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.

That’s not just because of coronavirus: there was a nursing shortage in the Netherlands well before that. 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.

Quick tip to becoming a nurse in the Netherlands

We’ve partnered up with EMTG (European Multi Talent Group Health Care), a Dutch recruitment company based in the Amsterdam area, to put together a comprehensive guide to becoming a nurse in the Netherlands.

EMTG specialises in bringing international nurses to the Netherlands, and boy, are they good at it. They have placed over 400 nurses from 10 different nationalities in over 30 healthcare institutions around the Netherlands.

They offer Dutch courses as part of their programme, so you’ll be ready to talk to your patients and colleagues in their native language.

Plus, they also offer each international nurse a coach to guide them through the process of becoming a nurse in the Netherlands!


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 | 19 questions answered about Dutch health insurance in 2020

doctor in the netherlands
Becoming a nurse in the Netherlands makes figuring out the Dutch healthcare system pretty important. Image: Negative Space/Pixabay

In the Netherlands, we have a healthcare system that runs on private insurance. All adult Dutch citizens pay around €100 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 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, which is why we wanted to partner with EMTG on this — everything is so much simpler with them. But it’s always important to know your alternatives, 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 nurse in the Netherlands?

Figure out if you need a visa to work as a nurse in the Netherlands. Image: Rudy and Peter Skitterians/Pixabay

If you’re from a non-EU country, you will need a working visa to work as a nurse in the Netherlands. The EMTG does not sponsor visas, so that’s important to keep in mind. 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 €1790 and €3370 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 €2725.

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. 

The nice thing about coming to the Netherlands with EMTG is that there is a language school included in the programme aimed specifically at healthcare professionals- which of course is not the case with regular Dutch courses.

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. The EMTG recruitment agency will 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).

First of all, some more details: what exactly is EMTG, and what do they do? Well, EMTG’s goal is to bridge the gap between highly qualified nurses from abroad and Dutch health care institutions vacancies.

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

In the following section, we’re going to take you through the EMTG’s process: from the steps, you’ll take while making your application, to the selection criteria, to what happens after you’re selected and taking your first steps to becoming a nurse in the Netherlands.

What are the steps you will take with EMTG 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.

That’s the first thing you’ll be sending to EMTG, 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 recruitment@emtg.nl once you’re ready to go. It can be in Dutch or English, whichever you prefer.

Then, EMTG will contact you about your application, and let you know if you’re eligible for going further in the process (more on the requirements necessary in the next section, stay with us).

If you are a suitable candidate, EMTG will 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 onto the next phase of the process: the Dutch course.

Maybe the most impressive part of the whole EMTG process is that they offer you an intensive 3-5 month-long Dutch class. It can either be three days a week or six days a week, depending on where you take them.

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.

EMTG partners up with Academia Neerlandesa, a Dutch language school that specialises in preparing medical professionals for working in the Netherlands and Belgium. There are courses in Italy, Spain, and of course, the Netherlands, so if you’re from Italy or Spain, you don’t even have to move to the Netherlands right away.

You’ll have a native Dutch speaker teaching you, so you’ll be able to pronounce Scheveningen perfectly at the end, as well (who are we kidding, no non-native speaker can pronounce Scheveningen perfectly).

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 EMTG partners with, and there you’ll be able to find your footing in the Dutch healthcare system.

You’ll also have a mentor there, as we’ve mentioned before, to guide you through the whole process and help you with any questions you might have.

If this is all too long-winded for you, here’s a handy infographic on all the steps shortened down!


So the question is: what makes you eligible to send over your resume to the EMTG and get this whole process started?

There are a couple of requirements. First of all, you need to be able to speak English fluently — at least a B2 or C1 level. You should also have a basic grasp of Dutch, A1 level.

If you’re from outside the EU, you’ll need a Dutch working permit first of all, before starting this whole process. The EMTG does not sponsor visas, so that is important to take into account.

If you’re from the EU and have an EU nursing diploma, you’re more or less good to go. If your nursing diploma is from outside the EU,  then you have to get it validated first by Nuffic or IDW.

How has coronavirus changed EMTG’s selection procedure?

We can well imagine that you’re wondering how coronavirus is affecting this whole process, and as with everything right now, nothing is certain. But EMTG says not much has actually changed, except for the fact that they’re doing all interviews virtually for now. New candidates that want to do the June course will, naturally, need to study the Dutch language before starting to work in a healthcare institution, so the selection procedure has not really been affected by coronavirus.


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 EMTG 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 — EMTG has got that covered.

You also don’t have to wait to have your BIG registration and NT2 Dutch level before you start working as a nurse in the Netherlands with EMTG, as you would have to if you attempted the process independently.

Basically, EMTG 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!

Feature Image: JESHOOTS.com/Unsplash
Editor’s Note: This article was originally published in April 2020, but was fully updated in November 2020 for your reading convenience. 

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.


  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

  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?

  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


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