Expat guide: 7 things to consider when moving to the Netherlands

Expat guide: 7 things to consider when moving to the Netherlands

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The Netherlands is renowned for its welcoming nature towards those who are seeking to establish their new home. Yet moving to the Netherlands is more than just packing up your valuables and heading on over. There are several points that are important to take into account before you plan to move. Dutch Employer of Record discusses them all in the article below.

The Netherlands is a country that is highly popular among expats and boasts a diverse range of communities that cater to individuals from various backgrounds. Fun fact: did you know that Amsterdam is home to 180 nationalities, and therefore one of the most multicultural cities in the world?

These communities serve as valuable resources for new expats, offering guidance on navigating Dutch systems, expanding knowledge of local regulations, and fostering connections with fellow expats.

However, moving to this country can be a tricky and confusing process. Here are some things to keep in mind ahead of your international move.

1. Finding accommodation and residency status

When planning to relocate to the Netherlands, it is crucial to plan ahead for your residency status. Whether it's intended as a long-term or short-stay arrangement, finding suitable rental accommodation poses a significant challenge, as most rental agencies require tenants to provide a signed employment agreement and a valid European identification card or Dutch residence permit.

Expats from within the EU, EEA and Switzerland often meet these requirements effortlessly due to their existing European identification. Expats from outside of the EU, EEA and Switzerland - who are sponsored by their employers - can obtain their residence permit after arrival.This is done by scheduling an appointment with the IND office.

Since securing a rental property from abroad is typically difficult, many expats opt to stay temporarily with relatives or in short-term accommodations until they settle in the Netherlands.

2. Registration at a municipality

If your stay in the Netherlands exceeds four months, it is mandatory to register at the municipality where you will reside. You must complete this registration within five days of your arrival. To register, schedule an appointment with your municipality, which will facilitate the following processes:

  • Issuance of a citizen service number (BSN): The Dutch BSN is necessary for income tax benefits and government interactions, as well as healthcare insurance.
  • Inclusion in the Personal Records Database (BRP): The BRP is a database which contains the personal data and information of residents in the Netherlands.

It's important to note that obtaining a BSN from the BRP department of your local municipality requires a Dutch home address. However, if you don't have one yet, you can register as a non-resident with the RNI department of the municipality.

This alternative route allows you to receive a BSN number using the address of your home country instead. However, the BSN granted through this method is only valid for a maximum of four months, providing a temporary period to secure a rental that aligns with your preferences.

3. Application for a DigiD

In the Netherlands, the DigiD (Digital Identity) system is widely employed by citizens when interacting with governmental organisations such as the Tax and Customs Administration (Belastingdienst). To apply for a DigiD, a valid BSN is required.

4. Enrolment in health insurance

Every individual residing in the Netherlands must possess health insurance provided by a Dutch insurer. The standard package typically covers a comprehensive range of healthcare services, including general practitioner (GP) and hospital care. If you would like more information about the range of healthcare, do contact the health insurance information line (Zorgverzekeringslijn). While registering with a GP is not obligatory, it is advisable to do so in order to have access to healthcare services when needed. Your municipality or health insurer can provide you with more details.

5. Apply with the Tax and Customs Administration

You may be eligible for benefits offered by the Belastingdienst to assist with the costs of rental housing, health insurance or childcare.

The benefits encompass:

  • Housing benefit (Applicable to rented accommodation, if the rent is below 809 euros per month)
  • Healthcare benefit (Relevant to individuals with Dutch health insurance)
  • Child budget (Available to parents of children under 18)
  • Childcare benefit (Provided for children attending daycare or out-of-school care)

The benefits you receive, if applicable, depend on your income, which is often assessed at the household level.

6. Open up a Dutch bank account to receive your hard-earned money

In the Netherlands, the majority of individuals manage their financial matters through online banking services (or internetbankieren in Dutch). This convenient method allows for remote access to your bank account and allows you to enable transactions from anywhere in the Netherlands or abroad.

Having a Dutch bank account makes it easier for you to receive your income as well as government benefits. Additionally, most places in the Netherlands only accept PIN-payment from cards that are issued by a Dutch bank.

If you are planning to stay in the Netherlands for a while, then it is wise to open a bank account here to ensure smooth and easy living.

7. Enrol your child in school

In the Netherlands, children must attend school from the ages of 5 to16. Sometimes, your child will need to attend school until the age of 18, for example: if they have not yet obtained a basic qualification.

A basic qualification is:

  • A senior general secondary education (HAVO) qualification
  • A pre-university (VWO) qualification
  • A secondary vocational education (MBO) qualification at level 2 or higher

After your child has earned the basic qualification, they may enrol in a higher education or vocational programme in the Netherlands. They may also qualify to study abroad outside of the Netherlands.

Prepare well before relocating

As has become evident in this article, relocating to the Netherlands takes a bit of planning beforehand and several actions along the way. Being in touch with all kinds of departments to get all the documentation needed is a tiring task. In the meantime, you might be more concerned with packing up or being in touch with your employer on the other side - the last thing you need is more work to do.

That is where the Employer of Record in the Netherlands comes in handy. Due to their expertise with Dutch law and other local systems, they can arrange all HR and payroll steps quickly and easily for you. They also offer other services such as organising the relocation of teams abroad. Get in touch with them today and discover what they can do for you.

Sarah Missoum


Sarah Missoum

Excelling the Employer of Record market development in the Netherlands, Sarah offers dedicated support and strategic advice to professionals and companies facilitating the growth and international expansion of their businesses...

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