What to bring when moving to the Netherlands: a checklist of 10 important documents

Thinking about making the big leap to the land of tall people? Well then! You’re going to need several important documents to take with you.

Emigrating is more than just a quick pack of the suitcase, and you’re off. Without the right documents, your move can swiftly become an absolute nightmare.

Don’t worry, we’re here to help you out! We’ve comprised a list of the 10 most essential documents you need to check off before your big move.

1. The humble passport

The number one rule for any casual traveller? Always bring proof of identification, or you’ll simply end up facing the wrath of Murphy’s Law.

When thinking about what to bring upon your move to the Netherlands, your trusty passport is by far the most important piece of documentation.

Of course, if you’re a Brit or live anywhere outside the EU, this will be an impossible task to forget. However, if you’re one of those people who can travel on a regular government ID card, you’ll have no luck moving to the lowlands with just that.

This also goes for if you wanted to leave the Netherlands to holiday elsewhere if it’s outside of the EU, a passport will be needed. So, all in all: just don’t forget it! 🙂

What would I need the humble passport passport for?

Essentially, you’ll need a passport at hand when you first register at an address in the Netherlands.

Without registration, you’re not able to do simple tasks like opening a bank account, paying your rent and bills, and even working legally.

And as all basic, worldly law enforcements go, it’s also a legal requirement in the Netherlands to carry an ID around with you at all times.

If you don’t have your ID card, you’ll need a passport as proof of identification, or you face a feisty, nasty fine (and possible detainment if you don’t comply 😬).

us-passports-lying-on-top-of-map
Listen to your mother when she says, “don’t forget your passport!” Image: Depositphotos

2. The almighty house contract

Found a place to stay prior to moving to the Netherlands? Congrats! That makes you one in a million these days. Your rental contract is another essential item to stash in your travel bag.

Not only does it serve as legal proof that you have a place to rent in the Netherlands (which is helemaal important for your local municipality to know), but it’s also used for other people and organisations.

What purpose does the almighty rental house contract serve?

When you register at your local municipality, you’ll need a copy of your signed rental contract on standby in order for Dutch officials to grant you that seal of approval to live in the lowlands.

Similar to having a passport, you can’t open a bank account nor do simple tasks such as pay bills, get health insurance, and even vote if you don’t have a rental house contract.

You need to register to receive your BSN in order to do these things.

contract-for-moving-into-house-in-netherlands
Mom: Got your housing contract? “Check!” Image: Depositphotos

3. The loyal educational certificate

Upon your big move to the Netherlands, your certificates proving your educational level are pretty important. They serve as evidence of what courses you’ve taken in the past, and the degrees you’ve obtained.

As a student, you’ll likely come across an instance where you need to show these — and to request copies of it from the educational institution is also a bit on the dear side (price-wise).

So, we suggest preparing them before your move and keeping them safe!

What would I need my loyal education certificate for?

If you apply for a course in the Netherlands, especially at a university, you’ll be required to show your certificates.

This is to prove that you obtained the required level of education by the educational program before you start it.

Albeit rare, if you apply for a job in the Netherlands, they might also just ask you for the certificates, especially if it’s a job that requires a certain degree or training course. So be sure to keep them at hand just in case!

group-of-girls-throwing-graduation-hat-in-air
Got a graduation degree? Pack it in your suitcase! Image: Depositphotos

4. The beloved university enrollment letter

Another essential document to add to your travel bag is your university enrollment letter!

This is of utmost importance because it basically provides all you need (apart from your student card) to prove that you’re a student in the Netherlands.

What would I need my beloved university enrollment letter for?

There are plenty of things you’ll need this letter for, especially if you’re a student.

Health insurance is a big one, as you’ll be entitled to cheaper student insurance if you go through a student-specified health insurer.

Another good reason to have the letter at hand is so that you can open your very own student bank account! Trust us when we say those extra simple savings can truly make your student life a tad bit easier.

You might also need to show it when you register at your local muncipality and need to provide a reason for your stay in the lowlands.

5. The spicy work contract

If you have managed to find work before coming to the Netherlands (or maybe that’s solely why you are coming to the Netherlands), then you need to remember to take the contract with you.

It’s always worth having a signed copy and it also makes the moving process way easier.

What would I need my spicy work contract for?

Firstly, it’s important to have the work contract at hand if any issues come up with work and they need to be addressed via the contract terms.

If you are renting or buying a property in the Netherlands, 9 times out of 10 you’ll have to prove your income through a work contract or pay slips, so they can ensure that you can afford the rent.

For this reason, it is paramount that you have it, or you’ll unforunately face an impossible task of finding somewhere to live (as if that’s not hard enough).

person-signing-copy-of-work-contract
Want to buy or rent a property in the Netherlands? You’ll need this bad boy! Image: Unsplash

6. Your friendly birth certification (with an apostille)

Ah, here comes that part of your day where you have to dig up that crusty, dusty birth certificate lying somewhere under a pile of papers in your closet, attic, or basement.

