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Work in the Netherlands

Dutch types of companies

In the Netherlands there is a broad variety of companies, very much alike other developed economies. Big multinationals, mid-sized companies, small businesses and freelance entrepreneurs are all contributing to the total number of companies. The biggest % of the whole Dutch economy is made up by medium and small sizes companies. Also the amount of freelancers is rising quickly, due to platformisation of some jobs like delivery, where typically a lot of employees used to make up most of the work, which are now mostly freelancers, working for Deliveroo, UberEats and Thuis Bezorgd.

Dutch work culture

When working for a Dutch employer you’re generally expected to take over the Dutch work culture. Being on time, holding your end of a deal, and keeping your appointments mean a lot for your employer and coworkers. On the other hand, if you’re late often or don’t show up for appointments you will be quickly fired. Also directness is a big factor, if you have something to say, say it! Directness will be appreciated, and again on the flipside, if you don’t speak your mind you will be generally considered incinsere. Also using a lot of words to say something that could be said using much less words is considered unpractical, especially when on the workfloor.


If you work in the Netherlands, the employer you work for pays your taxes for you. So when you make salaries, your employer actually makes two payments. One is to you, and yours to keep and spend as you please, and the other is directly to the Dutch tax service. The percentage of taxes you pay over your salary is progressively scaling up. If you make a small amount of wage you will only be taxed a few percent. If you make more wages the percentage of taxes will progressively increase. However for students, which will mostly be working a side job, so not full time, the taxes will generally remain a few percent. A special mention that has to be made is regarding ‘loonheffingskorting’. Loosely translated into English this means ‘wage tax reduction’. Every person that’s working is entitled to a certain deduction on the amount of taxes they have to pay. You declare to your employer when you begin working if you want the deduction applied or not. It’s advised that if you work at multiple employers at the same time, so when you have multiple sources of income/tax at the same time, that you apply the loonheffingskorting at the job you make most wage at. Subsequently you don’t apply it at your second, or even third job. In this way you will not pay too little tax, and will not come into debt with the Dutch tax service. Every person has to pay exactly what they’re due to the tax service. So if you overpaid you’re eligible for a tax-return. Starting march 1st of the following year you can file for a tax return over the current year.

Social Security

Due to the relatively high taxes, there is also high social security in the Netherlands. If you have worked for a while you build up unemployment benefits at the Dutch government, when you lose your job you can request those benefits and use them to compensate for your lost wages.

EU or Non-EU

As an international student there is the factor of your nationality. If you come from inside the EU you can work just as a Dutch person can. But if you are from outside of the EU there are some complicating factors, especially regarding work. The Dutch government standpoint is that if you come here for studies, you don’t come here for work. That’s why there are some restriction in place that make it harder for non-EU students to get a job. Generally an international student from outside the EU will have a student visum. This comes with a residency permit card which allows you staying in the Netherlands. On this card you can check what restrictions are in place for you specifically. Generally for students there is the mention of ‘TWV vereist’ which means ‘workpermit needed’. When this mention is on your residency permit card your employer will have to file for a workpermit for you. This is a permit that allows your employer to employ up to 16 hours per week (Monday-Sunday). Without this permit it is illegal to work!

Healthcare insurance and allowance

The Dutch laws and legislation make it so that everyone that’s 18 or older and living in the Netherlands needs a basic dutch healthcare insurance. As long as you do not work you will be exempted from needing a healthcare insurance, however once you start working you will need it in the foreseeable future. The insurance needs to be a policy by a Dutch insurance company. For example with ‘Zilveren Kruis’ or ‘de Friesland’. AON-insurance doesn’t give enough coverage to count as a sufficient insurance, so keep an eye on that! To be able to both work and abide the law the best way to treat this manner is to always keep your address up to date at the municipality. By doing this the letters from CAK (the Dutch government institution checking up on foreigners and their healthcare situation) will reach you. When you get this letter it’s time for you to take out insurance, and after receiving this letter it’s also possible to take out healthcare allowance/benefits. When you take out the cheapest insurance, the benefits are going to be higher, so you can technically make money on being insured!

Finding vacancies, online/offline application processes

When looking for a job there are multiple options. Most vacancies are listed online, on websites like ‘indeed’, ‘’ and ‘LinkedIn’, or many others. When finding a job that could suit you you upload your CV and motivation letter and generally hope for the best. Finding an offline vacancy can be harder, and might literally require knocking on some doors. However when finding a job ‘offline’ you can immediately present yourself as a person, rather than a CV on a screen, which is an obvious bonus. Application processes differ from company to company, but a general rule of thumb is that the size of the company is most important. Small companies hire and fire people more easily, whereas bigger companies hire less, with long application processes and a lot more slowly, but once inside you’re not as easily fired.

Employment agencies & Recruit a Student

What an employment agency does is on one hand reaching out to people looking for a job; and on the other hand to companies looking for personnel, and bring those two in contact. The way it goes down legally is that personnel is contracted by the agency and thus the agency pays out salaries. When somebody works at one of the contracted companies the agency sends them a bill for the work done. Recruit a Student is an employment agency focused on International Students. Recruit a Student hires people for parttime, flexible positions for a wide variety of companies. All suited for non-Dutch speakers. Recruit a Student works based around Whatsapp groupsapps, if you are signed in with Recruit a Student you will be put in the groupsapp and see all job offers. When you’re available for a job offer and interested you can respond, if you aren’t available or not interested you simply don’t respond. This means you can work when you have the time, and not when you have to study for tests, have other obligations, or going abroad. If you’re interested or want to know more, click here.