Everything you need to know about becoming a nurse in the Netherlands

The Netherlands is a great place to work as a nurse, and at the moment, it is really in need of more nursing staff as well.

Currently, the biggest shortage in the health sector of the Netherlands is among nurses. So, if you’ve been thinking about making a move to the Netherlands to work as a nurse, now is a great time to do so!

But maybe you’re asking yourself why you would want to come to the Netherlands as a nurse. What does this flat land have to offer you, apart from cheese and tulips?

Plenty more, as it turns out: an excellent salary, a 36-hour workweek, a non-hierarchical workplace culture, and plenty of career advancement opportunities.

Living in the Netherlands is just a great choice in general, in our (totally unbiased) opinion: from the cycling culture to those mysteriously delicious bitterballen, there are so many reasons to choose the Netherlands as your new home.

How does the healthcare system work in the Netherlands?

Healthcare in the Netherlands is something that can be mysterious to an outsider. So if you’re thinking about coming here to work as a nurse, it might be something you’re interested in learning about.

READ MORE | 9 things you need to know about Dutch health insurance as an international

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Becoming a nurse in the Netherlands makes figuring out the Dutch healthcare system pretty important. Image: Pixabay

In the Netherlands, we have a healthcare system that runs on private insurance. All adult Dutch citizens pay around €135 per month in health insurance, with those under a certain income level being (partly) reimbursed for this by the government.

This means, basically, that the healthcare system is pretty well funded, and that carries through in the salaries nurses get (more on that below).

Something that could also be relevant for you to know as an international nurse thinking about working in the Netherlands is that here, patients have to go through their GP before going to a hospital unless it’s an absolute emergency. For you, that means more focused work, on patients that really need your help.

So, how do you become a nurse in the Netherlands?

The procedure for becoming a nurse in the Netherlands as an international person is pretty complicated, so to the best of our ability, we’ve gathered government information on becoming a nurse in the Netherlands with a foreign diploma.

What is the BIG register?

The BIG register is a list of all the medical professionals in the Netherlands, and when you want to become a nurse here, you’ll need to be registered here before you can practice.

Being on the BIG register allows you to use certain professional titles (like “nurse”) which are legally protected. The register also specifies which tasks you can perform, entitles you to specialised training, and places you under the governance of disciplinary law.

How can I register for BIG with a foreign diploma?

So, how does registering with the BIG work with a foreign diploma? That depends: if you have a non-EU diploma, you first need to validate it with Nuffic or IDW. You can skip that step if you have an EU nursing diploma.

You also need to be able to prove that you have a B1 level of Dutch in all four areas: listening, reading, speaking and writing.

After that, you go through the process of registering itself: lots more information is available on the BIG website.

Do I need a visa to work as a nurse in the Netherlands?

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Figure out if you need a visa to work as a nurse in the Netherlands. Image: Pixabay

If you’re from a non-EU country, you will need a working visa to work as a nurse in the Netherlands. Make sure to find out if the company you apply to work for can sponsor visas. We have a whole article about getting a visa to work in the Netherlands, so you can find all the detail you need there.

What’s it like to work as a nurse in the Netherlands?

So, let’s get into the nitty-gritty of working as a nurse in the Netherlands: after all, you have to know what you’re getting into if you’re thinking about making this sort of career move.

Let’s not beat around the bush: salaries are important, especially when you’re doing difficult, important work. In the Netherlands, you will earn between €1840 and €6190 per month- depending on your level of experience and how many hours you work. The average monthly salary for a nurse in the Netherlands is €3920.

But that doesn’t include end-of-year bonuses and holiday pay, of course, and you’ll also have a pension set up for you. Furthermore, you will be paid extra for working weekends and holidays. Most contracts will be for 32 to 36 hours a week.

As with the Netherlands in general, workplace culture is not very stiff and formal. Generally speaking, when you start working as a nurse in the Netherlands, you’ll have a supervisor, who will be a more senior nurse. You’ll get medical information about your patients from a doctor.

Do I need to speak Dutch to work as a nurse in the Netherlands?

Absolutely, you do. It makes sense that when you’re helping patients — people who are in a vulnerable state, quite often — that it’s important for you to be able to speak their native language.

