Types of Civic Integration
There are two different kinds of Civic Integration requirements: Basic Civic Integration, which applies only to those that need a provisional residence permit (machtiging tot voorlopig verblijf, MVV) before coming to the Netherlands, and Civic Integration according to the 2007 Civic Integration Act, which is required for most non-Dutch and non-EU nationals living in the Netherlands. It includes speaking Dutch and having some general knowledge of the country. EU citizens and highly skilled migrants are exempt from both types; see below under Basic Civic Integration and Civic Integration Act for a full list of exemptions. Anyone intending to stay in the Netherlands on a temporary basis – for example for the purposes of work, study or staff exchange – and their immediate family are also exempt from the integration requirement.
Basic Civic Integration – before coming to the Netherlands
If you are planning to stay in the Netherlands longer than three months and you are from a country requiring an MVV, part of your MVV procedure may include a Basic Civic Integration exam (basisexamen inburgering). It must be completed in your country of residence (usually at the embassy) before coming to the Netherlands. The exam consists of the following parts: knowledge of Dutch society; knowledge of the Dutch language.
Exemptions from Basic Civic Integration
You are exempt from the basic civic integration test, if:
- you are under the age of 18
- you are from a country not requiring an MVV
- you are of Surinamese nationality and have completed lager onderwijs in the Dutch language and can show a written certificate from the Suriname Ministry of Education and Volksontwikkeling
- you are living temporarily in the Netherlands (for reasons such as studies, au pair, exchange, medical treatment, etc.)
- you have a work permit, or are self-employed (zelfstandig) or a highly skilled migrant (partners are also exempt)
- you are a family member of an asylum seeker with an asylum residence permit
Civic Integration Act – while living in the Netherlands
Since January 2007, the Civic Integration Act obliges most non-Dutch and non-EU nationals living in the Netherlands to speak Dutch and have some general knowledge of the country. This is referred to as Civic Integration. In order to promote integration, the Civic Integration Act obliges most foreigners to take part in language and/or civic integration courses. If you are between the ages of 16 and 65 and come from outside the European Union you will probably need to pass the integration exam. It is compulsory if you have or want to apply for a permanent residence permit.
You will need to have sufficient command of the Dutch language (level CEF A2) and basic knowledge of Dutch society in order to fulfil the integration requirements. Information on how to study for the exam and the conditions for applying for a student loan can be obtained from the organisation DUO at www.inburgeren.nl or by calling 050-599 9600. There are various language institutes offering Dutch classes. However, in order to qualify for a loan with DUO, the course must be provided by a certified provider of integration courses. Course providers with this certification are listed here.
Exemptions from the Civic Integration Act
The following people are exempt from Civic Integration:
- people from a EU/EER country and Swiss and Turkish nationals
- people younger than 18 or older than 65
- people who resided in the Netherlands for eight years or longer between the ages of 5 and 17
- people with a diploma of Dutch secondary education or professional education (MBO/HBO)
- people with a work permit
- highly skilled migrants and their partners
- other temporary residents (for example students and au pairs)
- other exemptions (see here for exemptions on medical grounds and others)
For more detailed information about the civic integration programme, please visit www.inburgeren.nl or contact DUO at 050-599 9600.
If you require further information, call the city information number 14 020 (Monday to Friday, 8:00 to 18:00).