Information for international staff

If you are looking for a university with a long tradition of academic excellence, for a university where personal education and societal involvement play a leading role, you will find it at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam. A university where people from different disciplines and backgrounds work together to innovate and generate new knowledge.

VU Amsterdam understands the importance of respecting the communities that surround us. Colleagues and students who choose to join us are choosing for respectful cooperation, support and openness to one another's ideas. Not only as colleagues but also as individuals who take a genuine interest in one another.

Christiano Giuffrida
Assistant Professor (Tenure Track Candidate) in Systems Security and Reliability

’When I was looking for a PhD position, I had a number of offers from excellent universities, but, in the end, I chose VU Amsterdam. The main reason for this choice was the great research group I would join, led, at the time, by Andrew Tanenbaum. Moreover, Amsterdam is such a great place to live for expats and locals alike. In short, when I first came to Amsterdam, I fell in love with both the university and the city. And since the airport is only a 7-minute train ride away, I still feel connected with my home country and the rest of the world.’

Please contact the HRM Servicedesk for any questions you may have regarding HRM matters.

HRM Servicedesk Metropolitan
Buitenveldertselaan 3
1082 VA Amsterdam

T 020 598 2882 (working days from 08.30 – 17.00)

The aim of the HRM Servicedesk is to inform staff members about working for VU Amsterdam, and offer practical assistance related to HRM matters.

The Services Team of the International Office offers various services for its international guests and employees. These services include applying for Visa and Residence permits for prospective and current staff. PhD students, guest researchers and bursary PhD students are all considered as staff members. Furthermore, the staff of the Services Team can apply for visas and residence permits for family members of all prospective and current staff.
As procedures for foreign nationals can be quite lengthy, the International Office would like to receive the application in VUnet at least two months prior to the intended start date.

Immigration Procedure
The first step in the process is to initiate the hospitality agreement or employment contract in VUnet. Your supervisor has to do this for you. Depending on your nationality and period, the International Office will contact you with information regarding the immigration procedure applicable to the situation (in the form of the offer letter). If necessary, the International Office will apply for the required permits. Please note that you can only start your research activities when the respective authorities have issued the permits.

European Union and EEA Citizens
If you are a European or EEA Citizen, no permits are required. EU nationals and EEZ Citizens are free to work and reside in the Netherlands.

Short stay of maximum 90 days
International staff members who will stay no longer than 90 days in the Netherlands do not require a residence permit. Depending on their nationality, they are either allowed to stay here on their passport or they need to apply for a short stay visa at the Dutch representation in their home country. Unfortunately, a short stay visa needs to be arranged by the foreign national; the International Office cannot assist in this matter. In many cases, a work permit is required as well but, again, here are some exceptions as well. The International Office will therefore judge the application and provide advice on the matter.

Long stay of more than 90 days
Generally, International staff members with a Non-EU nationality will require a Dutch residence permit. Depending on the nationality, the person may require an entry visa and residence permit or only a residence permit. Usually, the type of permit we have to apply for includes a work permit exemption. The International Office will apply for the required visa and/or residence permit.
For inquiries please contact (note that you can only arrange your visa after your supervisor has started the admission process):

The International Office of VU Amsterdam offers various services for its international guests and employees. These services include support in finding accommodation. Once your supervisor at VU Amsterdam registered you as employee, you will receive an offer letter in the form of an email. It will explain how to apply for accommodation via our International Office. If you do not receive this offer letter via email please contact us at and ask for the application form.

If you are looking for alternative accommodation, please be aware of the scams and never make payments before you see the room and checking the key is really opening your apartment’s door.

Types on offer
We have two types of accommodation, short stay (up to one year) and long stay PhD housing for the whole duration of your PhD trajectory (up to 5 years). 
An example of pricing:

Cost of accommodation in Amsterdam
VU accomodationFree market
Room in a shared flat
We don't offer shared rooms€500 - €900
Studio for one person€600- €800€900 - €1500
Studio for a couple€750 - €875€900 - €1800
Family flat€925 - €950 (only short stay)€1500 - €4000

The apartments that we offer are from various social housing corporations in the Amsterdam area. Regular Amsterdam residents have to wait an average of 8.7 years to be assigned this type of housing. With the social housing corporations we have arranged that we are able to assign a certain number of apartments to our international guests, staff members and (visiting) PhD students. However, since the Amsterdam area’s housing market is an overstretched market, we do not have an inexhaustible supply and therefore we cannot guarantee housing.