Accordingly, before you register with the BIG, you need to have proof that you can speak Dutch at a B1 level. It would also be helpful to complete a Dutch language course that is aimed specifically at healthcare professionals.

The easiest way to register as a nurse in the Netherlands

Now, this might all sound pretty complicated to you — which is fair enough, it sounds complicated to us as well. A recruitment agency could make this whole process much easier and seamless, removing the need for you to painstakingly Google Translate approximately a million forms (we love Dutch bureaucracy).

Whether you want to work in an oncology department or in the field of mental health, in nursing homes or providing home care, a healthcare recruitment agency would be able to help you on your way to working as a nurse in the Netherlands.

What are the steps you will take with a healthcare recruitment agency towards becoming a nurse in the Netherlands?

The first step depends on whether your nursing diploma is from the EU. If it’s not, you need to get it validated by Nuffic or IDW. If you don’t need to do this step, proceed straightaway to step two, getting that CV up to scratch.

Woman-working-on-her-laptop-while-sitting-on-the-couch-looking-for-nursing-job-in-the-netherlands
Get that CV perfect and shiny to get the best nursing job! Image: Depositphotos

That’s the first thing you’ll be sending to a recruitment agency, and it’s crucial to make a good first impression — as with any instance in your life where you have to send a CV to someone (look at us giving pro tips away for free).

Make sure you haven’t left any awkward spelling errors or grammar mistakes anywhere, as well, that’s always helpful. You should send your spick-and-span CV over to the agency once you’re ready to go. It can be in Dutch or English, whichever you prefer.

If you are a suitable candidate, the healthcare recruitment agency will most likely interview you via Skype or face-to-face at their headquarters to get to know you a bit better. If you’re accepted, you’ll move on to the next phase of the process: the Dutch course.

This will bring you up to about a B1 level, and will especially focus on giving you the vocabulary you need to navigate being a healthcare professional in the Netherlands.

What comes next, once you’ve mastered the Dutch ‘g’? Well, then you start working as a nurse in the Netherlands! You’ll be placed at one of the healthcare institutions that the recruitment agency partners with, and there you’ll be able to find your footing in the Dutch healthcare system.

You might also have a mentor there to guide you through the whole process and help you with any questions you might have.

Conclusion

From competitive salaries to the generally high standard of living here, the Netherlands is an awesome place to be a nurse. However, navigating the procedure of getting yourself on the BIG register, mastering Dutch, and finding yourself a job as an international can be pretty stressful and difficult, if not downright impossible.

That’s where a healthcare recruitment agency comes in. No longer do you have to search for a Dutch course that is a) affordable and b) will help you with healthcare-related vocab — a healthcare recruitment agency should have some good suggestions.

Basically, a recruitment agency massively simplifies the process of becoming a nurse in the Netherlands, as well as improving your career opportunities and increasing your language skills. If you’re thinking of starting work as a nurse in the Netherlands, this might be the way to go.

Do we have any non-Dutch nurses reading this? How was your experience? Leave it in the comments!

Editor’s Note: This article was originally published in April 2020, but was fully updated in June 2023 for your reading pleasure.

Feature Image:Unsplash
Ailish Lalor
Ailish Lalor
Ailish was born in Sydney, Australia, but grew up by a forest in south-east Ireland, which she has attempted to replace with a living room filled with plants in The Hague. Besides catering to her army of pannenkoekenplantjes, Ailish spends her days convincing her friends that all food is better slightly burnt, plotting ways to hang out with dogs and cats, and of course, writing for DutchReview.

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28 COMMENTS

  1. hi.can you say me how much is net salary for nurse and nursing assist in utrecht?
    please mail me
    thank you so much

    • Of course not. They are not the same in the slightest! You can’t just work as a qualified nurse, with a pharmacist qualification just as you cannot work as a pharmacist with a nursing qualifications.

  2. Hey am from Ethiopia I am a nurse I have 8 years work experience currently am working speciality hospital in Ethiopia can I apply Netherland by my profation I need to work your country thank you

  3. What are the different types of Nurses in the Netherlands?
    Example in the US there is a Licensed Vocational Nurse and Registered Nurse.
    Does the Netherlands have the same thing or only RN type of nurses?

