Tips for expatriates living in Holland
Please beware that the information on this site is out of date. This web site has been setup back in 1999.
Citizens of the non-EU countries need a work permit. Work permits are issued by the Ministry of Social Affairs in The Hague through the District Labor Bureau. An application must be made by the employer at least 6 weeks before the beginning of employment. The employer have to show that the vacancy cannot be filled by someone from the registered work force (being Dutch nationals or EU and EEA nationals or legal immigrants who are allowed to work) and must provide proof of having carried out an extensive search for someone from registered work force to fill the vacancy during a period of at least five weeks. It is nearly impossible to get a work permit for unskilled labor or non executive positions.
The work permit is given usually for a period of maximum one year. After one year, the work permit can be extended for a period of three and a half years. The application to renew the work permit must be made at least 5 weeks before the expiration of the current one. The work permit is granted to the company and is valid only for the specified position. Changing the employer will make necessary another work permit application from the new employer. In this case there will be not need for the MVV visa and the application can take up to 6 weeks. However the work permit will be granted only for the period covered by the current residence permit. For renewal, the company must prove that the vacancy cannot be filled by a EU national. Of course there are good chances to succeed in such an application if the procedure is prepared with care by the Human Resources Department of that company.
After working continuously for three years with the same work-permit, there will be no need anymore for a work permit and jobs can be changed freely.
The work contract is made between the employer and the employee. There are several things which are by default present in such a contract according to the Dutch law. The minimum number of holiday days is 25 and there is a holiday allowance of about 8% of the bruto annual wage. The contract specifies the duration and if there is a probation period or not. Usually it is. This can take a few months and is paid less than the period after the probation period.
If you come the first time in Holland is better to discuss with the employer the accommodation possibilities and ask also help in this respect.
After 6 months to one year of work, there is a possibility to get a permanent work contract. The permanent contract is very useful when applying for a mortgage or a loan in general.
For non EU citizens an application for the work permit is usually accompanied with an application for a visa for temporary residence (MVV visa) to enter Netherlands. Non EU nationals must apply for the MVV visa in the country of origin. It is not possible to apply for a work permit within Netherlands if for instance you posses a visitor (tourist) visa. The application must be backed up by a letter of intention of the company who applies for the work permit in Netherlands. The application is submitted to and sent by the Embassy or Consulate in the country of origin to the Netherlands authorities.
There are various factors which can decide the total time to wait for the application to successfully finalize. The waiting time (which can include also the work permit application) can vary between three months to one year. The only way to speed things up is to have in Netherlands relocation support from a company familiar with the application procedures. Usually, the employer hires such a company, if not, it should be useful to suggest this possibility to the Human Resources Department of the company which might not be aware of the usefulness of this if is pursuing for the first time for a work permit application. If the work permit is granted by the labor authorities, the Ministry of Justice (http://www.minjust.nl/) and Foreign Affairs (http://www.minbz.nl/) send a positive advice back to the Embassy or Consulate to issue the MVV visa. the MVV (Machtiging voor Voorlopig Verblijf) is a visa which gives right of temporary residence and allows the applicant once in Netherlands to apply for a permanent residence permit. The bureaucratic procedures of sending the application from one office to another including the sending to the Embassy by diplomatic courier will take about two to three months of the total time.
Once you have entered the country you must register to the Foreign Police in the district of your residence and apply for a residence permit. At the moment of the first application there will be also a visit to the city hall which have an office in the same place where the police is. It is compulsory to register your address of staying therefore one must be also in the possession of a renting contract or a declaration from the company regarding the accommodation means. Other necessary paper are the passport and a birth certificate which must be legalized by the Dutch authorities. The legalization can be done in Netherlands, or better, in the country of origin at the Dutch Embassy/ Consulate.
The permit is granted for maximum 1 year and has to be renewed every year. After 5 consecutive years of residence is possible to apply for the Dutch citizenship.
The application for the new residence permit must be made at least with 4 weeks before the expiration date of the current one. Usually the Foreign Police sends an application form to the the home address of the resident and if the application is granted then the new residence permit can be picked up in 4 weeks from the Foreign Police. If this is not happening 6 weeks before the expiration then is better to check with the Foreign police because you are the only one responsible to apply within the legal term for the new residence permit. It is important to know that if the application is not sent within the legal term the authorities have the right of expulsion and the application has again to be made in the country of origin.
The passport must be valid at least 13 months from the start of the validity of the residence permit, otherwise the period of the validity of the residence permit will be smaller than one year (maximum passport validity minus two months) If during the staying in Netherlands the validity of the passport approach this delicate limit is better to exchange it or prolong its validity at the Embassy of the country of origin in Netherlands (for a list of the embassies and consulates in the Netherlands visit http://bob.minbuza.nl/cccd_start.asp)
Everyone must be health insured in Netherlands. An insurance can be concluded at any insurance company. When applying for the residence permit one must be already in the possession of a health insurance. The insurance companies usually will not issue a permanent one until you are registered at the city hall. Instead is often used a 23 days general insurance which cost around 4 NLG per day and can be concluded by any person who stay in Nederland.
