Living in Europe, Working in Europe | Entry conditions/visas | Netherlands

Depending on your nationality you might need a visa to cross the border into the Netherlands or into the Schengen area (which comprises of many European countries).

There are three types of visa:

A return visa allows you to re-enter The Netherlands. You might need a return visa when you don't have a valid residence permit (yet).

Imagine: you have applied for a residence permit or an extension of your residence permit, but your permit has not yet been issued. However, you have planned to go on a holiday to visit your family. If you leave now, how can you be sure that you can enter the country again? In certain cases a return visa (in Dutch: terugkeervisum) can help you out. Make sure you don't leave unprepared!

A return visa gives you the right to re-enter the Netherlands when you are not able to prove that you have lawful residence in the Netherlands. This means that not everyone needs a return visa.

You don’t need a return visa if:

  • your nationality doesn’t require a short stay visa: in that case you only need a valid passport; or
  • if you already have a residence permit: you can then re-enter as long as your residence permit is valid.

A return visa is only needed if your nationality always requires you to have a visa to enter the Netherlands, whether for a short stay or a long stay.

Requirements for return visa

There are some requirements for obtaining a return visa. There are three groups of people who can apply for a return visa.

Group 1 - urgent reasons

People who have urgent reasons to leave the Netherlands temporarily: if this applies to you, you need documents to prove this. Urgent reasons can include:

  • Serious illness or death of a member of the family (in the first or second degree);
  • Attendance of a marriage of a family member (in the first or second degree);
  • Excursions, internships, conferences, seminars or work visits.
Group 2 - travel during application procedure for extention

People who want to go on a holiday or visit their family and have applied for an extension of their residence permit on time. If this applies to you, the Dutch Immigration and Naturalisation Service (IND) will probably  give you a return visa.

Group 3 - travel during first application

People who have never had lawful residence because they have applied for a residence permit for the first time. For this group, the IND will make a decision on each individual case.

How to apply

If you want to apply for a return visa you will need to make an appointment with the IND at least two weeks before your departure. You can make an appointment by calling the IND information number 088 0430430. From abroad you call +31 88 0430430.

Validity, documents and costs

A return visa will be valid for three months, although in some cases an exception can be made.

You will need to bring the following documents:

  • a valid passport which will expire no earlier than within four months;
  • proof of application for a residence permit or an extension of a residence permit;
  • If you are travelling with children, the children need to accompany you to the IND and you need to bring their passports too.
  • The fee for a return visa is € 150.