Short term accommodation
Most international guests, staff members and (visiting) PhD students temporarily live in our Short Stay housing. These apartments are meant to be used as accommodation for guests who stay for a short period and by international members of staff and PhD students as a landing place, from where they can start their search for their own accommodation. Depending on the availability, we can offer accommodation in Short Stay housing for a minimum period of one month and a maximum period of one year. This type of accommodation generally concerns complete furnished studios with private facilities. More information about the studios in Short Stay housing.

Long term accommodation; for VU PhD’s only
Limited number of studios and small apartments are available that can be rented for the complete period of the VU PhD project with a maximum of 5 years. This type of accommodation generally concerns unfurnished studios with private facilities. More information about the different apartments in PhD housing. The current average waiting time for this type of accommodation is 18 months. Therefore, most international PhD candidates first live in our Short Stay housing. More information about the studios in Short Stay housing.

Family accommodation
We only provide short term accommodation for families. Should you arrive as a family it is recommended to keep your eyes open for alternative accommodation as well. We do not have any PhD housing available for families.

Welcome to VU Amsterdam! The board of VU Amsterdam finds it important that new employees do not only get to know their direct working environment, but also get acquainted with VU Amsterdam as a whole. Therefore, eight times a year, the university organizes a welcome event for new staff members. The event consists of an informal lunch meeting, specific information provision for international staff and a welcome speech by a member of the University Board.

VU Amsterdam recognizes the importance to support new international staff in making the move to take up a position at VU Amsterdam. Changing work location is both a practical matter as a major life change, often affecting partners and families too. The university offers several services for senior researchers to support them before and after arrival at VU Amsterdam, also via the Relocation Advisor, Wytske Siegersma.

Senior researchers and their partners who come from abroad can contact the Relocation Advisor with all sorts of questions about moving to the Netherlands and finding your way around VU Amsterdam.

Bringing your family
If you, as a future employee or guest of VU Amsterdam, wish to bring your partner or children with you to the Netherlands it is important for the University to know this before we start the immigration procedure. The University can assist you with the immigration procedure.

For this type of application you will need a number of specific documents. You need a copy of a valid form of identification, but also documents such as your marriage certificate if you are bringing a spouse and/or a birth certificate if you are bringing a child with you. Non-married couples may also initiate immigration procedures together. The documents which are necessary in such cases depend on the specific situation. There is also a standard fee for people wishing to bring their family to the Netherlands.

All birth and marriage certificates must be legalized. These certificates also must be in or translated into Dutch, English, French or German. If the documents are in another language, you can obtain information about translating and certifying these kinds of documents from the Dutch Embassy of your home country. The International Office of VU Amsterdam can provide you with all the necessary information and will help you through the procedure of obtaining a MVV and/or VVR for you and your family. Please, contact us via for further inquiries.

Partner & Spouse Support & Network
It is with great pleasure to welcome all partners and spouses of International Employees at VU Amsterdam to our network.  We are currently developing a programme and network for accompanying partners to support you after your arrival in a new country, city and culture. We aim to support you in both your professional and social aspirations.
If you have further questions, ideas or would like to contribute to the programme, please do not hesitate to contact us via

Childcare and school
Children up to four years old can be looked after in a daycare center or crèche. Depending on the specific daycare center, they have special groups for babies and toddlers or combine the two groups. Most daycare facilities are open from 08.00 – 18.00 and offer all-day care. Some have longer opening hours and offer more flexible child care solutions. All childcare center must comply with a strict standard of quality according to Dutch law.

Daycare for Amsterdam toddlers
From 2018, children between the ages of two and a half and four years old in Amsterdam, are entitled to a minimum of 15 hours of daycare per week. The contributions or fee depend on the income. Fees can be reduced if the child is indicated to be at risk or lagging behind in language or other development. In this case, he or she receives a recommendation for attending pre-school (the so called voorschoolindicatie).

Babysitters or gastouders
You can also wish to have your child looked after by a babysitter. In this case, a babysitter who is registered with an agency would take care of your child in their home or yours. Babysitters are only allowed to care for a maximum of four children. The agency selects their employees and inspects places of care for safety and hygiene frequently.

Primary School
Children in the Netherlands generally attend primary school (basisschool) from age 4 to age 12. The Netherlands is renowned for having a strong, qualitative and well-balanced education system. Amsterdam offers a variety of school: regular state schools, international schools, Montessori schools, religious schools, etc. It is recommendable to look for a school soon after arriving in the Netherlands. Before arriving it might be useful to already get informed on how to choose a school, how to apply and check primary schools (currently only available in Dutch unfortunately) in the area where you will be living.

