Immigration and registration are two important matters for the newly arriving expat in Holland. The first is handled by the Dutch national bureau of immigration, the IND, while the second involves being listed as a resident in the BRP (Basisregistratie Personen) and is handled at the municipal (‘gemeente’) level.
EU nationals are not required to apply for residency with the IND, only those coming from outside the European Union need to file an application with the immigration office. Several expat desks around the country can file the application on your behalf if you are moving to the Netherlands as a highly skilled worker for one of the larger employers in the region. This is true for new expats living in The Hague region (The Hague International Centre), Leiden (Expat Centre Leiden), Amsterdam (IN Amsterdam), southern Netherlands region (Holland Expat Center), northern Netherlands region (International Welcome Center North) and Utrecht (Expat Center Utrecht).
Municipal registration applies to anyone planning to stay longer than four months in the Netherlands, regardless if they are an EU national or from outside the European Union. For those not being employed under the highly-skilled worker program (who can have their immigration and residency handled by one of the expat desks listed above), registration requires a visit to the local administrative offices (city hall).
ABOUT THE BRP
The BRP (Municipal Personal Records Database) is the Dutch government database which is shared by various government agencies and contains personal information for all residents in the Netherlands. The database is updated whenever there is a change of address, birth, marriage, death or other event that may effect the resident’s legal status or the government services they are entitled to. A residence permit request is one of the first entries recorded in a newly arriving expat’s data file. The BRP is maintained by the Registration Office (Dienst Burgerzaken) at the local town hall (‘stadhuis’).
If you are non-EU and not yet a resident of the Netherlands, the council will complete your registration when they are notified by the Immigration Department that your residency has been approved.
The following documents are required for BRP registration:
- Employment contract (if applicable)
- Rental contract (or proof of address, or being accompanied by the owner of the home)
- Birth certificate (long version) and marriage certificates for each family member being registered
These documents may need to be authenticated (known as “legalisation“).
THE BSN NUMBER
Upon registering on the BRP, a Citizen Service Number (Burgerservicenummer – BSN) number will be issued. This is a unique identification number that must be presented when starting a job, opening a bank account, using the health care system, applying for benefits, buying a car and recording a change of address, among other things. Within a few weeks of registration a new resident will receive a letter containing registration details and the BSN number.
Detailed information from the Dutch Ministry of the Interior and Kingdom Relations (Ministerie van Binnenlandse Zaken en Koninkrijksrelaties) about the BSN is available here.
Citizens of the European Union may lawfully reside in the Netherlands providing:
- They have a valid passport or other valid travel document
- They have sufficient financial means
- They have health insurance coverage in the Netherlands
EU/EEA citizens (other than new EU-member countries) do not require a visa to enter the Netherlands, regardless of the planned duration of their stay and may enter the country on a valid passport alone. If they intend to stay for more than 4 months they must register at the local BRP office within 3-5 days of arrival. If the intended stay is for less than 4 months, there is no requirement to register unless a BSN (Social Security number) is needed.
For more information about EU citizens registering in the Netherlands, see the IND website
NON-EU FAMILY MEMBERS OF EU NATIONALS
Non-EU family members of EU nationals intending to stay in the Netherlands for more than three months may need a visa to enter the country. Once in the Netherlands, they must register with the BRP (registration will not be completed until after the application for a residence permit has been approved). After three months they must submit an “Application for Verification Against Community Law” to the IND. Contact the IND for further information.
NON EU NATIONALS
Prior to Arrival: Provisional Residence Permits
Most non-EU citizens who intend to stay in the Netherlands for more than 90 days need a visa, also known as a Provisional Residence Permit (Machtiging tot voorlopig verblijf – MVV) to enter the country. This visa must be applied for at the Dutch Embassy in the applicant’s home country (or country of legal residence) before departure. Processing time can be up to three months.
Nationals of the following countries are not required to obtain an MVV:
- New Zealand
- South Korea
- United States
- Vatican City
In most cases the applicant for an MVV will need a sponsor (guarantor) in the Netherlands. This is a person or organisation willing to accept responsibility for financially supporting the applicant in the event the applicant cannot support themselves. A sponsor declaration commits the sponsor to be a guarantor for the applicant for up to five years (less if the duration of their stay in the Netherlands is shorter than five years). The guarantor’s responsibility ends if the person they have sponsored:
- Becomes a Dutch citizen
- Leaves the Netherlands permanently
- Provides adequate security themselves
- Is granted a residence permit for an indefinite duration
- Is granted a residence permit for a different purpose of stay
Before an application for an MVV is submitted, sponsors may submit a Request for Advice to the IND in order to determine whether the person they will be sponsoring is eligible for an MVV. The IND will reply with a decision within three months. If a negative response is received, an application for an MVV should not be submitted.
