By Bieneke - updated on June 29, 2008
If you are planning to stay in Holland for a period of up to three months, you do not need to apply for a residence permit, but you may need a short stay visa.
If you wish to stay for a period longer than three months, you have to apply for a residence permit in the municipality where you plan to live. However, not everyone can simply visit the city hall and apply for a residence permit. Most people need to obtain a permission to apply before they come to the Netherlands. This permission comes in the form of a special type of visa, the so-called MVV.
To apply for a residence permit, most nationals must be in the possession of a special type of visa, an MVV. This is short for Machtiging voor Voorlopig Verblijf (authorisation for a temporary stay). This visa allows you to visit the Netherlands with the express purpose to apply for a residence permit. Without this visa, your application will automatically be rejected.
Who needs an MVV?
Most nationals will need to show an MVV when they apply for a residence permit. Persons who do not need an MVV:
- EU1, EEA2, and Swiss nationals
- Citizens of Australia, Japan, New Zealand, South Korea, and the United States
If you are an EU national, you can download the IND brochure IND registration for EU citizens for more information.
How to apply for an MVV
To apply for an MVV, you have to visit the Dutch embassy or consulate in your country of residence.
Before you apply, assess the chances that you will be granted an MVV, because it is a costly procedure: The application fee is € 830. The fees are lower for students (€ 250 - 433), highly skilled immigrants (€ 250), and self-employed people (€ 433). Next to these fees, you will also have to pay the fee for the civic integration exam (€ 350) and your residence permit (between € 188 and € 331). Download the IND brochure Residence in the Netherlands to see which fee applies to your situation.
For many immigrants, the total procedure will cost well over € 1450. Take this into consideration before you start the procedure.
To estimate your chances, request an advice from the Dutch Immigration Authority, IND. They will assess your chances for free and give you a negative or positive advice within three months.
Civic integraton exam
As part of the application procedure, you will have to pass a civic integration exam to proof that you have sufficient knowledge of Dutch language and society. The exam takes place at the Dutch embassy, where you will be answering questions over the phone. The 'person' you will be talking to is in fact a computer, which will automatically assess your answers. You can find more information about the civic integration exam abroad on www.naarnederland.nl. See also our forum NT2-examen & inburgering.
For the exam, you have to pay a fee of € 350 (on top of the MVV application fee).
Apart from a valid passport, there are other documents you need to submit. Which documents exactly depends on the purpose of your stay in the Netherlands: This can be marriage, family reunification, work, study, et cetera. Check the Residence Wizard of the IND to read more about your specific situation. Most documents, such as birth cerfiticates or marriage certificates, need to be translated and legalized by the authorities who issued the original documents.
The MVV application is sent to the Dutch Immigration Authority (IND), who should deny or grant you the MVV within three months. As part of the procedure, the IND will contact your 'referent' (family member, employer, university) in the Netherlands to obtain additional information.
If you are granted an MVV, you will receive a sticker in your passport at the Dutch embassy, which allows you to travel to the Netherlands and apply for a residence permit. Note that an MVV does not guarantee a positive decision on your application for a residence permit.
Arriving in the Netherlands
When you arrive in the Netherlands, you have to visit the foreigners police within three days. Except for EU, EER and Swiss nationals, everyone is obliged to do this. Even tourists. Of course, you are not likely to find a backbacker at the foreigners desk and the local police is probably only too happy that this rule is not given too much attention.
Registering at the municipal administration (GBA)
The next step is a visit to the city hall of the municipality where you are planning to reside. Bring your valid passport, a photograph, and your MVV (if you needed one to be eligible to apply for the residence permit), and a (legalized copy of) your birth certificate. Upon submitting these documents, you will be registered in the municipal administration (the Gemeentelijke Basisadministratie or GBA).
Applying for a residence permit at the IND
Once you are registered at the city hall, you have to make an appointment with the regional Immigration Authority office to apply for your residence permit. You can find the contact details of the IND on the bottom of this page.
Before you visit the IND, you will be sent documentation and forms that you need for your application. Which documents you need to bring, depends on the reason of your stay. This can be, for example, a marriage certificate or a work contract.
The IND has six months to decide over your case sometimes, it takes longer. If your application is rejected, you can file an appeal. See Chapter 7 of the IND brochure "Residence in the Netherlands for more information about this procedure.
The application fee is € 188 for a temporary residence permit and € 201 for a permanent residence permit, regardless of whether you are granted the residence permit or not.
If your application is approved, you will be granted a residence permit with a validity of up to one year. Three months before your residence permit expires, you will be sent an application form to extend your permit (fee: € 188). Note that you always need a valid passport next to your residence permit. The validity of your residence permit can never exceed that of your passport.
It goes without saying that the above procedure does not apply to persons who have fled their countries. A person can apply for asylum in the Netherlands if:
- he fears persecution because of his race, religion, nationality, political convictions or because he belongs to a specific social group in his country of origin;
- he runs the risk of being subjected to inhumane treatment (such as torture) in his country of origin;
- he has suffered specific, traumatic experiences in his country of origin.
For more information about the asylum procedure, see The asylum procedure in the Netherlands.
Contact the IND
For more information, you can contact the Dutch Immigration and Naturalisation Department:
Immigratie- en Naturalisatiedienst
2280 HV Rijswijk
By phone: 0900 1234561 (Monday to Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m) or +31 20 8893045 when you are calling from outside the Netherlands.
You can also contact the IND through a contact form but you have to wait at least for four weeks to get a reply.
 EU (Europese Unie): Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Great Britain, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, and Sweden.
 EER (Europese Economische Ruimte): Iceland, Liechtenstein, and Norway.