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Source: EURES The European Job Mobility Portal. For up-to-date information visit the Living and Working Conditions section about Netherlands on the EURES Portal.

How to find a job


There are many different ways of finding work in the Netherlands. However, more than 60 % of all vacancies are filled informally. Having a good network therefore improves your chance of finding a job in the Netherlands. Channels commonly used to find work include:

The UWV:

The UWV (public employment service of the Employee Insurance Agency) supports and assists jobseekers in their search for work. Registration with the UWV employment service is not compulsory.

Employment agencies, recruitment and selection agencies and secondment agencies:

There are many specialised employment agencies in the Netherlands. There are also recruitment and selection agencies, including headhunters. It is normal for these agencies to first ask candidates to take a psychological test or an assessment. As well as temping work, working on a secondment basis is also increasingly common. Among other things, employment agencies use this method to keep IT and other specialists in particular under contract.


You are advised to consult the Dutch newspapers for vacancies. The Saturday editions of national newspapers contain the most vacancies.

  • NRC Handelsblad: managerial positions. (www.nrc.nl)
  • de Volkskrant: public sector, academia/medical professions. (www.volkskrant.nl)
  • De Telegraafand the Algemeen Dagblad: commercial vacancies. (www,telegraaf.nl – www.ad.nl)
  • The main regional newspapers.


Online applications on companies’ websites and the use of CV databases, such as that of EURES and the UWV, are the norm. Employers use CV databases to recruit candidates. If you can understand Dutch, you can use the UWV website www.werk.nl.

Job fairs:

Job fairs, particularly speed dates, are becoming increasingly popular. They are organised by, among others:

  • the UWV
  • employment agencies
  • colleges and universities
  • European Online Job Day (online EURES recruitment activities in Europe)

Keep an eye on the websites of these organisations, among others, for dates and locations.

How to apply for a job

The Netherlands has its own (unwritten) rules concerning job applications. You will find information below that may be useful when you apply for work.

With regard to the job application procedure, it can be said that:

  • this differs according to the type of work you are looking for;
  • in the case of agricultural and low-skilled staff, employers usually appreciate a personal visit;
  • applications from abroad are generally made in writing;
  • for jobs at a qualified and highly qualified level, an application letter with a CV is the standard procedure;
  • it is not uncommon to phone a company beforehand; however, make sure you have first prepared a number of clear questions;
  • Dutch employers usually reply fairly quickly; if after 14 days you have still heard nothing, you should not hesitate to contact the company by phone.

Social media are particularly useful for keeping an eye on interesting companies and staying up to date with the latest vacancies. (Please note: when it comes to applying for a job, social media can make or break you, as employers also use social media to find out more about you.)

Application letter

Application letters are more appreciated if:

  • they are in Dutch (unless indicated otherwise);
  • they are typed on one sheet of A4;
  • they are short and concise, but also to the point and professional.

As regards the structure of your letter:

  • you should first explain why you are applying for the position concerned;
  • you should then indicate why you believe you are a suitable candidate and why you are motivated to take the position; motivation is one of the most important selection criteria for Dutch employers.
  • finally, you should say you would be pleased to attend an interview to explain your application in person.

The Curriculum Vitae (CV):

  • should be to the point and professional;
  • should normally contain a maximum of two pages (A4 format);
  • should only contain the appropriate information; be as specific as possible;
  • should normally be adapted to the position under consideration.

The order in a CV should be:

  1. personal details;
  2. education (including relevant courses, exact start and end dates and whether you have a degree; start with your most recent education);
  3. work experience (including exact start and end dates); start with your most recent job; mention the name of the employer and the tasks carried out;
  4. hobbies and voluntary work.

References and copies of certificates need not be attached. These can be taken with you to the interview.

Résumés are becoming increasingly common, especially for people with considerable work experience. They are also often used for unsolicited applications to headhunters. The most common features of a résumé are that they:

  • are shorter and more descriptive;
  • begin with a description of the type of job you are looking for;
  • are slightly more subjective, as some items can be given more or less emphasis;
  • do not contain exact dates; you should mention only those figures that underline your suitability.

