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You do not require a separate diploma or permit in order to work in the Netherlands or to establish a business in the Netherlands. However, you are only allowed to practise certain professions if you meet specific requirements. These are regulated professions. If you do not have a regulated profession, you do need to meet these requirements.
Regulated professions in the Netherlands
A regulated profession is a profession where access to or practice of a profession is restricted to those who meet the professional qualifications required by law. You must prove that you have the right education and professional experience to practise this profession. You must:
- have a diploma
- take certain exams and/or
- register with a professional association
Do you have a regulated profession?
In the European Union's Regulated Professions Database you can find the list of the regulated professions for all European Union (EU) member states plus Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland. In this database you choose the country where you qualified, the country you want to start working in (the Netherlands) and then type the name of your profession. If your profession is in this database, you have a regulated profession. If your profession is not in the database, you do not have a regulated profession.
You do not have a regulated profession
If your profession is not in the database for regulated professions, you can practice your profession in the Netherlands. You do not need to ask permission or have your professional qualifications recognised. You can have your foreign diploma or certificate evaluated by the Information centre for credential evaluation (IDW) but this is not required.
You have a regulated profession
You want to settle permanently in the Netherlands
If your profession is in this database and you want to establish permanent residence in the Netherlands, then you must have your qualifications recognised to practise your profession in the Netherlands.
You want to work temporarily or occasionally in the Netherlands
If you want to work in the Netherlands temporarily or occasionally, you do not have to apply for recognition of your qualifications, but you must inform the relevant competent authority. You can find the contact details of the competent authority for your profession in the database if you click on the tab 'competent authorities' on the page for your profession.
Please note: If you want to work temporarily or occasionally in the Netherlands and your profession occurs in this list of 52 regulated professions (in Dutch) you do need to have your qualifications recognised. These 52 regulated professions impact public health or public order.
You have a certificate from a non-EU country
If you have a diploma or certificate from another country than one of the 28 EU countries, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway or Switzerland you need to have it recognised. You must also apply for a certificate of professional competence. You can apply for one with the competent authority for your profession. You can find the competent authority in the EU’s database. Click on your profession and consult the tab 'competent authorities' to find the contact details.
Recognition of foreign diplomas and professions
You apply for recognition of your professional qualifications with the competent authority for your profession. You can find the contact details of the authority for your profession in the database if you click on the tab 'competent authorities' on the page for your profession. This competent authority for your profession will tell you which requirements you have to fulfil, how the procedure works and which documents you need. If the information is not clear, Nuffic can help you. Nuffic's National Contact Point can inform you about the status of your national diploma in the Netherlands and possible access to a Dutch regulated profession. Nuffic is the Netherlands Organization for International Cooperation in Higher Education.
You qualify for automatic recognition if you have one of these professions:
- general care nurse
- dental practitioner
- veterinary surgeon (in Dutch)
Apply for recognition in another EU country
If you are an EU citizen, you can apply for a European Professional Card (EPC) from the EU. This provides recognition for the following regulated professions:
- nurse, responsible for general care
- real estate agent
- mountain guide
You can apply for the European Professional Card online. This card simplifies the procedure for getting your professional qualifications recognised in another EU country. Costs related to the application for an EPC depend on, among others, home country, host country and profession.
You do not obtain recognition
If the competent authority does not grant you recognition of your professional qualifications, you can object within 6 weeks. You object by writing a letter (notice of objection) to the competent authority stating why you do not agree with their decision. This notice of objection must also state your name, address and signature. The competent authority will then reassess your application. If you do not agree with this decision you can appeal to the court.
Regulated education and training in the Netherlands
In the Netherlands, for certain professions there are regulated education or training programmes. These are secondary vocational education and training, level 3 and 4 (mbo-niveau 3 en 4), that are recognised by the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science. If you have completed a regulated study programme on mbo-qualification level 3 or 4 you should be treated the same as someone who has qualified for a regulated profession. You need a diploma of preparatory secondary vocational education (vmbo) of the (4-year) theoretical, mixed or advanced vocational pathway, to enter study programmes on mbo-qualification levels 3 and 4.
You can view and download the list of these regulated study programmes (pdf, in Dutch). Did you finish your regulated education in the Netherlands and do you want to work in another EU member state or vice versa? You should get recognition by the recognition body in the country you (want to) work in. This applies even if you don’t have a regulated profession. The competent authority may require you to take an aptitude test or complete an adaptation period.
The Europass certificate supplement (CS) states whether or not your profession or education is regulated. You can download a certificate supplement on the Foundation for Cooperation on Vocational Education, Training and Labour Market’s (SBB) website. These certificate supplements are available in Dutch, English and German.
If you are unsure about the status of your education or training, you can apply to SBB (in Dutch) for a so-called AC declaration. The declaration states if the profession or the education/training is regulated and in which professions you are allowed to work in the Netherlands.