These are the steps you have to take before you can start working in the Netherlands

These are the steps you have to take before you can start working in the Netherlands

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Dutch Umbrella Company is an IND-certified sponsor with a specialist team offering extensive knowledge and experience to help skilled professionals migrate to, and work in, the Netherlands.

Are you thinking about working in the Netherlands? Or have you received an offer from an employer that you just can’t refuse? You are sure to enjoy the positive working climate in the Netherlands which is full of opportunities for foreign employees.

At the same time, if you want to work in the Netherlands for a longer period of time, it’s quite a challenge to obtain all the necessary documents. Let’s take a look at some of the steps you have to take before you can start your working adventure in the Netherlands.

1. Residence and work permit

Are you planning to work in the Netherlands for more than three months? First of all, your employer must apply for a residence permit, except if you reside in another EU country, the European Economic Area or Switzerland.

Depending on the nature and skill level of the work you are going to do, there are different kinds of residence permits that your employer can apply for.

Residence and work permit combined

Every employer that is based and registered in the Netherlands, or has an authorised trading agent working for them, can apply for a residence permit as well as a work permit for their foreign employees. In order to speed up the process, it's more efficient if your employer applies for a Single Permit, e.g. a residence and work permit combined. The IND (Immigration and Naturalisation Service) will handle Single Permit applications.

First, the IND asks for a recommendation from the Netherlands Employees Insurance Agency (UWV) regarding the labour market. UWV assesses this request based on the criteria of the Foreign Nationals Employment Act (Wav). Then, if the UWV recognises your unique skills and added value to the Dutch working place, the Single Permit will be issued.

The Single Permit consists of a residence document and an additional document. The additional document states for which employer the foreign national may work and under which conditions.

Highly skilled migrant

If you have unique skills within the Dutch labour market and will receive a substantial salary that meets a set of standards, you are eligible to be labelled as a highly skilled migrant by the IND. Most important is that you have a recognised sponsor to apply for your residence permit.

Every employer that applies for a residence permit is called a sponsor and has to make sure that you meet the requirements. If you want to work in the Netherlands as a highly skilled migrant your sponsor has to be officially recognised by the IND. The application procedure for highly skilled migrants takes less time than for “regular” employees.

In some cases, non-EU graduates will also qualify as highly skilled migrants and be granted a residence permit for an orientation year for highly educated persons. It gives them the chance to access the Dutch labour market without the additional work permit.

2. Registration in the Netherlands

Once you have received a residence and / or work permit, registration in the Netherlands is the next step. If you are working in the Netherlands for a longer period of time, you need to be registered at the municipality where you live. In most cities, you will have to register yourself within five days of your arrival in the Netherlands.

It’s absolutely necessary to register so that you receive your personal BSN (public service number). You need this BSN to start your employment, but also to get health insurance, apply for social benefits and, most importantly, open up a bank account in order to receive your well-earned salary.

3. Employment contract in the Netherlands

Receiving your salary probably means that you have successfully negotiated the terms and conditions of your employment contract. Each country has different traits and things to look for when it comes to employment contract details, this is also the case when it comes to employment contracts in the Netherlands.

If you receive an offer, make sure to scan the document carefully, maybe with the help of a lawyer or someone that specialises in employment law.

There are a lot of terms that make up the total value of your contract:

  • Exact role within the organisation, future growth and skill development possibilities
  • Working hours, flexible working possibilities and holiday leave
  • Financial benefits like salary, overtime payment and a bonus structure e.g. end of the year payment.
  • Financial contributions for social security, pension, public transport
  • Trial period(s) and end of contract terms

If you are a highly skilled migrant, an employment contract is already needed in order to apply for a residence permit, which means this step must be taken first in the process.

The Dutch tax system and the 30% ruling

In order to value your contact as a foreign worker, knowledge of the Dutch tax system can be quite advantageous, especially if you are aware of the benefits that come with it. Working in the Netherlands as a highly skilled migrant offers the biggest advantage within the Dutch tax system, called the 30% ruling.

Put simply, with this ruling you pay less income tax over your salary, as up to 30% is exempt from income tax. Of course, there are some strict terms and conditions to apply for this ruling, like minimum salary, expertise and travel habits, but if granted, the benefits can be quite substantial.

4. Calculating your income

Working in the Netherlands offers challenges but can be beneficial at the same time, especially if you are eligible for the 30% ruling. However, it’s not easy to determine the financial value of your employment contract when you go to a country that has different tax rules than those you are used to. An online income calculator can help you with this.

An income calculator works two ways. First, if you have received an offer from an employer, you can find out what your approximate net income will be. Second, you can use the calculator as a tool to calculate what to expect from your employer if you are going to receive a future offer.

If you know the terms and conditions that apply to you under the Dutch tax system (including the 30% ruling) you can calculate your desired gross income. Handy for when you are negotiating the terms and conditions of your employment contract!

An easy way of calculating your net income is to use the Dutch Income tax calculator from the Dutch Umbrella Company and fill out the requested information.

If you have any questions about the calculator or about working in the Netherlands, contact the Dutch Umbrella Company:



Theo Kruyswijk



Leave a comment

Ron 11:42 | 21 June 2018

This statement "First of all, your employer must apply for a residence permit, except if you reside in another EU country, the European Economic Area or Switzerland." is not completely true. The use of "reside" is questionable. I am a third-party national with permanent residence ("reside") in Spain. I've been told by several bureaucrats in different EU countries, including NL, that what you state does not apply to people in my situation. It seem ambiguous, at best, since I had no problem in Germany.