Checklist: study in the Netherlands

Moving to a foreign country can be a tough process. You have a lot of decisions to make, whether you move to the Netherlands for a study program or for an internship. How do you find a place to stay? Which university should you choose, and can you get a healthcare allowance? This page helps you with these questions by offering a checklist for studying in the Netherlands.

Finding an university and study program

Moving to the Netherlands to study comes with an important question: what university in the Netherlands should you go to? The Dutch universities are divided into two kinds of universities: universities of applied sciences and research universities. Below you will find the difference between these two kinds of universities.

Universities of applied sciences (HBO)

These universities are more focused on the practical implementation of the study program. You will most likely be obliged to do an internship if you follow an applied sciences study program. Besides one or multiple internships, universities of applied sciences focus on team projects and collaboration between students. The Netherlands knows 33 universities of applied sciences. These offer study opportunities for up to 450,000 students, Dutch and international.

Research universities (WO)

The focus of research universities lies more on theoretical aspects than practical ones, other than universities of applied sciences. It is not very usual for students of these universities to do an internship while they study.

The Netherlands is home to 20 universities, located in 12 different cities all over the country. Amsterdam is the only city with two research universities, the UvA and the VU. These 20 research universities host about 300,000 students. The universities in the Netherlands rank well in global lists, all 13 of them are listed in the top 200 of Times Higher Education’s World University Rankings.

Finding a study program

Not all Dutch universities offer courses in English. While the majority of Master’s and Bachelor’s degrees are available in English, not all are. This highly depends on the university itself. The Netherlands is a popular country for international students. More than 15% of students in the Netherlands are international.

As an international student without knowledge of the Dutch language you can choose from more than 2,100 international study programs that are entirely taught in English. These include Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees. If you want to study for a semester in the Netherlands you could inform the university in your country. Most universities have international ties, making it easier for you to find a suitable program.

Dutch university fees

The fee you pay for a Dutch university, research or applied sciences depends on multiple personal factors, such as your nationality or your age. If you are an EU/EEA national, you will pay the special Dutch university fee. This fee is around €2,000,-, the exact fee is set for each academic year.

If you have a non-EU/EEA nationality you will have to pay higher tuition fees. For Bachelor’s programmes the annual tuition fee is between €6,000,- and €15,000,-, for Master’s the tuition is even higher, varying from €8,000,- and €20,000,-. There are however certain scholarships for which international students in the Netherlands can apply. Read more about these scholarships in the paragraph below.

Finding and applying scholarships

The Netherlands knows many options for scholarships. There are however strict rules on how you can be entitled to such a scholarship. Some scholarships determine who receives a scholarship based on grades, age or nationality. Some tips that you can use in your appliance letter for a scholarship in the Netherlands are:

  • Use your background as a strength. Describe where you come from and how this has formed you into a unique human being.
  • Know what your personal strengths are and highlight these in your cover letter.
  • Try to write about what you want to achieve in the future
  • Besides your strengths it is wise to also know your weaknesses. Be honest about them and acknowledge them.

Visas and permits for the Netherlands

Rules for student visas en permits for the Netherlands vary for nationalities. All foreign students who are accepted into a higher educational program in the Netherlands can apply for a student visa.

Applying for rent allowance

If you are lucky enough to have found a room, apartment or house in the Netherlands you might be able to apply for rent allowance. The Dutch government helps starters, students and people with a low income. Not everyone is able to receive a monthly rent allowance. You have to comply with the following conditions, you have to:

  • Have the age of 18 or more or older
  • Rent an accommodation independently
  • Be registered at your home address in the Netherlands
  • Have a rent, income and capital combined that do not exceed certain limits
  • Have the nationality of an EU country, Norway, Liechtenstein, Switzerland or Iceland or have a valid residence permit or work permit

Registration in your new hometown

If you plan to stay in the Netherlands for more than four months you need to register at your local town hall. The Dutch government requires both international and Dutch inhabitants to be registered at a home address in the Netherlands. The main advantage of registering in the Netherlands for foreigners is receiving your BSN number. You will need this number for all your administration, such as receiving your salary, applying for rent/rent allowance, opening a bank account and taking out health insurance.

