The effect of COVID-19 on global mobility and travel to the Netherlands

The effect of COVID-19 on global mobility and travel to the Netherlands

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2020 and 2021 have been, and still are, challenging times for everyone involved with immigration. In the past year, travel restrictions, changing immigration requirements and embassy closures have made working in immigration and immigrating to the Netherlands interesting, to say the least. Everaert Advocaten explains. 

Entry ban

Ever since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, travel to the Netherlands has been restricted with several measures. These travel restrictions originate from European law regulations drawn up by the European Commission on the one hand, and national regulations on the other hand.

In March 2020, the Dutch government adopted the EU proposal of an entry ban for non-essential travel, and the entry ban is still in place today. There are a number of exemptions for Dutch and EU nationals or residence permit holders, family members, students and workers.

Royal Dutch Military and Border Police or the Seaport Police determine whether the exemption is applicable to the traveller; it is not possible to receive approval prior to travelling.

Flight ban

Next to the entry ban, there is a ban on passenger flights from India, South Africa and countries in Central and South America.

Exemptions apply to Dutch nationals, healthcare workers, seafarers in possession of a seaman’s record book, staff travelling to and from drilling platforms in Dutch or UK territory, and travellers who work in the aviation industry.

At the moment, the ban is due to remain in place until May 1, 2021. The Dutch government is working on legislation to make quarantine compulsory for people travelling from high-risk areas.

Tests and declarations

The pre- and post-arrival requirements for travellers are changing on a daily basis. For the most up to date overview, please see the government checklist for travel. You can find the checklist via the link in the intro.

Absence from the Netherlands

In the past year, a lot of Dutch residence permit holders have returned to their home country, to spend the lockdown with family and to work for their Dutch employer from abroad.

Residence permit holders in the Netherlands can spend a maximum of six consecutive months outside of the Netherlands (or a maximum of four consecutive months for three consecutive years) while keeping their residence permit. If they spend more time outside of the country, the Immigration Department (IND) argues that they no longer have their main residence in the Netherlands.

Highly Skilled Migrant (HSM) permit holders are allowed to spend a maximum period of eight consecutive months outside of the Netherlands if they continue to work for their Dutch employer.

It is important that the HSM employee keeps their registration in the Population Register and that they continue to receive a monthly salary on their Dutch bank account that meets the HSM salary threshold. If these conditions aren’t met, the IND can still withdraw the residence permit based on the fact that the permit holder no longer meets the requirements of their permit.

All Dutch residence permit holders who are abroad at the moment will need to keep in mind the aforementioned rules on the maximum duration of absence. In case returning to the Netherlands is impossible due to COVID-19 travel restrictions, the IND confirms that this will not cause any issues for the permit holder in future applications for permanent residence or even a naturalisation process.

Remote working

Many companies are now devising remote work policies and face interesting and new questions on how to manage an even more scattered (but less mobile) global workforce.

There are people who have their main residence in the Netherlands, but who are temporarily working from abroad due to COVID-19. There are also people who want to work from the Netherlands for their foreign employer, now that working from home has become more and more common.

Only employees who are working on Dutch territory are covered by the Netherlands’ immigration law. This means that no work permit is needed to perform work for a Dutch company, if the employee is not physically present in the Netherlands.

For people who simply want to work from the Netherlands, the situation is a bit more complicated. The Netherlands does not have a specific immigration category for remote workers. If someone performs work for a foreign employer and the work is not linked to the Netherlands, except for the fact that the worker is staying in the Netherlands, a work permit is still required. Especially in these situations, it might be difficult to obtain a work permit in one of the existing work permit categories.

If you have any questions about your specific situation, for example, whether your stay abroad is jeopardising your legal status in the Netherlands or if you want to know whether you are eligible for a work permit in the Netherlands, feel free to contact Everaert Advocaten.

Kirsty Gies


Kirsty Gies

Kirsty is Manager Global Mobility & Immigration at Everaert Advocaten. Clients range from SMB’s to multinationals, in a variety of industries. Kirsty has considerable expertise in overseeing the application processes...

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