moving to netherlands

Moving To The Netherlands From UK | What You Need To Know

The benefits of living and working in the Netherlands are endless. Not only is it ranked as one of the top 20 safest countries in the world, but it is also renowned for its quality healthcare and public transit system.

If you are a British national and were living in the Netherlands before 1 January 2021, you may continue to live and work here. However, you will need to apply for a residence permit. You have until 1 October 2021 to do so.

If you’re thinking of moving to the Netherlands for the first time, there are some changes to visa and residence requirements after Brexit. That’s why we’ve created this helpful guide to moving to the Netherlands. In it we cover things like visas, cost of living, healthcare, education and more. 

Moving To The Netherlands From UK: Residence permit 

Like any country, you need to apply for a residence permit if you’re thinking of moving here for the long term (more than 90 days). You can apply for a residence permit for the following purposes: 

  • Residence with your partner
  • Study
  • Work
  • Dutch citizenship 

How you apply for a residence permit depends on whether or not you will also need an Authorisation for Temporary Stay (MVV). You can apply for both at the Dutch embassy in the UK.

Citizen service number (BSN)

Everyone living in the Netherlands must have a citizen service number, or BSN (burgerservicenummer). You must register with your local municipality (gemeente) to obtain your BSN. You must apply within 5 days of arriving in the Netherlands. Your local gemeente’s website provides information on how to book an appointment and what documentation you will need.

Think of this number as your ID. You will need it to do things like open a bank account, sign a rental agreement, enrol in school, arrange health insurance, see a doctor, or open a mobile phone account. You can find details for all 388 local municipalities in the Netherlands here

Registering in the Personal Records Database

Every resident of the Netherlands must be registered in the Personal Records Database, referred to as the BRP (Basisregistratie Personen). You may request this at the same time you apply for your BSN.


The basic Dutch health insurance (basis verzekering) covers general medical care. This includes visits to a local GP and general hospital care. Every person living in the Netherlands is legally obliged to take out standard health insurance. This needs to be done within 4 months of your arrival. Not all healthcare is covered by the standard package, so you may also opt to take out additional insurance. 

Moving To The Netherlands From UK for Work

If you want to work in the Netherlands you will have to apply for a residence permit and you may also need to apply for a work permit (TWV). There are various residence permits for working in the Netherlands. Permits differ based on the type of job you are looking for. Some include: 

  • Intra Corporate Transferees
  • Highly skilled migrant
  • European blue card
  • Researcher within the meaning of Directive (EU)
  • Essential start-up personnel (pilot)
  • Work in paid employment: This is the standard residence permit for working in the Netherlands. Several permits exist for work in paid employment with specific rules.
  • Work experience as a trainee or apprentice
  • Cross-border service provider 

To apply for a job you may also need to provide a:

  • UK police certificate or Certificate of Conduct
  • International Child Protection Certificate (ICPC)

Driving in the Netherlands

You need to exchange your UK licence at your local council (gemeente). The rules on exchanging your licence depend on when you became resident in the Netherlands. You do not need to take a test to exchange your driving licence but you may need to provide a certificate of health. This may involve having a medical examination. For more information, head over to the official government website on UK license holders in the Netherlands.

Insider tip: in the Netherlands, driving is done on the right hand side of the road, so it’s worth it to take your first few drives on less complicated roads (avoid roundabouts). 

Cost of living

The average cost of living in the Netherlands is on average 4% less expensive than in the United Kingdom. Below is a quick overview of what you can expect to spend.


Rent in the Netherlands is pretty high. In general, people renting a home pay at least half of their monthly salary on rent. Around 40% of Dutch people rent their homes.

You can generally find five types of accommodation on the Dutch rental market. These are:

  • detached houses (vrijstaand)
  • semi-detached houses (twee onder een kap)
  • terraced houses/townhouses (rijtjeshuis)
  • apartments (appartement) – one, two, or three bedrooms
  • houseboat (woonboot) – not so common, but sometimes you’ll find these available for rent

Another type of basic accommodation is available through anti-squatting networks. These are buildings that are rented out for cheap to keep them occupied. Buildings are usually divided into rooms and rented out for minimal costs. The downside is that tenants have fewer rights and sometimes have to move out with very short notice.

Insider tip: you can save a lot of money by choosing a place outside of the city centre. More expensive cities include Amsterdam and The Hague. Less expensive cities include Eindhoven, Brenda, Groningen, and Tilburg. 


Expect to spend more on utility bills here. The Netherlands has one of the highest electricity costs in the world, at about €0.25 per kWh. Expect to pay €120–€200 per month. 


The Netherlands has a very accessible healthcare system that provides high-quality care and wide availability of English-speaking doctors. A standard healthcare package costs around €80–€130 per month, with additional deductibles.

Eating and Drinking 

The prices for eating and drinking out (a large part of Dutch culture) are in line with typical European prices. 20 euros will get you a nice meal at a mid-range restaurant. A three course meal with wine in a high-end restaurant will cost around 60 euros. 


While for Dutch-born children the schools are mostly free, international or expat students do have to pay. Tuition costs at international schools depend on the institution, with fees ranging from €5,000 to €22,000 euros annually for primary education, and from €8,000 to €23,000 euros per year for secondary education. Most private primary international schools in the Netherlands follow a standard American, British, or European educational program.

For higher education, there is no shortage of world-renowned universities in the Netherlands that offer English education. Not only that, because universities in the Netherlands are publicly-funded, fees are typically lower than in the UK. Well established universities include: Leiden University, Wageningen University and Research Center, Erasmus University Rotterdam, UvA University of AmsterdamUniversity and Research Center, and Utrecht University.

Visa requirements for students that want to study in the Netherlands are different for students depending on their citizenship.


Cycling is the preferred form of transportation in the Netherlands. There’s also public transportation including trams, trains, buses, and metro. 

Amsterdam Schiphol Airport is the country’s main international airport. It is Europe’s fifth busiest airport. Other airports include Teuge International Airport (EHTE), Nieuwe directeur Teuge International Airport, Lelystad Airport, Rotterdam The Hague Airport, and Johan Adolf Pengel International Airport. 

Best cities to live in the Netherlands

While Amsterdam often gets most of the attention, there are so many beautiful cities in the Netherlands. Below is a brief overview of our top picks.  

  • Amsterdam – with over one million inhabitants, this beautiful city attracts people from all over. In terms of citizenship, it is considered on of the most diverse cities in the world
  • Rotterdam – this port city, second in population only to Amsterdam, is bursting with history, culture, and international community
  • The Hague – a hub for Dutch politics and law, this city has some of the best attractions and restaurants the Netherlands has to offer
  • Utrecht – has a small university town feel despite having the fourth largest city population in the country
  • Eindhoven – historically known as an industrial city, in recent years Eindhoven has built a reputation for being a city of cultural innovation
  • Groningen – a lively cultural scene and home to its own university and airport (Groningen Airport Eelde) 
  • Almere – considered more of a suburb of Amsterdam, many choose to settle here and commute to Amsterdam for work
  • Breda – a more conservative city, full of classic architecture
  • Nijmegen – One of the oldest cities, full of historical attractions

Moving to The Netherlands from UK with a removals companies 

If you’re looking to move to the Netherlands, our  Removals to Netherlands can help. We specialise in European house moves post Brexit. Backed by South London Movers, London’s finest removals company, we offer tailor-made solutions to customers who wish to relocate to or from Europe. Contact our team of professionals today. 

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