- Download our Moving to the Netherlands Guide (PDF)
Visa requirements for the Netherlands are dependent on the applicant's nationality, other visas presently held, and the planned duration of stay.
As the Netherlands is a Schengen and EU-member state, expats from other EU and Schengen countries, including Liechtenstein, Norway, Iceland and Switzerland, can travel to and live and work in the country without a visa. Holders of valid Schengen visas residing in other countries are generally able to travel to the Netherlands without need for further visa applications. Certain conditions may apply, such as the need for a valid ID document or passport.
Expats from non-EU countries will likely need a visa to enter the Netherlands, whether for work or a short visit. For stays shorter than 90 days, non-EU nationals must get a Schengen visa; for stays longer than 90 days in the Netherlands, a residence permit is likely required.
Foreign nationals must contact the nearest embassy or consulate and check the Government of the Netherlands website, the Immigration and Naturalisation Service site, or The Netherlands and You official website
Schengen visas for the Netherlands
Expats who need a Schengen visa, also known as a short-stay visa, must complete an application form, gather supporting documents and submit them to their closest Dutch embassy or consulate before they travel. All documents must be in English or Dutch. The supporting documents normally consist of a travel itinerary including travel dates and accommodation information. In some cases, applicants may have to provide additional documents at the discretion of the Dutch embassy or consulate.
Expats should bring their documents with them when travelling to the Netherlands in case border guards request them.
Schengen visas allow entry into any Schengen state for up to 90 days within a 180-day period. To stay longer, a residence permit is required.
Orange carpet visa facility
Expats who visit the Netherlands frequently for business purposes can obtain the orange carpet visa facility. This facility benefits business travellers as they won't need to provide as many documents to obtain a visa, visas are valid for longer, and in-person applications will only be required every five years.
It is not available at all foreign embassies, and expats should request more information from their relevant embassy or consulate.
Working holiday visas for the Netherlands
Nationals of select countries between the ages of 18 and 30 are eligible to live and work in the Netherlands for one year on a working holiday visa. These countries include Argentina, Australia, Canada, Hong Kong, Japan, New Zealand, South Korea, Taiwan and Uruguay.
The Working Holiday Program or Working Holiday Scheme allows holders of the visa to reside in the country on a temporary residence permit. Expats who are part of this scheme are only able to work to financially support their stay.
Residence permits for the Netherlands
Non-EU/EEA citizens will need a residence permit (verblijfsvergunning or VVR) if they intend to stay in the Netherlands longer than three months. Residence permits are generally valid for one year.
For expats already in the Netherlands, residence permits may be applied for at the Dutch Immigration and Naturalisation Service, also known as IND.
In some circumstances, it may be necessary to apply for a long-term entry visa before travelling to the Netherlands. Long-stay visas are also called authorisation for temporary stay visas or MVV (machtiging tot voorlopig verblijf). MVV allows entry into the country as a prospective resident rather than a tourist. An application for a residence permit is usually lodged at the same time or after arriving in the country.
Registration with the local municipality
Although EU citizens don’t require a residence permit, they do have to register with their local municipality if they live in the Netherlands for more than four months. Once they've registered, expats will receive a BSN Number (citizen service number), which is also necessary when paying taxes or opening a local bank account.
Note that all foreign nationals living in the Netherlands must have health insurance arranged within four months of arriving.
Permanent residence and Dutch citizenship
Expats can apply for permanent residence in the Netherlands if they've lived in the country for an uninterrupted period of five years. Alternatively, foreign nationals can apply to become a Dutch citizen through naturalisation.
Once they have this, they no longer need an employer-sponsored work permit.
*Visa regulations are subject to change at short notice and expats should contact their respective embassy or consulate for the latest details.
►For info on the documents needed to take up employment, see Work Permits for the Netherlands
"Just the waiting. It took three months from the time I turned in my application till the day I received notice that my permit was ready to be picked up. There was next to nil I had to complete on the application thanks to the US/Netherlands relationship. As my husband is Dutch, my residence permit doubles as a work permit." Read about Tiffany J's experience with visas.
Are you an expat living in The Netherlands?
Expat Arrivals is looking for locals to contribute to this guide, and answer forum questions from others planning their move to The Netherlands. Please contact us if you'd like to contribute.
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