Integrating into Dutch society as an American expat:  A beginner’s guide

Integrating into Dutch society as an American expat: A beginner’s guide

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Beacon Financial Education aims to help expats organise their personal finances and educate them on retirement plans, personal lifestyle planning and wealth management.

Living in a different country seems just fine and great - and it is. But there are challenges to overcome when moving into a new living situation and these challenges are amplified the further you move away due to changes in culture and overall living environment.

For example, a man from America may move to Canada with little to no differences in lifestyle and way of life. However, if a man from America moves to the Netherlands, this cultural assimilation will be far different.

In this article, we will go over some practical key tips on how to relocate to the Netherlands and which cultural differences you should be aware of to make integrating easier.


Obviously, you’ll have to bring your belongings when you relocate. As an expat, there may be some fees you could be exempt of. One being the Dutch registration tax on importing a car. Speak with a relocation specialist or a financial advisor to see which taxes you may be exempt from due to your status.

Understand your VISA

Because America is not an EU state, its citizens cannot work and move freely around EU countries. Because of this, Americans need a visa to work and live in the Netherlands. While in most cases, expats moving to the Netherlands will have already settled their visa situation, there may be some who have not. So, make sure you have your visa situation sorted and are on the same page with your employer.

Insurance and healthcare

In order to be eligible for the Dutch healthcare system, you’ll have to have Dutch health insurance, even if you have insurance where you’re from. As a US expat, you’ll have to take out Dutch health insurance within four months of receiving your residence permit. In addition to healthcare, if you live in the Netherlands, you’ll have to pay into the Dutch social security system. In return, you can claim benefits from the government if applicable.

A bank account

If you’re living in the Netherlands, it might make sense to open up a Dutch bank account. Your employer can pay directly into your bank account and if you have a Dutch one, payment will be faster. In order to open a Dutch bank account, you’ll need an ID, a proof of address, and a BSN (Dutch social security number). If you’d like to add a savings account, you’ll need proof of income.

Paying taxes

Upon entering and residing in the Netherlands, you’ll be classified as a tax resident upon entry. As a resident taxpayer in the Netherlands, you’ll pay taxes to the Tax and Customs Administration Board via your employer. For local taxes, you pay the local municipality and water board.

In the Netherlands, some highly skilled expatriate workers are eligible for the 30% tax ruling, where 30% of your income is earned tax-free. 

Taxes are automatically deducted each month, but it still might make sense to do a tax return to see if you’re eligible for a tax refund. Additionally, it is extremely important to speak with a financial advisor to find out if there are applicable tax treaties between your country and the country you are going to. These treaties can save you tons of money, so talking to an advisor to see if you apply is worth it, 100%!

Lastly… culture

While there is more to be said when talking about the logistics of settling into the Netherlands, there is also the cultural aspect. Coming from America can be a shock when going to any country - especially in Europe. So, it’s important to know some of the differences in culture - as not to be offended.

In the Netherlands, people are more direct and like planning. Meaning, they will tell you what they mean to your face. They appreciate this sort of honesty and view it as an opportunity to improve. Additionally, they like to plan - meaning they do not like uncertainty. Ad hoc / improvised requests are welcome, generally. This does not mean the Dutch are not nice! They are typically warm and friendly people - you will enjoy your stay!

Living in a new country means adjusting to new idiosyncrasies and there will be an adjustment period. But, you will get used to it!

If you have questions, want to know what your investment options are, reach out to Beacon Financial Education to set up a free financial consultation with an independent investment advisor. P.S. On March 12, Beacon Financial Education will host a free informative webinar on Investment Strategies for Americans and U.S. connected expats.

Beacon Financial Education does not provide financial, tax or legal advice. None of the information on this site should be considered financial, tax or legal advice. You should consult your financial, tax or legal advisers for information concerning your own specific tax / legal situation.

Janice Diaz


Janice Diaz

Janice Diaz is an American expatriate living in Amsterdam. She is Vice President of Marketing Development at Beacon Global Group. She often contributes articles to Beacon Financial Education, a division...

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Dominika Ďurechová 17:23 | 11 March 2019

Vague article...

Ronda1117 11:53 | 14 March 2019


Ronda1117 11:53 | 14 March 2019

"For example, a man from America may move to Canada with little to no differences in lifestyle and way of life. However, if a man from America moves to the Netherlands, this cultural assimilation will be far different." What was the purpose for specifying men? These tips apply to everyone and they didn't really cover much of what the title suggests, which is integrating into Dutch culture. This seemed more like a basic checklist of administrative things to consider before moving just about anywhere.