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When you arrive

Your first days and weeks in Amsterdam will be filled with new experiences, new people and a few practical considerations too.

We have compiled the following information to help you.

When you arrive

  • Arrival and Introduction activities

    VU Amsterdam is looking forward to welcoming all new international exchange students in August 2021!

    The Introduction programme for exchange students will take place on 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 30 and 31 August in Amsterdam. As soon as we have more information about the Introduction programme, we will make sure to post it on this webpage.

    Moving to another country to start a programme can be quite exciting. More information about the necessary steps to take before travelling to the country can be found in our FAQ for prospective students

    You can find detailed information about matters related to your arrival here.

  • Registering with the municipality

    It is important that you register your address with the municipality. You will need to bring certain documents with you. More information can be found on this webpage.

  • Opening a bank account

    For some student it may be useful to open a Dutch bank account. Find out what you need to do and the documents you need here.

  • Insurance

    It is important that you are properly insured during your time in the Netherlands. To simplify the business of arranging suitable insurance during your time in the Netherlands, it is advisable to consult your current insurance company and explain that you will be studying abroad for a semester or an entire academic year.

    More information about possible insurances can be found here.

  • Health care in the Netherlands

    As a student at VU Amsterdam living in Amsterdam or in the surrounding areas such as Amstelveen/Uilenstede, you will be able to register with the GP at the University General Practice (located in the VU Medical Center on our campus) once you have a valid health insurance. More information can be found on their website. If you live outside of Amsterdam, you can look for a GP close to your home.

    Please read this important information sheet on health care in the Netherlands.

  • TB test

    A tuberculosis (TB) test may be part of your application for a residence permit. If so, please visit the Municipality Health Services (GGD). More information can be found here.

  • Costs of living

    Living in Amsterdam can be expensive. Make sure that you have sufficient financial means to cover the costs of living. If you are considering working while studying then there are certain rules to be followed (see further below).

    Experience shows that living and studying in the Netherlands for one year costs a student between €1,000 and €1,100 per month. Some students manage to spend less, but this of course depends on your own lifestyle (and type of accommodation). An indication of likely monthly expenses:

    • Rent for housing average: €600 (price range €366 - €1,045, see 'Accommodation types')
    • Food: €250
    • Insurance: €100
    • Public transport: €50
    • Books: €50
    • Other costs: €50
    • Total (average): €1,100
  • Working while studying

    You cannot count on finding a source of additional income after you arrive and, unless you are from an EU member state, your opportunities to work are restricted. If you are a non-EU student, under Dutch law you are permitted to work a maximum of 16 hours per week if you have a work permit.

    How many hours am I allowed to work in the Netherlands?
    If you hold a passport from a country that belongs to the European Union (EU) (with the exception of Croatia), the European Economic Area (EEA) or Switzerland, then you are permitted to work in the Netherlands without limitation. If this is not the case, then you are only permitted to work a maximum of 16 hours per week averaged over the year or full-time during the summer months (June, July, August). Your employer will also be required to apply for a work permit.

    Do I have to pay income tax if I work in the Netherlands?
    Under Dutch law, everyone who works in the Netherlands is obliged to pay income tax to the Dutch government. However, the rules may be different if you are already paying income tax in your home country and that country has signed a treaty with the Netherlands that income tax is only to be paid in one of the two countries. All EU member states have signed such a treaty.

    What does the Dutch government do for international students working in the Netherlands?
    The Dutch government has a comprehensive system of social security, insurance and tax measures related to working in the Netherlands.

    More information can be found on the Nuffic website Working while studying. There is also a factsheet on international students and part-time jobs (pdf).

  • Cycling and public transport

    Amsterdam is a city of bikes. The city is also served by an excellent public transport network.

    With an extensive network of cycle lanes, bicycle parking everywhere and even traffic lights specifically for bicycles, there is no safer or easier place to cycle than here. There is a bike shop in the basement of the main building of the university. Bike sales for exchange students will also be arranged several times throughout the year. Most students arriving for the first time in Amsterdam find that buying a (second-hand) bike is both an affordable way to travel between home and study, as well as a great way of getting to know the city and the surrounding area.

    Public transport card with discount for international students
    VU Amsterdam and ISIC have arranged a special public transport card with discount for international students. In the Netherlands you need an OV-chipkaart to travel around with the train, bus, metro and tram. There are two possibilities:

    1. An anonymous card without any discount
    2. A personal card, where you need a Dutch debit card and the buying process is written in Dutch

    Both options are not ideal for international students. That is why ISIC created the ISIC/OV-chipkaart, a custom-made card for international students. Buy the basic card for €15,- (including the ISIC card) and sign-up (optional) for services and discount created for international students for a small monthly fee: 

    • 15% discount during off-peak hours on national railway (NS)
    • A digital ISIC card, with the best discounts in the Netherlands and the rest of the world
    • Customized application process for international students
    • Automatic top-up option (no more topping op of balance)
    • Travel data, customer service etc in ISIC mobility app
    • Public transport bike (OV-fiets) and storage 

    You need to sign-up for your card here, which includes the public transport card + the digital ISIC card. After confirmation you will be able to pick-up your card during the Arrival days in August.

    Check in, check out
    It is very important that your remember to check both in and out when using your OV-chipkaart. This can be done by holding the card against the reader present on platforms (for trains and metro) and on board the vehicle (for buses and trams). You must also check in and out when changing to a different line or mode of transport.
    If you have a smartphone, the app 9292 (available in English) is a convenient way of planning your journey.

  • VUweb

    During your stay you will have access to VUweb, the internal network of VU Amsterdam. You will be sent login details during the process of preparing for your arrival. It is important that you familiarize yourself with VUnet, as a great deal of important information is only available via this network.

Do you have any questions about our exchange programme?

During your stay in Amsterdam, you can either contact us through e-mail or visit us during the office hours of the International Service Desk (currently closed due to Covid-19).

If you have questions about the exchange programme, you can schedule a 15-minute appointment by phone with a member of the incoming exchange team. You can book an appointment on Tuesdays or Thursdays between 1 and 2 PM, Dutch standard time. Please use our online tool to schedule an appointment.


  • Arnold Pannenborg
  • Incoming Exchange Officer
Arnold Pannenborg, International Officer
  • Neira Becar
  • Incoming Exchange Officer
Neira Becar, International Officer
  • Karoline von dem Berge
  • Incoming Exchange Officer
Karoline von dem Berge, International Officer