Employing foreign personnel

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Netherlands Enterprise Agency, RVO
Netherlands Enterprise Agency, RVO

Do you want to hire foreign staff to come and work for you in the Netherlands? Then you are the sponsor (referent). You have to check if you need to apply for the visa or work permit.

Recruiting within the EEA and Switzerland

You must recruit first of all within the Netherlands, the rest of the EU, the European Economic Area (EEA), and Switzerland. If you cannot find any suitable employees here, you can recruit in other countries. You must be able prove to the Employee Insurance Agency (Uitvoeringsinstituut Werknemersverzekeringen, UWV) that you did search within the EEA and Switzerland first.

Proof of identity and citizen service number for foreign employees

You can only employ someone who is allowed to work in the Netherlands. When you hire foreign employees or employ them through a contractor or subcontractor, you have to check their identity. You must also ensure that your records include a photocopy of their proof of identity, which you must keep for 5 years after the person stops working for you. Foreign employees who are required to pay tax in the Netherlands must have a citizen service number (burgerservicenummer, BSN).

Establishing identity on request

If the Netherlands Labour Authority (Ministry of Social Affairs and Employment) asks you to establish the identity of one of your employees, you must send them a copy of their identity document within 48 hours.

When do you apply for a work permit?

Employees from EU countries, from EEA countries, or from Switzerland do not need a work permit. However, they must have a valid passport or identity card.

Employees from outside the EU and the EEA usually require either:

It depends on the duration of their stay which permit you need to apply for.

For essential personnel for start-ups you can apply for a residence permit under the scheme for essential personnel for start-ups.

Please note: refugees from Ukraine can work in the Netherlands without a work permit under the Temporary Protection Directive. You must notify UWV 2 days in advance (in Dutch). Refugees from Ukraine must have a sticker or O-document as proof of residency in the Netherlands from IND to be eligible for this work permit exemption. This exemption does not apply to persons with a temporary residence permit for Ukraine.

When do you not need to apply for a work permit?

In some cases, you do need to apply for a work permit for your foreign employee (in Dutch). There are a number of exceptions, among others:

  • independent entrepreneurs
  • employees who work in the Netherlands occasionally
  • intra corporate transferees
  • employees you hire through an intermediary

Self-employed professionals and freelancers

If you work with self-employed professionals or freelancers from abroad, you must check whether they are permitted to live in the Netherlands and be self-employed. This is stated in their residence permit or passport. You usually only need a work permit for self-employed professionals from outside the EU and the EEA.

You can use this checklist to quickly determine which rules and regulations you must follow when hiring a self-employed professional or freelancer.

Hiring foreign personnel through an intermediary

If you hire personnel from outside the EU and the EEA via an intermediary (e.g. temporary employment agency, contracting firm, or subcontractor), the intermediary must request the work permit. You are responsible for ensuring that they have a work permit.

International trade arrangement

Do you own an international business? And do you want to temporarily employ foreign workers in the Netherlands? You can make use of the arrangement under the International Trade Regulation (Regeling Internationaal Handelsverkeer). Under this arrangement you do not need to apply for a work permit. Note that the work must be temporary and the work cannot be performed by Dutch employees. Also, UWV must approve the arrangement. The foreign worker may need a visa, depending on their nationality, or a residence permit if they stay for longer than 3 months.

Notifying temporary foreign personnel (posted workers)

A duty to notify posted workers is in place for employers from the EEA and Switzerland. When posting workers to the Netherlands, they must notify this via the Dutch online counter. This also applies to self-employed professionals in certain sectors who will be working temporarily in the Netherlands. As the client you should make sure the posted workers have been notified correctly.

The Netherlands Labour Authority (NLA) monitors if the terms of employment for these workers are in accordance with the Terms of Employment Posted Workers in the EU Act (Wet arbeidsvoorwaarden gedetacheerde werknemers, WagwEU, in Dutch).

Comparing foreign applicants

If you wish to compare foreign applicants, you could decide to make use of Europass. Europass is a European Commission initiative for improving international mobility with regard to working and studying. It is available in all European languages.

Recognition as sponsor

If you bring employees from outside the EU, the EEA, and Switzerland to the Netherlands for longer than 3 months, you can have yourself recognised as sponsor. To bring highly skilled migrants or scientific researchers into the country, you must be a recognised sponsor, unless they apply for a European blue card. If it concerns employees for regular paid work or seasonal employment, recognition is voluntary.

Requirements for hazardous tasks

Is a foreign employee working for you on a hazardous task (regulated profession), such as the removal of asbestos or the operation of a crane? They may need to meet additional requirements.

Language requirement

In order to ensure that work is carried out safely and accidents are prevented, that person must have an adequate command of the Dutch language. This also applies to temporary foreign employees who conduct hazardous tasks.

Foregn certificates

Does you employee have a professional certificate from another country? They must make sure to have their diploma or certificate(s) recognised in the Netherlands.

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