Work Permits

If you want to hire foreign employees from outside the EEA or Switzerland, you will in most cases need to apply for a work permit. It is the responsibility of the employer to apply for it if the employee is unable to do this. This is laid down in the Foreign Nationals (Employment Act) (abbreviated to Wav in Dutch), which requires employers to first hire workers in their own country and in the rest of Europe. This measure is aimed at protecting the Dutch and the European labour market.


For whom does the employer needs to arrange a work permit?

  • Employees from outside the European Economic Area (EEA) and Switzerland.
  • If you wish to employ a self-employed person, you are also required to have a work permit, unless the foreigner already has a residence permit to work as a self-employed person.
  • Hiring via an agency. If you are hiring personnel via a (sub)contractor or via a temporary employment agency, you are still regarded as the responsible employer. This means that you are responsible for ensuring that the correct permit is issued on behalf of the foreign employee.


When is the employer exempted from applying for a work permit?

In a number of cases, employees from outside the EEA or from the new EU member states Croatia are not required to have a work permit.

  • Foreigners who have a residence permit that states permitted to work. These are often foreigners living in the Netherlands under the family reunification scheme, refugees who have been given entry, and people who have had a residence permit for three years that allows them to perform work without a work permit.
  • Foreigners who have a sticker in their passport stating ‘permitted to work'. This sticker is valid for a limited period. The period of validity is stated on the sticker.
  • Foreigners performing certain types of work, who occasionally work in the Netherlands for a short period, such as journalists, musicians, or guest lecturers. More information on the type of work that is exempt from requiring a work permit is available from the CWI.
  • Foreigners who are Highly Skilled Migrants.
  • Scientific researchers in the sense of Directive 2005/71/EC


Conditions for the employer:

  • You are first required to seek personnel seriously in the Netherlands for a reasonable period and in Europe for a period of 5-13 weeks. You must be able to show proof of this. You have to do this via all available channels, such as the Internet, advertisements in trade magazines or newspapers, or via placement agencies. You are also expected to look at the possibilities of in-service training. If you have not made real effort to recruit candidates, your application will be refused.
  • You must submit the vacancy to the CWI five weeks prior to applying for the work permit.
  • You must complete the application form (contact the following address to apply for the right form:
    UWV WERKbedrijf Bureau
    Tewerkstellingsvergunningen Afdeling Arbeidsjuridische dienstverlening
    Postbus 883
    2700 AW Zoetermeer
    Telephone (079) 750 29 03
  • You must comply with the applicable employment conditions (salary level, collective employment conditions, etc.)
  • You are required to offer the foreigner safe and hygienic accommodation. The employees must not be younger than 18 or older than 45 years, and they must have a valid residence permit.
  • You must prove the foreigner's special capacities by including copies of his/her certificates or diplomas, if this is the reason why you are applying for the work permit. The diplomas can be translated into Dutch and assessed by the COLO or Nuffic organization.


Simplified procedure

Applications on behalf of trainees, asylum seekers, practitioners and workers from international companies are not checked against the labour market. The CWI aims to process these applications within a period of two weeks.


What are the different types of work permits?

The CWI can issue work permits that have a limited validity or are subject to specific conditions. The CWI will determine which work permit is granted based on information provided by the employer. There are four types of work permits:

  • A permit for the requested period up to a maximum of three years. After three years, the employee will normally be entitled to a residence permit, stating they are permitted to work.
  • A permit subject to conditions. For example, the condition that the employer makes greater effort to recruit personnel, or that the employer improves the employment conditions, working conditions or the labour relations. This permit is valid for a period shorter than three years.
  • A permit for short-term activities, which is valid up to a maximum of 24 weeks. This temporary permit cannot be extended for a longer period.
  • Temporary non-extendable permit.


Important: You are not allowed to have the foreigner work for you until the work permit has been issued.



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