Health care is expensive and if not covered by the insurance can be a dreadful experience. In most cases the dental care is not by default covered by a normal insurance so is worthwhile choosing one which covers it. The difference in price is not huge but makes a lot of difference. One must pay good attention to the agreement. There are a lot of details which can by tricky. For instance changing to a more expensive insurance which covers also the dental care will not cover it until a certain time passes by. This is because insurance companies don't want to allow changing between different coverage just for the duration you might be in need of a certain coverage. So is better to pay a comprehensive insurance from the very beginning. The price per month for such an insurance can be from 120 NLG at ZAO to a few hundreds of NLG to another companies depending of course of multiple factors. For a salary bellow 64000 NLG per year you can take benefit of the Ziekenfonds insurance which is the cheapest way to do it.
The WEB site of the tax authorities can be found at http://www.belastingdienst.nl/
All wages in Netherlands are paid to a bank account, never in cash. The first think one should do after signing the contract with the employer is to set up a bank account to receive the payment. Is recommended to have an account on the same bank as the employer - this will make money transfer very fast (usually two working days). The banks are reluctant to create bank accounts to foreigners so is better to go together with someone from the company and with the work contract.
Providing the fact you have already obtained your work permit and your residence permit, in order to receive payment from the employer there is one more step to be done, you must file for a social fiscal (SoFi) number. This number is necessary for receiving wages and for tax registration. SoFi numbers are available at the national revenue service (Rijksbelastingdienst). The number is unique for every person in Netherlands and should be kept secret because it could be misused by other person in regards with the taxes for which you must file every year.
Q. How fast can I get a SoFI
number to receive my salary?
A. First the residence permit has to be issued. Next, the Foreign Police send a letter to the Tax Authorities informing them that you are entitled as an alien to a SoFI number. So minimum waiting time is equal with 4 weeks + duration needed by Foreign Police to send the letter + registration of police request at the Belasting dienst = about 2 months.
The taxation is high
in Netherlands. The taxation grid until year 2001 is:
|Bruto anual salaris||Taxes|
0 to 15.255 NLG
|15.255 to 48.994||37.95%|
|48.994 to 107.756||50%|
The taxes are applied gradually for the amounts within the specified limits (only what is after one limit is taxed with the corresponding percentage). There is every year an amount which is not taxed (around 9000 NLG). This borders will be modified by the new rules in 2001. The new policy will give lower taxation rates but a higher VAT (value added tax) from 17.5 to 19%. This way the consumer will have bigger expenses as the consume raises.
The new taxation borders
|Bruto annual salaris||Taxes|
|0 to 31.652 NLG||32.9%|
|31.652 to 53.881||36.85%|
|53.881 to 101.659||42%|
The taxes are paid by the employer and in the beginning of every calendar year the Tax Authorities prompt the employees to file for the taxes for the previous year. This way the real taxes are calculated which take into accounts things that could not have been foreseen during the passed year. Most of the time this mean receiving money back from the authorities which takes more taxes than they should during the year. This could not be true however if you have other sources of income like shares and they come to be taxes at the end of the year.
The tax authorities accepts as tax free expenses things like: transportation to and from the work place if the distance is bigger than 10 km, the interest on the mortgage or other loans, professional expenses like books and computer expenses which are related to the professional activities.
Filing for the taxes can be made by completing a written form or by electronic means on the web site of the Belastingdienst. Foreigners can only do it in written form on a special form that is set to the residence address by the tax authorities. This is because foreign citizens can benefit of special tax policies not available for the Dutch natives as the 35% tax ruling. Not filing for the taxes (even if this could mean getting money back form the authorities) can give a fine of 2500 NLG.
More about taxation can be read at: http://www.minfin.nl/Uk/taxation/tax_home.htm
This tax reduction has been created especially for employees coming from abroad to the Netherlands. Benefiting from the 35%-ruling means paying tax on the basis of the same tax brackets and rates as Dutch residents. However, for 65% of your salary only. The benefit is created by having 35% of gross salary paid out as tax free allowance. The 35%-ruling is granted for a maximum period of 10 year.
The tax reform whose new rules will be applied from 1-st of January 2001 will also affect this ruling mainly reducing it to 30%.
To qualify for the application of the 35%-ruling, an employee must be:
The employer has to co-sign the request for the 35%-ruling, hence you need his cooperation. Theoretically, the agreement on the 35%-ruling -between you and your employer that you are going to send to the tax office, must be signed on time, i.e. at the start of your employment here. In reality the application is aprooved even years after employments starts.
