Can I work in the Netherlands? Complete guide to work permits and visas to land a Dutch job

Considering working in the Netherlands? You should know there’s a curious phenomenon that strikes people who arrive in Holland. It’s a state of mind that seeps in slowly, mesmerized by the spinning bikes, the turning windmills, and winding canals. The Netherlands creeps into the brain and plants a seed: can I stay here?

But where you live, you must pay bills, and to pay bills you must work, to work you need a job, and to get a job you must be allowed by the government. If you’re really serious about making the move to Holland, you’re probably asking yourself whether you’re able to get a job. That’s where we come in!

For this special guide we’ve teamed up with Undutchables, the highest-tier recruitment agency specialising in internationals in the Netherlands. They’re the experts when it comes to finding jobs for anyone who is Undutch and able! We’ll get into that ‘able’ part in this article.

Are you already living in the Netherlands? Or are you planning to make the jump? Let’s get into a tricky little thing called Residence Permits that can make all the difference to whether you can work in the Netherlands.

BUT FIRST, A NOTE: Oh, bureaucracy! While we’ve made every attempt to keep this article updated with the most correct information, things change quickly. We recommend you double-check the IND website or get in contact with Undutchables

Working in the Netherlands: residence permits

While we wish we could go back to the days where residence permits didn’t exist, we like the internet, dishwashers and modern medicine far too much. The Netherlands can be very selective about who can come to the country to stay and work so unless you’re an EU, EEA, or Swiss citizen it’s necessary to obtain the relevant residence permit (verblijfsvergunning) for your stay.

Visual representation of all the paperwork that can go into getting a work visa. Image: Dom J/Pexels

Remember, just because you have a residence permit doesn’t mean you’re necessarily allowed to work. There are a stack of different types of Residence Permits, all with different conditions on whether, where, and how much you can work. Check your individual resident permit or head over to the IND for more information or get in touch with Undutchables, they’re the experts at helping people find work in the Netherlands.

If you don’t have a residence permit yet that allows you to work, there are two main ways to go about obtaining one and a few things to remember depending on your situation.

When you have been offered a job in the Netherlands already

You’ve made the applications, had the interviews, or been headhunted, and have a tasty job offer on the table in the land of windmills and cheese: congratulations! This is an excellent position to be in considering it can be difficult to find a job in the Netherlands, however, it’s not smooth cycling just yet.

Want to arrive with a job lined up? Get in contact with Undutchables to see current vacancies!

What are the steps to apply?

Your employer will submit an application for a residence permit on your behalf (yay!). However, before you travel to the Netherlands you need an MVV (temporary residence permit)which is a sticker placed in your passport before you come to the Netherlands, at a Dutch consulate or embassy. There are a few exceptions to needing an MVV, like being citizens of certain countries.

Your employer can also apply for your MVV on your behalf (bonus free time for you!). While they do this they will also apply for a THV if necessary – the THV is your work permit and is granted by the UWV (Netherlands Employees Insurance Agency). The combined application of the MVV and THV is called the GVVA.

This is an important part of the application because the UWV will make sure there is a reason for you to have this job – namely that there is no one else in the Netherlands, EU/EEA or Switzerland that could have it instead.

It’s also worth noting that you can go through this process yourself provided you have the job offer, and that your employer may ask you to submit the application – although this is less common.

The IND (immigration department) will come up with an answer on the granting of your residence permit and its work allowance within 90 days once everything is submitted and verified to be complete. If it’s a yes, pack your bags! If not, there are sometimes grounds to challenge the decision.

When you want to find a job

Rather find a job after already coming to the Netherlands? This is a bit more difficult and depends heavily on certain requirements. The main option is if you have graduated or completed a PhD within the past three years.

If so, the ‘Orientation Year for Highly Educated Persons‘ (what a mouthful!) could be an option for you, but check the information at the IND for full requirements – because there are a lot.

If you are eligible and are not living in the Netherlands you can apply for an MVV (temporary residence permit) at your closest Dutch embassy or consulate and make the move to the Netherlands. From here you finalise your application for the Orientation Year online and start your job search. Sound interesting? Check out some vacancies.

