Whether you are a busy executive being relocated to The Netherlands by your employer, or a highly motivated individual immigrating to The Netherlands: we can support your Dutch immigration process. Starting with arranging your immigration application (visa, work and residence permit). A consultant will inform you what documents are necessary to start the process and guide you throughout the duration of the immigration request.

The Netherlands is a member of the EU and the Schengen area. Therefore individuals who are citizens of one of the EU or EEA countries and want to study, work or live in the Netherlands will not require a visa for their stay. The same visa-free regime also applies for travel purposes.

Immigrating to the Netherlands

Feel free to contact us directly about questions on immigrating to the Netherlands for individuals and corporate clients. You can read more about our services below.

If you are a citizen of a country which is outside of the EU or EEA zone, you might be required to obtain a Dutch residence permit or work permit in The Netherlands. Together with our partner, a Dutch immigration lawyer, we can provide advice on visa and work permit requirements if applicable.

The reasons for applying for a residence- or work permit are plenty. They can be work-, family-, study or love related. And every application procedure has its own path and challenges, exemptions and difficulties. In recent years, the Dutch government has gotten more strict on supplying a so-called ‘verblijfsvergunning’ (residence permit). This is where our legal experience comes in handy. Before you start a permit application, you should first specify your reason for your stay:

  • Spouse, (unmarried) partner or family member
  • Employee or self-employed individual
  • Highly skilled migrant or scientific researcher
  • Student at a university or higher education institution
  • Student at a secondary or vocational school
  • Graduate in an orientation year
  • Part of an exchange or working holiday program
  • Au pair
  • Foreign investor
  • Entrepreneur on a startup visa
  • Refugee or asylum seeker

It could also be that you are not in need of a residence permit for the Netherlands. Depending on your nationality and time you plan to stay. We advise people on their situation before entering a procedure, to save the necessary time and money.

Who needs a work permit?

The reasons to apply for a work permit are very diverse. The most common that apply to the Netherlands are the GVVA or Single Permit, Highly skilled migrant permit, Orientation year (zoekjaar) permits for expat graduates and Entrepreneur permit. Whether or not you fall in one of these categories and if you are in need of a work permit (depending on your nationality) are very personal.

Allow us to verify what procedure applies to you. For example, to qualify as a highly skilled migrant in the Netherlands you are required to have skills and experience that are relatively scarce at a high educational level with at least some years of experience. Are you positive you mark all the boxes? Prevent disappointment or delay and let We4Expats guide you through the application procedure.

Exemptions on residence permits for the Netherlands

Citizens of EU / EEA countries and Switzerland are exempted from a residence permit to live and work in the Netherlands, as agreed in the EC treaty. This doesn’t mean you are fully exempted from any registration altogether. For if you don’t have to register with the IND (immigration office), you are still obliged to register with your local municipality. Furthermore there are exemptions for family members of EU/ EEA and Swiss nationals living in the Netherlands as well as short stay visitors. 

Again, nothing is cemented in stone. There are exemptions on exemptions. For example short stay visits from countries that have no non-visa agreement with the Netherlands. At We4Expats we are fully up to date on the latest laws and procedures. When in doubt about your specific situation, feel free to fill in our contact form.

Provisional residence permit (MVV)

To make things more complicated, some epaxts will have to apply for a provisional residence permit called MVV (Machtiging tot Voorlopig Verblijf). This permit allows you in the country as a potential resident rather than a tourist, though the document is not an official long term resident permit. During the Entry and Residence Procedure, you or your sponsor (institution, employer, university) can apply for both the MVV as well as a permanent resident simultaneously. 

Whether you do or do not need an MVV depends on the following: Do you already have a valid residence permit? Are you a citizen from Australia, New Zealand, Japan, South Korea, Canada, the USA, Monaco or the Vatican City? Are you a citizen from an EU/EEA country or from Switzerland? Do you hold a permanent residence from another EU country? Do you have family members or a partner from a EU/EEA country?

Avoid complications!

Again we urge you to check your situation with us to avoid unpleasant surprises on departure or arrival. These can be very costly in time and money when not dealt with timely; assessment time for an application can take up to 90 days by the IND and is not free of charge.

The Dutch BSN or Burger Service Nummer (sometimes also referred to as sofi number, which is short for social fiscal number) is mandatory for all residents of the Netherlands. This is required in order to obtain a bank account, payroll and several other services. We can arrange this on behalf of you and your family if required. It is comparable with the social security number in the United States. 

Obtaining a BSN is the first bureaucratic issue that you will be confronted with when migrating to the Netherlands. The BSN is a unique registration number and facilitates any interaction with Dutch authorities on all levels. You will need this number when starting a job, obtaining insurance, applying for benefits, registering an address, filing taxes and much, much more. You can see why it is important to get your burger service number sorted out straight away.

What is the difference between a BSN and sofi-number?

