Many expats who want to live and work in the Netherlands (for more than 90 days) need to apply for a residence permit. The type of application you should submit depends on your nationality and on your reason for moving to the Netherlands, such as family, studies, work or other purposes.
On this page we look at the different purposes for applying for a Dutch residence permit (verblijfsvergunning), as well as certain requirements and the application procedure. Dutch immigration law can be quite complex so you are advised to contact an immigration lawyer, especially when it comes to complicated cases.
Reasons to apply for a residence permit
There are many different reasons for seeking residence in the Netherlands. It is important to choose the purpose that best fits your situation as this influences which permit application you select and submit.
Purpose of stay in the Netherlands
The main purposes for applying for residence in the Netherlands include:
- As a spouse, (unmarried) partner or family member.
- As an employee or self-employed individual.
- As a highly skilled migrant or scientific researcher.
- As a student at a university or higher education institution.
- As a student at a secondary or vocational school.
- As a graduate in an orientation year.
- As part of an exchange or working holiday programme.
- As an au pair.
- As a Turkish national.
- As a foreign investor.
- As an entrepreneur on a startup visa.
- As a refugee or asylum seeker.
To find out which purpose best applies to your situation check the IND.
Do I need a residence permit in the Netherlands?
Whether you need a Dutch residence permit depends on your nationality and the amount of time you are spending in the Netherlands.
EU, EEA and Swiss citizens
Citizens of EU / EEA countries and Switzerland do not need a residence permit to live and work in the Netherlands, in line with the EC Treaty. Expats from these countries are not required to register with the IND. However, if they stay more than four months in the Netherlands then they need to register at their local municipality (gemeente).
Family members of European citizens
Under EU Law, family members of EU / EEA and Swiss nationals living in the Netherlands can join them there, even if they do not have European citizenship. This includes spouses and (unmarried) partners. In such situations the family members may apply for verification against EU Law to request a certificate of lawful residence - if they meet the IND's requirements for third country nationals.
It's important to note this option does not apply to family members of Dutch nationals, unless the Dutch national has lived in another EU country.
Short stays: Dutch residence permit not necessary
A residence permit and short stay visa are not required if you are staying in the Netherlands for less than 90 days and your country of citizenship has a non-visa agreement with the Netherlands. See a list of nationalities that do or do not require a visa.
If you are coming to the Netherlands for less than 90 days and your country does not have a non-visa agreement with the Netherlands then you will need to apply for a short stay visa before you travel. You can apply for a short stay visa in person at the Dutch embassy or consulate in your country of residence.
Longer stays: Dutch residence permit required
If you plan to stay in the Netherlands for more than 90 days then you will need to apply for a residence permit.
Depending on circumstances and nationality, some internationals can apply for a residence permit directly at the IND after they arrive in the Netherlands. Others will need to apply for a residence permit and provisional residence permit (MVV) at the Dutch embassy or consulate in their country of residence before they travel to the Netherlands.
The MVV provisional residence permit
Some internationals also need to apply for an MMV permit when they apply for a Dutch residence permit.
What is an MVV?
The MVV (Machtiging tot Voorlopig Verblijf) is a provisional residence permit that allows you to enter the Netherlands as a potential resident rather than a tourist. The MVV is not an official residence permit.
You or your sponsor can apply for the MVV and the residence permit simultaneously before you travel. This is known as the TEV procedure (Entry and Residence Procedure).
Do I need an MVV?
You do not need to apply for an MVV if one of the following applies:
- You currently have a valid residence permit for the Netherlands.
- You are a citizen from Australia, New Zealand, Japan, South Korea, Canada, the USA, Monaco or the Vatican City.
- You are a citizen from an EU/EEA country or from Switzerland.
- You are a family member or (proven) partner of a citizen from an EU/EEA country or from Switzerland, even if you hold a different nationality.
- You currently hold a permanent residence permit from another EU country as a "Long-term resident-EC CE".
- You or a family member have held a European Blue Card for 18 months in another EU country.
- Your situation fits other specific circumstances which do not require an MVV outlined by the IND.
Sponsorship for a Dutch residence permit
Sponsorship is required for most types of Dutch residence permit. Some forms of residence permit do not require sponsors, such as the orientation year for graduates or some working holiday programmes.
Who or what is a sponsor?
If you are coming to the Netherlands as an employee, researcher or highly skilled migrant then your employer is your sponsor. If you are coming for family reasons then your relative or partner in the Netherlands is your sponsor. If you are coming to study then your educational institution is your sponsor.
The IND and Dutch residence permits
All Dutch residence permit applications are processed by the IND (Dutch department of Immigration and Naturalisation).
Applications lodged in the Netherlands can be directly submitted with the IND. Applications from abroad can either be submitted at the Dutch embassy or consulate in your country of residence, or at the IND by your sponsor who is already in the Netherlands.
Requirements for a residence permit in the Netherlands
The requirements for a residence permit in the Netherlands vary greatly, depending on your reason for applying and on which application form you submit. For example, the application requirements for a highly skilled migrant coming to the Netherlands are very different from the application requirements of a family member.