Work permits 

Being allowed to live in the Netherlands is very different from being allowed to work. If you already have your residence permit, temporary or not, here’s what you can do depending on your circumstances.

EU/EEA/Swiss Citizen

Got that swanky burgundy passport? A member of the EEA or Switzerland? Well, that puts you in a pretty prime position. Thanks to the sweet songs of the Schengen Agreement and various other politics, members of the EU, EEA, or Switzerland are free to move, travel, and work in any of the same areas.

From Czechia? You’re in. Latvian citizen? Come on over. Swiss and proud? We’re neutral – but we’ll have you because we also like cheese.

You don’t even need to contact the IND to start living your best Dutch life! But, you will need to register at the local municipality (gemeente) if you plan on staying for more than four months.

EU/EEA Members:

Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark (excluding Greenland and the Faroe Islands), Estonia, Finland, France (including French Guiana, Guadeloupe, Martinique and la Réunion), Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal (including the Azores and Madeira), Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain (including Balearic Islands and Canary Islands), Sweden, Switzerland.

Partner or family member of an EU Citizen

Fell in love with a Dutchie or another EU/EEA citizen? Got an EU/EEA family? You also have options! If your partner or family member can act as your sponsor by saying that they can support you while you find a job, you can apply for a residence permit that allows you to work in the Netherlands.

Keep in mind the rules are slightly different if you have a Dutch partner or family member, to if you have a partner or family member from another EU/EEA state. Both options require some intense form-filling, but this is one of the easier routes to take if you qualify.

Highly-skilled migrant

Highly-skilled? Planning to migrate to the Netherlands? If your job is one in high-demand, or you’re an expert in your field congrats! The IND may just want you to live and work in the Netherlands.

Obviously, we think you’re the best. But, the IND does lay out pretty specific fields that they’re looking for. First off, your employer has to be a recognised sponsor by the IND. Secondly, the job must meet the specific salary criteria in the table below.

You can check out the full list of recognised sponsors, or talk with Undutchables – they’ve been a recognised sponsor since 2005. That means that:

  1. if you meet the conditions of the visa,
  2. Undutchables can hunt you down a job that complies with the regulations and,
  3. the employer is willing to wait for the permit to be granted

you can start job hunting with Undutchables now!

Salary criteria 2020

​Highly skilled migrants 30 years or older ​€ 4,612 gross per month
​Highly skilled migrants younger than 30 years ​€ 3,381 gross per month
​Reduced salary criterion ​€ 2,423 gross per month
​European Blue Card ​€ 5,403 gross per month


European Blue Card

Not to be confused with the Highly Skilled Migrant visa, the European Blue Card is for nationals from outside the EU/EEA and Switzerland area to work in the Netherlands. However, you must already hold a Residence Permit from outside the Netherlands in an EU/EEA or Swiss state.

If you do meet this condition, you can apply for a permit based on your European Blue Card. You must also have a minimum 12-month employment contract with an employer in the Netherlands, meet the wage requirement, and have a diploma showing just how qualified you are – a minimum of three years of higher education.


Having a blast studying in the Netherlands but need some money to pay for all that beer – cough – we mean, textbooks? If you’re a foreigner from outside the EU/EEA/Switzerland you have certain limitations placed on how much you can work.

You can choose to either:

  • complete full-time seasonal work during June, July and August or,
  • work year-round, but for no more than ten hours in one week.

Your employer must also obtain a work permit which involves some strict conditions. It’s difficult, but not impossible. Regardless, it’s not recommended to rely on getting a job to finance your study in the Netherlands.

Once you’ve finished studying you may be eligible for the Orientation Year for Highly Educated Persons visa though.

Working Holiday visa

We’ve talked a lot in this post about EU/EEA and Swiss citizens and how they really have it easy. But, for citizens from Argentina, Australia, Canada, Hong Kong, New Zealand and South Korea this one is for you – hurrah!

