrijven Advocaten Bureau voor rechtshulp Notaris Politiebureaus Belastingadviseur Belastingkantoor


Useful Telephone Numbers Emergencies (police, ambulance, fire)


In non life-threatening situations Police Fire department Animal ambulance

0900 8844 088 450 74 50 0900 443 3224 (â‚Ź0,50 per minute)

Central doctors post Maastricht Universitair Medisch Centrum Plus (MUMC+): 043 3876543 Central doctors post Zuyderland (Sittar-Geleen): 088 4597777 Central doctors post Zuyderland (Heerlen): 088 4597777 Night and weekend emergency dentist number Maastricht area: 0900 424 34 34 Night and weekend emergency dentist for all other areas: call your local dentist for the phone number.



Municipality info Dial 14 with the 3 or 4 digit area code of your town (example: Maastricht 14 043) Municipality info Maastricht area Municipality info Sittard-Geleen area Municipality info Heerlen area Municipality info Roermond area Car declaration (BPM aangifte punt)

14 043 14 046 14 045 14 0475 0800-0749

UWV WERKbedrijf

0900 - 92 94

Public transport International trains Tourist office

0900 9292 0900 9296 0900 555 9798








In order to help assist expats upon arrival and during their first months in the Netherlands, a distinctive collaboration has been set up between Holland Expat Center South and private service providers. This Partnership Program redirects expats to reliable service providers in a wide variety of expat-related sectors. These Official Partners offer information on formalities, housing, taxation, finance & insurance, education & careers, personal & social needs, and culture & leisure. To join The Holland Expat Center South Partnership Program, partners must meet the following conditions: ● Company information must be available in English on their website, in flyers, forms and in client services. ● Agree to cooperate with our monitoring project. ● Submit recent verifiable references from a minimum of two expats and two international companies they have work(ed) with. ● Have a membership with their sector’s professional association (where applicable). If you have any questions about the Partnership Program, please send us an email at More information about the Official Partners of Holland Expat Center South can be found on the-partnership-program



Formalities The Holland Expat Center South Official Partners in Formalities can assist you with any questions you have regarding the legalities of moving to the Netherlands, or your work situation.

LEGAL SERVICES Conducting business abroad means confrontation with legal and cultural differences. Small dissimilarities have huge consequences, create unwanted situations. Boels Zander Advocaten will make you feel at home all over the world. ● T +31 (0)88 304 000 ● ● Maes Staudt Advocaten is specialized in employment and migration law. We advise clients all over the world on national and European migration issues (service provision, intra company transfers, etc.) and guide them through the procedures. ● T +31 (0)40 290 9955 ● ● Pallas Attorneys-at-Law is specialized in international employment law. We are experienced in advising and representing expats and internationally operating companies in a wide range of employment matters. ● T +31 (0)20 491 9361 ● ● 172


SliepenbeekVanCoolwijkVanGaalen Lawyers - SCG Advocaten - is specialized in (international) family law, inheritance law, juvenile law and mediation. We advise clients in the Netherlands and all over the world. ● +31 (0)88 909 4904 ● ●

RELOCATION SERVICES At Amundsen International we believe that moving from abroad entails much more than giving advice on housing and showing how to get to the office. We offer the complete package. ● ● Big5 Relocation is a locally based relocation office in Eindhoven. An experienced team always ensures a smooth and efficient transition for the expat. Big5 offers dedicated relocation services in Eindhoven. ● T +31 (0)40 235 1505 ● ● Connect Relocation We are relocation experts and expat consultants in The Netherlands. We cover all states of relocation: immigration, pre-arrival information and orientation, home-finding and settling in. ● T +31 (0)50 211 2645 ● ●



P&D Care is an organisation that assists international employees with all relevant matters before, during and after arrival in the Netherlands. Our services are designed to ensure you feel at home as quickly as possible. ● T +31 (0)13 582 1373 ● ● Tulip Expat Services provides a wide range of services and professional advice to those who wish to work and live in the Netherlands in order to help them settle in their new environment. ● T + 31 (0)6 53147086 ● ●

NOTARY Notariskantoor Broekmans will make sure that all necessary legal documents regarding the purchase and mortgage of your house are carefully drawn up, explained and signed. You just sit back and concentrate on turning your new house into your home! ● T +31 (0)40 213 6360 ● ● Buying a house, getting married, gifting, or incorporating a company are special occasions in your life. Notaris Houtepen is proud to help you to make the arrangements for these memorable moments. ● T +31 (0)40 787 8878 ● ●



Housing The Official Partners in Housing can assist you in finding suitable housing during your stay. Housing is available in different categories, and for various budgets. There are also hotels that offer long-term stay rooms.

