Visa and permits to travel to and stay in Amsterdam

EU citizens don’t need a permit to come to the Netherlands or to live in the country, but nationals from other countries usually do. There are several different visa and permits people need – which one depends on their nationality, personal circumstances and the duration of their stay.

EU citizens in Amsterdam

If you’re a citizen of an EU or EEA member state or Switzerland, you don’t need a student visa or residence permit to stay in the Netherlands. Do note that there are still a number of official matters to attend to when you move to the country – for example, it’s very important that you register with the municipality as soon as possible after you’ve arrived.

Non-EU/EEA citizens

Non-EU, EEA or Swiss nationals need a residence permit to stay in the Netherlands for more than 90 days – for a shorter period, you only require a tourist visa. There are two documents you need. For a start, in most cases you will need a provisional residence permit (machtiging tot voorlopig verblijf, MVV) to travel to the Netherlands. Citizens of a few countries or people in certain circumstances are exempt from this: check this page to see which ones. In addition, you will need a residence permit (VVR) in order to stay in the country.

What’s the difference between an MVV and a residence permit?

An MVV is a visa that allows you entry to the Netherlands. Not everyone needs it to travel to the country: on this page you can see if you need one or not. Once you’re in the Netherlands, you will also need a residence permit (VVR), but the procedure to get the two documents is combined. It’s called the Entry and Residence Procedure (TEV procedure).

How do I get an MVV and a residence permit?

As a student, you can’t apply for these documents yourself. Instead, your university or college will apply on your behalf. This means that you will have to have been accepted at a university before the application for the permits can start. There is one exception: to get a place at some study programmes at universities of applied sciences, you need to be able to speak Dutch. In that case, you can apply to come to the Netherlands for a preparation year before your programme starts. Contact your university for more information.

Another important thing is that your university or college needs to be a recognised sponsor in order to be able to apply for the permits for you. Fortunately all major universities and colleges are recognised sponsors. You can see a list of all sponsors here. Once you’ve chosen or applied for a study programme, contact your university.

What else?

If you have a residence permit as a student, you are obligated to follow your study programme and get a certain amount of credits each academic year. Your university will check if you fulfil these requirements – if you don’t, you run the risk of losing your residence permit.

After graduating

If you want to look for a job in the Netherlands after graduation, you can apply for the orientation year permit for international graduates. This allows you to search for employment for up to a year while working in other jobs or doing internships. You don’t need to have graduated in the Netherlands to be eligible for this, graduates from most countries can apply provided their university fulfils certain criteria. Another great benefit of the orientation year permit is that you can apply up to three years after graduation, allowing you to return home or travel before starting a career in the Netherlands. Again, this permit is not necessary for EU, EEA or Swiss nationals.

More information

For the latest information about student visas and residence permits, check the website of the Dutch Immigration and Naturalisation Service (IND).