The Revenue will send you a formal approval after having determined that you have satisfied all requirements.
The 35% ruling have no influence about other tax free expenses or other deductions. This mean that the 35% rule is added to all the other rules valid for the Dutch tax payers.
Another advantage of having the 35%-ruling is that school fees paid to an international school (for any children attending international primary or secondary schools) can be paid to the school directly or reimbursed by your employer without having any tax consequences. Should your employer not be prepared to give such a compensation, you can deduct the school fees on your income tax return as professional expenses.
If you can show to the authorities that you have been granted the application of the 35%-ruling, the procedure of exchanging your driving license into a Netherlands one is very simple. Holders of driver's licenses issued in countries outside the EU drive in the Netherlands using the foreign license for a period of six months after registering as a Dutch resident. After this period one must either take an exam or exchange the foreign license for a Dutch one. The examination is expensive (more than 2000 NLG). Having the 35% tax ruling will make possible the exchange by just paying a visit to the city hall and pay an administration cost of about 40 NLG, the permit will be received home in a few weeks.
A Dutch document about
this issue can be read at http://holland.jobserver.org/35verg.html.
More information can be requested from:
6401 DJ Heerlen
Because many major expenses made in Nederland have tax implications, we strongly suggest that newcomers in Nederland resort to a tax advisor. Not all tax advisors are used to regulations regarding foreigners so is good to check if the advisor have experience in this respect.
One of the many tax advisors can be found at http://www.intax.nl
For some, finding a job is a straight forward process. Skills are enough to get a particular kind of job. However, there are professions which require that your skills are admitted in Holland as been equivalent to a Dutch trainee in that profession. This situation can be easily found in professions like medical and law professions. For some is a requirement to make diploma evaluation for some could be just a way to have a title or get a better salary. No matter the reasons, there are organizations which deal with this problem.
The process called in Dutch diploma waardering, is as it's name is, an evaluation of your current (highest) diploma. It is a certificate or a statement which describes with what Dutch training program the foreign diploma is comparable with. It gives the potential employers an image upon your training but does not guarantee any other rights or implicit recognition of the quality of title earned in the country of origin.
There are four organization
in Nederland which are specialized at different levels of training
in diploma evaluation activities:
2502 LT Den Haag
NUFFIC is specialized
in evaluation of high education diplomas like University and
9700 LJ Groningen
+31-50-5998036 (request for title recognition)
+31-50-5997755 (request for IDW forms)
GROEP is specilized in Title recognition.
1018 EV Amsterdam
OCTANT is specilized
in advising your steps to be taken in regards with IDW and also
process IDW requests.
2701 AG Zoetermeer
COLO is specialized
in different professions and skills recognition which does not
required high level education.
All organizations require payment for administration costs (between 100-200 NLG) and can be contacted by mail only if needed. While the requests and documents sending can be done entirely by mail, one should consider also what is gained giving the fact that all the documents submitted must bear a legalization on a Dutch Notaris to be accepted. So a quick visit to one of the above mentioned office might save a lot of time and money.
The Dutch language can be learn in many schools. The government has given an important attention to the integration of foreigners into the Dutch culture and language is one o the basic tools for this goal. As well as for all other things in Netherlands one must register for a course. The place will be granted by basis of availability in the schools around your residence area. Of course, private lessons will eliminate the waiting time but at a high cost.
The official site for regional education can be found at http://ww.roc.nl/
Choosing the government subsidized schools bring costs of about 150 NLG for three months which can be regarded as administration costs. Those who benefit from an integration contract (like spouses of workers who joined them in Netherlands) get this opportunity for free and also free books which otherwise have to be paid by the cursist. The free courses can be followed until a certain level of knowledge is obtained. On a scale from1 to 5 usually the firs 3 levels can be done without costs for persons who benefit of an integration contract. At the free University lessons are also available but for bigger costs. The quality of the subsidized courses are by many regarded as not as professional as other methods. In fact this might not be true at all. Before any lessons starts, an interview is taken. Based on certain criteria, people with the same learning capabilities will learn together in group. During the learning process, the group can be changed towards another one which provides a different speed or a different method. The process is thus a very flexible one aimed to give the best solution for a lot of different individuals.
Applying to Dutch
lessons can be done at the so called "Centrale Intake"
centers which have offices around the country. In Amsterdam this
office can be found at the following address:
Elisabeth Wolffstraat 2
1052 RR Amsterdam
The spouses of non-EU citizens can join their wife/husband if their spouse have already obtained a residence permit and their income and accommodation can support both persons. The spouse application for the MVV visa will be done as well in the country of origin. Six months is a common term for an application to finalize. To prove the relation with the working spouse in the Netherlands, the best way to make the things clear is for the working spouse to legalize at the Dutch Embassy in the country of origin the marriage certificate and to declare the marital status and the spouse name and other relevant information at the moment of registration at the city hall when applying for the first residence permit.