In most cases, you will need to register at your local municipality within five days of arrival. However, you need a rental agreement to register. If you do not have a home address when you arrive in the Netherlands you should go as soon as you have a rental contract. If you do not register, the Dutch government is allowed to fine you. The amount of these fines differs per municipality.

The best way to register at a Dutch municipality differs per town hall. Usually it is best to call the town hall in you municipality and ask if you can prepare any forms or documents in advance. Below are phone numbers of the city councils of some of the main cities of the Netherlands.

  • Amsterdam: +31 20 624 11 11
  • Rotterdam: +31 20 367 16 25
  • Utrecht: +31 30 286 00 00
  • The Hague: +31 70 353 30 00
  • Maastricht +31 43 350 40 40
  • Delft: +31 15 260 22 22
  • Leiden: +31 71 516 51 65
  • Groningen: +31 50 367 70 00
  • Haarlem: +31 23 511 5115
  • Eindhoven: +31 40 238 60 00
  • Tilburg: +31 13 542 84 94

(Health)insurances for the Netherlands

If you study and live in the Netherlands you are most likely obliged to take out Dutch health insurance. There are however two exceptions to this rule:

  • If you can prove to the authorities that you are planning a temporary stay. You can contact the Dutch Sociale Verzekeringsbank to obtain more information
  • If you are younger than 30 years and your stay is purely for study purposes

If you have a valid BSN number you can take out Dutch insurance easily with one of the Dutch healthcare insurance providers. Everyone living in the Netherlands needs to have at least basic insurance. The prices of basic insurances differ per insurer. However, the coverage that they offer has to be the same. The Dutch government determines this coverage.

You are however, able to take out supplementary insurances, such as dentist or spectacles insurance. Most of the insurance companies offer supplementary insurances which they rate according to a star system. The more stars insurance has, the bigger its coverage is. This also applies to the monthly premium you have to pay.

Apply for healthcare allowance

If you’re a student and you’re living abroad, chances are you don’t have a big budget. The Dutch government helps people living in the Netherlands that do not earn enough to pay for healthcare. The healthcare allowance compensates for the cost of basic healthcare insurance. This allowance is paid by the Dutch Tax Authority (Belastingdienst).

The exact amount of the monthly allowance you can apply for depends on your personal situation. Factors such as income, age and capital are used to calculate the monthly amount. Find more information on healthcare allowance for international students in the Netherlands.

A Dutch bank account

If you have been in the Netherlands for a while you might have noticed that almost all payments are made with a debit card, the ‘pinpas’. The credit card is not as popular in the Netherlands as it is in other countries. You might pay higher costs if you withdraw money with a credit card in the Netherlands. If you want to save money it could be wise to get a Dutch bank account.

Most of the Dutch banks require you to have a BSN when you want to open a Dutch bank account. However, there are some companies that do offer packages for those that don’t have a BSN (yet). These banks give the possibility to open a Dutch bank account from anywhere in the European Union.

Working in the Netherlands alongside your studies

Dutch students tend to work alongside their studies to make some extra money for tuition, going out or holidays. There are certain options for international students in the Netherlands to start working next to their studies. If you are a registered student and you have an EU/EFA nationality, you are allowed to take a part-time job without a work permit. If you come from a country outside of the EU/EFA or Croatia, you need to apply for a work permit.

If you’re living in one of the big student cities in the Netherlands it is generally not necessary to be fluent in Dutch. Include places where lots of tourists or international students come for your job search, such as touristic shops or bars at central squares. Plenty of international students find jobs like food delivery drivers as well.

About us is the authority for student insurances. We are independent, and have no financial or relational agreement with any insurance company.