Relocating to the Netherlands
When moving, there is a lot to arrange – no matter how close or how far you are going. To make it easier, get some insight into the two ways to move: organising the move yourself or hiring professionals to take care of it for you.
Handling the move yourself
If you decide to do everything yourself, it is usually the cheapest option. However, there are a few points to take into consideration:
• You are responsible and liable for any damage to property during your move. Your own goods are not insured during transport.
• You will most likely need to rent or borrow a van or a truck, paying for the gasoline, insurance, and for the kilometres driven. Vehicle insurance also involves a deductible.
• You will probably need to ask people to help you carry, load, unload, and reassemble your household items.
• You may need to drive back and forth from your previous residence to your new one several times to transfer all of your belongings. If the new residence is more than an hour away, the move may take several days.
Hiring a professional moving company
A professional moving company will usually cost you more than moving everything yourself, but it is important to be aware of the following benefits:
• A professional mover works faster and more efficiently than you can thanks to years of experience.
• All of your goods are insured against damage and/or loss. The standard insurance is usually up to EUR 100,000, and there is no risk for the client.
• The moving company provides the necessary materials, including packing boxes and protective wraps as well as mobile lifts if needed.
• The mover has a variety of vehicles at their disposal so everything can be moved in one transport from the former residence to the new one.
• Storage can be arranged if requested.
• An experienced, professional mover relieves much of the stress of moving by taking care of nearly everything involved in your move.
How much does it cost to move within the Netherlands?
If you decide to ask for a price quote, the first thing a moving company will do is determine the volume of the goods to be moved. The mover will usually send a surveyor to your home to assess the amount of goods that will be transported, how long it will take to transport the items, and what packing materials are needed. To make an accurate quote, the following points are also taken into consideration:
• Accessibility to the residence
• The type of residence at the loading and unloading addresses
• Necessity of a lift or other equipment
• Which pieces of furniture can be disassembled for transport
• Fragile or special items requiring specific handling and/or packing
Arranging your move in the Netherlands online
The moving industry has not been stagnant – there have been some recent developments in innovative online products to make moving easier. You can now arrange a professional move online whenever it suits you.
Book your move using the online platform Emoov: after providing information about your move, you will get a set price without needing to have a surveyor visit your home.
Regardless of the option you choose, when moving within the Netherlands, you must notify the municipality where you are moving to 30 days or fewer before your moving date or maximum five days afterwards. Find more information about this on the Dutch government’s website.
Moving to the Netherlands: A complete checklist of what you need to prepare
This guide covers everything you and your family need to know about moving to the Netherlands, from how to move your household possessions and integrate into Dutch culture to mandatory registrations, driving licences and insurances.
The Netherlands is an attractive country to relocate to. It is ranked 11th on the global quality of life index, with a very good health service, high employment rates, good public safety and high life satisfaction levels. Many are drawn to the relatively easy-going lifestyle and the cafe culture of cities such as Amsterdam, as well as the affordable Dutch cost of living by western European standards.
This guide to moving to the Netherlands is provided by World Fashion Apartments, which offers furnished properties in many of the most attractive neighbourhoods of Amsterdam, Eindhoven, Utrecht and the Hague. It will cover all the main areas of consideration for those thinking of relocating there.
Moving your belongings to the Netherlands
If you are moving to the Netherlands from the EU, you won’t have to declare any of your belongings at customs as long as you’re not bringing anything in from the exemptions list. If you’re arriving from outside of the EU, you’ll need to declare your belongings at customs but you can apply for an exemption from import duties if you are moving to the Netherlands to live and work.
The cost of moving to the Netherlands will depend on how you choose to move your belongings, which can be done via air freight or shipping. If you are travelling from mainland Europe, you could also use train or road freight. Another option is to use a professional relocation company. If you need help relocating, Expatica has a directory of relocation and moving companies in the Netherlands, including Holland Movers, specialized in carefree international moves.
Pets can be brought into the Netherlands but there are strict rules around health and transportation. See our guides to bringing a pet to the Netherlands and keeping pets in the Netherlands for more information.
For more information, see Relocation options for moving to the Netherlands.
Immigration and registration after you arrive
EU/EFTA residents (along with their close relatives) can enter the Netherlands without requiring a visa and can remain in the country visa-free, apart from those arriving from Croatia which still faces restrictions on long stays. However, anyone from the EU/EFTA staying for longer than four months will need to register and obtain a citizen service number.
