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Employment in The Hague

At a Glance:

  • If you are not a member of an EU or EEA member state, you usually need to secure a work permit for the Netherlands before you can start working in The Hague.
  • The Hague has a strong business sector, for example in the life sciences, aerospace and security, as well as general research and development.
  • The city also has a large number of international organizations with numerous employment opportunities for expats.
  • In addition to the UWV Werkbedrijf (the Dutch employment agency), job seekers in the Netherlands can benefit from a wide range of other resources — some of them are even aimed at international employees.

Working in The Hague is all about international and European institutions, which contribute significantly to the region’s economy. Many foreigners in The Hague are employed by one of an estimated 170 international organizations or over 100 consulates and embassies in town. With 50,000 employees, the public sector (i.e. government and extraterritorial institutions) provides jobs for a huge part of the workforce.

The service industry, even beyond the public sector, definitely dominates the local economy: out of 272,000 people working in The Hague, only 5,000 and 30,000, respectively, work in the primary sector or in manufacturing, construction, or transportation.

But even if you did not get your PhD in politics or law, your chances of working in The Hague are still quite high. Qualified employees are welcome in all kinds of professional fields. That being said, The Hague had an above-average high unemployment rate of 8.8% in 2016 — higher than in Amsterdam or Utrecht, but still not as high as in neighboring Rotterdam (11.3%).

Securing Your Work Permit

Before you can start working in The Hague, you usually have to secure a work permit. Nationals of all EU or EEA member states are, however, exempt from this rule.

Expats from other countries who are planning to move to The Hague for work-related reasons have to apply for a work permit together with their visa and residence permit. Some just require a combined single permit (GVVA) for both living and working in the Netherlands. Others, however, need to apply for their residence permit and work permit (TWV) separately.

Which of these two options applies to you mostly depends on your exact reason for coming to work in The Hague: Have you been sent on an intra-corporate transfer by your company? Do you count as a so-called “highly skilled migrant”? Would you like to start your own business in The Hague? Please read our article on moving to The Hague for further details. The Dutch Immigration and Naturalization Service also offers more information on working in the Netherlands.

If you haven’t moved to The Hague for a new job, your residence permit will still tell you if you are allowed to work in the Netherlands. If you have a stamp in your passport stating “Arbeid vrij toegestaan, TWV niet vereist” (“Free to work, no work permit needed”), you don’t need an extra work permit. If this is not the case, though, your prospective employer needs to apply for one at the Dutch Employees Insurance Agency (UWV) on your behalf.

Business Sectors

There are different business sectors which offer opportunities for working in The Hague to expats and locals alike.

  • The oil and gas industry is strong in the western Netherlands, mostly due to the local infrastructure and access to necessary facilities. Dana Petroleum, Petrogas, and Engie are major companies in The Hague working with oil and gas from the North Sea.
  • The aerospace sector is particularly strong in terms of research and development in this area. People working in this sector will benefit mostly from the research and technology site of the European Space Agency ESTEC in Noordwijk. The Hague Security Delta has also become one of the leading security clusters in Europe, particularly in the field of cybersecurity.
  • The creative sector has been pushed in recent years with the establishment of the program “Creatieve Stad” (Creative City). It is supposed to make The Hague attractive for new businesses, particularly architects, designers, artists, and specialists in computer games and new media.
  • The field of life sciences is also quite strong in the region around The Hague. Major multinational companies such as MSD, Amgen, and GlaxoSmithKline are among the 2,500 innovative businesses for life sciences, medical technology, and research in the Netherlands. If you are interested in working in this field, the best location near The Hague is the Leiden Bio Science Park, with its more than 100 biomedical companies (specializing mainly in drug development and medical technology). It’s only about 15 minutes by train from The Hague’s central station.
  • Research and development is generally a big field for people curious about working in The Hague. Important employers are Leiden University as a leading university in life sciences, Delft University of Technology, as well as the Netherlands Institute of Applied Scientific Research.
  • Telecommunications and IT are both strong in this part of the country. National mobile operators offer lots of employment opportunities. Royal KPN NV, whose head office is based in The Hague, is the largest operator in the country.
  • Tourism in The Hague has been on the rise. It is the second-biggest tourist city after Amsterdam in the Netherlands. In 2015, for example, it attracted over 46 million visitors — mostly domestic tourism from other parts of the Netherlands, but also nearly two million tourists from abroad.

