Social security and moving to the Netherlands

Social security and moving to the Netherlands

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We are becoming increasingly global citizens. It’s easier than ever before to grow up in one country and to have a career in another. Others move for love, to join their partner and start their life together.

Regardless of your personal reasons for relocating, moving to another country will bring with it some temporary administrative consequences. To make the transition as smooth as possible, it’s always a good idea to prepare yourself as much as possible beforehand.

How will your move affect your social security?

One important thing you should plan for prior to relocating is how it will affect your social security situation:
Will the social security system from your old country still cover you?
Will it cover everything in your new country?
What proof does the new country require in order for it to be accepted?
How can you prove this in international situations?

These and many other reasons make it important to determine in which country you are covered by social security legislation. And that is not always an easy question to answer.

The Dutch social security system

In the Netherlands there are two kinds of social insurances: the national insurances and the employment insurances.

All residents of the Netherlands are automatically insured (with some additions and exceptions) by the Dutch national insurances:
General Old Age Pensions Act (AOW)
Surviving Dependents Act (ANW)
Long-term Care Act (WLZ)

The employee insurances only apply if you have (deemed) employment. The employee insurances include the following insurances:
Unemployment Act (WW)
Disability Insurance Act (WAO)
Work and Income Act (WIA)
Sickness Benefits Act (ZW)

The premiums for the employee insurances are paid by the employer. The premiums for the national insurances are withheld from and paid out of your salary, if you are a resident of the Netherlands.

European social security regulations

To make it easier to figure out your social security situation when you’re employed inside the European Union, there are clear guidelines provided by the EU.

The following rules decide by which country you will be covered:

If you spend at least 25 percent of your working time in your country of residence, you will be covered by the legislation of that country.

If you work less than 25 percent in your country of residence and you have just one employer, you are covered by the country of domicile of your employer.

If you do not work in your state of residence for at least 25 percent, you have several employers, and all employers are domiciled in the same state, then you are covered by the country of domicile of your employers.

Do you have two employers that are registered in different countries and you work less than 25 percent in your country of residence? Is one of the two employers based in your country of residence? In this case, you are covered by the country of domicile of the employer which is not based in your country of residence.

Do you work less than 25 percent in your country of residence, you work for more than one employer and the employers are not all based in the same country? In that case, you will be covered by your country of residence.

Are you working in the Netherlands or abroad based on a secondment agreement of no more than 24 months? In that case you can stay covered by the social security system of your home country if conditions are met. In most cases, this term may be extended to a maximum of 5 years in total.

Social security agreements

The Netherlands has also concluded social security agreements with several countries, including the United States. In this case, the social security agreement will determine which country's social security system covers you.

If neither the European regulations nor the social security agreements are applicable to your situation, Dutch legislation will determine your social security position.

A1 form offers certainty

If you are a resident of an EU state, or if you are a resident of the Netherlands working in one or more EU states, it is possible to obtain certainty about your social security situation beforehand.

This is done by applying for a so-called A1 form at the social security authorities of the country whose social security system covers you. If the authorities grant you this A1 certificate, it will serve as proof that you are indeed covered by the social security legislation of that country. Any other EU state you may be working or living in has to accept the A1 certificate. Please note that if the A1 certificate is based on false facts, this can be different.

If you are moving from a country not in the EU, for example the United States, a certificate of coverage can be requested. It provides you with the same protection as an A1 declaration.

Depending on where you will move from, it is recommended to apply for the A1 declaration or certificate of coverage in order to have clarity about your situation.

Health insurance in the Netherlands

Every resident of the Netherlands is required by law to pay for basic health insurance. In addition, the Dutch social security system also includes a mandatory contribution to the health insurance system (Zorgverzekeringswet or Zvw).

The percentage of this contribution and how this will be paid depends on your status as, for example, employee or entrepreneur. Your employer withholds the Zvw contribution from your salary, while an entrepreneur pays his or her own contributions through the annual income tax return.

S1 form

Furthermore, for health insurance there is a specific S1 form available. This S1 form is a certificate of entitlement to healthcare when you don't live in the country where you are insured. It means that you will get access to healthcare on the same terms.

Do you have questions regarding your personal situation? Contact BDO via their website.


Femke Bakker


Femke Bakker

Femke Bakker is working at the Amstelveen office of BDO. After studying international tax law at the University of Amsterdam she specialized in the international income and wage taxation. As...

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