RENTALS Eindhoven2Stay offers over 2.500 affordable high quality residences at the best situated sites for expats and young professionals. We provide the best service. All properties are directly bookable on our website. ● T +31 (0)40 787 9315 ● ● GOETH Vastgoed Housing agency is an Eindhoven based company with years of experience in providing appropriate housing in Eindhoven and surrounding areas. ● T +31 (0)40 213 0223 ● ● HousingXL has a large and high quality of rentals to offer. Based on your demands, you can select from our extensive range of rental houses. Visit our website for an office in your area. ● T +31 (0)40 243 0030 ● ●



La Bergère Apartments 50 fully-equipped serviced apartments spread across a number of magnificent town houses in the heart of Maastricht. Flexible city apartments for families, expats, and international career professionals. ● T +31 (0)43 321 1111 ● ● Pooters Makelaardij is a young dynamic team with experience, knowledge of the market, and expertise in giving professional advice on everything related to buying and selling a home. ● T +31 (0)43 362 7674 ● ● Rots-Vast Groep is your partner for renting, letting and managing properties for individuals and companies. Whatever your needs and wishes are Rots-Vast Groep will help you find a suitable and enjoyable accommodation! ● T +31 (0)40 244 0244 ● ● Smart City Lofts is a company with over 500 lofts with multiple new projects. High quality lofts for students, young professionals and expats. We complete the entire renting procedure online. ● T +31 (0)85 483 6030 ● ●



Furnished or semi-furnished apartments, family houses, detached houses, villas and short stay all inclusive apartments. Stoit Groep offers you a large amount of directly available, high quality properties on our website. ● T +31 (0)40 214 0660 ● ●

PURCHASE AB Makelaars provides tailored, independent and professional advice and assistance in buying a home in the Netherlands. You can find our office in the center of Eindhoven; The Knowledge City. ● T +31 ( 0)40 243 6335 ● ● Best Intermediair Vastgoed Makelaardij provides the up most variety in rental homes, from apartments till the most luxurious villa. Your needs are linked to our service! ● T +31 (0)40 206 2651 ● ● With five sworn estate agents and surveyors, Dwars Estate Agency has experts to help you buy or sell a house, give an assessment or offer advice about real estate. ● T +31 (0)49 553 7599 ● ●



Janssen Steijlen Realtor and property inspections ● T +31 (0)40 295 4678 ● ● Whether you’re renting or buying existing or new build property, we’ll find the ideal solution. Van Santvoort Makelaars also gives excellent advice on financing, contracts and property tax deduction. ● T +31 (0)40 269 2530 ● ●

BUYING AGENT If you are planning on buying a home, it is a good choice to have Hendrix & Huybregts Estate Agents on your side. We will protect your interests! ● T +31 (0)40 293 1350 ● ● Lommers Makelaars real estate agents will help you find your suitable property, ownership as well as rentals. We can provide you with properties in the complete Brabant area. ● T +31 (0)40 295 4678 ● ●



MORTGAGE ADVISOR Expat Mortgages is the fastest way to your mortgage in The Netherlands. We have helped thousands of expats from over 75 nationalities and we make you feel at home. ● T +31 (0)20 717 3908 ● ● Are you an expat and interested in buying a house in the Netherlands? An independent adviser can help to get you the best fitting solution! De Hypotheekshop Eindhoven ● T +31 (0)40 292 2222 ● ● De Hypotheekshop Veldhoven ● T +31 (0)40 223 0900 ● ●

HOTELS Holiday Inn Eindhoven is the luxury four-star hotel in the centre of Eindhoven, for both business and leisure. Enjoy the luxury, the comfort and the extensive facilities and experience an excellent stay in Eindhoven. ● T +31 (0)40 235 8248 ● ●



The Pullman Eindhoven Cocagne is located in the heart of Eindhoven and has 320 stylish hotel rooms, 18 multifunctional meeting rooms, a beauty salon and the well-known Vestdijk 47 restaurant/bar. ● T +31 (0)40 232 6190 ● ● By merging flexible-stay accommodations with luxury facilities, The Student Hotel provides a fun coliving environment in the center of Eindhoven where multicultural expats can live, work, play and connect. ● T +31 (0)40 231 9792 ● ● Van der Valk Hotel Eindhoven is a 4-star comfort hotel. The hotel features 269 luxury rooms, 24 meeting rooms, 2 restaurants, a sushi bar & lounge and a sports center. ● T +31 (0)40 211 6033 ● ●



Taxation, Finance & Insurance The Official Partners in Taxation, Finance & Insurance provide assistance in filing taxes, banking and insurance. These companies have experience with helping internationals, and have offices in the region.