Most individuals requesting an MVV will also have to take a Civic Integration Examination. This involves answering questions about the history, law and customs in the Netherlands, as well as proving some knowledge of the Dutch language.
In order to receive a provisional residence permit (MVV), and later, a residence permit, applicants must meet the following requirements:
- The applicant has a valid passport
- They do not constitute a risk to public order, national security or peace
- The applicant (and their sponsor) has sufficient means of support or income
- They are willing to submit to a tuberculosis test
- The applicant has health insurance coverage in the Netherlands
- The requirements for “purpose of stay” are met
- The applicant has successfully completed the civic integration examination before arrival (if applicable; certain nationalities, au pairs, exchange students, those visiting family, the self-employed and those coming to work or for medical treatment are exempt)
Different documents will be necessary depending on the reason for stay. For example someone planning to work in the Netherlands will need to produce an employment contract, while someone re-joining a spouse will need to produce a marriage certificate.
Note: All documents must be in English, French, Dutch or German or translated by a sworn translator from a Dutch court. Official foreign documents such as birth or marriage certificates must be legalised or provided with an apostille stamp. Embassies are able to provide this service.
After Arrival: Registering
Anyone planning to stay in the Netherlands for more than 4 months must register on the local BRP within three to five days of arrival. This applies to both EU and non-EU citizens.
After Arrival: Obtaining a Residence Permit
If intending to stay in the Netherlands for more than three months, non-EU nationals must apply for a residence permit while their MVV is still valid. It is suggested to submit the application within eight days of arrival in the country.
Appointments must be made by phone; appointments will be given for the IND office closest to the registrant’s home. Application forms can be downloaded from the IND website or picked up in person from an IND office.
Immigratie en Naturalisatiedienst
Registration appointments: 0900 123 4561
From outside the Netherlands: Tel: +31 20 889 3045
Necessary documents for an application will depend on the purpose of stay, however, a recent passport photograph and a valid passport are always necessary. The municipal authority will then place a sticker in the applicant’s valid passport to prove that the person is lawfully residing in the Netherlands while awaiting the decision of the IND (this can take up to six months).
The following are generally required to make the application:
- Completed application form
- Valid passport
- A recent passport photograph
Written notification will be sent regarding whether the application is successful or not successful. If it is successful, the letter will indicate where the residence permit can be collected. If it is not successful, an appeal may be possible.
The residence permit is generally issued for one year and thereafter is renewable every five years or annually, depending on the conditions for residency.
Extending a residence permit
After the first year it is possible to apply for an extension to the residence permit. This must be done before it expires. The IND usually sends a letter three months before the permit expires with an application form. Whether the permit is extended and for how long will depend on the person’s situation. The maximum period for which the permit can be extended is five years.
Changing a residence permit
It is necessary to notify the IND in the following instances:
- The purpose, or reason of stay changes
- There is a change in the personal situation
- There is a change in the situation of a sponsor, for example change of employer or if the person chooses to stay with someone else
Residence Permit for Continued Residence
A person staying in the Netherlands with a residence permit for a definite period may be entitled to a permit for continued residence. To apply for one of these permits the person must:
- Be married or have a registered partnership for three or more years
- Be married or have a registered partnership and the spouse/partner dies
- Be married or have a registered partnership, and have reasons of a humanitarian nature
- Be a minor and have had a residence permit for more than one year allowing him/her to stay with a parent
- Be a minor and the parent or adoptive/foster parent has died
- Be 18 and over, having stayed with a parent for three or more years
- Be 18 and over and the parent has died
- Be a victim of domestic violence
- Be a parent having stayed with your child for more than three years
- Have held a residence permit as a solitary underage foreign national for at least three years
- Have held a residence permit for more than three years because they are unable to leave the Netherlands for circumstances out of the person’s control
- Have held a residence permit for more than three years for medical reasons and further treatment is necessary for at least one year
- Be a victim of or witness reporting human trafficking
To download an application form for a permit for continued residence see the section of the IND website “Brochures & Forms“
There is a fee payable to obtain a MVV, residence permit or to pass the Civic Integration Examination. This is payable where the application is submitted or where the examination takes place. It is not refunded if applications are rejected or if the person fails the examination.