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Moving to the Netherlands to Research or Study

The Netherlands is one of the happiest and safest countries in the world making it a great place for researchers. Here are some practical things to know before you move to help you settle in quickly.

Visas and Permits

Citizens of the EU/EEA or Switzerland do not need a work or residence permit to study or research in the Netherlands. However, if you plan on staying for more than three months, you should make an appointment to register with the Dutch Immigration and Naturalization Service (IND). Once you register, you will receive a registration statement (verklaring van inschrijving) which you may have to show when you take out health insurance or if you apply for a mortgage.

If you are coming to the Netherlands from outside the EU/EEA as a PhD student, paid scientific researcher, or unpaid scientific researcher with a grant you will apply for a residence permit for scientific researchers. Citizens of certain countries will also need an entry visa (a Machtiging tot Voorlopig Verblijf or MVV) to enter the Netherlands. Your research institution will apply for your residence permit and MVV (if required). Once your application is approved you will collect your MVV from the Dutch embassy or consulate in your country of residence and provide biometric information. Once you arrive in the Netherlands, make an appointment with Immigration and Naturalisation Services to pick up your residence permit card.

Bringing Your Family

It is easiest to submit your family members’ visa applications with your own. Family members include a spouse/cohabitating partner/civil partner and children under 18. Your partner will have the same rights as you with regards to work. If your residence permit allows you to work without a work permit then theirs will too, whereas if you are only allowed to work with a work permit, they will also need a Dutch work permit. Your spouse’s employer will be responsible for the work permit application.

Registering and Getting a BSN

Students or researchers who are going to be in the Netherlands for more than four months (regardless of their nationality) must make an appointment to register in the Personal Records Database (BPR) with their local municipality. You must register in person along with all family members who have moved with you. You will have to present your passport or ID card, legalized birth certificate and proof of address, in addition to a marriage certificate or children's’ birth certificates. Once you’re registered, you will be assigned a Citizen Registry Number (BSN) which is used by government agencies.

Health Insurance

Residents and employees of the Netherlands are obligated to take out Dutch public health insurance (zorgverzekering or basisverzekering) within four months of their arrival in the Netherlands, even if they already have coverage in their home country. Dutch public health insurance covers basic medical care such as a visit to your family doctor and most necessary hospital treatments. Although the Dutch health system is a public one, it is not free. You do get to choose your insurance company and monthly premiums are around €100. Policies are taken out on an individual basis, although you don’t have to pay premiums for public health insurance for children under 18.


If you plan to be in the Netherlands for longer than six months, opening a Dutch bank account is recommended. To open a bank account in the Netherlands, you will need your BSN, passport and a Dutch address. Major banks in the Netherlands include ING, Rabobanks, and ABN AMRO.

It is a good idea to have a few weeks worth of living expenses available in your home bank account as it may take some time to get your Dutch bank account and salary deposit set up. Check with your home bank before you travel to make sure you will be able to use your bank card abroad.

Learning Dutch

While English is the working language of many universities and research institutions, learning Dutch will help you immensely in your daily life. Many universities offer Dutch courses for their international students and staff that are either fully or partially subsidized. There are also Dutch courses offered at a variety of price points at language centres across the country. Here is some more information about Dutch courses available in Amsterdam.

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