How to Get a Work Permit in the Netherlands

The Dutch labor market has constantly risen over the past decade. There are currently around 9.7 million employed people in the Netherlands.

The employment rate in the Netherlands is more than 82%, making it one the best in the world in that category. Job opportunities are vast, and you can find employment in various niches due to the advanced Dutch system. But, of course, it’s a lot easier if you’re looking for work in one of the deficit job positions.

The Netherlands is a great place to work and live due to its stability, safety, and liberal culture. That attracts internationals from across the globe; there are currently more than 2.5 million expats in the Netherlands. As such, it’s easy to meet other international people in numerous expat-friendly locations.

The Dutch are very well-educated and hard-working people, which makes it easy to fit in as a reliable workers. However, if you want to become a part of that society, there are some requirements you need to fulfill, and the most important one is getting a work permit.

Work permit Netherlandswork permit netherlands

The Dutch work permit is a document that allows you to work and live in the Netherlands. Your country of origin will decide whether you need a work permit. For example, if you’re a citizen of the EU or EEA countries, you don’t need a work permit to work in the Netherlands. The same goes for guest lecturers, musicians, or employees who arrive in the Netherlands for a short period to attend a business meeting or a similar activity.

These are the rest of the categories where you don’t need to obtain a work permit:

  • workers who possess a residence permit bearing the inscription “arbeid is vrij toegestaan” (permitted to work), such as those who possess an “asylum residence permit”;
  • foreign nationals working by themselves who possess a verblijfsvergunning zelfstandig ondernemer (self-employed resident permit);
  • verblijfsvergunning start-up (residence permit to launch a start-up) holders who are foreign nationals beginning a business;
  • highly-skilled immigrants: immigrants with advanced degrees who can contribute to the Netherlands’ knowledge-based economy (they follow a different procedure).

If you aren’t in those categories, you must get a work permit to move to the Netherlands. There are five main types of work permits:

  • TWV (tewerkstellingsvergunning) – solely a work permit;
  • GVAA (gecombineerde vergunning voor verblijf en arbeid) – residence and work permit combined;
  • highly skilled migrant permit;
  • entrepreneur permit;
  • European Blue Card holders;
  • permits for expat graduates.

Types of work permit explained

The GVAA combines a work permit and a residence permit for expats that will stay in the Netherlands for more than three months. 

The highly skilled migrant permit is for talented workers who wish to continue their careers in the Netherlands. They are considered privileged workers, and EU or Dutch workers don’t have an advantage in the hiring process.

The entrepreneur permit is intended for individuals that want to start a business in the Netherlands. That puts them in the self-employed category.

The EU Blue Card is a residency permit for highly skilled foreign workers in the European Union.

The permit for expat graduates applies to students that graduated from a Dutch university and wish to stay and work in the Netherlands.

Is it easy to get a Netherlands work permit?

Netherlands work permit

Getting a work permit in the Netherlands is a relatively complicated process since a lot of paperwork is involved. However, don’t let that discourage you, as those bureaucratic procedures are standard for most European countries and can be obtained with a bit of persistence. 

There are some exemptions to this procedure. The following groups will still have to get a work permit, but the process will be less strict. According to the Dutch government website, that applies to:

  • students who combine their studies with a job of no more than 16 hours a week;
  • interns;
  • trainees (on-the-job learning);
  • artists whose income is higher than a threshold amount;
  • asylum seekers who work up to 24 weeks over a 52-week period;
  • spiritual leaders, such as ministers, imams, and clerics;
  • nuns, monks, or missionaries.

For other categories, getting a work permit is linked to other documents. Those are the residence permit and a long-stay visa (MVV). You don’t need any of these documents if you reside in the EU/EEA countries. On the other hand, if you don’t, you may need all three to work and live in the Netherlands. The MVV visa is also known as the digital nomad visa for the Netherlands.

This visa is not required if you have citizenship in the following countries:

  • Canada;
  • Australia;
  • New Zealand;
  • Japan;
  • South Korea;
  • Andorra;
  • San Marino;
  • Monaco;
  • UK;
  • USA;
  • Vatican City.

For these countries, you’ll only need a residence permit.

International hiring

Furthermore, an additional set of rules applies to employers regarding international hiring. Although this step doesn’t require expats to do anything, you need to check if your employer followed this procedure:

  • the employer is unable to locate a qualified applicant from Switzerland or an EEA nation;
  • the position has been unfilled for a minimum of five weeks or three months in the case of positions that are challenging to fill. The UWV determines whether a position is challenging to fill;
  • the employer has tried all options to hire someone from the Netherlands, the EEA, or Switzerland.

How to get a work permit?

how to get a work permit

Getting a work permit implies following specific requirements and paperwork. These are the general requirements that apply to everyone:

  • you possess a current passport or other travel authorization;
  • you don’t endanger the rule of law or the country’s security. An Appendix Antecedents Certificate must be appropriately filled out and sent with the application for anyone beyond the age of 12. You must state on this certificate whether you have ever been convicted of a crime or an offense.
  • a tuberculosis test is required once you’ve arrived in the Netherlands. Under these circumstances, a TB test is not necessary:
    • you’re a resident of one of these countries;
    • you’re requesting a separate residence permit even if you already have one that is valid in the Netherlands;
    • you were born and have always resided in the Netherlands;
    • less than six months ago, you underwent a TB test in the Netherlands.

