Japanese nationals will require Dutch work permit from 2017 onwards
This preferential treatment was introduced in February, 2015, based on the 1912 Treaty of Commerce and Navigation between the Netherlands and Japan, which stated that Japanese nationals were entitled to the same treatment as Swiss nationals, allowing them free access to the Dutch labour market.
The Netherlands and Japan have shared a long trading history dating back to 1609, when the two nations held unique trade relations. In that era the Netherlands was the only foreign nation permitted to set up a trading post in Japanese territory.
Changes to historic agreements
The basis for this historic beneficial agreement was a favourite nation clause that was included in the 1985 Treaty between the Netherlands and Switzerland.
In June, 2016, a new interpretive statement was introduced to accompany the Treaty between the Netherlands and Switzerland, which states that access to the labour markets of each country is defined by national legislation.
The knock-on effect of the new interpretive statement for Japanese nationals means that their access to the Dutch labour market will soon be governed by the Foreign Nationals Employment Act, which will require them to obtain a work permit, similar to most other non-European nationalities.
Transitional period until start of 2017
This new requirement was originally intended to come into effect on October 1, 2016. However, due to requests from businesses and industries, several Dutch ministries agreed to extend the transition period until January 1, 2017.
Japanese nationals currently in the Netherlands
Japanese citizens currently living and working in the Netherlands who already possess a residence permit that states "work freely allowed, work permit not required", can continue to use this permit for the period that it is valid. However, this combined work and residence permit will no longer be available in the future.
As of January 1, 2017, any applications submitted by a Japanese national to the IND for a new or renewed residence permit will have to meet the conditions of the Foreign Nationals Employment Act.
The conditions require Japanese nationals to have an employer sponsor to obtain a work, and then residence, permit.