Working in the Netherlands
When you are working in the Netherlands, it makes little difference whether you are working for an employer or as a self-employed person / freelancer. This page guides you in the Dutch employment regulations for foreigners, work permits and the most common employment relationships. Please note that this page contains general information. Not all the rules and personal situations can be captured within a straightforward overview. Also, laws are subjected to continuous revision.
The Employment of Foreigners Act decides under which conditions someone can come and work in the Netherlands. The law is executed by the Immigration and Naturalisation Service (IND) and the Employment Insurance Agency (UWV).
If you are a foreigner who wants to work in the Netherlands you will have to meet different conditions. Depending on your nationality and country of residence you might need a work and/or residence permit.
All nationals or permanent residents from EU countries, countries in the European Economic Area (EEA) or Switzerland can work in the Netherlands without any work or residence permit.
Citizens from other countries will usually need both a residence permit and a work permit. This page only looks at work permits. For regulations on obtaining a residence permit, please visit our page visas and residence in the Netherlands.
The Employment of Foreigners Act does not apply to those who reside outside the Netherlands and come to work in the Netherlands for a maximum of six consecutive weeks within a period thirteen weeks as an artist or musician, as a structural companion of an artist or musician, as a visual artist, curator or restorer.
In the case that the activities do not easily fall under this description, it is recommended to seek council with the UWV or IND beforehand.
If you do not fall under this exception, you will need a work permit. Depending on whether you are being contractually employed or hired as a self-employed person, there are different work permits that one can apply for.
When you work for an employer under a contract, there are special conditions that apply. Artists from outside the EU/EEA/Switzerland need to exercise an artistic profession preselected by the UWV. Additionally, each preselected profession is linked to a minimum wage that must be obtained by the artists. More information, a complete list of professions and the corresponding wages can be found on the UWV’s website (in Dutch).
If you have confirmed that you meet the requirements for contractual employment, there are two different work permits that can be obtained, depending on the duration of your employment.
Short term: Tewerkstellingsvergunning (TWV)
The TWV is intended for employees working for less than three months. The TWV is only a work permit and can be obtained through the UWV (Dutch). If you also do not plan to stay longer than 90 days in the Netherlands, no residence permit is needed. However, if you are from a country subject to visa requirement, you will need an additional short or long-stay visa. For more information on visas, please read our page on visas and residence in the Netherlands.
Long term: Combined residence and employment permit (GVVA)
If you intend to be employed for longer than three months, your employer needs to apply for a GVVA, or single permit, on your behalf. The GVVA is both a work and residence permit and must be obtained through the IND. If you are from a country subject to visa requirement, you must simultaneously apply for a long-stay Visa (MVV) and a GVVA. To be clear, if you are from a country subject to visa requirement, it is not possible to stay in the Netherlands with a short-stay Visa and locally apply for a GVVA. For more information on applying for visas, please visit our page on visas and residence in the Netherlands.
The procedure can take up to 90 days and costs €290,- (2020). It is therefore important to thoroughly prepare your application and submit it well in advance.
If you are a self-employed artist or creative with an EU, EER or Swiss nationality, you are permitted to live and work in the Netherlands. You are, however, required to register at your local municipality and obtain a citizen service number (burgerservicenummmer or BSN for short in Dutch) within three months of arriving in the Netherlands. If you are an artist from outside the EU, the EER or Switzerland with the intention to work for more than six consecutive weeks within a period of thirteen weeks in the Netherlands, you will need a work permit.
The Immigration- and Naturalisation Service (IND) considers self-employed artists as self-employed entrepreneurs, though some separate assessment criteria apply for artists. The application for a work permit for self-employed entrepreneurs through the IND is a very extensive and costly procedure. Applications for a work permit for self-employed artists are assessed by the Ministry of Education, Culture & Science. For the application, among other things, an extensive business plan must be submitted which testifies that the artist will, autonomously, will have a sufficient and sustainable income. With regards to assessing the artistic quality, the ministry requires international artists to receives assignments from cultural and artistic institutions who receive structural funding from the government, of from one of the four largest municipalities (Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Den Haag, Utrecht).
If you are from a country subject to visa requirement, you must simultaneously apply for a long-stay Visa (MVV) and a GVVA. To be clear, if you are from a country subject to visa requirement, it is not possible to stay in the Netherlands with a short-stay Visa and locally apply for a work permit for self-employment. For more information on applying for visas, please visit our page on visas and residence in the Netherlands.
The procedure can take up to 90 days and costs €1379,- (2020). It is therefore important to thoroughly prepare your application and submit it well in advance.
You must be a full citizen of an EU country in order to be eligible to work in the Netherlands without a work permit. However, if you are not a full citizen, but you are a long-term resident in another EU-country, you have several advantages in applying for a work permit in the Netherlands. For instance, you do not need your employer to apply for you, and you are ‘free on the labour market’ after legally working for one year in the Netherlands, while this would otherwise take five years of uninterrupted working in the Netherlands. Being ‘free on the labour market’ means you no longer need a work permit to work in the Netherlands, only a residence permit. For more information on advantages for long-term residents from other EU-countries, visit the website of the IND.