Civic Integration Act

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 non-EU citizens 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 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 an 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)

Further information

For more detailed information about the civic integration programme, please visit or contact DUO at 050-599 9600. You can also call the city information number 14 020 (Monday to Friday, 8:00 to 18:00).