This document needs to make its way to the Netherlands with you! Why? Because it helps the process of registration here! (Make sure that it’s the original document and not a photocopy.)

Why would I need my friendly birth certificate?

In many situations, this birth certificate will need an apostille, which means it is officially legalised.

The Netherlands legalises foreign documents by adding a stamp or sticker called an ‘apostille’. It shows that the signature on your document is genuine.

With an apostille you can use your Dutch documents in any country that is a member of the Apostille Convention.

It’s better if you do this before you leave for the Netherlands as it will end up delaying your registration, and might cost you to send it backwards and forwards from your home country. (Who want’s that hassle? 🙄)

Be warned though: getting your birth certificate with an apostille will still cost you regardless of where you have it done.

You can also still register without it being legalised, but you have to return within a set period with an apostille, so your registration is complete. Helaas, if you fail to do this, you won’t be legally registered.

7. Your precious medical records

Having your medical records is a massive help when it comes to continuing a treatment in the Netherlands, rather than your own country.

Why would I need my precious medical records?

If you have a complex physical condition or even a mental illness, your medical records can save your new Dutch doctor loads of time by informing them of any surgeries or other major treatments that you may have had over the course of your adult life.

Especially if it’s been ongoing for a long period of time and you may have forgotten what some of your treatments were.

doctor-looking-at-form-with-patient-in-background-at-hospital
Dutch doctor: “Heh heh! These medical records save me some time. Now here’s a paracetamol.” Image: Depositphotos

As we’re all still living in the midst of a pandemic, it’s also good to have a record of your past vaccines on hand, as you never know when you’ll need them again… (*cough* QR code *cough*)

8. Your trusty EHIC card

Before you come to the Netherlands, it’s really important to get your EHIC card sorted.

Wondering what the heck an EHIC card is? Let us brief you.

It’s a free card that gives you access to medically necessary, state-provided healthcare during a temporary stay in any of the 27 EU countries, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland or the United Kingdom.

The card is valid under the same conditions and at the same cost (free in some countries) as people insured in that country. 

Why would I need my trusty EHIC card?

Basically, if you fall ill in the Netherlands, your EHIC card will protect you.

You’ll essentially be covered for medical bills before you start working and before you have to take out Dutch health insurance.

If you aren’t applicable for it, make sure your home insurance covers you until you can buy health insurance here.

EHIC
Mom: “Make sure to take your EHIC card with you!” You: “What the heck is that Mom?!” Image: Antoine FLEURY-GOBERT/Wikimedia Commons/CC3.0

9. Marriage certificates/divorce certificates (even death certificates if applicable with apostille)

To register a foreign marriage or divorce, you will need the documents to prove it. These must be up-to-date documents, and come with an apostille.

With that being said, it’s an echt goede idee to get this sorted out before you leave for the Netherlands.

Why would I need these certificates?

For a marriage to be considered legal within the Netherlands, you need to prove that you were married outside of the country.

This is important, not just for tax reasons, but because, of course, you’d want to be recognised as a person who’s married. In order to do this, you must prove it (and have the document legalised).

10. Your nifty resume

At last, upon your move to the Netherlands, it’s a necessity that bring your fabulous, brilliant resume along for the ride. You know… that one-page piece of paper flaunting the list of things you probably never want to do again? 🤔

person-writing-on-resume-with-glasses
A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step…or resume. Image: Depositphotos

Your resume provides you and your employer with all the good ol’ information about yourself that you’ll need in order to land a job here.

Therefore, it’s important not to leave it at home or on an old computer.

Why would I need my nifty resume?

Well, this is obvious. If you want a job, you’re going to need a resume.

Of course, it wouldn’t be the end of the world if you didn’t take it with you, but you’ll have the horrible task of having to rewrite everything out again!


Phew! So many things to consider in so little time. 😅

The big leap doesn’t have to be a scary one. So long as you have your 10 essential travel documents, the Netherlands will welcome you with open arms (and some cheese too). Veel geluk! 🙌

Have we missed anything else on what to bring when moving to the Netherlands? Let us know in the comments!  

Editor’s Note: This article was originally published in August 2018, and was fully updated in August 2022 for your reading pleasure.

Feature Image:Depositphotos
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.

3 COMMENTS

  1. Hello. I don’t know if you can help me, but…I’m a retired American with an EU residence pass (Germany). I desperately want to live in the Netherlands (because I LOVE it!), and was hoping to find a studio in Zeist, Hilversum – a smaller, quieter city. I receive TWO pensions but my income is still meager. So, I can only afford up to €500, (incl) / month. I know this is quite a challenge, but I have seen a number of small apts. online. I was just three weeks in Zaandam, but my efforts were unsuccessful, having not seen even one place. Do I need to first register with the IND, or can I find an apartment first then do all the necessary legal transactions? Thank you!

    • Hi Thomas,

      It is best to at least begin the process of registration before you find housing in the Netherlands. Otherwise, you would be an undocumented migrant and would not have access to certain housing rights. Hope this helps!

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