Those from outside the EU/EFTA moving to the Netherlands will need to apply for a long-term entry visa (MVV) to enter the Netherlands and a residence permit to stay in the country for longer than three months. You will need the MVV to enter the Netherlands, and you collect the residence permit from the local immigration service (IND) office within two weeks of arrival.
For more information on all aspects of immigration to the Netherlands, see our complete guide to Dutch visas and permits.
Health insurance and social security benefits
Both health insurance and social security payments are mandatory for all Dutch residents. Most long-term Dutch residents will be eligible for public health insurance. Private health insurance is also available for those who can’t access public health insurance or want to be covered for extra treatments. Most foreign residents who move to the Netherlands are required to obtain public health insurance within four months of receiving their residence permit. Residents from EU/EFTA countries on short stay visits can use their European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) but will need to switch to Dutch health insurance if staying for longer than a year. The cost of Dutch health insurance is expensive compared to other European countries, with 6.75 percent of salaries covering basic medical care and 9.65 percent covering long-term nursing and care, but the Dutch healthcare system is of high quality and is rated as the best in Europe.
Social security contributions are mandatory for all, regardless of employment status, although some exceptions do exist. Details of exemptions can be found on the Dutch Social Security (SVB) website. The Dutch social security system is one of the most comprehensive in Europe and covers family benefits, maternity and paternity leave, unemployment benefits, long-term care, sickness leave and disability benefits.
For more information, see our guides to health insurance in the Netherlands, the Dutch healthcare system and the Dutch social security system.
Opening a bank account in the Netherlands
Opening a bank account when you move to the Netherlands is fairly straightforward. Most banks will have English-speaking staff and there are also financial providers who cater specifically for expat clients. To open a Dutch bank account, you will usually need to have valid ID (plus residence permit if applicable), your citizen service number (BSN) and proof of address. You may also be asked for proof of income, such as a payslip.
Most Dutch banks offer online banking. Credit cards and international money transfers are also commonly available although they are quite expensive.
Find out how to open a Dutch bank account.
Paying tax in the Netherlands
The Dutch tax system for foreigners is complicated and rates of tax payable vary considerably depending on your personal circumstances. Anyone who lives or works in the Netherlands is classified as a resident taxpayer and will pay tax on their worldwide assets.
If you are a taxpayer in the Netherlands, you will receive a Citizen Service Number (BSN – Burgerservicenummer) and must file an annual self-assessment tax return every April. Most of this is now submitted digitally. Most tax is collected through the Dutch income tax system which includes tax on income from profits, employment and home ownership (between 8.9 percent and 52 percent), income from shareholding (25 percent) and income on savings and investments (30 percent). There are a number of credits, allowances and incentives, including a 30 percent incentive for overseas employees bringing specific skills who can claim a tax-free lump sum to cover relocation costs up to 30 percent of the sum of wages and allowances.
Other taxes in the Netherlands include VAT (21 percent standard rate), property tax (between 0.1 and 0.3 percent of property value), inheritance tax and corporate tax (either 20 or 25 percent depending on profits).
Read our complete guide to Dutch taxes for more information.
Finding employment in the Netherlands
There are numerous opportunities for expats who have moved to the Netherlands to find work, particularly skilled employees such as those working in fields of finance, IT or engineering which are in high demand. There is a range of international and multinational companies based in the Netherlands as well as expat-focused recruitment agencies.
EU/EFTA workers can take up a job in the Netherlands without a permit but those from outside the EU/EFTA will need a residence permit and their employer will need to apply for a work permit. Those employed under these conditions will need to inform the Dutch immigration service (IND) if they change job.
There are numerous job websites and recruitment agencies for finding jobs in the Netherlands, as well as jobs advertised in Dutch papers and at job fairs. The standard Dutch working week is 36-40 hours. There is a minimum wage in the Netherlands which varies up until the age of 23, and a range of employment laws to protect Dutch workers. Becoming self-employed and starting a business in the Netherlands is also a popular option among expats.
Read our step-by-step guides to finding a job in the Netherlands and how to write a Dutch CV for more information.
