Work in the Netherlands


Here is an overview of the Dutch labor market if you wish to work there. It is full of opportunities for foreigners.

Hours, attractive wages, flexible employment contracts, demand for strong profiles... These are the main factors which attract foreigners to the Netherlands. In fact, the country attracts thousands of young professionals in search of new opportunities every year. They are likely to be hired in various fields such as industry, health care, education, finance, tourism and hospitality, catering, construction, etc. Moreover, the country's unemployment rate is the lowest in the whole of Europe.

 Good to know:

By working in the Netherlands, you will be eligible to numerous social benefits such as more than 20 days legal annual leaves which can be negotiated with your employer. Note that according to labor laws, full time contracts consist of a 38 to 40 hours working week.

However, finding a job in the Netherlands is not as easy as it seems. You are required to fill in some formalities to be able to work there.

Work permit

First of all, European Union citizens should register with the nearest Immigration Police Department to their place of residence within 3 months following their arrival in the country. They will then obtain a residence permit which will be mandatory to prove that their presence in the country is legal. Documents to be produced to apply for a residence permit are: a valid passport, your employment contract or entrepreneurship certificate and your foreigner's registration card.

Non-European Union citizens, on the other hand, have to obtain a residence permit as well as a work permit. Note that they should obtain the residence permit even before entering the Netherlands. The work permit should be issued only if you have obtained the residence permit. Note that your employer can request for a work permit with related authorities on your behalf. The latter should justify why he has hired you rather than a Dutch or European Union national.

 Good to know:

The minimum wage, in this case, will not be set by labor laws but by the specific industry.

Find a job

In general, Dutch firms consider English applications although candidates may be asked if they know Dutch or if they intend to learn it. Hence, you are advised to start learning Dutch if you are going to work in the Netherlands.

You can start your job search by checking out classified ads in local newspapers, on general and specialized job websites or on virtual employment platforms. You may as well spot a few big national and international firms to which you can send spontaneous applications or establish a first contact by phone. You might be lucky, who knows? Registering with a recruitment agency should also help.

Finally, the UWV WERKbedrijf, which is a public employment service, plays an important role in maintaining the unemployment rate low by providing support to job seekers. All Dutch nationals automatically obtain a SOFI (registration) number as soon as they turn 14. Foreigners may also request for this registration number from the Tax Office. Documents to be produced are your resume, your certificates and diplomas (optional), along with a motivation letter.


As at 1st January 2014, the average wage in the Netherlands was fixed at 1 485.60 euros, which is one of the highest rates in the European Union. In most sectors, overtime is paid 25% extra for the first two hours and 50% for the following hours. Overtime performed on Saturday is paid 75% extra and 100% extra on Sunday and on public holidays.

However, you will only be eligible to a 10-15% bonus for night overtime. Note that you are authorized to perform a maximum of 9 hours of overtime and a maximum of 10 night overtimes in four weeks.

Working hours and holidays

An official working week in the Netherlands consists of 45 hours, that is 9 hours a day. Shift workers are entitled to a maximum of 60 hours per week. Night shifts generally start at midnight till 6 am. As for Sunday, it is deemed to be a rest day. Those who work on Sunday should have at least four free Sundays over 13 weeks.

As regards paid leave, these consist of four times the average of working days per week. Hence, you will be eligible to a minimum of 20 days’ vacation leave if you usually work from Monday to Friday. But this can be extended according to an agreement between the worker and his employer.

 Good to know:

Workers are also eligible to a paid leave in case of personal events such as marriages, deaths, relocation or other family obligations.

Social security

All Netherlands residents are automatically registered to the National Insurance Scheme, regardless of their nationality. This insurance plan also provides unemployment allowances (0.65%), health and incapacity insurance, as well as refund of health care fees.

To be eligible to the National Insurance Scheme, you are required to register with the nearest immigration police department and municipality to your place of residence. You will then have to request for a tax identification number (TIN) or a social security number at the local Revenue and Customs Office. However, your employer will be responsible of registering you to the National Insurance Scheme. You will only have to choose from a list of specific insurance companies.

Thereafter, the National Insurance Scheme contributions will be automatically deducted from your salary and transferred to the Revenue and Customs Office (6.45% will be paid by the employee while 15.90% is paid by the employer). However, entrepreneurs should contact their respective local authorities so as to determine the amount of premiums to be paid to benefit from the National Insurance Scheme.

Insurance to cover ordinary medical expenses following an illness is only available to employees whose income does not exceed a certain limit .A complementary health insurance is therefore recommended.

 Useful links:

Ministry of Social Affairs and Employment
Centrum voor Werk en inkomeri – CWI
UWV Werkbedrijf – Job offers
National Vacaturebank

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