You may choose the layout of a résumé, whether it be historical, analytical, chronological, functional or creative.

Application forms: application forms are mainly used by large-scale employers and for online applications.

The Europass CV

The Europass CV is not yet widely known and/or well established amongst employers in the Netherlands. For the time being, use of the standard CV that is customary in the Netherlands is recommended, especially for unsolicited job applications. An example of a Dutch CV can be found at www.werk.nl

Job interview

With regard to job interviews in the Netherlands:

  • The emphasis is on your motivation; why have you chosen this job with this company?
  • It is appreciated if you can name some of your positive – and less positive – skills/qualities; explain these with examples.
  • You will usually be interviewed by one or two people; several interviews (two to three) are common.
  • At the end of the interview you will generally be given the opportunity to ask questions; think about this beforehand.
  • Where appropriate, job interviews may be held via Skype.

Unsolicited job applications:

Unsolicited (‘on-spec’) job applications are very common in the Netherlands. It is not unusual to phone the company beforehand, for both unsolicited and targeted applications. However, make sure you have first prepared a number of clear questions. There are several channels for obtaining information about companies:

  • the Chambers of Commerce (Kamers van Koophandel, KvK);
  • your own country’s embassy or consulate;
  • the company’s own website.

Guides on applying for jobs in the Netherlands:

‘Klaar om de stap te wagen?’ (Ready to take the plunge?), available from the nearest EURES adviser in your country.

Finding accommodation

It is not always easy to find accommodation in the Netherlands. Affordable housing is in particularly short supply in the Randstad (the area around the major cities of Amsterdam, The Hague, Rotterdam and Utrecht). It can also be hard to find affordable accommodation in university cities such as Leiden, Groningen and Maastricht, either to rent or to buy. There is a high level of demand for housing and a decreasing supply of affordable accommodation.


It is common to rent residential accommodation.

You can begin your search for accommodation by contacting the local authority and asking for information for people seeking accommodation. The local authority can tell you what municipal rules apply and how you can contact the housing corporations. You can register with the housing corporations for rented accommodation.

The rent usually consists of two parts. The first part is the basic rent. The second consists of the service charges. A maximum rent is agreed for each dwelling. The maximum rent is determined using a points system (based on a property valuation system). In the Netherlands, accommodation is available through the private sector (e.g. estate agents) or in the form of social rented accommodation (housing corporations). In the Randstad conurbation of the western Netherlands (comprising the four largest Dutch cities), private-sector rents are well above those of other regions and often exclude service charges such as gas, water and lighting.

Outside the Randstad you can generally expect to pay lower rents excluding service charges (gas, water and lighting), depending on factors including the type (apartment, family home, etc.) and size of the accommodation (number of square metres).

Housing corporations are subject to the maximum rent standard. This is the percentage by which the average rent calculated over all the accommodation of a particular corporation as of 1 July may rise. The maximum rent standard is also determined by the rate of inflation for the previous year.

Service charges are charges paid by the tenant over and above the basic rent, in accordance with the lease. Many tenants pay a monthly advance on these service charges. In return, the landlord provides specific services set out in the lease. For example, the tenant might pay for gas, water and electricity or for cleaning communal areas, such as stairwells. The landlord is required to provide an annual statement of the service charges paid. On the basis of this statement, the service charges to be paid by the tenant can be calculated. These charges can then be offset against the advances paid.


When looking for accommodation to buy, you can consult estate agencies’ websites and advertisements in newspapers and visit estate agencies in person.

Information on mortgages can be obtained from banks, other mortgage lenders and mortgage advisers. Mortgages are generally entered into for a duration of 30 years, although other periods are also possible.

You are entitled to tax relief on your mortgage interest payments. When buying property, you are required to pay 2 % transfer tax, unless the purchase involves a new property.

From 01.01.2022, the legally determined gross monthly minimum wage is 1,725 euros for persons over 21 years of age. For persons under the age of 21, the minimum wage is lower.

