Moving to the Netherlands or visiting for an extended period? Either way, it is always good to know how things work.
General information about the Netherlands
The Netherlands consists out of twelve provinces, plus three islands in the Caribbean. The European part is located in the West of Europe, between Belgium, Germany and the North Sea.
The capital is Amsterdam, while the seat of the government is in the Hague. The Netherlands is a democracy, often referred to as Holland, while actually North and South Holland are only two out of twelve provinces. Already confused? The people living in the Netherlands are actually called Dutch.
The name ‘Netherlands’ is actually derived from ‘Low Countries’ (like in French ‘le Pays Bas’) as 20% of the country is located below sea level and a further 50% only one meter above. Furthermore, the parts below sea level are the most densely populated areas.
Having an extensive experience in controlling sea levels and creating new land where water used to be, companies from the Netherlands are often involved with large projects in areas like the mid-east to create new land as well. A famous example are the islands in front of Dubai: the palm islands.
The Netherlands has always been proud of its democratic system and trading through the centuries. It was one of the first countries with an elected Parliament, and co-founder of many organizations, like the EU, WTO and NATO to name a few. The Hague is dubbed the legal capital of the world, as it seats five international courts: the Permanent Court of Arbitration, the International Court of Justice, the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, the Special Tribunal for Lebanon and the International Criminal Court. Europol, Europe’s criminal intelligence agency as well as Eurojust, the judicial cooperation agency are located here as well. Last but not least, the city is host to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons.
The economy in the Netherlands is market-based, and according to the OECD the Netherlands was ranked as the “happiest” country according to their results in May 2013.
Depending on how long you are planning to stay, there are some things to arrange, like registration, orientation, and finding a home. Below some useful tips for you to get organized:
Staying for longer than 4 months For a stay longer than 4 months you are required to register with the City Hall of the city you will be staying in, as well as contact the Immigration and Naturalization Services (IND). By registration you will receive a BSN number, which is unique for every person. You need this number to make all other official arrangements, like receiving payment, paying taxes, opening a bank account and getting insurance.
Staying shorter than 4 months if you are staying for a shorter period but still be working/living here (so not as a tourist), you can go directly to the tax office to request a BSN number. Registration is not needed then.
Immigration and Naturalization Services (IND): www.ind.nl/en
2. Finding your way
As the Netherlands has always received many expats through the years, there is an extensive pool of resources to use for all the information you need, like expat centers, review websites etc. Many offer either online or personal support to assist you in arranging everything for your stay. There are also many expat communities to connect with other Expats in other cities.
To name a few:
- Expat Centre: Amsterdam has got its own expat centre where all information you need can be found, from taxes to babysitting
- Access: situated in the Hague, this non-profit organization supports Expats nationwide with anything an expat might need.
- Expatica: a news site and community portal for Expats in the Netherlands.
- Amsterdam Mamas: a community for expat parents in Amsterdam.
- Amsterdam Women’s Club of Amsterdam: social community for American Expats in Amsterdam.
- British society of Amsterdam: social community for British Expats in Amsterdam.
- Move to the Netherlands: general information website for moving to the Netherlands.
- Cition: information website for obtaining parking permits in Amsterdam.
- IamExpat: online English media platform for the English speaking community in the Netherlands.
3. Learning the Language
It is quite easy getting around as in expat in the Netherlands, as most Dutch people speak English fluently: English is a mandatory subject in all Dutch high-schools and many college’s are partially or completely in the English language. Next to his many speak a second foreign language, like German or French. All governmental institutions offer also assistance in English or other languages, making it easy for expats to arrange registrations, permits etc.
However, not speaking Dutch might keep you within an expat bubble, especially in the larger cities as Amsterdam, Rotterdam and the Hague. You can easily sign up for Dutch lessons to make the most of your experience in the Netherlands. There is an immense choice of courses, group lessons and private sessions, so you can pick the type of course which fits your schedule, budget and most convenient way of learning.
In some cases it is required to learn the Dutch language, like with obtaining a visa or permit. Via the access guide below you find all information needed on learning the language and recommendations where to do so:
4. Finding a home
Here is where we come in: finding a temporarily home for up to 6 months, or for the longer term? We will assist you in your needs, or you can start searching yourself straight away!