Living in the Netherlands is more expensive than in Germany, especially in the Randstad1, the Western part of the country. It can also be quite hard to find a place to live. Therefore, it’s important to start searching on time. Living is less expensive in the rural provinces, but there are fewer jobs than in the Randstad.
House hunting & Moving
Our page House hunting & Moving has some more information about finding a place in the Netherlands. We know it can be difficult, but these tips and tricks might help you to find your new home.
Internet, telephone & TV
Internet, telephone and television are certainly important media. Read more about the Internet, Telephone & TV and the current state of technology in the Netherlands.
Doctor, Hospital and Co.
Anyone looking for a doctor in the Netherlands will quickly realize that everything is different here. The system is cut off and set up cost-saving. Nevertheless, the Dutch health system is one of the best in the world. We explain how the system works, why paracetamol is prescribed over and over again and how the next emergency doctor can be found: doctor, hospital & Co.
If you are moving to the Netherlands, there are a few important things you need to arrange:
Registering from abroad
People with the German or Austrian nationality don’t need a visa to live in the Netherlands. But it’s important to register in the city where you are living within 5 days. That’s possible at the city hall. When you go to your appointment, bring the following documents:
- A valid proof of identity of every person to be registered.
- A valid travel document or other legal document with your personal details and nationality.
- A rental contract or contract of sale of your home, or your proprietor’s permission, for which you need to complete a form 'verklaring bewoning adres' .
- Original documents from abroad (not older than 1 year) of yourself and of your children, such as certificates of birth, a marriage certificate or a deed of divorce.
Only English, German and French deeds will be accepted without translation by a sworn translator. Foreign documents have to meet the rules regarding the legislation of foreign documents. These rules depend on the country where the documents were issued.
Some municipalities will request proof of deregistration or an international certificate of birth. Inquire in advance what documents are needed!
Through registering, you will get the BSN (burgerservicenummer), a unique citizen number. Since 2014, non-residents that have a relationship with the Netherlands, such as retired Dutch overseas or EU people who temporarily work in the Netherlands for seasonal work, can also get a BSN.
If you want to know more about Visa and (permanent) residence permits, then you have to do this at the Immigration and Naturalisation Service (IND).
You’ll also need a DigiD, which stands for Digital Identity. With the personal DigiD, you can log in to government, university and health websites. It's the main and most important identification method in The Netherlands.
Official documents are often not sent by post but are sent via MijnOverheid. To read the messages, you must log in with your DigiD.
The insurance scheme in the Netherlands is similar to the scheme in Germany. Everyone needs to decide for oneself which insurances to take.
If you are working, a health insurance is obligated, and if you have a car, you need a vehicle insurance. A bonus-malus system adjusts the premium paid by the customer according to his individual claim history. If you move to The Netherlands, ask your last insurance about a bonus-malus declaration. You will need this declaration to get a discount according to your damage-free years.
To compare different insurances, you can use a website like Independer or Consumentenbond.
Be careful: After seven years without vehicle insurance, the German bonus-malus rating is deemed to be forfeited.
For questions concerning registration, visas, and passports, you can contact the consulate general in Amsterdam. For any other issues, you need to be at the embassy in The Hague.
In order to support and relieve the German consulates and embassies, Germans living in The Netherlands can apply for a passport at the Bürgerbüro of Kleve, Straelen, and Herzogenrath.
The Netherlands is a very safe country. Crime rates are very low compared to southern European countries, and the law is strictly enforced. It is ranked 16th on the ranking of world’s safest countries.2
The Netherlands is a wonderful place to live. However, there are things you must keep in mind. The Netherlands is very safe overall, but the main cities have their fair number of pickpockets, occasional violence, and theft. Some parts of Amsterdam are best avoided, and drunk or high people are often easy targets for thieves.
Again, the Netherlands is a wonderful place to live. However, there are things you must keep in mind:
• no urinating on the streets.
• do not drink and drive.
• forbidden to produce or deal drugs.
• hard drugs are still strictly prohibited.
• some soft drugs are tolerated (gedoogbeleid).
• do not take pictures in the red light district.
• all weapons are still strictly prohibited, incl. teargas, slings and toy guns.
On every first Monday of the month, the air alarm is tested at 12 o'clock. The sirens can be heard all over the country. Twice a year, the government tests the mobile security system. If your mobile phone is set correctly, then you get a message automatically. In the case of a crisis or major emergency, the website crisis.nl is activated.
The Dutch police are quite modernly equipped. You can report an offense to the police on the internet or at the local police station. Some district policemen can be reached via social media. In an emergency, call 112, otherwise, the police is available at 0900-8844. The last number has a base rate; please ask your provider for further information.
As a foreign citizen, you can only participate in local elections (Gemeenteraadsverkiezingen), Waterschapsverkiezingen or local referendums. Participation in government elections is excluded. In the case of EU elections, if you confirm that you are not participating in the election in another country, then you vote as a resident of the Netherlands. You will automatically receive all papers in advance.
People with German citizenship can continue to vote in Germany under certain conditions. The Federal Electoral Officer (Bundeswahlleiter) provides all information.
Families with children
If you have children, our article will certainly help you to understand the school system and will give information about living with children.
