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:
This is a visa which allows you to stay for a maximum of 90 days. It depends on your nationality if you need a visa. You can check if there is a visa requirement for you by using the visawizard.
This visa is often referred to as a tourist visa. This is not entirely correct, as the visa will always be issued for a particular purpose of stay. “Tourism” is one possible purpose of stay, but so is “research” or “business”.
The Schengen visa will usually allow you to travel throughout all countries in the Schengen area. Sometimes the visa might be limited to a single country (i.e. the Netherlands). In that case, the Schengen visa will only allow you to travel to and through that particular country.
Your visa will be valid for a specific period (with a maximum of 90 days). Note that the visa can be granted for a period shorter than 90 days depending on the specific circumstances. Your stay in the Schengen area is limited to a maximum of 90 days within a period of 180 days. This means that once you have been in the Schengen area for 90 days you may not return until another 90 days have passed.
A Schengen visa is a sticker in your passport. The sticker will mention information such as the expiry date of the visa, the maximum number of days you are allowed to stay, and the countries you have been granted access to.
Where to apply?
You must apply for a Schengen visa in person at a Dutch embassy or consulate. It is not possible to authorize somebody else to apply on your behalf. You may visit the nearest Dutch mission in your home country. It is also possible to apply at a Dutch mission in another country, as long as you have lawful residence in that particular country. Lawful residence means that you have a valid residence permit for that country. If you hold a tourist visa, you do not qualify as a lawful resident.
Find out where the nearest Dutch embassy or consulate is located on the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs website.
Visiting more than one country
It may be that you also need to travel to another Schengen country apart from the Netherlands. In that case, you must apply for the visa at the embassy or consulate of the country where you are planning to stay the longest. For example, you intend to spend two weeks in the Netherlands and four weeks in France. In that case, you apply for the visa at the French embassy. It does not matter which country you will visit first, or which country is your point of entry in the Schengen area.
How long does it take?
The application procedure for a Schengen visa may take anything from a few days to around two months. It would be wise to start the procedure as soon as you have assembled all the necessary documents.
A Schengen visa will be granted only if certain conditions are met. When applying for the visa at the Dutch embassy, do not forget to bring all necessary paperwork. Please check with the Dutch mission whether you need to bring any documents in addition to the ones mentioned below, as this may vary.
The following documents are always required:
- Passport:This must be valid for at least 90 days from the expiry date of the visa
- Documents to prove that you are able to finance your stay:This could be a letter to confirm that your employer or host institution will bear the costs of your stay. Or evidence that you have enough money to support yourself .
- Documents to support your purpose of stay: For example: An invitation or admission letter from your Dutch employer or host institution.
- If a work permit is needed, the embassy or consulate will need to see a copy of this before issuing the visa. As your Dutch employer or host institution is responsible for this, they should be able to provide you with a copy.
- You also have to pay a fee. This will not be refunded if your visa is rejected.
Needed for visa pick-up
When collecting your Schengen visa, you will also need to produce some documents. Once again, please check in advance if you need anything else in addition to the following:
- Return air ticket: The embassy needs this as a confirmation that you will leave the Schengen area at the end of your stay. We recommend that you delay booking your ticket until the embassy has notified you that you application has been approved.
- Travel insurance: This must be valid for the entire duration of your stay. Your policy must include medical coverage to a minimum of € 30,000.
The entry visa applicable for stays over 90 days is called a provisional residence permit or MVV (from the Dutch term machtiging tot voorlopig verblijf).
The mvv is a sticker in your passport (type 'D' visa). This sticker will allow you to enter the Netherlands. However, the sticker does not give you the right to stay in the Netherlands for longer than 90 days. You must obtain lawful residence by applying for a residence permit on arrival. In most cases this has already been applied for by your employer.
If you need to travel outside the Netherlands after arrival, you can do so on the basis of your mvv. The mvv allows you to travel within the Schengen area for maximum 90 days from the date of entry.
Purpose Of Stay
A provisional residence permit is always issued for one particular purpose of stay. Examples include “highly skilled migrant” or “scientific researcher under EC Directive 2005/71”. It might be that only one purpose of stay applies to you. In other cases, it may be possible to choose between two different options.
Every purpose of stay comes with a different set of conditions and advantages. A work permit is required for some, for example. Sometimes minimum salary requirements apply and bringing in family members is not always easy. Our section on types of residence permits will tell you all about the pros and cons of each option.
Your employer may need to apply for a provisional Residence Permit (mvv) for you. The employer submits an application both for an mvv and a residence permit at the same time.
The IND (Immigration services) assesses the application and notifies your employer/host of the outcome. When it has been granted, the Dutch embassy/consulate will be notified as well.
From that moment on you can collect your mvv from the Dutch embassy.To collect your mvv at the Dutch embassy or consulate you will often need to make an appointment.
You must collect the mvv in person at a Dutch embassy or consulate. It is not possible to authorize somebody else to apply on your behalf. You may visit the nearest Dutch embassy or consulate in your home country. It is also possible to apply at a Dutch embassy or consulate in another country, as long as you have lawful residence in that particular country. Lawful residence means that you have a residence permit for that country, that will be valid for at least another 3 months. If you hold a tourist visa, you do not qualify as a lawful resident.
The embassy or consulate might ask you to show a legalised birth certificate.
The residence permit can be collected after arrival in the Netherlands.
Criteria For Assessment
You will be granted a provisional residence permit only if:
- You have a valid passport
- You have sufficient financial means
- You are not a danger to public order or national security in the Netherlands
- The required fees are paid
- A document has been supplied confirming that you will be working or performing research in the Netherlands
- Your employer has a work permit for you (if required in your situation)
Documents provided by Dutch employer or host institution
In the TEV-procedure, your employer or host institution will send all the paperwork to IND.
It is up to the employer or host to complete an application form and assemble all the required documents. These may include:
- Documents to confirm that you will be working or performing research in the Netherlands: Depending on your terms of employment, this might be an employment contract or letter of invitation.
- Proof of financial means:
- If you have a formal employment contract, this will mention your salary. If not, you may need to provide other proof of that you have sufficient means of support.
- Work permit:
- If a work permit is required (most likely not), your employer or host is responsible for applying.
Documents provided by yourself
Your employer or host institution will tell you what documents you will need to provide. These may include:
- Copy of passport: Your employer or host institution will definitely need a copy of your passport. This must be valid for at least 6 months after the date of issue of the provisional residence permit. Sometimes a copy of all pages (including blank pages) is required. In other cases, copies of the ID page, signature and visa pages may suffice. Your employer or host will tell you what is required.
- Proof of financial means: If you do not receive a salary or fellowship from your Dutch host, you might need to provide a proof that you have sufficient means of support. This could be a copy of the scholarship or fellowship certificate issued by the provider, or a statement issued by your bank confirming the balance of your account. Your funding must at least equal the minimum monthly amounts set by IND. These minimum monthly amounts are not necessarily the same for each purpose of stay and are subject to change.
If you are asked to provide documents, please bear in mind that IND only accept documents written in Dutch, English, German or French. Documents in other languages must be accompanied by an official translation.
Travel Options With MVV
A valid mvv allows you to enter and depart the Netherlands and other countries in the Schengen area.
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.