Where to live and find accommodation
Unsurprisingly, the capital city Amsterdam is the most popular and highest ranked Dutch city to live, with Utrecht and Amstelveen second and third respectively, and Utrecht closing the gap on Amsterdam according to researchers. If you are moving to the capital, check out our guide on where to live in Amsterdam.
As buying a property can take several months, renting is recommended if you have just moved to the Netherlands or are not planning on staying longer than three years. Around 40 percent of Dutch residents rent their accommodation, although a large proportion of this is social housing. Renting in the private sector can be expensive and the application process isn’t always straightforward. It’s advisable to go through a rental agent to avoid any pitfalls. If you’re looking for short-term accommodation (anything from one week duration), you can try serviced apartments. Find out all you need to know about renting a property in the Netherlands. There are no restrictions on foreigners buying property in the Netherlands, whether resident or non-resident. There are tax benefits for home owners and mortgage costs are generally cheaper than rental fees, but the transaction costs are expensive – around 6 percent of the purchase price.
Setting up utilities and communications
If you are in rented accommodation in the Netherlands, it is likely that utility costs (water, electric, gas) and possibly communication costs (landline, internet) will be included in your monthly rental bill. If it is not included, or if you have bought a property, you will need to have these connected; if they are connected, you simply need to have them transferred into your name.
Your water company will depend on what area you are living in. Electricity and gas are both privatised and you can choose from various companies. Regulators ensure that tariffs are fairly priced. See our guide to getting utilities connected in the Netherlands for more information.
Most Dutch homes have phone, TV and internet as part of a package deal. Internet speed in the Netherlands is among the fastest in Europe. You can compare prices and packages at www.prijsvergelijken.nl. We have set up a full guide on connecting television, internet and telephone in the Netherlands as well as a separate guide on Dutch mobile operators and SIM cards.
Education and study in the Netherlands
Schooling is compulsory for children in the Netherlands, consisting of primary school (basisonderwijs) from ages 5-12 and secondary school (voortgezet onderwijs) until the age of 16, plus one or two years until the attainment of a diploma. Although basisonderwijs is only compulsory from the age of five, Dutch children start as soon as they turn four. Free primary and secondary state education is available to everyone. There are also independent private schools (bijzondere) which are attended by around two-thirds of all Dutch pupils.
Each city or town in the Netherlands has its own application procedures. If you have moved to the Netherlands with family, it is advisable to make enquiries quite far in advance so that you can familiarise yourself with the process. Information on schools including details of inspection reports can be found at www.scholenopdekaart.nl.
Dutch education standards are generally high-quality although standards have been found to vary considerably between schools. All school pupils in the Netherlands start learning English by the age of ten. Some schools begin teaching English to pupils at a younger age.
For information on all aspects of Dutch schooling, see our guide to education in the Netherlands as well as a list of schools in the Netherlands.
Expats who have moved to the Netherlands can choose to send their children to one of the many international schools, which is an option if you are not staying in the country for a long period or have older children who cannot speak much Dutch. Your financial situation may determine whether this is an option, although some companies reimburse fees as part of a relocation package and this reimbursement could be exempt from taxation.
Special needs schools
There are specialist schools (speciaal onderwijs) to cater for pupils with severe learning problems. If your child has learning difficulties, you can apply to have them taught in one of these schools or enrol them in mainstream education. Since 2014, all schools are required to provide for the needs of all pupils under the ‘All Inclusive Act’. See our guide to special needs services for more information.
Dutch universities offer a range of Bachelors, Masters and PhD programs. International students will need to get any foreign qualifications accredited. University fees vary according to age, nationality and what subject you are studying. Read Expatica’s guides on studying at university in the Netherlands and finding student accommodation for details.
Choosing a language school
Although the vast majority of Dutch speak English, being able to speak Dutch yourself will help you integrate better. If you wish to brush up on or learn Dutch while in the Netherlands, there is no shortage of Dutch language schools and courses available. Courses range from beginner to advanced and options include online and Skype learning.
Driving licences in the Netherlands
Rules around driving in the Netherlands are quite strict. You cannot drive a car registered in another country and you must exchange your foreign driving licence for a Dutch one within 185 days of arriving in the country. If you are unable to exchange your licence (which applies to most countries outside the EU/EFTA), you will need to take a Dutch driving and theory test. All cars brought in from abroad must be registered with the RDW (Rijksdienst voor het Wegverkeer) and the registration card must be kept in the car at all times. Fore more details, read how to import a car into the Netherlands.
