Tulips, meadows, diary, windmills, picturesque canals, cheese, wooden shoes, master paintings from the golden age and cycling which is a way of life is what makes the Netherlands a truly unique country. It is one of the most advanced and wealthy nations in the globe, with an enormous urban population.

The Netherlands is known for its tolerant and liberal spirit, and boasts a large student population from around the world. The country is also a suitable destination to work while studying and this posts is going to be your guide to working while you study in the Netherlands.

As an international student in Holland, you might want to take a part-time job, just as Dutch students do. Besides helping to cover your costs, a job can also give you useful work experience, allow you to participate in Dutch society and make it easier for you to learn the language. Your position as a job applicant is somewhat different from that of Dutch students, however.

All you need to know about working in Holland

How to Find a Job:

The easiest way to find a job is through an employment agency, or uitzendbureau. Some agencies specialize in jobs for students. The student affairs office at the Dutch institution where you are enrolled can provide addresses or may even have their own job agency. Of course you can also respond to advertisements or search for a job on the Internet. The following websites may be helpful:

If you are from the EU/EEA (but not from Croatia) or from Switzerland, you are free to work without restrictions.

If you are from Croatia, or from a country outside the EU/EEA or Switzerland, there are some restrictions if you want to take a job next to your studies. You need a permit and you can only work for a maximum of ten hours a week or, instead, you can work full-time during the summer months of June, July and August.

From 1 January 2014 on, nationals of Bulgaria and Romania are also free to work without restrictions.

Formalities and rules

Your position is different from that of Dutch students and you will have to take several practical restrictions into account, such as your probable lack of fluency in the Dutch language. It goes without saying that if you are enrolled in an English-taught programme and have not had to learn any Dutch, certain jobs will be out of your reach. But even if you do speak Dutch, some jobs simply require the fluency of a native speaker. Always make sure you know about the relevant formalities and rules before you begin to look for a job.

About Applying for Work permit

Dutch employers who want to employ foreigners in the Netherlands need work permits in most cases. Only residents with an EU, EEA or Swiss nationality, excluding Bulgarians and Romanians, can work without their employer obtaining a work permit for them.

Your employer must apply for the work permit at the UWVWERKbedrijf in Zoetermeer. It will take about five weeks before a decision has been taken. You are not allowed to start work before a work permit has been granted, otherwise your employer risks being fined. The organisation that issues work permits is called UWV.

Exception for internships

If you are studying at a Dutch host institution and you need to do an internship as part of your study programme, you do not need a work permit. Your host institution and your employer do need to sign an internship agreement.

Download the internship agreement(161.0 KB)

Health insurance and jobs

You need to be aware that as soon as you pick up a job, you are obliged to take out the Dutch basic healthcare insurance. If you do not meet this requirement you risk a huge fine.

Read more about healthcare insurance

Social security number

BSN is short for Burger Service Nummer, which translates as ‘citizen service number’. The BSN is equivalent to a social security number: a unique registration number for every citizen, used in contacts with any government service.

Various people may ask for your BSN. If you have a job, your employer will need to know your BSN. Insurance companies may also ask for your BSN-number.

When registering with your local municipality, you are automatically issued a BSN. Your local town hall will most likely send you a letter to confirm all your personal details listed in their administration. This letter will also mention your BSN.

Income tax

You are required to pay tax over your total Dutch income for the year. Scholarships may also be counted as income and added to the total. For more information on income tax, you can check with your employer or directly with the Dutch Tax Office.

Stick to the rules!

Some students take jobs in, for example, cafes and restaurants through unofficial channels, where the employer does not pay any social security contributions for them. The pay for such jobs is usually higher than for regular jobs, but it is important to realize that this practice (called zwartwerken, or ‘working in the black’) is illegal, and

means that you cannot claim any rights as an employee. Moreover, you will not be insured in the event of a work-related accident. You should also be aware that if you need a work permit and your employer lets you work without one, he or she risks a high fine in the event of discovery. In the worst case you might even lose your residence permit.

Taking all this factors into account and if you go by the rules and designated methods your study and work experience in the beautiful Netherlands would be a memorable one.

To find out how to begin your application to the Netherlands, read our Application Guide to Study in the Netherlands.

Related Article: Admission Requirements to Study in the Netherlands