The Guide to Pensions in the Netherlands if you’re an Expat

So maybe you’ve just arrived in the Netherlands and you’re trying to get your head around what you’re paying into. The pension system differs in every country, so it’s natural that you’re wondering how on earth this all works. In this article, we’ll cover the pension system in the Netherlands, how it works and what you should do next. So, what is there to know about pensions in the Netherlands?

Let’s begin!


Understanding the Dutch pensions system: How does it all work?

The Dutch pension system is made up of three parts: A state pension, a supplementary pension and/or private pension. The first is what payments are made through social security contributions and tax in the Netherlands – State pension/Algemene Ouderdomswet (AOW). The amount you receive at the end all depends on how much you have paid and how long for. Your state payment is not really designed to exist as your stand-alone pension – it will be topped up by your employment payments and sometimes even private ones, which we’ll talk about now.

The next part is funded by your company pension, an amount in which your employer pays into, along with yourself. Most companies do provide this (your supplementary pension). This is also available for the self-employed if you opt-in. Your state/AOW is also taken into account, so your payments will be a percentage of your salary minus what you pay into your state pension. The end result is also dependent on the company, time frame and your salary. These pensions are almost always handled by a pension provider outside of the company and are sometimes compulsory (no opt-out), this is because if the company goes under, then your money will still be protected. Despite it being run by companies, they are by law non-profit making – so there are no worries about that.

The final part is your own personal private pension plan (lijfrenteverzekering), which is completely voluntary and will provide you with a top-up of money when you retire. This can be in the form of shares and life insurance. These private pension plans are usually offered via insurance companies and banks.

What happens with pensions in the Netherlands if you are self-employed?

If you are self-employed in the Netherlands, things will work slightly differently. You must make provisions for a supplementary pension yourself and if you’re working in an industry that requires you to pay into a pension fund and it is mandatory, then you must pay into this. Plus, you should also think about joining a pension fund voluntarily – for the self-employed. You are also entitled to AOW.


Am I eligible for a Dutch pension and can I retire in the Netherlands?

The all-important question and it’s really important to check this beforehand. If you’re working in the Netherlands, whether that’s for a company or for yourself, then you have to make mandatory payments towards the Dutch pension system. Therefore if you have been living for working in the Netherlands, then you are eligible. The only exception is if you were born before 1st April 1950. Once you have contributed for a year, you will then be eligible for this pension.

It’s good to know that your pension income will still be taxed in the Netherlands. Everyone must still pay towards their health insurance and some pensioners even pay national insurance still. However, this is all dependent on your own personal situation and may tax rates are reduced if you have reached pension age.

Members of the EU/EEA, are allowed to live, work and retire in the Netherlands without a visa, so if you’re an EU national, then you are well within your rights to retire to the Netherlands. Relatives and partners who are non-EU nationals can register to do the same and join you.

If you are a non-EU citizen then it gets more complicated. You will have to apply for a visa and this will not be permanent unless you’ve lived for 5 consecutive years in the Netherlands.

How much will I receive when I retire in the Netherlands?

How much you receive is all dependent on how much you’ve paid over the years. It also takes into considering how long you’ve been living and paying for this in the Netherlands. These contributions will then be calculated all together (including state, employee/r and private) and you will then begin to receive them once you retire.

For your state pension, you will receive 70% of the minimum net wage (50% if you’re married or cohabiting), the rest will be topped up with your other pension contributions from your employer and your own private pension.

For one year of living and working in the Netherlands, you will build 2% of your pension. To receive the full payment, you must have been living and working in the Netherlands for 50 years. For every year you haven’t paid (if you’re eligible for them), they will reduce it. This means that if you start paying in the Netherlands, leave and then come back again, then this will affect how much you’ll be paid. Just like with every year you build 2%, you will lose this 2% per year if you leave the Netherlands and work elsewhere. You can opt to fill in these gaps voluntary though, as long as it’s done within a year of moving.

To find out how much you have been paying into your pension, check your pay slip! To check how much you have saved altogether, click here.