Once you have the general requirements covered, you can proceed with complying with other conditions:

  • you must meet the income requirements;
  • the business or organization you work for is listed in the Dutch Chamber of Commerce’s Commercial Register (Handelsregister) (in Dutch: Kamer van Koophandel or KvK). This only applies if the Commercial Register Act of 2007 requires this entry (in Dutch: Handelsregisterwet 2007);
  • your employer started by searching for a worker in the Netherlands and other EU or EEA nations;
  • in accordance with the collective labor agreement that governs your organization or business, your employer pays you a standard salary;
  • your employer makes proper housing arrangements for you.

Upon completing these requirements, you’ll be entitled to a single permit or GVVA.

Different types of work permit

However, different types of work permits require slightly different procedures. For example, to get a highly skilled migrant permit, here’s what you need to fulfill:

  • relatively little knowledge and experience;
  • higher educational attainment (a minimum of Bachelor’s degree);
  • a few years of professional experience;
  • specialization;
  • employment contract;
  • meet the salary requirements.

Document-wise, you need to possess the following:

  • a passport that is still valid;
  • being covered by health insurance in the Netherlands;
  • you never stayed in the Netherlands illegally;
  • you never provided incorrect or suppressed information in prior applications.

Entrepreneurs work permit

The following work permit applies to entrepreneurs that want to start their business in the Netherlands. Apart from the permits needed to start their company, the entrepreneur must prove to the government that their business will benefit the country. The government will decide if the business has enough potential to approve it. They will rate the company by examining these three categories:

  • personal experience;
  • business plan quality;
  • added value for the Netherlands through investments or innovation.

Furthermore, you need to comply with these conditions:

  • have experience with guiding creative start-ups;
  • be stable in your finances;
  • not have negative equity nor records of bankruptcy;
  • not hold a controlling stake in the start-up;
  • not be a family member of the third degree (parent, child, grandparent, uncle, aunt, etc.). (parent, child, grandparent, uncle, aunt, etc.).

European Blue Card holders

When it comes to European Blue Card holders, they must have a valid contract (or bidding job offer) with salary requirements suited for their status. The procedure is quite similar to the highly skilled migrant option, with the main difference being higher salary requirements for EU Blue Card holders. Having said that, the highly skilled migrant permit is much more popular.

However, the Blue Card has the benefit of moving to another European country without additional paperwork. That means that a Blue Card holder can move and work in another EU country with their family after 18 months of residence in the Netherlands. Highly skilled migrants don’t have that option and can only stay in the Netherlands. If they wish to move to another EU country, they can apply to obtain a European Blue Card.

Recent graduates of a Dutch university

Finally, the last requirements apply to recent graduates of a Dutch university. Students that recently graduated need a valid residence permit to stay in the country after their studies. To do so, they must apply for a search year (zoekjaar) which allows them to look for a job. Applying for a search year is done by contacting the IND before they end their studies. They must leave the country if they fail to find a job in their search year.

The procedure for applying for a permit

Employers are required to submit either a single permit (GVVA) through the IND or an employment permit (TWV) through the UWV applications. The GVVA application must be submitted by mail. The IND must decide within 90 days, and there is a 345 euro application cost. You can object to their decision if they don’t approve your application.

In addition, you can also apply for the work permit online:

  • you must have authorization and eHerkenning with confidence level EH3 to log in;
  • when you log in to the employer portal, navigate to the left menu and choose “Apply for a work permit.”;
  • a decision on the application may take up to 5 weeks.

Documents for a work permitwork permit netherlands

Regarding the documentation needed for a work permit, you need to be able to provide the following:

  • valid travel ID or a passport;
  • educational background;
  • two passport photographs
  • criminal records check;
  • assurance of a job offer;
  • an indication that the proposed compensation satisfies the income requirements;
  • insurance for health care;
  • if you are an unrecognized sponsor, fill out the sponsorship declaration form.

You need to legalize these documents and translate them into Dutch, English, German, or French. As numerous applicants wait for their turn, the procedure can become lengthy. That’s why it’s a good idea to collect these documents beforehand and avoid any possible setbacks due to a missing document.

Work permit cost

work permit costs

The cost for a work permit in the Netherlands is divided into a few categories, depending on the permit type.

  • for a highly skilled migrant, the cost is 350 euros;
  • for holders of the European Blue Card, the cost is 350 euros;
  • when looking for a job after graduating, the cost is 250 euros;
  • for seasonal work, the cost is 210 euros.
  • to work as a self-employed person, the cost is 350 euros.

Work in the Netherlands

Starting or advancing your career in the Netherlands is one of the best decisions you can make due to the country’s constant progress, stability, and safety. With thousands of applicants each year and millions of expats already living here, it’s one of the world’s most desired countries for work.

Truth be told, the process itself is complicated. You have to deal with tons of documents, paperwork, and bureaucracy issues to move to the Netherlands. If you don’t want to invest so much time in researching and collecting the requirements, don’t hesitate to contact us. We’ll help you handle all the needed paperwork, laws, and deadlines to ensure your transfer to the Netherlands is safe and carefree.

Leave the worries behind and let us take care of the paperwork while you plan your next business success.

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