Visas and Staying in the Netherlands
Before entering the Netherlands with the purpose to work or meet in the cultural and artistic context, you may be required to apply for a visa. Whether you need a visa and what kind of visa you need depends on your nationality and the duration as well as purpose of your stay.
On this page you will find information on visa requirement, the nationalities that are exempted from this requirement, and the administrative obligations associated with visa applications. This page has information for artists and cultural professionals seeking to visit or stay in the Netherlands as well as information for organisations inviting foreign artists or cultural professionals.
Although we aim to keep the information on this page as up to date as possible, no rights can be derived from our information. We always advise you to double check with the appropriate government authorities and institutions, many of which are linked from this page.
In this article we will discuss two different types of visa:
- Short-stay Schengen visa: this allows you to enter and stay in any of the countries of the European Schengen Area for a maximum of 90 days within a period of 180 days.
- Long-stay visa (MVV): this “regular provisional residence permit” allows you entry for a period longer than 90 days, and is applied for in combination with a residence permit.
Nationals from the following countries do not need a visa for either short or long stay:
- EU nationals, as well as nationals of Liechtenstein, Norway, Iceland and Switzerland.
With any of the abovementioned nationalities you do not need a visa, nor a residence permit to stay in the Netherlands for any period of time. If you are a national of one of the abovementioned countries and wish to stay for a period longer than four months, however, you are required to register at your their local municipality. More information can be found here.
Many other nationalities are exempted from the requirement to apply for a short stay visa. This means that you can travel to the Schengen Area and stay there for a maximum of 90 days within a period of 180 days with only your passport (read more about the 90/180 day rule in the next section of this article). If you wish to stay for longer than 90 days, however, you will have to apply for a residence permit. Visa and residence permits for long-purpose stay are discussed in the final section of this article.
If you are not sure if you require a visa to enter the Schengen area, use the Schengen Visa Advisor by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
For information on staying in the Netherlands as a U.K. citizen after Brexit, please consult this website.
Visa-free travel to the Schengen-area is still subject to certain conditions. You can read about them here.
90/180 day rule
The Short-Stay Schengen Visa allows you to stay in the Schengen area for a maximum of 90 days within a period of 180 days. This means that whenever you are visiting the Schengen-area, you should count back 180 days, making sure not to stay longer than the maximum of 90 days in the Schengen-area during that 180-day period. Every day in every Schengen state counts, so be aware that when you are travelling up and down to different Schengen states the different stays add up. Not sure how many days you are allowed to stay? Use the European Commission’s short-stay visa calculator.
Once you have established that you require a Schengen Visa to enter the Netherlands or any other Schengen country, you can prepare your application.
Because of the necessity of handing over travel documents such as your passport, short-stay Schengen visa applications must be submitted in person at an embassy, consulate or external service provider (ESP).
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs is increasingly outsourcing consular services to ESPs such as VFS Global and TLS Contact. This means that oftentimes short-stay Schengen visa applicants will not encounter Dutch representatives during their application procedure. Find out where you need to apply for a short-stay Schengen visa here.
Although embassies, consulates and ESPs take in your application and check whether your dossier is complete, they are not responsible for the decision. This decision lies exclusively with the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, who make use of information-supported decision-making.
Since the 2nd of February, 2020, individuals may apply for their Schengen visa up to 6 months before intended travel. The application processing time is 15 calendar days. However, in certain cases where further scrutiny of the application is needed, the processing time may increase to a maximum of 45 calendar days.
Aside from application processing time, applicants and inviting organisations must calculate the following associated costs, protocols and procedures:
- Scheduling an appointment at a Dutch embassy / consulate / or external service provider takes time. Due to a high demand in Schengen Visas, scheduling an appointment to hand in your documents and start the application procedure may take several weeks.
- You must travel twice to the nearest embassy / consulate / ESP to submit your visa application and documents as well as to pick up your visa application and documents after approval.
- From February 2nd 2020 onwards, the Schengen Visa fee has increased from €60,- per adult to €80,- per adult. Additionally, ESPs are allowed to charge a processing fee of maximum €80,-, meaning the total visa application costs can be as high as €160,- per applicant. Visa fees are non-refundable.