The Working Holiday Program (WHP) is an agreement between the countries above to allow cultural exchanges in the form of work or short study course. You have to be aged between 18 to 30 to apply and can receive a residence permit to live in the Netherlands for up to one year.

There are a few benefits to this visa. Firstly, it’s pretty easy to get if you can meet the conditions. If you’re Canadian, Australian or a New Zealander you have a very good chance. For Argentineans, Hong Kong citizens and South Koreans there are only 100 visas per country per year.

Secondly, it’s one of the cheapest visas to get at only 58 euros. If you can prove that you have funds to support yourself and show a return ticket back home, this is a solid visa to dip a toe in the Dutch canals.


Feeling entrepreneurial? If you’re a lone-wolf type prepared to put in the hard yards of setting up your own business in the Netherlands, you need permission first, no matter how great your idea is.

The government must decide that your business serves an essential Dutch interest. You also need some hefty funds in your bank account to show you can support yourself for at least 12 months.

This also goes for if you would like to become a freelancer in the Netherlands.

How can I get a job in the Netherlands? 

You’ve figured out what visa you might need and your eligibility – that’s part of the hard work done! But, now you need to find a job, and we’re sorry to say that can be a real challenge.

Dutch unemployment sits only at 3.8 per cent of the labour force, so jobs can be scarce and competitive. It can be really useful to work with a dedicated recruitment consultant like Undutchables to get ahead of the pack.

If you would like to go it alone, it’s not impossible. Here’s how you can get well on your way to securing a sweet job in the Netherlands.

How to find a job in the Netherlands

Alright, the Netherlands is a small country but with a lot of industry – so there have to be some good jobs out there. It’s also home to a stack of international companies, like ING, Shell, Unilever, Philips and Heineken to name a few.

With a bit of commitment, you’ll soon be shaking hands on a new job in the Netherlands. Image: fauxels/Pexels

If you want to go it on your own, here’s a few places to start your job hunt:

On the internet

We can’t deny we’re in the 21st century, so obviously the internet is where you will have a lot of luck finding vacancies. Check out Dutch job-hunting websites like:

  • Undutchables – specialists at finding jobs for foreigners in the Netherlands, English website, can filter by English-speaking jobs
  • Indeed – international job search service, website in Dutch
  • MonsterBoard – popular job search service for the Netherlands, website in Dutch
  • Intermediair – for people in the management, finance and law industries
  • – the Netherlands public employment service
  • National Vacaturebank – over 55,000 vacancies listed
  • EURES – the official job portal of the European Commission
  • Glassdoor – international recruitment and job review website
  • Marktplaats – online classifieds for the Netherlands
  • Angel List – job search website for startup companies

Of course, you can’t forget social media – LinkedIn is a great source for finding work and allows you to promote yourself, or you can always check for open jobs on Facebook Marketplace.

Use your contacts and network

Got a friend working for a great company? See if you can score an interview in the Netherlands! Talk with as many people as possible and find out where they are working.

Send out speculative applications

Can’t quite locate the job that’s right for you? Start looking at companies you may like to work for and send emails asking if they have any openings coming up. This is relatively common in the Netherlands, so you won’t look like a weirdo or get blackballed.

For a list of companies to check out, head over to the IND where they have a list of recognised employers/sponsors. This can be a great way to find a job with a good chance of sponsorship if you’re in a highly desirable industry.


We did mention the job market in the Netherlands can be hard, but the Undutchables can take the stress out of finding your dream Dutch job. Their search platform allows you to search for jobs in your sector but also by preferred language, so you can really let your language skills shine – or just speak English!

Do I need to speak Dutch to work in the Netherlands?

You may have heard that Dutchies are some of the best non-native speakers in the world. And, it’s true! The Dutch speak great, effortless English so speaking Dutch in general life is not necessary, although always appreciated.

There are many jobs in international companies where speaking Dutch is a bonus, but not necessarily a requirement. At the same time, there are some companies that require you spreek Nederlands which is understandable – we are in the Netherlands after all. If you’re not a Dutch speaker that’s okay – but try to limit your job search to languages that are under your belt (Undutchables can help with that too).