Finding childcare in the Netherlands
If you have moved to the Netherlands with family including young children, you have the following childcare options:
• Kindergarten (kinderdagverblijf or crèche): public day care for children 0-4 years (usually available 6am-8pm).
• Private day care: these include international nurseries and pre-school facilities.
• Pre-school/playgroups (peuterspeelzalen): activities and play for 2-4 year olds. More suitable for part-time needs.
• Employers: some employers will provide day care facilities.
• After-school care: some establishments provide this for children aged up to 12.
• Personal au pair: you can hire an au pair in the Netherlands, although there are restrictions on what they can do and how many hours they can work.
Parents living or working in the Netherlands are entitled to child benefit for children aged under 18 and a childcare allowance for children under 12. More is explained in our guide to childcare in the Netherlands.
Required insurances in the Netherlands
Aside from mandatory health insurance paid by all, those owning or starting a business in the Netherlands need to take out specific insurances. Home insurance and contents insurance are also commonly taken out, as well as life insurance and liability insurance (which is purchased by over 95 percent of the Dutch population). Third-party car insurance is mandatory. More information is available in our guide to insurance in the Netherlands.
Retirement and Dutch pensions
The Netherlands currently ranks as the 9th best place to retire according to the Nataxis Global Retirement Index and has the 2nd best pension system in the world according to the Mercer Global Pensions index. This makes moving to the Netherlands an attractive option for expats reaching retirement age.
Retirement age in the Netherlands is 65, although it will rise incrementally to 67 by the year 2022. Anyone who has been living and working in the Netherlands is eligible for a Dutch pension. If you are moving to the Netherlands from the EU, it’s worth bearing in mind that EU/EFTA nationals can add any state pensions earned in other member states towards this. Like many other European countries, the Netherlands has a three-pillar pension system of mandatory state pension, occupational pensions and private pensions. Read about the conditions in Expatica’s guide to the Dutch pension system.
Dutch culture and social life
While still offering a good quality of life, the cost of living in the Netherlands is lower than many other western European countries, although Amsterdam is more expensive than other areas. However, among all the things to do in the Dutch capital, there is plenty of free stuff to try. Dutch culture is renowned for being relaxed, liberal and multicultural. The cafe culture and nightlife of Amsterdam are a couple of things the Netherlands is most famous for, but there are numerous other things to do and places to visit in the Netherlands including a fine selection of Dutch museums.
To help foreigners settle in once they have moved to the Netherlands, there are plenty of groups and clubs based around nationality, lifestyle or profession. Alternatively, you can join (or start your own) Meet-up group to find like-minded people. If you want to settle in, learn more and acclimatise yourself to the local customs, you can learn a little more about Dutch culture or read up on interesting facts about the Netherlands. Try sampling Dutch food to get a real flavour of the country.
The Netherlands is a predominantly Christian country and, as with many other European countries, the Dutch Christmas season revolves around family, feasting and some uniquely local traditions. The Dutch Christmas markets are a popular annual feature. Christmas Day, Boxing day and New Year’s Day are national holidays. We have put together a list of public holidays in the Netherlands, plus details of other important days.
Relocation options for moving to the Netherlands
If you’re moving to the Netherlands, what’s the best way to send your furniture, belongings or car? This guide explains air freight, shipping and international moving companies in the Netherlands.
Whether you’re moving from another European country or farther afield, there are many relocation options to move to the Netherlands an ensure your belongings arrive safely. There are, however, many factors to consider such as how to keep your relocation costs down, avoid damage and breakages and receive your belongings on time. But with good commercial ports, road links and numerous airports, getting your belongings to the Netherlands doesn’t have to be a painful process.
Which international moving option is best for the items you need to relocate to the Netherlands? We have put together tips for moving to the Netherlands or leaving the country. Requirements can differ per destination but this list provides a general idea of what you should arrange before the removal process and for moving abroad.
This guide explains the pros, cons, timeframes for delivery and relative prices so you can choose the best international removal option for you
When moving abroad a number of factors come into play, such as whether customs are payable or if there are restrictions or quarantine for items you import, besides the other usual issues to consider, such as safety of your items, how much work is involved in packing and picking up and the time period for delivery.