  4. I’m from Turkey and I’m not a citizen of the EU but my diploma is from greece. Can I find a job in the Netherlands after learning Dutch in my country, will hospitals help me to get a visa?

  5. Hi yes I am planning to move to The Netherlands in the next 6-8months and Yes the info was clear. When I checked the dates ,I missed the the first course. How should I go about it.

  6. I am a nurse in the united states with 18 years of experience and want to move back to holland (lived in wassenaar in the late 80’s) and be a nurse. Is someone able to contact me?

    • Hi Lisa,

      I am in a similar situation. I hope you had an update about this. I saw another page on this site that stated they only hire EU trained nurses. I hope to get a response as well. Best of luck to you!

  7. Hi am from Ghana I work as a nurse I have 7 years working experience am currently working with Adventist Ghana Health Services can I apply as a nurse in your country Netherland I need to work in your country thank you

  8. Hello I’m Lebanese Registered Nurse with bachelor degree of nursing
    Very i interested to work in Netherlands
    I have 2 years of experience in intensive care unit and I worked 9 months with WHO program to fight the corona virus In lebanon

  9. hello sir madam,

    i would to take a course to be a nurse but i dont know how.. coz i can’t be out of job coz i have kids i want to help people how i can do it thank you

  10. im in dubai and i am from the philippines. i have an expereince here in dubai butbstop working couple of years as I had my children. Can I still apply as a nurse in the netherlands?

    • Hi Jessica, thanks for your question. Indeed, it should still be possible for you to apply as a nurse in the Netherlands if you follow the steps as outlined in the article!

      • Hi! I’m also a filipino and been working overseas for almost 18 yrs now and interested to work in Amsterdam or the Netherlands. If you can help me please. Thank you

  11. Thanks for the information well detailed…my results has been sent to IDW for evaluation hoping to get feedbacks soon inorder to move to the next step of the application…

    • My name susi darma yanti ,L nurse. I now Amsterdam .I can speak englis and ducth litlle 2.And now need find job care giver ,home care ,pediatric adults or nurse .I ex saudi Arabia hospital 20y.can find job Amsterdam. Pls tell me to find job in Nederlands wt permit or sponsor .Pls help me .please help me.T much .

    • Hi, I am from Zimbabwe and I have 3 years work experience as a registered general nurse. I am interested in working in Netherlands. How do I go about it? Please help

  12. I am a registered nurse with my masters degree, residing in the United States. I have both my Canadian and American citizenship. I would like to know if there are opportunities for nurse educators from other countries in The Netherlands. Thank you.

  13. Is the Québec, Canada nursing license recognized in the Netherlands? I have 9yrs of experience on a very diverse unit. Med-Surge, geriatrics, palliative, psychiatric, and much more. I am considering starting over new, in a new place. Unfortunately, we simply have lost our joy here in Canada. For the Dutch courses, how much do these cost?

  14. Hi, thank you for detailed information. I am a Registered Nurse/ Midwife with 13years working experience in a tertiary institute in Nigeria. I like to move to Netherlands as a practicing RN.

  15. Hello first i want to thank you about the detailed article
    if you can clarify about the course of dutch is EMTG covering the cost or this is up to us? or they inform about this after the application approved??

  16. I am student nurse paramedic, I don’t qualify until 2024. I am from the United Kingdom, Liverpool. This is something I will be interested in the future and would love to learn the Dutch so, Thankyou for the information

    • I graduate as a nurse in Liverpool in 2024 as well! Would be interested to know if you had any luck with Dutch lessons. I’m learning a lot myself but could use some guidance.

  17. Hi, I’m from the UK and qualify as a nurse next year. Do you have any advice on where to find nursing jobs for non-eu citizens? All the agencies I find are for EU only and I can’t seem to get any advice on finding sponsors/vacancies that are suitable. Thank you.

  18. Hello, I have a visa in Germany and I am doing the recognition of my nursing degree. I would like to come and work in the Netherlands. My Dutch language level is A1. I speak English and German very well. I would like to know if I can change my visa and come to the Netherlands to work with English in a private practice? until I master the Dutch language.

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