As mentioned above, the two terms are interchangeable. This could be a bit confusing, but we’ll explain to you what is the reasoning behind the terms. In short you could say that sofi-number is the old name for what is now BSN. In 2007, all sofi-numbers got replaced with burger service numbers by the Dutch tax office. In 2014 the Belastingdienst ceased issuing sofi-numbers altogether. The term sofi-number is however persistent in the common language.

Where to apply for a BSN?

When you arrive in the Netherlands, you will have to register within five days after arrival with your local municipality if you plan to stay for more than four months. Doing so, you will be given your BSN automatically. Registering however takes some documents, depending on whether you are a EU citizen or not. For EU citizens, a proof of identification (such as a passport or driver’s license) is sufficient. For non-EU expats the required documents also contain a residence permit and employment contract. Depending on your situation, you could also receive a letter of pre-registration from the immigration services. We4Expats will advise you on which procedure applies to you and how to meet the requirements without any delays.

Once you have received your BSN you will be able to open a Dutch bank account. Based on your needs we can recommend the appropriate bank for you as well as making all arrangements required for you to open an account.

In recent years there has been quite the spectacular growth of banks in the Netherlands. Where people were almost destined to join one of the big four (ING, Rabobank, SNS, ABN-Amro), the landscape has now been enriched (in our view) with more specialised banks. These cater not only different needs, but also worldviews as you can choose what your money contributes to.

Sustainable banking

Although not entirely new, the ASN Bank and Triodos Bank have grown exponentially since 2010. Their aim is to invest money online in sustainable projects. Triodos Bank has over 700.000 customers and is considered one of the most green banks. The main difference with ASN, is that the latter is a department of the Volksbank. Freely translated as ‘peoplesbank’ in English. This means that the ASN Bank is affiliated with three other banks that are also part of the Volksbank, such as SNS (one of the big four). The Triodos bank can thus be considered as the most green, although both ASN and Triodos are responsible choices when you find sustainability important. 

Note that both these banks will do some research on your person or business. If you work for an oil company or in the meat industry, your application will likely be declined. Due to the vast popularity of these banks, an application approval can take up to eight weeks (ASN Bank) or even three months (Triodos Bank).

Banks of the future

Another trend in finances is to minimize the role of the middle man. In other words: banks that charge little fees, are highly IT optimized and offer a lot of freedom, while minimizing certain services that are considered redundant or old-fashioned. Two examples of these kinds of banks are Bunq and Knab. Bunq sells itself as ‘bank of the free’, while both banks are emphasizing how easy and mobile their services are.

These banks are attractive for young people that have a ‘do it yourself’ mentality, having an interest in investing without third party intervention. Bunq also has the option of choosing how to invest your money. So if you want to invest solely in sustainable projects, you can.

Private Banks

When you reach an equity of at least €500.000 you are eligible for private banking. The big four, as mentioned above, all offer private banking to larger accounts. Next to these banks, there are various exclusive private banks such as Van Lansschot, InsingerGilissen and Oyens & van Eeghen. Whatever works best for you depends greatly on the nature of your business and what risks you are willing to take when investing. We4Expats can consult you on a first selection of private banks that might serve your needs.

If you are working or living in Holland then you are obligated to have a dutch health insurance. The prices of these health insurances range anywhere from €90 to €300+ per month, per person. So where does this difference in cost come from?

First of all there are many different health insurance companies. Although their prizes aren’t vastly different, it can pay to do some research. Secondly, you can choose your own insurance package. Only basic health insurance is mandatory. This covers hospitalization, seeing your general practitioner, maternity care and some medicine. You can then choose to add certain optional ‘packages’ to your insurance, for instance:

  • dental care
  • alternative cure
  • (sun)glasses and hearing devices
  • mental health care
  • physiotherapy
  • certain medicines
  • health insurance abroad
  • maternity care at home

And this is just the beginning of a list with over 50 healthcare options. For now, we do not aim to give you a complete overview, but hopefully give you an impression of how the ‘click and select’ system works in the Netherlands. 

Next to healthcare options, you can choose the width of your excess limits. These start at €385 (mandatory), but can be stretched all the way up to €885. This again influences your monthly payment.

Lastly, it has to be mentioned that not all health insurance companies let you choose your own hospitals/surgeons. This is due to certain contracts between healthcare providers and insurance companies. When you are in need of specialized healthcare, this is something you want to take into consideration.


For people on minimum income, good health insurance can seem unaffordable. When you come to the Netherlands for instance to work as an au pair, you might be tempted to go for the absolute minimum expenditure to save money. 

To prevent people from being ‘under-insured’ the government supports people on low income by refunding a percentage of the monthly costs (so called zorgtoeslag). The more you earn, the lower this percentage will be. And vice versa.

We4Expats has a good overview of the Dutch health insurance landscape and will be glad to assist you in making an optimal choice that benefits both your health and finances. We will also check if you are eligible for compensation from the government.

For registration with municipalities and the Dutch immigration service (the IND). In some cases, it is necessary to have certain documents, such as birth certificates and qualifications, legalized and translated. We can arrange this on your behalf.
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