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Working in Groningen?

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Groningen at a Glance

Working in Groningen

Working in Groningen can be difficult without speaking the local language, but it is definitely not impossible! Discover some of the local work opportunities and learn more about income taxation and work permits with this guide.

Local Economy

Historically, Groningen has been a major center for sugar refining - although now only one refinery remains in the city, with an output of 235,000 tons of beet sugar every year.

The university is a major employer, and many start-up businesses specializing in technology and energy have sprung up in the city as off-shoots of university research.

Other well-known companies in the city include the major publishing company Wolters-Noordhoof, the large insurance company Menzis, and a number of gas companies, including GasUnie and GasTerra. 

There are generally a range of employment opportunities in hospitality and catering available throughout the year, and it is common for establishments to take on more casual workers during busier summer months. 

Income Taxation in Groningen

The Netherlands is considered to be an extremely socially conscious country, and income tax rates are high. Those coming to work in the country are generally considered to be resident tax payers from day one - and the highest rates of income tax sit at just over 50%. 

On top of the high tax rates, the tax system is the Netherlands is renowned for being complicated, and expats who are resident there must fill in a number of different tax return forms. Some of these are completed as digital forms, although the M form must be filed as a paper version in the year of migration. As in many other countries, the deadline for tax returns is 1 April. 

The one upside for expatriates coming to work in Groningen is the potential to apply for extraterritorial costs - which allows the employer to grant a tax-free lump sum to cover additional costs incurred for those living and working abroad. The amount granted can be up to 30% of the value of the employee's wages. This scheme is generally applied to workers who have been specifically recruited from abroad because they bring additional skills.

Applications need to be made in writing to the Belastingdienst/Limburg/Kantoor Buitenland (Tax and Customs Administration/Limburg/Foreign Office), and require input from both the employer and the employee. 

Work Permits for Groningen

Expatriates coming to work in the Netherlands from countries in the European Union, or the EEA (including Iceland, Lichtenstein and Norway) or Switzerland do not need a specific permit to work and live there, as they are entitled to free movement between countries. The only exception to this rule is countries new to the EU, who may have a period of time during which the freedom of movement does not come in to effect. 

Workers traveling from outside the EU/EEA are likely to need a work visa – unless they are performing specific, short-term jobs such as musicians coming to Groningen to perform, or members of the press travelling to report of a specific, time-bound event. 

The most common type of visa for these expats is the GVVA/single permit – which combines a residency and job visa. Before these are granted, a company must be able to show that it has made a significant effort to recruit for the position from within the domestic population. The employer must apply to the Dutch Immigration and Naturalization Department (IND) for this kind of visa. 

An alternative to this is the highly skilled migrant visa, which has fewer restrictions around previous attempts at local recruitment – although is only relevant for certain, specialist posts such as engineers, scientists and others with high levels of training and experience.

InterNations Expat Magazine