Cost is a big factor because certain relocation options offer substantial savings for large items, such as shipping your furniture or a car, compared to other relocation options that quickly add up for heavy items, such as air freight.
Another important question is whether you should hire an international relocation company. This question largely depends on how much time you have and your budget, as international moving companies typically take care of any potential issue that may arise which is ideal for time-strapped expats. How, then, do you decide which is the best international moving company and relocation option for you?
This guide answers all these questions below. You can also find Expatica’s listings of moving companies and relocation companies in the Netherlands, or ask a relocation expert on Expatica’s Ask the Expert free service.
Relocation to the Netherlands with air freight
Shipping your belongings to the Netherlands by air is relatively straight-forward, with most areas of the country well-served by commercial airports. The largest and most well-known airports in the Netherlands are Amsterdam Schiphol, Eindhoven, Rotterdam-The Hague, and Maastricht Aachen.
Air freight rates
Sending by air is the most expensive option. The cost of air freight depends primarily on the weight of your items, and of course the distance they’ll have to travel. Unlike sea shipping, air freight isn’t usually charged on size, but sending heavy items such as furniture and white goods can sometimes be cost prohibitive.
Air freight: Transit times
While air freight is expensive, it’s often the best option if you’re in a hurry or simply want to send some urgent belongings (with the rest following by sea/road). From elsewhere in Europe, you should be able to get your hands on your belongings in a few days if you send them by air. Air freight is also a good choice if you have left relocation arrangements later during your move as you can often send items at shorter notice than by sea.
How to find air freight for international removal
You have a couple of options when using air freight. If you’re only sending a few items and you’re travelling too, you might be able to take them along with you by paying excess baggage costs. Alternatively, you can use a worldwide courier company to send your belongings.
The most common option is to compare quotes online. But be wary: the price on screen won’t usually be the price you pay, as online quotes won’t typically factor in minimal transport costs and insurance. With this in mind, speak to a shortlist of shipping companies on the phone for a more accurate quote and peace of mind.
How air freight works
If you’re sending a full house load, air freight or removal companies will usually encourage you to use their door-to-door service. As part of this, they’ll visit you and survey your belongings before giving you a final, tailored quote. Once this is sorted, you arrange a date to have your belongings collected and you’ll usually be provided with flight details and tracking information.
Packing for air freight
Whether you’re lugging the cases yourself or using a shipping company, you’ll usually have the option to pack your belongings. If you prefer to play it safe, you can have your items packed by the shipping company at an extra cost.
Who should use air freight?
Air freight can be the quickest and most hassle-free way of sending your belongings to the Netherlands, but it comes at a cost. Think about your budget and how urgently you need your belongings before taking the plunge.
Relocation to the Netherlands with shipping companies
While there are many sea ports in the Netherlands, the most commonly used container ports can be found in Rotterdam, Amsterdam and Den Helder.
Rotterdam is the largest port in Europe with around 30,000 vessels arriving each year. Because of this, Rotterdam is the main hub for shipments from as far afield as Asia.
There are lots of variables that affect the cost of shipping freight or, more commonly, a combination of sea and road freight. While container shipping is generally cheaper than air freight and it is possible to move on a very low budget in some instances, each of the following questions affect the price you’ll pay:
• How far will your belongings have to travel by road from the container port?
• How big is your shipment?
• Are you willing to wait longer for a cheaper service?
• How much notice are you giving before shipping your items?
Freight shipping transit times
Shipping by container can be a long-winded process, with door-to-door journeys stretching between a couple of weeks (Europe) all the way up to a couple of months (Australia).
If you’re travelling a long distance (such as from Asia or Oceania), however, it’ll often be the most cost-effective option for you, especially with Rotterdam receiving direct shipments from all over the world.
Container ships: How the process works
There’s a lot of shipping companies servicing the Netherlands, and as with air freight, it’s easy to compare basic quotes online. First, though, you’ll need to know how cost is calculated.
Unlike with air freight, cost is calculated by size rather than weight in most cases, with most companies using set container sizes, typically:
• 20-foot container – fits the contents of a three-bedroom home
• 40-foot container – for contents of a four or five bedroom house, or enough space for a car
If you’re sending a much smaller shipment or are looking to save money, you can take advantage of grouping. Grouping is when you agree to have your items sent together with those of other companies. While you could secure a cheap deal, this isn’t the best option if you’re in a hurry – you’ll have to wait until the ship reaches full capacity.
