English is by far the predominant language used to communicate with foreigners. German, French and Spanish follow on a large distance. You will be able to work and live in the Netherlands by just using English, as almost all Dutch have a good level of English. However, government communication and other paperwork is still often in Dutch. Secondly, you might be able to get more out of your stay in the Netherlands by learning the language.
There is a wide range of Dutch courses available. The courses vary in duration, frequency and price. Your employer may even offer you free or reduced-rate Dutch courses in-house. It is worthwhile asking your employer about the options available.
Some suggestions to look for Dutch language courses:
- Nuffic - Study in Holland - Dutch language courses
- Expatica - Find a language school in the Netherlands
- Learn Dutch - Distance Learning
- Taalthuis - Learning Dutch
And how do you get from your house to your work? How do you get around in the Netherlands? You have to check in advance whether your driving licence is valid in the Netherlands and how you can bring your car into the country. Besides good roads, the country has an advanced public transport infrastructure.
Almost everyone in the Netherlands owns a bike (16 million people, 13 million bikes). The flat country has a perfect infrastructure for biking. Not only as a leisure activity, but also as means of transportation to work. Most roadways are lined with bicycle lanes, complete with their own traffic lights and set of rules. For example, you are not allowed to bike on the sidewalk, and your bike should have functioning lights on both front and rear. Not abiding these rules may result in fines.
Offices and universities generally provide secured and sometimes covered spaces to put your bike. It is important to lock your bike at all times, as there are many bike thefts in the larger cities.
More information: Cycling in the Netherlands
In general, roads in the Netherlands are of good quality and equipped with direction signs. However, the urban areas in the Netherlands (Randstad) can be very crowded with cars. Traffic jams in the mornings and afternoons are common. In the city centre it might be difficult to find parking spots as well. Ask the municipality about parking licences for inhabitants.
It is important to be familiar with the traffic rules before. Read about the rules and regulations in the guide ‘Road Traffic Signs and Regulations in the Netherlands' from the Ministry of Infrastructure.
Your driving license is valid in the Netherlands for a certain amount of time. This depends on the country of issue of your license. Find english information about your driving license.
Issued in an EU/EEA member state or Switzerland: Valid for use in the Netherlands until 10 years after the date of issue. If your license was issued longer than 9 years ago you have a year to obtain a Dutch driving license. During this period you can still use your foreign driving license.
Issued in another country: Valid for use in the Netherlands for 185 days after you have made residence in the Netherlands. Please note that during these 185 days you may be requested to show an international driving license on demand. Your embassy can give you more information about the specific cases in which an international driving license is required.
The Netherlands has an excellent public transport infrastructure. The fact that the country is small and the transportation is quick, allows you to reside in one city and work in another. Because of the density in traffic, it is often quicker to use public transport than a car in urban areas.
In order to use the public transport you need an OV chip card. You can charge your OV Chip Card with credit, with which you can travel anywhere within the Netherlands. You can purchase your OV Chip Card online or at the service points.
You can use 9292 OV to plan your journey from door to door. It covers all public transport companies.
The Nederlandse Spoorwegen (NS) is the national train company. Trains can bring you to most cities in the Netherlands, some of the bigger cities have more than one station. All trains have 1st and 2nd class coupés, and some have stiltecoupés (silence wagons) where you can read or work quietly.
On the NS homepage you can plan your journey in advance and see the duration and prices, and even buy your ticket online. You can either buy a ticket at the station (one-way or return) or use your (charged) OV Chip Card.
If you travel to work every day, it might be beneficial to buy a subscription. Ask your employer about covered travel costs.
- NS- OV chip card - for information about how to use the OV chip card for traintravels
- NS International - The NS website for high speed connections with foreign destinations
Buses, trams and metro
Rotterdam and Amsterdam are the only cities with a metro network. The metro stations have electronic gates that will only open when you check in with an OV chip card.
- GVB Amsterdam - Public Transport company of Amsterdam
- HTM Den Haag - Public Transport company of The Hague
- RET Rotterdam - Public Transport company of Rotterdam