Work permit

Working in Europe | Work permit | Netherlands

Depending on your nationality or the purpose of your stay, a work permit might be required for you. In this section you can read up on work permits and, perhaps more interestingly, whether you may be exempted from this requirement.

When coming to the Netherlands to work, the general rule is that the employer will have to apply for a work permit for you if you do not have the nationality of an EU/EEA member state or Switzerland. However, since the Dutch government wants to stimulate its ‘knowledge economy’, scientific researchers are often exempt from this requirement. This is fortunate, as an ordinary (full) work permit is generally quite difficult to aquire.

You don't need a work permit if

  1. You are an EU/EEA, Swiss national (excluding Croatians) national, a work permit is not required as you can access the Dutch labour market freely and under the same conditions as the Dutch.
  2. You are a Croatian national who has had a Dutch residence permit for the purpose of ‘work’ for twelve consecutive months.
  3. You are a foreign national who has had a Dutch residence permit for the purpose of ‘work’ for five consecutive years and the Netherlands is still your main place of residence
  4. You have a residence permit which provides a full exemption of the workpermit obligation (you are free on the labour market):
    • - Orientation Year for Highly educated persons (Zoekjaar hoogopgeleiden)
    • - Scientific researcher under EC directive 2005/71
  5. You have a residence permit which provides an exemption of the workpermit obligation for the labour according the purpose of your stay, with one of the following purposes of stay:
    • - Highly Skilled Migrant Scheme (Kennismigrantenregeling)
    • - European Blue Card
  6. You are doing scientific research at a university
  7. You are doing research as part of an EU project or other bilateral research project
  8. You are a lecturer at a university (of applied science).

A work permit under less stringent rules

Most research situations which do not fall under an exemption of the work permit can profit from less stringent rules. Now a work permit is required, however less stringent rules apply for the application procedure. Less stringent rules for example mean that the employer does not need to prove that he could find no suitable person within the EU.

Less stringent rules apply to foreign nationals who work in higher education (researchers, guest lecturers), or other sectors where shortages have been identified. They are not considered a threat to the Dutch labour market, in fact, the opposite is true. The Netherlands needs foreign nationals to fill certain positions in order to keep up or improve our competitive position in certain areas such as research.

In practical terms this means that for these categories it will not be checked if there is a supply of workers available in a category with a higher priority. This saves the future employer a lot of paperwork and time in the application procedure. More importantly, it greatly increases the chance that a work permit will be approved of.

A full work permit

If neither the exemptions nor the less stringent rules apply to your situation, your employer will have to apply for a full work permit. Now it will be checked if there is no supply of suitable workers within the EU which could also do the work.

Application procedure

It is up to the employer or host institution to apply for the work permit at the UWV. It takes at least 5 weeks for the application to be processed. Employers who hire foreign nationals without first obtaining a work permit risk being fined €8,000 for each illegal employee. A work permit is free of charge.

Regulations concerning work permits and immigration procedures are very much intertwined. A Schengen visa or (provisional) residence permit will be granted only if the work permit has been issued. This means that if your employer needs to apply for a work permit, you should calculate some extra time (up to 5 weeks) for the immigration procedures.

The authority for issuing work permits is called UWV. The authority deciding on (provisional) residence permits is called IND (Dutch Immigration and Naturalisation Service). Sometimes it may be possible for your employer to submit a joint application for both a work permit and a (provisional) residence permit. Both applications will then be handled at an office where these two organisations work together. If this is available in your case, we would certainly advise your employer to do so. This will save a couple of weeks time.

Further information for employers is available in in the employers section of this website (in Dutch only).

Find out

You are coming to the Netherlands to do research or teach at a higher education institution. But for whatever reason you may want (or need!) a second job, either paid or on a voluntary basis. Here you can read wether this is legally possible. Find out if a workpermit is needed for these extra activities.

EU/EEA citizen

You are free to work in the Netherlands, also for voluntary work, second jobs, setting up your own company.

Croatian nationality

Coming summer (2018) you will be free on the Dutch labour market. Untill than, a work permit is required in the first two years that you are active on the Dutch labourmarket.

Holders of a residence permit which states 'arbeid is vrij toegestaan'

Such residence permit allows free movement on the Dutch labour market, including voluntary work, side jobs, setting up an enterprise.

Residence permit of scientific research under the EC/2005/71 directive

This residence permit gives you the status 'free on the labourmarket' which allows you to pick up any other economic activity next to your research. You can take up a second job, do any occasional work, you can do voluntary work and set up a company, all without any workpermit restrictions. However, make sure your research activities are the main part of your economic activity! If you spend more time on other activities than research, you do longer comply to the conditions of yoiur residence permit. The HR department at your research institute can advise you on this.

Residence permit as highly skilled migrant (kennismigrantenregeling)

This residence permit allows you to do the work for which you are hired. It is okay to do some odd jobs for your employer which do not fall under the direct description of your work. (Your HR department can advise you on such matters). You are not allowed to take up work outside of the workdescription, for example a sidejob. You are allowed though to set up your own enterprise next to your work. Furthermore you can do voluntary work if the organisation holds a Voluntary Declaration (Vrijwillegersverklaring).

A note should be made regarding highly skilled migrants. A highly skilled migrant can have two employers, as long as he qualifies as a highly skilled migrant for both jobs. These requirements are laid out in the Aliens Act.

Your employer has a work permit for you

A work permit only allows your employer to let you do the work for which the work permit was acquired. In the unlikely event that your employer had to apply for a workpermit for you, you are only allowed to do the work which falls under the work permit. Your HRM can advise you if you are allowed to take up other work, for which you will need another work permit.