Packing for shipping freight
Some shipping companies won’t insure your items if you’ve packed them yourself, so check the terms and conditions before diving in as rules vary from company to company.
Who should use shipping companies?
The Netherlands has an excellent setup to send your items by sea, with several major shipping ports and regular voyages from around the world servicing them. Container shipping is ideal for people planning well in advance and those on a budget.
Relocation to the Netherlands by train and road freight
While it’s not for everyone, if you’re moving from elsewhere in Europe — especially the likes of the United Kingdom, France or Spain — you could ship your belongings by a combination of train and road freight
From the UK, moving by train can be a quicker option than sending your belongings by sea freight via Calais, as removal companies will generally use the channel tunnel to ship your items and then deliver them by road at the other side.
Using a relocation company: International movers
If you don’t want your move to turn into a full-time job, hiring a relocation company to deal with the logistics can be the easiest option.
Naturally it’s likely to cost more than sorting things out yourself, but a full door-to-door service will deal with picking up and delivering your items, handling customs rules and inventory lists, and give you peace of mind that your belongings will arrive in one piece – or at least insured for damage.
In addition to complicated, long distance moves, using a relocation company can also be cost-effective for moves using more than one mode of transport (ie. a combination of shipping and road freight), where a ‘bundle’ deal might work out cheaper than arranging each element yourself.
Timeframes for booking a moving company
There are a lot of relocation companies but the best ones will book up quickly. Ideally, to plan a full door-to-door move properly you should allow at least three months between first searching for the quote and moving house, although these time-frames depend heavily on the distance you’re travelling.
Packing and international moving companies
Packing rules vary from company to company, with some organisations allowing you to pack your own items and others insisting on doing it themselves. As moving is such an important process, it’s worth considering using a professional packing service for peace of mind.
DIY relocation versus using a relocation company
Alternatively, you can take on the logistics of the move yourself. Before making the decision though, be warned that it can be a stressful and time-consuming task.
Before deciding to deal with the process yourself, ask the following questions:
• How much money are you likely to save by arranging the logistics yourself, and are you a good negotiator?
• How much time can you afford to spend on physical tasks (packing, booking different modes of transport) and administrative tasks (insurance, inventories)?
• How cautious are you about the move?
• How much of a hurry are you in to get your items?
How to choose a relocation company
Removals can be a lucrative business, and it can be difficult to separate a good company from a bad one in such a crowded marketplace.
Before short-listing a few companies and getting full quotes, find out if they’re a member of any industry organisations, such as the International Federation of Freight Forwarders Associations or the International Air Transport Association.
Next, ask the following questions:
• Does the company have good reviews?
• Do you know anybody who has used them?
• How long have they been providing their services?
• Are they prepared to provide a full itemised price list?
• Do they clearly explain the process to follow if something goes wrong?
A good shipping company should be experienced, knowledgeable and transparent. Ultimately, as well as cost and reputation, this kind of decision also comes down to gut instinct, so if you’re not entirely convinced by a company after speaking to them, keep searching.
Customs and importing goods into the Netherlands
Due to freedom of movement rules you won’t need to declare your personal goods at customs in the Netherlands if you’re moving from another EU country, as long as you’re not moving anything on the exceptions list — which includes things such as domestic animals and cultural property. Read more about bringing a pet to the Netherlands.
If you’d like to import your car, you’ll need to apply for an exemption from private vehicles and motorcycle tax (BPM) by filling out a Vrijstelling bpm form (only available in Dutch). Read more about claiming a tax exemption on an imported car, and find out if you need to exchange your foreign driver’s licence and the Dutch rules for driving and parking.
If you’re moving from a non-EU country, you’ll need to declare your items to customs. It is possible to apply for an exemption for import duties. If you’re moving to the Netherlands to live and work, you should be able to get an exemption but check the full list of conditions here. You won’t be able to apply for the exemption yourself; this will instead need to be done by your removals company. To apply, you’ll need a signed inventory list, a certificate of registration for the Dutch personal records database and a document such as an employment contract, statement from your employer, work permit, rental contract or mortgage certificate. If you’d like to import your car, you’ll also need a copy of its registration certificate.