How to Obtain a Residence Permit in the Netherlands

How to Obtain a Residence Permit in the Netherlands

Situated in northern Europe, the Netherlands boasts a steadfast economy, accessible education and healthcare systems, coupled with a remarkable degree of tolerance and robust social security measures. This combination renders the country highly appealing to a wide spectrum of individuals.

Navigating the path to permanent residency in the Netherlands entails specific criteria. Continue reading to uncover essential steps and considerations for individuals considering a move to this nation.

Who Can Apply for Permanent Residency?

EU citizens, along with residents of Norway, Switzerland, Iceland, and Liechtenstein, are exempt from the requirement to register with the Immigration and Naturalisation Service of the Netherlands (Immigratie en Naturalisatiedienst, IND). They possess the freedom to reside and work within the Netherlands without necessitating a residence permit. However, if their intended stay in the country surpasses four months, they are mandated to complete registration with the local administration (gemeente).

Securing a residence permit can be streamlined for individuals hailing from countries that maintain a bilateral agreement with the Netherlands, facilitating visa-free entry. Noteworthy additions to this list include Australia, New Zealand, Japan, South Korea, Canada, the USA, Monaco, and the Vatican. 

If you are a citizen of a troublesome country with high levels of emigration (countries in the Middle East, North Africa, Central and South America), you will have to submit additional documents to get a residence permit. These might include police clearance and medical certificates, alongside documents substantiating your financial means.

Naarden. Photo: Malcolm Lightbody (Unsplash)

Temporary Residence Permit 

Similar to Germany and Sweden, the Netherlands employs a two-stage process for conferring a residence permit. Initially, you must acquire a temporary residence permit known as Machtiging tot Voorlopig Verblijf (MVV). This document remains valid for a span of 90 days and facilitates entry into the country for prospective residency purposes, distinguishing it from a tourist visa. Nonetheless, it's essential to recognize that the MVV doesn't qualify as an official residence permit. 

You are exempt from obtaining the MVV if: 

  • You already have permanent residency in the Netherlands or other EU country.
  • You are a citizen of a country that maintains a bilateral visa-free agreement with the Netherlands (as mentioned above).
  • You are a family member or partner of an EU citizen, a citizen of Norway, Switzerland, Iceland, or Liechtenstein (even if holding dual citizenship). 
  • You currently hold or have previously held a European Blue Card (a work and residence permit within the EU designed for highly skilled individuals) for a minimum of 18 months.
  • You are participating in an international exchange program (such as Erasmus+, Fulbright, Chevening, DAAD, etc.) as a student, professor, young specialist, or leader.
  • You have refugee status, or you are under humanitarian or international protection.

If you don't fit into any of these categories, acquiring an MVV becomes necessary. The initial phase involves determining the purpose of your intended stay in the Netherlands: whether it's for work, studies, business endeavours, starting a startup, family reunification, or another specific reason. 

Typically, you have the option to apply for both the MVV and the permanent residence permit (verblijfsvergunning) concurrently. Should you choose to apply from abroad, initiate the MVV application through a Dutch Embassy or Consulate in your country of residence, while sending the application for permanent residency to the IND. Once you arrive in the Netherlands with your MVV, you can proceed with the permanent residency application either online or in person. Alternatively, if you opt for an application within the Netherlands, the IND will process and issue both documents together. 

Amsterdam. Photo: Raphael Nogueira (Unsplash)

How to Obtain an MVV and a Permanent Residence Permit

Work or Study

Should you receive an invitation from a Dutch company or university, they are responsible for submitting an application to the IND on your behalf for the residence permit. Following its approval, you will need to present the required documentation to obtain the MVV at the nearest Netherlands Embassy or Consulate. It's important to acknowledge that this application process mandates your physical presence and the submission of biometric data, including fingerprints and a photograph. 

The typical roster of necessary documents generally includes an identification document, a completed questionnaire, photographs, substantiating documents from the inviting party to validate the purpose of your visit, a bank statement or alternative evidence of financial means, as well as a medical certificate. 

Upon receiving the MVV, you are permitted to enter the Netherlands and subsequently acquire a permanent residence permit. This permit will be endorsed with "arbeid vrij toegestaan," signifying the unrestricted right to work within the country. 


The entire procedure for securing the MVV and permanent residency in the Netherlands remains consistent for business owners, as detailed above. The only distinction lies in the requirement to furnish supplementary documentation:

  1. A comprehensive business plan delineating your activities, objectives, strategies, financial projections, and growth targets.
  2. Financial records validating your capacity to sustain business operations in the Netherlands, including bank statements, financial guarantees, investment agreements, and related documents.
  3. Certificates of company registration from the Netherlands Chamber of Commerce (Kamer van Koophandel, KVK).
  4. Police clearance certificates issued by the countries of your recent residency history.
  5. A medical insurance policy that encompasses your medical expenses within the Netherlands.

Zaanse Schans. Photo: Merve Selcuk Simsek (Unsplash)


The Netherlands places significant emphasis on the vitality of its economy, thus exclusively endorsing startup applications featuring confirmed cutting-edge innovations for the allocation of a permanent residence permit. Specifically, the product or service should introduce novelty to the Dutch market, or the startup must incorporate novel organisational, production, distribution, or marketing principles or technologies.

An additional crucial requirement is the presence of a Dutch mentor (facilitator) among the staff, who is not a family member of the startup founders or any other employees. A contract between the mentor and the startup company can be established. Furthermore, submission of a comprehensive business plan and the formal registration of your startup with the Netherlands Chamber of Commerce are also mandatory. 

The procedure for obtaining the MVV and permanent residence is the same.

Family Reunification

To secure a permanent residence permit for your family member, substantiating a close familial connection is essential. The applicant must be a spouse, partner, child, or parent of either a Dutch citizen or a foreign national possessing permanent residency within the Netherlands. 

When applying as an adult born to one or both Dutch parents, including a document substantiating your financial dependence becomes essential to acquire the permanent residence permit. If you are applying as a parent of an adult residing in the Netherlands, the regulations are somewhat more lenient. However, if your reliance on your child's support is integral, they must furnish evidence of sufficient income to sustain you.

Additionally, individuals seeking permanent residency in the Netherlands via family reunification must secure suitable housing within the country, demonstrate financial self-sufficiency, and refrain from receiving any state benefits. Moreover, you will need to successfully complete either the Dutch or English language proficiency test.

Swifterbant. Photo: Martijn Baudoin (Unsplash)

In a Nutshell 

Obtaining a residence permit in the Netherlands is relatively straightforward, thanks to its well-structured process. Remember to meticulously prepare all your required documents in advance and obtain apostilles if deemed necessary. Typically, apostilles are needed for documents such as birth, marriage, divorce, and death certificates, university and school diplomas, other academic records, along with documents verifying ownership of real estate or assets, court rulings, and various registration certificates issued by governmental bodies.

Cover photo: Liam McGarry (Unsplash)

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