International Organizations

Aside from the different sectors and fields mentioned above, there are many employment opportunities with international organizations for non-Dutch nationals interested in working in The Hague. As mentioned above, the various international organizations in and around The Hague are among the most important employment engines for the region.

The number of jobs generated by international organizations or due to the growing international community has been increasing in recent years, providing more and more jobs for expats and Dutch people alike. Major international organizations in The Hague are:

  • The Permanent Court of Arbitration
  • The International Court of Justice
  • The International Criminal Court
  • Europol
  • The European Patent Office

Doing Business in The Hague

The Job Search

If you have not secured a job yet, you have plenty of opportunities for a job search in The Hague. The public employment service (UWV Werkbedrijf), for instance, offers support to job seekers and employers across the Netherlands. While your future employer may turn to UWV Werkbedrijf for help in recruiting the perfect employee, you can refer to their database for vacancies or leave your CV at their branch office. Their offices in The Hague are located in Leghwaterplein 1 and Verheeskade 25.

Networking is another important aspect of the job search. Other expatriates in The Hague may be able to help you out. Maybe there is someone among the members of the InterNations Community in The Hague who has just the right job for you.

For current information on job positions and internships with international organizations, you should refer to The Hague Justice Portal. All in all, there are plenty of recruitment agencies which specialize in multilingual job seekers. You will find a list of them on The Hague’s city website.

Other online resources for your job search in The Hague include the following websites:

Business Districts

There are many business districts and new developments in and around The Hague. Former industrial areas and older business developments are often being remodeled to satisfy the needs of a service-based economy and the expectations of 21st-century companies. The following areas are just a few examples of the many potential business locations in The Hague.

  • Situated in the northeastern district Haagse Hout, Queen Beatrix Business District (Beatrixkwartier) is probably one of the most popular office locations in The Hague — it even has its own Randstad Rail station. The neighborhood is characterized by a large number of high-rise buildings and new office complexes. Numerous major companies are located here, such as Deloitte, Siemens Nederland, or the Dutch insurance provider Nationale Nederlanden.
  • Part of the Laak district near the city center, De Binckhorst is an area currently under re-development to preserve its industrial heritage. Formerly home to factories for such industries such as printing, tobacco, or car manufacturing, De Binckhorst is now attracting more new businesses and creative types, for example, app and web designers, architects, designers, artists, and musicians.
  • Just like De Binckhorst, Laakhaven-Oost and Laakhaven-West are two neighborhoods in transition. As their name suggests, they once used to host an important port along the canal between Den Haag and Delft. However, the cargo trade gradually disappeared in the 1960s. Today, the area is a down-to-earth business district featuring a megastore shopping mall, the campus of The Hague University of Applied Sciences, plenty of office space, and many small and medium-sized enterprises (e.g. retail, car repairs, construction works, and commercial services).

Doing Business

Doing business in the Netherlands, and more specifically The Hague, is very clear, straightforward, and to the point. When you meet your colleagues and business partners to negotiate a business deal, you will soon find that the meeting will go ahead largely without polite small talk. Instead of wasting any time on chit-chat, meetings often start straight away.

As business meetings always follow a strict agenda, there is not much time for general conversations. All employees are expected to be punctual so that meetings can begin on time. It is customary to voice your opinion freely and openly disagree with your business partners, if necessary. To many expatriates, this straightforward way of doing business may come as somewhat of a shock.

The typically Dutch way of doing business should, however, not discourage you while you are working in The Hague. In fact, a rather egalitarian way of doing business is quite common in the Netherlands. In private, the Dutch are mostly polite and easygoing. Outside the meeting room, your relationship with your new colleagues may soon take on a relaxed and friendly character.

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