During your stay in the Netherlands you must make sure you are adequately insured, both for your health and other risks. Your host institution can advise you on which insurance to take out/bring. On this page you can find information on the health insurance system and a list of other insurances you should consider in order to be adequately insured.
Find out which health care insurance applies to you
Which healthcare insurance applies to me when doing research or working in the Netherlands?
Last updated February 2021
Below you can find a flowchart for international researchers and PhD students. This flowchart is for information purposes, no rights can derived from it, and your host institution will be your first point of call in assisting you to get appropriate health insurance.
This flowchart applies to people that are performing their work in the Netherlands, when you are employed by a Dutch institution but live and work abroad, this chart does not apply to you.
When you are doing an internship, this flowchart does not apply to you.
*Please note that the right is also the obligation to take out a public healthcare insurance.
Dutch public healthcare insurance (PHI) in Dutch is referred to as Zorgverzekering or Basisverzekering. You can qualify for a PHI on the basis of residence or on the basis of employment. For more information visit the website of the Sociale Verzekeringsbank (SVB).
You are in employment if:
- If you have an employment contract
- If you have a contract for zero hours
- If you are in casual employment (i.e. part-time job next to your research work)
NB: A guest/hosting agreement, an independent contractor agreement or a fictitious employment contract is not an employment contract. For clarification of a fictitious employment contract, see clarification 2 below.
A fictitious employment relationship is a relation between an organization and someone that works there that cannot be regarded as genuine employment (within the meaning of Article 7: 610 of the Dutch Civil Code), but has been designated as employment by the legislator and that might be regarded as employment by the tax authorities.There are various fictitious employments, but "de gelijkgesteldenregeling” is most common in practice and means that you are "equated/assimilated" with an employee if you work:
a) for longer than a month
b) usually at least two days per week (regardless of the number of hours per day)
c) perform personal work
d) for compensation of at least 2/5 of the Dutch minimum wage, which you can check on the website of the Dutch government.
If you are not employed, it is a right and an obligation to be insured through Dutch social insurances (as per the Long-term Care Act (Wlz), only if you are regarded a permanent resident by the designated authority, the SVB (Sociale Verzekeringsbank).
Among other things, the location of your social, legal and economic life determines whether your stay is temporary or not. Broadly speaking you can presume to be a temporary resident if your stay in the Netherlands will last less than a year.
Aspects that will be considered when looking at your case:
- Intention: Do you have the intention to go back to your home country after your temporary stay in the Netherlands or are you planning on staying in the Netherlands for a longer time?
- Housing: Did you sell your house in your home country? Did you buy a house in the Netherlands?
- Family: Do you have a family and if so, where do they live?
- Return to home country: Do you regularly visit to your home country or does your whole life take place in the Netherlands?
When it is not clear if you can and need to take out a Dutch public healthcare insurance, it is possible to receive a decision from the SVB by applying for
Each country has it’s own way of dealing with unexpected or unpleasant costs. The Netherlands has a highly developed insurance culture, in which everyone is expected to be appropriately insured. Nuffic has developed the insurance checklist to provide students and researchers an insight into the possible costs you might want to be insured for.
Employees posted by their employer to an organisation in the Netherlands are often covered by the health insurance scheme of the country of their employer. This is not always the case and it depends on if there is a social security treaty between the other country and the Netherlands. For more information please refer to this webpage of the Dutch Sociale Verzekeringsbank SVB.
If you work in the Netherland and you live in another EU/EEA country, you are in most cases covered by the Dutch health insurance. To be sure about which rules apply to your situation, it is advisable to check this webpage from the Sociale Verzekeringsbank.
You will participate in the Dutch public healthcare insurance if you fall under the Dutch social security - either through being employed by a Dutch employer or through long-term residency. Please check the flowchart on this webpage to see if you qualify for public health care insurance. The HR department of your employer will also be able to provide you with information.
For more information about the rules and regulations around health care insurance, please visit this government website.
Finding a suitable insurance
Although it is a public health insurance scheme, the insurance policies are provided by private insurance companies. Each company offers a slightly different package and competes on different service levels. They cannot cut on the minimum coverage, so that will be provided with every insurer. Things to look out for:
- Own risk component - which 'eigen risico' (Dutch for 'own risk') will suit you.
- Find out if they offer any service in English (not only basic information, but also declaration forms etc).
- Find out if you can get discount through an organisation. By law organisations, unions, clubs etc. can be given up to 10% discount if they hook up with one insurance company.
- Find out what the rules are around traveling abroad and healthcare coverage. Most insurances now provide the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) automatically, but this is not always the case. This EHIC can make your life easier if you travel within Europe and find you need urgent medical treatment.
Be aware that a public healthcare insurance only covers medical expenses and repatriation costs back to the Netherlands. For other costs, such as repatriation back to your home country, or liability, you will need to take out an insurance with a different insurance company.
If you are entitled to a Dutch public health insurance you also have the obligation to take out such an insurance. If you do not comply with this obligations you may be fined. The CAK will send you a letter stating that you ought to take out a Dutch public healthcare insurance, and if you fail to do so within the set terms stated in the letter, they will fine you. Always take action when you receive such a letter.