Recognition of diplomas and qualifications

The importance of transparency and mutual recognition of diplomas as a crucial complement to the free movement of workers

The possibility of obtaining recognition of one’s qualifications and competences can play a vital role in the decision to take up work in another EU country. It is therefore necessary to develop a European system that will guarantee the mutual acceptance of professional competences in different Member States. Only such a system will ensure that a lack of recognition of professional qualifications will become an obstacle to workers’ mobility within the EU.

Main principles for the recognition of professional qualifications in the EU

As a basic principle, any EU citizen should be able to freely practice their profession in any Member State. Unfortunately the practical implementation of this principle is often hindered by national requirements for access to certain professions in the host country.

For the purpose of overcoming these differences, the EU has set up a system for the recognition of professional qualifications. Within the terms of this system, a distinction is made between regulated professions (professions for which certain qualifications are legally required) and professions that are not legally regulated in the host Member State.

Steps towards a transparency of qualifications in Europe

The European Union has taken important steps towards the objective of achieving transparency of qualifications in Europe:

  • An increased co-operation in vocational education and training, with the intention to combine all instruments for transparency of certificates and diplomas, in one single, user-friendly tool. This includes, for example, the European CV or Europass Trainings.
  • The development of concrete actions in the field of recognition and quality in vocational education and training.

Going beyond the differences in education and training systems throughout the E

Education and training systems in the EU Member States still show substantial differences. The last enlargements of the EU, with different educational traditions, have further increased this diversity. This calls for a need to set up common rules to guarantee recognition of competences.

In order to overcome this diversity of national qualification standards, educational methods and training structures, the European Commission has put forward a series of instruments, aimed at ensuring better transparency and recognition of qualifications both for academic and professional purposes.

1.The European Qualifications Framework

The European Qualifications Framework is a key priority for the European Commission in the process of recognition of professional competences. The main objective of the framework is to create links between the different national qualification systems and guarantee a smooth transfer and recognition of diplomas.

2.The National Academic Recognition Information Centres (NARICs)

A network of National Academic Recognition Information Centres was established in 1984 at the initiative of the European Commission. The NARICs provide advice on the academic recognition of periods of study abroad. Located in all EU Member States as well as in the countries of the European Economic Area, NARICs play a vital role the process of recognition of qualifications in the EU.

3.The European Credit Transfer System (ECTS)

The European Credit Transfer System aims at facilitating the recognition of periods of study abroad. Introduced in 1989, it functions by describing an education programme and attaching credits to its components. It is a key complement to the highly acclaimed student mobility programme Erasmus.


​​​​​​​Europass is an instrument for ensuring the transparency of professional skills. It is composed of five standardised documents The Europass system makes skills and qualifications clearly and easily understood in the different parts of Europe. In every country of the European Union and the European Economic Area, national Europass centres have been established as the primary contact points for people seeking for information about the Europass system.

  • a CV (Curriculum Vitae),
  • a language passport,
  • certificate supplements,
  • diploma supplements, and
  • a Europass-Mobility document.

Types of employment

The last few years have witnessed a sharp rise in the use of flexible employment contracts (‘flexworkers’). An increasing number of employees have a temporary contract, a temping job or an on-call contract. Temporary employment is an accepted phenomenon and a good way of gaining work experience. Work experience is considered extremely important in the Netherlands.

There is special legislation governing flexible employment contracts: the Balanced Labour Market Act (WAB). Workers with a permanent contract often have better employment conditions and more rights than flexible workers. The Dutch Government is keen to close the gap between permanent and flexible contracts. On-call and payroll workers have therefore been given greater security. Offering a permanent contract has also now been made a more attractive option for employers.

Alongside these forms of contract there are also possibilities for entering into a learn-work agreement.

Within all these different types of employment contract, many employees work part-time.

Other forms of employment include self-employed work with staff, self-employed work without staff (ZZP-ers, see Chapter 3.6 Self-employment) and voluntary work.

One special category is that of street artist.

Street artists are people who provide a service in the fields of:

  • music,
  • theatre,
  • mime,
  • circus,
  • portrait drawing.

