Social security

Working in Europe | Unemployment | Netherlands

Social Security

The Netherlands has an extensive social security system, which provides financial security when ones income is affected by health challenges, job loss or old age. Below you can find information on the different social insurance schemes, whether you are covered by them and whether you are paying money for them.

  1. National Insurance Schemes
  2. Employee Insurance Schemes
  3. Other social provisions (including benefits)

Dutch social security system

In the Netherlands there is a division within the social security system between the general national insurance schemes and the income related employee insurance schemes. Furthermore, there are several other social provisions which might be relevant for you. Whether or not you fall within any one of these schemes depends on your situation. Here you can read more about each scheme.

1. National insurance schemes

Every Dutch citizen-resident and nearly all foreign employees employed in the Netherlands are covered by these National Insurance Schemes. However, if you do research on a stipend, you might not fall under these schemes.

A distinction is made between national insurances and employee insurances.

National insurances are available independently of whether you are employed or not. There are provisions for (Dutch abbreviation are in brackets for easy reference):

  • The elderly, namely the State pension (AOW)
  • Surviving dependents (ANW) - which provides for widows, widowers and dependent children who have lost one or both parents 
  • Childcare - Child benefit 
  • Long-term Care (Wlz) and
  • Disabilities (Wajong, IOAW, IOAZ)

You can read about all schemes available on the website of the Sociale Verzekeringsbank (SVB), which is the Dutch agency for social insurances.

Payment: These insurances are paid from the social security contributions. However, when you do not have any income, you might still be covered by these schemes.

When you live in the Netherlands temporarily and are not working here as an employee, you will not be covered by these national insurance schemes.

2. Employee Insurance Schemes

Eventualities which are work related and which can affect one’s income, are covered under employee insurance schemes. Nearly all Dutch employees will be covered by these Employee Insurance Schemes. Note: you will only be covered by these schemes if you are employed. When you do research on a stipend and without an employment contract, you are not taking part in these employee insurance schemes.

These schemes provide cover for income fall due to

  • Unemployment (WW),
  • Accidents at work - occupational disability (WIA) 
  • Illness (ZW) and
  • Adoption and Childbirth (WAZO) 

The responsible Ministry for social insurances is the Ministry of Social Affairs and Employment. Their page on social insurances is currently only available in Dutch. 

Payment: The employee insurance scheme contributions are paid for both by your employer and yourself. On your pay slip you can see how much of your gross salary you contribute to these schemes.


Furthermore, there are many other forms of social provisions, most of them are handeled by the Dutch Tax authority and are called Toeslagen, or benefits in English. Below an brief overview:  

  1. Healthcare benefits, to compensate people with lower incomes for the costs of  healthcare insurance - (healthcare benefits)
  2. Rent Benefit, to compensate people with lower income for the rental of their living accomodation (rent benefit)
  3. Childcare benefits, to compensate for the cost of childcare facilities (childcare benefit)

You can read about these benefits on the website of the Dutch Tax authority 

We advise you to contact your HR department before you apply for a benefit, as it does happen that you are provisionally awarded a benefit which is paid out to you, while are not really eligable, resulting in you having to pay back large amounts.

Note: When you are an EU citizen IND registration is not required, but it does help you in certain circumstances. One of these circumstances is when you want to apply for benefits.