If you are enrolled in the Dutch public health insurance, you are entitled to apply for a healthcare benefits 'zorgtoeslag', a financial contribution towards these costs for people with a lower income. You can apply for healthcare benefits from the Belastingdienst.
For general information about health care insurances you can consult the website of the 'zorgverzekeringslijn', this government subsidised institution will provide you with accurate and objective advice.
European citizens travelling within the European Economic Area (European Union, Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein) and Switzerland, whether for private or professional reasons, have the right to be issued with a European Health Insurance Card by their public healthcare insurer. This new card simplifies the procedure for receiving any medical assistance that might become necessary during a temporary stay in another EU/EEA country.
You can apply for an EU Healthcard through your public healthcare insurer or other relevant authorities in your home country. The issuer of the card decides for how long you can use the card, i.e. if your stay abroad is still considered temporary.
Please note that, if you are employed in the Netherlands, you have the obligation to take out Dutch public healthcare insurance, even if you hold an EHIC.
When you have the Dutch public healthcare insurance and you want to travel abroad within Europe, you can apply for this EHIC card, to help you on your travels.
Several private insurance companies sell policies designed especially for students and researchers coming to the Netherlands.
These insurance companies provide an insurance package including healthcare insurance, as well as liability insurance, accident insurance, theft insurance, travel insurance, repatriation insurance and legal aid insurance. They provide adequate healthcare cover and information in English.
Did you receive a letter from the National Health Care Institute (Zorginstituut Nederland)?
A lot of people in the Netherlands who do not have Dutch basic healthcare insurance have received or will receive a letter from the National Health Care institute. The letter states that according to Dutch law they will have to take out Dutch public healthcare insurance (basiszorgverzekering) immediately. Most likely this letter will also be sent to international researchers and knowledge migrants. If you receive this letter, it is important that you take action.
Always take action
If you receive this letter you should always take action, either by taking out Dutch public healthcare insurance or by asking the Sociale Verzekeringsbank (SVB) to judge whether you are obliged to do so. If you do not take action, you will end up in an automatic fine procedure, from which it might be difficult to escape.
The letter from the National Health Care Institute will be in Dutch only.
On the Study in Holland website you can find more detailed information about the letter. Here you can also find a translation in English.
SVB decides on Wlz-status
The SVB decides who participates in the Wlz – a social security scheme covering extraordinary healthcare costs. If you are participating in the Wlz, you are also, by law, obliged to take out Dutch basic healthcare insurance. The Zorginstituut Nederland therefore relies on the SVB to decide on your situation.
Download a more detailed explanation (35 kB)
Download the English SVB form
SVB fine-tuning procedure for unpaid researchers
Perhaps you have received a decision of the SVB already and they have awarded you participation in the AWBZ, which you did not expect. Unfortunately, the specific circumstances of unpaid researchers and their social security participation have not been completely clear to all SVB-decision makers. EP-Nuffic has discussed these unexpected decisions with the SVB, who have agreed to fine-tune their procedure for unpaid researchers.
If you have been awarded Wlz participation against your expectations, you have the option to appeal against this decision within six weeks. Call the SVB, or better: send a letter that includes the word ‘bewaarschrift’ (notice of objection), your telephone number and details of your situation. It is especially helpful if you provide information about how your research position is financed.
- Schengen visa
Foreign nationals applying for a Schengen visa (entry visa to enter the Schengen area, including The Netherlands) must have travel insurance covering medical expenses for the entire duration of their stay in the Schengen area. The insurance policy must include repatriation on medical grounds, urgent medical care and emergency hospital treatment.
- MVV – provisional residence permit
No healthcare insurance is required when applying for a provisional residence permit (an entry visa preceding a residence permit, in Dutch abbreviated as MVV).
- Residence permit
Foreign nationals applying for a residence permit do not have to demonstrate that they have medical insurance. However, the residence permit will always be issued on condition that the bearer will take out health insurance at least within 4 four months.
For more information visit this webpage hosted by the Dutch government.
Government non-profit information centre regarding healthcare insurance.
The Sociale Verzekeringsbank (SVB) implements social insurance schemes, such as AOW pension, child benefit (AKW) and the personal care budget (PGB). If you qualify for a pension or benefit, they can help you by providing information and making sure that you get what you are entitled to. They prevent and fight misuse by checking that they do not make payments to people who are not entitled to them.
They are also involved in preparing and testing new schemes and regulations. They make sure they can be implemented smoothly and efficiently, for as little cost as possible. It is their task to advise the Dutch government this.
At the SVB you can apply for an assessment to see if you qualify for Dutch Public Health Insurance (Wlz assessment) by visiting this webpage.
Are responsible for health care benefits and have specific information about health care for people that move to the Netherlands from abroad.
This is an umbrella organisation of 10 Dutch health Insurance providers
EU Health Insurance Card (EHIC)
Information on the EHIC on the European Commission's website.