The Hague

Moving to The Hague?

Connect with fellow expats in The Hague
Join exciting events and groups
Get information in our The Hague guides
Exchange tips about expat life in The Hague

The Hague: Visas and Permits for Expats

The Hague is a major political center of the Netherlands and the EU and a move there can open up great prospects in international law. Before moving to The Hague, the Netherlands’ largest city, get informed! Our guide on moving to The Hague has all the details on visas, transportation, and more.
The Hague holds political significance as international city of peace and justice.

Visas

Citizens of the EU, EEA, and Switzerland are exempt from obtaining an entry visa and are free to travel to the Netherlands whenever they wish. However, citizens of certain countries are still required to apply for a visa before traveling to the Schengen area. You can find more information on this topic at the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Remember: while they don’t need a visa to enter the country, citizens from the EU, EEA and Switzerland will still need to register locally. You can find out more about this topic below.

Residence Permits

For stays exceeding 90 days, expats from most countries outside the EU or EEA need a provisional residence permit (Machtiging tot Voorlopig Verblijf — MVV). Nationals from Australia, Canada, the US, Japan, South Korea, and New Zealand do not need the MVV, but can apply for residence within three months after entering the country.

Most third-country nationals, however, need to apply for a combined MVV and their actual residence permit from abroad. You can lodge both applications at the same time: your sponsor, for example your new employer or a family member in the Netherlands, can apply to the Dutch Immigration and Naturalization Service (IND) on your behalf. If you don’t have a sponsor, you need to get in touch with the nearest Dutch Embassy or Consulate and make a personal appointment to start the application process.  

Please be aware that you probably have to take the Dutch Civic Integration Exam if you apply for a permanent residence permit. You will have to learn about Dutch society and acquire some basic language skills. However, this does not apply to anyone who just wants a temporary permit.

Once your application has been approved, you will be notified by the Dutch foreign mission. The application process can take up to 90 days. You then need to come to the nearest Dutch mission in person and collect the MVV sticker for your passport to travel to the Netherlands. Upon arrival, you can collect your actual residence permit from the IND.

Work Permits

Whether or not you also need a work permit to take up employment in the Netherlands depends on your specific reason for moving there. Some expats just need a single permit (GVVA) that allows them to live and work in the Netherlands. Others, however, need to apply for a residence permit and a separate work permit (TWV).

Highly Skilled Migrants

If you count as a so-called “highly skilled migrant”, you belong into the first category: the application for your visa and residence permit automatically includes the permission to work in the Netherlands. You are usually considered a highly skilled migrant if you fulfill the following conditions:

  • You have an employment contract with a company based in the Netherlands.
  • Your new employer has been officially recognized as a visa sponsor by the IND.
  • You meet the minimum income requirements: if you are younger than 30, you need a monthly gross income of more than 3, 170 EUR. Applicants aged 30 or above have to earn at least 4,324 ER a month (2017 figure).
  • Your salary is also in accordance with the local market conditions.

Your employer will then act as your sponsor and start the application process as described in the previous section.

Other Paid Employment

Most “self-made” expats — those who aren’t sent to the Netherlands on a foreign assignment — probably fall into this category. The following conditions apply:

  • Your future employer is officially registered with the Dutch Chamber of Commerce.
  • You earn enough to be self-sufficient. Your gross income must be at least as high as that of a 23-year-old employee earning the minimum wage. In 2017, this amounted to 1,565.40 EUR a month (the obligatory 8% holiday allowance excluded).

If you fall into this category, you often need only a single permit (combined work and residence permit). You apply for this document via the IND (Immigration and Naturalization Service). The IND will then ask for a labor market assessment from the Dutch Employees Insurance Agency (UWV). The UWV has to decide on whether they will grant the work permit to you. The permit usually states for which employer and under which conditions you may legally work in the Netherlands. 

If you can’t apply for a single permit for some reason, your prospective employer has to apply separately for a work permit first. They will contact the UWV on your behalf — the Employees Insurance Agency can then grant or deny the application, based on current conditions on the Dutch labor market.

Other Reasons for Coming to the Netherlands

There are many other kinds of expats working in the Netherlands, too: intra-company transfers, media correspondents, self-employed people, employees of international NPOs, etc. In each case, different conditions may apply. Please see what the Immigration and Naturalization Service has to say about working in the Netherlands.

What if you haven’t moved to the Netherlands for work-related reasons at all? It highly varies if you are already allowed to work in the Netherlands. Check your immigration documents for a stamp saying “Arbeid vrij toegestaan, TWV niet vereist” (“Free to work, no work permit needed”). If you can’t find this, it means that you do require a work permit to start a job in The Hague. Your potential employer would have to apply for it at the UWV.

The EU Blue Card

The EU Blue Card is a new kind of visa which is intended for highly skilled workers with a nationality other than that of EU or EEA countries. It is supposed to make it easier for expatriates and other foreigners to live in the EU.

However, the conditions are quite strict. Applicants must have an employment contract earning them at least 65,655.36 EUR in gross income (2017 figure), and they must have completed higher education courses of at least three years. The foreign degree has to be checked by the IDW (International Credential Evaluation).

The advantage is that it is easier for EU Blue Card holders and their family members to settle in another EU country after the first 18 months. After lawfully residing in the EU on a EU Blue Card for five years (two of them in the Netherlands), expats can opt for a change in their Dutch residence status to apply for a permanent residence permit.

The Blue Card can be issued for a maximum period of four years, but it is possible to renew it if you still have an employment contract with a Dutch company and meet the salary threshold. Further details about criteria for the EU Blue Card can be found here.

Residency Registration

Every expat, regardless of their nationality, has to register with their municipal administration for stays of over three months. This includes citizens of EU or EEA countries. The requirements for registration may vary depending on the reason for your stay. In general, you need to submit the following paperwork upon registration:

  • a valid ID or passport
  • a recently issued birth certificate or marriage certificate (if applicable)
  • proof of legitimate residence (e.g. a valid residence permit if you need one)
  • proof of address or occupancy (i.e. the sales contract or rental contract of your apartment or house)

Please note: documents issued in a foreign language may have to be officially translated and / or legalized. You can find more information on document legalization via the information platform “The Netherlands and You”.

In The Hague, highly skilled migrants and expats (so-called kennismigranten) often do not need to take care of registration themselves but can have this procedure arranged through their employer. If you have entered the country as a highly skilled migrant, talk to your employer’s HR department to find out if they also provide this service for their international employees.

We do our best to keep this article up to date. However, we cannot guarantee that the information provided is always current or complete.

Pascal Tremblay

"With InterNations as my network, I have been able to make many friends learn the ins and outs about living in The Hague."

Lastri Sasongko

"Making new friends and contacts in the Hague was much easier once I began to attent InterNations events."

Global Expat Guide