As a street artist, you do not need a work permit to carry out the activities associated with this occupation.

For a short stay in the Netherlands, EU nationals do not need a residence permit. However, you must be able to identify yourself at all times by means of a valid EU passport, EU ID card or EU driving licence.

You must have sufficient funds to be able to support yourself. You must also have medical and accident insurance. Ask the local authority where you want to work if a permit is necessary in return for payment of a fee. The local authority can impose rules, so ask about these when you apply for a permit.

The local authority will need your address. You should make sure you have arranged for accommodation before you apply to the local authority.

NB: Even street artists must pay tax in the Netherlands.

Street artists must declare their income from street activities for tax purposes.

Voluntary work:

The performance of unpaid work as a member of an organisation for:

  • nursing homes,
  • schools,
  • cultural institutions.

However, voluntary work is not highly regulated. As a volunteer you are dependent on agreements made with the organisation you work for.

Seasonal work

This refers to employees who do extra work during a particular period. The work comes to a stop automatically at the end of a season. Seasonal work is common in the agricultural sector, the hospitality industry and the tourism sector. It comprises activities which are necessarily seasonal because of climatic or natural conditions and which can be carried out for a maximum of 9 months each year. Holiday workers are also considered seasonal workers, the difference being that holiday workers are mostly students and school pupils.

Laws and regulations

You can demonstrate that you are permitted to reside and do seasonal or other work in the Netherlands with a valid passport / ID card issued by an EU/EEA Member State or Switzerland.

Employers are under no obligation to offer seasonal workers a fixed number of hours.

If a collective labour agreement (CAO) is in place, it must set out which rules apply to seasonal workers and to which positions it applies. For seasonal work in the agricultural sector, the employer must offer accommodation that meets the flexible housing requirements (i.e. with the quality mark of the foundation for flexible housing standards, SNF).


A seasonal employment contract is a particular type of fixed-term employment contract. This means it is a normal employment contract, to which the rules of employment law apply in full. A seasonal contract ends automatically on the agreed date, at the end of the season or when a particular event occurs. For the rest of the year, no employment contract applies.

In the Netherlands, working hours are regulated by law. These laws are universally applicable. The employer must pay seasonal workers at least the statutory minimum wage. If you work for longer than your contracted hours, this is regarded as overtime. In general, you will receive higher wages for overtime. Sick pay: at most, up to the end of the specific contract.

Seasonal work under restrictive measures for COVID-19

The Dutch Government has taken a number of health protection measures, including requiring social distancing (at the workplace, while travelling on public transport, etc.). These measures affect your working practices or what your employer has to take into account.

Employment contracts

A verbal contract of employment is legally valid in the Netherlands; however, we recommend that you record the most important agreements in writing.

Two forms of written employment contract are commonly used in the Netherlands, namely:

  • permanent employment contracts;
  • temporary employment contracts.

The most important difference is the duration of the contract. It is normal for many terms of employment to begin with a temporary contract (for 6 months or a year).

Permanent contract

This contract runs for as long as neither party terminates it. Certain rules govern its termination, such as observing a period of notice.

Temporary contract

This employment contract has an end date: it is entered into for a period of, for example, 5 months or for the duration of a particular (narrowly defined) project.

Temporary contracts may be extended under certain conditions.

In any event, you must have the following agreements set down in writing:

  • your name and place of residence and those of your employer;
  • the place(s) where you will be working;
  • your position or the type of work you will be performing;
  • the date of entry into service;
  • the duration of the contract (if it is a temporary contract);
  • how many hours you will be working (per day or week);
  • your salary and when this will be paid;
  • the length of your trial period, if applicable;
  • your holiday allowance (you are entitled to holiday allowance of at least 8 % of your gross annual salary for the past year);
  • the number of days of holiday;
  • the length of the notice period;
  • your pension scheme, if applicable;
  • your non-competition clause, if applicable;
  • your collective labour agreement (CAO), if applicable.

