Dutch language certification

Dutch language certification

There are different kinds of certification for the Dutch language, depending on whether the student is already in the Netherlands or still in a foreign country.

Kinds on certification for the Dutch language

Dutch language certification is sometimes necessary if you want to study in the Netherlands, or if you want to apply for Dutch citizenship or permanent residence.

Staatsexamen NT2

For people who have moved to the Netherlands, certification in Dutch is via the State exams for Dutch as a second language (Staatsexamen Nederlands als Tweede Taal), the Staatsexamen NT2.


For those living abroad, certification in Dutch language is available via the Dutch as a Foreign Language Certificate (Certificate Nederlands als Vreemde Taal), the CNaVT.


For migrants to the Netherlands from outside the EU there is the Inburgeringsexamen (civic integration exams). Note that immigrants may choose to do the Staatsexamen NT2 programmes instead.

Dutch language proficiency levels

Both the NT2 and CNaVT certificates teach to levels specified in the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR):

Level A (Basic User)

A1: Beginner | A2: Elementary

Level B (Independent User)

B1: Intermediate | B2: Upper intermediate

Level C (Proficient User)

C1: Advanced | C2: Proficient (near native)

Necessary hours of study per level

The hours of guided study (classes and homework) needed to attain different levels of proficiencies will vary person to person, especially if the student’s native language is very different to Dutch. Nevertheless there are general guides as to how long it takes to progress, according to Alliance Français and Cambridge ESOL estimates:

  • A1 proficiency: 60-100 hours
  • A2 proficiency: 180-200 hours
  • B1 proficiency: 350-400 hours
  • B2 proficiency: 500-650 hours
  • C1 proficiency: 700-900 hours
  • C2 proficiency: 1.000-1.200 hours

Dutch courses & certification

There are many Dutch language courses in the Netherlands that prepare students for the Staatsexamen NT2 (and Inburgeringsexamen).

For students who are abroad and want to undertake a CNaVT course, here is a list by country of institutions that hold the exams.

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