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You do not require a separate diploma or permit in order to establish a business in the Netherlands. However, you are only allowed to practise certain professions if you meet specific requirements. There are regulated professions and professions that are subject to certain professional competence requirements.
Regulated professions in the Netherlands
A regulated profession is one where access to or practice of a profession is restricted to those who meet the professional qualifications required by law. In the European Union's Regulated Professions Database you can find the list of the regulated professions in the Netherlands, with a reference to the related organisation.
Recognition foreign diplomas and professions
European agreements with regard to the mutual recognition of diplomas provide access to regulated professions in other Member States. 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 can also have your foreign credentials evaluated by IDW (International Credential Evaluation).
European Professional Card
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, which is an electronic certificate that works via the Internal Market Information System (IMI), simplifies the procedure for getting your professional qualifications recognised in another EU country.
European Regulated professions database
Check the EU Regulated professions database to find out which professions are regulated in which Member States. The database also contains information about the professions and statistic data on cross-border activities regarding regulated professions with an interactive map.
Professions subject to professional competence requirements
In addition to the regulated professions, there are professions that are subject to professional competence requirements. Some of these are:
You may only employ qualified childcare personnel (Childcare Provisions and Playgroup Quality Requirements Act, Wet kinderopvang en kwaliteitseisen peuterspeelzalen). Personnel with foreign qualifications must have them recognised by DUO. Professional qualifications differ depending on the type of work. To some, training requirements apply (e.g. educational assistants), to others minimum work and training levels apply. The required professional qualifications are included in the Childcare Collective Labour Agreement (in Dutch). If you offer out-of-school care in the German, English or French language, the responsible staff need to have a certificate or diploma that proves their ability to speak the particular language. If you or your staff have a diploma that is not on the list, the FCB Foundation (in Dutch) can assess whether it meets the requirements. By 1 Janaury 2023, childcare professionals must also have a certificate or diploma proving they have oral languages skills in Dutch at 3F of B2 level.
There are no training requirements in place for the owner of a childminding agency. Childminders and supporting staff must have sufficient educational knowledge and skills. The required training level will also be included in the Childcare Collective Labour Agreement (in Dutch). Please note: A childminding agency owner cannot work as a childminder in their own agency. Nor can they make use of the services of their agency as a parent. They may, however, work as part of the supporting staff within their own agency.
Security guards in the hotel and catering sector - who protect people and property on the door of, or inside hotels and catering establishments - are covered by the Private Security Organisations and Detective Agencies Act (Wet particuliere beveiligingsorganisaties en recherchebureaus, Wpbr). This Act specifies requirements for security guards in this sector: they must hold the SVH Hotel and Catering Security Guard Diploma (diploma Horecaportier, in Dutch), be screened by the police and have the legally prescribed 'blue proof of identity'. Entrepreneurs in this sector who employ security guards themselves, must have a licence to run a (hotel and catering) company security service. If you hire security guards from a third party, they must have this licence.
Security organisations may only employ security guards who have passed the Security Guard (Beveiliger) diploma. Private investigators must have the Private Investigator (Particulier onderzoeker) diploma. The SVPB Foundation administers the examinations for these qualifications. For information about training courses, contact Explain which provides training for security personnel. Please also check Platformbeveiliging.nl (in Dutch) for additional information. If you have earned your vocational qualifications in another EU Member State, you can submit a request (in Dutch) to have them recognised (Justis, Ministry of Justice and Security). After recognition, you are exempt from further Dutch training requirements.
You must take a one-off examination to obtain the basic professional competence qualification if you want to work as a bus or lorry driver in the Netherlands. If you pass, this professional qualification (called Code 95) will be registered on your driving licence. In some very specific cases you are exempt from this requirement. Please contact the Human Environment and Transport Inspectorate (ILT) for information about these exemptions. You must also attend at least 35 hours of refresher training every 5 years, which is provided by the Central Office for Motor Vehicle Driver Testing (Centraal Bureau Rijvaardigheidsbewijzen, CBR, in Dutch).
Minimum age bus drivers
Bus drivers must be at least 18 years of age. When they are 18 or 19 years old, they are allowed drive on a regular service where the route does not exceed 50 kilometers. However, strict conditions apply. Bus drivers of 20 years and over may work longer routes within the Netherlands.
The crew of a seagoing (fishing) vessel must meet the national and international requirements, such as the STCW convention (Standards on Training, Certification and Watchkeeping), which has been implemented in the Seafarers' Act (Wet Zeevarenden) and the underlying regulations. The crew must possess certain personal documents, such as a seaman's book and a certificate of competency stating the job to be carried out. For more information, contact the Human Environment and Transport Inspectorate (ILT).
In the Netherlands the professional title of architect, urban designer, landscape architect and interior architect is protected by the Architects Title Act of 1987. Only those who are registered in the Architects Register are entitled to use one of these titles. The Architects' Registration Office (Stichting Bureau Architectenregister, SBA) in The Hague is the authority established by the Act to maintain the Register.
