How to Move to the Netherlands

So you want to move to the amazing country of the Netherlands, but you are not sure exactly how to do it? It really is a great place to live, once you have settled in, but it can be a hard experience. However by reading this article, you will hopefully make your move to the home of the windmill go smoothly.


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    Research the Netherlands. You do need to find out as much as you can about the country. Culture, history, and law are good starting points. Then move on to things such as cuisine, and language.
    • Make sure to check out the job market in the Netherlands, to see what jobs are in need of workers. Although it can be tricky finding a job in this country, some companies are crying out for highly skilled immigrants. Keep in mind however that these jobs may be ones that all the Dutch workers do not want to do, so the possibility of it being something unpleasant may be high.
    • If you have children, search for good schooling or child care possibilities.
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    Get all legal documents sorted. This part is essential or you will be refused entry into Holland, and will be arrested on suspicion of being an illegal immigrant attempting to enter Holland. You will need a passport, a visa, work permits and residency permits. You should also bring copies of important documents such as your birth certificate and marriage certificate.
    • Visit a Netherlands Embassy close to you to ask about specific visa requirements for your situation. If you live in the US, you will need a visa and a temporary residency permit (MVV) if you are planning on staying in the Netherlands for more than 3 months. To apply for a visa, you will have to bring a passport, two color photographs of the applicant, a correctly signed and completed visa application, and any documents you have related to your move, such as job relocation papers, etc.
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    Visit the doctor and receive any necessary vaccinations and any health certificates you may require.
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    Establish a budget. Now that you have decided that you are going to move, it is time to store up some money. Make sure you have enough money for the kind of property you want. A city apartment in Amsterdam? A 3-bedroom cottage? Write down what kind of home you are looking for. Be sure to think this through carefully. Some typical house prices in the Netherlands are:
    • Row houses (also old houses, including cottages) - Around £300,000/$435,000.
    • Town Houses - Around £150,000/$215,000
    • Apartment - Around £55,000/$80,000
    • Villa style homes - Around £200,000/$300,000 [1]
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    Book your method of transportation into Holland. The easiest, but not always cheapest way is by plane, but if you live in Europe it is possible to go by coach and boat. For an easy and stress free trip, write down every little detail that you will need to use in order to use your chosen method of transportation, such as flight number, airports, and check in times.
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    Pack your bags. Big items can be transferred separately, so only bring what you can fit into a bag! Things like iPods and books for example, could be put in hand luggage to entertain you during the journey. Essentials here are items like clothes, toiletries, some food and drink to get you started, and most important of all: Money. If you do not know much of the language, then bring a language dictionary. It will go a long way until you can speak Dutch fluently.
    • If you are bringing portable appliances like electric razors or hair dryers, make sure they are compatible with wall outlets in Holland where the voltage is 220 volts. [2] If they aren't, you may want to buy a converter, or rely on battery operated appliances.
    • According to the Netherlands Board of Tourism and Conventions, the Dutch are relaxed about clothes, so you can wear what you feel comfortable in. For example, Amsterdam is a place where people even attend the opera in jeans and tee shirts. [3] But, if you plan on going on job interviews or eating in fancy restaurants, you should bring a suit and tie (men) or a skirt (women). Additionally, you should plan your clothes for the seasons: be sure to pack shorts and a lightweight raincoat for summer and warm clothes suitable for 35 degree (F) weather for January and February.
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    Convert your currency into Euros. Remember, the more money that you bring, the better start that you will get in Holland. Bear in mind that the Euro may be worth more or less than your own currency, so keep a look out on the foreign exchange markets, as you may be able to get a little bit extra money![4]
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    Move your savings to a Dutch bank. You can go online, or even go to the Netherlands yourself for this part of the process. You will be given expert assistance by the banks, who can make this seemingly complicated procedure a nice, simple one.
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    Figure out how you'll be covered for health care. If you have an international health insurance pass, you are entitled to health care if you need it -- meaning that all services covered by health insurance will be reimbursed. The amount of care provided, however, is related to how long you're staying in the country. Get a health insurance policy and find yourself a huisarts (doctor). If you are not insured, you will receive basic medical aid but you can expect a high bill. However, every hospital has a fund for non-insured or people without papers; You will never be denied urgent medical aid. As of January 1, 2006, every Dutch resident must get a basic health insurance at about € 900 - € 1000 a year. You can choose your own insurance company and you can opt for additional insurance packages for expenses that are not covered in the basic insurance package.[5]
    • The Netherlands has reciprocal health care agreements with the EU and EEA countries as well as Australia, Cape Verde Islands, Croatia, Morocco, Tunisia, Turkey, the Federal Republic Yugoslavia (Kosovo, Montenegro, Serbia, Vojvodina), Bosnia-Herzegovina and Macedonia. [6] In the case of non-EU and non-EEA countries, health care will only be provided if the necessary treatment cannot be delayed until the visitor returns to his or her home country.
