Working in the Netherlands - a guide for expats

If you have relocated to the Netherlands, chances are that you are looking forward to start working in the Netherlands as well. No matter what field of work you’re interested in, there are a few things you need to know about working in the Netherlands.

The job market in the Netherlands

There are lots of opportunities for expats who would like to start working in the Netherlands. The country is home to a wide range of international and multinational companies. With many international talents moving to the country, the Netherlands has become an interesting multicultural hub where English is one of the most spoken languages besides Dutch.

There are a number of growing job sectors in the Netherlands. These include agriculture and food, energy, IT, health and life sciences, logistics and creative industries. So no matter which sector you specialize in, there will always be a job for you.

Recruitment agencies in the Netherlands

Nonetheless, working in the Netherlands can still be quite the hassle for someone who has just started on their journey of finding a job. Relocating to a new country always comes with a few challenges. Fortunately, there are many recruitment agencies in the Netherlands that can help you get started.

At Undutchables we specialise in helping highly-qualified non-Dutch speaking professionals get ahead in their career. Check out our vacancies here. Or register so we can help you get started on your job hunt.

Requirements for working in the Netherlands

If you’re from the European Union (EU), European Economic Area (EEA - EU plus Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway) or if you’re from Switzerland, you are free to live and work in the Netherlands without the need for a work or residence permit. However, you do need to register with the Dutch authorities. If you’re from anywhere else, your employer will typically need a work permit for you, and you must hold a residence permit.

Most people who want to start working in the Netherlands will qualify for the single work and residence permit. Others, such as highly skilled workers and holders of the EU Blue Card, only need a residence permit.

When it comes to language requirements it’s a lot easier. You don’t have to speak Dutch to start working in the Netherlands. In fact, English is the main business language in many companies. However, it can increase your chances of landing the job if you do speak a bit of Dutch. Expats who speak Dutch, German, French or a Scandinavian language besides English are always in high demand.

Other than that you need to keep in mind that your chance of finding work in the Netherlands is greater if you hold at least a Bachelor’s degree. If you get an interview for a job, you’ll need to show testimonials or references from former employers. So you should make sure to bring your diplomas, degree certificates and all other documents that might come in handy when you move to the Netherlands. You will also need a Citizen Service Number (burgerservicenummer or BSN) before you start working in the Netherlands. You get it when you register at the city hall on your arrival.

You got the job! Now what?

All your hard work and determination has paid off and you’ve got the job. Great! Here are a few things you need to keep in mind.

One of the first things that will happen after you accept a job in the Netherlands is that the company will present you with a labour contract (arbeidsovereenkomst) outlining all the aspects of your employment. It is not necessary to sign the agreement immediately. Your new employer will usually allow you to take the unsigned contract home to look over it for a day or two to ensure you fully understand it. If there are any elements you are uncertain of or disagree with then you should discuss them with the company before signing.

Another important thing to understand is your Dutch salary and the difference between your gross and net salary. Your gross salary (bruto salaris) is the total amount of your salary before tax and other deductions. Your net income (netto salaris) is your salary after income tax, social security payments and contributions for your pension have been deducted. This is the amount that will be deposited into your bank account each month.

Lastly, let's talk about working hours. A standard Dutch working week is 38 hours. The majority of full time jobs in the Netherlands are between 36 - 40 hours a week, or seven to eight hours a day, five days a week. If you work less than 36 hours a week, but more than 12, you are considered working part time. Unlike many other countries, regularly working long hours overtime is not so common in the Netherlands. So you’ll be sure to start your ‘vrijmibo’ (Friday afternoon office drinks) on time.

And that’s all you need to know about working in the Netherlands. Can’t wait to get started? Here are some other useful resources:

Work experience
Sign me up for the Undutchables newsletter and keep me up to date!

Always up to date to find your dream job!

We only need a few personal details, thanks!

Work experience