Frequently Asked Questions

Find answers to all our frequently asked questions about moving to and living in Amsterdam, such as registration in the city, information about permits, how to start a new business and questions related to IN Amsterdam's procedures.


IN Amsterdam procedure

What is a highly skilled migrant?

The Immigration and Naturalisation Service (IND) developed the Expatcenter Procedure, an entry procedure specifically for highly skilled migrants or ‘knowledge migrants’ via IN Amsterdam.

Information for expat employees

You can visit the IND website to learn more about:

  • Entry procedure for highly skilled migrants and labour migrants.
  • Organisations and companies who are participating in the special entry procedure for highly skilled migrants.

Please note: highly skilled migrants must earn a minimum salary in order to qualify for the entry procedure.

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How does the IN Amsterdam procedure work?

Utilising IN Amsterdam's services begins with the completion of the appropriate application form from the IND website. On the form, the employer indicates that he would like to use IN Amsterdam’s (formerly 'Expatcenter Amsterdam') services and sends the completed form to the IND. Approximately four weeks later, the highly-skilled migrant can visit the IN Amsterdam office to collect his or her residence permit and register with the municipality.

Advantages of IN Amsterdam

By submitting one single form, the employer can initiate the necessary official procedures while the employee is still abroad, and schedule an appointment with IN Amsterdam for their arrival. Once the employee is in the Netherlands, all documents will be in place, allowing the employee to start work immediately after their visit to IN Amsterdam.

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How do I apply for the IN Amsterdam procedure (as an employer)?

1) Make sure your company holds recognised sponsor status with the IND. If you need assistance, please let us help you.

2) Download and complete the applicable IND form (please note: there are separate forms for the highly skilled migrants, scientific researchers and the family members of applicants).

3) Complete the form selecting the appropriate procedure. Make sure the direct debit form and the antecedents certificate have been signed and you have attached the necessary documents.

Select IN Amsterdam at the end of the application form by ticking the box 'Amsterdam' in the section for Expatcenters (please take into consideration that IN Amsterdam charges fees for its services).

4) Send the application along with the requested appendix to the IND at the address shown on the form.

5) The IND will send a confirmation letter once the completed application has been received. If your application is incomplete the IND will indicate which items are missing and are required for re-submission.

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What are the costs of the IN Amsterdam procedure?

IN Amsterdam is a service point where highly skilled migrants can arrange all their formal affairs in one place upon arrival in the Netherlands. The services carried out by IN Amsterdam result in a substantial reduction of the administrative burden for employers and highly skilled migrants entering the Netherlands.

Which services are charged for?

Services which are in addition to those of the IND and the Personal Records Database now incur a fee. The application fees for the standard permit provision by the IND will remain consistent and the registration for the Personal Records Database at a partner municipality will continue to be free of charge (EU citizens do have to pay a fee if utilising IN Amsterdam for municipal registration).

To further strengthen Amsterdam's investment climate, new businesses will be excluded from paying fees during their first year of residence in the Amsterdam Metropolitan Area or for their first 10 employee applications, whichever occurs first.

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Registration and the Citizen Service Number (BSN)

What is a citizen service number (BSN)?

Everyone in the Netherlands has a registration number: the citizen service number (burgerservicenummer, BSN) is assigned to Dutch citizens at birth. Those newly arriving in the Amsterdam Area or elsewhere in the Netherlands will need to apply for a BSN. A BSN is required in order to be permitted to work; open a bank account; make use of a healthcare institution; and to apply for benefits or an allowance.

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How do I get a BSN?

Internationals receive their BSN upon registration with the municipality (gemeente). Where one registers is dependent on the length of their stay in the Netherlands:

Short stay migrants

If resident for four months or less, see the registration procedures for short stay migrants.

Regular registration

For internationals who will be a resident for more than four months, the following methods are available:

  • Those who have come to the Netherlands as a highly skilled migrant can arrange registration at IN Amsterdam and will receive a BSN during the appointment. EU citizens can also turn to IN Amsterdam for help with municipal registration. Find out more about reasons for choosing the streamlined services of IN Amsterdam.

  • Internationals moving to the Netherlands can also register directly with the municipality in which they will be resident. When doing so, they will be assigned a BSN.

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Do I need a residence permit?

A stay of three months or less

If your stay in the Netherlands is for three months or less, your situation may require a tourist visa. This visa grants you the right to stay in the Netherlands. Learn more about obtaining a tourist visa for the Netherlands.

A stay of longer than three months

If you want to stay in the Netherlands for longer than three months and you are not a citizen from the EU/EEA or Switzerland, you have to apply for a residence permit (verblijfsvergunning). Under certain circumstances, you may also qualify for the highly skilled migrant scheme, ICT permit or EU Blue Card.

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What do EU citizens need to do?

An EU citizen living in the Netherlands is legally required to register with the municipality. If the EU citizen is going to work for a company that is officially recognised as a sponsor by the IND and will be living in a partner municipality, they can also complete this registration with IN Amsterdam.

To register directly with your municipality (free), simply call or make an appointment online. You will be told which identification and documents you will need to take.

To register with IN Amsterdam (subject to a fee), EU citizens will need to bring:

  • valid identification (passport or identity card)
  • a current work contract
  • an original birth certificate in Dutch, English, French or German (or a translation by a sworn translator) and authenticated if required*
  • if applicable, an original marriage certificate, divorce decree, adoption certificate, family book (Daftar or Livret dÉtat Civil) or former residence permit (translated and authenticated where required) *
  • one of the following documents:
    • a rental/ tenancy agreement (huurovereenkomst)
    • a recent house deed or home purchase agreement 
    • written permission from the main tenant of the house, along with a copy of the main tenant's valid passport or identity card

All EU citizens are required to register. Citizens of the EU/EEA and Switzerland do not need a residence permit.

