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Visas and Passports in the Netherlands

Author: Jim Newham
Submitted: June 2014

This article details the visas, passports and other entry documents you need to obtain before you are legally permitted to stay the Netherlands. Obtaining documents that grant permission to work in Holland, however, is dealt with in Expats Working.


The Netherlands is part of the European Economic Area (EEA), which includes all European Union countries plus European Free Trade Association member states Iceland, Norway and Liechtenstein. Free movement and labour are permitted within all EEA countries, and in Switzerland, which has the same agreements in place. EEA and Swiss citizens can enter Holland with minimal restrictions. Only a passport is required, or a national ID card where this is applicable.

To enter the Netherlands from outside the EEA, you will always need a valid passport or an equivalent travel document if you are a stateless person or refugee. Passports and other travel documents must be valid until three months after your scheduled date of departure. In addition to a valid passport, you may need a visa to immigrate into Holland.

Visa Requirements

EEA and Swiss citizens do not require a visa to enter the Netherlands; neither do EEA and Swiss citizens who are family members of a Dutch citizen. However, family members of citizens of other EEA countries may still need a visa.

The Netherlands is party to the Schengen agreement, which created an open-border ‘Schengen area’ covering its 26 signatory countries. The Schengen area has visa waiver agreements with 54 countries and territories, listed on this Government of the Netherlands webpage. Citizens of these countries may move across borders in the Schengen area – hence in and out of Holland – without a visa for any 90 days within a 180-day period, providing they do no paid work.

Citizens of visa-exempt countries who want to stay for longer than 90 days will always need a visa, as will citizens of other countries in all circumstances. Furthermore, non-EEA citizens must be able to demonstrate that they have the financial means to support themselves and have a genuine reason to visit Holland.

Visa Types

The main short-term Dutch visa is the Schengen or C-type visa. This enables the holder to travel freely within the 26 Schengen area countries for up to 90 days within a 180-day period. Single and multiple entry versions are available, and you can also limit the number of countries you intend to visit to lower the cost. Note that you may not apply for residence or permission to work if you are staying in Holland on this visa.

To stay in Holland for more than three months, you normally need to apply for a single permit (GVVA). This document, introduced in 2014, is now the standard document that grants long-term residence in the Netherlands and also grants permission to work if this is required. Note that in some cases, you may still need to apply for a separate residence and work permits.

A provisional residence permit (MVV) is often also required, depending on your home country and other circumstances. EU citizens do not need an MVV, nor do citizens of Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, the USA or South Korea. The MVV is valid for up to a year, after which you can renew it without having to leave the country.

In addition, there is a special working holiday visa for young Canadians, Australians and New Zealanders, which enables these nationalities to work in Holland for up to a year. For more information, see this Immigration and Naturalisation Service (IND) webpage.

For more information on family member visas, see Family Members and Marriage.

For comprehensive coverage of Dutch visa requirements, see this IND webpage.

Visa Application

You must apply for a Dutch visa before leaving your home country, and should allow at least three months for the application to be completed. When applying for a Schengen visa, you need to submit the application to the mission of the country where you will be staying for the most time (presumably Holland.) You must also have travel insurance covering any medical costs and provide proof that you are going to return to your home country. A Schengen visa cannot be issued more than three months in advance of the recipient’s arrival date into the Schengen area.

To stay in Holland for more than three months, you will need to obtain a single permit. If you are moving to Holland to start a job, your prospective employer will handle the application. In this case, they will notify you when the single permit has arrived, meaning you are permitted to enter the country. Otherwise, you will need to apply for a single permit yourself.

Visa application forms are available in Dutch and English. As visa application can take a few months to be completed, you should start the application process well in advance of your travel date. Whichever visa you apply for, you will need the following documents as a minimum:

Any documents that are not in Dutch or English will need to be accompanied by certified translations. At this point, the visa fee will be payable. When you travel to Holland, you should bring the originals of these documents as they may be required by border control.




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