In order to register, you must be in possession of one of the diplomas mentioned in the Architects' Title Act. Most diplomas from the EU Member States, Norway, Switzerland and Liechtenstein are automatically recognised. Other foreign diplomas should be submitted to the Architects' Registration Office (SBA) with a request for official recognition. You can apply for registration online on the SBA's website.
Extra training and refresher courses for structural architects
The Architects Title Act stipulates that structural architects must complete 16 hours of extra or refresher training every year. You must keep a record of these activities and be able to make the record available to customers or potential customers. SBA can provide you with more details.
The diploma obligation (Act on Financial Supervision, Wft) applies to employees who provide clients with advice on financial products. This advice could cover products such as mortgages and life insurance, for example. It involves advice when the employee recommends a certain product explicitly. The recommended product does not actually have to be accepted, per se. In addition to the consultants, all other employees who deal with clients must also meet professional competence requirements. They must be up-to-date with current developments in their field. You may freely decide how to interpret this.
Bailiffs must comply with rules of professional conduct, recorded in the by-law concerning Rules of Professional Conduct (Verordening beroeps- en gedragsregels). They are not allowed, for example, to provide confidential information to others, nor are they allowed to incur unnecessary costs. Appointed apprentice bailiffs or bailiffs must follow ongoing education to be able to conduct the profession properly. The Royal Professional Association of Judicial Officers (Koninklijke Beroepsorganisatie van Gerechtsdeurwaarders, KBvG) may impose certain mandatory educational requirements. The rules on life-long learning are specified in the Regulations on Promoting Competence (Verordening bevordering vakbekwaamheid) by KBvG.
If you work in individual health care in the Netherlands, you must comply with the Individual Health Care Professions Act (Wet op de Beroepen in de Individuele Gezondheidszorg, BIG). It contains rules on training requirements, registration, areas of expertise and the use of a title. You must be registered with the BIG register, if you practice the following professions: doctor, dentist, pharmacist, nurse (not for general care), obstetrician, physiotherapist, healthcare psychologist, psychotherapist. The Act also lays down conditions for certain medical interventions such as injections or anaesthetics, that may only be performed by qualified specialists (voorbehouden handelingen). Radiation physicians must register with the Authority for Nuclear Safety and Radiation Protection. Veterinary surgeons must contact the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport.
Additional registrations for medical specialists
As well as your entry in the BIG register, for certain specialist areas of medicine you will also need to register with the Royal Dutch Medical Association (Koninklijke Nederlandsche Maatschappij tot bevordering der Geneeskunst, KNMG).
Additional registrations for nursing specialists
If you want to use the title 'nursing specialist' (verpleegkundig specialist), you must be registered in the register of nursing specialists kept by the Nursing Specialties Registration Commission (Registratiecommissie Specialismen Verpleegkunde, RSV).
If you would like to work as an optometrist or use the title 'optometrist', you will require a higher professional education (HBO) diploma in optometry. This requirement is laid down in the Professional Training and Expertise (Optometrists) Decree (Besluit opleidingseisen en deskundigheidsgebied optometrist). The diploma normally takes four years to complete, but certified opticians can follow a fast-track programme. Please contact the Dutch Optometrists Association for more information.
If you want to become a driving instructor, you must follow a driving course and take an exam at the Innovam Branch Qualification Institute (Innovam Branchekwalificatie-instituut, IBKI). If you pass the exam, you will receive a certificate under the 1993 Driving Instruction Motor Vehicle Act, (Wet rijonderricht motorvoertuigen 1993, WRM), a so-called a WRM certificate. After obtaining the WRM certificate (competence pass) you must follow extra training. These requirements do not apply if you teach students who already have a driving licence. On the basis of the name and date of birth of a driving instructor, the IBKI can offer information about the date of issue and validity of WRM certificates.
If you are teacher and you want to work in the Netherlands, you must apply to the Diploma recognition and Legalisation desk of the Education Consolidation Department (DUO) for your foreign qualifications to be recognised. If you work in primary, secondary, special needs, vocational or adult education and you are a teacher from another EU country, the European Economic Area (EEA) or Switzerland, you should use the applicaion form for Recognition or temporary service of EU professional teaching qualifications (pdf). Teachers in the same educational sectors from non-EU countries need to fill in the application form for Recognition of non EU professional teaching qualifications (pdf). If you work as an instructor at senior secondary vocational education (MBO) institutes, you should fill in the applicaiton form for Recognition or temporary service of EU professional qualifications instructor secondary vocational education (pdf).
If you work in the cultural sector, for example as an government or municiple archivist, and you want to work in the Netherlands, you must apply to the Diploma recognition and Legalisation desk of the Education Consolidation Department (DUO) for your foreign qualifications to be recognised. Fill in the application form for Recognition of temporary service of EU professional qualifications in cultural jobs (pdf, in Dutch).
In order to practise a regulated profession with a vocational education diploma (midddelbaar beroepsonderswijs or mbo), you have to have completed an internship. Students can apply for an internship online via Stagemarkt. Companies which offer internships and educational institutions whose students follow internships can contact the Cooperation Organisation for Vocational Education, Training and Labour Market (SBB).