    • If your country does not have a reciprocal health care agreement with the Netherlands, you should take out travel insurance which includes coverage for medical treatment. If you have any questions about health care in the Netherlands you can call the Agis Health Insurance International Section at ( 31) (0)30 233 06 00.
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    Learn the language. Buying some books or tapes is a great start. Or if you have a little bit of extra money, then sign up for a class. Dutch can be tricky to learn, but is easier to learn if you are from countries such as Germany, Switzerland, Austria, or other countries that speak English. You will find Dutch difficult if you are from outside of Europe. [7]
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    Look for properties in Holland. Visiting the country itself presents a glorious opportunity to get a small taste of life in Holland. The next best way is the estate agents. They will give you the best advice. Another good technique for finding a home is to use resources near to you, such as the Internet and books.
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    Take care of your pets. If you move from another EU-country, your pet will need a European passport. You can get this passport at a registered vet in your home country. Your pet also needs a clearly legible tattoo or chip. Be sure that you apply the pet passport a couple of weeks before you move, as it takes some time to get it. If you do not have a European pet passport, upon arrival in the Netherlands, your pet will receive a vaccination for rabies. After that, your pet will have to remain in quarantine for 30 days. For some animals, you will need a health certificate (birds, horses, cows, and foxes). For other animals, you do not need a health certificate or passport. Rabbits, hares, and fish can be brought to the Netherlands without any trouble. For more information, contact the Dutch Tax & Customs Department.[8]
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    Say goodbye to loved ones, if they are not accompanying you on the move. This is likely to be very emotional, so remember to bring tissues! Hug each and every one of them and tell them you love them, and that they are welcome to come visit any time they want. Promise to keep in regular touch.
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    Arrive at the airport/boat station/train station/coach station nice and early. You do not want to miss the ride! If you are at an airport, you can also go and look around at the many great facilities on offer. If you are stuck for ideas, why not check out the article Pass Time at an Airport?
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    Check in. Make sure you have your passport and all legal documents with you. If not, you could be in a lot of trouble. It is vital that you bring these documents with you.
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    Board your method of transport and go to the Netherlands. Relax on the journey, and feel excited that you are going to start a new life, in a brand new country, and that it is going to be a great adventure for you. Also, do not worry too much about friends or family, as they are bound to come and visit often, and besides, you are going to make plenty of new friends!
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    Brace yourself for culture shock. Things may take some getting used to, such as driving on another side of the road, or the temperature. However, try to laugh it off and you will make everything seem a little bit better. These things will come in time.
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    Meet new people. Although the Dutch are known to be a direct and fairly extroverted lot, they generally do not invite you to their home unless you've made your way into their circle of close friends and family. This is Holland, not Spain or Italy.
    • You meet acquaintances at work, in the pub, at the gym, at school, or at your hobby club. Once you are invited to someone's home, your status has been upgraded from acquaintance to friend. Note that you are now expected to attend every birthday party in the family.
    • When making your first steps into Dutch society, you may find it helpful to get in touch with fellow countrymen who have been precisely where you are now. One of the richest resources for expats in Holland is Expatica.[9]
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    Obtain citizenship. There are three ways to become a Dutch citizen:
      • By birth, if at least one of the parents is Dutch. If the parents are not married, the child can get the Dutch nationality if the mother is Dutch. If the parents are not married and only the father has the Dutch nationality, he has to recognize the child before it is born.
      • Through the 'optie procedure', children of immigrants can obtain the Dutch nationality if they were born in or spent most of their lives in the Netherlands.
      • Through the naturalization procedure anyone can apply for a Dutch citizenship.
        • To obtain the Dutch nationality through naturalization, you must meet all of the following conditions:
          • You are 18 years of age or older.
          • You have lived (legally) in the Netherlands, the Dutch Antilles or Aruba for a period of at least five years. If you are the spouse or registered partner of a Dutch national, you can already apply for naturalization after three years of marriage or partnership, regardless of your place of residence. The only requirement is that you have lived together for three years.
          • You have a Dutch residence permit for a non-temporary purpose (e.g. family reunification or work). A residence permit for a temporary purpose (e.g. studies or medical treatment) is not sufficient.
          • You have sufficiently integrated into Dutch society and you can speak, read, write, and understand Dutch. This will be tested in a naturalization exam.
          • In the past four years, you have not received a prison sentence or financial fine of an amount exceeding € 2,453.78.
          • You are prepared to give up your current citizenship. In some cases, dual citizenship is allowed.
          • You must be able to afford it. The whole procedure can take up to one year and costs something around €1250 (in 2012 costs), depending on your income.


