Moving to Amsterdam

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What to know if you're moving to Amsterdam

With our help you’ll be fully prepared for moving to Amsterdam: our Relocation Guide has important info on visas, residence permits, public transportation and popular residential areas for expats. There is no more reason to worry about the red tape, as moving to Amsterdam has never been so easy!


All about the Netherlands

Do you associate the Netherlands with tulips, windmills, and cheese? In fact, there’s a lot more worth knowing before moving to the Netherlands: read on to broaden your general knowledge of the country and learn all about visa and residency requirements for moving to the Netherlands.
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Relocating to Amsterdam

At a Glance:

  • Expats living outside the EU may need an entry visa called the MVV.
  • If you plan to bring a pet with you, you should start to organize the paperwork and appropriate vaccinations about 6–9 months in advance.
  • The OV Chipkaart is the Smart Card that is used in Amsterdam to pay for public transportation.
  • The central area of the city tends to be the most popular with expats.

Although The Hague is the political capital of the Netherlands, and thus the seat of the Dutch government, Amsterdam is the country’s nominal and cultural center. With a little over 1.6 million inhabitants living in its Metropolitan Area, it is the biggest city in the Netherlands as well as the one counting the highest number of foreign visitors each year. In fact, Amsterdam is the eighth most popular city destination in Europe. Many of them are expats like you, who move to Amsterdam for a longer stay. In fact, the city has one of the biggest expat communities in the country.

Most expats enjoy their new life in Amsterdam, thanks to the picturesque charms of its crooked streets, tree-lined canals, and famous museums. The balmy summer months offer plenty of opportunities to explore the public parks, take boat rides on the canals, or go on bicycle tours with your international friends. Of course, you have to deal with some organizational matters first.

Visa Requirements

For EU/EEA nationals, a move to Amsterdam is hassle free. They only need their passport or national ID to enter the country. People from outside the EU, however, often require an entry visa (Machtiging tot Voorlopig Verblijf — MVV). Entry requirements vary depending on your country of origin. If in doubt, consult the  Netherlands and You, or get in touch with the Dutch Immigration and Naturalisation Service. If you are a foreign national with a Schengen visa for the Netherlands then you will be able to travel to other countries in the Schengen area for up to three months.

Non-EU residents who come to Amsterdam to find a job also require a work visa. This is usually organized by your employer. The company will have to prove to the UWV Werkbedrijf that you are the only candidate qualified and willing to fill this position. You can arrange for your work permit after your arrival in Amsterdam as well. However, please be aware that this may take up to three months.

Living as an Expat in Amsterdam

Non-EU/EEA nationals need to apply for a residence permit (Machtiging tot Voorlopig Verblijf – MVV)if they move to Amsterdam for a period of longer than 3 months. You can apply for this permit with the alien police (Vreemdelingenpolitie).Residence permits are usually valid for one year.

Moreover, you have toregister with your municipality after moving to Amsterdam. This is also the case if you are an EU/EEA citizen. Highly skilled foreign workers can usually register at IN Amsterdam in the WTC building located in the Zuid district.

Everyone else needs to register with the administration office in the district where they live. You have to present your passport, the rental agreement or sales contract of your accommodation as well as birth and marriage certificates. Contact your municipality beforehand and inquire about the necessary documents.

Want to Bring Your Pet?

If you want to bring your beloved pet along when moving to Amsterdam, you need to abide by new EU regulations. For instance, your dog or cat needs a pet passport and a microchip to identify it beforehand. You also have to provide proof of a rabies vaccination at least 21 days prior to the departure date in order to move to Amsterdam with your pet.

If your pet is younger than 12 weeks, a vaccination is not necessary. Smaller pets, like rabbits, hamsters, mice, or birds also need a certificate of origin and health when moving to Amsterdam.  You just need to prove that your pets are free from any diseases. Ideally, you should allow around 6–9 months before leaving to arrange your pet paperwork.