TAXATION Extensive knowledge and personal attention; that’s what AAme Accountants and International Tax Advisers stands for! AAme provides services and advice in the fields of accounting, administration, payroll and (inter)national tax. ● T +31 (0)15 215 8815 ● ● Arvode is your partner regarding the outsourcing of your HR and payroll. Our specialties include expat-international payroll, global services, single point of contact and our payment service. Personal, Knowledge, Flexible. ● T +31 (0)30 694 0480 ● ● Baat accountants & adviseurs is your local partner in accounting, administration, payroll and taxation in Limburg. We are specialized in tax and social security issues related to cross-border labour. ● T +31 (0)43 205 0401 ● ●



Beacon Financial Education, a financial Education Platform for Expats, providing access to a global network of independent financial advisers around the world. ● ● Blue Umbrella helps internationals manage their Dutch tax matters. Affordable, conveniently on-line and transparent. Blue Umbrella specializes in tax return, tax compliance and childcare subsidy. Income Tax Filing €125. ● T +31 (0)20 468 7560 ● ● Boxx is your specialist in global expat solutions. Compliant, practical advice and solutions in income tax | social security | immigration | payroll | HR Services and international management of these services. We care! ● T +32 (0)11 559 9910 ● ● EXPATAX is a Dutch tax and accounting firm specialized in assisting international workers and companies who work and do business in the Netherlands. With 20 advisors we help expats with tax issues. ● T +31 (0)30 246 8536 ● ● EY is your contact when it comes to tax and social security aspects of international mobility. Our global network enables us to answer your questions in a practical way. ● T +31 (0)88 407 4529 ● ● 182


Holland Payroll is a recognized sponsor at the Immigration and Naturalisation Service (IND), which means we are allowed to contract and guide highly skilled migrants and provide them with our payroll solutions. ● T +31 (0)513 845 491 ● ●

FINANCE & INSURANCE ABN AMRO International Clients Retail Eindhoven A trusted financial partner & specialist for expats: we handle all your financial wishes including tailormade Expat mortgages. We offer English-speaking professionals, documentation, Internet and mobile banking in English. ● T +31 (0)40 237 9000 ● ● At CZ you are sure to find healthcare insurance that suits your needs. But CZ offers you more. Our service is much more than just healthcare insurance. ● T +31 (0)46 459 5812 ● ● In order to help expatriates in the Netherlands with their specific questions and needs, Rabobank has set up a specialized expatriate service in Eindhoven: the Rabobank Expat Desk. ● T +31 (0)40 293 6000 ● ●



The Sociale Verzekeringsbank has departments specialized in social security for cross border workers or students who start living, working, studying or doing business in Belgium (Bureau for Belgian Affairs) or Germany (Bureau for German Affairs). ● T +31 (0)76 548 5000 ● (Belgium) ● T +31 (0)24 343 1811 ● (Germany)



Education & Careers The Official Partners in Education & Careers can offer your assistance and guidance in furthering your education, volunteering, or finding a job in the Netherlands. They also offer language courses in Dutch, and additional languages. As a non-profit student organization, AIESEC aims at placing international academic students in Dutch companies for a period of 3-12 months. Trainees will work fulltime, while AIESEC arranges all the formalities. ● T +31 (0)13 466 2573 ● ● Brainport talentBOX is a unique, non-profit, online career platform, which allows you direct access to a dedicated community of tech & IT companies and knowledge institutes in the Brainport Eindhoven Region. ● Expat Spouses Initiative has built a strong community and ecosystem of companies in the region in order to connect the highly-skilled partners of international employees with local job opportunities. ● ●



LANGUAGE SCHOOLS easyNL is a small and professional language institute offering Dutch language training for highly skilled migrants and knowledge workers. EasyNL offers individual training, evening classes, in-house training and e-learning. ● T +31 (0)40 211 3101 ● ● Language Institute Regina Coeli is the foremost specialist in intensive and individual language training for the business community, government institutions and private citizens, within and outside the Netherlands. ● T +31 (0)73 684 8790 ● ● STE Languages is a leading institute specialised in providing language training courses in The Netherlands. We offer language courses in 20 languages and in different formats. Quality, service, flexibility are key concepts at STE. ● T +31 (0)40 245 2860 ● ● Think SMART English offers world class training. Specialising in the English & Dutch language also, offering Employability support. High quality affordable Training/ Education delivered by Native Tutors. ● T +31 (0)49 776 9065 ● ●



