Travelling to the Netherlands

the Netherlands
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Updated 2022-08-17 13:26

If you're considering the Netherlands as your next place of residence, you may want to visit it first and stay short-term to see if you like it here. But it's not as simple as just picking up and coming over; there will be requirements for you to stay if you're a non-EU citizen. While it may be best to inquire with the Dutch embassy or consulate in your home country before setting off, we'll outline some of the basics for travel in this article.

Stays under five days (Layovers) in the Netherlands

If you're staying in the Netherlands for less than five days and have a final destination that isn't a Schengen country, you may have to apply for a B-visa. Visitors from the following countries will need this visa:

Afghanistan, Angola, Bangladesh, Congo, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Ghana, Guinea, Iraq, Iran, Nigeria, Pakistan, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Sri Lanka

Conditions for EU citizens in the Netherlands

As an EU citizen, you get to enjoy something called “freedom of movement”. If your home country is in the EU, you can move to any other EU country without fulfilling any requirements. You're also able to work in the Netherlands without needing to apply for a work permit.

Conditions for EU citizens (less than three months)

If you're planning on staying for three months or shorter in the Netherlands, all you need is a valid identity document or passport to move successfully. You'll also need to register your presence at your local gemeente (township or city hall), so you can get your BSN (burgerservicenummer), which is the Dutch version of a social security number.

Conditions for EU citizens (more than three months)

If you're planning on staying in the Netherlands for over three months, you'll have to prove that you and your family members who are moving with you have enough finances to cover unemployment and sickness. If your family members are non-EU citizens, they'll be required to get a residence permit. However, EU citizens aren't required to get one.

Conditions for non-EU citizens (less than three months)

If you're from a non-EU country, then you'll have to go through some vital steps before you can reside in the Netherlands. Usually, non-EU citizens need to apply for a Schengen visa (also known as the C-visa); this allows you to travel to the Netherlands and any other Schengen area country for up to 90 days. These 90 days reset every six months. You'll also need a passport or travel document that's been issued in the last 10 years, and it must be valid for at least 3 months after you leave the Schengen area. If you're bringing children with you to the Netherlands, they must have their own valid travel documents as well.

Here are the non-EU countries where you need a Schengen visa:

Afghanistan, Algeria, Angola, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Belarus, Belize, Benin, Bhutan, Bolivia, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Burma/Myanmar, Burundi, Cambodia, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Chad, China, Comoros, Congo, Cote D'Ivoire, Dem. Rep. of Congo, Djibouti, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Fiji, North Korea, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Guyana, Haiti, India, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Jamaica, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kosovo, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Laos, Lebanon, Lesotho, Liberia, Libya, Madagascar, Malawi, Maldives, Mali, Mauritania, Mongolia, Morocco, Mozambique, Namibia, Nepal, Niger, Nigeria, Northern Mariana's, Oman, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, Palestinian Authority, Philippines, Qatar, Russia, Rwanda, Sao Tome and Principe, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Africa, South Sudan, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Suriname, Swaziland, Syria, Tajikistan, Tanzania, Thailand, Timor-Leste, Togo, Tonga, Tunisia, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Uganda, Uzbekistan, Vietnam, Yemen, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Vanuatu (if your passport is issued after 25 May 2015)

If you're just passing through the Netherlands or any other Schengen country, there are some countries where you'll also need an airport transport visa. They are:

Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Congo (DRC), Eritrea, Ethiopia, Ghana, Iran, Iraq, Nigeria, Pakistan, Somalia, Sri Lanka

There are exceptions to the above. For example, if you have a residence permit from a Schengen country or a Schengen visa (either long or short-stay), then you won't need an airport transport visa. Check the Schengen Visa Info site for more information about exceptions.

Albania*, Andorra, Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Australia, Bahamas, Barbados, Bosnia and Herzegovina*, Brazil, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominica, El Salvador, Georgia, Grenada, Guatemala, Holy See (Vatican City State), Honduras, Hong Kong S.A.R***, Israel, Japan, Kiribati, Macao S.A.R***, Malaysia, Marshall Islands, Mauritius, Mexico, Micronesia, Moldova*, Monaco, Montenegro*, Nauru, New Zealand, Nicaragua, North Macedonia*, Palau, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent, Samoa, Serbia*, Seychelles, Singapore, Solomon Islands, South Korea, Taiwan**, Timor Leste, Tonga, Trinidad and Tobago, Tuvalu, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United States of America, Uruguay, Vanuatu, Venezuela (only if your passport is issued before 25 May 2015)

*You're only exempt from the Schengen visa requirement if you have a biometric passport

**You're only exempt from the Schengen visa requirement if your passport has an identity card number

***You're only exempt from the Schengen visa requirement if you have a “Hong Kong Special Administrative Region” or “Regiao Administrativa Especial de Macau” passport

If you're not from any of the countries listed above, you will have to visit the Dutch embassy or consulate in your home country to apply for a Schengen visa. We recommend you do so at least two months before your trip.

Conditions for non-EU citizens (more than three months)

If you're planning on staying for over three months as a non-EU citizen, then you'll need to apply for an MVV (machtiging tot voorlopig verblijf, or the D-visa). This is a temporary residence permit that differentiates you from tourists but isn't an official one.

