Student insurance in the Netherlands

When you arrive in Holland, whether it is to live, work and/or study here, it is very important to look into your insurance position. It is essential to look into Dutch healthcare insurance, as this basic health insurance is compulsory for everybody above the age of 18 years old who works in the Netherlands. This includes students that temporarily study in the Netherlands if they also decide to work or do a paid internship.

Furthermore, depending on your personal situation, you might also need to look into getting other insurance, such as home insurance or liability insurance.

CAK-letter: compulsory Dutch basic health insurance

Upon arrival in the Netherlands, you will receive a letter from the CAK (Central Administration Office). This letter will inform you that you are uninsured for Dutch healthcare insurance.

As mentioned before, everyone working in the Netherlands is obliged to take out Dutch health insurance. More specifically, basic Dutch health insurance is stated in the Health Insurance Act (Zorgverzekeringswet). After receiving the CAK letter, you have 3 months to take out health insurance. If you don’t comply, you risk a fine.

Download our CAK-infographic

The CAK letter: do I need to take out Dutch healthcare insurance?

If you’re a student who temporarily studies in the Netherlands, you might have to keep your home country insurance or take out private healthcare insurance. Only if you receive income from a job or internship you are obliged to take out Dutch healthcare insurance. This includes:

  • Zero hour contracts
  • Paid volunteer jobs

If you have any doubts about your insurance position under the Wlz-scheme (Dutch Long Term Care Act), you can request the SVB (Sociale Verzekeringsbank) to assess your situation.

You can request your assessment on the website of the SVB

Where to take out Dutch healthcare insurance?

Although the coverage of basic healthcare insurance is determined by the government, healthcare insurance is privatized. You can freely choose your health insurer. Nevertheless, it is important to compare different insurances. Premiums, conditions and coverage of supplementary insurance can differ.

You can easily compare up to 25 different health insurances in English on our page top 5 student health insurances.

Furthermore, you can find a complete list of health insurers on our page healthcare insurers. If your income is low, the Dutch government offers support through the healthcare benefit or healthcare allowance.

I already have health insurance

As a foreign student living in the Netherlands, you may already have taken out health insurance in your home country. However, in some situations it may still be possible for you to receive a CAK letter. This could be the case even if you have already taken out health insurance. In this situation, one of the following scenarios may apply:

  • You have started working in the Netherlands and are only insured with your home country’s health insurance. When starting a job in the Netherlands, you are obliged to take out Dutch health insurance.
  • You have started a paid internship and are paid the minimum wage or are receiving expenses. In this situation, you are also obliged to take out Dutch health insurance, even if you are already insured with your home country’s insurance.
  • You have already taken out Dutch health insurance. In this case, you may not be registered properly in the RBVZ (Referentiebestand Verzekerden Zorgverzekeringswet) and need to contact your health insurer.

Types of Dutch healthcare insurance

Dutch healthcare insurance consists of compulsory basic healthcare insurance and optional supplementary health insurance packages. The coverage of the basic package is determined by the Dutch government and is subject to change each year. Although basic health insurance coverage is equal and accessible for everyone, insurers can offer different policies for different conditions. You can distinguish:

  • Naturapolis (limited choice policy): this policy offers a lower premium; however, for full coverage of planned healthcare costs, you’ll need to be treated by a contracted healthcare provider. If the healthcare provider doesn’t have a contract with your insurance company, a lower percentage of the costs (around 60%-80%) will be covered. Furthermore, the bill will be directly sent to your healthcare insurer. You won’t have to pay the healthcare costs in advance.
  • Restitutiepolis (100% free choice policy): the ‘restitution’ policy gives you complete freedom in choosing your healthcare providers for planned care. For full coverage, it is not necessary that your healthcare provider has a contract with your insurer. Take into account that you’ll need to pay the bill in advance. After declaration, you’ll be reimbursed the full amount of the invoice by your health insurer.
  • Combination policy: some health insurance companies offer policies that are a combination of the before mentioned ‘naturapolis’ and ‘restitutiepolis’.

What coverage does public basic healthcare insurance offer? And do I qualify for a healthcare allowance? You’ll find all the information you need on our page Dutch basic healthcare insurance.

Supplementary Dutch healthcare insurance

Contrary to Dutch basic healthcare insurance, supplementary healthcare insurances are optional. Depending on your healthcare needs, you might be interested in taking out supplementary health insurance. For example, the following types of healthcare are not (fully) included in your basic healthcare insurance package:

  • Dental care (except children under the age of 18 years old)
  • Physiotherapy
  • Contraception
  • Alternative medicine & care
  • Glasses and lenses
  • Vaccinations
  • Orthodontics
  • Skin therapies
  • Medical care abroad above the Dutch rates

If you seek coverage for one or more of these types of healthcare, you’ll need to compare and take out supplementary healthcare insurance that best fits your needs. You can read more information on our page about supplementary health insurance.

Dutch healthcare system

How is the Dutch healthcare system structured, and how do you know to which healthcare professional you have to go? We will help you get familiar with the Dutch healthcare system. The foundations are laid by four healthcare acts: the Health Insurance Act, the Social Support Act, the Long-Term Care Act and the Youth Act.