Children between four and twelve years old, new to the Netherlands and not speaking Dutch can join the so-called newcomers’ classes. These classes have a program to learn Dutch and getting acquainted with Dutch culture. The aim is to let the children enter regular or bilingual education after one year. 

Secondary School
There are four branches of secondary education. A report from the primary school will advise which branch best suits the child. Next to this report, children undergo a test in group 8 to assess their aptitude. This usually is the CITO test (CITO-toets). The results of the test and the recommendation, as well as pupils’ and parents’ own preferences, determine the type of curriculum the child should follow at secondary school.

If a child is (relatively) new to the Netherlands and would normally go to secondary school, but his or her level of Dutch is not sufficient, the child can attend an international bridging year. This bridging year is known as kopklas and takes place between primary and secondary school. Pupils are enrolled in the kopklas via their primary school but follow the secondary school timetable, keeping in touch with their peers. You can gain more information about this international bridging year at the primary/secondary school your child will attend.

First point of contact
Senior researchers and their partners who come from abroad can contact the Relocation Advisor with all sorts of questions about moving to the Netherlands and finding your way around Amsterdam.

You can contact me via:
T +31 (0)20 59 85037

Wytske Siegersma, Relocation Advisor at VU Amsterdam

Welcome2NLResearch is an app that helps you, as international scientist, to prepare for your arrival to the Netherlands. The App offers international employees a (practical) checklist about what you need to do before and after arrival in the Netherlands, considering your country of origin. The checklist addresses subjects like immigration procedures, housing and bringing your family. In addition, the app provides an overview of Dutch universities, university medical centers and research institutions including a link to the website.

Your arrival in Amsterdam
Employees from non-EU countries should inform the International Office of VU Amsterdam about their arrival date, so we can inform them about the required formalities and schedule an appointment for them at the center of INAmsterdam. You will find INAmsterdam at the Zuidas, close to the VU Campus. INAmsterdam provides a one-stop service for guests and employees of VU Amsterdam. Here you will be able to arrange the required permits and registrations (applicable) for your stay in the Netherlands. 

Bank affairs
Next to INAmsterdam you will find a local branch office of ABN AMRO bank. You are free to open an account at any bank you wish in the Netherlands but international employees, PhD Candidates and guests of VU Amsterdam usually have an account at ABN AMRO bank. To open an account you need to bring a valid passport, a copy of your employment contract with VU Amsterdam, a proof of your Dutch address and provide the bank with your citizen service number.

In the Netherlands, income tax is charged on three different types of income, with each type of income classified into a separate regime or ‘box’ as follows:

1.    Box 1: Income from employment and home ownership.
2.    Box 2: Income from substantial interest in a corporation.
3.    Box 3: Income from savings and investments.

Contact details Dutch Tax Administration:
T +31 (0)55 5 385 385 (from the Netherlands) or +31 (0)555 385 385 (from abroad)

Dutch employers may pay expats who have specific expertise that is scarce in the Dutch labour market 30% of their wages as a tax-free allowance for extraterritorial expenses, without the need to submit further evidence. Application for the 30% rule first requires the permission of the Dutch Tax Administration, and will then be granted for a maximum of 5 years. The expat and the employer will have to file a joint request to the tax authorities for this. For further information to arrange the application for the 30% rule, please do not hesitate to contact us via

If you are a resident of the Netherlands there are several insurances you are obliged or strongly advised to take out. Below, we mention the most important ones (besides Health Insurance)

Personal Liability Insurance
This is the so called aansprakelijkheidsverzekering voor particulieren (AVP). In the Netherlands, you are legally liable if someone suffers damage due to a mistake made or an accident caused by you. This means you must compensate the other party for the damage suffered. Personal Liability Insurance (AVP) protects you against this.

Car insurance and driver’s licence
If you have your own car, motorbike or moped while living in the Netherlands you are required to insure yourself against legal liability through Third Party Insurance (WA-verzekering). You are then insurance against damage you may cause with your vehicle. International employees and PhD candidates of VU Amsterdam can take out a car insurance via the University’s group contract with Aon Nederland. For more information and premiums, contact:
Service Center Aon Verzekeringen
Tel. +31 (0)71 364 35 30 (open from 08.00 to 18.00)

House Contents Insurance
Fire and theft can cause unforeseen damage and expense. With the so called inboedelverzekering you can insure yourself against them.