The most popular means of transport in the Netherlands is the bike. New basic bicycles are available for 150 euro. It’s useful to buy two locks because the Netherlands is not only the country of bicycles but also the country of bicycle thieves.
Because there are more bicycles than people, there are some rules about where to park your bike, especially in city centers. If you park your bike in a restricted area or outside the racks, it might get confiscated by the municipality, and you have to pay a fine to get it back. Check for signs on the street before parking to avoid this hassle.
As a cyclist you must have a front light and a backlight in the dark and at low visibility. You may also use loose lights for this purpose. In addition, the bike must have reflectors on the rear, trappers and wheels or tires3.
If you travel by car, it’s good to know that parking in the city centers is quite expensive. In Amsterdam, for example, it’s up to 7 euro per hour. There are also possibilities to rent a car, for example, SnappCar and MyWheels. Companies like Blablacar offer you a lift, and there a few Facebook groups where people post their next destination. Perhaps you will find your dream driver?
Remember the Dutch highways are nothing like the Autobahn. The maximum speed is 130 km/h, but most of the time there’s a lower speed limit. This is a safety precaution because the infrastructure is not as spacious as in Germany.
Please note the rules regarding your (German) driving license. Driving licenses are currently valid in the Netherlands for 10 years. This also applies to foreign driving licenses. The exchange or renewal can be made at the city where you are enrolled. For some classes, a health exam may be required. RWD and Rijksoverheid will help you with all information.
For longer distances, and if you don't have a car, the train is very useful. In the Netherlands, it’s very common to use the OV-chipcard, a plastic card with a chip inside. You can charge this card and use it to check in at your starting point and check out at your destination. You can also use it on the bus, tram, and metro. Paper tickets are still available, but they are more expensive.
There are two different kinds of OV-chipcards, an anonymous card, and a personal card. The anonymous card is suitable for people who don’t travel regularly. The suggested retail price is € 7.50. The personal card is useful if you are traveling by public transport more often. The price of this card is also € 7,50, but it’s also possible to get season tickets and travel with discount packages.
NS offers bikes to rent at train stations and different other locations. To use this bike, you need to link a season ticket for bikes to your personal OV-chipcard. Renting a bike costs € 3,85 per 24 hours.
International trains are also available. Take an ICE to Germany or Switzerland, or take the Thalys to Germany, Belgium or France. It’s a fast and carefree way of traveling. A further possibility for long-distance trips are Intercity bus services, their buses stop in all major cities and are a favorable travel alternative.
If you want to plan a journey by public transport, it’s best to use 9292, the website and the app use real-time information to plan the most efficient trip.
In the Netherlands are few international airports, noteworthy are Schiphol, Eindhoven, Rotterdam/Den Haag, Maastricht, and Groningen. Whereof Schiphol is the most important with more than 60 million passengers and 322 direct worldwide connections4.
If you want to visit the Dutch Wadden islands, you have to go there by ferry. The ferry rides to the islands take approximately 20 to 120 minutes, depending on the island and the kind of ferry.
Even if most Dutch speak English, it is highly recommended to learn Dutch. In everyday life, this is very useful and Dutch people appreciate it if foreigners are learning Dutch. There are numerous offers to learn Dutch. It’s possible that the employer assumes the cost of training. The goal should be that the Nt2 exam is passed.
The state examination Nt2 consist of two programmes, directed at two different target groups. Both exams consist of four parts, being a reading, writing, listening and speaking exam. You must pass all four exams in order to get your certificate. Programme I (level B1 CEFR) is designed for people who want to work in vocational jobs or follow training for such jobs (e.g. ROC). Programme II (level B2 CEFR) is meant for people who want to work in middle and higher-level jobs or want to study in Dutch higher education (e.g. university of applied sciences or university).
At the office, English is often used as the main language. Even then, often a successfully passed language course is asked. But to get in touch with your Dutch colleagues, Dutch is key to success. For German speakers, it’s quite easy to learn Dutch because the words and the structure of the language are quite similar. There are special Dutch courses for German speakers.
We recommend the courses of the German International School in The Hague, the Goethe Institute in Amsterdam and Rotterdam and the Stiftung Sprachkurse. But there are also many other language schools that offer good online or offline education. Not to be underestimated are also language cafés and tandem partners to practice the language.
Of course, you want to make lots of new friends, so it’s useful to know some things about the Dutch. Our page Social Life has some more information about socializing in the Netherlands.
1 megalopolis in the central-western Netherlands consisting primarily of the four largest Dutch cities (Amsterdam, Rotterdam, The Hague and Utrecht) and their surrounding areas.
2 SafeAround (2017). World’s Safest Countries. Retrieved on July 6, 2017, from https://safearound.com/danger-rankings/
3 Rijksoverheid (2017). Wat zijn de regels voor fietsverlichting en reflectie op een fiets? Retrieved on August 18, 2017, from https://www.rijksoverheid.nl/onderwerpen/fiets/vraag-en-antwoord/wat-zijn-de-regels-voor-fietsverlichting-en-reflectie-op-een-fiets
4 Schiphol (2017). Amsterdam Airport Schiphol Airport Facts. Retrieved on June 18, 2017, from https://www.schiphol.nl/nl/route-development/pagina/amsterdam-airport-schiphol-airport-facts/