If a collective labour agreement (CAO) applies, this can be referred to in connection with the conditions of employment. A collective labour agreement is an agreement between employers and employee organisations with a legal basis.

Your employer must provide the information within 1 month of work beginning.

Modifications to contracts must be recorded in the same way as the initial contract. This is governed by statutory provisions; see, for example, the Working Hours (Adjustment) Act (Wet aanpassing arbeidsduur, Waa): www.rijksoverheid.nl

Leave (annual leave, parental leave, etc.)

All employees in the Netherlands are entitled to paid holiday. The statutory minimum applies in all cases. The statutory amount of holiday each year is at least four times the number of working days each week.

Most collective labour agreements provide for an amount of holiday that is higher than the statutory minimum. The number generally varies from 20 to 30 days for full-time employees. Regardless of the amount of your wage, you can claim a minimum holiday allowance of 8 %; this is known as holiday pay. The employer also has to pay the minimum wage, on average, for any overtime worked. That means it is also required to pay holiday pay for these extra hours. Holiday pay is calculated on the full value of the overtime hours (i.e. including overtime, if any).

The Work and Care Act (Wet arbeid en zorg) should be mentioned in connection with leave. Among other things, this Act regulates:

  • the right to up to 10 days’ paid carer’s leave;
  • maternity leave;
  • the right to 2 working days’ maternity leave for the partner and flexibility for parental leave;
  • the right to adoption leave for both adoptive parents.

Further information on the Work and Care Act and on regulations governing leave is available from the Ministry of Social Affairs and Employment.

The official public holidays in the Netherlands are as follows:

  • New Year’s Day (1 January)
  • Good Friday
  • Easter
  • Koningsdag (date of the King’s birthday), 27 April
  • Liberation Day (5 May) (celebrated once every 5 years)
  • Ascension Day
  • Whitsun
  • Christmas (25 and 26 December)
  • The feast of St Nicholas is celebrated on 5 December. On this day, some companies and organisations close a few hours early.
  • Carnival is celebrated in February or March in the southern part of the Netherlands. Companies, institutions and schools are often closed for a few days during this period.


Minimum wage

In the Netherlands, there is a statutory minimum wage from the age of 21 and a statutory minimum youth wage for employees below the age of 21. In principle, the minimum wage is adjusted twice a year (1 January and 1 July) in line with changes in collective labour agreement wages. Collective labour agreement wages are wages based on sector agreements between the employers and employee organisations concerned, the amount of which is at least equal to or higher than the statutory level.

For an employee aged 21 or above in full-time employment, the gross minimum wage as of 1 January 2021 is EUR 1 684.80 (see:www.government.nl > ministries > social affairs and employment > minimum wage). This will be revised in July.

Collective labour agreements (CAOs) are also concluded on a sector basis. These also contain binding agreements between employers and employee organisations relating to wages http://cao.startpagina.nl/. Wages may then be higher, but this differs from sector to sector and often depends on the level of the position.

Details of the various collective labour agreements can be found on the website of the Ministry of Social Affairs and Employment (Ministerie van Sociale Zaken en Werkgelegenheid – SZW). An overview is also provided on the CAO home page. (see https://www.rijksoverheid.nl/ministeries/ministerie-van-sociale-zaken-en-werkgelegenheid )

It is normal in the Netherlands for a gross wage to be agreed. Your net pay is almost always transferred to your bank account.

This usually happens once a month, every 4 weeks or every week.

In contrast to gross amounts, net amounts are not determined by law. They may differ from business to business or from industry to industry. This is because of differences in deductions from pay in connection with social security contributions.

You will receive a pay slip from your employer.

This should at least contain the following information:

  • the gross pay;
  • the structure of this amount (basic wage, performance bonus, etc.);
  • deductions by the employer for taxes and contributions;
  • the statutory minimum youth or adult wage and the minimum holiday allowance that applies to you;
  • the names of employer and employee;
  • the period to which the payment relates (e.g. January 2021)
  • the number of hours you have to work by agreement. You can check the wage paid using your pay slips, so look after them!

