Working in Amsterdam

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Find out how to get a job and work 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!

Employment in Amsterdam

At a Glance:

  • Networking in professional associations or meeting with other expats is the first step of searching for a job in Amsterdam.
  • Recruitment agencies are spread all over the city, offering jobs for which proficiency in Dutch is often a necessity.
  • If you were hired from abroad to work in the Netherlands, you can benefit from the 30% tax reimbursement scheme.
  • If starting a business in the Netherlands, you will need to register with the tax authorities and the Kamer van Koophandel (KvK).
  • The business manner of the Dutch is very direct and professional, yet egalitarian.

Amsterdam is mainly known for its picturesque canals and beautiful parks. However, it also boasts one of the strongest economies in Europe and a highly skilled labor force with a high percentage of international employees. A lot of services throughout the city cater to expats working in Amsterdam. From English-speaking attorneys to international schools, Amsterdam is all set up for an international workforce.

Many international companies have their Dutch business headquarters in Amsterdam, such as Shell, Unilever, and Nike. The financial and business districts in and around the city are the areas where most expats are employed. Some smaller companies have their offices in the city center. In addition to finance and trade, the tourism industry is another main contributor to the city’s economy.

From Amstelveen to Sloterdijk

Expats working in Amsterdam know that this city is the financial and economic capital of the Netherlands. The town of Amstelveen, near Amsterdam, is especially popular among foreign investors. For instance, the headquarters of the KPMG, the international tax, audit, and advisory consultants are situated here. The Boston Consulting Group, on the other hand, is based in Zuidas, the biggest business district, where many people have their offices.

The area around the Sloterdijk railway station is home to some local newspapers as well as the public transportation company and the Belastingdienst (tax office). The neighborhoods around the Amsterdam Arena and the Amstel railway station are also very popular business locations. Here, hundreds of people are working in Amsterdam’s most famous office skyscraper, the Rembrandt Tower, or in the Phillips headquarters.

Finding Your Dream Job

If you have plans for working in Amsterdam but don’t have a job yet, networking is your best option. Joining professional associations and meeting up with other expats working in Amsterdam will not only help you make new friends in a strange country. You will also extend your professional network and have a chance to find work through word-of-mouth.

Some newspapers have English job ads on their vacancy pages, aimed at expats. You can buy most of these newspapers at the English Bookshop on Lauriergracht. At the Openbare Bibliotheek Amsterdam and the University of Amsterdam’s library, these newspapers are available as well.

An extensive online search can also help you find an opportunity for working in Amsterdam. Most job agencies and international organizations based in the Netherlands post their job openings online. If you’re worried about the language barrier, Jobsin Amsterdam advertise local postitions for English speakers.

Recruitment Agencies: Helping You Find a Job

In many cases, professional recruitment agencies (uitzendbureaus) are the best choice for expats who are considering working in Amsterdam. They are located all over the city and specialize in either permanent jobs or temp positions. Proficiency in Dutch is often necessary, although some agencies also offer positions for which Dutch is not required.

The public employment service UWV Werkbedrijf provides advice and information to expats and job seekers in general. You can visit one of its branches throughout the city or check their homepage (Dutch only) for vacancies.

Some companies offer coaching and professional training to expats working in Amsterdam. Expats@Work and De Baak, for example, help foreign employees improve their skills and evaluate their career options and goals.

Doing Business in Amsterdam

Starting Off

If you are neither a Dutch citizen nor a national of an EU/EEA member state, you should check carefully with the IND (the Dutch Immigration and Naturalization Service). Due to your individual situation, you may be subject to special visa regulations. You can also hire a lawyer to take care of all aspects concerning your residency and visa status. Since 2012, the IND has been making working in the Netherlands easier for highly skilled professionals. A new short-stay pilot scheme for highly skilled migrants allows for a quicker, hassle-free visa application process. The maximum stay is 90 days. For more information, please contact the IND.

Double Taxation

All Amsterdam residents are subject to income tax on the money they earn worldwide. If you have to pay taxes in your home country as well, you qualify for a so-called double taxation relief. This means that you receive a credit towards the income tax you owe in one country because you have already paid income tax in another country. Moreover, there is a 30% tax reimbursement scheme for foreign employees who were hired abroad to work in the Netherlands.

It is also possible that your home country has signed a taxation treaty with the Netherlands. In this case, special rules apply. You should consult the treaty to figure out how taxes are handled and where to pay them. If there is no tax treaty, the 2001 Double Tax Decree applies. The Belastingdienst (tax office) has a list of all countries which maintain a taxation treaty with the Netherlands and provides more tax-related advice.

Registering Your Business

Expats who would like to start their own business in Amsterdam need to register their company with the tax authorities and the Kamer van Koophandel (KvK). Registration and the payment of an annual fee are compulsory. To register, you need the following documents:

  • a valid form of ID
  • a copy of a recent bank statement
  • an official letter showing your home address
  • your rental contract (if you use hired premises)

You will then receive proof of registration and an 8-digit number. This number has to appear on all invoices and official letters from your company. The KvK in Amsterdam is located on De Ruyterkade 5. Opening hours are from Monday through Friday, from 08:30 to 17:00.

Insuring Your Business

There are different types of insurance for new companies. Liability insurance protects the inventory and stock of your business. Health insurance, unemployment insurance, and pension plans protect you and your employees. Insurance cover can be very expensive, but it is definitely recommended for start-ups.

You can also become a member of the ZZP Nederland (zelfstandige zonder personeel Nederland) for 20 EUR (site only in Dutch). There, you can find advice and information on anything related to freelance work. They also provide their members with discounts on ZZP insurance policies.

Professional but Modest

Although the Dutch are easy-going and relaxed in private, they have a very professional business manner. There is no beating around the bush in business negotiations, as your Dutch contacts will often cut right to the chase. Expats who are used to a more indirect way of interacting may consider this a bit rude at first. However, once you’re used to it, it doesn’t leave much room for misunderstandings.

Despite what may seem like a harsh tone prevailing in business, people in leading positions usually make sure to establish a fairly egalitarian atmosphere in the workplace. While the dress code in most companies is quite formal, you will soon discover that people do not like to flaunt their position or financial status. Titles and formalities are often dropped after the first introduction. Instead, talking on a first-name basis is the rule.

InterNations GO!
by InterNations GO!
06 December 2018
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