What do I need to know about working in the Netherlands?

Working in a different country is always a jump: new requirements, social events, and allowances. But, we’re here to give you a brief head start on what to expect when working in the Netherlands.

Pay Structure

Dutch companies almost always pay once per month – so don’t spend it all at once!


Like most countries, the Netherlands LOVES tax. But, the money from tax is also what makes this country so great. There are four main tax brackets for income tax in the Netherlands. Normally, if you work for a Dutch company they will withhold enough tax for you each month. Then, once a year in January you’ll complete your tax return (aangiftebrief) and hopefully snag yourself a refund.

Annual taxable income (gross) Total rate
€ 0 – 20,711 36.65%
€ 20.712 – 68,507 38.10%
€ 68,508+ 51.75%


If you’re in the Netherlands on a Highly Skilled Migrant visa you may also be able to take advantage of the 30% ruling. Designed to attract needed experts to the Netherlands, the ruling means that 30% of your salary is tax-free for up to five years – score!

Holidays (vakantiegeld)

In the Netherlands, you don’t get just public holidays off but also paid vacation time so pack your bags! The general rule of thumb is 4 x the number of days you work in a week, although full-time workers typically get around 25 days a year.

Travel allowance (reiskostenvergoeding)

Whew, we all know that Dutch public transport doesn’t run cheap. But, the good news is that your employer will typically reimburse you for your travel costs. That eight euro train you need to catch to work will end up as pennies back in your pocket.

After-work drinks (borrelen)

If you’re going to be working in the Netherlands, you’ll need to meet and mingle with the best of them. Thankfully, the Dutch have turned after-work drinks into an art – called borrelenThis typically involves beers and some sort of fried snack, and is bloody addictive – you’ll want to go borrelen every day!

What do I do if I need help with work permits in the Netherlands?

We mentioned at the start that getting a job in the Netherlands can be a tricky process. It’s understandable if you don’t want to go it alone! If you’re looking for specific information on work permits in the Netherlands, the IND website has the most up-to-date information.

But, if you’re ready to take the plunge we recommend getting in touch with Undutchables. They’ll figure out your skills during their onboarding process and match you with a company in the Netherlands that’s right for you – that’s someone in your corner!

What has been your experience with getting a work permit in the Netherlands? Got any questions? Leave your thoughts in the comments below!

Feature Image: Free-Photos/Pixabay

Samantha Dixon 🇦🇺
Samantha Dixon 🇦🇺
Sam has over six years experience writing about life in the Netherlands and leads the content team at DutchReview. She originally came to the Netherlands to study in 2016 and now holds a BA (Hons.) in Arts, a BA (Hons) in Journalism, and (almost) a Masters in Teaching. She loves to write about settling into life in the Netherlands, her city of Utrecht, learning Dutch, and jobs in the Netherlands — and she still can’t jump on the back of a moving bike (she's learning!).


  1. Also depends on where you are from, some countries and age demographics have a better chance of getting a visa than others. For example as a man in my 20s i have been denied european visas 3 times now. So if you cant get past the visa stage then forget about working.

  2. a 51yr old lady from Kenya who has always admired living and working in The Netherlands.Ive a course am AAcaregiving and practisinf the same here.Is it possible to get a sponsor there,the process and requirements?I also intend to take up online Personal Support Worker course.Coming to work in Netherlands will not only exposure but space for me to advance my career


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Related posts

Latest posts

Exploring Dutch islands: a guide to visiting Texel

Texel is an island located just five kilometres north of Den Helder across the Wadden Sea. It has seven villages, is home to about...

Dutch Quirk #125: Throw bikes into canals (usually while drunk)

Canals, bikes, and drinking are three essential pillars of Dutch living. But if you combine the three...'s dangerously easy for a bike (or two)...

7 of the best scenic bike paths in the Netherlands

With summer rolling around the corner and hot weather here to stay, we all want to spend more time outside. Now is high time...

It's happening

Upcoming events

The latest Dutch news.
In your inbox.