Terminating an employment contract


An employment contract can be terminated in various ways:

  • by expiry of the agreed term (temporary contract);
  • notice by the employee or dismissal by the employer;
  • termination by mutual agreement;
  • setting aside of the contract by the district court;
  • death of the employee.

Employees (and employers) are protected by the law on dismissal. This stipulates among other things that notice may only be given with effect from the end of a month. A different date may be agreed by collective labour agreement or employment contract.
Exceptions are possible during the trial period or if there is a substantial reason for doing so (e.g. theft); in that case, contracts may be terminated with immediate effect and without notice.

Permanent contract

Employers cannot decide themselves which route to use to make staff redundant. Applications for redundancies on economic grounds, or dismissal on account of long-term incapacity for work, must be made to UWV (public employment service). All other dismissals must be referred to the district court.

Employees who have been employed for 2 years or more may be eligible for a transition allowance in the event of redundancy, as may workers whose temporary contracts are not extended. https://www.rijksoverheid.nl/ministeries/ministerie-van-sociale-zaken-en-werkgelegenheid > ‘transitievergoeding’ (‘transition allowance’)

Temporary contract

In the case of temporary contracts, employers must inform workers in writing at least 1 month before the end of their contract whether or not the contract is being extended. The same applies as regards further contracts of 6 months or more. This is known as the notification duty.


The period of notice to be observed by the employer depends on the length of service. Statutory periods of notice and periods of notice agreed by collective labour agreement apply here.


The period of notice to be observed by the employee is normally 1 month. The employer and the employee may agree a shorter or longer period in writing, up to a maximum of 6 months.

Dismissal permits

An employer can apply to UWV for a dismissal permit.

  • Dismissal after long-term incapacity for work.
  • Redundancy on economic grounds. With this form of dismissal the preventive test to verify the validity of the dismissal may also be done by an impartial collective labour agreement committee that is independent of the employer.
  • Dismissal via district court:
    • dismissal for the following reasons: frequent sick leave with a serious adverse impact on the company;
    • unsatisfactory performance;
    • culpable act or omission. For example, theft or failure to comply with a confidentiality obligation;
    • refusal to work due to a serious conscientious objection where it is impossible to continue the work in an adapted form;
    • breakdown in the working relationship;
    • other circumstances than those referred to above that are sufficiently serious as to prevent the continuation of the employment contract, e.g. a prison sentence or absence of a work permit;
    • cumulative grounds: combination of a number of the above grounds for dismissal.

Works council:

Companies with 50 or more employees must have a works council.
For employees, the works council is an ideal way to play an active role in the company and influence its policy. For the employer, consultation with the works council is a way of increasing support for decisions and strengthening trust between management and employees.

The healthcare system

Medical insurance is obligatory when you live and/or work in the Netherlands. There is a general basic insurance for each family member from the age of 18, which is administered by private health insurance providers. The level of the monthly payment is determined annually in November for the following year (1 January) and differs from one health insurance provider to another.

Those on a low income have the right to a care allowance (zorgtoeslag). You may be eligible for this allowance if your income is EUR 31 138 a year or less if you are single, or EUR 39 979 if you are co-habiting. The precise conditions and the amounts applicable for the current year can be found on the website of the Tax and Customs Administration: www.belastingdienst.nl

General basic insurance cover is indeed quite basic. It is therefore recommended that for the cost of:

  • regular dental care,
  • physiotherapy, and
  • other long-term treatments,

you take out ‘additional cover’. The basic insurance and additional insurance policies do not have to be taken out with the same insurance company.

A mandatory excess (EUR 385 a year, which may be increased annually) also applies to each insured party. This is the total amount that you have to pay first (e.g. for medication or a visit to a specialist in hospital) before you are entitled to have your medical expenses reimbursed (NB: there is no charge for visiting a general practitioner).

If you live in the Netherlands you have to sign on with a general practitioner (GP, huisarts). You can choose your own GP, but your choice is limited to the neighbourhood in which you live. Most GPs have consultation hours at certain times, for which you will have to make an appointment beforehand. If a specialist treatment is considered necessary, the GP will refer you to a hospital or medical specialist. Medical help by a hospital or specialist will not be given without a referral from a GP!