Social Security
The Netherlands has an extended social security system, which provides financial security when your income is affected by events such as illness, job loss or old age. There is a division within the social security system between the general national insurance schemes and the income-related employee insurance schemes. Besides these schemes, there are several other social provisions which might be relevant to you. Whether or not you fall within any one of these schemes depends on your situation, for instance if you are an employee of VU Amsterdam, or a guest.

Another important aspect is that people from EU Countries who work in several countries are only covered by the social security system of one country. 

For more information that applies to your specific situation you can also have a look at the information proivided by the Sociale Verzekeringsbank. The Sociale Verzekeringsbank is the organization that implements nation insurance schemes in the Netherlands.

The Dutch AOW pension (paid under the National Old Age Pensions Act, AOW) is the basic state pension. As a rule, everyone who had reached the AOW pension age and lives or has lived in the Netherlands is entitled to a state pension. This comes into effect from the day you reach the state pension age that applies for you. It makes no difference in which country you live at that time. The Sociale Verzekeringsbank (SVB) is the organization that implements the state pension scheme in the Netherlands.

Health care
In case you need medical care in the Netherlands, you will need to register with a doctor (General Practitioner (GP)/ in Dutch: Huisarts) close to your home. Your GP should be the first point of call for all medical problems with the exception of real emergencies. If suffering from flu, a twisted ankle, abdominal pain, psychological problems, chronic illness or even gynecological problems, contact the GP first. Please do not go to the ER if you are not in a life-threatening health situation, since this can involve high costs.

Health insurance
Health insurance is mandatory for anyone living and working the Netherlands. VU Amsterdam offers a group health insurance scheme in cooperation with health insurer Zilveren Kruis. Zilveren Kruis offers you and your family a 10% discount on the basic health insurance policy and an attractive group discount on the supplementary packages and dental insurance cover. Like most other insurers, Zilveren Kruis offers supplementary packages ranging from limited to very extensive. With the exception of comprehensive dental insurance cover, Zilveren Kruis does not make this subject to medical selection.

Further details and registration
For further information on premiums and reimbursements, or to register for health insurance, visit VU Amsterdam’s group insurance policy number for is 207083079. If you have any questions, contact Zilveren Kruis’s customer service at + 31 (0) 71 751 00 52. This service is available from 08:00 to 21:00 Mondays to Fridays, and from 10:00 to 14:00 on Saturdays. Always quote VU Amsterdam’s group insurance policy number

The checklist for going abroad is under revision. Apologies for this inconvenience! We try to put it online as soon as possible. In the meantime, please contact us via or

Welcome to the VU Amsterdam International Staff network, a network for all international VU employees that wish to meet, network and learn from each other. The VU international staff network provides a social, cultural and informational meeting platform all year round. The International Staff Network serves as the perfect place to gain knowledge, to exchange mutual experiences and to connect with international employees whether you are a newcomer or have already spent some years at VU Amsterdam.

The International Staff Network as community builder provides a digital platform, as well as a physical Global Room where staff can meet and interact. Staff can initiate events, workshops and Q&A sessions on relevant topics.
Want to join? Please go to our VU International Staff-group at and register.
Once joined, you will get access to our Global Room. You can join but also initiate events yourself that serve the international community at VU.

The Amsterdam Metropolitan Area encompasses the city of Amsterdam and several surrounding municipalities including Almere, Amstelveen, Diemen, Haarlem, Haarlemmermeer, Hilversum and Velsen. Amsterdam and its surrounding municipalities is considered an international area with a rich history and a highly diverse population. Each city district and neighborhood has its own character.

Work-life balance
The Dutch usually work to rule, which means that they have clearly defined working hours and they respect them. The Dutch make friendships step by step and selectively but, once made, these friendships are generally for life. According to the latest OECD Better Life Index, the Netherlands ranks first when it comes to work - life balance, an element our researchers greatly appreciate. Dutch employers are well aware of the importance of work-life balance and there is a trend towards more flexible systems of working time in order for employees to work more effectively. The Netherlands has quite a high percentage of part-time employees, nearly 50%.

Useful links and books

-    'The low sky. Understanding the Dutch', Han van der Horst, ISBN 90 5594 199 9
-    'Living in Holland', Marilyn Warman, ISBN 90 5464 033 2
-    'The Holland Handbook', Stephanie Dijkstra, ISBN 978 94 6319 102 9
-    'The Xpat Journal. The Premier for Expatriates in the Netherlands'
-    'How to be Dutch. The Quiz.' Greg Shapiro, ISBN 9789463190152

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