> What happens once I reach retirement age?

Wondering what happens when that day finally comes? Well, just before this period you should receive a letter about your AOW as the date gets close. However, this only applies if you’re living in the Netherlands – if you’re not then you’ll have to remember yourself. You will have to submit a pension claim and you should do this well in advance before you reach the retirement age.

What is the retirement age in the Netherlands?

The current retirement age in the Netherlands is 66 and 4 months (increased Jan 2019). However, this is steadily increasing. In 2021 it will go up to 67 and then on to 67 and 3 months in 2022. You will not receive your pension unless  However, it is possible to apply for early retirement, but your state pension will still not be paid out to you until you reach the age, or you can opt for reduced pension payment. You can also choose to work longer, meaning that your pension will be larger overall.

Healthcare and retiring in the Netherlands

If you’re retiring in the Netherlands or retiring TO the Netherlands, then you still need to pay for Dutch healthcare. Anyone who lives in the Netherlands for 4 months or more must take it out regardless of age, nationality or employment. This basic insurance starts at around 107 euros per month and covers your emergency hospital treatments, GP appointments, some prescriptions, some therapy and mental healthcare and maternity care. You are then required to pay the first 385 euros per the calendar year (deductible). Read more about this in our healthcare guide.

If you need more specialised care you can take our additional insurances for this.

Getting a pension as an expat in the Netherlands

If you’re a member of the EU/EEA, your pension from all the countries that you have worked in within the EU/EEA will all come together to form a final amount for your pension.

I’m moving away from the Netherlands, what happens to my Dutch pension?

The EU allows you to transfer these pensions between countries – this means that all those years working elsewhere will pay off in the end. However, keep tabs on it as they don’t chase you up.

If you’re non-EU/EEA national, this will not apply.


Survivor’s pension

If your married or cohabiting partner dies and you have not reached the pension age yet and you have a child who is under 18, then you will be able to transfer their pension into ANW Survivor’s Benefits. These can also be transferred over to your children. There are other exceptions too and these are sometimes on a case-by-case basis.

Pensions can be complicated regardless of whether you live abroad, but it’s certainly important to keep yourself informed about how pensions work in the Netherlands (they’re always subject to change). The official government website is the most reliable for this. If you’re here because you’re dying to know when you can retire then check this Dutch pension age calculator (even I did and I’m 25). 😉 

Do you have your pensions in the Netherlands sorted? Let us know in the comments any tips!

Emma Brown
Emma Brown
A familiar face at DutchRevew. Emma arrived in Holland in 2016 for a few weeks, fell in love with the place and never left. Here she rekindled her love of writing and travelling. Now you'll find her eating stroopwafels in the DutchReview office since 2017.


  1. Hello,
    I am looking for information about my possible situation in the future. I have been here for 5 years as knowledge migrant. I plan to work until retiremt. I am also considering either having a pr or going for naturalization.
    And later go back to stay outside NL in a non-Eu country.
    Can I receive the my pension outside NL?
    Is a pensioner required to go back to NL after a specified no. of months or years to continuously receive his pension?

    • Hi Dindo,

      Whether you can receive Dutch state benefits (AOW) depends on whether the country you plan to retire in has a social security treaty with the Netherlands. In many countries it is possible, but not in all. You can check the situation for your country on the website of the AOW administrator:

      If you would like to know more, we have just launched a website to help expats and knowledge migrants like you understand your Dutch pension. Have a look at to learn more.


  2. Hi i worked in holland for 4 years how do i claim my pension as i am 63. When i left Breda they told me that they would get intouch but i have heard nothing can yoj help me
    Thank you

  3. Hi – I am taxed both payroll tax and health insurance on my private Dutch pension. Do I have to pay this as a I live in the UK? Thanks

  4. I am an Australian citizen and resident. I have a company pension from Fokker. Do I have to pay Dutch Tax on my pension?

  5. Hi, I lived and worked in the Netherlands for ten years, I am a UK citizen and have returned to the UK. Can I and how can I claim my NL (AOW) pension.


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