- The embassy / consulate / ESP holds custody of your passport during the course of your application procedure. Make sure that you do not need to travel when your Schengen Visa application is under review.
- If your Schengen Visa Short Stay application is rejected, you may object to the decision within 4 weeks of receiving the official letter explaining your rejection. Objections are reviewed by the Immigration and Naturalisation Service (IND) and may take up to 12 weeks after the last day on which you are able to submit your application for review. We advise to always object to a negative decision, even if your work opportunity abroad has already past, as rejection may impede your future mobility. More information can be found on the website of the IND.
The short-stay Schengen Visa is a single-entry document, meaning that you cannot re-enter the Schengen-area on the same visa, regardless of whether you have spent more or fewer than 90 days in the Schengen area.
If you wish to enter and re-enter the Schengen-area on the same visa, you can consider applying for a multiple-entry visa. For individuals touring different countries inside the Schengen area (such as the Netherlands) as well as outside the Schengen area (such as the United Kingdom), it is worth considering applying for a multiple-entry visa.
The new Schengen Code, in force since February 2nd 2020, allows for new possibilities for multiple-entry visas for frequent travellers. In order to qualify for a multiple-entry visa, you are required to have a positive visa history. If this is the case, you can apply for a multiple-entry with increasing validity according to the following conditions:
- multiple-entry visa for 1 year: if you have received a Schengen visa* 3 times in the past 2 years and used it correctly;
- multiple-entry visa for 2 years: if you have received a multiple-entry visa for 1 year in the past 2 years and used it correctly;
- multiple-entry visa for 5 years: if you have received a multiple-entry visa for 2 years in the past 3 years and used it correctly.
*An airport transit visa does not count.
Please keep in mind that when you are travelling on a multiple-entry visa, you must still comply to the 90/180 day rule.
No rights can be derived from the abovementioned conditions. It is always up to the issuing authority whether or not to issue a multiple-entry visa with a longer period of validity. More information can be found here.
Information for inviting organisations:
As a Dutch organisation inviting artists and cultural professionals from countries subject to visa requirements, you have the obligation to provide certain documentation that must be included within the applicant’s dossier. Further, the sometimes complicated timelines of visa application require thorough planning and communication between the inviting organisation and the invitee(s).
Documents provided by the inviting organisation may or may not include:
- Proof of sponsorship
- Proof of travel
- Flight reservation and return tickets
- If travelling to multiple Schengen states, intra-Schengen travel reservations.
- Proof of lodging
- Hotel / other lodging reservations
- Official invitation letter
Different countries might require different documentation. Always look for the appropriate checklist for cultural visits on the website of the embassy/consulate or external service provider (VFS Global or TLS Contact). In case you find different checklists with conflicting information, always adhere to the checklist provided by the institution where the invited artist or professional will physically apply for their short-stay Schengen Visa.
Not an EU citizen and planning to stay in the Netherlands or the EU for longer than 90 days? In many cases you will need a regular provisional residence permit (MVV). Unlike the Schengen visa, the MVV is not a European but a national document, issued by the Dutch government.
You apply for an MVV in combination with a residence permit. There are different residence permits depending on your purpose of stay. Your application for an MVV and residence permit is evaluated by the Immigration and Naturalisation Service (IND).
Your nationality determines whether you need to apply for an MVV in combination with a residence permit, or whether you are exempted from needing an MVV and are able to apply for a residence permit directly.
If you are not exempted from an MVV, you will most likely need to apply for your MVV and residence permit from your current country of residence. You may also be required to take a naturalisation course before you can apply for an MVV and residence permit.
For information on whether you need to apply for an MVV if you wish to stay in the Netherlands for more than 90 days, and how and where to apply, follow the step-by-step menu on netherandsandyou.nl
Purpose of stay:
When applying for a residence permit, you need to have a purpose of stay in the Netherlands. This can be to study, to work, as part of an orientation year, living with a family member or another purpose of stay. The step-by-step menu of netherlandsandyou.nl guides you through the different possibilities.
For more information on working in the Netherlands as an artist or cultural professional and the available work permits, please visit our page on Working in the Netherlands.
For an overview of other rules and regulations, please see the introductory page.