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Your responsibilities as a Dutch residence permit holder

Fragomen Worldwide provides a full range of immigration services with access to experienced legal and business professionals all over the world.

If you have a regular residence permit in the Netherlands, there are certain matters you must take into account to be compliant with Dutch regulations.

How to maintain your immigration status in the Netherlands

To be compliant with Dutch regulations, you will need to:

 Monitor the time you spend outside of the Netherlands
 Inform your municipality if/when you move
 Be aware of the responsibilities you have as a sponsor (if your family members moved to the Netherlands with you)
 Obtain health insurance
 Exchange or re-obtain your driver's licence
 Enrol your children (if you have any) in a Dutch school or apply for an exemption

The below information applies to foreign nationals with a Dutch regular residence permit who are not from the EU/ EEA or Switzerland. If you don’t fall into this category, you may have other compliance obligations to conform to.

Spending time outside the Netherlands

Your Dutch regular residence permit can be withdrawn when the Dutch Immigration and Naturalisation Service (IND) concludes that you have moved your main residence outside of the Netherlands.

There is a maximum amount of time you are allowed to spend outside of the Netherlands. If you go over this maximum, your residence permit could be withdrawn.

The time you are allowed to spend outside of the Netherlands is limited to:
 Max. 6 consecutive months per year
 Max. 8 aggregate months per year
 In 3 consecutive calendar years, max. 4 consecutive months each year

There are some exceptions to these timeframes, for instance, highly skilled migrants and researchers are allowed to be outside of the Netherlands for work for a maximum of 8 months (consecutive or aggregate).

Furthermore, you must stay registered with a Dutch town hall at all times. Being unregistered could lead to your residence permit being withdrawn, as the IND will assume you have moved out of the Netherlands.

Changing your address

Another responsibility you have is to notify your town hall when you change addresses. If you move to a new address, you will need to notify your town hall to ensure your information is always up to date in the Dutch municipal database.

The Dutch immigration authorities use this database to verify your address, so keeping this information up to date will ensure that the IND sends their mail to your correct address.

When your Dutch residence permit card expires

You are required to have your Dutch residence permit card with you at all times. It is also important to note that just because your card hasn’t expired yet, it doesn’t automatically mean that you can remain in the Netherlands.

If the underlying permit is withdrawn before the expiry date (for example, if your employment ends early), you do not have the legal right to residence in the Netherlands.

When your residence permit is about to expire, you are required to leave the Netherlands on the last valid day of your permit. Also, you are required to deregister with your town hall, and you must inform the IND of your departure and return your residence permit card to them.

Requirements for family members

For every Dutch regular residence permit, a sponsor is required, and the sponsor has certain responsibilities towards the IND. If your right of residence is based on your employment in the Netherlands, your employer is your sponsor and is responsible for your deregistration with the IND when you return to your home country.

If your family members have a residence permit based on your right of residence, you are the sponsor of their permit, which means that you have the following responsibilities towards the IND:

Information obligation

You must notify the IND of any changes that can impact your family members’ rights of residence within 4 weeks after the change takes place. For instance, if your family members leave the Netherlands, if there is a break in family ties or if you no longer live with your family members.

Administration obligation

You are required to retain relevant information on your family members’ right of residence, such as proof that you have sufficient income, and documents that show your family ties, such as the birth and marriage certificates you may have used for the initial application.

Your family members are also bound by the maximum amount of time that foreign nationals can spend outside of the Netherlands. This means that your spouse and/or children should not be outside the Netherlands for more than 6 consecutive or 8 aggregated months of a year.

Furthermore, it is important to note that you and your family members must live at the same address, and you must all be registered at this address at the town hall. Your family members are also required to have their Dutch residence permit cards with them at all times.

Health insurance is compulsory

Every foreign national living in the Netherland must obtain basic Dutch health insurance. You (and your family members) must obtain this insurance with a Dutch health insurance provider, or with an international provider that is registered in the Netherlands.

You can only be exempt from Dutch health insurance if you are on assignment and have a certificate of coverage from your home country.

Registering your children at a Dutch school

Children of all nationalities who reside in the Netherlands are obliged to attend school in the Netherlands from the age of 5 until 16, for at least 12 years. Children between 16 and 18 need to go to school until they have obtained a diploma of a certain level.

In principle, every child needs to be registered at a Dutch school. However, there are certain exemptions, for instance, if your child is registered at a foreign school.

This exemption needs to be requested every year, and you will need proof of registration from the school abroad. If this is the case, please make sure your child does not stay outside of the Netherlands for more than the allowed period.

Exchanging or re-obtaining your driver’s licence

If you have a driver's licence that has been issued outside the EU/EFTA, you are allowed to drive in the Netherlands for 185 days. After this initial period, you will either need to exchange your driver’s licence for a Dutch one or pass the Dutch driving test.

You are allowed to exchange your driver’s licence in some cases. For instance, if you have a driver’s licence from outside the EU/EEA and are granted the 30% tax ruling or if the Netherlands has an exchange agreement with the country that issued your driver’s licence, provided you lived in the issuing country for at least 185 days in the year your permit was issued.

You can apply for an exchange of your driver’s licence at your town hall. If you are not allowed to exchange your driver’s licence, you will need to pass the Dutch driving test in order to obtain a Dutch driver’s licence.

If your valid driver’s licence was issued by an EU/EFTA country before January 19, 2013, you are, in principle, allowed to drive with this licence for 10 years after it was issued. If your permit was issued after January 19, 2013, you can use it in the Netherlands for 15 years. The licence has to be valid.

After this period, you can exchange the driver's licence for a Dutch one, provided you have a Dutch residence permit and are registered at a Dutch town hall.

Failure to comply

There are multiple matters you need to take into account when living in the Netherlands. Failure to comply with the rules can lead to warnings and fines, or in the event that the IND believes that the Netherlands is no longer your main country of residence, withdrawal of your residence permit.

If you do not obtain Dutch health insurance or enrol your children in a Dutch school without applying for the exemption, you will be contacted by the relevant authorities to rectify the situation. You could be fined if you drive without a valid driver’s licence.

For more information about living and working in the Netherlands, or anywhere in Europe, contact Fragomen Worldwide at benelux@fragomen.com.

Fragomen Worldwide

Andrea

Author

Andrea de Bie

Andrea is a Senior Immigration Consultant in Fragomen’s Brussels office. As a senior team member, she provides legal and strategic advice to multinational clients on corporate immigration and international assignments...

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