Working in the Netherlands: Applying for a permit

You found the perfect job in the Netherlands and you are ready to pursue your dreams. Whether you are moving to reach greater heights in your career or you are simply moving for other reasons you need to know that as a non-EU-citizen (non-EFTA citizens) working in the Netherlands requires a work and residence permit. To give you some direction and help you navigate the mountain of documents and actions, we will give you some valuable information on the steps you can take in order to start your relocation process.

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Types of permits

There are different permits, each with their own rules and regulations. The beauty of this is that there is a permit for every situation. It is therefore important to know which permit applies to your personal situation and the permit that you can apply for. Together with your employer in the Netherlands you would need to determine which permit applies to you. If multiple permits are required, your employer will be in charge of arranging this for you. If you are looking to work under the conditions that apply to the orientation year visa (a special residence permit for highly educated candidates), you are responsible for arranging this yourself. With the orientation permit (or search year permit) you have the option to seek employment in the Netherlands during the period of a year. You also have the flexibility to accept any (temporary) job or internship during the orientation year. Quite useful when you are not yet certain of the career path that you want to take.

The main work permits are:

  • GVVA or Single Permit
  • Orientation year permit (search year/zoekjaar)
  • Highly skilled migrant permit

Your employer is your sponsor

When applying for a permit, the employer is the sponsor of the international moving to the Netherlands. The sponsor is therefore also responsible to ensure that the employee meets the conditions in order to obtain the permit. The process of applying for the permit can be fast-tracked if the company is registered as a recognized sponsor. To qualify, companies can register at the IND, the Dutch Immigration Services.

The conditions of a permit

To apply for a permit, you must meet various conditions. It differs per permit what exactly these conditions are, but to give you a push in the right direction we listed below the standard ones.

  • You have a valid passport
  • You are not a risk to the public order or national security
  • You are willing to undergo a tuberculosis test upon arrival in the Netherlands. Certain nationalities are exempt from this obligation.
  • You take out Dutch health insurance

You must also arrange to have the proper legal documents. You cannot apply for a permit without these documents. Official foreign documents must be legalized for use in the Netherlands and translated into Dutch, English, French or German. This includes an employer's statement, employment contract, appointment decision, assignment letter or guest agreement.

If you are taking part of a work-learn program, an internship or apprenticeship agreement is also sufficient. In addition, you must also be in possession of a background statement that indicates whether you have been declared criminally liable. If you apply for a search year visa for highly educated people, then of course you need a valid diploma.

Time to apply for the permit

Once you have all your documents and you meet all the conditions for the permit and your employer is recognized as a sponsor, you are ready to apply for your permit. Applying for a permit goes through the IND. In the application form on their website you are able to pinpoint your situation and the IND will be able to guide you through the process.

Even Though this information does not entirely encapsulate everything you need for the work permit, it is a first step in the right direction. If, after reading this article, you still run into difficulties, take a look at the IND website. They specialize in permits and are happy to assist you.


Find more information about working in the Netherlands.

Find more information about living in the Netherlands.

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