As one of the most developed countries in the world, the Netherlands is a prime destination for nursing professionals. Home to tulips, Vincent van Gogh, and wooden clogs, the country has a sizeable demand for foreign nurses. Like many other European nations, the Dutch population is aging due to the prevalence of small families. This means that they are actively looking outside their borders to fill their hospitals and care homes.

There are many reasons a nurse might want to work in the Netherlands. One is the pay: most nurses earn around 4,000 euros per month or about 4,400 USD. At the high end, you can make upwards of 6,000 euros or around 6,600 USD. The Netherlands is also a very convenient place to live. While it has the same sense of history as other European countries, you might be surprised at how high-tech it is. Public transport is especially up to date, which is a massive plus.

Another reason to practice in the Netherlands is that it lies at the heart of Europe. If you ever get the itch to explore, countries like France, Germany, Italy, and Switzerland are only a train ride away. Even if you don’t leave the country, you’ll never run out of things to do in the Netherlands. From museums to museums to tourist attractions, there’s always something to keep you occupied.

If all this appeals to you and you’re wondering how to get started, keep reading. This article aims to walk you through the process of becoming a nurse in the Netherlands.

How to Become a Nurse in the Netherlands

Step 1. Get a Nursing Degree

To become a registered nurse in the Netherlands, the first step you need to take is you’ll need to have at least a bachelor’s degree in nursing. Whether or not you’ll need to have your degree validated depends on whether or not you received it in an EU country. If you did, your credentials will be equivalent to those of people who graduated in the Netherlands and will allow you to apply to be registered without any additional steps.

If you received your diploma outside the EU, you’ll need to have it assessed by Nuffic for equivalency to a Dutch degree. Nuffic is an organization connected with the government that was created with the mind of standardizing the evaluation of foreign degrees and is often the first stop for non-EU residents who want to work in the country. If you received your degree from a reputable institution, you should be fine, although in some cases, you’ll be required to take a few more classes before you qualify as a registered nurse.

Of course, the most straightforward way is to study nursing in the Netherlands. Dutch universities are known for their excellent applied science courses, and nursing is no different. Bachelor’s degrees there run for four years. Some universities to consider include the Christelijke Hogeschool Ede, the Hague University of Applied Sciences, and the Hanze University of Applied Sciences.

Step 2. Learn Dutch (and English or German)

To work as a nurse in the Netherlands, the second step you have to do is you need to speak the local language. You’ll need to speak Dutch at a B2 level, at least. There are a number of ways to do this, such as taking the CNaVT (Certificaat Nederlands als Vreemde Taal). Once you arrive in the Netherlands, you’ll find plenty of institutions offering classes in the Dutch language and culture to further help you integrate.

Besides knowing Dutch, you’ll need to have at least a basic knowledge of either English or German, which are the next two most widely spoken languages in the country. This shouldn’t be much of a problem as only an A1 level is required.

Step 3. Get on the BIG Register

The BIG (Beroepen in de Individuele Gezondheidszorg) register is a list of all accredited healthcare professionals in the Netherlands. It is kept by the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport. Nurses who want to work in the Netherlands are legally required to be on the BIG register.

Applications usually go through a third-party recruiter such as EMTG, which specializes in guiding nurses through the entire process. You’ll need proof of degree equivalency and a CV. Most of these organizations offer personalized services, which include conducting an interview with you to figure out your needs and qualifications.

Given the extremely high demand for qualified nurses in the Netherlands, this process shouldn’t be too difficult. At the moment, the country is relatively lenient with who it lets in, so if there was ever a time to apply, it’s now.

Step 4. Find a Job and Secure a Work Permit (for non-EU Applicants)

The Netherlands has one of the best healthcare systems in the world. If you’re a skilled nurse, there are few better places to work. The last step for you to officially work as a nurse in the Netherlands is to find a job and secure a work permit. Most hospitals in the Netherlands are privately run, which means that requirements and benefits may vary. Most healthcare jobs are posted on V&VN (Verpleegkundigen & Verzorgenden Nederland).

If you studied in a Dutch university, you can also search for jobs through your institution’s career office or through networking with professors.

If you live outside the EU, you’ll need to secure a work permit to work in the Netherlands. There are several options available to you, such as a TWV or a GVVA. Note that a residence permit and a work permit are two different things and that having the former doesn’t necessarily let you work.

As a nurse, your employer will usually need to submit an application for you, which means you need to have a job lined up before applying for a work permit.


We hope that this article on Steps to Become a Nurse in the Netherlands was helpful. Make sure to also check out the Available Programs in Europe!

About the Author: Hyun Lee

Hi! I am Hyun, and I am the founder at Global Scholarships. I've received a full-tuition scholarship at Birmingham-Southern College and a $1,000 Burger King Scholarship for my undergraduate degree and was offered a fully funded scholarship consisting of tuition, living stipend, and health insurance for computer science Ph.D. program at North Carolina State University. You can read more about my scholarship journey here. If you are interested, you can follow me on Linkedin where I regularly write about scholarship opportunities.

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