Dutch residence permit for artists and musicians on a self-employed basis

Dutch residence permit for artists and musicians on a self-employed basis

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De Vreede Advocaten is a young and dynamic law firm specialising in immigration and international employment law for both businesses and individuals.

For artists and musicians from outside the EU, applying for a residence permit in the Netherlands has special provisions that exist under Dutch immigration law. This often overlooked regulation offers opportunities for self-employed artists and musicians to obtain a residence permit.

To be eligible, artists and musicians (or their work) have to be considered of essential cultural importance to the Netherlands, for example, when the artist is selected to work for a relevant Dutch cultural institution, subsidised by the Dutch government. 

Dutch cultural institutions include orchestras, museums, galleries and so on.

This permit will be granted for a period of two years.

How do you apply for a Dutch residence permit as a self-employed musician or artist?

To be eligible for a Dutch residence permit for artists and musicians, Immigration Services you will be referred to the Ministry of Education, Culture and Sciences for an assessment of cultural importance.

The Ministry has discretion in this matter and the criteria for assessments are not always clear. However, when an artist is selected to work for a Dutch cultural institution, this is considered to be decisive.

How to file the application?

The answer to this question depends on where you are based at the present moment.

Applicants based in the Netherlands

For those applicants already residing in the Netherlands, the application must be filed together with proof of Dutch cultural importance.

Furthermore, the applicant must set up an enterprise in the Netherlands. A registration at the Chamber of Commerce (KvK) is required. An opening balance must be submitted and the artist must open a bank account in the name of the enterprise.

Applicants residing abroad

If you’re residing abroad, the application must be filed at the Dutch Consulate in your home country, together with proof of Dutch cultural importance and your company’s opening balance.

After arrival in the Netherlands, you must register your enterprise at the Chamber of Commerce.

Search Year permit for students

Students who’ve graduated from art or music schools outside of the EU can, under certain circumstances, apply for a Search Year permit within 3 years of graduation.

Students graduating in the Netherlands can apply for a Search Year permit immediately following graduation. During a Search Year, a student who has graduated is allowed to work and reside in the Netherlands, while looking for work in the cultural sector.

A few important things to remember: 

Every two years, and as long as the artist meets the conditions and criteria for cultural importance, the permit can be extended.

When you have a residence permit on a self-employed basis (as an artist or musician), you are not allowed to work in paid employment. Paid employment would require a separate work permit, applied for by the employer.

The general criteria for self-employed applicants based on a point system are not applicable, however, the procedure is demanding: Permits will only be granted to applicants with serious proof of Dutch cultural importance.

If you want to go down this route, you should know that Immigration Services charges 1.319 euros in legal fees.

Though offering substantial opportunities, the path to obtaining a residence permit like this is considered obscure and often overlooked. Legal consultation is highly advised.

At De Vreede Advocaten in Amsterdam, Ester de Vreede specialises in arranging residence permits for artists and musicians from all over the world. 

De Vreede Advocaten

Ester de Vreede


Ester de Vreede

Ester combines an extensive knowledge of employment law and immigration law, which proves to be an asset and of specific interest for highly skilled expats and companies that employ them....

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cho 22:03 | 7 February 2019

hello I am Korean and currently living in the Netherlands on a working holiday visa. I am planning to change my residence permit to self employed visa which is freelancer visa. I am a dancer and going to a dance academy in Amsterdam. May i apply for the visa without a certain work? As a freelance dancer, it's unpredictable to do a performance with a certain dance company. I would like to know about it and how I can contact to Ester. Please let me know and thank you.