However, just like with the Schengen visa, there are certain passports that are exempt from the MVV. These are:

Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Japan, Monaco, Vatican City, United States of America, South Korea, EU/EEA member state or Switzerland.

You also won't need an MVV if you're moving to live in the Netherlands with a family member who's from an EU/EEA country or Switzerland.

British citizens

On 31 January 2020, the United Kingdom left the EU (Brexit). There was a transition period, and new rules started on 1 January 2021.

The Netherlands and the UK came up with the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement, which allowed British citizens to enjoy pre-Brexit benefits for residency. These only applied if you were already living in the Netherlands before 31 December 2020. If you're moving now, unfortunately, you'll be treated like all other non-EU citizens. The exception is if you're moving based on family reunification, but there are rules and regulations surrounding this as well.

To learn more, the IND has a detailed page about the Withdrawal Agreement.

Ways to travel to the Netherlands

The Netherlands is one of the most connected countries in the world, so it shouldn't be a problem to travel from your home country. Most people move to Amsterdam first, but it's not uncommon to choose another city in the Randstad, which contains the nation's biggest cities. They include Haarlem, Almere, The Hague, Leiden, Utrecht, and Rotterdam. Should you choose to go outside of the Randstad, there are plenty of connections still, no matter which type of transportation you choose.

One of the most common ways to travel to the Netherlands is by flying. You can find many affordable or cheap flights from countries worldwide, and it can be pretty quick to fly in compared to other modes of transportation.

You might already know of Schiphol Airport, as it's Europe's third busiest airport! It serves a large list of destinations, and it's not uncommon to make a stop here as a layover. The main airline that serves the Netherlands is KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, and it has a sister budget airline: Transavia. Other major airlines that operate in the country include Delta Air Lines, easyJet, Corendon Dutch Airlines, and Vueling.

In addition to Schiphol Airport, the Netherlands has four other airports: Eindhoven Airport, Rotterdam The Hague Airport, Maastricht Aachen Airport, and Groningen Airport Eelde. This means you can have several choices if you want airports that are less busy. After travel reopened in 2022, once the pandemic wasn't as serious, there was major chaos in airports, especially at Schiphol Airport. So it may be wise to choose one of the four alternatives to avoid long lines, serious delays, canceled flights, and lost baggage.

Train

The main train company that serves the Netherlands is the NS. But not only do they run trains within the country, but they also have several fantastic connections with international companies. This means that if you're traveling from either Belgium or Germany, you can get a train connection into the Netherlands to pretty much any city you wish. These trains also serve France and Switzerland; in fact, you'll enjoy journeys on high-speed trains.

There are two types of trains within the Netherlands (in addition to the international ones): Intercity and Sprinter. As the names imply, the Intercity is best for longer distances, as it travels medium and long distances. The Sprinter is best for traveling between cities of shorter distances, as it makes frequent stops.

If you want to save time, you'll be pleased to know that there are night trains in the Netherlands. Not only do they run in between the nation's major cities, but they also travel to popular destinations in countries such as Germany, Austria, and Switzerland. If you travel while sleeping, you won't have to spend extra on a hotel room.

What's great about traveling by train in the Netherlands is you don't have to buy specific tickets and stick to the time on them. You can scan your card (there are several options) and get on and off trains as desired. The exception is if you're traveling on an international train, such as the Thalys. Buying tickets ahead of time can save you money anyway, so we recommend booking them as soon as you know you're traveling to the Netherlands.

Bus

If you'd prefer to take a bus to the Netherlands, this is also possible. Of course, there are national bus lines, such as Connexxion, Veolia Transport, HTMbuzz, and Syntus. You'll find different companies in different provinces, so don't be surprised if one company disappears and another replaces it when you travel across the country.

To travel to the Netherlands from countries like Germany and Belgium, you'll want to use companies such as Euroline and Oibus. If you're coming from the UK, you also have the option of taking the bus instead of flying! Companies that serve this area include Eurostar, National Express, and Flixbus. It can be much cheaper to take the bus and if you're afraid of heights, this is the perfect solution.

Mixing and matching transportation

The Netherlands has a great transportation system, so it won't matter which type you choose; you'll have an easy time getting around.

For example, let's say you need to get on a train after flying in, then you need to take a bus to your new residence after arriving in the city by train. This is definitely possible, and you won't waste much time making connections either.

Schiphol Airport has a train stop inside, and you can catch the bus right outside the airport. All other airports in the nation also have train stations and bus stops close by. And all train stations will have buses available to take you to various parts of the city.

When using public transportation, it can be useful to use the 9292 website/app, as it'll help you plan how to get from points A to B in the most efficient way. You can also use the app to purchase e-tickets so you don't have to waste precious minutes while trying to catch the next bus or train.

Travel insurance for the Netherlands

No matter how long you're staying in the Netherlands, make sure you have a good travel insurance policy. It should cover unexpected expenses, such as illnesses, accidents, and deaths.

Once you've established yourself as a resident, you can then switch to a normal health insurance policy.

We do our best to provide accurate and up to date information. However, if you have noticed any inaccuracies in this article, please let us know in the comments section below.