The spouse will not have the right to work unless the employer will apply for a work permit. Only after the working spouse has been working in Netherlands for three years continuously with a work permit will both partners get a residence permit with which they can freely enter the labor market.
The spouse is entitled to a SoFi number and though cannot work, this entitles the working spouse to have an extra 9000 NLG not taxed every year until 2001. Beginning with the new tax regulations from 200, this rule is changed, the spouse will receive directly from the TAX authorities a netto amount of 277 NLG per month. The amount is taken from the salary of the working spouse.
A spouse will usually enter a free integration program offered by the government. Language training and an orientation program with the help of qualified advisors is offered for free but also put certain demands on the person who follows this program. One important thing to know is that while this program is very useful it is also compulsory to follow, so if you don't agree to do it, there are pressures on you and the working spouse to follow it!
In Netherlands is possible to get 100% finance support by getting a mortgage from a bank or other institutions. The only requirement is a permanent work contract and the maximum amount of the loan is decided by the annual salary (about 3-4 times the annual bruto salary). Getting a mortgage is a difficult task giving the multitude of possibilities. The best way to start doing it is to get the support of a mortgage advisor. Usually the support is free in the hope that you will continue the buying of the house and get the papers done through the same agent. Brochures with information can be found at the banks and other organizations.
The advantage of getting a mortgage to buy a house compared to rent a house are major. First, you pay money which remain to you once you have paid back the bank so is an investment for yourself. Second, the interest of the loan taken by the bank is tax free so a the end of the fiscal year you can actually get a large amount of the taxes paid during the year back (renteaftrekbaarheid). In Netherlands there is the possibility to pay the whole loan back in the form of interest thus is fully tax free. This makes the netto amount paid every month much smaller.
Those who benefit of the 35% rule still benefit of the renteaftrekbaarheid however the fact that the employee already pays less taxes will not offer the best absolute value.
Getting a mortgage is an important step because the decision affects your life for a long period. Is recommended to be prepared about the procedures and their meaning during the whole process of buying a house.
Information about mortgages and house prices can be found at different web sites like:
Anybody in need of housing in Holland can register with housing associations to rent a home like Archipel, Spectrum or Woonwerk. Although you will not be offered a residence immediately, your chances will improve the longer you are register. You must pay a fee to register. The dwellings for witch you are eligible depend on your family size and income. You can also try to find a home through individual homeowners or real estate agents.
Waiting for a subsidized price house can take many years depending of the area, your income and members of the family. As an example, living in Amsterdam can be very expensive. Rent price bellow 1100 NLG can be found only trough Woning Corporations therefore only after a long waiting period.
The public transport is unified. The payment is made by the number of zones which are crossed. The "Nationale Strippenkaart" is the most used method for paying the fare. The rule is to stamp at the stamp automat outside or within the vehicle a total amount of strips equals with 2 for one zone and an extra strip for every subsequent zone crossed. The zone borders can be seen in the station maps or in the vehicle. Once stamped, the Strippenkaart allows travel within the zones for a maximum amount of time, including changing of transportation vehicles like metro, tram and bus. Failing to show a valid ticket to an inspector will give you a fine of 60 NLG plus the fare price.
The national rail company can be found at http://www.ns.nl/. You can get a reduction of 40% of the standard price for you and another accompanying 3 persons if you buy a reduction card for 100 NLG per year (Voordeel-urenkaart). The owner of such card has also free entrance to several museums across the country For some trajects also the strip card can be used inside the train. Otherwise a ticket can be bought from the stations Automats. Failing to show a valid ticket in the train will not give you a fine but a more expensive ticket will be offered by the conductor for a price ranging between 3 to 6 times the normal fare.
THE XPAT JOURNAL - the magazine
for expatriates in the Netherlands.
Subscriptions can be made by e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone: 070-3063310. The magazine is very useful for foreigners and give good examples of problems related to relocation in Nederlands. Old issues can also be ordered from the editor.
The Yellow Pages are also available on-line at http://www.goudengids.nl/.
http://www.lokatienet.nl/ hosts an interactive address finder with detailed map of Holland and route planner between two addresses.
A credit card gives
more freedom in terms of choices when traveling abroad or even
in your own country. For people coming from East Europe this
could be a new experience. Is good to know that:
For Visa, an application can be made online at http://www.visa.nl/. The credit card company has to know the applicant address, employment status and have a copy of the last salary payment. If the conditions are met, in less than two weeks the applicant can receive the card and soon after the pin code (for cash withdrawal).