  • You should know a good amount of Dutch before you leave. Many Dutch employers will not hire someone who can barely speak the language. If you have a Dutch speaking person in your family, ask them to teach you a bit.
  • Don't feel rushed into making a decision; this is a massive moment in your life and only you can decide what you want to do. You are leaving a lot behind, so you have a right to have plenty of time to think.
  • Making new friends in the Netherlands has its rewards. Even having one friend in another country is amazing. But having several can be fantastic for you, as they will help you find your way round, and also help you with simple things like buying a coffee, or ordering a pizza.
  • Try to beat the homesickness. Slowly, you will get used to being away from family and friends, as you will make new friends. If you have your loved ones' phone numbers, e-mail addresses or addresses, then you will still be able to keep in regular touch with them.
  • If you have extra money that you would not mind bringing, then bring it! It will get you off to a better start. If you cannot bring any extra cash though, do not worry, as the Netherlands are quite a cheap place to live, and the extra money would only be for a few more luxuries.
  • To apply for naturalization, you have to visit the city hall in the municipality where you live. There, your identity will be verified and your police record checked. Then, your file is sent to the IND together with an advice on whether to grant you the Dutch citizenship or not. If the IND decides that you may become a Dutch citizen, the document will receive the queen's signature and you are officially a Dutch citizen.
    • For more information you can read about the naturalization procedure in the IND publication which can be found here.


  • Most people in the Netherlands understand and speak English varying from reasonably to very well. If someone does not seem to understand you, use simple words, e.g. do not speak about your condominium but about your house.
  • Cultural differences within the Netherlands are big. People from the south share some characteristics with the French, while people from the north sometimes could be compared to Scandinavians. On top of that: Dutchmen are not at all alike. Once you think you know the Dutch habits and customs, you will learn otherwise.
  • Many people end up wanting to go home, and then get themselves wrapped in huge debts. Make sure that this move is what you want to do, as this is going to affect your life dramatically.
  • The Dutch learn British English at school but watch a lot of American TV programmes. Mind your choice of words, they may not understand some typical British or American expressions.
  • Dutch people are very open minded and direct. They might criticise politics in your home country. Do not be offended, but engage and educate.
  • You may get insulted because you are a foreigner. However, this hardly ever happens and if it does, the best thing to do is just ignore it all. The people are most probably joking with you anyway.
  • It is easy to get lost in a big city. Be especially careful in places such as Amsterdam, where there are some parts that you should not venture into, unless you want to.
  • If the Netherlands appeal to you, great. But please do not venture there unprepared. For the IND (nationalization services, INS) you must have a valid reason to move to the Netherlands; e.g. a job, show your contract; family creation, your fiancé(e) will have to show they have enough income to support you/sponsor you, or family reunion. Nowadays there is also a compulsory entry test, in most countries this needs to be taken BEFORE you get to the Netherlands. Please contact your local Dutch embassy or consul to inquire about these rules and regulations!
  • With regards to drugs the Netherlands are very liberal. But there are misconceptions and limits. One such misconception is that every Dutchman uses cannabis and knows where the nearest "coffee shop" can be found. Drug tolerance is about choice and most Dutchmen make the choice not to use drugs. There are limits with regards to drug tolerance. Selling hard drugs is illegal and will be prosecuted. Two Italian tourists found that out when they went to the Dutch police and asked for some hard drugs to be tested on quality. They were promptly arrested and jailed.

Things You'll Need

  • Passport and legal documents
  • Money
  • A new home
  • Phone (optional , for contact with loved one's)
  • Tickets for transport (should you need any)
  • Furniture (if you are bringing your furniture over)
  • Map
  • A car (or a bike)

Article Info

Categories: Europe