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Amsterdam: Districts and Transportation

Traveling by Bus, Metro, or Train?

The city of Amsterdam has a very good public transportation system, with buses, metros, and even ferries operating throughout the city. We have compiled a short list of the different types of transportation in Amsterdam.

  • Metro (operates throughout the city on 4 different lines)
  • Tram and bus
  • Night bus
  • Schiphol Sternet (buses between Amsterdam and the airport)
  • Ferries (connect Central Station to North Amsterdam)

The bicycle is another mode of transportation extremely popular among Amsterdam’s residents. Nearly everybody owns a bicycle — which means over 800,000 bikes are being used all over the city.

The OV Chipkaart

All over Amsterdam, the fare for public transportation is paid with a Smart Card, also known as an OV chipkaart. It is the size of a credit card with a built-in chip. You can reload your chipkaart with a certain amount of money or with a season ticket at the ticket vending machines or add value machines across the city.

To pay for your fare, simply hold the card to the card reader upon entering your chosen mode of transportation. The system will check the balance of your card. When you leave, check out by holding the card to the card reader again. The system will then deduct the fare.

The age discount offers 34% off of the basic fare for those aged 4–11 and those over 65.

Traveling without the OV Chipkaart

There are different types of tickets for Amsterdam’s public transportation, available with or without an OV chipkaart. The most common one is the 1h ticket for the price of 2.90 EUR. Other tickets allow for multiple trips with different types of transportation.

  • 24h–168h tickets: These day tickets or multiple-day tickets allow you free travel around Amsterdam for a certain amount of time. They are valid on trams, buses, and the metro and cost between 7.50 EUR to 32 EUR.
  • Season tickets: The prices for these types of tickets vary, depending on the time period and travel zones you choose. They allow you to travel within designated zones as you please. In some cases, a season ticket will be provided by your employer.
  • Night bus tickets: Night buses have their own tickets and prices. One ride will cost you 4.50 EUR, 12 rides 25 EUR. Tickets are available at GVB ticket booths and the tourist information center.

Service desks and ticket booths all over town offer these tickets. They can also be purchased at ticket vending machines at every metro station or from tram and bus drivers. For more up-to-date information consult the website of the GVB, Amsterdam’s public transportation provider.

Amsterdam’s Districts

Amsterdam is divided into different districts (stadsdelen), with various neighborhoods and characteristics. In 2009, the 14 districts of the city were reduced to 7 in order to improve and simplify the administration process. Today’s districts include:

  • Center
  • Noord
  • Zuidoost
  • Zuid (formerly Oud Zuid and Zuideramstel)
  • Oost (formerly Zeeburg, Oost, and Watergraafsmeer)
  • Nieuw-West (formerly Osdorp, Slotervaart, and Geuzenveld-Slotermeer)
  • West (formerly Bos en Lommer, De Baarsjes, Oud-West, and Westerpark)

The Center in particular is a popular area for expats. Historical buildings are located all around the Grachtengordel (canal ring), giving Amsterdam its unique flair. The neighborhood Jordaan impresses foreign visitors and residents with its many galleries and specialty shops. However, rents are extremely high there.

Zuid is more of a family-friendly area with lots of schools and stand-alone houses. Rents are, however, comparable to those in the Center. The West is more of an urban and bohemian district with moderate rents. Younger and childless expats prefer to settle there or in the Oost. Zeeburg and its new housing developments attract many new residents as well.

InterNations GO!
by InterNations GO!
06 December 2018

Living in Amsterdam

Thanks to our Relocation Guide to living in Amsterdam, with info on housing, education, and healthcare, you will quickly find your way around your new home. Like most expats, you will love Amsterdam for its multicultural charm, easy-going attitude, and picturesque flair.
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Working in Amsterdam

As an expat working in Amsterdam, you’re right in the business hub of the Netherlands, with many big international companies close by. Read everything you need to know about the job search, taxation, and business etiquette. We’ll help you make the most of your expat life in Amsterdam!
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