EDUCATION Saltoschool de St@rtbaan is a primary school centrally situated in Meerhoven. Interested? Visit our school and experience what education at the Startbaan is all about. ● T +31 (0)40 887 9020 ● ● Primary school ‘t Slingertouw consists of two locations in Meerhoven: in Grasland and in Waterrijk. Let us show you our school, so that you can taste the atmosphere for yourself! ● T +31 (0)40 234 0699 ● ● International School Breda believes that your child’s learning experience should be fun, exciting and challenging! We’re proud to offer excellent primary and secondary international education under one roof. ● T +31 (0)76 560 7870 ● ● The International School Eindhoven primary department offers English and Dutch Primary Education, and its secondary department offers the International Baccalaureate Middle Years Programme and the International Baccalaureate Diploma Years. ● T +31 (0)40 251 9437 ●



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High Tech Institute Facilities growth of individuals & teams worldwide, both in technical width, depth & soft skills. Expats’ training: “How to successfully perform in Dutch high tech work culture”. ● T +31 (0)40 851 2061 ● ● Nyenrode Business Universiteit was founded by visionary business leaders after World War II. Ever since, we embrace entrepreneurial passion for business. At Nyenrode, you learn, live, lead and love business. ● T +31 (0)34 629 1211 ● ● Zuyd is an ambitious and professional University of Applied Sciences, which cooperates closely with organizations, companies and governments. Our core business is education, research, and training and development. ● T +31 (0)88 989 3000 ● ●

VOLUNTEER WORK Eindhoven Doet Volunteer work is fun, challenging, educational, and good for your personal development. If volunteer work is something you would like to do, Eindhoven Doet will search with you to find a suitable position! ● T +31 (0)40 219 3399 ● ●



Personal & Social Needs The Official Partners in Personal & Social Needs can offer you assistance in adapting to life in the Netherlands. There are also Official Partners that provide childcare specifically for expat children.

CHILD CARE Columbus (Kinderstad International) offers professional Dutch day care and out of school care with an international dimension from the campus of International School Eindhoven (ISE). ● T +31 (0)40 249 0238 ● ● At the Korein Group we offer children the best possible chances for development. Call on us for day care, lunchtime and after school care, host parenting and homework assistance. ● T +31 (0)40 294 8989 ● ●

DRIVING SCHOOL Dekker is a professional driving school that specializes in helping and training foreigners to prepare for the Dutch driving and theory exams. We have Englishspeaking instructors. ● T +31 (0)40 444 4444 ● ●



HEALTHCARE The midwives from Midwifery Practice Eindhoven will guide you through your pregnancy, delivery and the first weeks after birth. Working with expats is one of our specialties. ● T +31 (0)6 28069584 ● ● At SGE International, the visitor can expect a global approach with a medical team, which has been trained to understand the needs of people from different international backgrounds. ● T +31 (0)40 711 6730 ● ● U Center a behavioral health hospital (international mental health care) providing specialized treatment by a multi-disciplinary team of professionals. ● T +31 (0)34 355 6400 ● ● VidaSense will guide you through the field of psychology with all mental health issues in a discrete and pleasant environment. ● T +31 (0)40 266 8580 ● ●



Culture & Leisure The Official Partners in Culture & Leisure offer different activities that you can enjoy in the region. The Media Partners provide news and information in English.

SHOPPING De Bijenkorf is the award-winning premium department store in the Netherlands with a heritage of more than 140 years. It’s known for its grand assortment of products, exceptional display windows and exciting events. ● T 0800 0818 ●


Bonnefantenmuseum Maastricht

Bonnefantenmuseum Maastricht is the leading art museum of Limburg and the Euregion. It presents both permanent collections of old masters and contemporary art, as well as temporary exhibitions of influential artists. ● T +31 (0)43 329 0190 ● ● Centre Céramique - libraries, exhibitions and cultural heritage, Kumulus School of Arts and the Natural History Museum of Maastricht together form one organization and are part of the Municipality of Maastricht. ● T +31 (0)43 350 5600 ● ●



The Eindhoven Library facilitates everyone in Eindhoven in their personal development. We offer a large collection of (e-)books and organize fascinating workshops, lectures and other activities. The entire city benefits! ● T+31 (0)40 260 4260 ● ● Eindhoven Sport marks the start of a day, a season or even a lifetime of sports. In Eindhoven you have numerous sporting opportunities at your fingertips. Check out our website for more information! ● T + 31 (0)40 238 1151 ● ● Welcome to Holland Casino Eindhoven. Enjoy the games, a wonderful dinner and spectacular entertainment in a magnificent ambiance. Holland Casino Eindhoven is centrally located on the market square in Eindhoven. ● T +31 (0)40 235 7357 ● Lumière is known for it’s high quality selection of movies, inviting atmosphere, and international orientation. The ideal place for tasty lunches, and dinners surrounded by the beautifully refurbished industrial interior. ● T +31 (0)43 321 4080 ●