The biggest part of the budget goes to the Health Insurance Act, which provides all short-term medical care. For example, hospital care, general practitioner, mental healthcare and medicines. The Social Support Act aims to help people live independently and make them participate in society as long as they can. The Long-Term act is for vulnerable (elderly) people or chronic illnesses/disabilities that need high-level care. The Youth Act aims to decrease the number of children in specialized healthcare.

How can I access different types of healthcare?

First of all, you’ll need to register with your municipality to obtain your social security number (BSN number). With this number, you can take out Dutch healthcare insurance (zorgverzekering) using our comparison tool. Next up, you can:

  • Register with a local general practitioner: these doctors are called ‘huisarts’ in the Netherlands. You can directly phone them to see if you can register with the GP office of your preference. Use for an overview of GP’s near you. The GP is your first point of contact for mental healthcare issues or non-urgent medical care. Phone them explaining your complaints and make an appointment. Most GPs speak English and will prescribe all necessary medicines for treatment.
  • Register with a local pharmacy: also called ‘apotheek’ in the Netherlands. This is necessary to be able to pick up prescribed medication. Just like your GP, it’s convenient to register with a pharmacy nearby. You can use the same search tool on
  • Urgent healthcare: for urgent medical care that isn’t directly life-threatening you can phone your general practitioner or immediately go to the ER (emergency room) of the hospital. During the phone call to your GP, you will get the option to mark ‘urgent healthcare’ (also called: spoedgeval). If you are in need of urgent care outside of the regular working hours, you’ll need to call a ‘huisartsenpost (urgent care centre).
  • Non-urgent hospital care: in this case a referral from your GP is necessary. For example, if you need to visit a medical specialist. The majority of Dutch hospitals & clinics are privately owned. To make sure the full treatment is covered check your policy terms at your insurance company (zorgverzekeraar). Sometimes there are waiting lists, fortunately, your own general practitioner or insurance company can help you out in the search for a hospital with a smaller waiting list.
  • Emergencies: first of all, call the national emergency number 112. This phone number is created to communicate life-threatening emergency situations, such as accidents, heart attacks, violence and crime or other situations that directly need medical attention.
  • Other types of healthcare: if you need to visit your physiotherapist or dietician you don’t need to be referred to them by your GP. Also, for all healthcare covered by your supplemental or additional healthcare insurance, a referral isn’t necessary. Examples are healthcare at your dentist, orthodontics, alternative healthcare or podotherapy. These healthcare professionals can be contacted directly for an appointment.

European Health Insurance Card (EHIC)

The European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) is an insurance card valid in member states of the European Union, Iceland, Norway, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and Liechtenstein. The EHIC is issued by your health insurer. If you have taken out Dutch healthcare insurance and plan to travel through Europe, the EHIC is your proof of insurance in case you need urgent medical care. Please note: your EHIC is not an alternative for travel insurance.

You can find more information on the website of the European Commission

Deductible excess & personal contribution

The Dutch healthcare system distinguishes the compulsory deductible excess (‘eigen risico’) and voluntary deductible excess (‘vrijwillig eigen risico’). The compulsory deductible excess (€385,- a year in 2024) is the amount of healthcare costs that first need to be paid by the insurance policyholder before full coverage comes into effect. Not all healthcare is subject to the deductible excess, such as visits and treatment from your General Practitioner, maternity care, healthcare for children under the age of 18 years old and healthcare from supplementary health insurance.

Voluntary deductible excess

If you expect little healthcare costs, you can opt for a higher voluntary deductible excess. You can raise the amount by €100,-  each time to a maximum of €500,-. This will result in a maximum voluntary deductible excess of €885,- (2024). A higher deductible excess will result in a lower monthly premium. You can save up to €20,- a month. However, if you need hospital care or medicines the first €885,- is at your own expense.

Read more information on our page deductible excess

Personal contribution

Some types of healthcare costs and medicines also require payment of a personal contribution established by the government, apart from the deductible excess. This is called the ‘eigen bijdrage’. For example for contact lenses, glasses, maternity care, patient transport (not by ambulance) and certain medicines.

The personal contribution, contrary to the deductible excess, has to be paid every time you buy medicine for example. For medication, there is a maximum personal contribution of €250,- a year. On you can see if the medicines you need are subject to the personal contribution.

Other important Dutch insurances

Apart from healthcare insurance, there are several other important insurances in the Netherlands that might be necessary wise to take out based on your personal situation. Although these insurances are not compulsory, they are worth looking into.

Home insurance

You’re probably renting an apartment, room or house in the Netherlands. All your valuable belongings in your house can be insured with home contents insurance (‘inboedelverzekering’) for damages such as theft, leakage or fire.

Read more and take out a home insurance

Liability insurance

As a student you’re constantly on the move. There is a Dutch saying that goes ‘an accident is in a small corner’, which means that little accidents can have large consequences. If you accidentally damage another person or their belongings you become responsible for paying damages. Liability insurance (‘aansprakelijkheidsverzekering’) covers those damages.

Read more information regarding liability insurance

Travel insurance

Are you planning to travel through Europe? Or another destination on a different continent? You’ll need travel insurance to protect your valuable luggage and receive emergency care and treatment above Dutch rates.

You can find more information on our page about travel insurance

Mobile insurance

If you carry valuable objects with you outside your house very often, such as a laptop, smartphone, tablet or musical instrument, the home insurance does not offer coverage. If you want to insure these valuable belongings sufficiently, you’ll need to take out student mobile insurance.

Read all about the student mobile insurance

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