* these certificates can be submitted within three months of the appointment

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Recent graduates

Can I stay in the Netherlands after I graduate?

The Orientation year permit allows recent graduates from non-EU countries to remain in the Netherlands for up to 12 months while they seek employment. If you plan to make use of this permit, your application must be within three years of graduation from a Dutch institution (meaning you can return home or travel elsewhere before seeking employment in the Netherlands).

Best of all, once you have found employment, you can convert this to the residence permit for highly skilled migrants or another eligible option. The income threshold you are required to meet is lower for graduates on an Orientation year permit. 


Driving Licence

Can I exchange my driving licence?

You can exchange your driving licence for a Dutch one if you meet ALL of the following conditions:
  • You live in the Netherlands and are registered with your local municipality.
  • You are from the EU, the EEA, Switzerland OR are from a country with a special agreement; OR you have been granted the 30% ruling.
  • You have a valid residence permit (not required if you are a citizen of the EU, EEA or Switzerland).
  • Your current driving licence is valid.
  • Your current driving licence, if issued in a country outside the EU, was issued after being a resident of that country for at least 185 days.

If you do not meet the conditions you cannot exchange your licence for a Dutch one. This means you will need to take a standard theory and practical test at the Central Office for Motor Vehicle Driver Testing (CBR).

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How do I apply for a Dutch driving licence?

If you meet the conditions for exchanging your driving licence, you must submit your application at your local municipal city office (stadsloket) with the following:

  • Colour passport photograph.
  • Your foreign driving licence.
  • Your residence permit (unless you are a citizen of the EU/EEA or Switzerland).
  • Statement of 30% ruling (if applicable).
  • Certificate of fitness.

An application is submitted to the Government Road Transportation Agency (Rijksdienst voor het Wegverkeer, RDW) and the appraisal process takes approximately two weeks. You are not permitted to drive while your application is being processed.

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Do I need to deregister if I am leaving the Netherlands?

Before leaving the Netherlands, a number of matters need to be dealt with. One is deregistering from the Personal Records Database (Basisregistratie Personen, BRP). The municipality removes your personal details from the database and informs other government authorities of your departure.

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How do I deregister?

You can deregister a month before leaving the Netherlands and are required to indicate your date of departure. If you deregister by post and do not provide a date of departure, the date the municipality receives your written notice will be adopted as your date of departure. If you provide your notice of departure in person, without providing a date of departure, that day is considered your departure date. If your partner or child(ren) leave the Netherlands, they must also deregister.

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Self-employed or freelance

How do I start a business in the Netherlands?

From business plan to execution, it's not difficult to start a new business in the Netherlands. However, it's essential to complete a lot of advance research to ensure that the business can legally proceed and to make it a success.

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How can I work as a freelancer or ZZPer?

In the Netherlands, freelancers, entrepreneurs and one-man startups are recognised as ZZP’ers (zelfstandige zonder personeel) or self-employed without employees. As such, the procedure is very similar to that of anyone starting a business or registering a company. To become a ZZP'er you will need to have certain documentation (residence permit, address, etc.) among other essentials. The IND (Immigration and Naturalisation Service) and the Chamber of Commerce can advise you on your individual situation.

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Is the Startup visa right for me?

The 'Scheme for startups' makes it easier than ever for new international startups to get a foot in the door of Amsterdam’s attractive startup ecosystem. Startups are invited to make the most of Amsterdam’s diverse, innovative and international business scene to nurture their ideas. The aim is for these startups to grow into established, mature businesses that enhance the already-stellar Dutch economy – in terms of job creation and economic growth.

The scheme is primarily targeted at entrepreneurs arriving from outside the European Union, and it is essentially a one-year residence permit for the Netherlands.

  • The startup must work together with a trusted, experienced Netherlands-based mentor / facilitator
  • The startup must provide a service or product that is innovative
  • The startup entrepreneur has a (step-by-step) plan to develop their idea into a business
  • The startup entrepreneur and the facilitator are registered in the Trade Register of the Chamber of Commerce (Kamer van Koophandel)
  • The startup entrepreneur must have sufficient financial resources to reside and live in the Netherlands for one year

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Living in the Amsterdam Area

Where can I learn about housing in the Amsterdam Area?

Whether you are looking to find rental accommodation, to buy a house, or even to understand your housing rights, I amsterdam's Living portal hosts a site dedicated to housing in the Amsterdam Area.

It's also a great spot to learn more about the different aspects of life in the cities and regions of the Amsterdam Area.

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Where can I find out about work and employment?

I amsterdam has a site dedicated to working in Amsterdam. Here you can find key topics such as:

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Where can I find out what's on in Amsterdam?

I amsterdam can connect you to a whole host of cultural and entertainment activities. Whether you're looking for cool concerts or festivals and events, there's always lots going on in Amsterdam.

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Additional assistance


If you are not able to find the answer to your questions in the above list, please feel free to contact us for more information.

IN Amsterdam (formerly 'Expatcenter Amsterdam')
World Trade Center Amsterdam
I-Tower, ground floor (entrance via Zuidplein)
Strawinskylaan 1767
1077 XX Amsterdam
Telephone +31 (0)20 254 7999