Inburgeringsexamen? The Guide to the Civic Integration Exam in the Netherlands

The Civic Integration Exam in the Netherlands

Inburgeringsexamen: what is it?

The Civic Integration Exam in the Netherlands AKA the Inburgeringsexamen is an exam that most immigrants need to take in order to obtain Dutch nationality or secure a residence permit. It’s done in order to ensure that you have integrated into Dutch life. However, some of it has been met with a shitload of criticism. Here you can see why…

No matter how ridiculous we may all find some of it, it has to be done by law. So let us begin on all you need to know about the Civic Integration Exam, and we promise that the rest of it isn’t so nutty.

Note: If you’re an EU citizen, read-ahead only if you are looking for Dutch citizenship. You can get a residence permit without the civic integration exam!

Wait, what is the Civic Integration Exam again?

The Netherlands believes that integration is important (and of course it is). They came up with an exam that they felt really proves that you are fully integrated into Dutch society. This the Civic Integration Exam. You must pass this if you want Dutch nationality or if you want a permanent residence permit (non-EU).

So, what is in the Civic Integration Exam in the Netherlands?

As of the 1st October 2017, these are the list of exams that you must take:

  1. Reading
  2. Writing
  3. Listening
  4. Speaking
  5. The Dutch Labour Market
  6. The Knowledge of Dutch Society


Do I need to take the Civic Integration Exam?

Let’s make this easier, you do not have to take the Civic Integration Exam if you:

  • Have a nationality that is within the EU
  • Have Belgian, Luxembourg or Turkish nationality (or a family member of someone who has Turkish nationality, this because of some decades old treaty between the EU and Turkey)
  • Are under 18 or have reached the legal pension age
  • Have a civic integration certificate
  • Obtained a Dutch diploma/degree – higher vocation, secondary vocational at level 2 (taught in Dutch) – or obtained in Suriname or Belgium
  • Have a copy of the settled immigrants Civic Integration Certificate (NT2-2 for Speaking, Reading, Writing and Listening
  • Obtained a Naturalisation Test Certificate dated before 1st April 2007 – Speaking, Reading, Writing and Listening all passed
  • Proof of certification of Dutch language from Aruba, Bonaire, Curaçao, Saba, Sint Maarten or Sint Eustatius

Note: highly-skilled immigrants do not need to pass. For more detailed information about exemptions, visit this website.

Is the Civic Integration Exam hard?

Lots of people say that it’s hard and that in fact, some Dutchies won’t even know some of the answers! It all takes revision and practice – you’re going to feel like you’re back at school again. Like the crazy video we showed you at the start, some questions might be a bit bizarre. But hey, I guess we know now not to drop round between the hours of 6 and 8pm (even though it didn’t state if we were INVITED round or not?)

Then, of course, you need to be pretty fluent in Dutch… which is a whole other ball game.

The Civic Integration Exam be like…


So, what actually is the Civic Integration Exam?

These are the different exams you will need to take…

  1. Reading – demonstrate your knowledge of being able to read in Dutch
  2. Writing – demonstrating your ability to be able to write in Dutch
  3. Listening – demonstrating your ability to be able to listen and understand the Dutch language
  4. Speaking – demonstrating your ability to be able to speak in Dutch
  5. The Dutch Labour Market – demonstrate your knowledge of the Dutch labour market
  6. The Knowledge of Dutch Society – demonstrate your knowledge of Dutch society
  7. Complete a participation statement

Do I have to pay for the Civic Integration Exam?

Yes! And it didn’t come cheap either. Originally, the cost of the Civic Integration Exam (abroad) amounted to around €350, now it has been lowered to €150 since 2015. If you completed your exam abroad before this period in 2015 and paid the full amount, you are eligible for a refund of €200 – so don’t forget to contact them about it if that is the case!

Current fee: €150

Note: If you’re a refugee, you won’t have to pay.

Taking the exam can be as cheap or as expensive as you make it. Some sources suggest you should complete at least 500 hours of lessons. This, plus study books and the exam can amount to around €6.500. Of course, if you want to do it entirely on your own or only have a few lessons, then this can be soo much cheaper, but most people learn Dutch with paid lessons – so expect it to be an expensive venture. Loans are also out there to help people with the cost, so don’t forget to check out if you’ll be eligible for that also (because that would make things soo much less stressful).

Top tips when dealing with the exam!

  • Don’t delay (no, really) – this should be done as soon as possible and it takes a lot of time, so preparation is key with this one
  • Shop around for your Dutch lessons – some schools/tutors have excellent deals
  • Revise, revise, REVISE – that never did anyone any harm now, did it?
  • Don’t forget to register with the Education Executive Agency (DUO), you won’t be able to sit the exam if you don’t
  • Don’t think about the questions too much – truly, when it comes to the questions that make no freaking sense, don’t stew over it. Look, go with your gut, write it, a nice little stab in the dark

When will I know my result?

You should receive your result within 8 weeks (oh, the long wait) and once that happens you can inform the IND of your result. If you fail, it’s back to the drawing board – no pressure or anything.

Passed it?!

Hurraaaahh, congratulations! You’ve just achieved the impossible. Well done for dodging those weird-ass questions and that freaky-deaky Dutch. 😉

Welcome to the Dutch club! 

Do you have any tips or complaints about the Civic Integration Exam in the Netherlands? Let us know in the comments! While you’re here, don’t forget to join our DutchReview Facebook group… c’mon, you know you wanna.

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. Hi, im a tourist in NL and a non EU citizen. I have my Type C visa and been couple of times in NL, so my question is, Is it possible to take the Basic Civic Integration Exam while in NL as a tourist without goin back to my country? Thank you.

  2. Good day I am a resident of St.Maarten for the past 20 years holder of permanent residency. I really want to become Dutch. st.Maarten is we’re my family and I called home.. I really would like any advise how done the examination before.. I study day and night. TOT zines guys


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