What language level is the Dutch integration (inburgering) exam in 2024?

You know you need to take the Dutch integration exam — but is the level A2? B1? Something else completely? It’s normal to be confused, but here’s the easy guide. 

For the longest time, the Dutch integration exam was pretty straightforward: everyone did it at A2 unless they wanted to take a Dutch university course. Simple, right? 

However, the Dutch government decided that A2 wasn’t enough to, well, integrate. To change the level, they had to change the whole integration law, which took a long time. 

Now, if you’re wondering what language level the Dutch integration exam is, the answer is: it depends!

Some people are under the old system, some people are under a new system, and others are still undecided. 

Here’s the easy guide to knowing at which language level you might need to take the Dutch integration exams in 2024.  

We teamed up with the pros for this article: InburgeringOnline! Bart and his team have guided thousands of internationals through the Dutch integration process with affordable online courses designed to take you from zero Dutch to A2 or B1 in a flash. Find out more.

But first…

A2, B1? Are we speaking in code? If you’re feeling a little confused, we’re using terms from the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR). It looks a little like this:

The CEFR language levels are used across Europe. Image: DutchReview

At what language level do I need to take the Dutch inburgering exams? 

The language level of your Dutch integration exams has two main factors: 

  • Your visa or residency type and, 
  • The date the IND formally decided you must begin to integrate

I have a partner/relationship visa, or I am a refugee

If you have a partner or relationship visa or are a refugee, the IND will automatically decide that you must integrate. This typically happens shortly after the date that you registered at your local municipality. 

You will receive a letter advising that you are required to integrate, or as DUO, the Dutch education authority, will write, “U moet verplicht inburgeren.”

Your official letter from DUO will have an important date. Image: Samantha Dixon

The most important thing here is the date of the letter. That’s because there are two laws at play: The Civil Integration Act 2013, and the Civil Integration Act 2021 (which affects people from 2022 onwards). 

You can tell which law you fall under by your letter’s date.  

Your letter is dated before January 1, 2022

If the date of the letter is before January 1, 2022, then congratulations: the language level you will take the Dutch integration exams at is A2. 

Your letter is dated after January 1, 2022

If the date of your letter is after January 1, 2022, you’ll need to study for a while longer: your language level will most likely be B1. 

Why “most likely”? Technically, the municipality can decide for you to follow one of three routes

  • The B1 route: where you learn Dutch to a B1 level, mostly for integration and working or volunteering. 
  • The education route: where you learn Dutch to a B1 level or higher to prepare for higher education. 
  • The self-reliance route: an exemption given for people who must integrate but find the first two routes are too difficult. Instead, you learn Dutch to an A1 level and have non-mandatory exams. 

However, the first route is supposed to be the most common option. You’ll discuss your route with your municipality, where you’ll also create a personal integration and participation plan (PIP). 

The upside? You’ll speak pretty decent Dutch by the end!

What if the exams are too difficult? A municipality can make some rare exceptions to the language levels stated above — but typically only if you have health problems or would truly struggle to learn Dutch. 

I am integrating to apply for permanent residency or citizenship

If you don’t fall into the category of having a relationship visa or being a refugee, you likely: 

  • Are here on a temporary visa (such as a working visa), 
  • Have lived here for around five years, and 
  • Have decided to make your stay in the Netherlands more permanent. 

We get it, the Netherlands is a leuk place to live!

While learning Dutch might seem like a long journey, an online course can let you do it on your own terms and in your own time. In fact, those using InburgeringOnline reported an online course was quicker, cheaper, and way more effective than traditional schools! Take a peek at the courses. 👀

If this is you, and you’re not an EU, EEA, Swiss, or Turkish citizen, then you’re integrating “voluntarily”, and it’s good news: the language level you will need to integrate at is still A2 — for now

While the Dutch government does want to raise the level to B1 for people in your position, they haven’t made a final decision on whether it will be raised in 2024.

That means that if you can fully integrate and pass your exams to apply for permanent residency or citizenship before they decide to raise it, you shouldn’t have to study further than A2 level — based on the information the government has given so far.  

The level you take your integration exams depends on a few different factors. Image: DutchReview

TIP: Still not sure at which level you need to take your exams? Check out DUO’s inburgeren plan generator

Do I need to take the Dutch integration exams?

Whether you need to take the Dutch integration exams is mostly determined by your nationality. If you’re not from an EU or EEA country, Switzerland, or Turkey, and you’re coming to live in the Netherlands long-term, you’ll likely need to take the Dutch integration exams. 

As with anything, there are a few exceptions.

Whether you’re A2 or B1, we can tell you this: taking the Dutch integration exams is really achievable and worth it — especially if it leads to permanent residency or a Dutch passport!

At what language level do you need to take your Dutch integration exams? Share it in the comments below!

Dutch integration exam language level: frequently asked questions

How long do I have to complete the inburgering exams? 

Who has to take the integration exam in the Netherlands?

What language level is the Dutch integration exam in 2024?

Is the Dutch integration exam level still A2? 

How difficult is the Dutch integration exam?

Feature Image:Freepik
Samantha Dixon 🇦🇺
Samantha Dixon 🇦🇺https://gallivantations.com
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!).

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  1. Hi! IELTS/Cambridge exam is valid 2 years – Any idea if the integration exam also have a life span? 😅 Meaning: if I take it in 2023, but I apply for naturalization in 2024 and the process of it finalizes in 2025… is it still valid or the exam’s passing date needs to be the same as the naturalization application date?

  2. I start my integration schooling after 1 January 2022 .
    I start on August 2022.

    It’s that i also needed to do the B1 or A2?

  3. Do you if it’s sufficient just to start one exam for example reading this year and continue next year on A2 or I have to complete all the exams before end of year?

  4. Heilige koe! (Holy cow!) I’m a buitenlander van Hollandse ouders but I never heard of this language exam. The article left me wanting more info about the different levels. My Dutch was thuis geleert and I always wonder if I am any good at it. I’d like to try these exams just to see if I can pass any level at all. Can anyone advise where to get practice exams?

  5. So what if you are an EU citizen that wants to voluntarily take the exam to acquire the citizenship? What level will it be for the exam?

  6. I’m 74 years old w/ permanent Dutch residency. For naturalization, do I still need to take/pass the Inburgering exam? What level? (received my residency in May, ’20. I have a Dutch wife.`) Thanks!

    • Hi Martin, perhaps you can contact the IND to get answers about your personal situation. This is their phone number: 088 043 04 30 (standard rates apply).From abroad +31 88 043 04 30. Hope that helps! 🙂

  7. I came to the Netherlands in February 2020. I am planning to finish A2 integration exam by 2023 (passed 3 exams, 2 are pending) When I apply for PR in February 2025, will A2 level diploma be acceptable?

  8. This article is super helpful thank you :))))
    However I have one key question, in my situation I’m not required to integrate, I’m in the Netherlands with a self-employee residency permit (temporary) since 2020. I still have 2 more years to complete my 5-year and be able to apply for a Dutch passport. Question is that can I take the integration exam in 2023 or 2024 and get the certificates and wait until 2025?


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