To find out which requirements apply to your specific circumstances you can check the IND. Requirements are also stated on IND application forms.
Application procedure for a Dutch residence permit
The process for applying for a Dutch residence permit is as follows:
How to apply for a Dutch residence permit without an MVV
If you are exempt from the MVV then your sponsor can apply on your behalf for a residence permit while you are still abroad, mentioning your expected arrival date.
Alternatively, you or your sponsor can apply for your residence permit by post or in person at an IND Desk (by appointment) after you arrive in the Netherlands.
If you submit your application in the Netherlands then the IND will place a residence endorsement sticker (verblijfsaantekening) in your passport as proof that you can lawfully stay in the Netherlands while your application is being processed. The sticker also states if you can work or not.
How to apply for a Dutch residence permit with an MVV (TEV procedure)
If you are applying for an MVV and a residence permit at the same time then you can follow the TEV procedure before you come to the Netherlands.
If you have a sponsor in the Netherlands they can start the application process on your behalf. You can also start the TEV procedure at the Dutch embassy or consulate or in your country of residence.
Dutch residence permit application forms
You can find digital versions of most permit application forms via the IND. You can also pick up forms from IND Desks (by appointment). It is highly advised to contact the IND in advance and to check with them about the requirements for your application.
For some permits only a sponsor can submit the application. Also, if you submit an incorrect form or require an MVV but fail to apply for it then your ability to stay in the Netherlands may be affected.
Supporting documentation for a residence permit in the Netherlands
To support your residence permit application you will need to gather documents, such as a birth certificate, to submit with your application. The documents you need to provide depend on which application form you are submitting. Each form lists the necessary documents.
Official foreign documents need to be legalised or receive an apostille stamp, depending on the relevant authorities in the country of issue. Documents must be in Dutch, English, French or German. Other languages will need to be translated by a sworn translator in the Netherlands.
Dutch residence permit costs and application fees
There are costs for applying for a Dutch residence permit or MVV. The amount depends on the type of application. You can check prices on the IND application costs page.
The IND will send a payment request after they receive your application. Payment is possible via cash or debit card. Credit cards and payments in instalments are not possible.
If your application is refused your fees will not be refunded.
IND response time
After submitting your form and paying the fee, the IND will assess your application. The assessment time can vary as the IND is legally permitted to take up to 90 days to reach a decision on your application.
How to contact the IND about your application
You can check on the status of your application by calling the IND on 088 0430 430 (normal phone charges apply) between 9am-5pm, Monday to Friday. From abroad the number is: +31 88 0430 430.
Remember to have your V-number (file number) on hand and that the IND phone line sometimes has long waiting times.
How to collect your residence permit
If your application is approved you or your sponsor will receive a letter of confirmation.
Applications without MVV
If you are already in the Netherlands you can collect your residence permit from an IND Desk. At this appointment the IND will also gather your biometric details such as your fingerprints, signature and passport photo.
Applications with TEV procedure
If you are following the TEV procedure and are outside the Netherlands you will be able to collect your MVV from the Dutch embassy or consulate in your country of residence. Once you arrive in the Netherlands you will have two weeks to pick up your residence document from an IND Desk. Highly skilled migrants can also collect their residence permit from an expat centre.
Note that you can only visit the above locations by appointment.
Rejection of a Dutch residence permit application
If your application is rejected the IND will send a letter stating their reasons for not issuing a residence permit or MVV. The letter will also explain if and how you can lodge an objection.
Additional actions when you arrive in the Netherlands
Depending on the requirements of your permit you may need to complete a few additional actions:
Registration at the town hall
All internationals who are staying longer than three months in the Netherlands need to register at their local municipality (gemeente) to be entered in the BRP (Personal Records Database).
Tuberculosis test (tuberculose onderzoek)
Some people will be required take a tuberculosis test (TB test) within three months of the permit approval. For such a test you must make an appointment at your closest Municipal Health Service (GGD).
Integration exams (inburgeringsexamen)
Some people will be required to integrate in the Netherlands by taking a test such as the Civic Integration Exam (inburgeringsexamen) or the Dutch as a Second Language State Exams (Staatsexamens NT2). To prepare they must attend courses on Dutch language and culture.
If this applies you will receive a letter from DUO (the Dutch Ministry of Education, Culture and Science) stating what requirements you need to fulfil and the time frame. To find out more visit the Integration in the Netherlands website.
Renewing a residence permit in the Netherlands
The maximum duration of a Dutch residence permit is five years. Normally you or your sponsor will receive a letter of notification (and extension application form) three months before your residency expires. If you do not receive this letter then you should contact the IND as soon as possible.
Can I extend my residence permit?
Depending on your circumstances you may be able to extend your residency if you meet the conditions for an extension, or if you have changed your purpose of stay. It is essential to resolve your residency status before the expiry of your permit to avoid an illegal stay or potential entry ban.
Permanent residence or Dutch citizenship
If you have spent sufficient time in the Netherlands and are eligible, then you may want to apply for permanent residence or Dutch citizenship.