The only exceptions are:

  • dental care;
  • treatment by the accident and emergency departments of the larger hospitals.

Income and taxation

Income tax is levied on the pay of an employee. The employer deducts tax at source and remits it together with the social security contributions to the Tax and Customs Administration. This levy at source is an advance levy for income tax.

Income tax is levied on sources of income in accordance with the ‘box’ system.

This comprises three boxes:

  • Box I: income from employment and home ownership,
  • Box II: income from a ‘substantial interest’,
  • Box III: income from savings and investments.

Tax is levied differently for each box. The income from the various boxes is not interchangeable. It is therefore not possible to offset negative income from one box against positive income from another box.

The tax rate for income from employment and home ownership (Box I) is progressive and is charged over two ‘brackets’. Each bracket has a fixed tax rate. As a result, the higher the income, the more tax paid.

Motor vehicle tax: the amount of the motor vehicle tax depends on the weight of the vehicle and the type of fuel used. This may vary slightly from province to province. The website of the Tax and Customs Administration (Belastingdienst) contains a program for calculating this amount.

Local taxes: The type and amount of local tax to be paid varies according to the local authority. Common local taxes include: property tax, commuter tax, tourist tax, parking tax, tax on dogs, tax on advertising, municipal tax on certain encroachments on public land (precariobelasting), sewage charges, refuse collection charges, and legal fees.

Information can be obtained from the relevant local authority. To do so, visit the website ‘Postbus 51’ (www.rijksoverheid.nl) or the home page of your local authority.

The education system

hildren in the 5-16 age group are obliged to attend school by law. Compulsory school attendance applies to all children who live in the Netherlands or stay there for long periods, regardless of their nationality or religion.

A child must start school no later than the first day of the month following his or her fifth birthday. For example, if a child’s birthday is on 22 February, he or she must therefore attend school from 1 March onwards. The majority of children in the Netherlands (some 99 %) start school at the age of four. During this extra year, children can get used to going to school and have the opportunity to learn to understand and speak Dutch better. This applies in particular to children who speak another language at home. A 4-year-old child is not covered by the Compulsory Education Act after enrolling at a school, so the parents can agree with the school on their child’s presence at and absence from school.

After group 8 of primary education (public and religious education), children enter higher general secondary or pre-vocational secondary education. After 4 or 5 years, once the pupil has obtained a diploma he or she can, depending on the level of preparatory education, continue into intermediate vocational education or higher vocational or academic education / university.

Tuition fees must be paid from the age of 18. Student loans are very common in higher education.

School holidays:

Certain periods in the school year are designated as holidays. Children may not be taken out of school for a holiday outside these set periods, except with the consent of the local authority (compulsory attendance officer).

A child is obliged to attend school on a full-time basis up to and including the school year (1 August-31 July) in which he or she reaches the age of 16. This is followed by a partial attendance obligation. The young person must then follow a course for at least 2 days a week for 1 year at an educational establishment (intermediate vocational education or adult education institution or institution designated by the Education Minister). In the case of intermediate vocational education combined with a practical training contract, the attendance requirement may be less than 2 days. This partial attendance obligation can be combined with a job, depending on the type of training institution. Young people who leave school after the school year in which they reach the age of 17 are not subject to a partial attendance obligation.

Cultural and social life

Dutch cultural and social life is rich and varied.

In particular, the Dutch painters of the 17th century (Rembrandt) and 19th century (Van Gogh) have had a major impact on contemporary Dutch art.

At the present time, Dutch writers, fashion designers and DJs in particular are regarded as influential. A calendar of exhibitions and events in the Netherlands can be found on the website www.holland.com.

Sport is also popular as a form of recreation in the Netherlands. As one fifth of the country consists of water, it is hardly surprising that water sports are popular. Other common sports are football, golf, tennis, running, squash and cycling. Skating is popular in the winter.

Text last edited on: 2022


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