As the name indicates, the Netherlands is a low-lying country in geographical terms. About 25% percent of its surface is located below sea level and 50% less than one meter above. When moving to the Netherlands, you might well hear jokes about it being the first country that will drown in the ocean should sea levels begin to rise.
You are probably aware that the country is also referred to as “Holland”. This name, albeit used synonymously, actually refers to only two of the Netherlands’ provinces. Art aficionados will know the country mainly by its most famous painters. Artists like Johannes Vermeer or Vincent van Gogh have inspired many aspiring painters to move to the Netherlands for work or studies.
Since the constitutional reforms of 1848, the Netherlands has been a hereditary parliamentary monarchy. The constitution determines the duties and responsibilities of the monarch and other government authorities. King Willem-Alexander ascended the throne in 2013, after the abdication of his mother, Queen Beatrix.
Moving to the Netherlands will give you the chance to hear the king’s annual speech on the Prinsjesdag (the third Tuesday in September). In his speech, the king addresses the plans for the upcoming year, advises the head of Parliament and signs laws and royal resolutions.
The Netherlands’ Cabinet is formed by the State Secretaries and the Council of Ministers. The latter has administrative responsibilities, e.g. preparing and implementing laws.
The Parliament (Staten-Generaal) consists of two chambers, the Senate (Eerste Kamer) and the House of Representatives (Tweede Kamer). The second chamber has 150 elected members who supervise the work of the government. If a conflict arises between the government and the second chamber, the latter always has the last word.
The 75 members of the first chamber are elected by the members of Parliament in the 12 provinces (Provinciale Staten). The Senate has to approve laws before they are passed, but it does not have the right to make any changes.
The fact that the country is slowly recovering from economic turmoil will become apparent to you after moving to the Netherlands. The economy, which mainly relies on foreign trade and financial services, was hit rather hard by the 2008/2009 crisis. During this time, exports declined by about 25%.
However, expats may find jobs in various different economic sectors. The predominant industries are food processing, chemicals, petroleum refining and electrical machinery. The highly mechanized food sector in particular produces a large surplus for processing and export. It provides employment for internationally operating logistic experts moving to the Netherlands from abroad.
Nationals of any of the EU/EEA member states (with the exception of Croatia) are free to move to the Netherlands and remain in the country. However, if you plan to stay for more than three months, you have to register with your municipal administration after moving to the Netherlands. For that you will need:
Contact your local administration beforehand to find out which documents you need exactly, as the requirements are subject to change. They may also vary, depending on where you live.
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