10 things an expat should do before leaving the Netherlands
There comes a time when, be it for work, family or personal reasons, an expat must bid a final “doei” to the Netherlands. Having made the move myself from the Netherlands to Germany back in May 2018, I have experienced first-hand the planning involved in swapping countries, and the speed at which boxes either need to be ticked on cancellation forms, or packed and carefully loaded onto a moving truck in a game of real-life Tetris.
Although it may seem daunting at first, with some organisation and a degree of flexibility, one will be amazed at what can be achieved in a short space of time. So, from completing important bureaucratic tasks to setting aside time for a trip or two down memory lane, here are ten tips on what to do before leaving the Netherlands for pastures new.
1. Get contracts sorted ASAP
The first port of call for anyone leaving the Netherlands should be to inform both their landlord and their boss of their imminent departure. Why? Two words: notice periods. When it comes to rental and employment contracts, legal notice periods are important, and come in many different shapes and sizes (end of the following calendar month, minimum of 60 days etc.).
To avoid any frustrating delays in the emigration process, this is a bridge that should be crossed first.
2. Deregister from your local gemeente
Another key step that needs to be taken before leaving the Netherlands is to deregister from the Personal Records Database (BRP in Dutch) at a local municipality.
The most common approach to do so is to pre-book an appointment and show up in person with a valid form of identification. However, a word of caution: appointment slots at convenient times for full-time workers are few and far between, so be prepared to move away from your usual daily routine in order to secure a space.
3. Get your house (or apartment) in order
For many people, emigrating from the Netherlands means ending a rental contract earlier than anticipated. Depending on one’s living situation, a landlord or housing agency may ask one of two things: find a replacement tenant (get those hospiteeravond invitations ready), or be available to host viewings at the property.
As time is of the essence in scenarios like these, and once room / apartment deposits are added into the equation, the sooner the transition period is mapped out, the sooner everyone can be satisfied.
4. Cancel subscriptions
From striving to leave one last personal best on your neighbourhood gym’s leader board, to finally settling the tab at the local "bruin" bar you’ve been frequenting for years, emigrating from the Netherlands means cutting ties with some of your familiar haunts.
Depending on one’s circumstances, mobile phone and internet contracts may also need to be terminated; if so, be prepared to hear that infamous "your call is important to us" line over and over again whilst on hold, as the process isn’t always plain sailing.
5. Take care of medical affairs
The act of cancelling one's health insurance policy and any related government allowances is a relatively straightforward one; depending on the insurer, the process can even be done online. If you have attended a doctor, dentist or hospital during your residency in the Netherlands, don’t forget to collect all medical documents before departing, as obtaining them from abroad can prove difficult.
6. Time to start packing
We’ve all been there, despondently parked up at the side of the road after trying to transport something via bicycle that, despite looking easy for a local, is mind-boggling for an expat. As I found out to my detriment, moving boxes can be added to that list, so a car or a trusty OV-chipkaart is a good friend in situations like these.
It is also important to note that a special, one-off garbage collection for bulky items can be arranged with a local municipality, if required. Furthermore, if you come across an old or unwanted piece of furniture that you need to sell last-minute on Marktplaats, now is the time.
7. Last orders for favourite food and drinks
From freshly-made stroopwafels at a weekend market to a hearty portion of bitterballen at a local bar, there are some gastronomic treats that need to be savoured one last time before leaving the Netherlands. In fact, if you have a favourite restaurant or café in your city, make the time to visit it before you go; your taste buds will thank you later.
8. Embark on one last trip
When the weather is on its best behaviour, the Netherlands can be as beautiful as any other country in the world. From colourful fields of flowers to Amsterdam’s picturesque canal network, the nation is home to some breathtaking natural wonders.
Add world-famous museums, sandy beaches and a number of charming countryside villages into the mix, and you will undoubtedly be able to find a spot in which to soak up some culture.
9. Sort out your bank account
Once you have received your last wage packet or successfully paid your last slice of rent, you may wish to close your Dutch bank account. As the Netherlands is one of the most technologically-advanced countries in the European Union, I was able to close my account via email (and a WhatsApp conversation with my bank) from Germany in just a matter of days.
If you decide to keep your account open, you should notify your bank of your new address, as this will prevent them from blocking the account due to transaction activity that is out of the ordinary.
10. Say farewell to friends
No matter how long your stay in the Netherlands has been, you are sure to have made acquaintance with some fantastic people, many of whom will remain friends for life. So before setting off, arrange a goodbye brunch / coffee date / meal / night out and reminisce about the good times shared. Plus, don’t forget to arrange your next rendezvous!