Muziekgebouw Frits Philips Eindhoven is a contemporary music hall with international allure. An acoustic top-location that is extremely popular among world-famous orchestras and soloists in the heart of Eindhoven. ● T +31 (0)40 244 2020 ● ● Parktheater Eindhoven offers over 450 performances per season. Including: Music, dance, opera, comedy, acrobatics and other shows without language. Plus, whenever possible Dutch plays with English support text. ● T +31 (0)40 211 1122 ● The South Netherlands Philharmonic is a worthy and flexible symphony orchestra that has been lauded for its quality, its tight ensemble play and the radiant enthusiasm of its musicians. ● T +31 (0)88 1660 700 ● ● As one of the leading theatres in the Netherlands, Theater aan het Vrijthof is Maastricht’s cultural hub to stimulate cultural debate by presenting (inter) national companies from all genres. ● T +31 (0)43 350 5544 ● ●



The Van Abbemuseum in Eindhoven is one of the first public museums for contemporary art to be established in Europe. Besides its art’s role in society, the museum contains space for hiring, like the auditorium and studio. ● T +31(0)40 238 1042 ● Van Gogh Brabant Five Brabant communities retain traces of Van Gogh. He was born and raised here, and produced his first masterpiece ‘The Potato Eaters’ here. Welcome to Van Gogh’s homeland! ● ● VVV Eindhoven Tourist Information Office Your visit to Eindhoven starts at the VVV (Tourist Information Office), the address for all tourist information about Eindhoven and its surroundings. Concert tickets, various gift vouchers and souvenirs are also available at VVV Eindhoven. ● T 0900 1122 363 ● VVV Veldhoven Tourist Information Office The VVV specializes in regional information and is able to help you plan a day trip, a group-activity or to find a cycling route. Please drop by! ● T +31 (0)40 253 2901 ● ●



MEDIA PARTNERS Stichting Brabant Onderneemt is an enterprising, independent business network with ambition and a no-nonsense attitude. We actively create connections between government, education and entrepreneurs (in Brabant). ● keeps you up to date with the latest Dutch news - in English - online, by mobile or email newsletter. From politics to personalities, from football to Philips. ● Eindhoven News Your local daily news in English! At the online news site you can find daily news in English of what is happening in Eindhoven and surroundings. ● XPat Media is the organization behind publications geared towards expatriates. ●

‘Maastricht is one of the most beautiful cities I have been to.’ -- Julie-Ann JA


COLOPHON The Expat’s Guide to the South Netherlands - Maastricht Region Edition A publication of Holland Expat Center South January 2018

PHOTOGRAPHS Arvid, Bux, Ben Houdijk, Bert Keet, Boudewijn Bollmann, Brabant Development Agency (BOM), Brainport Development, Brbbl, Eindhoven Airport, Eleonora Testa, Iz. Mendoza, Jan Schelling, Jean-Pierre Geusens, Jonathan Vos Photography, Joop van der Kaa, Justyna van de Wal, Kenneth Tan Fotografie, Lenka Cizkova Photography, Marjan Holmer, Michiel Landeweerd, Ministerie van Verkeer en Waterstaat, Petra Muijrers, Philips, Photocapy, Regional International School (RIS), Sjoerd Leeuwenberg, Typical Holland, Van De Wal productions, Venlo Partners, Vincent van den Hoogen, VVV Eindhoven/Paul Veltman, VVV Tilburg,, Yvonne Simons. Layout MariĂŤtte van Oort Print Print Impreso Disclaimer In the compilation of this guide various sources have been consulted and a number of organisations have lent their cooperation and provided information. Holland Expat Center South has verified this information as far as possible with authorities and experts. Nevertheless we remain dependent on external sources. We cannot, therefore, accept any liability for any errors and their consequences. We advise you at all times to get advice from your HR department or the relevant official bodies.


Holland Expat Center South is a joint initiative of the participating municipalities, the Immigration and Naturalisation Services (IND), Brainport Development, and the provinces of Noord-Brabant and Limburg.


Profile for Holland Expat Center South

The Expat's Guide to the South Netherlands: Maastricht Region Edition, Winter 2018  

The Expat's Guide to the South Netherlands: Maastricht Region Edition, Winter 2018  


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